Statists worry about the rise of Anti-Federalism

by Peter Daniel Haworth on January 18, 2013 · 8 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

As many FPR readers already know, Anti-Federalism is a polemical misnomer that was given to the opponents of the 1787 Constitution who were, if anything, more truly committed to real federalism or confederationism as these terms were understood in late Eighteenth Century America. Well, now we see advocates of the conventional American nation-state warning against what they see to be the dangerous rise of “Anti-Federalists” in our contemporary political culture; see The Washington Times article here.  The analysis of the Hobbesian commitment to an expansive, centralist American nation-state has partially been conducted on FPR– e.g., Robert Peters recent comment responding to “It’s the Rights Culture, not the Gun Culture.”  The above mentioned article regarding the West Point think-tank warning against contemporary Anti-Federalism points to another example of Hobbesianism in the zeitgeist. H/T: Drudge Report.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar D.W. Sabin January 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

The general hilarity of our impoverished historical literacy can be seen in the response of many a States righter who will declare without any sense of irony that they “aint no Federalist”.

avatar robert m. peters January 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Mr. Sabin, you statement supra is correct for many; I was graced as were my peers in Pollock in an era closer to the Late Middle Ages than to 21st century Modernity with teachers down into out little elementary school of and taught against the polemical misnomer of which Mr. Haworth writes.

Yes, the “federal” government is not the federal government; it is the antithesis thereof. The colonial republics in union under the Crown from which they seceded; the republics in union under the Articles from which they seceded; and the republics under the Constitution which they quickened by their ratification and through which they, the principals, created the general government as their common agent in limited powers delegated and enumerated were constants in the different unions of constitutionally federated republics of which they were a part. They went to war because the Crown to which the strove to remain loyal began to treat them as subdivisions of Parliament and to usurp their republican authority and commensurate rights. This process repeated itself when the Cotton States and then the Border States seceded from a union which was already morphing into a consolidated and centralized state, a nascent Hobbesian state which had been nurtured by Hamilton, Marshall, Story, Webster and Clay, among others, and finally Lincoln.

There is no “federal government.” If the union of constitutionally federated republics under the Constitution still existed which it does not; for it has been replaced by the imperial and ever-more globalizing Hobbesian state, then one could speak of a federal system in which the branches and offices of the general government are the forum of the only true federal participants, namely the states. Beyond that, however, to speak of a “federal government” in terms of the national government, the central government, the general government or the boys of the Beltway is a usurpation, a misnomer and an applied lie.

avatar Joseph R. Stromberg January 19, 2013 at 11:15 am

A nice piece of commentary by Mr. Haworth.

I would add that these days I always refer to the entity in question as the “central government,” “central state,” or “central instance.” To give it the word “national” would be to concede that a single people somehow created the thing — a claim that was very, very thin at the beginning and which repeated assertion has not improved.

If we could give the establishment a twofold “anti-federalist” and “neo-isolationist” panic, we would really have something going.

avatar robert m. peters January 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Dr. Stromberg,

I am all for the two-fold panic.

avatar Peter Schultz January 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm

There are Anti-Federalists out here although, as is appropriate, the “movement” is a small one!

avatar robert m. peters January 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Mr. Schultz,

To the assertion that the number of us “anti-federalists” is small I will stipulate; however, why is that “appropriate”?

avatar Peter Schultz January 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

Well, I was just trying to be humorous, playing on the fact that the Anti-Federalists are characterized as being in favor a small republic and small government. I was not implying that Anti-Federalism does not deserve support as I am one myself. As I like to say, the Federalists had the stronger argument but the Anti-Federalists had the better argument, as seems to be evident to more people “as time goes by.”

avatar D.W. Sabin January 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Why not the “central edifice”? Crumbling Edifice are so rich in picturesque quality.

Regarding any current conceptions of what Federalism actually is…or to be more precise, “was”, might I direct you to an old saying of Mr. Ed Abbey, sand-buried anarch who quipped that some people cannot pronounce the word “shit even though their mouths are full of it”. Do not be too sure of your understanding of what Federalism is as intended by the Framers and more particularly, transported to the current age. This is why foundational principles are so easily perverted by those who wish to pervert them.

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