A Human Movement
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
You want to talk about international political situations being in flux? Let's talk about the period in American history between the Declaration of Independence and the Ratification of the Bill of Rights (1776-1789), a time when America was enjoying its "First Confederacy."

The more complicated truth is that the initial movement for independence in the US came up from below. The people with money and power generally wanted the stability and trading ties that came with the relationship to England. When these folks jumped on board to the revolution (some at least), they found that the movement already had its own logic and ideology that they couldn't agree with, but it was better to bet on the winner.

So the Declaration was written largely reflecting the views of who we now call the anti-federalists, i.e. Jefferson, Patrick Henry, etc., and so were the Articles of Confederation. They spoke from the perspective of rural America, farmers and small town people who basically wanted government out of their hair in general, and very close to home when it was going to affect their lives. The idea of relatively independent states loosely tied into a central confederacy made perfect sense at the time from this point of view.

This didn't serve the interests of the emerging urban, richer class (too soon to talk about true capitalism, but we're getting there), who we will later call the Federalists, and who are represented most visible by Hamilton, Madison and Adams. They stood to gain from more powerful central control of the economy, a unified front (rather than competition) for all states when trading with European nations, etc. When the anti-federalists went back to the states, they regrouped, and came up with a new form of goverment which much more effectively suited their interests.

By the time it became clear that the Articles were likely to be replaced (by a new document that was replacing them using its own rules for change, not the rules in the Articles itself), the anti-Federalists came rushing back from their far-flung farms and state capitals to Philadelphia to get in on the action. They couldn't stop the train, but they figured they could mitigate the damage, and they largely are responsible for the Bill of Rights.

If you look carefully, there's a kind of logical consistency between the Declaration, the Articles and the Bill of Rights (minimal centralized goverment power, government mostly local, maximum individual freedom) that is *not* consistent with the Constitution, which came from a very different point of view. The hatred between these groups was enormous, and they each really feared that the other was destroying the hopes of the U.S. to emerge as a free and democratic nation, as they each defined those terms.

And these groups continue to exist to this day, albeit blurred by shifting allegiances and ideologies. Yet, despite the inevitable twists and turns between liberal and conservative politics, the U.S. has continued its ascendancy up the rank of nations. And though you can argue that post-WWII America has been dominated by New Deal reactionary conservatism, liberalism is by no means dead and has left many a pockmark on the U.S. political landscape. Throughout their wrangling, America continues to assert its monocultural hegemony.

Therefore, I find it hard to believe when Scott espouses the inevitable rise of the 3rd World, that someone somewhere will "get it" and turn these hapless nations, led by leaders who are nothing more than pale imitations of American bureaucrats and American greed, into a pack of avid revolutionaries. I mean, so you're saying that this time Marx makes it as a benevolent dictator?


Ideological wrangling and debate is a given. No new idea(s) can alter the monocultural hegemony of the U.S. because 1) the MCH absorbs that idea and makes it its own and 2) Most importantly, America has LAND and as long as it has more land than anyone else and all the Americans and wanna-be Americans can fit peacably on it, there can be no incentive for the people within America to challenge their system. And it is only people within the system that can change the status quo. It cannot be challenged from without.

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