U.S. CONSTITUTION: HELP OR HINDRANCE?
[Click here to read an egalitarian Bill of Rights]
[Click here to read "The American 'Founding Fathers' Were Enemies of 'We the People'"]
[Click here to read a Boston Globe opinion article titled "The Constitution requires inequality."]
Even if the U.S. Constitution were obeyed 100%, it would not prevent some people from becoming enormously rich compared to most others. It would not stop our society from being one in which money is power. It would not prevent a very wealthy upper class from having far more power--over both the private sector and the government--than ordinary people have, despite the fact that ordinary people have "one man one vote" and the rights in the Bill of Rights. It would not, therefore, prevent class inequality. And class inequality is the root of our worst problems.
As is acknowledged by academics who study the question rigorously and even by the business press, the United States presently is an oligarchy (or plutocracy--same idea), not a republic or a democracy. In other words a small number of very rich people make the important government decisions and ordinary people have virtually no say in the matter either directly or even indirectly by means of representatives that truly represent them (as some people say would be the case in a republic).
This is the conclusion of a widely cited academic paper reporting on a study with an enormous data base, online here and also here (Business Insider: "Major Study Finds the US is an Oligarchy") and here (TPM: "Princeton Study: US No Longer an Actual Democracy") and here (BBC: "Study: US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy"). Additional proof is provided here.
Some people say that yes, this is the case today, and it is the source of many of our worst problems, including Orwellian wars of social control based on lies (wars that also enrich the plutocracy) and much suffering by the many for the benefit of the few. In order to make things right, they say, we need to make things be the way the U.S. Constitution, which is unfortunately being ignored, says things should be: a "representative democracy" otherwise known as a republic.
The problem with this "solution" is that it doesn't eliminate the root of the problem, which is class inequality. Class inequality in our present United States takes the form of some people being very rich compared to most people, and our society being one in which money is power. Billionaires thus have the power to shape society by their values; regular people do not. The power of money makes one-man-one-vote a meaningless right. Big Money dominates the decisions the government makes. Elected representatives are influenced by Big Money, not their constituents. This is a fact that is plain to see.
Why is it that the poorest people do the hardest work and enjoy the benefits of socially produced wealth the least, while the richest do the easiest work in great luxury or do no work at all, and enjoy the lion’s share of these benefits? It's not because poor people don't have "one man one vote"; it's not because poor people are not "represented" by congressmen and senators the way that the Constitution spells out (for what it's worth, which obviously is not very much!); it's not because poor people lack the rights of free speech and freedom to assemble. etc. in the Bill of Rights. It's because these rights count for diddly-squat in any contest between people with billions of dollars versus people whose net worth (assets minus debts) is close to zero--less than zero for one in five families!
Why is it that when the rich want to wage a war, they do it regardless of the majority of the population opposing it? This was the case with the Vietnam War, which went on until the refusal of GIs to fight it forced Nixon to withdraw in 1975, seven bloody years after a majority of Americans came to oppose that war. It's because when the Billionaire class wants to do something, their Big Money gives them the power to do it regardless of the fact that the vast majority who disagree have all of the useless rights in the Constitution.
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence that prohibits some people from being extremely rich and, thus, having far more actual power (over government decisions as well as private sector decisions) than other people despite the fact that everybody gets only one vote.
In fact, the Constitution protects the right of the very rich to remain very rich. Here is how it does it, as reported by PBS:
"The Fifth Amendment protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without “due process of law,” or fair procedures. In addition, it sets limits on the traditional practice of eminent domain, such as when the government takes private property to build a public road. Under the Fifth Amendment, such takings must be for a “public use” and require “just compensation” at market value for the property seized. But in Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the Supreme Court interpreted public use broadly to include a “public purpose” of economic development that might directly benefit private parties. In response, many state legislatures passed laws limiting the scope of eminent domain for public use."
The reason that the rich can ignore the Constitution when they feel like it is because they are powerful, and nothing in the Constitution prevented them from becoming powerful or prevents them from being MUCH more powerful than regular people. Honoring the Constitution to the letter would be, at most, a nuisance and an inconvenience for the rich. It would not prevent billionaires from running the show; it would simply mean they would have to be more careful and creative about how they used the power of money to get what they wanted.
The U.S. Constitution HELPS the Rich Dominate the Rest of US
Indeed the U.S. Constitution, far from being an impediment to the power of the rich, makes the U.S. government one that is extremely useful for the rich to dominate the entire American population. How so? It does this by making the government one that is based on the authoritarian principle. The authoritarian principle is that one must obey the highest body of government no matter what. In our republic (which is what the United States Constitution makes the United States) when the members of Congress write a law and the President signs it, everybody in the United States must obey it. Ditto when the members of a state legislature write and the Governor signs a law, everybody in the state must obey it, no matter what.
The authoritarian principle (if the population accepts it as legitimate, which is unfortunately often the case) is a veritable "welcome mat" for rich people to dominate the entire population merely by using the power of their money to control a relatively small number of individuals who constitute the highest body of the government. (The authoritarian principle was also a "welcome mat" for the Bolshevik Party leaders to dominate the entire population of the Soviet Union by controlling--by hook or by crook--the relatively few people at the top of the Soviet government.) Oppressive ruling elites LOVE the authoritarian principle, and the U.S. Constitution is pure authoritarian principle!
Why do people accept the authoritarian principle? (They sometimes don't, as you can read about here.) In the United States a big part of the reason why people accept the authoritarian principle is that people have a misunderstanding about democracy (including representative government, a.k.a. republics.) The misunderstanding is the false belief that there can exist today in the United States a democracy (or a republic, if you will, and now we'll just use the word "democracy" if you don't mind, OK?) of ALL the people. By a democracy of all the people I mean a system of government in which all conflicts and disagreements among the entire population of citizens are resolved peaceably by mutual agreements and compromises according to some agreed-upon method of decision-making (such as the principle of a majority vote of elected representatives) without the use of violence or even the credible threat of violence by either side when there is a conflict.
The fact is that there CANNOT exist today in the United States such a democracy of ALL the people, for the reason discussed in the following paragraphs. What purports to be a democracy of ALL the people is in fact a fake democracy that is really an oligarchy. The authoritarian principle derives its legitimacy from the idea that we really have a democracy of ALL the people, in which the laws written by the government reflect peacefully made mutual agreements and compromises among ALL Americans, and should therefore be obeyed.
Why can't there be a democracy of ALL the people? Because there is a conflict in the United States today that is what we call a "fundamental conflict," meaning a conflict in which neither side will agree to any compromise or make any mutual agreement with the other side no matter what the decision-making method is and what decision it produces; this fundamental conflict is one that can only be resolved by one side prevailing over the other side by using superior force--actual violence or the credible threat of violence. What is this fundamental conflict?
The fundamental conflict is this: Should there be class inequality or not?
The only reason the vast majority of people who do not think there should be class inequality (meaning they think there should be no rich and no poor, as discussed here) accept class inequality is because the rich use violence or the credible threat of violence to prevail over the vast majority (as discussed in "Boston Police Commissioner Evans's Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove.") It is not because there was ever an election where people were permitted to vote for or against class inequality and the pro-class-inequality side got more votes and then regular people said, "OK, we lost the election so we'll accept class inequality now."
Whether to have class inequality or not is a question that can ONLY be resolved by violence or its credible threat, and never by any so-called "democratic" decision-making procedure. This was also true in the past for the question of whether slavery should exist or be abolished, and that is why there was a violent Civil War over the question despite the fact that there was--officially--a perfectly adequate representative government of ALL the people (at least all the white males on both sides of the slavery/abolition question) based on the U.S. Constitution in effect for resolving things peaceably. This is discussed more in "A Misunderstanding about Democracy."
The alternative to the false notion that there can be a democracy of ALL the people today in the United States, and likewise the alternative to the authoritarian principle, is egalitarianism. Specifically, it is the Voluntary Federation aspect of egalitarianism, which is discussed here. Egalitarianism is about how people who don't want class inequality can ensure that it won't come into existence. This is why in an egalitarian society only egalitarians in local assemblies have the right to make laws (as discussed more here and here). Enemies of egalitarian values have no right to make laws and participate in the government. This is simply the flip side of the coin, on one side of which is the fact that today advocates of egalitarian values have no ACTUAL right to make laws or meaningfully participate in government.
Constitutions that were written by slave-owning upper classes (or modeled on such constitutions, i.e. republics) are definitely NOT the answer! All the talk by the Founding Fathers known as the Federalists about protecting against the "tyranny of the majority" was actually about protecting the upper class from the lower class. As soon as the Founding Fathers had their Republic, what did they do? They violently attacked lower class people when they tried to make things more democratic (in the sense of ordinary people having a real say) and equal. Read (just use google) about the way this new government violently attacked the Shays's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion, not to mention the way it attacked runaway slaves, and read my brief article about it here.
The 'Founding Fathers' were all either slave owners or the good friends of slave owners. Some people today say that "back then people didn't know what was wrong with chattel slavery of black people--denying black people their human and civil rights just because they were black-- the way we do today." Actually, however, even before Thomas Jefferson was born, British aristocrats knew full well that racial discrimination was wrong, as I discuss in the "Myth #1" part of my article here. So, dear reader, you can choose to believe that the 'Founding Fathers' just didn't know that racist slavery was morally wrong, or you can choose to believe that they did know it was morally wrong. If you go with the former belief, then ask yourself, "Should I revere a constitution written by people who didn't even know that racist slavery was wrong?" If you go with the latter belief, then ask yourself, "Should I revere a constitution written by people who, despite knowing racist slavery was morally wrong, were nonetheless racist slave owners or the good friends of racist slave owners?" Your call.
The libertarians don't CARE whether there is class inequality or not, which is why libertarianism is not the answer either. You can read about this in "Libertaria: A Libertarian Paradise" and "Mom and Pop Capitalism?"
What most Americans want, even if they don't know its name yet, is egalitarianism. "Honoring the U.S. Constitution" sounds good when it's used as a slogan to oppose what the rich are doing to the rest of us, but it's a very misleading slogan that doesn't lead to what most people really want--an end to class inequality.