American History IV: Founded in Liberalism, Conservatism, and Socialism - Part 1 [194]

FAMOUS AMERICAN LIBERALS

GEORGE WASHINGTON (active-state_
GEORGE WASHINGTON (active-state_ | Source
JOHN ADAMS (active-state)
JOHN ADAMS (active-state) | Source
THOMAS JEFFERSON (limited-state, the majority of the time)
THOMAS JEFFERSON (limited-state, the majority of the time) | Source
JAMES MADISON (limited-state,. the majority of the time)
JAMES MADISON (limited-state,. the majority of the time)

YES, AMERICA IS A LIBERAL NATION

ALL OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS WERE LIBERAL ... as it was defined in the 1700s and 1800s by such philosophers of the Enlightenment as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Adam Smith, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, etc. Today, being called a "Liberal" means, according to the Free Dictionary:

a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, and
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) relating to or having social and political views that favour progress and reform
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) relating to or having policies or views advocating individual freedom
3. Giving and generous in temperament or behaviour
4. Tolerant of other people

As you will see, the original definition of Liberalism is still included in the 21st Centuriy's definition.

Although socialism, as we think of it today, didn't have its true beginning until Karl Marx (1818-1883), it actually has its roots in the 1797 French Revolution and philosophical underpinnings of Robert Owen (1771-1858), of England; Charles Fourier (1782-1837), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), Louis Blanc (1811-1882), and Saint-Simon (1760-1825) of France; and Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) of America. As a shaping force of early American political philosophy, socialism was never a major player. Later, during America's progressive era in the 1800s, it did have more influence, especially in the labor movement. Today, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, socialism, true socialist ideals as will be defined in a moment, are not a player in American politics. The modern definition is:

1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
2. The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.
3. (Economics) an economic theory or system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state. It is characterized by production for use rather than profit, by equality of individual wealth, by the absence of competitive economic activity, and, usually, by government determination of investment, prices, and production levels Compare capitalism
4 (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) any of various social or political theories or movements in which the common welfare is to be achieved through the establishment of a socialist economic system
5. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (in Leninist theory) a transitional stage after the proletarian revolution in the development of a society from capitalism to communism: characterized by the distribution of income according to work rather than need

On the other hand, a distant cousin, conservatism, a lá, Edmund Burke through William F. Buckley Jr., was in play during our founding. I say conservatism is a distant cousin to socialism because their starting point is identical; they just grew in different direction. Where the hallmark of liberalism is its focus on the "rights of Individuals", Conservatives and Socialists base their philosophies on the premise that "individuals" do not have rights per se, but "interest groups"; with the emphasis on "groups", have those rights and it is these groups that grant rights to individuals. I didn't understand this until this week (Feb 7, 2013) when I was listening to some more lectures on the philosophies behind the American government. As to the definition of conservatism, it is:

1. The inclination, especially in politics, to maintain the existing or traditional order.
2. A political philosophy or attitude emphasizing respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order.
3. Caution or moderation, as in behavior or outlook.
4. Opposition to change and innovation
5. A political philosophy advocating the preservation of the best of the established order in society and opposing radical change

FATHERS OF LIBERALISM

THOMAS HOBBES: 1588 - 1679:  FROM THE "STATE OF NATURE" COMES THE IDEA OF LIBERALISM AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT
THOMAS HOBBES: 1588 - 1679: FROM THE "STATE OF NATURE" COMES THE IDEA OF LIBERALISM AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT | Source
JOHN LOCKE: 1632 - 1704: TOOK THOMAS HOBBES' "STATE OF NATURE" ONE STEP FURTHER
JOHN LOCKE: 1632 - 1704: TOOK THOMAS HOBBES' "STATE OF NATURE" ONE STEP FURTHER | Source

A STATE OF NATURE

WHEN ONE BEGINS WITH THE LIBERAL PHILOSOPHY Individuals are the center of conversation, it follows that it is the individual's rights and liberties which are at stake and must be protected. The theory, from Hobbs and then Locke, is that in the beginning, individuals were in a "state of nature"; that there was no government, no politics, to restrict their liberty; they were free to do whatever "floated their boat". I forget which philosopher coined the phrase "if all men were angels" but the context it was used in implies that if this were true in a state of nature, then no government would be needed because all individuals would voluntarily do right by other individuals, no stepping on toes to get your way, in other words.

But Locke and others knew all men were not angels, so governments, consequently, were necessary to protect man from himself, but with a caveat ... government should only be large enough to ensure one individual does not bring harm to another, and no larger; thus was the idea of "limited government" born. What is more, this government is an agreed upon government voluntarily entered into by the People, i.e., a contract between the People and the Government, a contract to which the People consented.

That is Liberalism in a nutshell, and most, if not all of our forefathers who were instrumental in 1) in declaring our independence of the British Parliament, and later England herself, 2) creating the Declaration of Independence, which is liberalism to its core, and 3) the construction of a constitution whose end result is a government which lives up to the ideals of Liberalism; protecting the inalienable rights of individual human beings.

WILLIAM SUMNER

TWO ALTERNATIVES

Juxtaposed to this is Conservatism's and Socialism's denial of the individual as being at the center of concern and rejects the concept of a "state of nature". Of concern to these two philosophies are groups or "interests", rather than individuals; when boiled down to their essence, these groups are the "haves" and the "have nots". Another idea that separates these two from Liberalism is they're focus is primarily economic, while Liberalism is political.

An interesting consequence of this altering of point of view between liberalism and socialism/conservatism is what follows from the initial assumptions. Socialism/Conservatism, as we have said, begins with concern about "groups". In both cases, the concern is an economic one; for socialist it is the welfare of the working class and for conservatives it is the maintenance of the status of the wealthy class. Both of these are economic arguments and drive a political philosophy, different ones for sure, to secure the outcome they seek.

For Liberals, the concern is individual liberty, so things are turned on their head; in this case it is politics that drive the economic system that guarantees the most liberty. Personal liberty is the goal, a political purpose, and not economic equality or superiority - both economic goals. When I heard this, many things began falling into place and started making sense regarding the conflicts going on around us today and the intransigence of all sides. It also is the motivation behind this hub.

Neither socialism nor conservatism gained predominance in American culture, but they did influence its course. The move toward socialism gained momentum during the industrial revolution of the early 1800s. One of its (although it wasn't known as socialism then, the world had to wait for Karl Marx for that) major proponents in America, Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803–1876), was instrumental in raising the consciousness of Americans about the plight of the laborer. While the Socialist movement didn't take hold in America, like it did in Europe, who had a much more turbulent history, it did have legs for awhile before dying out.

Conservatism also never came to dominate the American scene, although it did, and does hold sway in much of the South. In one respect, the fight between conservatism and liberalism resulted in the Civil War, where liberalism came out on top. John Caldwell Calhoun (1782 – 1850) was Vice President, a representative and Senator from South Carolina was a principal Conservative theorist in America, following in Edmund Burke's footsteps from England.

Calhoun is best known for 1) his switch from being a nationalist to a staunch state's rightist who supported the use of nullification to combat federal authority and advocating secession, 2) the defense of slavery as a "positive good" and justified as a result of white supremacy and paternalism, and 3) the development of the idea of governing by "concurrent majority", an arrangement where each major minority interest group must agree before a bill can pass. Calhoun set the tone for the subsequent political scene which concluded with the Civil War and the end to slavery, but not the oppression of blacks; a symbol of the Conservative belief that it is natural and good that society be structured in an hierarchical fashion with the wealthy, educated property owners on top, the merchant class next, followed by the labor class, with women and minorities bringing up the rear. In the Conservative view, this is the only way society can survive and avoid anarchy; individual liberty in not a natural right, in the conservative view, it is something granted by the ruling elite.

NOW WE CAN GET TO LIBERALISM IN AMERICA

STANDING IN BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND CONSERVATISM is Liberalism. Its fundamental thesis is that individuals, and not factions, form the basis of society. This is an idea which the other two (and Rush Limbaugh) reject out-of-hand. Further, liberalism is politically based, not economically derived, as is socialism and conservatism. Its foundation is the belief that individuals have certain fundamental rights derived from nature and not given to them by man, whatever form "man" might take.

According to Locke, these rights are Life, Liberty, and Property, all to be interpreted in very broad terms. For Jefferson, Adams, Madison, et. al, it is Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness (which encompasses Property). Beyond that, the five responsible for the Declaration of Independence also included the words "among these are", meaning they believed there were more than the three listed! It is from this fundamental truth that all else follows; including the American way of life.

Liberalism in America takes two very divergent paths, depending on how one views the role of government in insuring "man, or the artifacts of man like corporations, does not harm other men". That is the purpose of the government which the People have created and with which they made a contract. To allow the government to provide such protection, the People voluntarily transferred some of their liberty to the government so that government can exert control, to a limited degree, over their activities. This was to a "limited" government insofar as only enough rights were transferred to allow the contract to be fulfilled and no more.

The "contract" the People of America signed via ratification at Constitutional Conventions across the thirteen colonies is the Constitution of the United States. The duties of the government created by the Constitution are laid out in its Preamble, to wit"

  1. To form a more perfect Union
  2. To establish Justice
  3. To insure domestic Tranquility
  4. To provide for the common defense
  5. To promote the general Welfare
  6. To secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

That is it, six simple directives. Only one of these do most Americans generally agree on how the federal government should fulfill its contractual obligation, and that is provide for a common defense. The rest are the subject of constant and heated debate which, at one time, ended up in the secession of the South from Union culminating in a civil war which Abraham Lincoln thought necessary in order to live up to contractual obligation number six.

One of the sides to this debate on Liberalism is those who believe in a kind of Social Darwinism form of individual rights where the purpose of government is only to "protect property of men and the honor of women". Beyond that, government must stay out of the way. This view was championed by William Graham Sumner (1840 - 1910), a prominent and influential American social Darwinist (he didn't believe in equality between the sexes, but he did champion women's rights, however). The following statement sums up Sumner's philosophy as it applied to men:

"Before the tribunal of nature a man has no more right to life than a rattlesnake; he has no more right to liberty than any wild beast; his right to pursuit of happiness is nothing but a license to maintain the struggle for existence..."—William Graham Sumner, "Earth-hunger, and other essays," p. 234.

Now maybe not to that degree of certitude, this is, nevertheless, the basis behind the argument used by those on the Right in the debate over federal social policy. Those who hold this view are know as "Minimal-state" or "Limited-state" Liberals. Examples of those who fall in this category are Thomas Jefferson (when the mood struck him), James Madison (early career), Andrew Jackson, most Presidents until Abraham Lincoln, each Democratic President until FDR, President Reagan, President George W. Bush (until TARP), and most importantly, many of the Supreme Court justices appointed by these presidents.

On the other side are the "Active-state" Liberals. Here, the adherents believe, as Abraham Lincoln put it, (paraphrasing) "when it comes down to a choice between the rights of private property, when in conflict with the rights of individuals, the rights of individuals must always be the victor." They also believe that it is the duty of the government to ensure that all citizens have a fair shot to achieve the American dream. In contrast, it is the Socialist's view that government should equalize wealth between classes through redistribution; this not what Active-state Liberals propose.

Instead, active-state liberalism holds forth that the Constitution expects the federal government to actively do right by those who contracted with it to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty. Who are these people? Representative examples are George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson (when he was in the mood), James Madison (in his later political life), Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR through Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama and, most importantly, many of the Supreme Court Justices appointed by those listed who were Presidents.

ON TO PART II

THIS WILL CONCLUDE PART I since it was more of a general discussion of this topic. The next Part will look in more detail at the two main branches of Liberalism in America, "active-state" and "limited or minimal-state liberalism.

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Comments 35 comments

csun333 3 years ago

I totally agree. America was founded upon many liberal ideas that some even considered new and radical. Like the idea all are created equal and anyone can govern, not just royalty. In fact, royalty would no longer exist and there would be separation of church and state.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks for your views, CSUN.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

What a very good explanation of liberalism and conservatism in this country. So many people confuse socialism with active liberalism, especially lately. I looked up the quote that you mentioned, and it seems to be James Madison who said "If men were angels, no government would be necessary". I look forward to your next article on this subject. Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Yes, in one of the Federalist papers, I believe, when trying to convince people of the need for a strong, yet limited central gov't; it ends with "... If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary".

Thanks for your comments Mperrottet, and for sharing.


Patriot Quest profile image

Patriot Quest 3 years ago from America

Are you changing history here? The first few years the pilgrims were here they starved to death due to their liberal view of collective gathering and sharing, this was scrapped and each family given a plot of land and told they were on their own........the following winter they had a surplus and even enough food to barter with for other items they needed. You said the concern was for individual freedom? yet liberals have no desire to engage in individuality, they want to take from the haves because they have not and have no desire or ambition to have on their own merit. You talked about Southerners who still cling to the implied sillyness of conservatism, yet failed to mention how all the extreme liberal states are failing, broke, and in ruin compare to low unemploment, low housing cost, low cost of living and low taxes the Southern states enjoy? I live in the most conservative state in the union and my county is one of the fastest growing in the U.S...........seems conservatism is what the people want! That is if you don't listen to media, and our president!


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks for your comments and questions, Patriot. Nope, check your history. The Pilgrams, led by Winthrop, were about as conservative, using the academic definition, as you can get. The society the Pilgrims (the Puritan sect of Protestants) lived in had no room for individual rights. It wasn't until Roger Williams broke off, left the "city on a hill" (which meant the perfect model for Christianity) and formed his brand of Puritanism in Providence (RI) did the beginning signs of liberalism begin to appear.

Try reading the difference between Socialists and Active-State Liberals again as well as Conservatives. The definition of liberalism is a believe in individual rights. If your contention is that all of those to the Left of Limbaugh are Socialists, then why didn't the federal gov't take ownership of the means of production and of distribution of all industry in the 1960s when they had the chance? And, I don't mean regulation of, but "ownership" of. Why did Kennedy, begin to decrease tax rates instead of increasing them, which you would do to distribute wealth from the "Haves" to the "Have Nots"? The only reason Bush I, Clinton, and now Obama did and want to increase rates on the wealthy is that Reagan and Bush II cut the tax on the wealthy so much, it began transferring wealth from the "Have Nots" to the "Haves"; and statistics I have presented elsewhere confirm this.

If conservatism is what people want, why did Obama get elected twice and the Conservatives start losing their grip on Congress again when all of the current thinking was they were going to increase it?

Low taxes in the South (read conservative States)? Try this on for size: of the top ten combined local and state sales tax rates, 7 are conservative States with TN, AZ and LA leading the pack; only CA, NY, and WA appear in the top ten. As to state income taxes, I will have to do some work to figure that one out.


HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Great history and analysis of these political and economic categories that have shaped our country and the world. As we can see, most of our political and economic arguments have not changed much at their core.


Patriot Quest profile image

Patriot Quest 3 years ago from America

Obama got elected twice because of 47 MILLION on welfare, those who produce, create, invent, and work voted for Romney..........its is sorry to say they are now the minority......


Healthyannie profile image

Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

47 million people on welfare - something must have gone wrong in the social experiment called United States of America. Interesting hub this

and I would like to add that I believe the majority of the founding fathers were masons, and many of the basic principles in American society are based on masonic ideas and beliefs. Look forward to the next hub.


peoplepower73 profile image

peoplepower73 3 years ago from Placentia California

My Esoteric: An excellent article. As I was reading this, I felt like I was at a scholarly lecture. The part that really made sense for me was that conservatism is about economics while liberalism is about politics.

That explains so much as to what is happening today. Conservatives want the rich to become richer, while liberals want to promote the general welfare of the people. But in the final analysis, they have the same end goal which is to improve the economy. However, promoting the general welfare is one of the tenets of the preamble to the constitution. I can't wait to read part 2. Voting up, useful, and sharing.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thank you for your comments and anticipation; HS, Healtyannie, and Peoplepower.

Peoplepower, it is not so much that conservatives believe the rich want to become richer, that is both a liberal and conservative goal. The difference is that liberals want society structured such that the opportunity for upward mobility is present and even the poor can get richer, if they work hard enough.

Conservatives, on the other hand, like the status quo and their concern is more akin to not letting the rich get poorer. To have a rich class, a working class, and a poor class is natural to them and each has a function in making society work.

I presume, Patriot, that you think 100% of that 47 million ( 4 million on welfare and 43 million getting food stamps only) are of voting age and actually voted for Obama; is that what your implying? Let's do some math. First, Obama scored about 63 million votes in 2012, but only about 120 million (50%) voted out of roughly 240 million adults.

-So assuming all 47 million voted for Obama, that means 16 million non-welfare people voted for Obama as well, fools that we were. This compares to the 59 million rich white people who voted for Romney.

-But, how reasonable is that? Given the kid population is roughly around 1/3, that leaves, at a maximum, of 31 million adult welfare recipients. So now Obama's total non-welfare vote is up to 31 million

-But wait, why is it reasonable for welfare recipients to vote at higher rates than the whole population. It isn't, in fact they are less likely to vote, but let's give them the 50% seen in the total population or 16 million; now Obama is up to 46 million.

-But wait again. How many of the 16 million welfare recipients are died-in-the-wool conservatives who wouldn't vote for Obama come hell-or-high-water. After all, 45% of all welfare recipients are non-Hispanic or Black. So, let's say 1/2 of the non-Hispanic and Black recipients voted for Romney regardless of the insults he heaped on them, that is another 4 million. So now Obama has 50 million non-welfare votes.

Consequently, at a minimum, Obama had 50 million non-welfare people voting for him, 9 million shy of what Romney received. Now, let's consider how many well-off Latinos, women, and Blacks the Conservatives managed to put a stick-in-the-eye ... how many of them voted for Obama? What does that leave us ... "at a minimum", 81% of those who voted for Obama weren't on welfare, go figure.


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

History Bluff: You said "individual liberty in not a natural right, in the conservative view, it is something granted by the ruling elite." How did early liberals differ, actual American History supports that there was no difference?


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks for you comment Reginald. I think you will find that conservatism began much earlier than you think. Look up Richard Hooker, 1544 - 1600, sometimes thought of the Father of Conservatism. Edmund Burke, 1729 - 1797, known as the Father of Modern Conservatism. On the other hand, John Locke, 1632 - 1704, is generally given credit for the form of liberalism the Americans adopted by adding to Thomas Hobbes, 1588 - 1679, original idea of "state of nature" in his book "Leviathon", one of the first comprehensive approaches in establishing the "natural rights" of man which Burke and others added their to. When you read about Hooker and Burke, you will see that "natural rights" and the liberty of individuals never crossed their lips.


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

Your Welcome, My Esoteric: It’s interesting to know that small gov’t was originally a liberal idea, also the individual liberties spoken about by Hobbs and Locke was flawed because it was exclusively for white men, from hindsight vision is 20/20, respectfully thinking of those who died in the midst of making the Democracy truly democratic in America. Yet, once individual liberties were afforded to the citizenry, the ones who originally was granted individual liberty circumvented (not defending) the constitution and sold our democracy to the enemies of lofty ideals of the USA Founders and leaving a shell with the ideal of American Democracy inscribed in rotundas.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

My pleasure, Reginald. I do feel terminology is critical when discussing things so gray as politics. While I agree "small", in terms of size, was preferred by our liberal founding fathers, so was it by the conservative founding fathers. However, the Lockean term "limited" is limited to liberals because "small" does not necessarity equal "limited"; you can have a small dictatorship just as easily as a small democracy.

"Limited" as used by Locke, and yes it is unfortunate it was only talking white males with property (but one major sea change at a time), meant limited in the scope of power of the government, central or not. In Locke's view, which is what American liberals adopted, the word "limited" referred to the transfer of Rights from the People to the government. That transfer would be limited to the extent necessary for the government to fulfill the terms of whatever "contract" the People made with it in its creation. Again, in Locke's view, the principal purpose of government, at any level, was to administer the common needs of its citizens, to the degree those citizens felt necessary, and, just as importantly, protect the citizenry from 1) external danger, 2) internal danger, and 3) from each other. It is item #3 in the context of state vs federal power to do so that drives most of the debate today, I think.

Now, if you compare what I just said in layman's terms to the Declaration of Independence, or better yet, the Preamble to the Constitution, which is the "contract" between the People and the Federal government, I think you will find all four purposes incorporated into each.

Further, in reading Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention, Jefferson and Adams biographies, etc, there is no doubt that the framers and writers of the Constitution understood times will change and that what they wrote had to be flexible and be able to interpreted and changed with the times. In fact Jefferson once proposed a new constitution be written every generation.


Jmiller17 3 years ago from Marietta, Georgia

@my esoteric. My apologies, my first common was submitted before I was finished. Please do not allow it.

You, as always, wrote a very intriguing, educational, and well researched hub. Great job. What is your take on todays use of the words "liberal" and "conservative"? Do you think we use them correctly? As a conservative I agree that our founding fathers were liberals, but I would argue that today they would be considered conservatives.

I would also like to restart a debate we were having on a previous hub of mine, regarding the federal governments role in "providing for the general welfare". The founding fathers chose every word in the Constitution with care and delicacy. I noticed they put "To PROVIDE for the common defense" and "To PROMOTE the general welfare" I didn't notice this distinct wording until I was reading your hub.

What i want to get at is that I believe thereis a clear, distinct difference between providing for and promoting. I would interpret providing for a common defense as just that, to financially, and administratively provide a military for the common defense. While on the other hand, to promote means to me to pass laws/regulations to promote, but not directly financially or administratively provide for the general welfare.

I would take this distinction back to our previous debate on the federal governments role in financially providing welfare to people and argue that this difference of words means the federal government should not actively provide welfare, as they actively provide for the common defence. What is your take on this choice of words and the difference between provide for and promote?


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Well, I had this nice response written out, JMiller, and hit Post, which it looked like did; well here I am writing again. What I said was -

Thanks for noticing the difference in wording, many do not, they just focus on the punchline rather than the whole story. Yea verily, "to provide" and "to promote", while related, have two different meaning. Having said that, I think I could argue that "to provide" is a difinitive subset, or partial subset of "to promote", sort of a Venn diagram with two intersecting domains.

Anyway, the meaning of "to provide" is pretty clear, a directive to the federal government to develop the mechanism which delivers a specific service, in this case a common Defense. There is no question of what the end result is to be.

"To promote" is much more gray. The first thing to pop up when I did an Internet search is the following:

1.Further the progress of (something, esp. a cause, venture, or aim); support or actively encourage.

2.Give publicity to (a product, organization, or venture) so as to increase sales or public awareness.

Obviously the Constitution is telling the federal government to do something since "to promote" is an action verb. Consequently, doing nothing regarding the general Welfare doesn't seem to me what the writers had in mind.

So what can the federal government do regarding "promoting the general Welfare"? The cheapest thing would just be talk about it from the Presidential bully pulpit; but to me, that is not very active. More than likely, it would seem this phrase is a directive to Congress to survey the environment that esists at any point in time to see what needed to be done within the scope of the general Welfare, and then take the legislative steps necessary to promote the particular intiatives they come up with.

It occurs to me that throughout most of American history, the approach was to have the federal government "not promote the general Welfare".

I went looking for the hub you were refering to, is it finished yet?


Jmiller17 3 years ago from Marietta, Georgia

I thank you for your response, and I would agree about the role of the legislative body in surveying and taking the necessary steps to pass legislation that promotes the general welfare. I would also agree with the Venn diagram analogy, but i am still struck on "why" the founding fathers made the word choice instead of using "provide"To me, "provide" means that resources must be put into the program or process, while on the contrary "promote" means that only energy needs put in, but not capital resources, or at its very core, lay down a framework of guidelines that "promote" the general welfare, but the federal government is not responsible for providing it. At its basic core, would you agree that the USA has no direct financial obligation to fund programs that "promote" the general welfare? Or could you offer any more insight as to why the founding fathers used the words they did?

I believe the debate we were having was on my Fiscal Cliff: Fair and Balanced Hub (it should be on my featured list).

thanks


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Ah, OK, I saw the Fiscal Cliff one, I was looking for a different title.

It is easy "to provide" a common defense, the goal is specific. I don't think "providing" for the general Welfare can work because that means the legislature would have to take all measures to "make sure" all aspects of the "general Welfare" of the citizenry be taken of.

"Promote", on the other hand, gives Congress and the President huge leeway on what to do legislatively; everything from verbal promotion to insuring all of its citizen's has access to basic health care with something like Obamacare.


Jmiller17 3 years ago from Marietta, Georgia

Thank you, that answer makes sense as to the leeway given by writing it as "promote" vs "provide" Like I said before, interpretation is everything. going back to the point of your nub, What is your take on today's use of the words "liberal" and "conservative"? Do you think we use them correctly? As a conservative I agree that our founding fathers were liberals, but I would argue that today they would be considered conservatives.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Do we use the terms "liberal", "conservative", and "socialist" correctly today? Not even close. Besides this one, I have started a few hubs other hubs dealing with the subject, Part II is getting into more detail about minimal state liberalism (I dropped using "limited"), which is often called conservatism, but it is not. Part III will be about active state liberalism (which most people call socialist)


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

Socialism created by Capitalist to Undermine Czarist Russia and infiltrate the U.S. to weakened the strenght and spirit of the U.S. Constitution so again Capitalist can make all independent nations serfs.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Interesting Reginald, thanks for sharing. However, I imagine Bellamy, Marx, Ingalls, & Deb might chose to diasgree, if they were still alive. Beyond that, I am not sure what you mean.


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

Follow the money and you'll discover the map of how idealogies are created and maintained. The Soviet Empire came about by greed and envy. England's King George V was jeolous over Czar Nicholas II (who was then the richest man in the world). The King of England conspired to murder the last Royal Romanov (his cousin) and retain his wealth. Communism was selected as the movement to spearhead this plot (Lenin, Trosky and Stalin were figure heads much as Bush and Obama are and were) the Romanov money then used to create the Federal Reserve System.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

With the exception of liberalism, you are probably right. Socialism and Conservatism are both based on economic reasons, albeit, opposite ones. Liberalism, however, is a political ideology, not economic. America wasn't founded to be capitalist, it was founded to promote liberal ideas, meaning individual liberty. Capitalism is just a fortunate consequence when the industrial revolution was finally brought over from England.


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

fortunate? however we have to live with the consequences, FREE TRADE aka Capitalism Began in West Africa: the British captured slaves shipping them to the Western Hemisphere creating the Southern U.S. Slave system. Cotton became the #1 export 75% of cotton produced by slave labor was shipped to England. English peasants produced low quality textiles for shillings. These textiles were shipped to India and sold to the Indigenous population who were banned from producing their own clothing. They exchanged opium for textiles from England.

Opium was then shipped to China for enormous profit addicting millions. The basis of this method of wealth generation was to buy cheap and to sell high. The paradigm of the economic system remains today!


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

By definition, a slave economy is not a capitalist economy. In fact, none of what you describe sounds at all like capitalism. Minus the slaves, those sets of conditions could exist in a Socialist economy (which to the slave, in a manner of speaking, was the kind he or she saw through their eyes) or in a Communist or Facsist economy, couldn't they?


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

Adam Smith coined the word Free Trade in The Capitalist Manifesto "The Wealth of Nations" which was as a guide book for the Southern U.S. Slave system. No major economic dogma has replaced this paradigm (for U.S or Britian ) which thrives on buying cheap (free labor) and sellling high (exploitation) of the populace.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Reginald, as you study the southern slave economy, you will find it was failing, and the reason it was failing was because the cost of slave maintenance became excessive. The northern industrial capitalist economy, on the other hand, was thriving. In the South, the Gini index was high, while in the North it was lower (the Gini index measures wealth distribution)

A further distinction was that the South was based on Conservative principals while the North was based on Liberal principals.


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

"the cost of slave maintenance became excessive" Christopher Brian Bridges that Ludacris!

The poor maintenance of morally and the cost of conscience. It is impossible to regulate the the human soul to being an object.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

As true as your second paragraph is, Reginald, the fact remains that in the cold, hard world of slave ownership the cost to clothe, feed, house, oversee, and track down if necessary kept eating up more and more of their profits. In times of declining commodities prices, this fact bankrupted many plantation owners because they weren't able to cut the high fixed cost which slaves represented; they couldn't fire them, in other words, because what happens when prices increase again and they need more labor? They already sold off their investment, now they have to buy it back again ... that is the economics of slave owenership.

Besides being morally despicable, it is economically stupid.


Reginald Boswell profile image

Reginald Boswell 3 years ago from Alabama

My Esoteric: You could have just left it at, "Besides being morally despicable, it is economically stupid, Reginald, the fact remains that in the cold, hard world of slave ownership the cost to clothe, feed, house, oversee ..." If you can't excel with free help you have no hope! With the absence of humanity the zeitgeist turned its back on the vicious cycle and demented mentality of justifying brutal rape, oppression and the systematic dehumanization of humans that was unprecedented, inhumane and demonic in nature. No not any people could prosper with such methods. Commodities? Image working 50 years with no pay? Rags? Pig guts? and a whip are you kidding me. Mr. Eli Whitney offset the scale in favor of the Plantation owners with the Cotton Gin which truly made Cotton the worlds #1 crop. No with the shrinking world's competing ideologies; the inhumanity that was clearly seen upon the world stage was the impetuous for 'the powers that be' to pull the plug on Southern US Slavery which left the Southern way of life in Dixie with its illogical racist doctrine; naked until it took refuge in state laws, then the minds and hearts of Americans and these evil vestiges still exist today.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Reginald, I think you are missing my point. The slave owners discovered that instead of using supposedly "free" labor of slaves, they would have been much better off economically, not to mention morally, if they had employed people in the fashion the farms do today. The problem was, by the time this fact dawned on them, it was too late to change, they were now stuck in a vicious cycle.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 16 months ago

Fantastic article, usual. I will be back to read more comments which are almost as interesting as your hub.

Voted up, UAI and shared

Shyron


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 16 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thank you Shyron ... the whole subject area just fascinates me.

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