September 23rd, 2014   Submitted by Jim Carigan


“To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude… I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Yet we bound ourselves, and continue to add bindings, to a mechanism that is incapable of avoiding these perils, or their consequences. Even an admirer of Jefferson must regret that he misunderstood the inevitability of the machine, and his naivete in trusting human reason as an antidote. The question is, will debt crush republican virtues? Or maybe the question is, are there any republican virtues, anyway?

This is not intended as a historical treatment. I have no expectation of ever learning exactly what happened in the past. This piece addresses the results of that history, and includes some speculation on the likely human behaviors that attended the processes.

Remember that Jefferson had little to do with the chains and bonds of the ruse that is called the Constitution of the United States. His primary contribution was the Declaration of Independence. He was safely tucked away with the earthly delights of Paris, as President Washington’s Minister to France, during the time that the Articles of Confederation were dying a predictable death — the critical 5-year run-up to the Constitution’s drafting and ratification.

Jefferson was still romantically attached to liberty; but his eyes and his dreams were on the arising French Revolution. Maybe he assumed he had left the American experiment in good hands. This is the nature of idea men. They are great at founding dreams, but they are terrible at (if not entirely absent during) the implementation. They lack the patience for detail. They have scorn for micromanagers. We need only look at how Jefferson managed his personal life for a vivid illustration. He died so deeply in debt that he was not even able to leave his dear Monticello plantation to his family.

I’m not saying that Jefferson had his head in the clouds. In my view he was a minarchist at least, and an anarchist at heart. The trouble of course was that Jefferson was patiently waiting for natural law to assert itself, while hotspur Alexander Hamilton was sucking all of the air out of the free-spirited new nation.

Hamilton was sharpening the politician’s technique of the big lie — tell the people what they want, then promise delivery of these things, then begin maneuvering to withhold the things you promised, planning instead to give them to your cronies.

Hamilton was a master of distraction. He influenced what the Constitution would be by tendering a draft that no one would like, so the draft was almost casually laid aside by the deciders. Then Hamilton even departed the conference without voting on the final version. But his yes men, whom he left behind at the conference, knew precisely what to do.

The Bill of Rights was a direct distraction, and even a subliminal list of all the rights that were intended for abridgment. In its naked state, at drafting time, it looked like a list of things the government could not do. It is entirely unlikely that someone who had a positive expectation for the Bill of Rights could foresee the contortions and rationalization that ill-intended bureaucrats could evoke to render the enumerated “rights” impotent.

I toiled in the ruined vineyards of statism for many years, where I could see the modus operandi: build a cover of words. What words makes little difference. Laws, legislation, regulations, interpretations are all clay in the hands of the seasoned bureaucrat. Shape them as to meet the exigencies. The oligarchy has every minute of every day to fashion schemes around what is naturally right. The victims, who have their promised and inalienable rights excused away, never see the lightening bolt that strikes them.

What might we conclude? It seems to me that the enlightened idea of a republican form of government, while very advanced in the eighteenth century, was impossible to implement. This is precisely because the thieves rushed in before the ink was dry on the documents. Government, in its implementation, attracts crooks as its minions, not the devotees of enlightenment. Whose interests will the thieves serve, their own, or those of the dreamers such as Jefferson?

The choice of free people should be no government, not some overdesigned intellectual experiment where we must depend on “our rulers” to keep society on course.

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19 Responses to “Legerdemain”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    One can find things to criticize Jefferson for when he was the POTUS. Such as the perhaps unconstitutional way he handled the Barbary pirates situation and his embargo etc… One could say like many people he was contradictory.

    John Adams claiming that Jefferson is perhaps an Anarchist.


  2. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Great stuff, Mr. Carigan, thanks, although maybe a bit too America-centric for a web site that isn’t necessarily dedicated to American things. That’s picking nits, though, since people are people who each can learn a thing or two from the crimes of America’s “official” past.

    Perhaps Jefferson was an anarchist when he wasn’t clamoring for artificial titles like “president.” I have my doubts, and in any case don’t forget about the other Constitutions he helped draft or the Jacobin terror that his French buddies perpetrated as a prelude to marxian-bolshevism.

    One thing is for sure: no person has ever attained authorized permission to create a document that declares other people as wards of that document. If anyone starts reading something that starts with the word “We,” they can be certain that they are dealing with con artists.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      What do you have against America?

      • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

        Ha. The web site “isn’t necessarily dedicated to American things.” That’s why this avatar admitted to “picking nits” about an America-centric article that all in all was “great stuff.”

        What does the HRearden avatar have against non-America? Does such self-delusion stem from “exceptional” assurances doled out in fifth grade civics class?

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          I did not state anything against non-America. You stated that the article was a bit too America-centric. I was just asking what you had against America because of that comment by you. It just seems like an odd comment.

  3. GenghisNo Gravatar says:

    “The choice of free people should be no government,”

    Except that everyone wants, even needs some kind of government. Without some kind of government we have no freedom or rights, property rights, intellectual rights, freedom of speech, religion, etc. All we have then are duties, the duty to defend ourselves and our family and friends.

    The proper role of government is a trusted third party and some agreed upon basic rules or laws. Otherwise we are no different than a bunch of wild animals running around.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      Not everyone wants or needs some kind of government. There are people who post on this site who will tell you that thy don’t want or need some kind of government (state). Yes most people want some level of freedom and safety but a state may not be necessary for achieving that. In fact states generally don’t achieve that and act like they are the largest gang around. The vast majority of people don’t act like wild animals running around. There have been “societies” that functioned well without a state as such and people in such “societies” could opt out and leave. I am referring to tribes and clans that existed throughout the world in the past. Take Iceland during the Middle Ages, there was not a state as such in Iceland.

      • GenghisNo Gravatar says:


        I think the problem here is language. “Freedom” means two entirely different things to a Slave or a Master. “Freedom, Liberty and Security” are primarily words and concepts slaves use. An awake person just chuckles to himself when he sees slaves/masters giving voice to those concepts, chaining themselves to the either/or proposition.

        The reality is that one mans slave is another mans master. Society/Government is simply the emergence of this reality.

        There is no ‘getting out’ of the system (except for death). All we can do is see it for what it is and luckily that is enough.

    • STLICTXNo Gravatar says:

      You don’t speak for everyone, either their wants or their needs.

      • GenghisNo Gravatar says:

        True I don’t speak for anyone but me, but I do observe. Try living without society and then get back to me just before you die from exposure or starvation if you don’t get shot first.

        • Jim CariganNo Gravatar says:

          Living with society does not preclude living with anarchy.

          For instance, here is my take on the second amendment from my bi-weekly column at Everything-Voluntary.com

          ” … whether or not I have a weapon is a matter of a solely voluntary nature. I have a natural right to protect myself and my associations and the time and space in which I live. There is nothing a politician can do to alter that fundamental reality. Even if I have a gun askew of current bureaucratic control, it is a matter of my choice not his. I will do what I do regardless of what may be the temporary legislative and regulatory fashions in the District of Columbia — if that imperils me, I will address the risk voluntarily.

          • GenghisNo Gravatar says:

            Rights come from the State. The Bill of Rights was a mistake. The Government should have been limited to exactly what was enumerated.

            We have a duty to defend ourselves.

            If the State tries to take away our ability to defend ourselves, it is our duty to resist that attempt.

            Life is pretty much our highest priority and it is ours not the State’s. The State can ask for our life and service but we are under no obligation to provide it.

            So I pretty much concur with what you said.

            • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

              What is the case for rights coming from the state? If rights come from the state wouldn’t that mean that the state decides what one’s rights are and can at will decide that something it claimed is right no longer is? Suppose that state says that you don’t have the right to defend yourself.

              • Jim CariganNo Gravatar says:

                What the state says regarding rights is immaterial to me. The state did not make me, and I am not its property.

                • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

                  Jim Carigan:

                  “The state did not make me, and I am not its property.”

                  Good response. I’ll take it one step further: the state does not exist. People exist.

                  The state is the central abstraction by which people put catastrophically wrong ideas into practice (thanks, David Calderwood).

                  Sometime back I developed the practice of substituting “choices” for “rights” in talking and writing. I do not have “rights”. I make choices.

                  This helps make a difference in my attitude toward life and liberty and freedom. Because there are many, many “wrongs” under which I have no control whatsoever. Most reading this agree that voting in political elections certainly has no gainful value.

                  Why tilt at windmills? We here at Anarchist know human government is criminal — insane. So it’s superfluous whining — as if getting the “right” people “in office” would improve matters. Not. That shyster named Jefferson was merely a first of that long line of dominoes that will fall once you begin to rely on monopoly government for solutions.

                  “Rights” presume somebody is going to protect them. They won’t. Choices mean I have the responsibility to defend them when necessary.

                  If it’s going to be, it’s up to me. That’s anarchy. Sam

              • GenghisNo Gravatar says:

                The Bill of Rights is a list of Rights that the State has granted to you. No different than the Right to drive, or get Married. The State gave you the Right to arm yourself and the State can take away that Right. That is slave speak.

                On the other hand you have inalienable Rights or Duties, simply by virtue of existing, if you care to take them.

                “A man may have what he can take and he can keep what he can hold.”

                • STLICTXNo Gravatar says:

                  “a pirates life for me!”

                • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

                  Seriously? You believe that prior to the BOR nobody in history had the right to free speech, to assembly, exercise of religion, to arm one’s self? Really, you believe that those rights did exist prior to 1791?

  4. Jim CariganNo Gravatar says:

    Sam Spade — Excellent!