history, Politics

The US Constitution in Context: Part I


“Men seem determined to adhere to old prejudices, and reason wrong, because our ancestors reasoned right.”–Noah Webster

When dealing with the Constitution of the United States and the concomitant Amendments thereof there is an innate and perverse bias to “preserve, protect, and defend”1 the document as it exists now, which is essentially, with small but important exceptions, in its original finished state. This bias should not be mistaken for the facile arguments over whether the document should be seen as “living” or “dead, dead, dead”, in the the words of the ineffably ardent textualist Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Between the loose constructionist (as the proponents of the living are called) and textualist (as the proponents of the dead are called) schools there is an long lasting, even structurally essential, detente: the notion that the basic precepts of law and ethics outlined in the document should be preserved and built upon. Therefore it is my contention that the Constitution of the United States of America was and is the primary obstacle to the advancement of human rights and dignity in the nation.

This is not altogether surprising when we consider who it is that has had the job of crafting and maintaining the document: slave owners, patriarchal aristocrats, elite academics, capitalist businessmen, wealthy jurists and entrenched political officials. Of course there have been exception to this essentially conservative codere but those exceptions, civil rights activists, socialists, workers rights advocates, independent scholars, feminists and Aboriginal activists, tend to prove the rule. There is a vested interest in keeping the Constitution as it is or at least only allowing it to grow within strict and legalistic parameters that are controlled and set by the same folks who benefit most from the current systems. For the most part insurgencies against entrenched bias and privilege in the document have taken the form of mass protests and targeted legal maneuvores to bring attention to issues of abuse and neglect within the context of the preexisting systems. The most effort has been put towards the further amending of the document as it exists in order to “expand” its reach and “widen” its applicability to include marginalized groups and people. Outside of anarchist, communist, or fascist intellectual circles (circles that are, rightfully or not, considered “fringe” at best and seditious at worst) there has been little or no attempt to analyze the role the Constitution itself, as a system, plays in perpetuating injustice and marginalization. Activists and reforms miss the forest for the trees, and are either too blind or too afraid to take on the Constitution itself.

The United States as it exists today is the antithesis of the nation that existed when the Constitutional framers first worked on its system of laws and government. The nation of today is 100 times larger by population, many times more influential in world affairs, for the most part has an ethos of democratic participation as opposed to republican good order, is internationalist in outlook, diverse in population and, at least when it comes to the vast majority of citizens, populist in matters of economics and governance. The United States as it existed in 1789 was an oligarchial agrarian state with a large population of paupers, indentured servants, itinerant farmers and hunters, enslaved people and displaced indigenous folk ruled over by an immensely rich and powerful entrenched semi-feudal aristocracy and wealthy merchant capitalists. The revolution that overthrew the authorities governing the various colonial nations (and they did indeed see themselves for the most part as disparate and unique nations) was more like a localized coup then an authentic mass revolutionary movement like those in late 18th Century France, mid 19th Century Central Europe and early 20th Century Russia. A system of overseas control was overthrown in favor of a local alternative.


Excerpt From Part I of the Dionysian Man


The following will be available for purchase in a more complete for as Part I of The Dionysian Man, a novel in April 2014: [All Spelling Errors are my own and should be fucking ignored as this is a rough draft preview of an upcoming book. History in the making people. super cereal]

 The Dionysian Man

Part I

December 1913


            It is easy enough to be disheartened and depressed by existence. Often the events that unfold in a normal life are enough to unhinge even the sturdiest of minds from their delicate moorings to sanity. Optimists would have you believe that the things that happen to us and others have a purpose that will reveal itself at the appropriate moment. Pessimists… well, pessimists are nothing more than misanthropic optimists, truth be told. They are optimistic in the face of optimism and they take a certain degree of comfort if not pleasure in this notion. Professor Florian Tull was neither an optimist nor a pessimist in thought nor in deportment. He was equally happy and unhappy with the sundry little disappointments and triumphs that inflicted themselves upon him over the course of his 55 years. Florian Tull enjoyed nothing worth enjoying and was disturbed by nothing that would elicit a measure of disturbance. Herr Tull had grown up seeing the world as a puzzling and beautifully awe inspiring place. He was a rare specimen of man: he was not in a thrall to metaphysical ideas and tenants. Herr Tull was a free spirit in the sense that he was a freethinker: he did not let self-indulgent fear rule his mind or influence his personal morality. That is not to say, however, that he did not have his own petty phobias and foibles.

            Herr Tull was a Professor of Philosophy at one of the premier Universities in all of Germany, a University he proudly called his alma mater. His heart was an arrhythmic muscle devoid of the passion and lust for power and people that often fuels intelligent or unique minds such as his was. His bland and unimaginative seeming personality was ill-suited to the task of cultivating the potential of emerging geniuses and leaders on the surface. He reserved what little passion he had for his exploration of the real nature of philosophical and physical freedom in what he deemed a “world imprisoned by faith and fear”. His one remarkable trait as a thinker and a teacher was the uncanny ability to see the world in the most profoundly achromatic shades of grey. Sadly this talent was often mistaken for a depressive personality, and as a result of this erroneous observation many of Herr Tull’s colleagues and contemporaries went out of their way to ovoid him.

            He was respected and feared by his students, but he was also despised and pitied. One student pitied him so much that she condescended to marry him. Inga Tull nee Hoffman was a brilliant writer and a beautiful woman. She had all of the qualities that her husband so sorely lacked and more besides. She was gracious, pleasant, possessed an excellent sense of humor, and was generally beloved by all who met or beheld her. She was the rare woman in her era that was actually able to capitalize on the gifts and talents she possessed. She was one of the most celebrated young writers of either gender in Germany and Europe with three well received novels and two widely attended plays under the belt surrounding her lithe frame. But as is often the case with writers there was something lacking in her self-esteem. A Freudian would call her personal malaise a repressed hatred of her mother that led to a lack of self-appreciation. A Christian would see her as a lost soul who had never felt the love of God, and as a consequence never found a way to love herself. Most others would just call her a fool.

            Foolish was the only way to describe her decision to marry her professor and PhD advisor. She would later explain that she saw something safe in the man she called “Florry”. She would say that he was kind to her were no other man was before, and that he asked nothing of her besides patience with his morose temperament and the long hours he spent working on his “Philosophical Masterwork”. Herr Tull had never been the recipient of a woman’s affection (or in sooth interest) before, and he grasped onto Frau Hoffman like a terrified serf grasps onto the word of his God. Theirs was a short courtship. He proposed to her while they were both attending a colloquium on translations of early German Romanticism. Just around the time the speaker got around to De Stael Tull looked to his erstwhile Eve and asked her if she would do him the favor of marrying him. Not wanting to make a scene in the midst of dozens of her colleagues she said yes. They did not discuss the matter further until they had dinner that night. At that point the idea had sunk in and Inga felt that she could certainly do no worse. Tull was lucky in this regard: she was busy with her studies and her creative endeavors, so much so that her inherent insecurity urged her to reach out to the nearest kind soul. This just happened to be Tull.