Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wisdom of the Day: W. Cleon Skousen

The Founders' Political Spectrum

Part of the genius of the Founding Fathers was their political spectrum or political frame of reference. It was a yardstick for the measuring of the political power in any particular system of government. They had a much better political yardstick than the one which is generally used today. If the Founders had used the modern yardstick of "Communism on the left" and "Fascism on the right," they never would have found the balanced center which they were seeking.

What is Left? What is Right?

It is extremely unfortunate that the writers on political philosophy today have undertaken to measure various issues in terms of political parties instead of political power. No doubt the American Founding Fathers would have considered this modern measuring stick most objectionable, even meaningless.

Today, as we mentioned, it is popular in the classroom as well as the press to refer to "Communism on the left," and "Fascism on the right." People and parties are often called "Leftist," or "Rightist." The public do not really understand what they are talking about.

These terms actually refer to the manner in which the various parties are seated in the parliaments of Europe. The radical revolutionaries (ususally the Communists) occupy the far left and the military dictatorships (such as the Fascists) are on the far right. Other parties are located in between.

Measuring people and issues in terms of political parties has turned out to be philosophically fallacious if not totally misleading. This is becase the platforms or positions of political parties are often superficial and structured on shifting sand. The platform of a political party of one generation can hardly be recognized by the next. Furthermore, Communism and Fascism turned out to be different names for approximately the same thing -- the police state. They are not opposite extremes but, for all practical purposes, are virtually identical.

The American Founding Fathers Used a More Accurate Yardstick

Government is defined in the dictionary as "a system of ruling or controlling," and therefore the American Founders measured political systems in terms of the amount of coercive power or systematic control which a particular system of government excercises over its people. In other words, the yardstick is not political parties, but political power.

Using this type of yardstick, the American Founders considered the two extremes to be ANARCHY on the one hand, and TYRRANY on the other. At the one extreme of anarchy, there is no government, no law, no systematic control and no government power, while at the other extreme there is too much control, too much political opression, too much government. Or, as the Founders called it, "tyrrany."

The object of the Founders was to discover the "balanced center" between these two extremes. They recognized that under the chaotic confusion of anarchy there is "no law," whereas at the other extreme the law is totally dominated by the ruling power and is therefore "Ruler's Law." What they wanted to establish was a system of "People's Law," where the government is kept under the control of the people and political power is maintained at the balanced center with enough government to maintain security, justice, and good order but not enough goverment to abuse the people.

The Founders' political spectrum might be graphically illustrated as follows:

Excerpted from The 5,000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World, pp. 9-11, by W. Cleon Skousen, (c) 1981 and renewed (c) 1991, 2006 by The National Center for Constitutional Studies

No comments:

Post a Comment


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.