02 July 2007

Ben Franklin's Dark Prophecy

"I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of government but what may be a Blessing to People if well-administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other."
- Benjamin Franklin's review of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 (from Gore Vidal's Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson).

A friend of mine came from Iran shortly after the revolution that catapulted the Ayatollah Khomeini into power. I asked him what was most remarkable about the transition from Iran to the U.S. He said, "All the things that are being taken away. Liberty. Freedom. Privacy. Refusal to torture. In Iran, they used religion to intimidate and to support law."

Perhaps Ben Franklin was right that we will simply become too corrupt to maintain a great government. But for me this kind of thing is so unnecessary. There are a lot of problems we haven't yet solved. For instance, how to create a thriving economy without creating lots of green house gases. Or how to ensure a sense of meaning to employees and citizens within large companies or countries. But the problems of individual liberties, of keeping religion out of government, of privacy - these are problems that we've solved. It is the worst kind of idiocy to turn our backs on those already provided solutions and retreat from progress.


Life Hiker said...

I suppose this administration is capable of perpetrating such an egregious violation of the Constitution that even our uneducated, bovine-like population may be roused to the extremism you recently talked about.

Is that something to be optimistic about? How pitiful!

exskindiver said...

hi ron.

Cody McKibben said...

Wow this is a really interesting quote from Franklin (I have so much respect for him!). I just spent about 2 hours with my girlfriend last night discussing corruption, oligarchy, totalitarianism, and the possibility of a coup/civil war in our country. It happens all around the world all the time. The sad thing is that I don't think we're anywhere near our "bovine-like population being roused to extremism" yet! We have let these crooks get away with so much, and yet no one stands up for what is right. No one in our country has enough passion. We are just sitting back while they deconstruct our Constitution.

I am a hypocrite for saying it, because I have not done anything, but being a 23 year old kid, I don't have any kind of political power. No one cares what I have to say. No one listens to me. Yet.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Just hoping the lot of you try and remember not to flush your elders down the sewer because we don't look like Barbie and Ken… Like it or not you're probably the most compulsive and materialistic generation yet-- even if it's only through osmosis.

Ron Davison said...

One would hope that our "outrage reserves" still have some capacity left.

Hello young lady.

I think that the universal among folks today is the sense of "I can't do anything." I suppose that such a thought is self-fulfilling. The question is, what can you do when nuts have all the official knobs of power?