September 04, 2012

Madison, the 'Socialist'

Conservatives have fetishized the Founding Fathers selectively, warping them into theocratic, laissez-faire capitalists. So, to remind us all that these men were cultural, political, and economic revolutionaries, I offer the following quote. James Madison argued in 1792 (emphasis in italics and clarification in brackets are mine):

"In every political society, parties [i.e., interest groups] are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil:
  1. By establishing a political equality among all. 
  2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few [people], [which allow them] to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 
  3. By the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort
  4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expence of another. 
  5. By making one party a check on the other, so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented, nor their views accommodated." 

So, Madison, the Father of the Constitution, argued not only for absolute political equality, but also for a high level of economic equality, i.e. he was a big old wealth re-distributor. He actually believed it was government's job to reduce inequalities of wealth.

If you are a Conservative, take note. If you are a Liberal, keep this one in your back pocket.