Just started a new book – with an 80 page introduction to the Federalist Papers by Isaac Kramnick, a Professor of Government at Harvard. And the walk-through of context and talks is brilliant. The camps of anti-federalists (politics of liberty) vs. federalists (politics of strength and stability) is framing much of the debate of national politics even today.
The fundamental choices of how to mix and balance the periphery vs. center, unity vs. independence, co-operation vs. fighting, and States vs. Union is discussed at length.
And the dual motive of mixing democracy, aristocracy and tyranny – with that of seperating powers in a judicial, executive and legislative branch – is hard to grasp in its complexity.
Another topic is the wealth of human experience and history that is baked into the constitution – millennias of trial and error with empires, city-states and nation-states – as well as a very honest (to some cynic..) and mixed view of human nature. All into a short and clear document with seven articles.
And the preamble is one of the most beautiful things ever written. Not one word by coincidence or in excess. Marvellous.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
So now it’s on to 400 pages and 85 articles, with Madison and Hamilton selling the pros and pragmatics of a strong central government and forceful Union – both in domestic and international affairs…