Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy

By George P. Fletcher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
GOVERNMENT AS
PARTNER AGAINST
THE PAST

“Liberty …is indeed little else than a name, where the Government is too feeble to …confine each member of the Society within the limits prescribed by the laws and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of persons and property.”

—George Washington

“Aspecter is haunting Europe, ” Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote in 1848, as the first sentence of The Communist Manifesto. The specter they had in mind eventually became a political movement that came to dominate nearly half the world in the twentieth century. Behind this movement, however, lay an even more powerful idea that Marx had inspired—a Marxist conception of reality. The marketplace of economic relationships is not what it seems to be. Workers enter into seemingly voluntary contracts with employers, but underlying this system of apparent cooperation is a vast system of exploitation. Those who hold capital reap profits off the backs of those whom they hire as their laborers. This generates a dynamic of history that should, according to the theory, eventually produce a revolution by the exploited class of laborers. This theory failed to recognize the just contribution of capital in generating the opportunity to work, and the political incarnation of Marxism turned out to be historically more transient than expected. Nonetheless, the insight remains with us that relationships of employment—indeed all forms of relationship—require more than nominal consent to be legitimate. Behind

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Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - The Argument for the Secret Constitution 1
  • Chapter 1 - Redemption Under Law 15
  • Chapter 2 - Radical Gettysburg 35
  • Chapter 3 - Nationhood 57
  • Chapter 4 - Loyalty and Betrayal 75
  • Chapter 5 - Equality 91
  • Chapter 6 - The Revolution That Never Was 113
  • Chapter 7 - Equality Without Vision 141
  • Chapter 8 - A Maxim of Justice: Its Birth and Rebirth 165
  • Chapter 9 - The Secret Constitution Resurgent 189
  • Chapter 10 - Government as Partner Against the Past 211
  • Chapter 11 - Neither Blue nor Gray 225
  • Afterword - Election Blues 2000 231
  • Notes 261
  • Index 285
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