Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
54716938 Calhoun Sectional Conflict and Modern America

54716938 Calhoun Sectional Conflict and Modern America

Ratings: (0)|Views: 5|Likes:
Published by Marco Respinti

More info:

Published by: Marco Respinti on May 16, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

12/24/2013

pdf

text

original

 
JournalofLibertarianStudies
Volume16,no.2(Spring2(02),pp.
35-55
©2002LudwigvonMisesInstitutewww.mises.org
CALHOUN,SECTIONALCONFLICT,ANDMODERNAMERICA
byH.LeeCheek,Jr.
*
Duringthesectionalcrisis,theoverwhelmingpracticalandtheo-reticalinheritancethatnourishedtheSouthernworldviewwasbuiltuponanappreciationofthenecessarylimitationsofsocialandpo-liticallife.Primaryamongthemeansoflimitationwastheneedforsocietalandpersonalrestraintwhenfacedwiththepossibilityofradi-caltransformation.'WhilechangeandsocialmobilitywerenotthemostcommonlyacknowledgedaspectsofSouthernsociety,neitherweretheybeyondthepaleofpossibility.JohnCaldwellCalhoun,perhapsthemostprobingandinsightfulthinkerofthisgeneration,presentedanAristotelianmeanasthebasisforinstallinganelementofrestraintintheoperationofgovernment.
If
governmentcouldnotberestricted,thepopulace'sroleingovern-ingwouldbegreatlydiminished,andtheregimewouldnecessarilyloseasenseoflegitimacy.ThisessaywillexplicateCalhoun'scritiqueanditssignificanceforcontemporarypoliticsandsociety.Whilemaintainingalifelongappreciationofvotingandmajorityrule,Calhounalsoacknowledgedtheirlimitations.AshehadnotedyearsearliertohisfriendVirgilMaxcy,"Wehavemuchtolearnin
•Assistantprofessorofpoliticalscienceat
Lee
UniversityinCleveland,Ten-nessee.Forarelatedandexpandedversionofthisarticle,seetheauthor's
Calhoun
and
PopularRule
(Columbia:UniversityofMissouriPress,2(01).!Calhoun'scomplexunderstandingoftheroleofslaveryasa"politicalin-stitution"withinSouthernsocietycannot
be
separatedfromhisdefenseofcommunallife.SeeJohnC.CalhountoRichardPackenham,
ThePapersofJohn
C.
Calhoun
(Columbia:UniversityofSouthCarolinaPress,1981),vol.18,p.278.
35
 
JournalofLibertarianStudiespoliticalscience.Theruleofthemajority
&
therightofsuffragearegoodthings,buttheyalonearenotsufficienttoguardliberty,asex-periencewillteach.t"
THE
CONCURRENTMAJORITY
Insteadofendorsingpurelyabstractnotionsofmajorityruleandvoting,Calhounpreferredtodefmebothwithinahistoricalcontext.Hisuseofthehistoricalshouldbeappreciatedasanattemptatrefmingandexplainingtheimportanceofthefoundingprincipleswithinadistinct-ivelynineteenth-centuryframework.Regardlessofthepoliticalsystem,thosewhoassumethereinsofgovernmentneedcertainrestrictions.Inpresentinghisrecapitulativetheoryofpolitics,Calhounexpandeduponhisearlierworkonthe"organism"thatpromotedsuchrestraintwithinthepolity.Healsoemployedmyriadtitlestodescribethisqual-ityofrestraint:theconcurrentvoice,thesenseofthecommunity,and,mostprominently,theconcurrentmajority.Asbothatheoreticalandpracticalmeansofencouragingconsen-sus,securingliberty,promotingthediffusionofpower,and,ultimately,ensuringtheregime'ssurvival,theconcurrentmajoritywaswhatCal-hounconsideredthepre-eminentAmericancontributiontopoliticalthought.However,thehegemonicforcesthatcontrolledthegeneralgovernmenthadsupplantedtheconcurrentmajority;theJacksoniandemocraticdreamhadbecometheAmericanpoliticalnightmare.Asteadyconcentrationofpoliticalpowerinthegeneralgovernment,increasingsocialandregionalhostilitiesresultingfromthequestforcontrol,andthedebasementofpopularrulewere,toCalhoun,omi-noussignsofthefutureawaitingthenation:
AstheGovernmentapproachesnearerandnearertotheoneabsoluteandsinglepower,thewillofthegreaternum-ber,itsactionswillbecomemoreandmoredisturbedandirregular;faction,corruption,andanarchy,willmoreandmoreabound;patriotismwilldailydecay,andaffectionandreverencefortheGovernmentgrowweakerandweaker,untilthefinalshockoccurs,whenthesystemwillrushtoruin,andtheswordtaketheplaceofthelawandconstitution.'
2
CalhountoVirgilMaxcy,August6,1831,
ThePapersofJohn
C.
Calhoun,
vol.11,p.451.3Calhoun,"SpeechinSupportoftheVetoPower,"February28,1842,
ThePapersofJohn
C.
Calhoun,
vol.16,p.149.
36
 
Cheek-Calhoun,SectionalConflict,andModemAmericaCalhoun'seffortstorecovertheconcurrentmajoritysuggestavigilantdesiretoreturntotheoriginalunderstandingoflibertyandauthoritywithintheAmericanpoliticaltradition.Suchamissionde-pendedupon"dividinganddistributingthepowersofgovernment"andsupplyingeach"division"with"eitheraconcurrentvoiceinmakingandexecutingthelawsoravetointheirexecution.?'Reviv-ingtheconcurrentmajorityinAmericanpoliticswas(andremains)primarilyaneffortatrestorationandpreservation.Ironically,manyproponentsofthediffusionofauthority,especiallyAmericancon-servatives,havefailedtorecognizetheimportanceofCalhoun'sin-sightforcontemporarypoliticalscience.Insomecases,thesecriticshaveunfortunatelymisrepresentedCalhoun'svaluedcontributiontotheAmericanpoliticaltraditionforthepurposeoftheirowntempo-ralpolitical
gain."
TheconcurrentmajoritywasneitheraninventionbaseduponEnlightenmentnotionsnorapurelymechanistic"device"toprotectSouthernpoliticalandeconomic
concerns."
Instead,itservedasthe
"John
C.Calhoun,
ADisquisitiononGovernment,
in
UnionandLiberty:ThePoliticalPhilosophyofJohn
C.
Calhoun,
ed.RossM.Lence(Indianapolis,Ind.:LibertyFund,1992),p.21.5JohnO'Sullivan,aformereditorof
NationalReview,
dismissedCalhounindirectlyasresponsiblefor''theemergenceoflegaltheories,inthewritingofLaniGuinieretaI.,thatwouldrevive'fancyfranchises'and'concurrentmajorities'ontheunderlyingassumptionthatminoritiesandmajoritiesarenotcontinuallyformingandreformingondifferentissues,butpermanentlyfrozenalongethnicandraciallines."JohnO'Sullivan,"MistakenIdentities,"
NationalReview
(November
25,
1997),pp.
50-56.
SomereputedlyconservativecriticsofCalhounhavearguedthathede-railedAmericanpoliticalthought.
In
apublishedletter,
Harry
Jaffasuggest-ed:"DoInotbringphilosophydownfromtheheavensandintothecity-makingitpracticalandpolitical-whenIdemonstratebymycritiquesofKendall,Bradford,andWills,thattheirdoctrinesaremerelyvarietiesofConfederatedoctrine,andthatthevitalcenterfortheirbeliefsisderivedfromJohnC.Calhoun?DoInotdothatevenmoreprofoundly,whenIshowthatthe'MarxoftheMasterClass'isnot,inthecrucialrespect,soverydif-ferentfromMarxhimself,sincetheproslaveryattackonfreesociety,andtheMarxistcritiqueofcapitalism,closelycoincide?"
Harry
Jaffa,
AmericanCon-servatismandtheAmericanFounding
(Durham,N.C.:CarolinaAcademicPress,1984),p.136.6WilsonCareyMcWilliams'sdescriptionofCalhoun'sworkas"entirelybasedonEnlightenmentconcepts"servesasarepresentativeexampleofthewidespreadfailure
to
appreciatethedepthsofCalhoun'spoliticalthought.See
37

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->