Friday, September 9, 2016

Cooper's Road

"Insanity is just a state of mind."
--Captain Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce (M*A*S*H)

Interesting note that James Fenimore Cooper. Cooper, one of America's novelists, lived during the early populist movement in American history. Cooper was quick to recognize the dangers of majority rule. He also understood the proper definition of equality in the political context.

Many of his thoughts appeared in the American Democrat, Cooper's political essay first published in 1838. In it, Cooper noted that democracy defined as majority rule threatened the unalienable rights recognized by our founding ancestors unless strict limitations were placed on what majorities were permitted to decide. That, of course, was a primary purpose of the Constitution.

He also correctly saw equality in the political sense: equal treatment under the law. All men are created equal in that they are all born with rights to life, liberty, and property. No one is legally permitted to forcibly interfere with those interests as long as they are peacefully pursued.

Force is not legitimate when applied to achieve equality of condition. Government's role is to help people protect themselves against offensive force. Government is not the Great Redistributor.

James Fenimore Cooper joins William Faulkner on these pages as American writers who got it.

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