May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Definitions of Republic

music: Annie Soundtrack

colors: Pink and Black and White -- I'm using a pink highlighter...

mood: Academic

I'm reading a book for a class tomorrow, called "America's God", which is about the evolution of Christianity in America from the mid 18th century up to the civil war. In it, among 500+ pages of other things, the author, Mark Noll, works to explain how the confluence of Evangelical Protestantism, republicanism, and "common-sense" reasoning came together in the early years of the United States to form a singularly new form of Christian society, entirely different from what existed in England or Continental Europe, due to its different assumption of the supreme importance of republic, rather than a connection to the divine only through kings and the clergy.

After a very little further self-study into Max Weber, it's interesting to note that the nature of this American Protestantism, birthed from Calvinism, is perhaps at the very root of what makes America the capitalist giant that it is today. Ah, the web unfolds ever onward.... :)

Anyway, I'm getting to the section of the book where there are quotes from the founding fathers of America, trying to get at a definition of what "republic" means, in terms of this new American experiment.

  1. Alexander Hamilton: "The corner stone of republican government [is] the prohibition of titles of nobility."
  2. Thomas Jefferson: "[If Virginia could outlaw entail and primogeniture, end tax support of religion, and provide for a system of universal public education, the result would be] a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of antient or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government truly republican."
  3. John Adams: "The true and only definition of a republic is a government in which all men, rich and poor, magistrates and subjects, officers and people, masters and servants, the first citizen and the last, are equally subject to the laws."

The author goes on to say that the American republican language returns consistently to two main themes: fear of abuses from illegitimate power, and a nearly messianic belief in the benefits of liberty.

Taking a look at American government today, it appears that not only do we not have a democracy, it exists only as a republic if the definition is stretched beyond recognition from the original design and intent. The founding fathers foresaw that today's situation could very well happen, but as far as I'm aware, they weren't really able to prescribe any measures against it except vigilance on the part of the citizenry.

Who thought I'd be studying American history here? Not me.

bringing it all back home.

pax hominibus,

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