Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alexander Hamilton, Barack Obama and 'The General Will'

Part of what has been lost in the discussion of President Obama's economic agenda for America is the historical reliance on Alexander Hamilton's application of the Rousseauian belief that there is a "general will" within society that the ruling elite can accurately recognize and respond to - even if the masses do not clearly identify what the general will is.

Jacques Rosseau was a French philosopher who once said, "No aspect of human life is excluded from the control of the general will," and "whosoever refuses to obey the general will must in that instance be restrained by the body politic, which actually means that he is forced to be free."

Alexander Hamilton - one of the Founders who supported this view in his quest to create an American monarchy - frequently argued that the ruling elite in a centralized, powerful federal government were in the best position to understand what the masses needed in order to affect the happiness of mankind.

Of course Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others vehemently disagreed with this concept that elected officials could centralize the masses and make decisions better than free individuals.  The argument that liberty - organized by self-interested pursuits - would serve mankind better than politicians pushing for the "public good" led to our nation becoming the most economically free and politically peaceful place in the history of the world.....for awhile.

Since the days of FDR our nation has increasingly, interrupted only by the 1980's, become one where Hamilton and Rosseau's political philosophy has gained ground as liberty has faded away.  Two recent events clearly illustrate this fact.

First, the $862 billion stimulus package created by the Obama Adminstration.  This law presumed that the federal government knew best how to manage the economic recovery.  This law assumed that the 'general will' was best served by having government take away $862 billion - plus interest - from the private sector so that professional experts could "plan" our lives for us.  Rather than lower taxes and regulations by a total of $862 billion and trusting that free human beings would know what to do with our own money (property), the ruling elite in effect said, "You do not know what is best for you.  We do.  We will spend your money on what we know to be best for the public good." 

Then came ObamaCare.  President Obama and his minions told us, "You do not know how best to spend your money when it comes to your own health.  Therefore, in order to satisfy the general will, we will force you to spend your money on a product you are currently not purchasing.  If you refuse to purchase the product we will fine you.  If you do not pay the fine we will jail you, ostensibly for the good of all."

What arrogance. 

In 1964 Ronald Reagan said that it is time to decide whether or not we should abandon the American Revolution and confess that an a little intellectual elite can plan our lives for us better than we can plan for ourselves.

He was right.  Barack Obama and our leaders daily plan our lives under the assumption that the ignorant masses cannot rationally plan our own lives.  This is not a new mentality.  Jefferson fought Hamilton (the Barack Obama of the 1700's) every step of the way in an effort to fight off the ruling elite who would ruin our lives with their plans and ambitions.

Hamilton is currently winning.  Whether he wins is up to you and I.


  1. This is so true - and timely. I'm "reading" the audio book "Adams versus Jefferson" by John Ferling. The similarity between the Hamilton/Jefferson differences and the stark differences today between the Obama administration and the Tea Party is uncanny. But, should history repeat itself and the Jeffersonian ways again prevail, our county can (and will) become great again. We need more awareness of these views and more workers getting this message out there. Thank you Mr. Chambless.

  2. Thank you, Doug. I do hope Jefferson makes a huge comeback. The clock is ticking and Hamilton has the ball inside Jefferson's 20 yard line....

  3. What could I read to back up your comments on Hamilton? I know he wanted a strong Federal Government but, I did not realized to what extreme. I read Ron Chernow book on Hamilton, but it did not leave me with that understanding of Hamilton. I would love to learn more. Just barely past history in school but now that I am older I want to learn as much as I can from open minded people like this web site. NOT liberals that are all just trying to make their point and twisting the fact. Thanks for any help you may give me. Cathy Hall

  4. Cathy

    The Chernow book leaves so much out it is unreal. In fact, Chernow - in my opinion and the opinion of others - gets a lot wrong about Hamilton.

    There is a great book called "Hamilton's Curse" by Thomas DiLorenzo that is a must read for anyone who wants a great historical look at Hamilton's views, actions and legacy. Also, "Locke, Jefferson and the Justices" touches on Hamilton in a productive way.

    Let me know your thoughts on the DiLorenzo book when you finish..