Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Andrew Jackson

David's "Death of Socrates"

Jackson was great but had serious flaws, such as his treatment of the Cherokees. His appointee was Chief Justice Taney, writer of the Dred Scott decision, which furthered slavery and led to the Civil War. The spoils system was a kind of democratization but was an error, leading to the special interest politics of today.

His great act was abolition of the national bank. But his advocacy of democracy led to Progressivism within a century, even though he was a libertarian. He could not conceive that more democracy would lead to less liberty,a strategic blunder.

Many still think with Jackson that more democracy is consistent with greater liberty, but the facts do not bear out his theory. The founding fathers knew so, which is why they constituted a republic, not a direct democracy. Socrates had learned this in 399 BC as well. To maximize individual liberty, a conservative state is necessary. Jackson had not studied history as had Jefferson and Hamilton. Although Hamilton was a socialist, his emphasis on republicanism would have led to greater freedom in the long run than the trend toward greater democracy that Jackson initiated. Jackson focused on structure, the central bank and the powers of the central government, and was right in his ideas on those issues, but he ignored historical processes that ultimately subverted his libertarian democratic ideal.

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