The Campaign to Abolish the Constitution
W. Cleon Skousen. The Campaign to Abolish the Constitution. [From Law & Order, March 1971]
“Who would dare to attack the Constitution?”
This is the immediate reaction of most people when they first learn that there is an extremely high-powered, well-financed campaign afoot to abolish the United States Constitution.
Actually, the whole idea has been gestating for a long time. Symptoms of it have been popping up in the speeches of certain Senators, certain State Department officials, certain White House aids, and in the left-wing press for several years. It also has been the regular diet for many students of political science who have been attending some of the major universities.
Senator J. William Fulbright
As an example of what has been going on, here is the way Senator J. William Fulbright launched his attack on the Constitution during a speech before the students and faculty at Stanford University in 1961:
“The President is hobbled in his task of leading the American people to consensus and concerted action by the restrictions of power imposed on him by a constitutional system designed for an 18th century agrarian society far removed from the centers of world power.”
(Of course, restricting the President so he could not become a dictator was the whole idea. But Senator Fulbright seemed to see great virtue in the possibilities of the President as a Benevolent dictator.) Continuing on the same theme, he said:
“He (the President) alone, among elected officials can rise above parochialism and private pressures. He alone, in his role as teacher and moral leader, can hope to overcome the excesses and inadequacies of a public opinion that is all too often ignorant of the needs, the dangers, and the opportunities in our foreign relations.
(The role of kings used to be defended on precisely these same grounds but history has demonstrated that individuals, whether kings or presidents, make more mistakes acting on their own than an aggregate of informed citizens acting in unison.)
Senator Fulbright, former Rhodes Scholar, continued:
“It is imperative that we break out of the intellectual confines of cherished and traditional beliefs and open our minds to the possibility that Basic Changes in Our System may be essential to meet the requirements of the 20th century.”
A Presidential Declaration
It was shortly after this that some speech writer for President Kennedy slipped a passage into a speech delivered August 28, 1962, indicating that the Constitution was not an “automatic light to the future” because “the Constitution was written for an entirely different period in our nation’s history.
By 1963, Walter Lippmann was hammering on this theme that Constitutional processes were proving unworkable because a lot of important legislation presented by the White House had been turned down by the Democratic Congress. He failed to point out that most of this legislation was an exact duplicate of socialist programs in Europe which had proven disastrous. Members of the Democratic Party who controlled Congress had rejected their President’s proposals exactly as the founding fathers had hoped they would. (Unfortunately, after the President’s tragic assassination much of the legislation was passed into law under the emotional plea that it was part of a personal “tribute” to the dead President.)
Walter Lippmann, like Senator Fulbright, was not afraid of risking benevolent dictatorial powers to the President: “Whether the solution is authoritarian, as under Salazar, Franco and deGaulle, or whether it is a coalition which suspends party conflict, the common element is the liberation of the executive from the paralyzing grip of the representative assembly [Congress].” (New York Tribune, Dec. 10, 1963)
Shades of King George!
White House Advisers Walt W. Rostow and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The whole idea of the United States remaining a sovereign nation and working out its own destiny has been anathema to a number of the top opinion molders in Washington. A book entitled, The United States in the World Arena, by former presidential adviser, Wait Whitman Rostow, states on page 549 that “it is, therefore, an American interest to see an end of nationhood as it has been historically defined.”
Such men visualize the United States as gradually going socialist and then merging into a gigantic world-wide socialist society. As far back as 1947, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., was very bold in presenting his ideas on the subject. Said he: “There seems no inherent obstacle to the gradual advance of socialism in the United States through a series of New Deals.” 1
Based on certain trends in the United States, Dr. Schlesinger concluded that: “Socialism then appears quite practicable within this framework of reference, as a long-term proposition.” 2 He was very critical of our Constitutional democracy and said, “A democracy is politically unreliable at best; the American democracy is notoriously unreliable on all questions of maintaining a continuous foreign policy.” 3 He made no attempt to document this sweeping charge.
A State Department Plan To Amalgamate the United States and the USSR
Although most Americans are not generally aware of it, U.S. foreign policy has been guided for a number of years by a special government study known as the Phoenix Papers. A strategy of developing an “interdependence with the Soviet Union” in space, science, industry, food, arms, economics and culture has been a continuing dream of globalist master planners of the collectivist left.
As a preliminary step in this astonishing plan, it was important to get the American people accustomed to hearing the word, “interdependence.” It was felt desirable to first introduce them to the term in connection with Europe before they felt the shock of an interdependence with the Soviet Union. Thus, even before the publication of the Phoenix Papers by the State Department, some speech writer for the President worked into his 1961 Fourth of July speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a statement which said that the American people, after having enjoyed 186 years of freedom, liberty and independence, were now ready for interdependence. He said that this was to start out with a program of interdependence with Europe and then this American-European alliance would “look outward to cooperation with all nations in meeting their common concerns.” Of course, Americans have always been for cooperation, but not amalgamation.
Later, when the Phoenix Papers were finally, published in June, 1963, the whole story came out. These papers were supposed to be kept highly restricted. However, some State Department officials were so alarmed with what the Phoenix Papers proposed that copies were handed over to members of Congress, and one of those Congressmen was kind enough to forward a copy to this writer.
It was immediately apparent from these documents that the creation of a world socialist society was the ultimate goal of the authors of these papers (which cost the tax-payers of the country $78,600.00. to prepare!). To accomplish their purposes, it was also apparent that the American people would be conditioned to think of “interdependence” as a step forward while at the same time they would be led to think of our traditional Constitutional government (with its checks and balances, “states rights,” etc.) as a threat to progress and a roadblock to peace.
This being the case, it was obvious that eventually these master planners would have to get around to the task of trying to abolish the Constitution of the United States. That moment of reality occurred on January 4, 1971.
Key To Solving Our Problems — Abolish the Constitution!
There was nothing bashful or apologetic about the well-publicized campaign which was launched in January, 1971, to restructure the whole United States System.
The Fund for the Republic with its satellite, The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Santa Barbara, California launched the project with a series of debates by nationally-known personalities. The debate was focussed on the topic: “Crisis in America — Do We Need a New Constitution?”
The debaters include many well-known personalities such as Presidential aspirant, Eugene McCarthy, Robert M. Hutchins (founder of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions), former U.S. Senator from Oregon, Wayne Morse, Harry S. Ashmore, (editor-in-chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica and now president of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions), Frank K. Kelly, (a former presidential speech writer and now a vice-president of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions), Harvey Wheeler, (co-author of Fail Safe and a senior fellow of the center for the Study of Democratic Institutions).
These debates turned out precisely as one would have expected: the present system is unworkable, a radical change must be made. The closest the debaters came to genuine disagreement was on whether this could be achieved by working behind the well-nigh empty shell of the old Constitution or scrapping the whole structure and starting out with a completely new charter. No genuine “Constitutionalists” were invited to speak and so the debate turned out to be a “furious agreement” between tweedledee and tweedledum. The Santa Barbara News Press reported the major debate as “More Contrasts Than Differences in Views of Hutchins and Morse.” 4
Why Collectivists Don’t Like the U.S. Constitution
In the final analysis a collectivist or socialist mentality looks upon the whole basic philosophy of the original American concept of government as frustrating, slow, cumbersome and restrictive. They feel, as did the Tories in Revolutionary days, that somebody like the king just HAS to be in charge and compel the stupid masses to do what is good for them. Self-government is nice “as an idea,” they said, “but impractical.”
Walter Lippmann expressed the contempt which the collectivist mind holds toward the Constitution when he wrote in the New York Tribune, December 10, 1963: “I do not know what will happen if we cannot remedy the paralysis of the executive [doing away with checks and balances!]. But I do know that there is no greater necessity for men who live in communities than that they be governed, self-governed if possible, well-governed if they are fortunate, but in any event, governed.” It was in this same article that Lippmann opined that he was not yet quite certain whether or not we might eventually have to go in the direction of Salazar and France!
With this kind of thinking, you can appreciate why the Constitution represents such a monstrosity of frustration and obstruction to men who would like to seize power and solve our problems their own special way, whether we liked it or not.
Samuel Adams had these specific power-hungry, problem solvers in mind when he said the founding fathers looked upon these collectivist schemes as “arbitrary, despotic, and in our government, unconstitutional.” 5
Obviously, some affairs belong to government, but their administrating has always been characterized by two weaknesses: administrative inefficiency and excessive cost. Therefore, it was intended that the American people be trained to solve the vast majority of their problems on the local level and wherever possible on a personal level. As Benjamin Franklin said, “It is wonderful how preposterously the affairs of this world are managed. Naturally one would imagine, that the interest of a few individuals should give way to general interest; but individuals manage their affairs with so much application, industry, and address, than the public do theirs, that general interests most commonly give way to particular.” 6
The History of Thirty-Five Years of Circumventing the Constitution
There was nothing in the way of “general welfare” and “the pursuit of happiness” which the founding fathers wanted Americans to miss. All they asked us to do was solve our problems in the framework of freedom provided by the Constitution. They knew this would take a bit of genius, but what good is the whole world if one has lost his freedom obtaining it? That is why Benjamin Franklin said what he did at the close of the Constitutional Convention. When a woman asked him what they had provided the people, he said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” He meant a system of representative government in which the people would remain the masters. It did not mean they could not get their problems solved. It meant they were to be solved by the public servants in terms of the will of the people and not the will of despotic bureaucrats.
In recent years the Constitution of the United States has gone through a period of disrespect and indifference which has brought on a harvest of nightmares which the founding fathers were trying to help us avoid. As emergencies have arisen, the collectivists have panicked the public with the “urgent need” to solve these problems even though their proposed methods of solving them were outside the protection of the Constitution. As a result, we have inherited a whole chain of government fiascos with which the nation has now encumbered itself. We find ourselves in our second “undeclared” and therefore un-Constitutional war. We find ourselves engulfed in an excessive burden of taxation which is being expended largely for un-Constitutional and therefore illegal purposes. We find the “rights” of fifty independent states virtually relegated to the ash-heap. We have always wanted to help other people and the poor among our own people, but now we find our own economy so close to bankruptcy that even the slightest threat of a minor recession creates a near panic on Wall Street. We have courts that ignore the law and follow the whims of the men who sit in the judgment seats. We have administrative law replacing Congressional law. We have fortunes being made or lost as a result of individual interpretations of the law by tax collection agents, so that cheating on taxes is considered ethically justified. We talk about civil rights but get civil riots.
The spirit of the times is reflected in our schools where campuses are being radicalized by students who have lost faith in their country, and, like Walter Lippmann, long for an orderly society even if it is an authoritarian society. The cultural crisis has also spread to our homes, our churches, our theaters and TV screens.
It is time America took a cold, hard look at this cultural crisis. The first thing we need to recognize is the fact that every violation of the Constitution was justified on the grounds that it was for “a good cause,” which it was.
The second thing we need to recognize is the fact the every one of those “good causes” could have been handled without violating the Constitution. We just didn’t take enough time to figure out how. Or those who did figure it out couldn’t get access to the radio, TV and press because the mass media became enamored with some gimmick solution which violated the Constitution but was “filled with the promises of a quick solution.”
The third thing we need to recognize is that the solution to our problems is not more of the same, but a return to fundamentals and common sense. There is a way out. It will take some careful restructuring, but it can be done. It would be infantile for us to assume that the people who created the mess are likely to give us hope for a solution. But that is what they want to do.
The Latest Gimmick Is a New Constitution
With all the fanfare and publicity that the big tax-exempt foundations and other collectivist forces can muster, the American people are now going to be exposed to a flood of propaganda in favor of a new constitution. While the Fund for the Republic and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions is drumming up support for this new Federal charter, another group (also with the backing of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions) is launching a grass roots movement to demand a prompt and decisive solution to all our problems. This second group is setting up several fronts, the most notable one being called, “Common Cause,” led by John W. Gardner.
Mr. Gardner is a strongly entrenched collectivist of national prominence. He is the former president of the Carnegie Corporation and president of one of its foundations. He is a member of the Council On Foreign Relations (which is working for a Socialist United States and eventually a global government). In 1965, he was chairman of the White House Conference on Education which prepared the foundation for nationalizing American education. Later he became President Johnson’s secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.
One needs to have nothing against Mr. Gardner personally in order to be vigorously opposed to what he represents. And what he represents are some passionate demands for “citizen involvement” in a massive drive to make the necessary changes so we can “get our problems solved.” Once again the solution is going to be either un-Constitutional shortcuts or scrapping the Constitution all together.
So that you may see what the new Constitution would do to the United States, we will present its basic structure in our next issue. As we have indicated earlier, this new Constitution has all the ingredients for the one thing American law enforcement abhors — the use of police powers to achieve political ends. The new Constitution would not only nationalize the police but the whole nation.