Thomas E. Woods Jr.: Tea and Anarchy





[Thomas E. Woods Jr. is the author of ten books, including the just released Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.]

According to Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg, a specter is haunting America: the specter of anarchism. Not real anarchism – that’s Weisberg’s emotional hypochondria at work – but merely a growing skepticism of authority.

This won’t do at all. Americans were born to be ruled by people and ideas of which Jacob Weisberg approves, and they are supposed to like it, or at least shut up about it. If they absolutely must complain, their complaints and modes of resistance must be kept within bounds approved of by Slate, a division of the Washington Post Company....

Want to hear an “expert” (a law professor from Duke) discuss nullification with me? Be my guest. Want to see an Ivy League professor discuss the subject, and then see what he mangled or left out?

And the masses are losing confidence in the experts. Imagine that....

In any case, says Weisberg, we all know nullification was “settled” in 1819, with McCulloch v. Maryland. McCulloch held that when the federal government exercised a constitutional power the states could not interfere with it. That of course begs rather than settles the question, since a nullifying state contends precisely that the federal government is not exercising a constitutional power. But in Weisberg’s world, everyone leaped to accept John Marshall’s ridiculous and unsupportable nationalist rendering of American history, a rendering completely at odds with what people had been told about the nature of the Union at many of the state ratifying conventions, and indeed at odds with the most obvious facts of American history. Back on planet Earth, states continued to resist the national bank for years afterward, “settled law” to the contrary notwithstanding, until its charter went unrenewed in the 1830s. Spencer Roane, the chief judge of Virginia’s Supreme Court, completely dismantled Marshall and his reasoning in a series of unrelenting critiques. James Madison said Virginia would never have ratified the Constitution had anyone thought the federal government’s powers to be as expansive as John Marshall was proposing, given that exactly the opposite view of the new government was expressly promised to the people at the Richmond ratifying convention (where Marshall sat mute instead of correcting this impression). Thomas Jefferson wrote the following year: “The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated republic. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.”...


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