The Reactionary Utopian
                     August 22, 2006

by Joe Sobran

     The former tennis player Ilie Nastase once had his 
wallet stolen, with all his credit cards in it. A friend 
was shocked to learn that he hadn't reported the theft. 
Why not? "So far," Mr. Nastase replied, "the thief is 
spending less than my wife."

     That's what I call keeping your eye on the ball. And 
when I hear that the government of China was trying to 
influence the policy of the Clinton administration, I 
reserve judgment until I know what it was trying to 
persuade Mr. Clinton to do. For all I know, its influence 
might have been for the better. 

     My point isn't completely facetious. Governments try 
to influence each other all the time. Our government 
hasn't been shy about nudging Israeli, Russian, and other 
elections toward what it considered the right outcomes. 
Why should we affect Claude Rains indignation ("Shocked! 
Shocked!") at learning that other governments do 

     I don't mean that we should approve of it, only that 
we shouldn't pretend it's a deviation from the laws of 
nature. It's the most natural thing in the world, like 
air finding the puncture in a tire, or water finding the 
leak in a boat's hull. 

     Governments are made to be bribed. The bigger they 
get, the more surely they will become corrupt. Power has 
a market value, and concentrating power increases the 
pressure, usually through the medium of money, on any 
leak. Nature finds the human flaws in any system. 

     The flaw in democracy is that people learn to vote 
themselves benefits at other people's expense. And those 
benefits may become politically untouchable, as we know 
too well. 

     The worst twist in American democracy is that the 
voters have learned to pass the stupendous costs of the 
welfare state on to the next generation. It's bad enough 
when some voters force other voters to support them. But 
the American voter has learned to force nonvoters to bear 
his expenses, by deferring payment to the next 

     The next time you pass a playground, look at all 
those little nonvoters, oblivious of what awaits them, 
and ask yourself if it's really honest to teach them that 
they will someday enjoy self-government. In what sense 
are they governing themselves, if, before they even enter 
the voting booth for the first time, they are already 
saddled with huge debts they had no part in incurring and 
will have no way of escaping? Is that what our ancestors 
meant by "self-government" -- or is it more akin to what 
they called "involuntary servitude"? 

     Wasn't the Constitution supposed to forbid such 
overweening power of one part of the community over 
another? No doubt. But as usual, nature has found the 
flaw in the system. The federal government has used a few 
clauses in the Constitution -- notably the Commerce 
Clause and a few phrases in the Fourteenth Amendment -- 
to virtually nullify the rest of the Constitution, 
turning a limited confederation of sovereign states into 
an all-powerful centralized government, always at the 
service of the greedy. 

     According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 
Constitution has "evolved" to mean just about the 
opposite of what everyone used to understand it to mean. 
In fact, modern jurisprudence has rendered most of the 
Constitution's text superfluous, nugatory, or hopelessly 
confusing. Why should it list two dozen powers of 
Congress, when Congress exercises thousands of unlisted 

     We might as well throw the old text out and adopt a 
simplified version that corresponds to reality: "The 
federal government shall be the 800-pound gorilla." This 
would be easier for children to learn, and would spare 
them the need to understand archaic words like 
"delegated," "enumerated," and "usurped." It would also 
eliminate the necessity for the judiciary to engage in 
the ceremonial pretense of reasoning its way to the 
preordained bottom line. 

     And think how much easier life would be for our 
civics teachers! They could simply explain to the young, 
"The whole business of politics is to try to get the 
gorilla to take your banana so he'll go sit on somebody 
else." Only a few curious pupils would care to know how 
this Darwinian gorilla "evolved."


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