The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #83: The Federalist Papers, Part One

General Introduction
– David squares the circle
– The chatter continues on the blog
– Email, Facebook, or nothing at all

What Is a Federalist, Anyway?
– The Articles of Confederation
– Worthless money
– Political uprisings
– Federalists and Anti-Federalists
– The first ugly campaign
– Are people getting dumber?

Publius
– Friend of the people
– Anti-monarchial revolution
– Old republics and new republics
– Rome and early America

Standing Armies and the Course of Government
– Wars between the states
– Britain or the continent?
– Soldiers and citizens
– Sixty years of endless war
– The Second Amendment
– Why intent can’t be the end of interpretation

The Confederate Republic
– Neither democracy nor monarchy
– Bonding together
– The fear of consolidation
– Two tiers are better than one
– Montesquieu boils over
– Government as agent of virtue
– Proportionate representation
– In praise of the French

Factions
– How they form
– Why we can’t get rid of them
– Madison’s solution
– Public reason
– Obstructionism, checks, and balances
– Confederacies of factions
– Pure Enlightenment?

Let’s Party!
– Why we can’t eliminate parties
– What Christianity tells us
– Realizing the eschaton
– Why factions might be helpful

3 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #83: The Federalist Papers, Part One

  1. Re: imperfectabilityOne thing I liked about this episode was the discussion of how human imperfectibility is one of the assumptions guiding the constructions of the American form of government.  This seems to be something lost in a lot of current debate, with so many people assuming that the only thing holding us back from building our utopia is the opposing team.  The more I learn about psychology, the less optimistic I am about the inherent goodness of human nature, so I appreciate a political system that has a pessimistic anthropology at its core.I do wonder, though, about the other side of the coin.  I’m thinking about Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation in “Democracy in America” that the American democratic spirit carries with it a belief in the “indefinite perfectibility of man”, with the accompanying danger of an unrealistic optimism.  Could this have anything to do with de Tocqueville writing in the 19th Century?  I know that the later 19th-century saw a tremendous optimism and belief in Progress, but de Tocqueville was writing in the 1830s.  So might there have been a cultural shift between the Federalist Papers and “Democracy in America”?  Or maybe optimism and pessimism were both at work in 18th-19th-century America, as they are now.

    1. Charles H I had forgotten about that passage in de Tocqueville, Charles.  Good catch.As
      I tried to say on the podcast, the Enlightenment is a broad-based
      thing, something that’s hard to put a finger on.  Certainly the
      attitudes of cats like Ben Franklin differed from those of James
      Madison, and neither of the above would have been impressed much with
      Diderot or de Holbach.  Fact of the matter is that the Enlightenment,
      like classical Athens or the great Paris scholastic period or the
      postmodern boogie woogie, are moments of great intellectual activity
      precisely because there was so much interesting disagreement, not
      because there was a monolith of thought.  And that’s why it’s still cool
      to study such things, I think.

  2. I had forgotten about that passage in de Tocqueville, Charles.  Good catch.As I tried to say on the podcast, the Enlightenment is a broad-based thing, something that’s hard to put a finger on.  Certainly the attitudes of cats like Ben Franklin differed from those of James Madison, and neither of the above would have been impressed much with Diderot or de Holbach.  Fact of the matter is that the Enlightenment, like classical Athens or the great Paris scholastic period or the postmodern boogie woogie, are moments of great intellectual activity precisely because there was so much interesting disagreement, not because there was a monolith of thought.  And that’s why it’s still cool to study such things, I think.

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