Speculation on a Modern Day Anti-federalist Culture

Imagine the United States of America predominately (or rather solely) governed by the terms and regulations the Anti-federalists sought to implement were in fact implemented and actively acknowledged in the present day American culture. As history unfolded we can indeed recognize that the Federalist ideals govern and to an extent uphold American culture for the majority of American history. Government has a significantly large role with a small number of representatives. The Supreme Court is exceptionally prevalent and the country’s elites predominately propose and challenge both cultural and political standards. Though the federalists never addressed slavery nor supported the bill of rights, the United States continued to function under federalist thought and an inclusion of these proposed thoughts that later shaped present American culture. Politics both reflects and then justifies the majority’s culture. With this in mind we can distinctly see a federalist culture. But now, reflect on what an Anti-federalist American culture would look like.

“The establishment of the new plan of government, in its present form, is a question that involves such immense consequences to the present times and to posterity, that it calls for the deepest attention of the best and wisest friends of their country and of mankind”( Anti-federalist 152). The Anti-federalists acknowledged that when a group of people decide to reformat a current and established institution it is not a light matter nor a matter that a single person nor single group of people can determine nor reconstruct. This in particular is due to the fact that establishing a government requires in depth consideration to present and future impact. Moreover consideration from the people themselves. With these two key remarks take into consideration that an Anti-federalist culture would be based in future preventative action guided my thinkers both common and elite. A present American culture would adapt these two characteristics by placing greater value on academia’s opinion rather than the majority’s or say celebrity’s opinion. Also there would be a consistent acknowledgement for the need of future preservation and therefore a possible present day emphasis on ecology.

“But, in this constitution, the citizens of the United States appear dispensing a part of their original power, in what manner and what proportion they think fit, they never part with the whole; and they retain the right of re-calling what they part with. When, therefore, they possess, as I have already mentioned, the fee-simple of authority”(Wilson 172).

Federalist James Wilson whilst discussing the omission of the Bill of Rights recognizes something the Anti-federalist central their argument on: individual liberty. Let us observe  the argument to understand another element that would reshape American culture, had the United States assumed an Anti-federalist thought. Wilson’s critique states that there would essentially be an excessive amount of individual liberty and favor for the“part rather than the whole”. This key thought on individualism would today reflect on an emphasis of states’ rights. In turn certain discussions such as gun rights would alter. Rather than discussing the national implications or preventing certain states from altering constitutional law there would most likely be a change in dialogue of how these issues were discussed.

Ultimately, an Anti-federalist culture would revere an intellectual accountability, futuristic preservation and an emphasis on states’ rights.

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3 Responses to Speculation on a Modern Day Anti-federalist Culture

  1. morgandick says:

    I found your post to be a very well written analysis of how anti-federalists ideals fit into today’s American culture. I cannot agree enough with you first statement regarding the Supreme Court being predominately elite. Personally, I find the majority of seat holders in Congress (and most other federally offices) to be held by American elites. I am curious though, do you see any apparent changes in American politics/policy that lean more towards the “Federalist” argument?

  2. moarmouat says:

    I liked your claim that an anti-federalist culture would rely more on academia opinion than celebrity opinion. Without following the masses or putting so much emphasis on community, there is opportunity to consider each state individually and determining what works best for them. Instead of completely abolishing something or totally preventing something, small changes would be made to satisfy that certain circumstance. This was a great analysis on a modern anti-federalist culture. I

  3. reneucros says:

    You present an interesting position on what the world would be like today if the Anti-Federalists had had their way. However, since I like to play devil’s advocate in order to analyze what the other side of the coin might look like, I wonder what history would look like if we hadn’t formed a federal government. I imagine we would have a situation like the European Union where we share North America but we would be a bunch of territories and/or eventually countries. While I personally have absolutely no problem with this, I think it would change american history in two main ways: 1) our presence as the world’s “Big Brother” would, more than likely, had never come about and 2) we would have been significantly more vulnerable during history.

    Without a federal government uniting all of the territories in the United States, we wouldn’t have a standing army filled with people from all over the country and it would be a lot harder to have a consensus between the different territories to invade, let’s say, Iraq, Iran, etc. I am not saying it would be impossible but I definitely believe it would be significantly more difficult.

    Throughout history, the United States has come out of all wars with barely a scratch and that is due to our standing presence everywhere in the world as a “mess with us and you’ll be dust” type of reputation. We have had few instances like 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and other attempts by countries to harm us but comparatively that is nothing to what has been and is going on in the middle east, Europe, and Asia.

    Obviously there is no way to tell what would have happened if we didn’t have the federal government but these are definitely some serious contentions to take into account when debating how different the United States would be.

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