Freedom and Federalism
If the American experience made any contribution to the theory of liberty, it is in the idea of federalism. This is what Lord Acton said, and in this view, he is echoing the thoughts of Thomas Jefferson himself. Government must be decentralized. In the original structure of the United States, this meant that the states held the political power; the central government was held in check by this means.
Today this idea seems like some far-flung fantasy. It is truly hard to believe that federalism was so important to the American idea, now that this idea has taken such a brutal pounding. Despite the centralization, there have been surprisingly few books defending the federal system.
Felix Morley's Freedom and Federalism, which examines the root causes of the problem, was thus a pioneering achievement when it first appeared in 1959. It retains all its original value simply because so few even bother to examine the question. It is beautifully researched and written and makes the case better than any book before or since: federalism is essential to the idea of freedom.
No less relevant today, the book provides a perceptive diagnosis of the collapse of States' rights in modern America; and it seeks the restoration of a constitutional balance between central and state authorities, not out of some piety to founding documents but rather for the sole end of protecting liberty of the individual and society at large.
Is federalism worth saving? "Its outstanding virtue," which is "the distinctively American contribution to political art," argues Morley, "is its facility in combining two naturally antagonistic conditions—the social condition of order, and the more personal condition of freedom." In the end, he concludes, the American government will fail unless these two conditions are reconciled.
Felix Morley (1894–1982), Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, journalist, and educator, was a Rhodes Scholar, editor of the Washington Post and Human Events, and President of Haverford College.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Liberty Press Edition (1981) xiii
Foreword to Regnery Edition (1959) xxiii
1 Our Federal Republic 1
2 Federalism and Democracy 16
3 The Concept of a General Will 31
4 Marx Implements Rousseau 47
5 The Issue Disrupts the Union 60
6 The Fourteenth Amendment 76
7 Commerce and Nationalization 93
8 Democracy and Empire 112
9 Nationalization Through Foreign Policy 131
10 New Deal Democracy 149
11 The Service State 164
12 The Need for an Enemy 181
13 The States and the Presidency 200
14 The Tenacity of Tradition 215
15 The Revival of Interposition 229
16 Factors for Federalism 251
17 The Vitality of Federalism 270
18 Freedom and Federalism 289
Biographical Note 324