Saturday, March 13, 2010

The United States: An Architectural Masterpiece

Now if the works and thoughts of the men who founded the United States are examined, it is evident that they had a highly developed structural sense, a remarkable feeling for and understanding of form, proportion, perspective. However it came about, they were a nation of architects - and they thought in mathematics as "naturally" as in words. (…) Roger Sherman was responsible for the dual method of representation in the two houses of Congress— by popular vote in the House of Representatives, with congressmen allotted in proportion to population, and by equality of the States in the Senate. His structural sense was sound - he hit on both the regional bases and the mass veto function at once. He knew what would stand steady. To understand why bases cannot be established on popular suffrage, with no property qualification, it is only necessary to try an equivalent with any other physical materials. Let the substance on which the structure must be supported be composed of separate particles of equal size and weight, and each susceptible of movement—obviously nothing can possibly stand on it. A pillar or cornerstone cannot be fixed on a heap of buckshot, or a mound of sand. There must be something solid, self-contained, and immovable. A regional area answers that description, and will sustain a permanent base of political representation. The area must be definitely circumscribed, and the representation must pertain to it, not to the mobile inhabitants, who may wander about and cross the boundaries at will. (…) Thus by using the materials available, in accordance with architectural and mechanical principles, the founders of the United States solved the problem on which the Roman empire had failed. The Constitution of the United States is an architectural and mechanical drawing, in which the design is laid out on its broad general principles. (…) Let the Constitution as it was originally drawn, including the Bill of Rights, be examined strictly on its merits and in the light of performance, as an architectural plan and a mechanical apparatus of an earlier day might be studied by modern architects and engineers. It will be found amazing in its correctness, in respect of the relation of mass and motion, operative through the association of human beings; and the release and application of energy. The Bill of Rights and the treason clause taken together establish the individual as the dynamic factor. The Bill of Rights withdraws entirely from political control both the faculties and the instruments of initiative and enterprise. No law might be passed against freedom of the mind, whether in religion, in speech, or in print 5 nor to restrict interchange of ideas in peaceable assembly; nor to prevent the expression of private opinion from individuals to the government, by petition.
(Isabel Paterson, the God of the Machine)

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