By Sanford Levinson
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Additional info for An Argument Open to All: Reading "The Federalist" in the 21st Century
If the Constitution were not ratiﬁed and America were ultimately divided into “three or four independent governments—what armies could they raise and pay—what ﬂeets could they ever hope to have? ” Even worse, perhaps, was the danger that one of these separate countries—perhaps called New England, Atlantica, and Dixie—would be “ﬂattered into neutrality” should an attack by a European adversary occur, perhaps because of “specious promises or . . ” What does this have to do with us today? The answer is simple.
F e der a l i st 8 On the Rise of a Militarized State P ublius continues to argue that a truly United States offers far better prospects for maintaining security and liberty than does adherence to the Confederation and the likelihood of ultimate dissolution into three separate countries along the Atlantic coast. He posits that “[s]afety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct,” which, as we saw, is little more than an extension of the central insights of both Hobbes and Locke, that people are motivated to live under organized government because it offers them security against threats by ill-motivated others.
Or one can look at some of the more utopian hopes for the United Nations or, more modestly, at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, created in 1948 to stave off the menace of the Soviet Union (and, not at all coincidentally, to integrate what was then called “West Germany” into that particular alliance system). Still, as Publius suggested, the problem with alliance systems is that they ultimately rely on the “parchment barriers” of treaties. Will a country really risk its death and destruction because allies are being attacked?