By Nancy Spannaus
Dec. 24, 2020—There is one gift all Americans have under their proverbial Christmas tree this holiday season. It is a gift bequeathed to us over a period of centuries by those who dedicated their lives to building our nation according to the principles of serving the general welfare, through ever-advancing progress in science, technology, knowledge, and humanity. We call it the American System of political economy.
No matter how lonely, poor, or desperate we may feel right now, we all have access to this gift. It is our inheritance and a crucial part of our hope for the future. Don’t ignore it!
The American System can properly be dated to the work of Alexander Hamilton, who established the rudiments of our economic and financial system. In doing so, he drew on the best traditions of European philosophy, and used them to establish a republican system with more respect for the sacredness of human life than any ever existing before. Thanks to his animating ideas, we not only became a prosperous nation, but a model for other countries around the world.
This gift was often not appreciated, of course, It was frequently repeatedly ignored, attacked, and outright discarded, to our nation’s peril. But time and again, leaders arose who found it again, and put it to work in order to bring us out of disaster. The examples of Abraham Lincoln and FDR spring to mind.
Our nation’s current deadly crisis – economic, medical, social, and political – can be rightly traced to the abandonment of the American System. Instead of that system’s commitment to national banking, we chose domination by a predatory Wall Street. Rather than its dedication to lifting up the human condition with industrial progress, we chose cheapening human life through deindustrialization. Instead of its assertion of government responsibility for building life-saving infrastructure in areas ranging from transport to energy to health, we chose privatization and looting disguised as free enterprise.
We did not choose these alternatives consciously, for the most part – the choices were made for us by those whom we elected as our political leaders. But by neglecting the gift of the American System, we bear responsibility as well.
This blog has dedicated itself to putting those American System ideas into broad circulation and action once again. I am happy to see new signs of a revival of Hamilton’s American System appearing in diverse organizations, such as the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the American Compass, and with the movement around H.R. 6422, a Hamiltonian National Infrastructure Bank. I look forward to further expansion of these ideas on a level requisite to meet the dire crises we face as a nation and a world.
By reviving the American System, we not only enjoy a priceless gift, but are able to provide it to future generations. We cannot afford to ignore this gift!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Nancy Spannaus is the author of Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics.