Such a view gives Conservatives a significant challenge. How could the Founding Fathers become such a standard that, once their views are cited, their views should stop all questions? Questioning, after all, presupposes critical thinking. How could these men, who lived in a different economic and cultural time, have gained the necessary wisdom to provide eternal principles for government and the economy? The answer is that Conservatives have made the Founding Fathers into a collective Nosterdamus. For just as Nosterdamus's writings and insights have increased well after his death, so has the nobility of our Founding Fathers as Conservatives have placed them on a pedestal whose height rivals any skyscraper in the world. In Christian terms, the Founding Fathers have become the Apostles of America. The Conservatives' use of such a pedestal is necessary if the writings of our nation's founding fathers are to be above questioning.
On the negative side, Marx and his followers are presented a what is to be avoided by a society seeking freedom. Thus when Conservatives accuse someone or an idea as being Marxist, the intention is to have others treat that person or idea as a leper in Jesus' time. Thus, without asking any questions, one is to flee from anything that Marx said.
The problem that we have is that neither our founding fathers nor Marxism deserve the reputations that Conservatives give them. Our Founding Fathers do not deserve the pedestal constructed by Conservatives. After all, most of our founding fathers were slave owners who also supported and participated in the ethnic cleansing of the American Indians. Our Constitution explicitly declares that neither Blacks nor Indians are equal to our founding fathers and, in fact, neither were those who did not own property. At least some of our Founding Fathers even believed in a ruling class called the Landed Interests. In addition, the reason why the Bill of Rights were added to the Constitution was because people threatened our founding fathers with rejecting the Constitution.
And just as our Founding Fathers were not as good as how Conservatives see them, so, Marx does not deserve the devil's horns put on him by Conservatives. Certainly, Marx had plenty of faults. He relied on reductionism and used scapegoating to identify mankind's problems as he blamed the bourgeoisie and private property for the problems he saw. In addition, one can easily question how his proletariat failed to rule through the State since, by all appearances, it seems that the state replaced the bourgeoisie as the rulers of society in countries like the former U.S.S.R. But worse than that, the state that Marx inspired took away freedom. What Marx did well, however, was to correctly identify the economic war that exists between the two classes in Capitalism. Here, Marx joined others, including some of the writers of the Bible, in pointing out an all too common historical problem of some of the rich oppressing the poor.
A couple of points must be made at this time. First, the Conservative approach of using our Founding Fathers as a secular canon and of rejecting everything that Marx said is an appeal to authoritarianism. In fact, any approach that requires that we automatically adhere to one set of views or reject another without examining and criticizing what is said is an appeal to authoritarianism.
Second, the more we submit to authoritarianism, the less freedom we have. Knee-jerk reactions to authoritarian tactics show submission to the control of others. An offshoot of this authoritarianism is by using the Founding Fathers as the canon for determining what is American, Conservatives are conditioning Americans to accept what the Founding Fathers have said as a prison sentence rather than a choice. This offshoot puts Americans into a dilemma. For if Americans are free, then they should be able to choose a different path than what was provided by the Founding Fathers. But if Americans choose a different path, then they cease to be Americans. This will forever be our dilemma for as long as we accept the authoritarian framework that Conservatives have put before us.
As a nation, we have already chosen different paths from what the Founding Fathers set out on. If we had not, then non-landowners, women, and all minorities would not have the right to vote. If we had not chosen different paths than the Founding Fathers, then slavery would not have been abolished, we would still have poll taxes, and some who were old enough to risk their lives in the military would not have the right to vote. In addition, if we followed the writers of the Constitution, we would not have the 10th Amendment--the Amendment that is ranked #2 in the Conservatives' list of favorite Amendments.
When faced with the possibility of taking our country in a new direction, the current mantra repeated by Conservatives is "Eenie meenie, chili beanie, the Founding Fathers are about to speak." But the spirits we should be on the look out for are not those of the Founding Fathers. Rather, the spirits we should be on guard for are those who not only quote the Founding Fathers, but those who claim to be the official spirit guides to the Founding Fathers. For it those spirits who prefer authoritarianism to being friendly.