Of course, the course of human events is uneven. Simply consider the course of any life, yours, for example, or mine. Review any picture from your babyhood, youth, or adolescence. What was their top joy? Their greatest fear? What were they learning that they never were able to articulate?
The distance between then and now is significant. In most ways, there is no bridging it. Then is still then – as implacably as now is still now. It is not that linkages are missing, but the fullness of the context and the limit of apprehending it.
What it meant, once upon a time, to establish a “common defense” alongside a “general welfare” has unraveled. Who were we when “man” meant all people? In an inflated context, with a restricted ability to engage it, we thought our rebalanced revolution would survive its time—that language would not change; that denotation would forever carry the same order of connotation we found so obvious.
Today we can no more even see the printed tension holding defense and welfare in an ongoing marriage dance than we can intuit a day in the life of our 6-year-old ancestor.
In terms of the words, our blindness comes not at the level of “defense” and “welfare.” We know them both in their individuality but not in their relationship to one another. Today they stand in opposition to one another. This distancing is not something inherent in them but because their descriptors have been left behind.
“Common” defense has become a defense of capital and those who have the most of it. “General” no longer speaks of interdependence between all the different gifts people hold, but the independence of what is best for me. What is best for others is received as an intolerable restrain on what is available for me. I must put up a defense against their welfare.
The current revolution needs to establish a defense against capitalism and a concern for the welfare of those it leaves behind.