Ferdinand Lundberg (1905 – 1995) was a 20th century economist, journalist, historian and author of such books as The Rich and the Super-Rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today; The Myth of Democracy; Politicians and Other Scoundrels; and the subject of this review – Cracks in the Constitution.
Lundberg’s book was published twenty-seven years ago, yet remains as powerfully important and relevant today as then. Simply put, the book is a blockbuster. It’s must reading to learn what schools to the highest levels never teach about the nation’s most important document that lays out the fundamental law of the land in its Preamble, Seven Articles, Bill of Rights, and 17 other Amendments. Lundberg deconstructs it in depth, separating myth from reality about what he called “the great totem pole of American society.”
He does it in 10 exquisitely written chapters with examples and detail galore to drive home his key message that our most sacred of all documents is flawed. It was crafted by 55 mostly ordinary but wealthy self-serving “wheeler dealers” (among whom only 39 signed), and the result we got and now live with falls far short of the “Rock of Ages” it’s cracked up to be. That notion is pure myth. This review covers in detail how Lundberg smashed it in each chapter.
The Sacred Constitution
Lundberg quickly transfixes his readers by disabusing them of notions commonly held. Despite long-held beliefs, the Constitution is no “masterpiece of political architecture.” It falls far short of “one great apotheosis (bathed) in quasi-religious light.” The finished product was a “closed labyrinthine affair,” not an “open” constitution like the British model. It was the product of duplicitous politicians and their close friends scheming to cut the best deals for themselves by leaving out the great majority of others who didn’t matter.
The myths we learned in school and through the dominant media are legion, long-standing and widely held among the educated classes. They and most others believe the framers crafted a Constitution that “powerfully restrained and fettered” the federal government and created “a limited government (or a) government of limited powers.” It’s simply not so because through the power of the chief executive it can do “whatever it is from time to time” it wishes. In that respect, it’s no more precise and binding than The Ten Commandments the Judaic and Christian worlds violate freely and willfully all the time. Even so-called “born-again” types, like the current President, do it, along with Popes, past and present, and the former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, Mordechai Eliyahu, who advocates mass killing by carpet bombing
The “supreme Law of the Land” here deters no President or sitting government from doing as they wish, law or no law. The Constitution is easily ignored with impunity by popular or unpopular governments doing as they please and inventing reasons as justification. Lundberg is firm in debunking the notion that