C – Political Globalization
Afro-Americans under American Imperialism
III – The Formal and Informal American government policy towards Afro-Americans
Before we begin our description of American governance with respect to Afro-Americans, I would like to clarify the distinction I have made between “formal’’ and ‘’informal’’ American government policy.
One could say that a ‘’formal government policy’’ is the one which coincides , transmits and applies to the political ideals that are reflected in European Enlightenment(1715-1789), which were adopted and defended by the Founding Fathers of the United States, those who drafted the American Constitution. Any American government policy and any American political institution not conforming to these political axioms which make up the ideological core of America’s Constitutional Democracy, should be classified as ‘’informal’’ and ‘’illegitimate’’ human constructs, as ‘’political hybrids’’.
In the American Declaration of Independence which was adopted by all American colonies on July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson(1743-1826), who drafted in it the political ideals of America’s Founding Fathers, inserted the tenets that, ‘’…We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are life , liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men , deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…’’.(p.17, Freedom, a history of U.S., Hakim, Joy, Oxford University Press, 2003)
These political tenets of the Declaration of Independence were the ideological concepts of those European thinkers who had promoted European Enlightenment during the 18th century , like Jean-Jacques Rousseau(1712-1778), Voltaire(1694-1778), Adam Smith(1723-1790) and Immanuel Kant(1724-1804). Their intellectual teachings had produced a cultural upheaval in Western Civilization, leading to the founding of the United States in 1776, the French Revolution(1789-1799), the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, and the creation of the modern nation-state which was based on a Constitutional Democracy, the first one being the First French Republic(1792-1804).
If we now examine American history, we observe that since the founding of the United States in 1776, as a Constitutional Democracy, there have been critical political indicators and everyday societal realities of institutional and ideological digressions in relation to the universal humanistic and democratic values of the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the American Constitution, the last ratified by every American state legislature in 1788.
In the Declaration of the Rights of Man, approved by the Revolutionary National Assembly of France on August 26,1789, Article 16 notes that,’’…A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined , has no constitution at all…’’. (http://avalon.law.yale.edu). Taking into consideration this Article 16, we could easily say that during the history of the United States, there have been a multitude of distortions and digressions of the democratic tenets of the American Constitution and the American Declaration of Independence at all levels of policy-making.Starting from the civil rights of American citizens to American foreign policy which has to have the consent of both Houses of Congress(House of Representatives, Senate) , if war is initiated on another country. One could therefore conclude, that the American government, both at the federal and state level, has functioned many times as if there was no constitution, as if the United States was not a Constitutional Democracy!!!
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 -1968 ) in his autobiography, tries to explain objectively the institutional and political contradictions which exist in America’s political culture , between the democratic political guidelines of a Constitutional Democracy and actual government policy towards its citizens, especially its Afro-American citizens. Martin Luther King emphasizes that ,’’…We cannot have an enlightened democracy, with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one-tenth of the people ill-nourished , sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color line –obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitude and crime…’’.(p.9, The autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson, Warner Books 1998)