TAMPA, December 29, 2012 – The new U.S. Congress will convene on January 3rd with two high profile issues to consider. There is zero chance that they will get either one of them right. The debates on both are already framed into a lose-lose proposition for the American people, as are virtually all “debates” on Capitol Hill.
With a more enlightened populace, there is always some chance that pressure on the legislators could produce a more positive result. However, the gullible American public has already taken the bait that “something must be done” on both issues. “Something” means Congress passing a law, which means the perceived problem will be solved with violence.
Every law is a threat of violence. Americans used to understand that. In their present condition, they are aware of little beyond football on Sunday and Dancing with the Stars during the week. Fat, progressive and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
Government itself is an institution of violence. That’s not an opinion. That’s what it is. That’s all it is. Governments are constituted for the express purpose of pooling the capacity for violence of every member of the community.
Every law promulgates human behavior that is mandated under the threat of violence. It either prohibits certain activity or requires certain activity. Failure to behave as the law proscribes results in violence against the transgressor. He is kidnapped at best, killed resisting at worst.
Putting aside the question of whether this power should ever be invested in a regional monopoly, every society must first answer the question of whether this power should be exercised by anyone at all. Is violence ever justified?
In a free society, there is only one circumstance under which it is. Violence is only justified as a reaction to aggression committed in the past. Murder, assault, and theft are all examples. These justify the use of force against the perpetrator. Consider this statement.
“You are prohibited from committing murder against your fellow citizen. If you do, we will kidnap you at best, kill you while resisting at worst.”
Sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? Substitute “theft” for “murder” and that doesn’t change. The use of force is morally justifiable as a reaction to aggression. This proceeds logically from each individual’s right to defend himself. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.
Now, consider this statement.
“If you do not pay the medical bills of perfect strangers whom you have never met and never contracted any financial liability to, we will kidnap you at best, kill you while resisting at worst.”
That doesn’t quite work, does it? In fact, once the veneer of legitimacy is removed, it is apparent that the lawmaker in this case is committing one of the chief crimes he was given his power to prohibit. It is no less armed robbery if you substitute the words “education,” “housing,” or “food” for “medical.”
Since it is an absurdity that inaction can amount to aggression, no just law can mandate human behavior. Only laws prohibiting certain behavior are justifiable, that behavior being limited to aggression against others.
That’s why Thomas Jefferson said, “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the law ought to restrain him.”
That even this minimal government activity requires finances is the reason that Thomas Paine called government “a necessary evil.” Many libertarians believe he was only half right.
The Bill of Rights was an attempt to limit, interfere with and retard the government’s ability to do the only thing it is capable of doing: commit violence. Those amendments do not grant any rights. They prohibit government violence, regardless of the wishes of the majority. “Congress shall make no law…”
That’s also the purpose of all of the supposed “checks and balances” in the Constitution itself. The framers attempted to construct a government that was incapable of doing anything unless violence was truly justified.
In other words, the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written to protect us from democracy.
These ideas have completely vanished from the modern American ethos. Instead of viewing government as a last resort, to be utilized only against an aggressor who refuses to interact peacefully with his neighbors, it is viewed as the first solution to every societal problem, most of which were caused by government in the first place.
That most insipid of all clichés, “There oughta be a law” is properly translated as “We ought to solve this problem with violence.”
That is American society today. A century of “progressivism” has reduced the average American to an unthinking, violent brute. He is both tyrant and slave at the same time. He can conceive of no other happiness than the satisfaction of his appetites and infantile amusement from base entertainment. He reacts to any interruption of this passive existence by calling on the government to commit violence on his behalf.
In the name of freedom, he not only acquiesces to but demands his chains.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.