by: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
— Original Message —–
From: The Patriot Post
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 3:02 AM
Subject: Founder’s Quote Daily
“A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.” –Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775
From: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
[Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 6:56 AM
To: John Subject:
Fw: Founder’s Quote Daily
John, I think this quote illustrates well the reason why the Libertarian perspective of “no government other than the market” appears to be such an attractive political philosophy. And, despite knowing the pitfalls of giving men power, there are overriding reasons to allow men to have it. 1) There are benefits to giving men power. 2) Giving men power is an unavoidable fact of life.
It appears that the Founders tried to create a system that capitalized upon the advantages and necessity of giving men power, and attempted to create a system that checked to some extent men’s dependable tendency to abuse it.
I think the system our founders gave us is an adequate balance between power and freedom. The system is now failing and allowing power to concentrate. The place where we have gone wrong in tending the system is that we have assumed that the system itself was enough to restrain men of ambition. We have neglected to apply the required moral/spiritual discipline as individuals and as a group/society/nation to give the system intelligent discrimination. Thus, we have thus become blind fools, unable to function competently in our duty to participate as a member of the great democratic-republican watchmen masses.
—– Original Message —–
To: ‘Thomas Lee Abshier, ND’
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 1:27 PM
Subject: RE: Founder’s Quote Daily
Remember, Tom, nobody really has legitimate “power” over others, only brute force and the threat of force by barbarians. But other people can relinquish their own power to another if they choose to. You, yourself, could try going around commanding people, and no one will listen. But have Obozo or some official tell people to do something, and PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO FOLLOW will willingly obey Obozo’s or other so-called officials’ commands.
Ayn Rand called this: “The sanction of the victim.”
Gandhi had a term for it, but I don’t remember the term.
In reality, we are only individual people wandering around. If we choose individually to let another person have authority over us, that is our choice, not the choice of the person supposedly “in power.” The real person with power is the person who decides whether to represent himself and decide his own life for himself or let another person represent him and decide for him.
This is why I don’t recognize public debt as “my debt” or any war as “my war” or everybody else’s children as “our children” or public lands as “our lands”. Yeah, I am forced to pay taxes for these things, just as I might pay the Mafia or a mugger who threatens me with bodily harm. I pay taxes only because they are bigger than I am. I have no responsibility for what a mugger chooses to do with my property, nor do I have responsibility for whatever debts or wars some so-called authority chooses to do with my extorted property.
This is why I think it is crucial that all public officials and all corporate officials be PERSONALLY LIABLE for everything they do, just as any private individual is liable.
Thomas: John, I understand your argument, but I believe we need to be more precise in our definitions and contexts when examining the scenarios where power is exerted.
There are few circumstances that do not involve power/force. Even the most polite situations, such as: marriage, family, friendship, work, and group use a type of force that is exerted in every interaction. The force is not too potentially or deeply damaging, but there is soul force applied in each of the various expressions such as: the cross tone, the denial of approval, reprimand, the posture of disapproval, etc. Each of these soul-forces produces the experience of pain in the soul. And while the recipient of this soul pain is not forced into bodily or mental-emotional compliance by this level of pressure/pain/soul-force, he nevertheless has the option of choosing to stop the pain by capitulating to the will of the force-administrator. Thus, we could say that “force has been used to obtain compliance.” If the purpose of exercising the soul-force was directing another in Righteous thought/speech/action, then it was good that the force was used, and vice versa.
You are right that we often give away our power in civilized social situations, which includes situations such as when we choose to give or withhold agreement and participation with a person in “power”. In such situations, I give another person “the appearance of power” because I move in response to his command.
But, this concept is less true when we are faced with a person exercising overt unilateral force or threat of force. You refer to this as situations where you comply (such as in paying taxes) where the person is bigger than you and willing to use force. This is the situation to which Hamilton refers, and is, in general, the relationship between government and subject.
The question is whether we can live completely free of circumstances where there is the possibility of overt unilateral force. And of course, the answer is currently no — there is no libertarian state which enforces no laws. In the current system, And, even if we did live in a libertarian state, there would still be market systems set up to determine judgment and dispense justice. Participation in the system would put one subject to the local laws. This might make it better because I have agreed with the local laws and system of justice, but I may still be subject to the brute force of power that is dispensed through this market-based justice system, and I may be unjustly accused, convicted and punished. In other words, the Libertarian state has incorporated within it the principle of overwhelming power over the individual. The only distinction between the Constitutional Republic and the state that supplies services by market transactions is that I have been more intimately involved in the purchase of that particular jurisdiction’s administrator of justice.
Thus, the real objection you have is to being forced to be subject to the enforcement policies of the local system of justice and law. But, power is an unavoidable fact of life. It will be exercised, the only question is whether it is a system that I have contracted to be part of or one that I have become the de facto subject of by virtue of birth and citizenship. And, there is really no problem being subject to a power structure that is righteous, since it would be improper to not exert power on those who violate laws which were actually Godly.
Thus, power is simply a fact of life. It will be exercised, and there will be those who are in charge of its administration and execution. It was these to whom Hamilton addressed his comments. When one tastes power, there is an attraction, a thrill, a joy in its exercise, and few are able to resist its temptations to eat, relish, and eat more. Thus, the need for the balance of power, and the need for a base level of Righteousness in the citizenry. Otherwise, the unchecked power will grow to intolerable levels of perversion and worship of the experience of power itself. That balance of power is done by the peer group of those in power, and the mass judgment and resistance of those upon whom power is executed.
Note; the following was a rough draft, some initial thoughts about your comment.
As you note, the tax system is a master-slave relationship, and the force applied is very much equivalent to the mugger who simply overpowers us with threats or actual bondage. But, there is a whole spectrum of power relationships (e.g. enrollment, argument, charm, seduction, agreement) besides those involving real force against the will. Although, I believe Hamilton was referring to those relationships involving actual forceful coercion.
Power will be executed in many forms, from overt to subtle, because people are so interconnected in life.
I believe that submission to the majority rule, the rule of law, and edict of the leader, is natural and necessary in matters of taste, but not in issues of morality.
People naturally form into groups, such as: family, business, recreation, and landmass populations. The problem with group decisions and group action is that most, if not all, group activities have bundled within them many implicit sub-issues. And ultimately, I must make a decision to participate or not with the group. But, I only get one vote, and I must integrate, weigh, and choose to participate or not. My singular vote within myself is a summation of all the agreement and disagreement between the parts of my being. The majority vote inside myself wins, just as the majority of a group directs the action of the whole group. When one is part of a group, one must subjugate oneself to maintain membership in the group. Just as there are parts of the self that must be subjugated to the majority once the decision has been made. This is an inherent principle associated with group membership.
Granted, the parts of the self are not autonomous beings like a human. Nevertheless, the principle of submission of parts of the self to the will of the majority is an octave principle that shows up in all group interactions. At the lowest level, we see parts of the self, submitting to the self, on a higher level we see that the self-submitting to the group, and on an even larger scale, groups submit to the guidance, will, and stand of an even larger organizational body. The metaphor of parts of self submitting to majority rule illustrates the fact that majority rule is a principle commonly seen, used, and executed in nature. The parts of a group can debate, but when it is time for action, the parts must submit to the direction of the whole if the choice is a matter of taste, opinion, or procedure. But, on all levels, issues which are morally objectionable should never be capitulated to. Thus, slavery or victimization should be only on minor issues, not on those issues which make one an accomplice to evil. Submitting to the rule of the majority in matters of taste and style is not wrong, nor undesirable, it is merely one of the aspects associated with being part of the group. If I believe my method, taste, or perspective is superior, then there will be time and opportunity to enroll others. The virtues of patience and hard work must be used liberally as a member of a group. In a free society. there will be times when my voice, ideas, and desires will come to the front and I can be the de facto leader, and other times where my influence seems negligible. But again, there should never be a compromise on issues of morality, regardless of the cost or consequences.
Of course, you could say, “I will leave every group that requires me to participate in any activity that I do not support, or at the very least I will not participate in any activity that I do not support.” And, you could do that. But, I suspect that there would be no group with which you would be in complete agreement on all issues. In other words, there will likely be an issue of disagreement where the leader, and majority, oppose your position, and you will be forced to comply, or not participate, with the group in that situation. In other words, the principle of majority rule is deep and fundamental to life and participation in groups. We must relinquish our desire to participate in only groups that fully/totally agree with our specific and general actions and agenda.
The power that Hamilton referred to is, of course, the power of actual forceful authority of the State. But, power has many more expressions more subtle than the ultimate power to command force. Examples of the gradients of power include the power of personality and enrollment, the power of influence associated with giving and then calling on the other for a return to service. There is the power of persuasion and argument that moves men’s minds because of the clarity of logic. And, there is the power threatened or actual withdrawal of affection. The power to enforce laws by fines, imprisonment, or bodily harm is at the apex of the force spectrum, but it is not the only expression of power. And yes, ultimately the real power lies with the individual who must submit his will and body to the service of the man who wields these various seductions and threats. Not all power is of the genre of overt force. Most of polite society exerts power in the more subtle manner mentioned. But, Hamilton referred to the power of the Office and its ability to demand by legislation and enforce it with corporal force.
The question is, “Is there a place in the properly/well-regulated life for such offices of lawgiver and subject?” You argue no, that such governmental behavior does not have proper contractual assent for it to be binding upon you. And, you are correct to the extent that you are willing to separate from the group to avoid the consequence of disobedience. But, if there is no moral violation, in fact, only morally excellent stands that the government requires, then objection to compliance is of course rebellion against God. And, the inverse is also true. Rebellion against unrighteous law is service to God. The place where we have latitude is again in the arena of taste. The actual issue here is whether we have moral merit guiding the ship of state and wielding the sword in the enforcement of their edicts.
The point you are making is that society should not even impose any requirements, whether moral or immoral on men, and they certainly should not use the sword to enforce that morality. Rather, men should be able to choose the set of life regulations they feel are proper, and the State should have no place in the enforcement of laws of any sort.
Here I must disagree. In issues of violation of space, there must be somebody to adjudicate justice. If I can bring the violator to confess and repent, then all is well. If I cannot, and a small group and a larger group cannot, then submitting the rebel to the state for judgment and justice is appropriate. But, such a solution would make sense only if the State was populated by Godly men, and the Laws of the State were committed to being in harmony with the Laws of God. All other implementations of the State, law, and justice will almost certainly contain strange elements of men’s opinions, culture, and prejudice — certainly a formula for judicial horrors.
The only real objection we can make to the unrighteous State is to leave, or not participate but continue to speak out against the wrong. If we continue to register our complaint and warn those in our circle, we have fulfilled our part as the watchman on the wall, warning when the enemy is coming to destroy in the night.
In summary, Hamilton was noting that humanity loves power, and when men rise to the place of being given the power of the State, they can easily be seduced into using it to satisfy their lust for power, rather than using it to enforce Godliness. The use of force as a final consequence to enforce Godliness is a good thing, and a society which uses this awful power for good, will thrive, and its people will prosper.