Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rand And Orlov: A Guest Post by Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report

[Guest Contributor Ol' Remus has once again favored Liberty's Torch with a pithy and disturbing piece. It will also appear in a forthcoming edition of The Woodpile Report. -- FWP]

You will find, in Woodpile Report's right hand column, at the top, a quote from Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness, 1961: "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission." Here, from The Nature of Government, is the full sentence:

Instead of being a protector of man's rights, the government is becoming their most dangerous violator; instead of guarding freedom, the government is establishing slavery; instead of protecting men from the initiators of physical force, the government is initiating physical force and coercion in any manner and issue it pleases; instead of serving as the instrument of objectivity in human relationships, the government is creating a deadly, subterranean reign of uncertainty and fear, by means of nonobjective laws whose interpretation is left to the arbitrary decisions of random bureaucrats; instead of protecting men from injury by whim, the government is arrogating to itself the power of unlimited whim—so that we are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

Dmitry Orlov—by coincidence another Russian-born American, or perhaps not so coincidentally—revisited Rand's proposition in an essay largely devoted to analyzing President Putin and the events in Ukraine. It's a hard but refreshing summary of the sort we see only at long intervals. Ominously, but justifiably, he drops the "fast approaching" notion. Who, given the events of the intervening 53 years, will contradict him?

Compare the concept of the “dictatorship of the law,” domestic as well as international, as it is promulgated by Putin, to the sort of law which now prevails in the United States. In the US, there are now two categories of persons. There are those who are above the law: the US government and its agencies, including NSA, FBI, DOD, etc.; Wall Street financiers and shadowy government contractors who are never prosecuted for their crimes; the ├╝ber-rich who are politically connected and can prevail legally against anyone simply by throwing money at lawyers.

And then there are those who are below the law: everyone else. These are some of the most sheepish people in the world, living in constant fear of getting sued and stripped of their savings—or arrested, intimidated into accepting a plea bargain, and locked up. They can now be detained indefinitely without a charge. They can be kidnapped from anywhere in the world, transported to a “black site” and tortured. They can be put on trial without being informed of the charge and convicted based on evidence that is kept secret from them. Their communities can be placed under martial law without cause. Individually, they can be shot on sight with no provocation of suspicion of wrongdoing.

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