Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Law And The Lawless Part 4: Innovation And Obfuscation

Imagine the following, Gentle Reader: A great physiologist has discovered an absolutely infallible cure for cancer. It's effective against cancers of all sorts, no matter what parts of the body are affected. Moreover, it's easily affordable, has no side effects, and doesn't demand anything of the patient after treatment. How would you view such a development?

Wild applause, right? The developer is the hero of the age, right? Nobel Prize, the Medal of Freedom, ticker-tape parades, the works, right? Right?

Whoops, I forgot to mention the catch: The treatment only works on heterosexuals. Moreover, it's in the nature of the thing that it cannot be made to work on homosexuals -- that any modification attempted will render it lethal to them and useless to the rest of us.

Now how do you think it would be viewed, and by whom?

My bet is that homosexual activists would rise up in a fury. Their allegations of bigotry and conspiracy would be loud enough to shake the world. There would be massive protests against the developer, against any honors awarded to him, and against any distribution of his discovery until "this flaw is removed from it." Activists would petition the federal government to nationalize the treatment, preventing its deployment and ensuring that political forces would determine when it could be used, and on whom.

(There are some interesting side trails worth exploring in this hypothetical. The treatment's ineffectuality on homosexuals would confirm the biological basis of sexual orientation, which has long been asserted by homosexual activists but lacks an evidentiary foundation. Beyond that, there's at least one cancer that heterosexuals don't seem to get: Kaposi's Sarcoma. But those are subjects for another time.)

Since special-interest groups tend to possess political power beyond what their numbers would suggest, the Lavender Mafia might well carry the day, especially if the Democrats were in power at the time and felt their support to be marginal. However, the use of homosexuals as the goat-group here is almost irrelevant to the political dynamic. Make the goat-group blacks, or Hispanics, or Muslims, or left-handed persons, and the consequences would be much the same.

Yes, there's a larger point to this. Give me a second to fetch more coffee.

We seldom think of politicians as a special-interest group, yet it's clear that they are one. They share a common interest that the rest of us don't feel: the acquisition of power and the perquisites that accompany it. Indeed, the rest of us have an "interest" that's the exact reverse: we want to be free: that is, we want to be left alone to live as we choose, interact with others as we choose, and manage our own affairs as we choose, free of outside interference. We regard the existence of others with power over us as noxious, even pestilential, and would greatly prefer that there be no such phenomenon as politics. We regard even the bare minimum of authority required to maintain public peace and order as a "necessary evil."

(Yes, that applies to mouthy commentators who write ceaselessly about politics, too.)

As it happens, long ago a group of inspired men came together and discovered a cure for politics. They envisioned a state of affairs in which political machinations is chained down to the irreducible minimum required for national defense, the protection of the innocent, and the resolution of disputes. They proceeded to codify their dream in a document unique in human history: the very first corpus of law that would bind, not the individual, but the State and its agents.

They made a few mistakes. Chiefest among them was the failure to specify in the document itself that it was a bill of limitations on government. For example, the opening clause of Article I, Section 8, which reads:

Congress shall have power:

...really should say:

Congress shall only have power:

There are other places in the Constitution where a similar minor rewording would have made much of the subsequent chicanery far more difficult, if not impossible. But the Founding Fathers believed that the mere existence of the document, and its erection as "the supreme Law of the Land," would express its underlying premise adequately well. If we grant their assumptions, they had achieved the foremost innovation in human thought ever applied to politics and government: a "cure" for the "disease" of politics, a preventative for the abuses of power suffered by all the societies that had preceded them. We honor them for their achievement and forgive them for not foreseeing the maneuvers of the special-interest group we call politicians.

Politicians went to work at weakening the restraints "the supreme Law of the Land" laid upon them almost immediately. We stand at the end of more than two centuries of such skullduggery. Yet even those of us who resist the Omnipotent State most fiercely seldom ponder what made the de facto nullification of the Constitution's constraints on the State possible.

The purpose of the document, which the Founding Fathers thought so perfectly clear, had to be obscured. That has been the highest priority of our political class ever since ratification.

This series of essays must come to an end at some point. That point has arrived, both in time and in subject matter. The core of our degradation cannot be expressed any more clearly than this:

The very law written to bind politicians to a fixed set of authorities and responsibilities has been nullified by the politicians themselves.

To pull that off, they had to deceive a great many persons about the purpose of the Constitution, and corrupt a great many others into yielding our Constitutional protections for some other consideration. The shibboleths they used in that effort -- "the public good is the highest law," "we've got to be practical," "the Constitution is not a suicide pact," and the like -- could not contradict the words of the Constitution, but were effective at obfuscating its purpose in the minds of many, especially those who'd never troubled to study it.

Accordingly, we who understand and love freedom can no longer look to the Constitution for the protection of our rights. The "game" of politics in these United States, which was supposed to be "played" under a compact set of "rules" any literate American could read and understand, has changed irreversibly. The lines have been erased; the net is down; there's no "umpire" to call "foul."

It's in light of that bleak recognition that you, Gentle Reader, and all our confreres nationwide, must decide what should come next.


Anonymous said...

"Indeed, the rest of us have an "interest" that's the exact reverse: we want to be free: that is, we want to be left alone to live as we choose, interact with others as we choose, and manage our own affairs as we choose, free of outside interference."

Wishful thinking, perhaps?

I've met very few people (outside of cyberspace) who want to be free of the State. Rather, the reverse... most people embrace the State.

ISTM that, whilstever this is the case ... you may fight, but you can never win.

To be fair, there does seem to be change afoot. Many more are willing to concede a degree of "governmental over-reach". But, hey, that can be corrected if only the right guys can be elected.

As to National Defence and dispute resolution; the State is bad, so we should only let it do the really, really important things. Is that the way forward? Really?

Anonymous said...

I would be perfectly content to live under a State limited to protection of individuals and their property, if it STAYED limited. But the historical evidence that it never has stayed limited is incontrovertible, and the theoretical argument that it never will stay limited is irrefutable. Spooner is not mocked. That is why I am an anarchist. That is why we have to figure out how to live without the State, because eventually it's going to get to the point that we can't live with it, unless you call 1984-world living, which I sure don't.

Col. B. Bunny said...

You're right that certain tweaks would improve the document but a certain joke illustrates the basic problem. A man goes to his neighbor and asks to borrow his axe. His neighbor replies, "I can't. I'm making soup." "What does making soup have to do with my wanting to borrow your axe?" asked the man. "Nothing," replied his neighbor, "but when you don't want to lend your axe, any excuse will do."

It's clear that the Interstate Commerce Clause applied to a very limited class of possible state actions. Absolutely no question about that. But the Supreme Court wanted to ignore the Constitution in the '30s so it did just that. The Wickard decision was an absurdity and validated a federal power grab that every man, woman, and law professor in the country knew was contrary to the constitutional scheme. Even the most embarrassing, pathetic argument will suffice if you've made up your mind to violate the Constitution.

The 16th and 17th Amendments were probably the death knell of constitutional government. Probably just the 16th all by its lonesome.

Add a dash of the Federal Reserve and a galllon of liberal/progressive/socialist/communist disdain for anything prior to the invention of the hulu hoop and you can stick a fork in it.

Anonymous said...

"[T]hey had to deceive ... and corrupt a great many ... into yielding Constitutional protections ... The shibboleths they used ... could not contradict the words of the Constitution, but were effective at obfuscating its purpose in the minds of many, especially those who'd never troubled to study it."

Somebody once warned that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."


Anonymous said...

Watching Discovery Channel's "Siberean Cut". It is about loggers from Montana that go to Sibera to work Russian forests because logging is being phased out of the state.
I thought, people go over 6000 miles to a country we don't trust, don't like, and are at war with more than ever; all because a group of Federal Elites and Their Minions decide that logging isn't good in Montana?? It's not like trees aren't growing in Montana. It isn't like there isn't a market for lumber. It isn't like the American public isn't using lumber. But no, The Elites decided that we all need to tree worship, fear losing an owl, and only people with accumulated wealth need live in Montana.
This drives home the fact; the Federal Government and all of Their Legions view themselves as the Qualified SlaveMasters. And the rest of us just live to serve them. Revolution indeed!

WalkingHorse said...

B. Bunny said a mouthful. We have been under extra-Constitutional governance for more than a century. The judiciary has facilitated the ruse that the Rule of Law is an operable constraint upon all players, despite the reality that the Rule of Law is a constraint upon the plebians, and the political class and its remora are exempt.

StukaPilot said...

there will never be an Ultimate Solution to the Government Problem; the struggle between individual freedom and statist tyrnanny is eternal. After the current Universal DebtPonzi collapses and FreeFor wins the consequent Civil War, we will simply have to write a better Charter than the FFs did. Start with "No Central Bank", and proceed from there. If certain anarchists wish to colonize an uninhabited Pacific Island, and repeat Fletcher Christian's bloody debacle, that will also be permitted

Drew said...

I am quite behind in my reading, but your example in the first section is quite timely considering the recent destruction of the 'Redskins' trademark for it offensiveness.

Just imagine the responses... Chills the blood.

Thank you for this series, it has quite clearly cemented my urge over the past year to 'Go Galt'

Drew said...

Those of us who have taken the Oath of Enlistment, this puts us in quite a pickle.

I have been considering 'Going Galt' for some time now but this series of essays has near completely ruled that out as an option with honor because of my oath. Althought I am bound to defend something which no longer exists?

On a side note, I am very behind in my reading. Your example in the first section is quite timely considering the recent destruction of the 'Redskins' trademark due to it's sudden offensiveness. Imagine the screeches from the Progressives were such a cure to materialize.