Saturday, August 9, 2014

As The Foundations Crumble

"All governments, even a benevolent despotism like my own, rest ultimately upon the consent of the governed." [Emir Abd al-Rahman, in Frank Yerby's novel of Saracen Spain An Odor Of Sanctity]

That there was ever a Muslim ruler as insightful as Abd al-Rahman is not supported by the historical record. However, novelist Yerby was on hand to provide that important Supporting Cast character the necessary insight. Those at the levers of power of America today behave as if they utterly lack that insight...which is doubtful, to say the least.

When Milton Friedman said that the key to good government isn't installing good men in power, but rather creating conditions under which bad men would find it desirable -- by their own standards -- to do the right thing, he was restating the key implication of the "consent of the governed" axiom in economic terms. Economics, after all, is just the study of what people do to pursue their desires. Bad men, a category which envelops the overwhelming majority of persons in (or who aspire to) the political class, have their desires as well. We must despise them and condemn those who pursue them; we must not act as if they were of no consequence.

Alongside that, we must be mindful of that subcategory of bad men of the political class who:

  • Are aware that their power rests ultimately on the consent of the governed, and:
  • Are determined that it shall no longer be so.

These might be the most important members of that class: not because they have much hope of bringing their ambitions to fruition, but because of the carnage they can wreak in the attempt.

It might be the case that every power-wielder dreams of making his ascendancy irreversible. We know that some have hoped to do so, because they've tried. Yet the record of history suggests that theirs is a hopeless quest:

    The moral dimension of arranging the assassination of a popular politician didn’t trouble Wriston at all. Living in the public eye had always entailed increased risk. Historically, whenever some troublemaker had roused the rabble to a greater pitch than the Establishment of that time and place could tolerate, it had disposed of him with no compunction and extreme prejudice. There were parts of the world where that was still the inevitable price of rising to power—places where a dismissal from high office was always administered with high-velocity lead. Power seekers in such lands arrived in their palaces with their death warrants already signed and sealed; they merely awaited delivery.

A goodly fraction of historical tyrants were pulled down and executed by their own subjects, while a few invoked the wrath of external powers, which then pursued them and brought them to their just ends. The former is the preferred end of a tyrant, for it bears a sharper lesson, with more deterrent effect, than the latter. Therefore, the aspiring tyrant-for-life must be watchful for the rise of those conditions that make popular uprising likely, and likely to succeed.

Hearken to the esteemed Ace of Spades:

The government's basis for rule over the citizens is based on two things:

1. Sheer naked coercive power.


2. Moral authority, and the notion that, while a citizen might not like the particular government serving at any particular time, that citizen values something more eternal than the temporary political circumstances of a four year period of time.

Namely, the idea that it is best for everyone to follow the law, because it's more important to support a stable government without turmoil and violence than to violate the law to win on any immediate, ephemeral political point.

Let's pause here for a citation from a (hopefully) better-known commentator:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Now back to Ace:

Note that it is far better for any society that the government's power rests more on the second pillar than on the first. Because so long as that pillar, of moral authority, of general fairness, of a general sense that the longterm interests of America are better served by adherence to government than to rebellion against it, the government will rarely, if ever, have to resort to the ultimate pillar of authority, which is physical, violent coercion....

The law works when people see an inherent value of the law beyond their short-term interests.

When they see other people violating the law, they decide that only a Chump would obey the law, and they begin violating the law as well.

Is this what this Administration wants?

Is it even capable of the low level of thinking to see how deeply corrosive and dangerous that casual lawbreaking by the state can be?

As the Obama Administration continues to engage in casual, contemptuous law-breaking itself, do they ever stop to consider the harm they're doing to the oldest, longest-lived republican democracy in the world?

Do they even trouble themselves to wonder?

The ultimate question encapsulated in Ace's ponderings is whether American government's perceived legitimacy, as it derives from our nation's established patterns and practices, can survive the ongoing explosion of injustice.

As usual, I've been circling my main point, but then, it's one I've made before. Indeed, Isaac Asimov made it before I was born:

"The tale of my interrupted trial will spread through the galaxy. Frustration of my plans to lighten the disaster will convince people that the future holds no promise to them. Already they recall the lives of their grandfathers with envy. They will see that political revolutions and trade stagnations will increase. The feeling will pervade the galaxy that only what a man can grasp for himself at that moment will be of any account. Ambitious men will not wait and unscrupulous men will not hang back. By their every action they will hasten the decay of the worlds."

The contrast thus illuminated between legislated law and Natural Law could hardly be clearer. Legislated law depends upon the allegiance of those subject to it -- their willingness to conform their behavior to the law without being coerced into doing so. For there is never enough enforcement power to execute, imprison, fine, or intimidate the whole population into obeying any law. The idea is self-contradictory. Yet still more striking is just how small a fraction of the citizenry can effectively nullify a law by noncompliance. The experiences of the United States put that fraction at about 2%.

I've written about this, and the reasons for it, several times before this, but never before with such a specific law, nor such a specific fraction of the populace, in mind.

"The Constitution is the supreme law, the foundation for all other law. If it doesn’t mean exactly what its text says—the public meanings of the words as ordinary people understand them—then no one can possibly know what it means. But if no one can know what the Constitution means, then no one can know whether any other law conforms to it. At that point, all that matters is the will of whoever’s in power. And that’s an exact definition of tyranny." [Yes, yes.]

As I write this, the Obama Administration has plainly flouted the Constitution's prescriptions and proscriptions a minimum of twelve times. Though in some cases the genesis is unclear, the implication that all such floutings occurred with Obama's approval, if not his active direction, seems inescapable. The general awareness of Obama's contempt for the Constitution -- the document that creates his office and bestows authority upon it -- has given rise to a horrifying secondary consequence:

Seeking to file a complaint about the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, Steve Wronko visited the Helmetta Police Department to air his grievances about the shelter falling prey to nepotism and corruption as a result of Helmetta Mayor Nancy Martin appointing her son Brandon Metz to head up the facility.

“I’ve made objections about what’s going on at the shelter over there,” Wronko tells the police officer, adding, “My first and fourth amendment rights were violated, my civil rights were violated.”

“Obama just decimated the freakin’ Constitution, so I don’t give a damn. If he doesn’t follow the Constitution, we don’t have to,” responds the cop, brazenly violating the oath he swore to uphold the Constitution.

The comment is self-evidently shocking, but it also provides an insight as to how corruption from the very top reaches all the way down to the bottom, providing law enforcement with a twisted form of justification for their unconstitutional activities.

At the end of the video, other police officers arrive to kick Wronko out of the building, with the cop who doesn’t give a “damn” about constitutional rights stating, “Either you get out or you’re gonna get locked up.”

Normally I would distrust anything from flagrant hysteric Alex Jones's InfoWars site, but this item appears to have been confirmed by video evidence -- which since it was first published has been taken out of general view. (See also these confirming reports.)

When municipal police express such attitudes in words -- never mind the innumerable, widespread accounts of police-state tactics wielded against ordinary, non-violent Americans merely going about their peaceable ways -- we can no long blindly place our faith in the "rule of law." That concept has all too obviously been set aside in favor of a far older conception: "Might makes right."

But who, ultimately, holds the preponderance of might?

If the armed civilian populace of these United States were an army, it would be larger than all the "official" armies that exist today rolled into one. It would boast more firearms, more ammunition, and of course more members than any army in history, including the fabled hordes of Xerxes, Attila, and Genghis Khan. Even the little local pockets of that "army" would be sufficient to resist any other local coercive force...or displace any "authority" that might stand in its way.

With the developments cited and alluded to in the above, the day will soon be upon us when events of that sort will occur.

The regime fears this, of course. It knows the foundations of its authority are crumbling beneath it, by its own actions. That's why it's bent its efforts to limiting public knowledge of its doings. Its moves to restrict civilians' access to firearms, which have fortunately been largely unsuccessful, should be viewed in the same light. If we proceed from the opening observations and categorizations of this essay, it seems clear that not only is that regime composed entirely of "bad men," but moreover that they are of the subgroup who are aware that their power rests on the consent of the governed, but are determined that it shall no longer be so.

Their strategy of "progressively" impoverishing as many Americans as possible will only take them so far. Indeed, it's a strategy that could backfire on them explosively. More anti-regime sentiment rests among America's working class -- the segment of America most brutally affected by the rise of Obamunism -- than many outside that class are aware.

The Battle of Athens provides the precedent and the framework:

The outcome will depend upon time, resolve, and the will to will the blood price we must pay.


Weetabix said...

"When Milton Friedman said that the key to good government isn't installing good men in power, but rather creating conditions under which bad men would find it desirable -- by their own standards -- to do the right thing,..

That's interesting. When I used to administer a small network, I set things up so the right thing was by far the easiest thing to do and so that doing things wrong was harder (e.g. storing a file, or writing up phone notes).

"As the Obama Administration continues to engage in casual, contemptuous law-breaking itself, do they ever stop to consider the harm they're doing to the oldest, longest-lived republican democracy in the world?"

Oh, they consider it, alright. I think the harm is their goal.

Phil Carlson said...

Your talking about the power of a plurality and the inherent legitimacy it possesses. Power derived from that legitimacy.

Yes it matters greatly they know what they do. If they are tyrants worthy of the name they understand perfectly well what threatens them and their power and what they have wrought.

It is a worthy question of not why, but what for, in understanding how powerful consent of the governed truly is.
For if a plurality did not possess the inherent power to thwart the enemies of its will and liberty, the encroaching police state and meddling in every facet of our affairs would not be taking place.

I believe absolutely in the good and greatness of a plurality of Americans. It works. It is just such a thing that created this republic to begin with. A plurality is what fought and won the single greatest and by far most successful resistance to tyranny in history.
They fear such an idea like nothing else.
But, proof is in the pudding. It is staring us all right in the eyes. Those running things would not be doing everything within their power to keep people from realizing a plurality is possible if it was not the existential threat to their power it is.

They are afraid of what we will do to them for what they are doing to us. Otherwise what reasons exist for classifying normal law respecting productive people from all walks of life, along with spying on us, as "domestic terrorist"? What does a legitimate republican form of government require huge number of fema camps in our civil society? What reason to disarm millions and millions of these same Americans? They ain't shooting at or assassinating anybody. They want to be left alone. Cant get simpler and more legitimate than that.
But this same government and its mercenary's certainly are threatening us with violence if we do not comply. It is their ultimate fallback. No legitimate government, those running it at the behest of people consent has need of such.

They are very afraid of withdrawal of consent and what comes with that act of defiance.
It is loss of the appearance of legitimacy for them. That is as it should be.
They loose this fig leaf of a lie of legitimacy, all they have is threat of force and violence backing their tyranny and treason.
It is the default position as things stand now. It is the reason every law and regulatory act of diktat possible is decreed.
To as Adolph Hitler said in regards to it being enormously convenient to create a system of laws where everyone is a criminal.

There is a very fundamental difference here in America. Something unique among people in this republic. A plurality understands culturally what consent and liberty, all the virtues of the laws of primal natural born rights and freedoms.
And that puts our liberty far upstream of any tyranny. It is also our culture of civility that is the glue which holds everything together.

I say to all the tyrants and shit stirrers, you all have had it easy. Be smug and in your hubris and cunning you think you have special powers over us, you somehow got something over on us?
Up your arses, your lucky right now. For when people have had enough of the meddling and thieving, nothing will save you from the wrath of a republic unleashed, from the comeuppance so richly deserved. 2%, III%, it only matters it is a plurality aroused which can not be denied.