There are two primary ways to look at the law: either as a tool by which a free and self-governing people protect and preserve their Natural Rights, or as the source of whatever rights a government affords those over whom it rules. The first conception is espoused in the words of our Declaration of Independence:
“–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….”
The second, by Thomas Hobbes in “Leviathan,” his seminal work in which he argues that, once a government is established, the people are forever obligated to support it and be ruled by it and have no right to change or abolish it. Furthermore, according to Hobbes, what rights the people have under a certain government are only those that the government sees fit to afford them and, consequently, are subject to the arbitrary whims of their rulers.
In essence, this is where we are today: at the crossroads of deciding whether or not we will abandon our founders’ understanding of the law and accept that the law is whatever our government say it is unless and/or until we can persuade it to give them back in the manner we desire them. If we accept the view of Hobbes, as so many in our society now seem to have done, then we need to accept that this lowers us to a perpetual state of begging for scraps while our self-appointed elite busy themselves by fighting over which of their factions will hold the reins of power. However, if we chose to stand with the founders and assert that our rights are a gift from our Creator and, thus, inalienable, then we must stand ready to do battle with the a government that has – and for some time now – usurped those rights in the quest to establish power for itself.
Now, it is well known by those who regularly read my posts that I am no friend of Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism, but – at the same time – Burke had his moments.
“ It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.”
“Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.”
“The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.“
“There never was a bad man that had ability for good service.”
“Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.”
Unfortunately, like the American Progressive, where he went wrong is in the means with which he sought to achieve these goals (remember, Burke is the guy who defended a corporation’s “legal” right to “buy” the right from government to “dispose of” 1/3 of the world’s population and their property as that corporation saw fit — so long as it did so according to “the law”):
“The only liberty that is valuable is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.”
With these words, Burke echoes the same argument made by the early American Progressives. In my library are several books written by Progressives about the Progressive movement. One of them is titled, The Search for Order. Now, while the sound of this may appeal to many, “order” as opposed to “anarchy,” what those to whom this notion appeals apparently miss is that order must be imposed, and imposition is the negation of liberty. In fact, liberty is the very essence of disorder. One cannot have both; one must choose between the two: either liberty, or order. But notice, the choice is NOT anarchy or order. Our founders proved this through their example.
When the Articles of Confederation proved to provide too little order, they wrote the Constitution and that document provided for the minimum order necessary to sustain the maximum liberty. It wasn’t until– pointing to economic disparity and looking to science to justify their cause and solutions – until the Progressives started to undermine the Constitution in the name of order and social justice that liberty in this nation started to die. And now, what is the solution for every new or perceived problem in our nation? A call for more rules, regulations and legislation – more “order.” And if anyone dares to object or suggest that the law has become an enemy to individual rights and liberty, they are attacked as enemies of the law and as would-be anarchists. Well, I say reject those voices as the true enemies of individual rights and liberty, as well as the law.
The choice is not between the law and anarchy, but liberty and tyranny. Burke is an excellent example as, even though he claimed to speak for individual rights and liberty, he defended a corporation’s right to own 1/3 of the people in the known world, and to do with them whatever it wished — so long as it met with the Crown’s approval. In that case, how was the law not an instrument of tyranny which was paid for and used as a means of trampling the rights of 1/3 of the world? In such a case, defending the law is defending tyranny. So the assertion that we either support the law or anarchy must be rejected as it is no different than asserting we must either support tyranny or anarchy. Since our founders rightly argued that anarchy is a tyranny in itself, this is the same as saying we must support tyranny or tyranny, which gets us back to my argument that evil vs. evil is NOT a house divided against itself, but evil, either way.
We have the best models known to history for how a people can be free and self-governing: the Constitution, which was modeled largely on the government of Moses (not my “opinion,” the words of Franklin). So chose. Will you defend your rights as an inalienable part of being human and assert that the law is merely a tool you use to protect those rights? And that, as a tool which draws its authority from your consent to be governed by it, the law is subservient to you and I and not we to it? Or will you recognize the law as an entity above you, with greater power and authority than any of us as individuals? Will you bow to the government beast and grovel at its feet in hopes that it will willingly give up the power it has fought so hard to take simply because you hold up some piece of paper and claim they should accept your understanding of it over that of the government?
The insistence that the only choice is order or anarchy is a lie – a lie told by those who seek to preserve the existing system and not individual rights and liberty. We know it is a lie because our founders proved it is a lie and Moses before them. So, decide for yourself which choice you will make, but do so with the full knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding that choice.