The Law

Very few people know that I have an affinity for vampire, zombie, and post-apocalyptic movies in general. For those who do it should come as no surprise that as soon as Season 3 of the Walking Dead came out on DVD that I would buy it. Well yesterday I had myself a Walking Dead marathon. My wife had gone over to a friend’s house to celebrate her friend’s birthday so I plunked myself down on the couch and watched all 14 episodes back to back. If you are a Walking Dead fan, then you may see where the idea for this came from, but if you’re not, I think I will still manage to get my point across without all the gore of the TV show.

Probably sometime yesterday as I was around halfway in to Season 3 that the idea for this was planted, but it was pushed back because I was too involved in what was happening on the TV. But today, as I was dragging a razor across my stubble, a light went on in my head and the idea for this peeked up and throughout the day that idea grew until I had formulated what you are about to read.

I am somewhat of a prepper in that I have thought about, and made certain preparations for a possible meltdown of society. I am not a full scale prepper who has his own underground bunker with years of food and ammo stocked up, but that’s not saying I don’t wish I didn’t. In any case, I have given a great deal of thought as to what life would be like if society collapsed, and believe me, none of the scenarios that play through my head have been pretty.

But the other day, something in Season 3 planted an idea in my head about what it is that holds a society together. When the answer came to me it was so simple that I was shocked it took me this long to put it all together. The thing that keeps society together, without unraveling, is the law.

Imagine back to the days of cavemen when there were no cities, no councils, just men struggling for survival against nature and each other. If you had something that someone else wanted, and if that person was stronger than you, then in most instances they would kill you and take what was yours. It did not matter that they had not worked for it and that you had, it was pure survival of the fittest.

If you look through world history it has always been about the strongest overcoming the weak. Kingdoms and empires have arisen that conquered and pillaged from those less powerful than them. Those who lived in those kingdoms and empires were bound by the rules made, often, by tyrants. They were serfs and slaves and had no real rights of their own.

However, all through the ages there have been those who thought great thoughts and put them down for posterity to read. At the time our nation came into existence there were men alive who had been raised and educated as to the beliefs of certain of these great thinkers, these philosophers. These great thinkers influenced them so much that a lot of what they wrote about found its way into our system of government. Chief among these beliefs was the preservation of the natural rights of the people.

One of these great thinkers was John Locke, whose Second Treatise on Civil Governments was a major influence in the thinking of men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It was men like Locke who influenced Jefferson into saying, “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”

It was men like Locke who influenced Madison into saying, “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Federalist 51

We all understand that the laws are written by those in government and that we are bound to obey them. But, like it or not, there are limits as to what laws government can enact on our behalf. In Locke’s Second Treatise he wrote, “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. No body can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it.” (my emphasis)

Roughly Sixty years after our Constitution went into effect, a Frenchman by the name of Frederic Bastiat wrote a treatise entitled The Law, in which he explained the purpose for, and how, the law can be perverted. From it I provide the following for your consideration, “If every person has the right to defend—even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason—cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.”

The purpose for which our government was established was to preserve our liberty. That concept is found in both the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. You cannot deny that! When a government oversteps its legal authority, the powers we gave it via the Constitution, it becomes tyrannical and oppressive.

How does all this tie in to Season 3 of the Walking Dead. Well, in Season 3 there was this town, a little place carved out and defended by the locals, but presided over by a guy named the Governor, or Guv’nor as they pronounced it in the series. Well everything wasn’t as it seemed in this community called Woodbury. You see in this place, Woodbury, the Guv’nor was the law. Since society had collapsed and the zombies had free run of almost everyplace, the people were willing to go anywhere, do anything, just to feel safe and secure…even live under the rule of a tyrant. Towards the end of the series, and I hope I am not spoiling it for you if you haven’t seen it yet, the Guv’nor guns down a bunch of his own people because they stand up to him.

And that’s the premise for this entire little rant here. We have a system of government, OF LAWS, designed to protect our rights and our liberty. But for some reason we the people would rather sacrifice those rights, let our government overstep its prescribed powers, just so that we can feel a bit safer. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Ben Franklin once said that “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” The people of Woodbury learned this the hard way at the end of Season 3.

My question therefore is this, have we given up too much already for us to be able to get it all back? Or is what John Adams once said true, “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

Ponder these thoughts would you?

About Br'er Rabbit

I'm just one person out of millions of others. The only thing different about me is that I don't walk around with my head up my ass.
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2 Responses to The Law

  1. Mark Dietz says:

    Good reading here, Neal. Thanks for sharing.

  2. kdzu says:

    I suspect that Adams might have been right. At least for the foreseeable next generation or two.
    No tyrant I have ever read, or heard about, has ever given up power willingly. Either the people come to their senses and depose (violently) them, or, another bigger, stronger tyrant comes in and seizes power, for ill or good. Hence we see that when the US deposed Saddam, we were to weak to impose, violently enough, our so called version of democracy on Iraq. We were then driven out by our own weaknesses.

    A people have to both understand liberty and law before they can ever hope to once again depose tyrants how hold sway over them.

    A few there will be who will gently blow on the spark of liberty, carefully keeping the ember alight, until with the coming of the dawn, add first tinder, then fuel, causing once again the fire to burn brightly.

    Pray for our Remnant.

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