Anarchy is defined as a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority. (Source: Merriam Webster’s Dictionary) The word anarchy traces its roots back from the French word anarchie, meaning absence of government, to the Medieval Latin word anarkhia, which means lack of a leader, the state of people without a government.
The word anarchy presupposes that government itself is a necessity for human survival, as without it society devolves into anarchy; that government somehow brings order out of chaos. If that is true then it is a sad statement regarding mankind. Think about it, if people need government to bring order to their lives then that must mean that people themselves are unable to control their baser human instincts and NEED some form of governing body to do it for them and to punish those who violate the rights of others.
In establishing a system of government, especially one such as ours that claims its purpose is to protect our liberty, there has to be a fine balance between what power the government exercises and the freedom of the people it governs to act without restraint. If you go too far to one extreme you get…ANARCHY. If you go too far to the other extreme you get…TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION.
In speaking of governments, Thomas Paine wrote, “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”
Without using the words themselves, Paine speaks of this balance between anarchy and tyranny, and how government is but a necessary evil whose job is to maintain order. Yet the important part of Paine’s statement is the following: our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
What does Paine mean by that? To me the answer is obvious; it is because under our system, government derives its powers from the consent of the people; it was created by the people, it’s members are chosen by the people, and it is supposed to be restrained from overstepping its just authority by the people. Therefore, if government becomes venal and oppressive, whose fault is it? Again, the answer should be obvious; it’s ours because we have allowed government to deviate from its intended purposes.
It boggles my mind that people would take the words of the very people in government as to the definition, or description of the powers government should exercise on behalf of the people. You may as well tell a thief that he is free to choose what he will steal from you before you take measures to protect what is rightfully yours.
Yet people flock to the polls by the millions to cast their votes for the candidates for office based solely upon the things these candidates say while campaigning. Not once do people pull out a copy of the Constitution and check to see if the things these candidates promise to do are among the specific powers granted the office which they seek.
If anarchy is the chaos that ensues due to a lack of governmental authority, what word would you use to describe a government that disregards the authority which created it? If the job of government is to prescribe laws to maintain order in society, then what would you call a government which violates the very law which gave it its existence?
What does it say about a people’s willingness to live under the control of a government which routinely violates the limits imposed upon it by the charter which created it? What does it say about a people who are totally ignorant, or uncaring as to what the Constitution says are the specific powers given their government?
Are people today so trusting, (and that is the polite word for how I feel), in regards to the benevolence of their government that they feel that it knows better than they as to what laws should be enacted to maintain order and keep them safe? Are people today so willing to allow government itself to be the one which decides what powers it shall exercise on the people’s behalf?
If so, then they have not studied their history, for that idea is exactly what Thomas Jefferson opposed when he wrote the following words, “…that the government created by this compact [the Constitution for the United States] was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers…” (Source: Kentucky Resolutions, 1798)
With increasing frequency I am hearing from people that our Founders could not have foreseen the changes which have transpired and therefore their ideas and beliefs as to the powers given government, and the limitations upon those powers, are irrelevant in today’s modern world.
If that truly is the case, if people are so unable to manage their own lives, to control their instincts, and need the governments benevolent hand in managing their lives down to the minutest detail, what makes people think that they are capable of voting for who will do the best job of it? If the limits imposed upon the powers granted our government are old and outdated, then maybe the very form which our government takes is old and outdated. Why don’t we just admit that we need a dictatorship, or some other form of government where the leaders do whatever they feel is in the best interest of the people, and that the people have no say in choosing who those leaders will be?
Dammit, either we have a Constitution or we don’t; you do not get to pick and choose which portions of it you wish to adhere to and which ones you choose to disregard! And therefore, if you cannot be bothered to learn what that Constitution says, or means, then maybe you don’t deserve the right to participate in choosing who will fill the various seats of power within that government!
Anyone today with a smart phone can find a copy of the Constitution online and read it, should they choose to do so. It is only due to sheer apathy that people do not know what that document says are the specific powers granted our government. Apathy breeds ignorance and complacency. If you don’t care what the Constitution says you are basically saying you are content to be ignorant. If you don’t care to see our government held to the limits that document says are the powers given our government, well that says something altogether different about you; something I’ll refrain from voicing at this time.
Yet reading the Constitution is not enough, one must know why it says what it says, what the intent of those who wrote it was when they put those words to paper all those years ago. Trusting those seeking to expand their powers beyond those which the Constitution prescribes is, not only foolish; it is like letting criminals expound the law regarding the extent of their crimes.
The only way one can truly understand the purpose and intent of our Constitution is by going back to the words of the very men who lived during the period it was written and ratified. One needs to read the writings of the men who were alive when it was drafted, and read the words of those who spoke both for and against its ratification.
Unlike today where people send text messages that bastardize and pervert the English language, those who wrote our Constitution, and argued both for and against it, had a deep respect for the meaning of words; how they were used and how they conveyed intent. That is why one of my favorite quotes of a fictional nature comes from the film V For Vendetta, “Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.” The problem in this instance is that not enough people are listening to what our Founders said.
When the delegates gathered together and wrote our Constitution each Section, each Clause, each Word was chosen for a reason; and it is that reason which should be the underlying pursuit of anyone who studies the Constitution. In 1938 the Supreme Court stated that premise thusly, “To disregard such a deliberate choice of words and their natural meaning, would be a departure from the first principle of constitutional interpretation. “In expounding the Constitution of the United States,” said Chief Justice Taney in Holmes v. Jennison, 14 U.S. 540, 570-1, “every word must have its due force and appropriate meaning; for it is evident from the whole instrument, that, no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added.” (Source: Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 538)
Then, as recently as 1969, the SCOTUS held, “The values of the Framers of the Constitution must be applied in any case construing the Constitution. Inferences from the text and history of the Constitution should be given great weight in discerning the original understanding and in determining the intentions of those who ratified the constitution. The precedential value of cases and commentators tends to increase, therefore, in proportion to their proximity to the adoption of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any other amendments.” (Source: Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 547)
People today do not want to spend the hours of research which would be required to gain a true understanding of the intent of those men who drafted our Constitution. That is where people such as me step in; we provide a means to bypass the hours of searching and study that would be required to find the truth. Yet for our words to have any usefulness the people reading them must be willing to accept them and put them to use in their decision making processes. As von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough, we must apply.” What good is an understanding of the Constitution if people continue to vote for candidates whose campaign promises show that, if elected, they will not uphold their oaths of office to support and defend said Constitution?
Writing in the North American Review, 1911, Justice Horace H. Lurton stated, “The contention that…the Constitution is to be disregarded if it stands in the way of that which is deemed of the public advantage…is destructive of the whole theory upon which our American Commonwealths have been founded.”
Therefore, I beseech of you, study the Constitution…study the writings of those who were alive when it was written and those who participated in putting it into action in the ratification assemblies. If you cannot do this, do not presume to lecture me on what our government needs to do; what laws it needs to pass in order to keep us safe.
There is one other thing I would like for you to consider. In Federalist 51 James Madison wrote, “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. 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. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
If we are so pathetic and incapable of providing for our own needs and safety that we need an institution such as government to do it for us, what does that say about us as a people, or a species? We talk about corruption in government from the standpoint of the high moral ground, but if government truly is the greatest reflection of human nature, what does that mirror show us about ourselves?
We should not NEED government to do these things for us in the first place; not if we truly understood the concepts of liberty and self reliance. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.” What this means is that I am responsible for me and you are responsible for you. Do not seek to place the burden and responsibility for your problems upon my shoulders and I will promise not to do the same. Or, as John Galt said in Atlas Shrugged, “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
All you people who keep saying that government needs to do this, or do that to take care of this group of people or that group of people do not understand the simple concept of self reliance and of accepting sole responsibility for your actions and choices, and the ensuing consequences of those decisions. To expect, no, to demand that government pass laws which make society accountable, or responsible, for providing for all those in need is NOT freedom, it is slavery; and I REFUSE TO LIVE AS A SLAVE!
In closing I’d like to leave you with a quote from Prince Peter Kropotkin, from his book The State: It’s Historic Role, 1896. Ponder this, if you would; “Either the State for ever, crushing individual and local life, taking over in all fields of human activity, bringing with it its wars and its domestic struggles for power, its palace revolutions which only replace one tyrant by another, and inevitably at the end of this development there is … death! Or the destruction of States, and new life starting again in thousands of centers on the principle of the lively initiative of the individual and groups and that of free agreement. The choice lies with you!”
I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. (And I mean