Skip to comments.THOMAS FLEMING: Abuse Your Illusions
Posted on 02/04/2002 12:00:14 PM PST by ouroboros
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That depends on why they're doing it. If they do it so they can have a better government than the one they're leaving, more power to 'em. If they're doing it in order to get away with violating someone's rights, I do have a problem with it.
1. Government should enforce all rights but it should acknowledge different categories of rights violations and treat them differently (#79, your first two paragraphs). I assume that laws would need to be passed by elective legislative bodies to draw such distinctions with adequate precision.
2. When less than the established amount of government is desired by a segment of the population, that segment may wind down the government that applies to them, provided no rights are violated (#81).
3. When a segment of the population desires to charge the government with more than its established function, that segment may institute those additional government powers, provided no rights are violated (#79, last paragraph).
It seems to me that you agreed to every element of a government established by consent of the governed.
Well, no, I haven't. I do support the republican form of government, but my position wouldn't change in any fundamental way if I were a monarchist. You see, if the people consent to protect rights, I'm all for that, but if they consent to violate rights, they have no authority to do that.
This could fill volumes, but this is my basic thinking: man can be free only if he obeys laws voluntarily. If a law exists that is not consented to, then that law is tyrannical in principle, no matter how good the outcome of that law is in peoples' lives. So, what is consent?
We should distinguish between consent and preference. For example, if a question be posed to me, would I like a brothel to open next door (stuff of many referenda) then what I am stating with my response is not consent but preference. The word "consent" in social theory must mean consent to a process that yields laws, otherwise it is meaningless. So, the brothel question does not really ask for consent and cannot be used to make law.
If, however, I am asked: would you agree to laws that seven selectmen would decide upon from time to time in the future, given a specific rule of selectmen's succession, then I am asked for consent to law. I then remain a free man even if the brothel that I don't want, but which the selectmen approved, is built.
This system of thought describes a constitutional republic or a medieval vassalitude (excepting serfdom, of course). You would agree though that the consent to the US Constitution is a nebulous thing, which is its defect. I would view a constitutional amendment that fairly and with precision delineates the rule of renouncing of citizenship, and the status of non-citizen denizens, before I would say that ours is truly a constitutional republic in the above narrow sense.
In absence of the rule of citizenship we are left with a pragmatic test: do you rebel and run to the hills? Some do, most don't. By that test, America consents to its laws. Presently, consent is fuzzy, because our freedom is unevenly imperiled. For example, many don't consent to tax laws and would cheat in any way they can get away with. This is how a free man would react to the reality when the tax laws, supposedly, based on the constitution, bear no resemblace to its core principles. If the deterioration of constitutionality in our politics continues much longer, we shall witness gradual withdrawal of consent in multiple areas of social life. That will take the form of declining patriotism, various forms of cheating, underground economy, offshore banking and so forth.