Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are You a Republican?

What does it mean to be a Republican? Left wingers will assert that they are fascist and only concerned with amassing money, power, and influence. To a certain degree I would have to capitulate, but I posit that the synonymity between the Republican politician and the average citizen is more divergent than people acknowledge. I, myself, am not a Republican in the party sense. I would have to refer to the term republicanism, which is the doctrine of governing a nation as a republic, and not a democracy. To explicate further, democracy has the characteristic dimension of majority rule, and that majority rule can become tyrannical and abuse the rights of the minority if the governmental aspect supersedes its authority. And in my opinion, we currently embody that description. As for my political complexion, I believe an intrinsical element of a republic is negative liberty; “the freedom from interference and coercion by other people,” or in Isaiah Berlin's words, “liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question: 'What is the area within which the subject — a person or group of persons — is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons.” Any restrictions that are self-evident are imposed by a person or authority, and not by some innate incapacity or causal agent in nature. However, as with most things in creation there are counterparts, and the obverse of negative liberty is positive liberty.

John Jay, in agreement with positive liberty, would disagree with me, as he states in Federalist Papers No.2: “Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of Government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.” Tibor Machan, who is a Libertarian, ripostes with the following in support of negative liberty: “...required for moral choice and, thus, for human flourishing," claiming that it "is secured when the rights of individual members of a human community to life, to voluntary action (or to liberty of conduct), and to property are universally respected, observed, and defended.” In furtherance, Isaiah Berlin eloquently stated that the unchecked advancement of positive liberty could invariably lead to a condition whereby the state could force upon its citizenry a certain way of life. The state would judge what was the most rational course of action and therefore determine that it's what the people should desire, whether or not it was actually coveted. In response author David Kelley wrote this about positive liberty, “...imposes on others positive obligations to which they did not consent and which cannot be traced to any voluntary act.”

When positive liberty surpasses negative liberty you have a condition paralleling Thomas Hobbes', Leviathan, which was a book that postulated a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. The citizenry mired in such a compact have ceded all of their rights under the auspices of monarchic rule. According to Hobbes the sovereign has twelve principle rights:

  1. because a successive covenant cannot override a prior one, the subjects cannot (lawfully) change the form of government.

  2. because the covenant forming the commonwealth is the subjects giving to the sovereign the right to act for them, the sovereign cannot possibly breach the covenant; and therefore the subjects can never argue to be freed from the covenant because of the actions of the sovereign.

  3. the selection of sovereign is (in theory) by majority vote; the minority have agreed to abide by this.

  4. every subject is author of the acts of the sovereign: hence the sovereign cannot injure any of his subjects, and cannot be accused of injustice.

  5. following this, the sovereign cannot justly be put to death by the subjects.

  6. because the purpose of the commonwealth is peace, and the sovereign has the right to do whatever he thinks necessary for the preserving of peace and security and prevention of discord, therefore the sovereign may judge what opinions and doctrines are averse; who shall be allowed to speak to multitudes; and who shall examine the doctrines of all books before they are published.

  7. to prescribe the rules of civil law and property.

  8. to be judge in all cases.

  9. to make war and peace as he sees fit; and to command the army.

  10. to choose counsellors, ministers, magistrates and officers.

  11. to reward with riches and honour; or to punish with corporal or pecuniary punishment or ignominy.

  12. to establish laws of honour and a scale of worth.

Do you see any similarities with our government? I will concede that the relationship may appear to be hyperbolized, but when viewed peripherally connections do begin to manifest themselves, so long as you orientate your attention towards the legislation instituted by governmental action. Meaning, the actions taken by our government have increased their power and influence, and the vehicle that manufactured this egregiousness has been noxious legislation. Their value, if any, is minute compared to the encroachment upon individual liberties. We have let them amass their puissance by removing ourselves from the equation, and sadly, has relegated us to a social contract void of any benefit. One only has to look at the actions of Congressman Waxman from California, as another example of the government superseding its boundaries. The Democrats hired a speed reader to read the “Energy and Climate Change bill,” a document in excess of nine-hundred pages. There is one caveat, he didn't finish it, and there was no real intent to do so (only reading an amendment). Jocularity ensued and all at our expense, are you still laughing? The bill went on to pass, as every other Democrat enforced legislation. Another act of a leviathan.

Still unconvinced? Immediacy of action has initiated governmental intervention, and our government has our best interests at heart, right? Inefficacy in government is well documented and to deny this principle infers a disingenuousness. I believe, through introspection, an individual can come to the conclusion that they know what's best for themselves, and through self-actuation, will themselves into a reality that aligns with their own principles. Such an individual repudiates the idea of imposing coercive action to cultivate their ideals, because they know negating the liberty of another makes you no better than the government. A Republic would do well to have a constituency such as this as its base composition.

In my next post I have asked two individuals a series of questions on current events and party ideals. I did not ask these particular individuals because they agree with me, but because they refuse to act like the proverbial sheep to the slaughterhouse. If you would like to participate please feel free to contact me. Liberty can become fragile when the foundation of individual sovereignty falls prey to political sacrifice.

In support of other bloggers to share their viewpoints, I would like to offer, the Conservative Hideout. Take some time and look at this blog, read some articles, and post some comments. Thank you.


anticsrocks said...

Awesome piece. It is evident that you have put a lot of thought into this, but since I am familiar with your postings and blogs I would expect nothing less.

Ross said...

Outstanding post as usual.