Friday, November 21, 2008

Spooner is my hero...

I am officially a fan of Lysander Spooner! While time may prove me wrong, thus far I have been completely blown away at his argument and premise. On my way to California today, I read NO TREASON: No. VI The Constitution of No Authority all the way through. While I was quite confused with him premise through the first 10 pages, I soon began to be enthralled by his argument. The forward is actually what caught my attention when I first picked up the book from the BYU Library:

"Since late Neolithic times, men in their political capacity have lived almost exclusively by myths. And these political myths have continued to evolve, proliferate, and grow more complex and intricate, even though there has been a steady replacement of one another, over the centuries. A series of entirely theoretical constructs, sometimes mystical, usually deductive and speculative, they seek to explain the status and relationships in the community since it became discernibly organized, politically. But in essence these constructions are all alike in that with varying degrees of persuasiveness they attempt to examine the origins of the State with little or no attention to its historic record, and then try to justify and fortify it in the face of criticism or objection."

Are you serious?! Someone else said it? Really?

Instead of analyzing the entire length of his discourse, I am merely going to post a few poignant remarks. You can find the discourse in its entirety here (the portion I read today is about half way down in No VI:

"So it was with those who originally adopted the Constitution. Whatever may have been their personal intentions, the legal meaning of their language, so far as their 'posterity' was concerned, simply was, that their hopes and motives, in entering into the agreement, were that it might prove useful and acceptable to their posterity; that it might promote their union, safety, tranquility, and welfare; and that it might tend 'to secure to them the blessings of liberty.' The language does not assert nor at all imply, any right, power, or disposition, on the part of the original parties to the agreement, to compel their 'posterity' to live under it. If they had intended to bind their posterity to live under it, they should have said that their objective was, not 'to secure to them the blessings of liberty,' but to make slaves of them; for if their "posterity" are bound to live under it, they are nothing less than the slaves of their foolish, tyrannical, and dead grandfathers."

On voting:

"In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot [*8] himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defense, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot --- which is a mere substitute for a bullet --- because, as his only chance of self- preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defense offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him."

"As everybody who supports the Constitution by voting (if there are any such) does so secretly (by secret ballot), and in a way to avoid all personal responsibility for the acts of his agents or representatives, it cannot legally or reasonably be [*11] said that anybody at all supports the Constitution by voting. No man can reasonably or legally be said to do such a thing as assent to, or support, the Constitution, unless he does it openly, and in a way to make himself personally responsible for the acts of his agents, so long as they act within the limits of the power he delegates to them."

On those who have a "Democracy" mindset:

"The ostensible supporters of the Constitution, like the ostensible supporters of most other governments, are made up of three classes, viz.: 1. Knaves, a numerous and active class, who see in the government an instrument which they can use for their own aggrandizement or wealth. 2. Dupes --- a large class, no doubt --- each of whom, because he is allowed one voice out of millions in deciding what he may do with his own person and his own property, and because he is permitted to have the same voice in robbing, enslaving, and murdering others, that others have in robbing, enslaving, and murdering himself, is stupid enough to imagine that he is a 'free man,' a 'sovereign'; that this is 'a free government'; 'a government of equal rights,' 'the best government on earth,' and such like absurdities. 3. A class who have some appreciation of the evils of government, but either do not see how to get rid of them, or do not choose to so far sacrifice their private interests as to give themselves seriously and earnestly to the work of making a change."

On Taxes -- The Analogy of the Thieving Highwayman:

"It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other; that that each man makes a free and purely voluntary contract with all others who are parties to the Constitution, to pay so much money for so much protection, the same as he does with any other insurance company; and that he is just as free not to be protected, and not to pay tax, as he is to pay a tax, and be protected.

"But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: 'Your money, or your life.' And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

"The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

"The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a 'protector,' and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to 'protect' those infatuated travelers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful 'sovereign,' on account of the 'protection' he affords you. He does not keep 'protecting' you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

"The proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves 'the government,' are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.

"In the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility of their acts. On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot) designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf, while they keep themselves practically concealed. They say to the person thus designated:

"Go to A_____ B_____, and say to him that 'the government' has need of money to meet the expenses of protecting him and his property. If he presumes to say that he has never contracted with us to protect him, and that he wants none of our protection, say to him that that is our business, and not his; that we choose to protect him, whether he desires us to do so or not; and that we demand pay, too, for protecting him. If he dares to inquire who the individuals are, who have thus taken upon themselves the title of "the government," and who assume to protect him, and demand payment of him, without his having ever made any contract with them, say to him that that, too, is our business, and not his; that we do not choose to make ourselves individually known to him; that we have secretly (by secret ballot) appointed you our agent to give him notice of our demands, and, if he complies with them, to give him, in our name, a receipt that will protect him against any similar demand for the present year. If he refuses to comply, seize and sell enough of his property to pay not only our demands, but all your own expenses and trouble beside. If he resists the seizure of his property, call upon the bystanders to help you (doubtless some of them will prove to be members of our band.) If, in defending his property, he should kill any of our band who are assisting you, capture him at all hazards; charge him (in one of our courts) with murder; convict him, and hang him. If he should call upon his neighbors, or any others who, like him, may be disposed to resist our demands, and they should come in large numbers to his assistance, cry out that they are all rebels and traitors; that 'our country' is in danger; call upon the commander of our hired murderers; tell him to quell the rebellion and 'save the country,' cost what it may. Tell him to kill all who resist, though they should be hundreds of thou- [*15] sands; and thus strike terror into all others similarly disposed. See that the work of murder is thoroughly done; that we may have no further trouble of this kind hereafter. When these traitors shall have thus been taught our strength and our determination, they will be good loyal citizens for many years, and pay their taxes without a why or a wherefore.

"It is under such compulsion as this that taxes, so called, are paid. And how much proof the payment of taxes affords, that the people consent to 'support the government,' it needs no further argument to show."

The rest of the discourse is quite masterful, I would seriously suggest it to anyone. For those of you who will read the text: open your mind and heart; understand the time, perception and audience he is writing; and remember what a Constitutional really is, and how it is that government establishes legitimacy. The quotes provided seem almost inflammatory out of context, but they're just so incendiary that I couldn't resist posting them as is.

No comments: