This is controversial…I’m just going to say it. I know it, and yet the facts are still the facts. I cannot pretend that a square is also a circle, and so I cannot pretend that Authority is also Freedom. Authority is force, and force is the antithesis of freedom. The Constitution canonizes government rule…government authority. And though it decrees “limited authority” I submit that this is a rational contradiction in terms. Government authority cannot be limited because it is the root IDENTITY of Government. It IS the irreducible core of the State. Everything the State does flows from its Authority to compel individuals by force against their will (force necessarily making “will” fundamentally irrelevant).
When we speak of limiting the government we are talking about limiting its Authority; which means we are talking about limiting its identity. But how do you limit the identity of a thing? It cannot be done. How do you limit the identity of a bird, for example? How do you make a bird less of itself? A bird is a bird is a bird. BEING a bird is absolute. There is no such thing as a bird which we know is a bird being somehow not as much of a bird as another bird. Somehow bird A is a full bird but bird B is a “limited bird”. It’s BIRDNESS is somehow truncated. This is complete nonsenses. To claim we can limit the Authority of the government is to say we can limit the GOVERNMENTNESS of government. This is also complete nonsense. So the Constitution, necessarily and by definition affirming the State and thereby its Authority, affirms State Authority ABSOLUTELY. It concedes the full “governmentness” of government…and yet attempts to limit that identity. It declares the bird a bird, and then goes on to describe how this particular bird will somehow be less of a bird than all the other birds which came before it. This bird, being birthed from other birds, will somehow have a root identity of BOTH birdness and not-birdness. It will be both a bird and the opposite of bird.
Madness. Beautiful and perhaps well-intentioned madness, but madness nevertheless.
Look, the only way the Constitution could ever limit government power is if it were claim that there is no government at all. Which, if the Constitution did that, it wouldn’t exist in the first place.
The other day I was debating a fellow commentor on a blog I occasionally visit. We were at odds over the feasibility of the American Republic; the Constitution, and the intentions of the Founding Fathers with respect to establishing a truly free and just society. If you have read much of my blog, you already know which side of the fence I sit on. I am a voluntarist, categorically, and this means that I accept as rational and efficacious only the utter ABSENCE of Ruling Authority when it comes to politics. The State, being FORCE, necessarily rejects individual will and choice as necessary or even fundamentally possible to the establishment of a truly ethical and efficacious society. And this is the very antithesis of humanity, period. Government undermines the identity of man and replaces it with the identity of the State, and substitutes choice with force, value exchange with violence, and morality with legality.
My fellow commentor is of the small-government, libertarian persuasion, through I’m not sure she identifies hereself as officially a Libertarian party member. At any rate, during the course of our discussion she said the following (edited for clarity and brevity):
”…our Constitution…was supposed to be our road map…We were supposed to have a very limited government. I’ve read enough of the founders to know that most of them thought of government as being evil but necessary.”
And I replied:
”…I understand your points. I agree with you on the Founders’ intentions. The Constitution being a road map implies a journey. Unfortunately it cannot be to capital “F” Freedom because it implies government, which implies Authority, which implies a metaphysic that declares man, at the level of his natural identity, incapable of establishing a just society absent violent coercive force. It implies that human interaction must ultimately occur only via dictated terms from an Authority placed over him. The problem is that since all men are human, and are said to be morally flawed creatures at root which is why government is necessary (meaning that man’s nature makes him insufficient to his own existence absent an external power which compels him into “right” behavior by threat and force), then the question is: who shall be put in charge?
And of course by the very metaphysical premise—the inherent depravity of man—there can be no rational answer to this question.
So what happens is that man is collectivized into an Ideal…and this Ideal he understands is what shall be served. That Ideal then implies rulers…those who are seen as mirroring its virtues most closely.So…even if we are “freely electing” our leaders, we are doing so not based upon what is best for Man the Individual, but Man the Ideal. The American Ideal is “the People”, which granted is as close to Individualism as you will ever get from government, but it’s still a collectivist Ideal. And thus the road map takes us to Tyranny, even though we are sure we intended to go to Freedom.
And, not being snarky here, honestly, but if an evil is NECESSARY wouldn’t that actually make it good?”
After reading my comment a couple of times, I realized that I only superficially touched upon what are pretty complex issues with respect to government and the philosophical principles which underwrite it, and in so doing I did not do justice to them, nor to my fellow commentor. But in the interest of not wanting to post a comment under a blog article which was longer than the article itself, I kept my points as brief as I felt reasonable. Unfortunately I believe I might have merely sewn confusion rather than clarity. Thus this article here on my own blog, where space is unlimited, if not my readers’ patience, so allow me to fill in the gaps. I will do this by breaking down my comment into sections and explicating accordingly.
”[The Constitition] cannot [take us] to ‘capital F’ Freedom because it implies government, which implies Authority…”
Governemnt by nature is FORCE. The ROOT and FUNDAMENTAL and ABSOLUTE purpose is to exercise coercive (violent) power to compel specific behavior, which by implicit and rational logical extension means that it controls ALL behavior. This is because the Individual—he who is the SINGULAR source and author of the behavior to be compelled—cannot be metaphysically parsed. In other words. man is by natural identity a creature of will; this is what separates him from the animals. The very cornerstone of man’s Identity is his Will. He is a VOLITIONAL agent, not an instinctual one. Which is why man can be held morally culpable for his actions where an animal cannot. If man cannot by will CHOOSE to act, then his behavior cannot be categorized as moral or immoral. In which case, by what basis can it be argued that man should be governed? The claim is that man is morally insufficient, which is why he must be compelled by force into right behavior. The ability of man to CHOOSE is implicit in the argument of the necessity of government. The fact that man is a moral agent is WHY there is government. Of course by subordinating individual will to State power man’s morality becomes moot. By claiming that man will inevitably CHOOSE wrong on the whole when left to himself becomes the reason why choice must be nullified by Authority. But if man no longer can choose then man is no longer a willful agent. And without will man has no identity; so what govement implies is the destruction of man in order that man can live a successful existence and not destroy himself.
That’s…a lot of contradictions and other logical fallacies. But that’s govement.
Man’s will is singular…that is, ALL his actions proceed from ONE will…His Own. To claim the right to force man to do this or that (as government does), or not do this or that, by threat of punishment (unto death) is NOT merely a limiting of the will but a rank commandeering of it. Will is absolute. It cannot be limited; it is indivisible. To force a man to act or not act one way necessarily subordinates ALL of man’s subsequent actions to force. All subsequent actions occur within the context not of freedom but of coercion. In other words, if govement forces you to act one way, it doesn’t mean that you are free to act in other ways, it only means that you are ALLOWED to act in those other ways (and temporarily at that, if history is our guide). And being allowed to do something is NOT the same thing as being FREE do it.
END PART ONE