Man must be protected from himself is the argument for government in a nutshell. And this? Is a very bad argument. This sophist rationale is why freedom is never to be found under the auspices of government.
Because freedom which is function of what an external monolith of “legal” violence, like the State, will allow is not freedom. It is, by definition, control. The phrase “that which allows us to be free” contains a fundamental contradiction in terms. Freedom does not and cannot operate under the auspices of threats of violence for stepping out of external, codified boundaries. And to say that these boundaries are what guarantees that freedom itself (in the form of unfettered wicked indulgence by the naturally depraved human being) doesn’t become oppressive is another contradiction, as it makes the restraint of freedom the foundational moral operation; it makes the limitation of freedom the means, so the argument goes, of ensuring freedom. But unless man is able to choose his actions, by not having his behavior fundamentally dictated and coerced through threats of violence should be stray from an abstract, subjective (yes, subjective) legal code, there can be no morality. Why? Because there can be no choice. For if man cannot choose to do good, then man cannot do good at all. And actions which are compelled at gunpoint are not choices!
It is not necessarily intentional. It is not necessarily rank deception. It is most likely a function of the prevailing philosophy regarding the nature of man which has never, to my knowledge, been reconciled to reason…where reason is a place that cannot ever, under any circumstance, accommodate contradiction.
Because of man’s tendency to do evil, so the argument goes, left to his own unfettered (un-governed) devices society must inevitably dissolve into an orgy of tyranny and oppression.
This is a contradiction which nullifies the argument, and renders the practical application of it both impossible to any efficacy and ultimately destructive. For man cannot be both good and evil. What I mean by this is that he who is the standard for morality–for good–cannot also be he who wrecks this standard. He from whom rights are said to be derived cannot also be the one who poses the threat to the those very rights. Man cannot be the primary thing worth saving and the primary thing which jeopardizes that salvation.
Now, of course we may rightly assert that some human beings truly do evil and therefore are capable of harming others, but this is not the argument with which we are presented in defense of government. The argument is that human beings on the whole cannot fundamentally be trusted to exist outside of the power of coercive authority because human nature itself is depraved.
Human beings have the natural tendency toward evil, so it is argued. They are prone to it–not by choice, but because of naturally determined instinct. What this mean is that when presented with the option of good or evil, human beings, absent any external arbitrating, force, will do evil. They must…because they are driven in such an unfettered circumstance by their nature, and their nature is evil. Therefore, human beings must be governed by an outside force–a governing authority– in order to keep their natural evil in check, and to (hypocritically) ensure the existence and perpetuation of the human race by means of a rigid and regulated social apparatus that ultimately dictates all behavior by threatening its denizens with violence should they dare resist its self-proclaimed mandate to control man for the sake of man. And this is the metaphysical and ethical foundation upon which government stands. Go and see for yourself. Ask 20 people why we need government and I guarantee you that 20 of 20 will regurgitate, in some manner, the hypocritical philosophy I just explicated.
This foundational philosophy ironically and certainly inadvertently undermines the oft-trotted argument that government can exist of the people, for the people, and by the people. That is, it undermines–by its inherent and fatal contradiction–the assertion that people are the standard of the law which the government exists to uphold. If people are by nature evil, and this the root of their very being, then it simply cannot be argued that they may simultaneously represent the good which government must protect. On the contrary, if man is by nature evil, and can no more help doing evil when left to his own devices than he can help walking upright, then people in fact represent a singular threat to good. Because their nature is inexorable and absolute evil, they are the antithesis of good. And therefore, people must be controlled, not set free, by an external coercive authority. And this is exactly what they are, no matter what anyone says to the contrary. You cannot claim to be free in an environment where all of your actions are ultimately a function of what someone else says you are allowed to do.
Further, the idea that a government can exist in the interest of a humanity which is by nature evil is to assert that the government is a proponent of evil. This, however, is never the argument for government, because though true, it wrecks the benevolent facade of coercive authority. On the contrary, the argument is always that government exists for good, and that without government, man’s evil nature will reign supreme. And what this means is that it is not man, but the government which is actually the standard of good. The people are not the standard. The people are not that from which moral “rights” are derived. The government is. For the “rights of the people” are irrelevant absent government, because absent government man’s natural evil must subordinate them. The people, then, are not the source of moral dictums, but are the singular danger to them. They are not the value of the law. They are the enemy of it. So they must be controlled.
You cannot legitimately argue that man represents that from which natural moral rights are derived, and yet at the same time claim that he is evil and represents the singular existential threat to those rights, and therefore must be governed. This is to create in man a dichotomy of nature which contradicts and nullifies itself. If man is good, and this as a function of his very nature, then it is both irrational and counterproductive to establish an institution which exists to compel moral behavior by “authoritative” (legalized) violence. For to insist that the naturally good man must be compelled to good through violence is to deny that man can do good on his own, and this denies that his nature is in fact good. And if man is evil, and this a function of his nature, then man cannot possibly be compelled to good, for good is utterly exclusive of his being. To compel him to good is an impossible task. For man, being evil, perverts good, he does not cultivate it. It’s like adding poison to a meal and calling it seasoning. The only thing for which the naturally evil man is fit is destruction. In either case, government is utterly beside the point.
To attempt to use force to compel the naturally evil man into goodness, or to prevent the naturally good man from losing his goodness is like attempting to compel the frog out of his frog-ness, or to prevent the frog from losing his frog-ness. The frog is by nature absolutely a frog. No amount of violence and no amount of coercion can make him a rabbit. And since the frog is by nature a frog he can pose no threat to his own frog-ness. No centralized coercive authority is necessary to prevent, nor is it effective in preventing, the frog from losing his frog-ness.
The man who is good by nature has no use for government, because by definition he cannot lose his goodness. Nor can he pose a threat to his own natural goodness (i.e. left to himself, man who is “naturally” good when governed somehow becomes “naturally” evil when free of government). Because to claim that he may pose a threat to his own goodness is to deny that he is, in fact, naturally good. And the man who is evil by nature has no use for government, because he cannot be compelled to do good. Because to claim that the man who is evil by nature can be synthesized into good is to deny that he is, in fact, naturally evil. The naturally evil man is fit only for destruction. And if he is destroyed, then there is no one to govern, and thus there is no point in government.
And all of this leads us to another truth.
Man cannot be defined according to a moral nature. And of course once we no longer define him this way, there is no rational philosophical argument for the existence of government. Why? Because government is force, and force is violence, and violence nullifies choice. The man who cannot choose is a man who cannot express his own agency; and the man who cannot express his own agency cannot express SELF. Thus, he cannot BE himself in any relevant way.
You see, man is not a moral agent in the sense that morality defines him. Man is a rational agent. What this means that man is the epistemological frame of reference for all he knows; all he thinks; all he does. That is, man being himself, where “himself” is the agent who conceptualizes existence and thus makes it relevant and meaningful, is why man knows what he knows. Because he is SELF, and absolutely so, he is able to make distinctions between good and evil, and truth and fallacy. He is the arbiter–the reference–for knowledge.
Man’s nature is not a moral one, it is to be the reference for morality—for good and evil; truth and fallacy. HE defines and applies these things. Therefore, it is HE who governs them, not the other way around (the other way around being to make man subordinate to the very ideas and concepts which are meaningless and useless without him). For what is Truth unless it is true TO AND FOR MAN? And what is goodness unless it is good TO AND FOR MAN?
These things are worthless. They are nothing. They are non-existent.
It is man who serves as the epistemological and moral standard for all of the reality in which he exists. Man cannot rationally or productively be subordinated to a legal moral standard that derives the entirety of its value and relevancy and meaning from him. Man cannot serve moral standards, moral standards must serve him. Man does not serve truth. Truth serves him. To erect a set of rules for man to follow and by this claim he is good is to strip man from his rightful place as the only rational moral and epistemological reference for all of truth and goodness. And once this happens, truth and goodness have no meaning…and so the rules are pointless. Rules to which man is subordinated by violence are ultimately his destruction, not his salvation.