Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Living with our creation

Our modern world, beset by troubling views seeking power amongst men, is not something new that walks the Earth. Indeed, the quest for power is one that is ages old going as far back as Gilgamesh and Enkidu, where men taking the spark of the Gods seek to wrest eternal victory against darkness and all foes. The story of the Titan tasked with handing out skills and powers to each of the animals is especially telling, as it was a wise Titan with a fatal flaw. To the Tiger he gave stealth, fierceness and sharp claws, and to the gazelle he gave alertness, swiftness and grace of motion. Each bird got its call and calling, every animal created had the breath of singular senses, skills and presence endowed to them. From the great storehouse of such skills each and every animal got its specialty and capability. Until the last one, that is, for the storehouse and great pot of powers had run dry, and this barely formed and living clay had nothing to be given because of that Titan's name that told of how his wisdom worked.

He was named Epimetheus: the God of After-Thought.

The story of his brother, Prometheus, the God of Fore-Thought, is well known and when his brother asked for help he could but give it to remedy the plight of the poor clay without anything for it. Thus he went so that the Fire of the Gods could be stolen and given as a singular item to man. That fire of knowledge, wisdom and building to compensate for the poor senses of the clay brought to life, meant that man would live and die by his ability to reason. It is that spark of the Divine that is spoken of in the Declaration of Independence: the equality comes from being and coming into being, and while each is given endowment, the ability to use that gift is up to each of us. That we have this Divine gift is without doubt, without denunciation as it is self-evident. Be it the God of Forethought delivering fire or the God of the Word in the speaking to create everything, that spark exists within each of us to use as best we are able to do so.

The spark given is equal to each of us.

The clay it resides in has defects, as we are mere mortal compared to the Divine.

As a People we grapple with this across cultures and across this globe. That we are given such gifts and that some prosper by it and others fail is a constant source of misery for all of mankind as many prove not to be up to the gift of the Divine they have within them. With that gift comes the knowledge that we are, each of us, alone in our minds, our bodies and our selves. To soothe that loneliness we seek to use the Divine spark within us to create, and of the highest of our creations the one of friendship makes the first bond of trying to bring Divine thoughts together to form a larger contact with that perfect spirit within us that remains ever so elusive. It is possible to have a mate without friendship, and while that can be fruitful in bringing new life, it is desert and wasteland if there is no communion of thought and spirit. Together those things create a deeper sense of meaning in Union and Communion together, and it is that which we seek out with further friendship and understanding throughout our lives. But even this need is transmitted through our mortal selves and it, too, responds differently in each of us, so that some need many friends and others need only few, yet the richness for each is the same, for all the differences in numbers, time and quality of such friendships.

With our time limited grant of life comes liberty with it, and these two things together, when people seek each other out for commonality, forms a third thing we call society. The creation of society is a willful act: it sets limits on those involved in it by mutual and common acceptance of their shared ideas and ideals. The actual society may not be designed from the outset, indeed they are not only not pre-designed, they are a haphazard assortment of views, beliefs, opinions and outlooks that coalesce to a commonly agreed-upon standard. Agree with that standard and hold to it and you are becoming a member of that society.

Still, that original gift from the Gods, be it Prometheus, the God of the Word or even just the simple effect of multiple smaller systems creating an unexpected effect by acting together, that spark which we identify as consciousness and will to use it by looking ahead is not an unalloyed gift. Consider the novel that contains this passage in it:

`Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed in agony. `Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.'

Mary Shelley wrote that about Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, and it is the creation speaking. What Victor Frankenstein set out to do was a deific act, but what, exactly, was the deity that he was associated with? Was this the God of Forethought, bringing life and not thinking ahead to its consequences? That is not Prometheus, because he had forethought, that his act would be found out by its nature and bring retribution upon him: in aiding Zeus against his fellow Titans Prometheus would be rewarded, for thwarting Zeus against the destruction of man would come punishment. Victor Frankenstein was not taking on the role of just giving divine spark he was doing so to the dead flesh of the criminal form.

His act was not one of giving life, but giving resurrection to the dead. No, that is not Prometheus at all, and follows far closer on the lines of Christ the Redeemer, save that Victor, in his quest for returning life, had not the means to give such life meaning. His creation saw this and recognized that it was not the physical form that was awful, but the lack of that internally divine spark... yet in understanding and writing as he had, that being who came back by this act actually had those qualities. Thus neither man nor resurrected man would understand what, exactly, had been done until it was examined in retrospect, and wish that a different course had been taken.

That is Epimetheus, the God of After-Thought who has, apparently, bestowed *that* gift upon humanity, perhaps unwittingly. And we recognize this in many ways throughout life, via the views we take of regret for not acting better or differently in our lives. 'If only I had done that in this way....' is how it goes and it is the nagging after-thought of action not planned beyond the immediate step. We also know this by another phrase that crops up quite frequently to explain why an individual or set of individuals did something that was demonstrated not to be all that well thought out:

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

This plays a profound role in our understanding of ourselves, our bestowed gifts, and how we fail them for ourselves and society. Victor Frankenstein's quest was not only to bring life but, then, to deal with that life he brought about as his creation had not proven to be to his expectations. Neither was it one that could easily be dealt with since both the man and his imperfect creation, had drive in their lives: each to understand who he was and what he had to do with being alive. By not using reason to try and foresee consequences, Victor had to deal on a 'catch-up' basis with this thing he had brought about. The creation, living with that lack of insight and coming to grips with intelligence that did not seem moored to that of humanity around him, sought society of some sort, although every avenue appeared barred to him. In unthinking questing for a future and to deal with his past, his past did catch up with him, and thus the two would need to come to some terms of what it meant to be imperfect as creator and creation.

Together, in our communities we create a set of standards between us by common agreement, and then put in place a creation to safeguard those standards and ourselves, so that we may join together with this created thing and defend our common heritage and wisdom. That creation, unlike Victor Frankenstein's, is truly unliving, although it has, at times, a life of its own and a methodology towards coming to conclusions that is wholly unhuman. That thing is what we call government, be it at the lowest and most tribal of levels, or that of Nation, we create something with limited forethought and then deal with the aftermath of it time and time again. When this creation functions in ways unexpected and inimical to our way of life and sets of standards and, indeed, in opposition to it, we, as society, are then forced to bring it to heel and change understanding between us and our creation, or to destroy that creation and start over.

Creating government with limited forethought and objectives, and not looking to ensure that it can then meet and not exceed those objectives leaves us in the place of Victor Frankenstein: we have created without more than conscious thought so as to get immediate satisfaction and glory, without seeing beyond that time to one where we would have to deal with our creation. When our government changes via the individuals in it to change the outlook of government or move it beyond its original goals, then such government is taking wider purview of itself in relation to society and not acting with guidance from it. Unlike that creation of Frankenstein, ours may not go out of control immediately but simply test the barriers that keep it in check, straining against weakness in our outlook and that of our society. When such weakness is found and utilized to change the view of what government is to do, then that creation, acting without a soul but with a will of its own, starts to view a future and, also, forget its past.

That leads to the conflict whereby we do not, as a society, necessarily want such expanded governance, but it can be achieved by promises, goods taken from the whole for the few, and, finally, the coercive part of government which is the punisher and taskmaster. The slide from made promises that are unfulfilled may let society abide by it to see if it can achieve being 'good'. When it cannot do that, then comes the goods to shift unlimited promises to limited results, so that a few may benefit and 'good' claims to be done. As has been said in the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson and edited by Benjamin Franklin:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thus the object of government needs to be addressed and, I have tangentially touched upon it, I will give another writer voice on this:

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. WHEREFORE, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows, that whatever FORM thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

That is Tom Paine's Common Sense (Source: Project Gutenberg), written in the days just before the Declaration of Independence. Paine is giving the reasoned justification for government and that it should be always limited and held to give security first and foremost above all other things. Government is created to do that, and when it steps beyond simple security, it must needs be watched and kept on a short leash unless those under it suffer from the means given to government turned against those who support it.

We must remember this is an author cited as a 'classical liberal' author, as is Thomas Jefferson, and it is highly instructive to read their views to understand just how society comes together, creates commonality in support of rights and then utilizes government to secure those rights against infringement so the individual can have liberty and freedom. Today we hear 'classical liberal' thrown about to support many causes, and yet those that put it forward to remove the differences between peoples and Nations forget the point that Jefferson, Paine and others are pointing out: that societies are different, as are governments, and from their origin within their peoples they often will come in conflict with each other. The concept of the Nation State and the regularity of intercourse between Nations via regularized means is seen, by this period, as a bedrock of understanding that underpins what Nations are for and how they operate.

To create government these writers, philosophers and revolutionaries, from Adam Smith to Ben Franklin, depended upon those concepts that had brought regularity between Nations and some modicum of peace. Although Britain was not a direct signatory to Treaty of Westphalia of 1648(although the royal line had some claims under Charles I, the Cromwell Republic and Restoration kept England from taking part in those things), those who had come to the New World in America had seen the benefits of it, and the lacks of the enforcement of it also. To uphold the rights of individuals to worship as they chose, it was included as part of the thinking that created the new Nation, so that the most common of governments, the National, had no religious outlook but allowed the States and the People to set their own courses.

Also recognized were the works of Hugo Grotius, particularly On the Law of War and Peace and The Freedom of the Seas, the latter of which is drawn from The Black Book of the Admiralty, nearly 200 years in existence by then. The Black Book is cited as a necessary understanding for martial laws by Matthew Hale in a review of the The History of the Common Law in 1713, and William Blackstone on his Commentaries on the Laws of England in 1765-69 would cite Grotius and de Vattel's Law of Nations from 1758. These texts would not only give the basis for the English Common Law understanding, but the wider understanding of government as it relates to international law. These are things that are now papered over in the strange belief that offering surcease, respect and even praise to those that break these foundations of civilization and our understanding of man, espouse 'classical liberal' values.

Each of these have spoken about the need for society to form Nation and be separate from others. This is not done out of vile hatred, disgust or in an effort to step away from the universal understanding of our rights. This is done for the simple fact that society is allowed to do so and discriminate against those that would alter, change or abolish that society by attacking it or by eroding it. These ideas spoken by Adam Smith, John Locke, Emmerich de Vattel, Hugo Grotius, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine give a reasoned understanding that while religion causes us to aspire to universality of understanding and amity, our societies are often not universal but harbor legions of those seeking distrust, derision or outright dismissal of our views. It is this appeal to reason *beyond* such basic outlooks that requires us, as individuals, to understand that our feeling of universal comradeship should be, and indeed must be, tempered by reason.

And even during that founding era of the United States, such patriotic individuals as Sam Adams, adhering to the universal belief felt that not *all* religious views were equal nor should they be given equal weight in society. How does one accord knowledge of the basics of life, liberty, property and the defense of same, and then, within a short space, talk about how religious toleration has its limitation towards some sects of Christianity as they were subversive of civil government? If a man,who so closely espouses human rights that are nearly equal of the Declaration of Independence a few years later, and passages read almost the same between the two, how does one, then, come to understand that the freedom of religion was *still* not understood by all of those in this period?

Today we have many embracing the openness of religious practice but then, turn around and purport that not upholding the basic reasoning behind he Law of Nations, Law of War and Peace, Freedom of the Seas, Commerce Laws, and even the old Common Law... how can these individuals claim to any part of 'classical liberal' when they are going against ALL of what makes 'classical liberalism' so important? They then point to the first line of second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence and claim that over-rules everything:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It is one of the most powerful sentences in the English language and in the tradition of classical liberalism. Here is the passage from Sam Adams' Rights of the Colonists (1769 and 1772):

Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists are these First. a Right to Life; Secondly to Liberty; thirdly to Property; together with the Right to support and defend them in the best manner they can-Those are evident Branches of, rather than deductions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly called the first Law of Nature

What those espousing line one forget that it is not the be-all, end-all of what makes nor sustains those rights, as Sam Adams points out, adding the additional right to be able to defend the first three. Notice that the first three rights then derive a fourth from the Law of Nature by the view of Sam Adams?

That is a principle called 'reason' at work: your life, liberty and property are branches from the Law of Nature on survival. Jefferson via Franklin's editing calls them self-evident rights and they are understood to be endowed in each of us. Both of these views are the same as the Law of Nature applies to all of those in it, thus the rights held via that law is self-evident. Those quoting the over-arching rights of all mankind forget that they are to be *protected*. Now lets expand beyond the most beloved line of the Declaration of Independence to take a look at a fuller view of it:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

How are these rights secured by the Declaration? By Governments that are the creation of Men.

In that line we see that government is a creation, a thing made to secure basic rights, and that it is a security basis beyond the individual as it must gain just powers from those it governs. This is not a strange idea as Law of Nations opens with the following in Book I, Chapter I:

§ 1. Of the state, and of sovereignty

A NATION or a state is, as has been said at the beginning of this work, a body politic, or a society of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by their combined strength.

From the very design that induces a number of men to form a society which has its common interests, and which is to act in concert, it is necessary that there should be established a Public Authority, to order and direct what is to be done by each in relation to the end of the association. This political authority is the Sovereignty; and he or they who are invested with it are the Sovereign. (10)

§ 2. Authority of the body politic over the members.

It is evident, that, by the very act of the civil or political association, each citizen subjects himself to the authority of the entire body, in every thing that relates to the common welfare. The authority of all over each member, therefore, essentially belongs to the body politic, or state; but the exercise of that authority may be placed in different hands, according as the society may have ordained.

This concept of forming a society for mutual benefit, protection and strength is not only one that comes about when society forms, but the views of how governments are created within that body of individuals is a result. It does not depend upon time, as governments formed before the earliest written records clearly organized agrarian societies and the first written records speak of long lasting governments, often going back generations. When individuals band together to form society and then seek mutual help and protection, the need to organize, no matter what the form, creates government. To understand what Thomas Jefferson is talking about, one needs to realize that he had more than a flailing notion of what government is, how it was formed and why it comes about.

Thus to understand the Declaration of Independence one must understand Law of Nations and what these derived views of individual, society, self-defense and government *are*. They all derive views from the Natural state of man from the creation, and the self-evident rights we gain, but then when we start to interact we create something *else* beyond those natural rights and those things *also* have form, limits, strengths and weaknesses. How could they not, as they are a reflection of our imperfect lives.

When the concept of 'rights' is brought up, we think of them as something that the law makes or protects, but that is a gross and blunt view that does not confer the distinctiveness of rights and how they are brought about. From Hugo Grotius' On the Laws of War and Peace: Book I, Chapter I, speaking just after the Rights of War and more upon them, but the concept is also more generalized:

IV. There is another signification of the word RIGHT, different from this, but yet arising from it, which relates directly to the person. In which sense, RIGHT is a moral quality annexed to the person, justly entitling him to possess some particular privilege, or to perform some particular act. This right is annexed to the person, although it sometimes follows the things, as the services of lands, which are called REAL RIGHTS, in opposition to those merely PERSONAL. Not because these rights are not annexed to persons, but the distinction is made, because they belong to the persons only who possess some particular things. This moral quality, when perfect is called a FACULTY; when imperfect, an APTITUDE. The former answers to the ACT, and the latter to the POWER, when we speak of natural things.

V. Civilians call a faculty that Right, which every man has to his own; but we shall hereafter, taking it in its strict and proper sense, call it a right. This right comprehends the power, that we have over ourselves, which is called liberty, and the power, that we have over others, as that of a father over his children, and of a master over his slaves. It likewise comprehends property, which is either complete or imperfect; of the latter kind is the use or possession of any thing without the property, or power of alienating it, or pledges detained by the creditors till payment be made. There is a third signification which implies the power of demanding what is due, to which the obligation upon the party indebted, to discharge what is owing, corresponds.

VI. Right, strictly taken, is again twofold, the one PRIVATE, established for the advantage of each individual, the other, SUPERIOR, as involving the claims, which the state has upon individuals, and their property, for the public good. Thus the Regal authority is above that of a father and a master, and the Sovereign has a greater right over the property of his subjects, where the public good is concerned, than the owners themselves have. And when the exigencies of the state require a supply, every man is more obliged to contribute towards it, than to satisfy his creditors.

Rights are not singular things, then, but composed a faculty to act upon and an aptitude in the power exercising a right. Thus the faculty to self-guidance is called: liberty. And all men have it as a part of being. The power of acting on liberty is the use of things and their obligations, which includes such things as guidance to children and ownership of property. Ownership requires that one has actually done those things and offered those payments as are necessary to have that property. The State has claims upon individuals and their property when needed for the common good and that obligation, within society, to the State is above all others, including the debts one owes. Those things that are needed for the common good have a superior claim by just authority than mere private needs.

These concepts were regularized by reason, so as to say that if these things exist and are as they are, then these other things happen due to the existence of the former. If you love and adore the rights you have, you also acknowledge their debt and obligation to being protected. Would that mankind could do without protection, but the presence of an agency to bring that about has not happened nor, as is the course of mankind and human society, ever likely to, save as the vast majority of humanity being repressed by a very few in an Empire. And that cost that can be incurred by the very fact we have society and government, is supreme above all things. To take part in and be a member of society protected by government, one has obligation that is also known as 'duty' to that State and society. That is not *just* duty when told to do it: it exists because one is a member of that society and State.

This concept of duty to Nation and upholding it so that Natural rights can be protected, and that those rights had obligation upon being protected, moved forward from that era. Andrew Jackson's Farewell Address of 04 MAR 1837 (Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs) would address some of what is necessary to have a State and Nation to uphold commonality of society:

But the Constitution can not be maintained nor the Union preserved, in opposition to public feeling, by the mere exertion of the coercive powers confided to the General Government. The foundations must be laid in the affections of the people, in the security it gives to life, liberty, character, and property in every quarter of the country, and in the fraternal attachment which the citizens of the several States bear to one another as members of one political family, mutually contributing to promote the happiness of each other. Hence the citizens of every State should studiously avoid everything calculated to wound the sensibility or offend the just pride of the people of other States, and they should frown upon any proceedings within their own borders likely to disturb the tranquillity of their political brethren in other portions of the Union. In a country so extensive as the United States, and with pursuits so varied, the internal regulations of the several States must frequently differ from one another in important particulars, and this difference is unavoidably increased by the varying principles upon which the American colonies were originally planted--principles which had taken deep root in their social relations before the Revolution, and therefore of necessity influencing their policy since they became free and independent States. But each State has the unquestionable right to regulate its own internal concerns according to its own pleasure, and while it does not interfere with the rights of the people of other States or the rights of the Union, every State must be the sole judge of the measures proper to secure the safety of its citizens and promote their happiness; and all efforts on the part of people of other States to cast odium upon their institutions, and all measures calculated to disturb their rights of property or to put in jeopardy their peace and internal tranquillity, are in direct opposition to the spirit in which the Union was formed, and must endanger its safety. Motives of philanthropy may be assigned for this unwarrantable interference, and weak men may persuade themselves for a moment that they are laboring in the cause of humanity and asserting the rights of the human race; but everyone, upon sober reflection, will see that nothing but mischief can come from these improper assaults upon the feelings and rights of others. Rest assured that the men found busy in this work of discord are not worthy of your confidence, and deserve your strongest reprobation.

There is, again, duty to self-control and respect to others in society and to not causing discord amongst the States within the Union. Government, too, must be kept in check unless it seeks means of discord amongst the People so as to exploit those to the gains of the few. What that broader issue is, however, is one that remains a constant: that of protecting society against those that profess to hold the rights of humanity supreme while acting so as to cause discord. Not only inside the Union but to those seeking to utilize such lofty goals of universality and demean the Union entire that we are to be warned about. As individuals we recognize the restrictions we place upon ourselves by having government.

Looking at Law of Nations, again in Book I, the following can be seen:

§ 117. The state, or the public person, ought to perfect its understanding and will.

If governors endeavoured to fulfil the obligations which the law of nature lays upon them with respect to themselves, and in their character of conductors of the state, they would be incapable of ever giving into the odious abuse just mentioned. Hitherto we have considered the obligation a nation is under to acquire knowledge and virtue, or to perfect its understanding and will; — that obligation, I say, we have considered in relation to the individuals that compose a nation; it also belongs in a proper and singular manner to the conductors of the state. A nation, while she acts in common, or in a body, is a moral person (Prelim. § 2) that has an understanding and will of her own, and is not less obliged than any individual to obey the laws of nature (Book I. § 5), and to improve her faculties (Book I. § 21). That moral person resides in those who are invested with the public authority, and represent the entire nation. Whether this be the common council of the nation, an aristocratic body, or a monarch, this conductor and representative of the nation, this sovereign of whatever kind, is therefore indispensably obliged to procure all the knowledge and information necessary to govern well, and to acquire the practice and habit of all the virtues suitable to a sovereign.

And as this obligation is imposed with a view to the public welfare, he ought to direct all his knowledge, and all his virtues, to the safety of the state, the end of civil society.

§ 118. And to direct the knowledge and virtues of the citizens to the welfare of the society.

He ought even to direct, as much as possible, all the abilities, the knowledge, and the virtues of the citizens to this great end; so that they may not only be useful to the individuals who possess them, but also to the state. This is one of the great secrets in the art of reigning. The state will be powerful and happy, if the good qualities of the subject, passing beyond the narrow sphere of private virtues, become civic virtues. This happy disposition raised the Roman republic to the highest pitch of power and glory.

§ 119. Love for their country. (53)

The grand secret of giving to the virtues of individuals a turn so advantageous to the state, is to inspire the citizens with an ardent love for their country. It will then naturally follow, that each will endeavour to serve the state, and to apply all his powers and abilities to the advantage and glory of the nation. This love of their country is natural to all men. The good and wise Author of nature has taken care to bind them, by a kind of instinct, to the places where they received their first breath, and they love their own nation, as a thing with which they are intimately connected. But it often happens that some causes unhappily weaken or destroy this natural impression. The injustice or the severity of the government loo easily effaces it from the hearts of the subjects; can self-love attach an individual to the affairs of a country where every thing is done with a view to a single person?far from it: — we see, on the contrary, that free nations are passionately interested in the glory and the happiness of their country. Let us call to mind the citizens of Rome in the happy days of the republic, and consider, in modern times, the English and the Swiss.

§ 120. In individuals.

The love and affection a man feels for the state of which he is a member, is a necessary consequence of the wise and rational love he owes to himself, since his own happiness is connected with that of his country. This sensation ought also to flow from the engagements he has entered into with society. He has promised to procure its safety and advantage as far as in his power: and how can he serve it with zeal, fidelity, or courage, if he has not a real love for it?

§ 121. In the nation or state itself, and in the sovereign.

The nation in a body ought doubtless to love itself, and desire its own happiness as a nation. The sensation is too natural to admit of any failure in this obligation: but this duty relates more particularly to the conductor, the sovereign, who represents the nation, and acts in its name. He ought to love it as what is most dear to him, to prefer it to every thing, for it is the only lawful object of his care, and of his actions, in every thing he does by virtue of the public authority. The monster who does not love his people is no better than an odious usurper, and deserves, no doubt, to be hurled from the throne. There is no kingdom where the statue of Codrus ought not to be placed before the palace of the sovereign. That magnanimous king of Athens sacrificed his life for his people.4 That great prince and Louis XII, are illustrious models of the tender love a sovereign owes to his subjects.

§ 122. Definition of the term country.

The term, country, seems to be pretty generally known: but as it is taken in different senses, it may not be unuseful to give it here an exact definition. It commonly signifies the State of which one is a member: in this sense we have used it in the preceding sections; and it is to be thus understood in the law of nations.

In a more confined sense, and more agreeably to its etymology, this term signifies the state, or even more particularly the town or place where our parents had their fixed residence at the moment of our birth. In this sense, it is justly said, that our country cannot be changed, and always remains the same, to whatsoever place we may afterwards remove. A man ought to preserve gratitude and affection for the state to which he is indebted for his education, and of which his parents were members when they gave him birth. But as various lawful reasons may oblige him to choose another country, — that is, to become a member of another society; so. when we speak in general of the duty to our country, the term is to be understood as meaning the state of which a man is an actual member; since it is the latter, in preference to every other state, that he is bound to serve with his utmost efforts.

§ 123. How shameful and criminal to injure our country.

If every man is obliged to entertain a sincere love for his country, and to promote its welfare as far as in his power, it is a shameful and detestable crime to injure that very country. He who becomes guilty of it, violates his most sacred engagements, and sinks into base ingratitude: he dishonours himself by the blackest perfidy, since he abuses the confidence of his fellow-citizens, and treats as enemies those who had a right to expect his assistance and services. We sec traitors to their country only among those men who are solely sensible to base interest, who only seek their own immediate advantage, and whose hearts are incapable of every sentiment of affection for others. They are, therefore, justly detested by mankind in general, as the most infamous of all villains.

While a Nation may uphold views of the universality of human rights, it has limitations upon what it can actually do with other Nations to help foster those beliefs. Further, inside the Nation, those that seek to foster such rights must acknowledge that the very first place they need to be upheld is at home with one's lawful countrymen. In trying to universalize humanity, those seeking to do this are no longer giving first fealty to their friends and neighbors, nor to their Nation, but placing their beliefs ahead of and above those of *both*. These are not some strange set of concepts taken out of the blue, this love of country concept: it comes from classical liberalism.

Those that say they are upholding 'classical liberal' views by opposing their Nation and saying that it 'does not represent me' are not espousing any such views, at all. The social compact of Constitution and society does allow for the civic discussion via reason of activities taken in the name of the People of a Nation, but stepping beyond that is then repudiating one's Nation and one's membership in civil society. When one puts up a sign or verbally indicates that government is not acting in their name, that individual, then, is saying that they are no longer a part of that society, its agreements and will not uphold their duties to it. Once an individual gets to that point, they are not only no longer a part of society, but seeking discord within it by no longer holding their fellow man and society close to themselves.

Beyond that, those who seek to break down the Law of Nations, itself, are seeking an end to Nations by no longer upholding their part of the bargain for self-defense. When laws are set and administered, those seeking to allow them to be broken because of their feelings about 'universal rights' and being 'classical liberals' tend to forget about those laws and duty towards them. Thus when entering a country one tends to only get a few sets of status depending upon the legality of the entry:

§ 214. Naturalization.(58)

A nation, or the sovereign who represents it, may grant to a foreigner the quality of citizen, by admitting him into the body of the political society. This is called naturalization. There are some states in which the sovereign cannot grant to a foreigner all the rights of citizens, — for example, that of holding public offices — and where, consequently, he has the power of granting only an imperfect naturalization. It is here a regulation of the fundamental law, which limits the power of the prince. In other states, as in England and Poland, the prince cannot naturalize a single person, without the concurrence of the nation, represented by its deputies. Finally, there are states, as, for instance, England, where the single circumstance of being born in the country naturalizes the children of a foreigner.


§ 219. Vagrants.

Vagrants are people who have no settlement. Consequently, those born of vagrant parents have no country, since a man's country is the place where, at the time of his birth, his parents had their settlement (§ 122), or it is the state of which his father was then a member, which comes to the same point; for, to settle for ever in a nation, is to become a member of it, at least as a perpetual inhabitant, if not with all the privileges of a citizen. We may, however, consider the country of a vagrant to be that of his child, while that vagrant is considered as not having absolutely renounced his natural or original settlement.


§ 222. Variation of the political laws in this respect, (61) These must be obeyed.

The political laws of nations vary greatly in this respect. In some nations, it is at all times, except in case of actual war, allowed to every citizen to absent himself, and even to quit the country altogether, whenever he thinks proper without alleging any reason for it. This liberty, contrary in its own nature to the welfare and safety of society, can nowhere be tolerated but in a country destitute of resources and incapable of supplying the wants of its inhabitants. In such a country there can only be an imperfect society; for civil society ought to be capable of enabling all its members to procure, by their own labour and industry, all the necessaries of life: unless it effects this, it has no right to require them to devote themselves entirely to it. In some other states, every citizen is left at liberty to travel abroad on business, but not to quit his country altogether, without the express permission of the sovereign. Finally, there are states where the rigour of the government will not permit any one whatsoever to go out of the country without passports in form, which are even not granted without great difficulty. In all these cases, it is necessary to conform to the laws, when they are made by a lawful authority. But, in the last-mentioned case, the sovereign abuses his power, and reduces his subjects to an insupportable slavery, if he refuses them permission to travel for their own advantage, when he might grant it to them without inconvenience, and without danger to the state. Nay, it will presently appear, that, on certain occasions, he cannot, under any pretext, detain persons who wish to quit the country, with the intention of abandoning it for ever.


§ 224. Emigrants.

Those who quit their country for any lawful reason, with a design to settle elsewhere, and take their families and property with them, are called emigrants.

§ 225. Sources of their right

Their right to emigrate may arise from several sources. 1. In the cases we have just mentioned (§ 223), it is a natural right, which is certainly reserved to each individual in the very compact itself by which civil society was formed.

2. The liberty of emigration may, in certain cases, be secured to the citizens by a fundamental law of the state. The citizens of Neufchatel and Valangin in Switzerland may quit the country and carry off their effects at their own pleasure, without even paying any duties.

3. It may be voluntarily granted them by the sovereign.

4. This right may be derived from some treaty made with a foreign power, by which a sovereign has promised to leave full liberty to those of his subjects, who, for a certain reason — on account of religion, for instance — desire to transplant themselves into me territories of that power. There are such treaties between the German princes, particularly for cases in which religion is concerned. In Switzerland likewise, a citizen of Bern who wishes to emigrate to Fribourg, and there profess the religion of the place, and, reciprocally, a citizen of Fribourg who, for a similar reason, is desirous of removing to Bern, has a right to quit his native country, and carry off with him all his property.

It appears from several passages in history, particularly the history of Switzerland and the neighbouring countries, that the law of nations, established there by custom some ages back, did not permit a state to receive the subjects of another state into the number of its citizens. This vicious custom had no other foundation than the slavery to which the people were then reduced. A prince, a lord, ranked his subjects under the head of his private property; he calculated their number as he did that of his flocks; and, to the disgrace of human nature, this strange abuse is not yet everywhere eradicated.


§ 229. The exile and banished man have a right to live somewhere.

A man, by being exiled or banished, does not forfeit the human character, nor consequently his right to dwell somewhere on earth. He derives this right from nature, or rather from its Author, who has destined the earth for the habitation of mankind; and the introduction of property cannot have impaired the right which every man has to the use of such things as are absolutely necessary — a right which he brings with him into the world at the moment of his birth.

§ 230. Nature of this right.

But though this right is necessary and perfect in the general view of it, we must not forget that it is but imperfect with respect to each particular country. For, on the other hand, every nation has a right to refuse admitting a foreigner into her territory, when he cannot enter it without exposing the nation to evident danger, or doing her a manifest injury, what she owes to herself, the care of her own safety, gives her this right; and, in virtue of her natural liberty, it belongs to the nation to judge, whether her circumstances will or will not justify the admission of that foreigner (Prelim. § 16). He cannot, then, settle by a full right, and as he pleases, in the place he has chosen, but must ask permission of the chief of the place; and, if it is refused, it is his duty to submit.

§ 231. Duty of nations towards them.

However, as property could not be introduced to the prejudice of the right acquired by every human creature, of not being absolutely deprived of such things as are necessary — no nation can, without good reasons, refuse even a perpetual residence to a man driven from his country. But, if particular and substantial reasons prevent her from affording him an asylum, this man has no longer any right to demand it — because, in such a case, the country inhabited by the nation cannot, at the same time, serve for her own use, and that of this foreigner. Now, supposing even that things are still in common, nobody can arrogate to himself the use of a thing which actually serves to supply the wants of another. Thus, a nation, whose lands are scarcely sufficient to supply the wants of the citizens, is not obliged to receive into its territories a company of fugitives or exiles. Thus, it ought even absolutely to reject them, if they are infected with a contagious disease. Thus, also, it has a right to send them elsewhere, if it has just cause to fear that they will corrupt the manners of the citizens, that they will create religious disturbances, or occasion any other disorder, contrary to the public safety. In a word, it has a right, and is even obliged to follow, in this respect, the suggestions of prudence. But this prudence should be free from unnecessary suspicion and jealousy; it should not be carried so far as to refuse a retreat to the unfortunate, for slight reasons, and on groundless and frivolous fears. The means of tempering it will be, never to lose sight of that charity and commiseration which are due to the unhappy. We must not suppress these feelings even for those who have fallen into misfortune through their own fault. For, we ought to hate the crime, but love the man, since all mankind ought to love each other.

§ 232. A nation cannot punish them for faults committed out of its territories.

If an exiled or banished man has been driven from his country for any crime, it does not belong to the nation in which he has taken refuge to punish him for that fault committed in a foreign country. For, nature does not give to men or to nations any right to inflict punishment, except for their own defence and safety (§ 169); whence it follows that we cannot punish any but those by whom we have been injured.

§ 233. Except such as affect the common safety of mankind.

But this very reason shows, that, although the justice of each nation ought in general to be confined to the punishment of crimes committed in its own territories, we ought to except from this rule those villains, who, by the nature and habitual frequency of their crimes, violate all public security, and declare themselves the enemies of the human race. Poisoners, assassins, and incendiaries by profession, may be exterminated wherever they are seized; for they attack and injure all nations by trampling under foot the foundations of their common safety. Thus, pirates are sent to the gibbet by the first into whose hands they fall. If the sovereign of the country where crimes of that nature have been committed, reclaims the perpetrators of them, in order to bring them to punishment, they ought to be surrendered to him, as being the person who is principally interested in punishing them in an exemplary manner. And as it is proper to have criminals regularly convicted by a trial in due form of law, this is a second reason for delivering up malefactors of that class to the states where their crimes have been committed. (62)

Here we have those trying to push 'illegal immigrants' into the vagrant category, and those terrorists caught during wartime operations as mere 'exiles'. Trying to assert these things is contrary to how 'classical liberals' would view them as they go against reason and justly derived law within Nations. In the former, those coming illegally for labor are no mere vagrants, born of no real land and forever wandering: they come here wilfully with forethought and intention to break sovereign law and treaties between Nations. For terrorists, they are not 'exiles' but those that have breached the common safety of mankind by their actions and intentions, along with denouncing all Nations. Caught during wartime, they are not subject to normal, civil law, but the laws of war, this from Grotius On the Laws of War and Peace: Book I, Chapter 3:

I. THE first and most necessary divisions of war are into one kind called private, another public, and another mixed. Now public war is carried on by the person holding the sovereign power. Private war is that which is carried on by private persons without authority from the state. A mixed war is that which is carried on, on one side by public authority, and on the other by private persons. But private war, from its greater antiquity, is the first subject for inquiry.

The proofs that have been already produced, to shew that to repel violence is not repugnant to natural law, afford a satisfactory reason to justify private war, as far as the law of nature is concerned. But perhaps it may be thought that since public tribunals have been erected, private redress of wrongs is not allowable. An objection which is very just. Yet although public trials and courts of Justice are not institutions of nature, but erected by the invention of men, yet as it is much more conducive to the peace of society for a matter in dispute to be decided by a disinterested person, than by the partiality and prejudice of the party aggrieved, natural justice and reason will dictate the necessity and advantage of every one's submitting to the equitable decisions of public judges. Paulus, the Lawyer, observes that "what can be done by a magistrate with the authority of the state should never be intrusted to individuals; as private redress would give rise to greater disturbance. And "the reason, says King Theodoric, why laws were invented, was to prevent any one from using personal violence, for wherein would peace differ from all the confusion of war, if private disputes were terminated by force?" And the law calls it force for any man to seize what he thinks his due, without seeking a legal remedy.

Those that wage private war are acting under the Law of Nature, not under the Law of Nations nor under civil law made by men. In so doing their jurisdiction is outside the normal recourse of National or civil law, although laws may be made to address them they cannot be seen as covering the Law of Nature. By that action of personal, private war that the means of redress are outside normal, public, venues. By following the dictates of Nature and seeking to impose one's will by war upon others and being under no Nation, one's position falls outside the framework of civilization. While an individual still holds their natural rights, their actions have made them an enemy to all of mankind and their rights are nullified by their actions. Civil and National law may address such individuals when captured in civil or normal circumstances, but in warfare they have regressed beyond all bounds of civilized norms and in times past that has meant a swift death when captured.

Yes that, too, is 'classical liberal' in its viewpoint.

I have problems with those trying to assert 'classical liberal' views that hold no affiliation with classical liberals. It is not to be denied that all humans have their inborn rights, but one cannot deny that the actions taken with respect to those rights and the disrespect or destructions of the lives of others or their Nations also is of high concern. Rights do not trump accountability, and 'classical liberals' were really quite hard on those that wished to substitute emotion for reason instead of letting reason guide their emotional views. If, as a Nation and civilization, we put no bounds at all on the limits of what is and is not allowable by individuals, then we regress to the Law of Nature and not forward to a better understanding and coming to terms with civilization and how to uphold it.

Upholding civilization is quite a difficult thing to do. Not doing so was something 'classical liberals' viewed as 'decadent' or in an advanced state of decay, usually associated with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. When civilized norms have no limits, what is to differentiate between civilization and the Law of Nature? And if we are unwilling to uphold those that break those norms to their fates which they, themselves, have set themselves to willingly and with knowledge aforethought break, then how can we say that we are any better than they are in not upholding our norms?

Patting a hungry wolf and saying 'nice doggie' is only acceptable if you are reaching for a hefty weapon to dispatch it. Otherwise you are dinner.

That is the Law of Nature.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Before the Declaration: Sam Adams and the Rights of the Colonists

Cross-posted from Dumb Looks Still Free.

As we hear much of the inalienable rights of man, and the Declaration of Independence, it must be regarded that these two phenomena did not show up simultaneously. The Declaration of Independence, itself has roots going back into history and is a culminating document of the rights of individuals, the rights of the state and how the rights of individuals are primary to them, while the rights of the state derive from them. Samuel Adams would have an article published in 1769 and again in 1772 to look at such rights (italics in the original, bold is mine) in an untitled document (Source: Learning American History):

At the revolution, the British constitution was again restor'd to its original principles, declared in the bill of rights; which was afterwards pass'd into a law, and stands as a bulwark to the natural rights of subjects. "To vindicate these rights, says Mr. Blackstone, when actually violated or attack'd, the subjects of England are entitled first to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law—next to the right of petitioning the King and parliament for redress of grievances-and lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence." These he calls "auxiliary subordinate rights, which serve principally as barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights of personal security, personal liberty and private property": And that of having arms for their defence he tells us is "a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."

The British constitution is not a singular document, but a series of views giving Parliament primary power in law making, and affording rights under the various laws added in as-needed. With the Magna Carta also goes: Habeas Corpus Act 1679, Bill of Rights for England and Wales 1689, Claim of Right for Scotland 1689, Act of Settlement 1701, Act of Union 1707 which creates Great Britain. After the abrogation of rights under the Magna Carta by Charles I, and the resultant Acts passed after Cromwell's republic during the Restoration, the rights of individuals were more defined and put in as a matter of law. Thus rights are gained by law, not presumed to pre-exist and then law being applied to them to regulate them.

The Declaration would change some of the wording on the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and in the US Constitution the stronger views on the inviolability of person and property would be established to be without question save as under due process of law. The right to bear arms is seen not only as a public allowance under the English system, but it goes directly with the natural right of resistance and self preservation, when law is not enough to keep violence of oppression in restraint. Note that these two things are each combined, so that it is not only the violence of oppression from government against society, but also the violence of oppression by other individuals who are insufficiently restrained by law. The individual's right to be armed and counter these things, while having due restrictions, must not be so restrained as to remove them. That is a worry in the English system as Parliament decides on rights via law, so preventing laws that would go against those rights is paramount and the only way to back that up is to be armed.

The Amendment II language on a 'well regulated militia' is in accord with this, and every individual must be able to arm themselves for the defense of self and society under due restrictions by law. Banning weapons is a violation of the right to protect oneself from those actors that will not abide by law or that will use law to oppress individuals or society. Adams then goes on to follow up that view with this (I will use some editing for readability, but leave his text 'as-is' as he now uses both italics and bolding):

-How little do those persons attend to the rights of the constitution, if they know anything about them, who find fault with a late vote of this town, calling upon the inhabitants to provide themselves with arms for their defence at any time; but more especially, when they had reason to fear, there would be a necessity of the means of self preservation against the violence of oppression.

-Every one knows that the exercise of the military power is forever dangerous to civil rights; and we have had recent instances of violences that have been offer'd to private subjects, and the last week, even to a magistrate in the execution of his office!

- Such violences are no more than might have been expected from military troops: A power, which is apt enough at all times to take a wanton lead, even when in the midst of civil society; but more especially so, when they are led to believe that they are become necessary, to awe a spirit of rebellion, and preserve peace and good order. But there are some persons, who would, if possibly they could, perswade the people never to make use of their constitutional rights or terrify them from doing it. No wonder that a resolution of this town to keep arms for its own defence, should be represented as having at bottom a secret intention to oppose the landing of the King's troops: when those very persons, who gave it this colouring, had before represented the people petitioning their Sovereign, as proceeding from a factious and rebellious spirit; and would now insinuate that there is an impropriety in their addressing even a plantation Governor upon public business-Such are the times we are fallen into!

Here is one of those great times in history when an individual now calls attention that the civil right to bear arms is far, far better than military troops. As put forward, military troops are a means of oppression against those having grievances against a sovereign, and yet the natural right of resistance via arms is not only legitimate but necessary for a free people to claim their rights under law. This is oppression at its heart: the ability of the State to cow or overawe or threaten individuals that society, itself, is put under threat from tyrannical rule. Without arms one cannot have civil society nor accountability of the State. To those who would like to give the State the power and capability to ban weapons: you would not have had the American Revolution with that outlook.

Sam Adams would re-iterate these things in his listing of Rights of the Colonists and he would use language drawn not only from Blackstone, but other sources as well (bolding mine, throughout):

Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists are these First. a Right to Life; Secondly to Liberty; thirdly to Property; together with the Right to support and defend them in the best manner they can-Those are evident Branches of, rather than deductions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly called the first Law of Nature

Life, liberty, property and the ability to defend them in the best manner possible. Another line from the Declaration would show up from Sam Adams:

All Men have a Right to remain in a State of Nature as long as they please: And in case of intollerable Oppression, Civil or Religious, to leave the Society they belong to, and enter into another.

When Men enter into Society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions, And previous limitations as form an equitable original compact.

A primary right of humans is the right to associate with each other and bring about, voluntarily, society. That society is then safeguarded via a compact, design, or other such statement of what that society is and will do. This is not a right bestowed by government or States, but is an inviolable right of individuals to do this thing. So many gloss over this in the reading of the Declaration of Independence, but the concept is primary for all of mankind: you have the right to form society, set its limits and then discriminate based on those limits set by mutual agreement within society. If you do not like that society and cannot convince your fellow man to change it, you can dissolve that voluntarily made association and go elsewhere and associate with others more to your liking.

In case it has been missed in all the grand splendor of those talking about 'classical liberalism' this is the foundation of that: the right to tell folks that they must adjust to society and its laws. A society does not have to accept those that will not accede to that and the laws may be used in those circumstances. That is voluntary consent between individuals and society and is reciprocal.

Then comes an idea that would be the guiding light of the US Constitution and re-stated in two Amendments:

Every natural Right not expressly given up or from the nature of a Social Compact necessarily ceded remains.

This is a key part of the Constitutional outlook restated in Amendments IX and X, so that the People and States retain all rights not given to the National government. For the Constitution to have a reasoning behind it, this is its underpinning: the People give government very few things to do and very few rights and retain all other rights and responsibilities at a lower level.

So far we have: life, liberty, property, arms to support those three, self-preservation, to live in a natural state of being, to form societies, to defend societies, to leave societies, to recognize mutual consent about forming, defending and leaving societies, to have equal enforcement of the social compact, and to retain all of those rights not ceded of necessity by the social compact in the individual.

Now comes one that will be a surprise to those not paying attention to the founders:

As neither reason requires, nor religeon permits the contrary, every Man living in or out of a state of civil society, has a right peaceably and quietly to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience.

You do have the right to peaceably worship God to your own views inside or outside of civil society. That is an individual right supported by society and comes from the views of Westphalia and from the developed views of the English Common Law over time as Henry VIII had made some definite inroads on it, and by the time of Charles I it had become a sticking point. This is given over to the individual, not the State to choose for individuals. A State may have a religious view, may promulgate holidays, may do many things, save force you to worship as the State dictates. Iraq may have a 'Muslim state' but it is also figuring out how to accommodate both major groups within Islam, a host of sects within those major groups, and then many others like the Yezidis, Syriac Christians, Followers of John the Baptist...quite an interesting thing to see a Muslim country make Christmas a National Holiday.

He then goes on in a more lengthy portion to put in God's place in the law, and then how reasonable men should approach religious differences:

"Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty" in matters spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all Men are clearly entitled to, by the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, as well as by the law of Nations, & all well grounded municipal laws, which must have their foundation in the former.

In regard to Religeon, mutual tolleration in the different professions thereof, is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced; and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind: And it is now generally agreed among christians that this spirit of toleration in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society "is the chief characteristical mark of the true church"2 & In so much that Mr. Lock has asserted, and proved beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only Sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach Doctrines subversive of the Civil Government under which they live. The Roman Catholicks or Papists are excluded by reason of such Doctrines as these "that Princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those they call Hereticks may be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner, in subversion of Government, by introducing as far as possible into the states, under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty and property, that solecism in politicks, Imperium in imperio3 leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war and blood shed-4

When I hear someone say they want religion as it was 'just at the founding as the founders saw it' may I politely say: You are nuts. Folks like Jefferson wouldn't even mince the words as nicely as Sam Adams... mind you Jefferson was not even Orthodox, being a Unitarian, and had some bright things to say about many Protestant sects, also. The reason they followed the Westphalian concept of not having the government inculcate religion, was that they were of various sects, beliefs and outlooks, and a very few had *none* and yet wanted a Nation of *reason* to come about. Adams, Jefferson, and the rest were more than prepared to share a Nation with those they disagreed with on religion, so long as religion was kept out of what was pressed upon them all by common government. Apparently Christianity was something that had multiple different viewpoints, with some very harsh feelings between the various branches and sects.

The founders were wise to hold secular government in common and, while giving an overlook across all Christianity with 'In God We Trust' and other forms of recognition, they wanted no part in actually telling people which sect, group, or cult was actually vested in those words. We do, indeed, trust in that higher power, but heaven help you if you try to push your version of it on others. The Peace of Westphalia and the moves by Henry VIII prior to the 30 Years War all set the stage to try and step away from wars that would see a disturbingly large number of believers *dead* because they fought for their branch of Christianity under the Prince of Peace. That had *not* died down by the founding and the last thing anyone wanted to do was to put in-place the very same sorts of laws that had forced the Puritans and others to leave their homes in the Old World because they could not get equality under the law for their religious views. Apparently I remember a different and diverse set of founders that agreed upon common government to be held apart from religion and only give some obeisance to a generalized societal view of it. As society held no singular view of even Christianity in common, the idea to leave what you believed up to the individual was one that was pressed forward, just as it was in Westphalia so that States with that agreement would *not* practice religious persecution. It didn't stop them, of course, but the slow seeping of that wisdom into how we viewed Nations has changed history.

From there one moves to Sam Adams' views on natural liberty:

The natural liberty of Men by entring into society is abridg'd or restrained so far only as is necessary for the Great end of Society the best good of the whole

In the state of nature, every man is under God, Judge and sole Judge, of his own rights and the injuries done him: By entering into society, he agrees to an Arbiter or indifferent Judge between him and his neighbours; but he no more renounces his original right, than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to referees or indifferent Arbitrations. In the last case he must pay the Referees for time and trouble; he should be also willing to pay his Just quota for the support of government, the law and constitution; the end of which is to furnish indifferent and impartial Judges in all cases that may happen, whether civil ecclesiastical, marine or military.

Hmmm... 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few'! Lovely how Star Trek tries to address these things. Yes, that firm and fundamental right to associate and create society comes with it a burden to each and every member to then support that society. If one lived solely by their own hands and with no interaction with any others, ever, then living in a state of nature each man is judge of his actions and his rights with no other to intervene. By being in society and having the benefits of society, one incurs the obligation to support society in its means and methods under law. Thus to gain the rights previously mentioned within a society, one needs to support that society as a whole, enter into it voluntarily and understand that the cost of supporting all of it, even if you vehemently disagree with a small subsection of it, must be done. If your conscience moves you from that ability to support due to a small section you disagree with, you are breaking your societal compact and setting your beliefs higher than those of the society around you.

In our modern day we get a segment of society that wishes to push their views upon the whole of society via government, have the ability to complain and protest and give non-support to those areas they dislike which *are* held in common, while claiming that everyone *else* needs to support their views on things they want government to do that are not agreed upon by the whole or even majority of society. Via the Sam Adams view you do have the right to such civil views so long as you support the entirety of the burden placed upon you, even for those things you do not like. To do otherwise is to set oneself up under the law of nature as above society and dictating one's own beliefs to society while refusing to support it. This is why those who want to 'protest' by withholding their taxes have a difficult time getting traction: they have abdicated their responsibility to the entirety of society for the minority of their views. So long as you support the whole, then it is civil discourse to talk about one's problems and differences with what is going on. The moment that greater support stops, or you wish to pick and choose your obligations outside of what your personal religious beliefs tell you for *yourself*, then one acts in an authoritarian manner putting themselves up as judge and arbiter for society for their views. By placing yourself in that 'morally higher position' you have simultaneously isolated yourself from society to dictate to it your wishes. That normally gets shunning, not an audience.

The kicker is: you may even be *right*.

You chose the exact, wrong means to state your disagreements.

Of final note on this passage is that Sam Adams understands the different provinces of the law: civil, ecclesiastical, marine, military. This is fascinating, not for the ecclesiastical mention which is an individual's choice to subject themselves to such law, but for the marine choice. This is the commonly held Admiralty laws, that go along with the high and near seas, and the commerce it engenders. At this point the English law is already a few centuries from The Black Book of the Admiralty, and marine or maritime law has gone through a few iterations on an international scale in France, Spain, Netherlands, Britain, and elsewhere. While we, today, think of this as a minor jurisdiction for contract law, it is still a view that governs trade, commerce, and the sovereignty of a ship at sea to be a part of its Nation until out of the reaches of the sea (which is a direct access affair for the US, requiring the passing of headlands for local law to take hold outside of traffic restrictions and such for common navigation). It is difficult to determine if the listing of these laws are precedential (that is with the earliest being most important) or equality in different provinces, which I think is what he is getting across, which gives each of these its own separate views that can overlap, but only do so when the type of law is crossed. Something like Piracy, depending upon maritime law, also has civil and military views to it and those differences remain with us to this day, based on activity and what is being done (ex. an attack by a Pirate is a military attack, a capture of a Pirate by civil authorities is a civil action, and the predation of commerce is a maritime action which relates to both the civil and military laws).

After that there is a section that will definitely make a few people pause:

"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man; but only to have the law of nature for his rule."

In the state of nature men may as the Patriarchs did, employ hired servants for the defence of their lives, liberty and property: and they should them reasonable wages. Government was instituted for the purposed of common defence; and those who hold the reins of government have an equitable natural right to an honourable support from the same principle "that the labourer is worth of his hire: but then the same community which they serve, ought to be assessors of their pay: Governors have no right to seek what they please; by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that of honourable servants of the society, they would soon become Absolute masters, Despots, and Tyrants. Hence as a private man has a right to say, what wages he will give in his private affairs, so has a Community to determine what they will give and grant of their Substance, for the Administration of publick affairs. and in both cases more are ready generally to offer their Service at the proposed and stipulated price, than are able and willing to perform their duty.

In short it is the greatest absurdity to supposed it in the power of one or any number of men at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the mans of preserving those rights when the great end of civil government from the very nature of its institution is for the support, protection and defence of those very rights: the principal of which as is before observed, are life liberty and property. If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right of freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave-

Yes, do indeed be wary of those wanting government to do things for you: they are not seeking good ends, but the concentration of power to government and the governors. That is especially true when cloaked in the words of giving succor to the poor - society does have an obligation to the poor and charity is best done by those interested in giving it, not those forced to work at it. When one starts to see the government as the source of that which is good and the source of rights, then one begins to alienate themselves from that gift of freedom. The gift itself, as the Declaration would put it, is self-evident and inalienable.

But only so long as you remember that it is you that are the source of good in society and abide by those things society asks to support it.

Beware those that tell you all the good things government can do for you.

They seek your poverty.

And your submission to them and to government.

That soon gets you back to that right to self-defense against oppression as government can at best only be impartial judge, and never the source of your rights. Forget these things and one is well on the path to putting fetters on themselves and their fellow man by empowering government and forgetting their duty to society as a whole. To utilize one rights incurs an obligation in society to one's conscience and beliefs... and government is very, very poor at handling either.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Changing World

This is a personal perspective paper of The Jacksonian Party.

Whenever we talk about change in the world and those that have deeply impacted world affairs, we normally center on recent change. Industrialization is the first that comes to mind for many, as it was a revolution in how mankind approached the creation of goods and implemented an economic system around it so as to sustain mass production. This change, for all of its global impact, is not global in extent as many Nations have not seen the fruits of industrialization appear in their homelands. One need only think of Bangladesh, Zaire, or Nicaragua to see Nations that have not fully embraced, adapted or adopted this form of goods creation. Start-up capital is normally cited as a reason, but production line manufacturing is only capital intensive for some goods, normally machinery but also things like manufactured cabinetry. The raw materials to create these things requires its *own* manufacturing base from ore smelting to lumberyards to the creation of source material and intermediate goods firms and infrastructure. Infrastructure, itself, is capital intensive for power and transportation (road, rail, canals, airports), and getting that money together is done only at the government level due to the poverty... which is caused by a lack of manufacturing.

From here it would be easy to jump to numerous other points of radical change in the world that are still with us today, but only become radical in retrospect: the plough and the emergence of agriculture, moveable type and the rising of cheap printing, the idea of vaccines and the ability to address some endemic diseases by them. Each of these has cascaded through human culture, with only the very few cultures of semi-nomadic peoples who did not adopt practicing agriculture. It is remarkable that only the last on that list, vaccination, came about close to the industrial age and would prove the greatest boon by industrial approaches to medicine and mass production. Ridding the world of smallpox took a concerted, decades long approach that finally relegated the disease to study samples left in major Nations with the hopes that nothing worse was going to be brewed up from those samples. Other diseases, however, like tuberculosis and polio, have not proven amenable to either treatment of the proliferation of a vaccine. Tuberculosis, once the scourge of society all the way up to the epidemics of the late 19th century, was one of the first diseases to start falling under the fire of modern antibiotics. But the disease never fell completely because it had found a valuable weakness by trial and error: human attention span.

Tuberculosis has a memory, in the case of the disease it is a genetic memory, that is gained by the survivors that are able to propagate from one host to the next. Those that survive retain the genes that allowed them to flourish and start to make copies of themselves in their new host. These copies, however, are not always exact ones and some will incorporate changes in the pattern of the disease based on its genetic make-up, that of its current host, that of its current host's other diseases and just through poor copying as cells exhaust themselves to produce copies and bad ones get made. Most new copies that have changes don't survive against their parent's more perfect descendents. By creating a population in the body that uses similar resources, the parent germ takes up the readily available niches and the non-identical offspring get outcompeted. Diseases, because of this, remain unchanged for generations until a newer and more virulent form that can outcompete its parents and their advantage of already having a niche in the body are formed. That is normally so rare as to be inconsequential in the short term, and winds up with newer strains only over generations of mankind. Some diseases seek to exploit that they are not easily attacked and become somewhat less virulent but harder to get rid off to promulgate the spread of their progeny. The 'common cold' is a perfect virus for this and has reached an inconsequential lethality rate but is so quickly adaptable and yet non-life threatening that it is synonymous with 'an incurable problem'.

TB, however, takes the third route on this as antibiotics change the living conditions in a host body. By introducing a medication to get rid of a systemic infection over months, very few copies prove resistant to that medication and are hindered by it so that the body's natural immune system can perform its function on them. If this was all there was to TB it would be relegated to history, but the important part of it is that it does take months and months of being on a medication to get rid of it. Unless it is absolutely life threatening immediately, like treatment of Type I diabetes with insulin and its analogues, the moment an individual no longer manifests the outward signs of a disease, the inclination is to forget about it and stop treatment. Taking a pill or two a day, every day, every week for 6 months or a year or longer is beyond the bounds of commitment for many humans. It goes from a vital need to a nuisance in no time flat. And when the medication stops, the resistant strains multiply and you are soon on the way to a 'drug resistant' form of the disease. TB is not alone in this as staph infections have also gone from deadly to multi-drug resistant deadly with very few antibiotics actually able to treat some forms of it. These diseases gained a historical memory and still retain their adaptability so that a few 'mutants' will actually be that of their non-resistant parents... and those originals, without the need to have a high overhead of putting up a series of defenses, will promulgate faster than *their* parents until treatment arrives, and then the genetic coding for the defenses will show up again. That puts society in the 'Catch-22' that if you use no antibiotics the disease becomes less virulent but more endemic, and if you use antibiotics to treat *those* cases they show resistance very quickly.

It is that exact, same concept of history tagging along with a disease that has now shifted from diseases to humanity as a whole. Here the ecosystem of human political thought has remained basically the same for centuries, with only the revolution of personal liberty and democracy to create the ability to protect freedom as the only driving force of note in the last 300 years. Those concepts, driven by the manufacturing world, allowed ideas to spread and form and a slow set of changes to happen to humanity in fits and starts. As a disease it has not permeated throughout all of humanity, but the infection is now wide-spread. Democracy, itself, adapts to new hosts and counter-influences, and does not work the same in all parts of the world where it is taken up. The underlying rights of individuals may be universal, but the cultural views on what universality is differ, and that effects any government type. Democracy, however, is not alone in the human body politic, and it competes with all previous forms of governing on a global basis with some areas remaining resistant to it or, even worse, having formed anti-bodies that will reject it in the forms of socialism, religion or dictatorship. One of the great telling points of democracy is not how widespread it is, but how able to change it has been: from European settled realms in the Americas to India to Iraq to Japan. Extremely adaptable, and even beneficial where it has grown deeply and holds sway.

The human body politic is, however, now taking a new medication that is threatening all government types from anarchy to despotism to authoritarianism to democracy. Like all good drugs meant to cleanse a system it is coming from a vector the disease does not expect or have ready defenses against. Indeed the attack is coming from the extremely successful form of democracy coupled with the highest form of manufacturing and even those cultures creating this change have not fully figured out what it means. That change is not a revolution in world thought, nor religion nor any great sway in philosophy: it is technical change. One of the greatest benefits that all politicians the world over have had is the ability to 're-invent themselves' over time. Stalin did so by the brute force method of altering the historical record and removing enemies and their followers. Mao did so by eradicating the pre-communist families outright. In more democratic venues politicians have been saying one thing and doing another while claiming a third for generations, to the point that is a 'given' in politics so long as it wasn't too blatant. That day is coming to an end, however, as global communications and information storage are now giving humanity the one thing that TB had on its side: a memory.

This memory is no longer limited to those that can hunt down obscure newspaper articles, musty tomes in the backs of libraries or hunting through the huge warehouse looking for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. No, this memory is not only relatively inexpensive, but it is being made 'user friendly' so that anyone with a half-hour or so of nothing better to do can quickly start to call up information and go through it. Why this is needed is the other thing that has made TB so successful and allowed politicians to 're-invent' themselves: short human attention span.

Yes, politics is, actually, pretty dull stuff and only life threatening when the jack-booted thugs come knocking on *your door* because you didn't protest when they went after others. And as humans have an instant fascination with the personally threatening, the jack-booted thugs now appear out of the mists of government, business, and nefarious third parties that have been trying to sway public opinion for decades and gotten little traction due to the limited attention span. Often UFOs are thrown in for good measure. In actual fact it is not the slight measures to try and protect folks from those waging war unaccountably that will remove liberty and freedom, but the smiling individual from the government who is 'just there to help you', be they from social services, IRS, FBI or DMV. Politicians are an adaptable breed, however, and they have been pedaling hard to explain why what they said yesterday to one group and what they said today to another group, being diametrically opposed views, are actually the *same* view. That little memory soon finds that it is the exact same view, but neither of the ones being presented. It is, instead, a view to power for the individual politician. To hide *that* programs are offered to make government easier, more 'accessible' and more pervasive so that little of what an individual does can actually be said to be 'legal' anymore. Walk down the sidewalk, chew gum and spit, and you are probably in violation of at least two health laws and one safety law, and a variety of other infractions along the way. Heaven help you if you did that while carrying a high trans-fat lunch with you!

That last is, partly, in jest, but also dead serious: government intrusion to let government 'make your life better' is a serious threat far worse than jack-booted thugs and might actually get them in the way of an anti-smoking Gestapo. The most thuggish views I, personally, have seen are those that put up for all sorts of freedom and the moment anyone attempts to light up, out comes the nasty words and squirt gun. Mind you, I've seen that from individuals not in their teens but over the age of 30. And even having problems handling smoke myself, coming from a variety of reactions to it, my ability to be civil has not eroded due to the onslaught of smokers. Far from it, I know it is bad for my health, but make no aspersions on others for doing as they wish with theirs. Politicians, however, can jump on a 'health issue' as a pablum and way to demonstrate they really have a set of 'good intentions' and ask that their greater faults on their gathering of personal power and prestige, along with a fair amount of cash, be overlooked. That works, for awhile, and many acquiesce to minor things, like not walking through clouds of cigarette smoke at various gathering places, but suddenly find it a threat when the 'trans-fat police' start wanting to tell you what you can and cannot eat in your life.

Now even *that* is changing as the memory sub-system of humanity starts to kick into higher gear, and the affiliations of politicians with 'advocacy groups' and the cash and power connections to those start to show up. 'Big Tobacco' may or may not be a threat to humanity, but when those wishing to keep the 'unsullied tundra' of ANWR in place while billions head into the pockets of Saudi oil barons sending hundreds of millions to radical Islamists looking to tear down the West, democracy and install an Empire, one begins to suspect that the environmentalists, for all of their purity, are actually far *worse* than 'Big Tobacco'. The 'cure' of regulating everything to make government 'easier' and 'more efficient' is, in effect, a series of bribes paid out from the pockets of the many to the virulent few who do not wish for the majority to have liberty and freedom. Not only in the small scale of regulation (with more than 2/3 of all National laws and regulations being made since 1972 at the Federal level) but on the large scale impact of what trying to be 'pure' in some areas of the environment, health care and retirement are doing to the Nation as a whole. We are being told you can't build what you want, where you want, that you can't figure out how to make your own medical decisions and that you must retire at the mandatory age. In exchange for that you are promised 'goodies' that show up as: more expensive energy backing those with tyrannical views, exorbitant health care costs where the overwhelming majority of that cost now goes to bureaucrats and not doctors, and having one of the few Nations where the most skilled managers and creative talents are not earning a productive living, but are out on the golf courses of the US because they are told that is where they should be.

This lovely memory system is also kicking in on *those* areas, as well, though it takes longer for non-digital information to get into the digital realm, that is happening apace as more algorithms for changing scanned material into human searchable material is expanding in breadth and depth and reaching back decades. Amazingly, the New York Times article archives now go back to the early part of the 20th century, so one can read the exact news accounts (biased, yes, but they are no longer alone) of the happenings of that era. Human and corporate interest drives these things and the good that is done is seeing, for one's own eyes, how our ancestors actually lived... not how we are *told* they lived by modern historians. Even archaeology is now going online with things like the Bronze Age Hittite diplomatic archive slowly being assembled into modern, readable form next to the original scans of clay tablets. Looking at that we find a world far more complex than any historian had described before the 1990's, and also glimpse a richness in culture and interaction amongst them that are hauntingly familiar. Reading of the spats between 'Great Kings' and the areas that go to turmoil when that happens, looks startlingly like how third world Nations caught between competing National, political and economic interests go into sudden upheaval. While we will never get the exacting detail of what happened from the Late Bronze Age, the depth and type of interactions going on then, driven by the exchange of information between peoples to create commerce and wealth, is not one that we are unfamiliar with.

At some point the interaction system broke down and those rejecting the cultural artifacts of teaching, religion, government and social value disintegrated. Most likely to external forces, although internal ones are plainly seen in incompetent rulers, regions going autonomous for various reasons and the sudden appearance of actors practicing private war on a wide ranging scale. Egypt and Babylonia would survive, and the former barely and with military might, the latter protected by distance although it, too, felt the shocks of a suddenly disintegrating trade system. What would follow for the next 500 or so years is called a 'Dark Age', and yet the whispers from it are coming to light and telling of a time of upheaval, uncontrollable forces on the move, politicians plying old ways against new conditions and losing. The war at Troy may not have been a spark to this, but a part of that entire process as Troy would recover but at a lower level and never regain its previous wealth and prosperity. That few decades would end abruptly and after that Troy did not recover at all, save as a minor trading spot until the harbor silted in.

While I am sure the ancients did not try to regulate opium or its trade to create a 'drug scourge', they did start to shift to the point where the unaccountable actors were, at first, fiercely attacked, then within a decade or two, the Nations tried to bring some accommodation to them and then, after that, comes the 'Dark Age'. Any similarity between *that* and our 'modern' views on terrorists shifting from the civilized one of confronting them as unaccountable and uncivilized to ones of trying to offer them full protection of the law to accommodate them is purely coincidental, I'm sure.

How coincidental it is will reflect itself in our views of what democracy is, if our society is actually worth defending, and in realizing that those who throw off the bounds of civilized views of Nation are not 'equal' to 'freedom fighters' but are outlaws seeking no protection of civilized laws and GIVING NONE to their victims will be seen in the ensuing years. As the Mycenaean Greeks, Hittites, Assyrians and various others found out, it wasn't that the laws were bad, but those who wouldn't back them as being the problem. And if you have too damned many laws, and you can't back any of them for anything, save personal authoritarianism, then do not complain when the barbarians start to blow you up because it just isn't nice to call them barbarians and, really, we are so civilized they really can just be taken in.

Some poisons, however, cannot be protected against and it can kill or so weaken the host that it succumbs to other diseases entirely.

And willfully accepting poison is something that used to be called 'decadence' in reference to Rome and its subsequent 'Dark Age' to explain it as they, too, welcomed the barbarians in.

It is not too late to learn these histories.

Until we repeat them, that is.