To Whom Do We Owe Our Allegiance?
AUTHOR: Allen MacNeill
COMMENTARY: Allen MacNeill
This isn't exactly "evolution-related," but I've got an essay up at LewRockwell.com, one of my favorite political websites. For those of you who haven't been there yet, LewRockwell.com is the most popular libertarian website on the Internet, and the third most popular political website overall. As the masthead proclaims, it's "anti-state, anti-war, and pro-free trade," and Lew describes himself as a "paleoconservative," to distinguish his brand of libertarian politics from the economically and morally bankrupt politics and policies of the "neocons." And, although I don't always agree with some of the viewpoints expressed by some of the commentators on his site, Lew has always acted like a gentleman and a scholar, and I agree so much with the political positions taken by him and his cohorts that I've decided that, if I'm going to dabble in politics at all (and I'd like to), I'll do it at LewRockwell.com. So, to save you all the effort of clicking over there, here is my first attempt at a libertarian political essay, mirrored in its entirety from LewRockwell.com:
To Whom Do We Owe Our Allegiance?
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands:
one nation indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
– Francis Bellamy (1892)
Our family has a flag. It's a variation of the flag of Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland. His was a red lion rampant on a field of gold. Ours is a golden lioness rampant on a field of purple. The problem is, to fly it correctly would require us to decide which flag should be flown higher - our family's flag or the star-spangled banner?
This is not a trivial problem. In fact, it goes to the heart of what is wrong with America today. To fly our family's flag correctly (even lawfully, in many jurisdictions), we should fly it in such a way as to make it clear to anyone seeing it that our family's flag - and therefore, by implication, our family - is subordinate to that of the United States government (and to the republic for which it stands). And therein lies the problem.
It is a basic tenet of libertarian conservatism that one's highest allegiance is to one's self and one's family. This principle is enshrined in the founding document of the United States of America. According to the Declaration of Independence, "[A]ll Men are created equal, [and] 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."
According to this viewpoint, individual people are sovereign entities, and governments are clearly subordinate to "the will of the people". Far from altering this relationship, the Constitution of the United States codifies these principles into law. It enumerates the very limited powers of the federal government, and then in the ninth and tenth amendments declares that "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people" and "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, and reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
What this means is that, except for the powers and responsibilities enumerated in the Constitution, the United States government has no power or sovereignty over the lives of its citizens. In brief, we own ourselves and the government is, at most, our servant.
Today, however, it is clear that to the government and an increasing number of the citizens of the United States this situation is reversed. The government believes (and, more importantly, acts as if) it owns us and we are its servants. This is why the symbolism of the flag is so important: the flag of the United States takes precedence over all others, including the flag of the family of Lyonesse. In other words, in the view of those who would presume to rule us, the president of the United States is our lord and sovereign and we are merely his vassals. He may take from us and from our families anything he desires: our land, our property, our children, even our very lives (via the death penalty and the military draft), and the only justification he needs to do this is the exercise of pure, naked, overwhelming force.
This is not the way it was supposed to be, friends. There was a time in America when the president viewed himself as a servant of the people and abjured all signs and symbols of sovereignty. Grover Cleveland refused to be treated any differently than ordinary citizens at state occasions and is remembered for vetoing a bill providing emergency relief to farmers following a natural disaster, on the grounds that to do so would legitimize the forcible taking of some citizen's money (via taxes) to benefit others. It may come as a surprise to some (especially today's Democrats, and most Republicans) that Cleveland was a Democrat...and moreover, by his behavior, a true democrat.
Now, however, the candidates from both parties freely and openly state their wholehearted support for a government and a presidency that clearly recognizes no restraint or challenge to its power except the use of violent force. Furthermore, the majority of the voting citizenry agrees, and supports those candidates for public office who most vigorously propound the doctrine of unlimited force.
For itself, the government asserts a sole monopoly on the use of force and recognizes no limits to its use. Every president since Lincoln has, in the context of war or the threat of war, justified the unilateral and unlimited use of military force and the suspension of individual sovereignty (in the context of the military draft) with sole reference to the supreme sovereignty of the president and the federal government. Nowhere in the Constitution nor any of its amendments is it stated or even implied that the States may not secede from the union, nor govern their own affairs, nor respect and protect the rights to private property of individual citizens. Yet ever since the administration of Lincoln, the federal government has unilaterally arrogated to itself all of these, and has enforced this usurpation through the use of deadly force.
In a world dominated by force alone, only force matters, and the only law is the law of force majeur: "might makes right". The founders of the American republic believed otherwise, and tried to structure the Constitution and the government it created so that there would be built-in limits to the unilateral use and abuse of power. They did so because they realized that a government founded on force, rather than the fully informed consent of the governed, is not a government at all. It is tyranny, pure and simple.
To our increasing sorrow, it is clear that tyranny is what we are rapidly approaching. To state the case succinctly, the recent history of the presidency, congress, the supreme court, many state governments, and both major political parties has been a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over the individual states and ourselves, the citizens of those states. Sound familiar?
But, if you've been paying attention recently, you already know most of this. The question is, what can we do about the accelerating slide toward tyranny? The first and most powerful thing we can do is to remember that crucial phrase in the Declaration: that governments, including ours, derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. So, as many did during the last election, we can withhold our consent: we can refuse to vote for those aspiring to be tyrants. We can also assert our personal and familial sovereignty over that of the tyrannical state by refusing to yield up to it that which it most desires: our land, our property, our children, and our lives.
In many cases, we can do this by simply ignoring Leviathan. Ever since George Bush stole the presidency in 2000, I've repeatedly found myself comforting my friends by pointing out to them that the party in power generally has little or no affect on our daily lives, especially out here in the hinterlands. So long as you pay as little taxes as you can legally get away with (yes, even the IRS has been forced repeatedly to admit that this is your constitutional prerogative), the dragon will pass you by, unseeing.
However, the time may come – indeed, it may soon be upon us – when the dragon will thirst for new blood. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Iran, and Syria, and North Korea, and – who knows – maybe northern Virginia) will necessitate the reinstatement of draft slavery. Then we must do what we did a generation ago, and the generation before that, and the generation before that, but this time in overwhelming numbers: we must march on Washington and speak truth to power. And that truth will be, as it was then, Hell no, we won't go!
And we can fly our families' flags: proudly, fearlessly, and freely, secure in the knowledge that there is where our highest and truest allegiance lies.