Political authority, or the authority of State, or the authority of Government,
is something the average person virtually never questions. Almost everyone goes through their entire life believing that the Government – although it’s almost always composed of provable criminals, cheats and liars – still has a solid basis for its political authority. Many people, whether left, right or anywhere in between on the political spectrum, are Statists: they think that Government has an inherent right to rule, using coercion if necessary. Yet, even a cursory examination shows that if a normal person acted like Government, they would characterized as cunning, secretive and manipulative, and either be diagnosed as insane, or locked up as a danger to society, or both. So why do people allow and consent to such a situation?
David Hume on Government and Political Authority
The 18th century British philosopher David Hume attested to this situation when he wrote that:
“Nothing is more surprising than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.”
Hume was clearly one of those rare few who took the time to closely examine the origins and political authority of Government. Interestingly, he was propagating many of these ideas during the mid-1700s, a few decades before the time of the American and French Revolutions.
Hume realized that most Government is formed and is held together by war. History teaches us this over and over again, including politicians’ inventions of fictitious enemies to justify a State’s existence:
“Most governments are not formed by contract but rather through conquest and war.”
“The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy.”
“It is probable, that the first ascendant of one man over multitudes begun during a state of war; where the superiority of courage and of genius discovers itself most visibly, where unanimity and concert are most requisite, and where the pernicious effects of disorder are most sensibly felt. The long continuance of that state, an incident common among savage tribes, enured the people to submission; and if the chieftain possessed as much equity as prudence and valour, he became, even during peace, the arbiter of all differences, and could gradually, by a mixture of force and consent, establish his authority….
Hume warned that authority should never become too uncontrollable over liberty:
In all governments, there is a perpetual intestine struggle, open or secret, between Authority and Liberty; and neither of them can ever absolutely prevail in the contest. A great sacrifice of liberty must necessarily be made in every government; yet even the authority, which confines liberty, can never, and perhaps ought never, in any constitution, to become quite entire and uncontrollable.”
Lastly, Hume explicitly stated that a State’s supposed political authority could not hold water when investigated closely:
“No maxim is more comfortable … than to submit quietly to the government, which we find establish’d in the country where we happen to live, without enquiring too curiously into its origin and first establishment. Few governments will bear being examin’d so rigorously.”
Is political authority merely based on opinion?
“It is on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.”
As we shall see, this last quote rings true, and is especially interesting given that it flatly contradicts the widely held notion put forth by Hume’s fellow British philosopher John Locke, who proposed that their was some kind of social contract from which the State justly derived its powers.
Can Political Authority be Justified by Social Contract?
Professor Michael Huemer has done some of the best work on the subject of political authority. He has authored such books as The Problem with Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey. Huemer shows that it is very difficult to justify political authority, especially in the form we have now in most Western countries: a “democratic” Government which claims a monopoly on the use of force or violence.
Most people begin to defend a State’s right to exist by claiming there is some kind of social contract, a theory of Locke. However Locke’s theory has been shown to be false. No such contract exists. There is no piece of paper which enshrines it, nor is there any piece of paper you sign when you come of age. Even if a written contract did exist, it would require constant consent from newer generations to sustain it.
Is There Implicit Consent which Justifies Government?
When the social contract argument falls down, people then tend to argue that rather than explicit consent, there is some of kind of implicit consent we give to the State. Huemer identifies 4 types:
1. Passive consent (refraining from opposing something);
2. Acceptance of benefits;
3. Consent through presence (consent given by merely remaining in a location); and
4. Consent through participation (consent given by voluntarily participating in something).
However, to truly give consent, you must be in a non-coercive environment. Consent can only really be given when you are also free to not give the consent, if you so choose. Is this the case with Government? The answer, of course, is a resounding “NO”! You don’t have any choice.
With valid consent, both parties would have ability to “opt-out”, and both would also have obligations to each other, which, if unfulfilled, would grant the other one adequate grounds for terminating the agreement. You can’t just opt-out; the Government will fine, charge and ultimately imprison you if you don’t obey its decrees. The only way is move country (where you face another Government doing much the same thing), so there’s no escape unless you move to the remote wilderness somewhere. Likewise, there is no effective way you can simply terminate the agreement or contract, without suffering the same negative consequences of being charged and imprisoned.
Can Consent of a Majority Justify Political Authority?
The next argument given by many people is that the State is justified because it is given consent by a majority of people in that society. This may or may not be true, given that the pro-authority bias carried by many people often lies beneath the surface as a unconscious belief (which was programmed into them at a young age). However, even if it is true, it seems to affirm a problematic conclusion: that the opinions and desires of a large group of people or a majority can be forced onto a smaller group or minority. This is a kind of “majority rules”, unlimited, mob-rule democracy which really is better named a tyranny of the masses.
This is exactly why the US was set up a Republic not a Democracy. The United States is a Constitutional Republic where individuals and minorities are recognized to hold certain inherent or unalienable rights, which can never be abrogated, regardless of what the majority wants or who holds power. Without this, it is all too easy for a prejudiced majority (which can be whipped up into emotional frenzies by cunning leaders and demagogues) to impose its will on those too powerless to defend themselves. Aristotle once said that “Unlimited democracy is, just like oligarchy, a tyranny spread over a large number of people.”
The Nazis tried to claim they were “just following orders” at Nuremburg. The world roundly rejected that argument.
The Consequentialist Argument for Political Authority
The final argument of those believing in solid justification for Government is usually consequentialist, i.e. it appeals to the benefits, good consequences and utility of the State. “Look how many good things the Government does”, they say, “so its political authority is valid, because it gives us so many benefits”. However, the question must be asked: are the benefits worth the price we pay, in terms of a loss of liberty and the duty to obey? History clearly shows us that most of the injustice and destruction in the world was committed by people obeying authority, not opposing it.
Also, if Government gets political authority due to the benefits it provides, why can’t other groups get it too (e.g. vigilantes or private defense companies)? Most people would be unwilling to grant vigilantes or anyone else this power …
Ultimately, why does Government deserve some kind of special moral status – that allows it charge, tax, fine, imprison and kill – when no other individual or organization in society is allowed to? Just because the State provides us with some benefits, why does it get the right to do these things? It’s a very difficult question to answer …
Bad Government, Theocracies, Impostor Royals and Democide
Impostor royals: British Queen Elizabeth and Saudi King Abdullah, 2 people claiming some unprovable right to rule over entire populations. Credit: JafriaNews.com
The State is not the root of all evil; however, the fact remains that Government killing its own citizens (democide) was the leading cause of non-natural death in the 20th century. So much atrocity has been committed by out-of-control Government around the world. Many countries still have not evolved to the point where they have decided to separate Church and State; indeed, it took Europe many centuries of dark oppression under the Catholic Church to realize it may not be a good idea to entrust the clergy with political power. Interestingly, the current leader of Syria, the poor country being besieged by the US-UK-Israeli axis of the New World Order, is Bashar Al-Assad, who is committed to the principle of separation of Church and State. This is one more reason why the NWO wants him out.
Many nations in the Middle East have Governments of theocracy – “rule by God” – although of course God seems to have exclusive spokesmen who are usually from rich bloodline families. Yemen, Oman, Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are all theocracies. Saudi Arabia, Beheaders Incorporated, is ruled by the incredibly corrupt House of Saud (which has Zionist roots), another bunch of impostor royals just like the British royal family and the other European ones. To declare yourself “royal” merely means you proclaim you have some kind of “right to rule”. What a Jedi mind-trick! These royal families are the most corrupt criminals in the entire world. Check out David Icke’s work in exposing the satanic British royal family for more information on this. The craziness still continues to this day, with Thai citizens getting imprisoned for the grand crime of – wait for it – insulting the King’s dog. Wake up humanity!
The fake Saudi royals who love to behead dissenters. I think I may have solved the mystery of where my missing red & white picnic sheets went …
If Government’s Political Authority Cannot Be Justified … Why Do You Still Believe in the Concept of the State?
Even those seeking true freedom understand that past conditioning and programming can be very hard to overcome. It would be great if we could just wave a magic wand and be free of old, crusty and limiting ideas that were instilled or indoctrinated into us at an earlier age, or which we mistakenly took on, but it doesn’t work like that. We have to put in the hard work to uncover and analyze them, then decide what to keep and discard.
If you’re reading this, hopefully you can see that the State exists in out minds, first and foremost. The only way we can achieve a free outer world is to first rid our minds of limiting inner ideas. If we could open ourselves up to the idea that maybe – just maybe – the human race could live in freedom and peace, could govern itself, could resolve its own disputes and adequately defend itself, we wouldn’t need the State. Anarchy doesn’t have to mean chaos. A state of anarchy could still possess order and peaceful cooperation. Many have proposed models where the Government’s role in defense and dispute resolution can be decentralized and provided by various 3rd party companies, who are then subject to the laws of economics and the market (e.g. by caring about their reputation, by trying to provide the best service, etc.).
Maybe humanity is not ready for the Stateless society. Maybe we would need to first transition to something like a minarchy (a strictly limited and decentralized Government). However, the first step in all of this is for everyone to examine their unconscious belief and pro-authority bias, and realize that Government’s political authority cannot be justified. Government doesn’t have to exist for humanity to thrive.