"No attempt or pretence, that was ever carried into practical operation amongst civilized men -- unless possibly the pretence of a “Divine Right,” on the part of some, to govern and enslave others -- embodied so much of shameless absurdity, falsehood, impudence, robbery, usurpation, tyranny, and villany of every kind, as the attempt or pretence of establishing a government by consent, and getting the actual consent of only so many as may be necessary to keep the rest in subjection by force. Such a government is a mere conspiracy of the strong against the weak. It no more rests on consent than does the worst government on earth."
by:
Lysander Spooner
(1808-1887) Political theorist, activist, abolitionist
Source:
No Treason. No. II The Constitution, (Boston: Published by the Author, 1867)
http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2213&layout=html
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Reader comments about this quote:
Today's trio strikes me as an indication that the author would like to believe in a representative form of government, but can only believe in a hoax. Without being so crass in words, I believe he/she is correct. Mostly people want their basic needs met. Careful! They want a stable place to live, sound money, transportation facilities, law enforcement, etc. and they want to be left alone. It shouldn't cost too much either. The standard way to power is to tell people who are mostly getting along ok that they are in fact downtrodden by an elite that is out of touch with them. The new kid on the block will fix all their problems. The Who said it best, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!" and the music is great. Remind you of anybody here abouts?
 -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol     
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    Self rule or rule by others over others is what this is all about. The Constitution was created with the idea of self rule in mind. Self rule in pure form is anarchy (total freedom) in respect, the choice is the individuals, or disrespect of the rights of others. The Constitution is actually an agreement between anarchists who chose to respect the rights of others and what this really was, was voluntary subjugation to moral law which defined the rights of the indivdual and the laws that punished for their violation. This is as basic of a form of civilization (self government) that an association of men can operate under and its stability rests on the individual free choice decision to responsibly play by its rules or not. This is the reason the Constitution is failing, there are more individuals in America who don't play by the rules (respecting the individual rights of everybody) anymore than there are that do. When the rules are followed freedom reigns and when they're not slavery does because some men are ruling over others rather than man ruling over himself. Spooner, like Bastiat, were very intelligent responsible men.
     -- Anon     
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    This is the very reason I do not like the word "govern"ment, meaning to rule. I do not need to be "ruled" and neither do you. As J.B. pointed out, I want a safe environment in which to live and pursue my goals. For this the country needs an administration who's duties are limited to maintaining a system of justice, not "laws" for the sake of laws. Protectinf borders from foreign aggression, not Empirical forays into the affairs of other nations. And the operation of a civil police force. not 25 different and mostly secret agencies who's goal is the absolute control and compliance of all. Give me liberty or give me death, and it may not be my own death....
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Contrary my dear Anon, I find Spooner to be the simplest of persons ever quoted on these pages. Yes consensus and majority rule always leaves someone (usually the minority) disgruntled for a time. Wisdom and patience and experience teaches most that the tide of opinion will change. The opposite of majority rule (which is true self-governement) is either dictatorship, monarchy or in the absence of something like that anarchy. The idea of self-government was not that each individual govern themselves alone but that the majority of individuals in concert form a government for the whole. The Kings and nobility of Europe never thought such a thing possible. Our Constitution and its endurance and perserverance has proven otherwise. Anon can you give examples of lack of respect of individual rights in America in absolute terms and by comparison, to the degree of individual rights ecperienced anywhere else on planet earth.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Spoken like a true authoritarian Waff. At least you're not afraid to show your true color...Red! I'll give you that.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Mr. Spooner hit the nail on the head. Just look at Washington for proof.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    Why do you say such a thing Carlton? So you consider truth telling to be an authoritarian thing? Hm strange, strange indeed! .
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler... authoritarianism, communism, national socialism....are all truths. Does that make them right, noble, ethical or moral? No. I consider advocating authoritarianism a bad thing.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    You must be fools not to give this five stars, or fascist, or right-wing fanatics, or religious fundamentalists - sorry if I have pissed off some on this blog, but its really very simple... Good for you Carlton
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Carlton and Anon, good points! Confusing freedom with power always results in authoritarian solutions for regulating freedom instead of regulating power. The purpose of framing a lawful, representative, republican government is to protect people's liberty and keep collective and corporate powers from overpowering the individual and the weak. Justice is based on the respect of the natural rights of humankind -- while Power merely assumes its own correctness because it is able to. Time and time again, Waffler's comments point to a worship of power, of all things big, that is, I suppose, until a bigger majority comes along to vote him out of his savings and pension...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    So Carlton and by associaton RBESRQ do not believe in authority or in someone who actually knows soemting. People who know things are by nature authoritative and those who listen and leanr from them are the smart ones. What would you guys prefer? We have been ruled by the know nothings for far to long! I'll take the wisdom, authority, and intelleigence of the majority to the minority every time, even when I am wrong for that is the wisdom of the ages. You guys to be honest would have to agree that if 51 percent agreed with your nonsense then by deduction your nonsense should be considered such because the majority agrees with you. For your philosophical position is NEVER AGREE WITH A MAJORITY"
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    I'm loving the dialogue! We forget that the USA is an experiment in progress, and ruling systems represent an evolutionary trail through the wilderness. The feudal system was a real-time working system for a good period of time. The nature of things gives an existing entity certain quasi-rights to perpetuate itself. Our July 4th document begins with oft forgotten words including "...a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." This is the humble and possibly unique appeal to the ages past, present, and future for understanding of the step being taken. In the declining years of divine right monarchy our founding fathers claimed this same divine right to their own interpretation of how it should be structured. The pope along with the monarchs were put on notice that a new divine wind was billowing the flags of the peoples' states. The shot heard round the world!
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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    Yes Waff, we already know you live in the land of democracy and your description of self rule, at least where it pertains to our Constitution makes me glad you don't write the history books. As J.B.Wuff said, and I hope I understand him correctly, divine right of the individual to rule himself was and is the experiment in progress and thus why our founders called it a great experiment to see if man could really rule over himself.
     -- Anon     
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    What you always unbelievable miss Anon is that the individuals right to self-rule includes his right to join with others and when those others who join him reach 51% they can shove it up the rest so to speak. America did not change that, the Constitution did not change that. That scenario had existed down through the ages in different and varying formats although it had been hijacked by monarchs, nobles, and dictators and minorities. Well America and The Constitution reinstituted it and imporved it and we continue to do so. It is interesting Anon that you agree with J B Wulff. Maybe he talks better than I but I am saying the same thing "let the shot heard round the world" that government can be run by the people continue. (Wulff's phraesology "peoples' state" I am sure could be read misread by some but I understand his meaning as it stood over and against the monarchies and minority rulers of Europe.)
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler your position is so full of holes you should be thankful it isn't a boat. Not only is it wrong...it's "wrong headed". It's not even worth addressing
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Wasn't there somethings said about a dining room table...
     -- RBESRQ     
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    J Carlton, I agree with your assessment of Waff's post. It's definitely not worth addressing but was worth the response you gave it.
     -- Anon     
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    Waffler, you've claimed in the past an association to Christianity and then your dialog on 51% says Christ was wrong by majority choice. hmmmm? Where does the Constitution say that 51% of We The People makes an omnipotent tyrant with the inherent right of a Divinely coronated or otherwise statist theocracy over the individual's sovereignty and rights? Where or what is the lawful nexus that transfers the absolute organic right of the individual to an inorganic abstract ethos (government)? It doesn't exist. Where is the individual's acknowledgement or approval of giving his personal inalienable right(s) to a mob majority? It doesn't exist. Individuals of the U.S. Republic hire servants to represent their individual personal rights united (each sovereign's rights are equal at law) in a forum that best represents such. If a code, ordinance, regulation, rule, statute, etc. in anyway violates any law or right of any individual (by compelled compliance, license, victimless crime, larceny with impunity, etc.) it violates eternity, all society, and each individual. Such violation is lawfully unlawful, void and unenforceable ab initio.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    John C Calhoun in "The Concurrent Majority" addresses the question of protection from the 51% majority. That a solution to the question has not yet been found leaves us in the same peril as it did in his time. The Civil War was the direct result of a failure to solve this issue. That we face it again now is not encouraging. We have, or are close to having, more than 50% of the population depending on the government for income and not paying taxes directly. Making business and the wealthy "pay their fair share" is the hoax that goes along with that. Over a million people were in DC protesting our slide to socialism a week or so ago. The issue is real and the experiment continues.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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     -- Clair, Anaheim      
     
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