Tag Archives: government legitimacy

>A Crisis of Legitimacy

>There came a point between last year’s criminal bailout of the financial sector and the latest theft of $30 billion more to throw on the AIG bonfire that further acts of armed robbery by this government against its people ceased to matter, at least for me. It is not that I have thrown up my hands and given up. Far from it. Rather, I see the acceleration in both the frequency and the size of the bailouts for what they are – the death struggle of a drowning regime, flailing its arms as the water enters its lungs. With each new bailout and subsequent addition to its mountain of debt, the regime loses a little more of the only oxygen it has left – its legitimacy in the eyes of its people.

Legitimacy is the recognition by its people that their government is their rightful government, that the power it wields is legitimate power. In a free society, our Declaration of Independence tells us that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed. As I’ve discussed before, the philosophy that inspired the founding of our nation asserts that such consent is given by a free people for only one reason: protection of their property. Thus, the legitimacy of the government of a free people only endures as long as that government continues to protect the property of its citizens. Once it ceases to protect property – or begins to attack and plunder property – it ceases to exercise legitimate power, for it no longer has the consent of the governed.

For those who understand these simple principles of liberty, the government of the United States lost its legitimacy decades ago. While there are many convincing arguments for an even earlier date, certainly after 1913 the matter was settled conclusively. It was in 1913 that the United States ceased to be a republic with a government whose purpose was to protect the property of the individual and became a social democracy with a government whose purpose was to plunder the property of the individual for “the good of society,” or “the general will,” if you prefer the language of the statist Rousseau. The good of society was, of course, defined by the state – the plunderer – eliminating any possibility that some inadvertent benefit might befall the governed. The good of society was defined as the twin statist pillars of tyranny that still dominate our society today: to achieve economic equality at home and to make the world safe for democracy abroad. These remain the two goals of the America democratic empire, espoused by both major political parties.

In order to achieve these ends, individual liberty – the only liberty– must be sacrificed. Why? Because in order to attempt to achieve the two pillars the state must attack the means and the tangible stuff of liberty – property. That is why in 1913, along with the new philosophy, came the insidious Income Tax, the Federal Reserve, and the 17th Amendment. These were the tools with which the new social democracy plundered the property of the individual in order to achieve its goals. Once the individual lost the right to the fruits of his labor, he lost his liberty, for there cannot be one without the other.

Certainly, the free enterprise juggernaut that was created by the former republic continued to thunder forward. However, it was now progressing under the weight of the coercive power of the state, which constantly attacked it, rather than under the rightful protection of the state, which had previously acted only in defense of property. The drag on free enterprise was light at first, but relentless in its growth. While America enjoyed good decades and bad after 1913, the seeds of systemic failure were sown, and the end to which we have now come inevitable.

This argument certainly begs the question of why the 1913 coup was a bloodless one. Why would a nation “conceived in liberty” quietly allow the very core of their liberty to be taken from them? The answer is that it was not taken from them, but given away. One must remember that the power in a democracy lies in the majority. This is where the significance of the 17th Amendment comes into play. This was the masterstroke of the new social democracy. By giving more “power to the people,” and eliminating the key check on federal power that the state legislatures possessed when they chose U.S. senators instead of popular vote, it was then a simple matter for the federal government to buy the liberty of the people. They deftly picked the pocket of an unsuspecting public by relieving them of their property (and therefore their liberty) by promising them other people’s property. This was the deal with the devil that was offered to the American people, and they took it. For those who objected, the two pillars were there to be thrown in their faces, with a hundred million voters to shout them down. As the Star Wars III character so eloquently put it, “So this is how liberty dies – to thunderous applause.”

So, at that point, the link between legitimacy and property rights was broken. Legitimacy remained dependent upon the consent of the governed, but after 1913 the American public no longer consented to government for protection of their property. Increasingly over the ensuing decades, that consent was given in return for the promise of other people’s property. Inevitably, “progress” for society became defined as the extent to which property could be stolen from one group and redistributed to another – at home through social programs, regulation, and other “economic policy” and abroad through military adventurism and empire-building. It should be obvious to the reader that this type of “progress” can only lead to the prospect that we may soon face ourselves: no property, and thus no liberty, at all.

One might be tempted to despair that a thousand years of tyranny awaits us. However, there is one flaw in the social democracy’s model: it is unsustainable. It has lived off of the productive capacity of the former republic for almost 100 years, but in that time the parasite has killed off the host. There are now a few in the minority that argue that government shouldn’t destroy the property rights of the individual in pursuit of the two pillars. What will become obvious very soon is that government cannot achieve its goals in this way. The model depends upon a productive element in society supplying the property needed for plunder, but without liberty there is eventually no productivity either. This is why empires fall, and for no other reason.

Thus, since the government’s legitimacy is now based upon its ability to provide its citizens with other people’s property, and because it will soon no longer be able to do so, it will obviously soon lose its legitimacy. Without legitimacy, regimes fall. If the surrealism of a government spending staggering sums of money in its last death throes has not hit home to the average American, the first medical claim unpaid for lack of funds under one of its socialist medical programs, the first Social Security check that bounces, or the first time a local welfare department closes its doors will spur this epiphany. If nothing so dramatic occurs (we do, in the end, have a printing press), then there will come a day – and that day is months or years away, not decades – that tens of millions of unemployed Americans are going to wake up and realize that the government’s promise of security via other people’s property was false. Then, the regime will fall.

Lest one assume that there is no work to be done by the majority of Americans, let us not create new illusions to replace the old ones. History shows that a corrupted people that throws off the tyranny of an oppressive government can only create something worse in its place. We must face the fact that the American people are corrupted – not because they drink too much liquor, have too much sex, or don’t go to church – but because they have lost all recognition of the rights of their fellow human beings to the fruits of their labor. The French Revolution should serve as a perfect example to Americans at this point in history. While the French rightly threw off the tyranny of a government that plundered their property, they merely transferred the privilege of plunder to themselves, all for the misguided cause of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” The result, as we know, was a bloody reign of terror.

We will achieve similar results with our own revolution without a change of ideology. We must reject entirely the notion that we have any right whatsoever to the property of others, and restore our founding principles as the organizing principles of our society. Should we again base our government on its original purpose of protecting property, we will once more secure the blessings of liberty and resume the pursuit of happiness. The true “time for choosing” is coming soon.

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!