L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 127, June 25, 2001
TRUST ME -- CALL ME!
It's About the Trust, Stupid!
by Michael Lorrey
Special to TLE
I've often wondered why in current day politics there seems to be so much interest in limiting individual rights. While neither side seems immune, it seems to me that those groups that were formerly most oppressed are now most supportive of legislation that would have been considered fascist in previous generations. The Million Mom March, for example, demonstrated how many women, especially feminists, who were previously in favor of maximizing individual freedom, are now obsessed with restricting everyone's 2nd Amendment rights.
I was talking with a lady friend about this, and how a free society of individuals must be based on mutual trust of the individual to function properly. She replied,"Thats just it, I don't trust anybody." This seems to be a very common sentiment among many women, as well as among minorities. I wondered why is it that there is such a lack of trust?
Many pundits and politicians decry the highly combative and distrustful political landscape that exists in the current day, while they continue to perpetuate it. This field of combat sickens most normal people, breeds mistrust of public figures, and turns them off to the political process. We have demagogues as individuals and special interest groups haranguing the masses, conducting campaigns of character assassination, libeling and slandering politicians and other public figures they want to remove from office or high public esteem. Those who know history know what can result from such rhetorical tyranny. We've seen it before in Athens and Rome.
In Athens during the period of the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, the Public Assembly had been degraded by demagogues who conducted similar campaigns of character destruction against the greatest figures of Athens: Socrates, who as we all know, was condemned to die for his 'seditious' ideas, as well as his friend, the last great Athenian General, Alcibiades, who was exiled several times, and as a result of his absence, Sparta conquered Athens. Demagogic politicians paid street thugs to give false testimony against political enemies, while sycophants had corrupted the court system, delivering jury verdicts to whoever could pay the most money in bribes.
Similarly, later in Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar had gained public popularity above that of his co-consuls Pompey and Crassus with his written accounts of his warmaking on the Gauls and Britons, and leveraged that popularity in crossing the Rubicon River and marching on Rome to become emperor, deposing the authority of the Senate with the support of the common people.
Current pundits should reflect on this, especially those most aggrieved by the recent presidential election, who demand that we act like the democracy they seem to think our Republic really is. They should understand when these two previously great nations transitioned from Republic to Democracy, that domestic imperialism and fascist oppression were the result.
Today we have public demagogues like Rosie O'Donnell, Jesse Jackson, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, Louis Farrakhan, Patricia Ireland, Bill Daley, and Jeremy Rifkin. We also have sycophants corrupting the legal system, the lawyers engaged in civil lawsuits against the tobacco companies, gun makers, car manufacturers and other industries, as well as lawyers like David Boies who seek to tear apart success stories like Microsoft to make a buck, and who hold our electoral system hostage to juries of judges appointed by other demagogues.
One has to wonder why, today, our public scene is being torn apart by this strife. Conservatives tend to point to sensationalism in the press and popular amorality, while liberals point to real or perceived social ills. What I think it is about is trust.
Trust is of paramount importance to the functioning of a free and open society for the benefit of the individual. Every individual's desire for maximum personal liberty creates an implicit contract with all other individuals, that in order for the individual to be trusted with their liberty, they must collaterally trust all other individuals lawfully participating in that society to possess and exercise their freedom with equal responsibility as they exhibit themselves.
It has historically been a standard tactic of groups and individuals, from Demosthenes to Hitler, that wish to gain power, to dictate their will to the people in a free society, their first goal is to destroy trust in the individual among as many individual members of that society as possible. The policy of divide and conquer works well, teaching those with real or perceived experience of persecution to identify first with their group, with their citizenship only a distant second or third at best in their perceptions of self identity. They use the press to tear down anyone who gains the publics esteem, so that not only do average people lose confidence in those that aspire to lead, but in their own ability to trust their own judgement of others.
Encouraging irresponsibility in the individual, financially, legally, and socially via the criminal, bankruptcy, and divorce laws combined with sensationalizing those who take advantage of these relaxed mores goes a long way to eroding trust in others when personal integrity and honor are no longer regarded as important virtues to cultivate.
First undermine trust in the individual, then induce a public fear of the individual, such that heroes are branded as vigilantes, parent and child conspire against each other, husband and wife live in fear of what public propaganda convinces us each is capable of doing to hurt the other, while the concept of the citizen-soldier defending the nation against both foreign and domestic enemies, and maintaining public tranquility is seen at best as a quaint outmoded concept, and at worst a partisan mytholigizing of terrorists, extremists, and street gangs.
Real incidents of abuse of liberty to infringe on the rights of others are sensationalized by the popular press, and are used as rallying cries to feed the insecure perceptions of all those who have ever been victimized, or who are members of groups which suffered oppression in the past.
By undermining this trust in the individual, members of society are induced into living in fear of their fellow citizens. This fear manifests as a desire to support the efforts of demagogues to limit, restrict, and confiscate individual liberties in the name of public safety and security, as each individual in society must make a choice between their perception of impending anarchy and chaos versus the fascist police state being offered by the demagogue. Most people will tend to chose the police state versus the implied collapse of society that the propaganda produced by the demagogue warns is imminent.
A smart demagogue is one who engages in this process slowly, like a person cooking a live lobster in a pot, slowly raising the heat such that the victim does not realize he or she is cooked until it is far too late to do anything about it. Thus propaganda put out by demagogues will subtly work to redefine the meanings of words, and will then argue for the establishment of more government control and authority based on the new definitions. George Orwell warned us well of this tactic in his novels 1984 and Animal Farm, where he demonstrated the practice of doublespeak.
Because it seems the key weapon of the demagogue is words, let us understand what terms we are using here. Society is a tool, a technology, for individuals to efficiently cooperate. In and of itself, it has no rights, no consciousness, nor any conscience. The primary unit of a nation is not the state, nor society, but the individual, from whence all rights and political power originates.
As numerous Supreme Court decisions have stated, our Constitution does not grant us our rights, they preceded its existence. The Constitution only recognizes what was unalienably ours, as individuals, to begin with. When a demagogue is successful in convincing the individuals in a society to surrender what supposed to be unalienable, they are perpetrating a fraud upon society, a massive con, a criminal act of such treasonous proportions that the idea that such demagogues shouldn't be considered the enemy not only of the Constitution so many of have sworn to protect, but of each and every freedom loving individual, should be considered ludicrous.
Once the role of government has been redefined by the demagogue to be far more paternalistic toward the individual, the trust in the individual is undermined, and public desires allow the demagogue to slide government agencies into the roles previously occupied by each individuals self responsibility.
Thus, because the public mistrust originates from the corruption and expansion of government institutions to encroach on the everyday life of every citizen, resolving the atmosphere of public mistrust must begin by cutting the vicious cycle, and ending the overweening of government power. How is this to be done? Lets look at how we got here in the first place. There are four primary phrases or words in the US Constitution from which the Congress has misconstrued its authority to legislate, and the courts and the executive branch have misconstrued their authority to restrict individual rights, thus a majority of all federal laws and regulations have been enacted based upon faulty premises. These four terms are a) 'interstate commerce', b) 'general welfare', c) 'well regulated militia', and d) 'the people'.
The fatal flaw in the Constitution is the lack of a glossary or dictionary, describing exactly what each word means, codified permanently in this statute, such that the terms could never be twisted outside of their original meanings by agitators and propagandists.
However, thanks to some Supreme Court precedents, and voluminous constitutional scholarship in the last 20-30 years, we are able to reconstruct the original meanings of these terms despite the best efforts of revisionist historians and media editors.
a) Interstate Commerce: Under US v. Lopez, it is stated that laws congress passes under its power to regulate interstate commerce can only be constitutional if they directly impact actual commerce. Passing a law against domestic violence on the basis that injured women may be less productive in the workplace and thus damaging to interstate commerce is an overreach of congress beyond the scope of the interstate commerce clause. Just because polls say the public wants a law does not mean that Congress should make one that reaches beyond their Constitutional authority.
b) General Welfare: This term did not originally connote a cradle to grave nanny state financed by confiscatory taxation that soaks up nearly half of our entire economy. This term referred to the 'state of the economy', thus Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's job, primarily, is promoting the general welfare. Donna Shalala and her ilk are little more than bribe distributors to those voting the demagogues into office.
c) Well Regulated Militia: Under Black's Legal Dictionary as published at the time the Constitution was enacted, a militia is every able bodied person of voting age in a community, and this is reflected in our own laws, which states in US Code, Title X, that the militia is every able bodied male between the ages of 18 and 60. The only people excepted from this are people who are members of the active duty military, which blows out of the water the modern liberal redefinition of the militia as the active duty military or even the national guard.
In addition, 'well regulated', in the same dictionary, did not mean 'controlled and restricted by statute', it meant 'well trained and skilled', which implies that firearms safety, handling, and combat tactics have a justified and Constitutionally mandated place in our public school system. Our schools should not be gun free zones.
This original meaning of this term is supported in an upcoming legal case, US v. Emerson, currently in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and promises to do for the right to keep and bear arms what Roe v. Wade did for individual rights to privacy and choice. This case is one of the primary reasons why this presidential election was so hotly contested, since each side wants to control the makeup of the Court that winds up hearing the case if it makes it to the Supreme level.
d) The People: Under US v. Urquidez-Verdugo, the SCOTUS stated that any time the term 'the people' is referred to in the Constitution, especially in reference to the recognition of rights, this is referring to the people *as individuals*. Thus not only are the rights of speech, assembly, press, religion, security against unreasonable search and seizure, against self incrimination and cruel and unusual punishments all to be considered individual liberties, and not collective rights of society in general, but the right to keep and bear arms is similarly an individual unalienable and uninfringable right. There are over 20,000 laws in the US which restrict and infringe upon this unalienable right due to the demagogic redefinition of not only this term, but the militia term above. Moreover, the patchwork of gun control laws from city to city, county to county, and state to state represent a 'separate but equal' (a legal principle found unacceptable with regard to civil rights) treatment of the individual citizen's rights, not only within each state, but as each individual moves from state to state, similar to the slavery issue prior to the Civil War which would be considered a blatant violation of the equal protection clause if it were in reference to any civil liberty cherished by ACLU.
In order to stem the tide of sentiment of mistrust in the individual, and restore public confidence in our individual liberties, we should all make an effort to resist the efforts of demagogues to redefine these key terms. We need to wipe away laws and regulations promulgated from these revisionist definitions, and improve citizenship education in our schools. It is only when we are all reading from the same dictionary that we can renew our trust in what our fellow citizens are saying. We need desperately to regain our common trust in each other. We need a trust of each other so strong that it can transcend each of our deepest insecurities and fears, for it is only when we trust beyond reason that we can dream of achieving results beyond hope.