Longing for Liberty
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Coincidentially, today is 4th of July. I did not write this essay referring to this day. Therefore, I am not writing it in a pessimist attitude towards today’s celebration.
Why do we long for freedom? The simplest and most logical answer I can find is because we have not yet acquired it. Today, many boast in that they reside in a free land, but at the same time they are glad to be ruled by a central government that intervenes in almost all of society’s matters. We are accustomed to live in such a way that we assume things are to be done in a no different manner. Our minds have become partakers of a structure that hides in plain sight and is rooted deep within the heart of our society. A structure that manipulates, controls, and darkens our understanding, not allowing us to see a different and more righteous path to take. It stays long enough from generation to generation that it filters within our DNA, not permitting us to achieve different results, but only worsen the conditions of our circumstances. Yes, indeed, it all begins inside our families.
“In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” – Isaiah 27:1
In the year 1651 a man named Thomas Hobbes published a book titled “Leviathan”, presenting forth his model of political life. In it he basically described that society is a single whole, a mass of individuals that simply endow a central government with the power to rule over them. No other social authority precedes this central government. Therefore, it cannot be denied when it monopolizes the engaging of force and coercion over its citizens. This model’s efficiency was proved wrong during the 20th Century, when the world saw the totalitarian Modern States committing genocide, facing fewer and fewer obstacles to their controlling power, and having conscription and income taxes pierce rooftops. Even so, this system persists in present time, avoiding exposure and delivering the same results less noticeably. However, to the world’s relief there exists a different view and model of political life.
Years before Hobbes created his model, in 1603 a man named Althusius wrote a book titled “Politica”, and in it presented a more rational model of political life. He said that the basic unit of society, and for that reason of government, is the family. Then, families may form villages, and the villages will form provinces, and the provinces constitute a kingdom. In other words, society is much more than a group of people put together and being governed by a ruler. This is what becomes known as a Federative Polity, which is a society in which power is distributed and shared by various social authorities. Power is not held monopolistically by a central government, but by many different social authorities placed in a specific hierarchy that possess rights and liberties of their own. Their rights and their liberties cannot be arbitrarily interfered with, preceded, or cancelled by a central government.
The Althusius’ and Hobbes’ ideas of how society is organized are in each polar end. They are also perfect to place the setting of the two theories that exist about the American Union. The compact theory states that the union was created by the collection of self-governed States whom all in one accord gave power to a central government. The nationalist theory, says that the union is not a collection, but a single whole and that the Union came before the States. The States are just parts of the union, but the union is the original unit, not the States. In simpler terms the compact theory would call the USA, “The United States are” and the nationalist theory would call the USA, “The United States is.”
A false sensation of patriotism conceals the consequences that the nationalist theory of the union faces. Individuals basically do not have a will. It is like saying, “the marriage came first and after came the bride and the bridegroom. The man and the woman had no choice if they wanted to get married or not, or if that was the person they wanted to marry with. The marriage already existed, so the bride and the bridegroom must deal with it. And do not worry, even though we are going against their will now, they will feel love once their children are born. Meanwhile, they will have to live together and not separate, even if they disagree with each other to death.” How would you feel, with a union like this? That is how the states would have felt with the nationalist theory of the union, but now are filled with a sensation of “patriotism” and “unity” that is planted from the cradle to the grave and allows all sort of control to be enforced.
Nevertheless, the Declaration of Independence clearly favors the compact theory of the union. The declaration calls the states “free and independent states” that “have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.” The states came together and one by one willingly ratified the Constitution of the United States. In 1776 it was declared that the crime of treason would be thought of as being perpetrated not against the states united into an indivisible blob, but against the states individually. Also, Article II of the Articles of Confederation written seven years before the union says that the “states retain their sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” Finally, in the treaty of Paris made in 1783, the British acknowledged the independence, not of a single whole, but of a group of states, which they proceeded to list one by one.
As this American history clearly evidences, the compact theory of the union was used by the States to demonstrate that they came before a central government. The states are the ones who have the sovereignty and the power, not the central government. The states have the ability to resist a central government, separate from it, and/or dismantle it, for they were the ones who formed it from the beginning. If the compact theory is correct, then the United States initially defied Hobbesian ideas.
The veracity of it is that the greater the expansion of the government is, the more capability it will have to pursue its interests by subtly controlling the people to its favor. If all power is situated on a central government’s shoulders, this one will be able to treat the people as it pleases without giving them the opportunity to have options and flee to other governments that provide more freedom in the economy and other areas in society.
Imagine a family in which the father is the only one who can make decisions and the mother and the children cannot do anything regarding it. They have no voice against the father, even if everything he decides goes against the will, desires, or needs of the mother and children. The woman cannot escape along with her children to someone else. Society is in favor of the father and no one would ever listen to the oppressed and defenseless woman. This would be a horrible situation of control and despair, where anyone would feel powerless. Sometimes, we have to run away because we cannot stand against people or circumstances. But if we cannot flee, what will we do?
As the previous example clearly demonstrates when only one institution, agency, or any kind of authority sustains the central and absolute power to conduct decisions, without having any sort of competition around it for people to flee to, it can do whatever it wants and society will inevitably support it. The oppression of taxes, regulations, etc. will be stronger and greater as the state continues to expand.
On the other hand, if we have an organized society that distributes the power of making decisions between each social authority, the people will be able to have righteous resolutions. For example, the central government only chooses what the union says it can. The states do what the groups of communities say they can do. The communities do what their particular churches, clubs, or whatever say they can do. The churches, clubs, etc. do what the families allow them to do. The families do what the father, mother, and child of each family has decided and agreed to do. Finally, each member of a family will do what they have acquired from God to do, being God the base and sovereign authority over all and the supplier of human rights, liberties, and norms.
The smaller the state, the easier it will be represented. Today, we see the complete opposite of “small” in the United States of America. The House of Representatives have 435 members, each representing about 713,000 Americans. How difficult do you think it is to represent 713,000 people? If you represent someone, it means you know their philosophy, necessities, point of views, desires, etc. How will someone know all of these characteristics in 713,000 people? It is impossible. Even if they knew who every single person was, it would extremely complicated to place forth a solution that satisfied every single being.
Shocking as it may seem, in the year of 2014 just 435 representatives, 100 senators, and one president decide on the spending of about $3 trillion. Only 536 people decide for a nation of about 300 million citizens on how and where to spend its money, without the worries of being punished if they use the money to favor their own interests. It is very important to ask, for the sake of liberty, “How did the government obtain the money?” And the answer would be, “Through the involuntary, non-contractual, and coercive transfer of the wealth of the people from their hands to government favored institutions.” As Donald Livingston says, “Never has so much financial power been controlled by so few.”
If the power of the states is not going to be enforced and respected to the point of allowing it to separate of a nation, what sense is there in having states? If a central government will decide for the whole, what point is there in having different levels of supposed authority within a nation? The family is not respected anymore, the authority of the parents over the children to educate and raise them is being thwarted by public and government affiliated private schools today. What sense, then, is there in having a family, if the supposed authorities within it will not be respected? Family is the basis of society, the system we live in today recognizes this, and that is why it has spent so much time attacking this base to make it stumble and try dismantling it. In this way it will be able to hold the ability of maintaining control and expanding it much easier. Dear reader, is this freedom?