Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why is there Law?

Am I feeling ambitious this morning or what? Too much sunshine.

I have never felt comfortable with the Natural Law theory that we are uncovering something that existed before there were humans. I truly believe that Law is fundamentally a human construct. We build it in harmony with our society, as a tool of those in power. Kings and now governments of all types create law as a tool to help them govern. Tax law extracts and redistributes wealth. Conscription law does essentially the same thing with human beings instead of money; it gives the government bodies to spend.

As you can see from the above paragraph, I do not necessarily believe that there is any connection at all between law and justice or law and morality. Law does not necessarily achieve any kind of good for the populace at large. It is a tool first and foremost of the governing people, and one needs to understand that. When clever, well-intentioned lawyers work hard, sometimes, they can make the Law work for the individual person, and not for those intended by the government. However, at its best, Law achieves Justice. When it does that, the law and government achieve the consent of the governed.

When a government subject to election by the populace fears that it is losing the consent of the governed, it must follow one of several courses. It must re-organize its government and laws to better meet the approval of the majority of the governed. If it is not willing or able to do this, it must either

1) exercise leadership such that the governed are willing to hold their disapproval in abeyance (Think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Winston Churchill in World War II, asking for huge personal sacrifices from their populations); or

2) distract the majority of the populace such that they lose track of their anger at the government. My opinion is that this is the course chosen again and again by the current Bush administration. I suspect I can think of nice examples from most presidents during my lifetime (sigh), but I am most angry at the current administration, aided and abetted by the media, and our Congress.

We are a self-governing people, the most free in all of history. We supposedly have the power to sweep away our government. Wendell Phillips, abolitionist and orator said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." I think we got distracted. Better start paying attention. We are losing our country. We are losing our laws.

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