Assumptions, Assumptions

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Column by Paul Hein.

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Our trash is picked up on Tuesdays. Well, I should not simply say “trash,” because only one of the containers holds officially defined trash. The others are for recyclables and yard waste. (Ah, the carefree days of my youth, when trash was trash, and not analyzed and segregated.)

Recently, while writing out the check for these services, which are provided by an out-of-state firm, I found myself questioning how I came to hire these people. I have no complaints, mind you. They do a good job of picking up our trash/recyclables/yard waste. But did I pick them for the job? Did my neighbors choose them, since everyone in the neighborhood uses the same service?

The answer, of course, is that the choice was made for us by our local Rulers, who felt no need to consult us about the matter. Did they get competing bids, and haggle for the best price? Who knows?

The arrangement made for the collection of our trash is not important enough to fret about--except that it shows a relationship with government which is typical: Our Rulers ASSUME. In the minor matter of trash, they assume that they can negotiate a deal on our behalf, and that we will accept their decision. And, needless to say, they further assume the right to punish us should we be so foolish as to disobey.

Thomas Jefferson, in his Declaration of Independence, declared that governments, which are man-made, not natural or inevitable developments, derive their “just powers” from the consent of the governed. He might have been the first to use that phrase, but the concept surely is an ancient one. To be governed is to be limited, controlled, regulated. If those subject to that limitation, control, and regulation did not give their consent, then surely they are slaves, even if their slavery is relatively comfortable and unrecognized. If slavery is the domination of some by others, then surely government regulation is slavery if not consented to by the subjects. Your consent is ASSUMED.

Did you consent? Advocates of government will claim that your consent was given when you voted. But what if you did not vote? Does that exempt you from government control? A rhetorical question!

But what if you did vote? If the candidate of your choice was elected, does that mean you have given your consent to every program he proposes or endorses? If you are opposed to U.S. invasions of Middle Eastern countries, have you consented to his vote to do otherwise? It must be ASSUMED that you have indeed consented, for the alternative is a form of relatively benign slavery (you’ll be financing the invasions, like it or not!) and it’s not likely that you, or your “representative” in government, would agree to, or admit that.

Has your “representative,” whether a local alderman, or U.S. Congressman, asked for your opinion about matters upon which he is to vote? Has the U.S. ever sought your opinion about their ASSUMPTION that their claim to your income is greater than your own? (Was I consented about who picks up my trash?)

What about “representatives” other than your own? If your own Congressman always votes in the way you’ve approved, and his vote is always in the minority, can it be ASSUMED that you’ve given your consent to the votes of other Congressmen, those not “representing” you in any way whatsoever? Their votes affect you as much as those of your own Congressmen.

If you continue to live in your town, your state, or your country, and obey its laws, does that constitute your consent? The slaves on the plantation continued to live in that place, and obeyed the laws of the master, but to say that they thereby gave their consent to the condition is absurd. Besides, if you were to move to another location, would it not be ASSUMED that you were subject to the laws of your new location?

It is ASSUMED that I am subject to the ordinances of my town, the laws of my state, and the statutes of the federal government, and that I can quite properly be punished for disobedience. I can find no logical basis for that assumption, but I fully understand its existence. People have been living in subjugation to Rulers for countless centuries--even millennia. It is the status quo, and accepted by the Rulers and the ruled. But it is based upon nothing more than an ASSUMPTION. It may be--indeed, I think it is--impossible to ever eradicate government, but if its power is to be curbed, it might be prudent to question the assumptions upon which it is based.

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 126

Comments

James Clayton's picture

Paul,
I agree with you that it may be impossible to eradicate government, since (as other people have pointed out) "government" is perhaps just an abstraction. Ideas are probably more difficult to eradicate.
Maybe "our Rulers" want everyone to continue to think-speak about the faceless and nameless "government", a collective term that is not very clearly defined. It might even be prudent to question the assumption that there is something called "government", and to shift focus to the actual individuals and their actions.
Perhaps "government" is just "aggression" - but, obviously, not all aggression is government. And it seems highly unlikely that aggression (broadly defined) will ever be eradicated, since aggressive behaviour will probably always be a potential strategy. There will probably always be some people who will sometimes choose to behave aggressively in an attempt to acquire some wealth and/or power, and they won't care about my consent or "rights" and "freedom". 
Every person can presumably choose to behave aggressively or not, and to respond to aggressive behaviour. Perhaps there will always be some people who will try to dominate and maybe there will always be some people who will submit. Maybe it all boils down to some measure of perceived costs and benefits.
James

Samarami's picture

James, I see you as having accurately underpinned anarchy. I've stated repeatedly that the human family is the only legitimate jurisdiction -- all other claims are no more than threats by psychopaths, backed by loaded firearms.

The human newborn comes into being fully and totally subject to adult caregivers -- hopefully a loving Mom and Dad. S/he didn't "consent", but would not survive if Mom did not feed, clothe and shelter her, restrain her from falling from the bath table or bassinet or down an unblocked flight of stairs; later prevent her from ingesting dangerous stuff (everything goes into their mouths! :-[ ), etc etc. Later still, Mom and Dad set rules for driving the car, dating, etc etc. And on down the avenue of time, the now-adult child will likely assume supervision of aging Moms and/or Dads, often suffering from dementia, etc.

The complete circle in the authority of love.

We "libertarians" can get ourselves into mindless and silly squabbles over "...do parents 'own' their children?...", "...rights...", etc etc; while overlooking the obvious: that the family is a viable -- the only viable -- governing unit, and this pale blue dot upon which we all reside is filled with brainless abstractions called "nations", "countries", etc. Sam

James Clayton's picture

John Hasnas: “I intend to show that a stable, successful society without government can exist by showing that it has, and to a large extent, still does.”
Max T. O'Connor put forth the suggestion that “We already live in an anarchy. There is no “State.” There are only individuals acting in a statist manner, often because they believe it to be right, to be necessary, and because they see no alternative.” [from Deep Anarchy - An Eliminativist View of “The State”]
 
Maybe today it’s enough for me to think about my actions and not worry about abstractions; to do no harm and stay out of harm’s way.

Jim Davies's picture

Hasnas' insight is correct; "government" is an abstraction, a religion, a mysterious entity that has no contractual reality. He's also correct in saying that people say otherwise and act in a statist way. For that very reason, it's not possible for you or anyone else not to worry about them or to "stay out of harm's way." They will tighten their grip on all of us, gradually but relentlessly, until it is total.
 
If you or I manage to stay relatively free of harm, the next generation will not. To me, that matters.
 
If it were impossible to dislodge or remove these "individuals acting in a statist manner", the question would be academic. But it is not impossible at all, and so it is far from academic. As it happens, the Zero Government Blog out today touches on that very theme.
 

Jim Davies's picture

It can't be impossible, James, for at least a couple of reasons:
 
1. Freedom is the natural state of mankind. We are reasoning, choosing, decision-making animals and the only framework consistent with that is that we control those choices, each as a self-owner. It is therefore absurd that our basic human nature should be over-ridden by the way we relate to each other - by means of force, of denial of choice. Goverment absolutely conflicts with our very nature.
 
2. Dating the existence of hom. sap. from the time our ancestors quit Africa 50 millennia ago, they progressed wonderfully for about 40,000 years all over the world, before government showed its ugly face. If our race can manage without one for 80% of its history, it can do so again for the remainder.
 
Government will cease to exist when its employees quit. No sooner, but also no later.

Samarami's picture
    "...People have been living in subjugation to Rulers for countless centuries--even millennia. It is the status quo, and accepted by the Rulers and the ruled. But it is based upon nothing more than an ASSUMPTION..."

Nice assumption, Paul :-)

I submit one more indicia (assumption, if you will) that makes up a major stratagem in the science of rulership and the art of war: a phenomenon we've been trained to label "Stockholm Syndrome". I say "trained", because it has been essential from the beginning for the hoi polloi to believe that condition will only exist in isolated occurrences such as a place called Sweden in 1973 (bank robbery/hostage situation). In that discipline ("science") it's extremely important that those subject to rule not comprehend it as an ever-present but easily overcome affliction.

The jig would be up were ordinary folks to know how easy freedom is to attain.

The individual in history you refer to as Thomas Jefferson obviously understood capture bonding quite well. In his soothing words he was eerily capable of making the average "citizen" accept her "consent", rather than see that she had been subject to brutal rape. After all, it felt so good -- and finally "we" were free of that evil "king" (a mythical bogyman that no average individual had seen or had dealings with) "over there".

The enormity of the truth is incredible. Sam

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a schocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a schocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a schocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a schocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a shocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a shocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a shocker.

Glock27's picture

Guess I will just say I enjoyed the perceptive article and to note that I had a representative who actually communicated with me twice about issues coming up for vote, but no more have ever come requesting my input. Ha. Really a shocker.