Publisher’s Note: I have a tremendous debt of gratitude to the works of both John Hasnas and Lysander Spooner for inspiring the essay you’re about to read. I wanted to thank my friend, DH, for alerting me to Hasnas. For the longest time I have had a cognitive indifference, which turned to curiosity over time when I hear from so many quarters that we are under the rule of law and not men, and that makes everything better. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Incredible, a mere few days after this published, Supreme(s) Leader Roberts issues this ruling on National Socialists Healthcare in King v. Burwell:
“In this instance, the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase . . . Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
You simply can’t make this up, even the Soviets would not use such tortured language and logic.
Please take a listen to Tom Woods’ interview with John Hasnas.
Edit: An attentive reader who happens to be an attorney pointed out the errors of my 1937-95 quote from Judge Napolitano; it should read under the Commerce Clause. My error and it has been corrected in the text. Napolitano: “Not one piece of legislation was seen as exceeding the scope of Congress’s commerce power.” –BB
“VICES are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.
Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.
Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.
In vices, the very essence of crime—that is, the design to injure the person or property of another—is wanting.
It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.”
– Lysander Spooner
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
– Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
America is not a free country. Its government labors under the illusion that the more laws that exist, the more secure and hence the more free a people. At least that’s the party line from the regime apparatchiks. What intellectual rubbish. This is nothing but a shabby justification for a state that grasps power at every turn and applies a tired Marxoid notion of Sovietizing every human transaction to make it transparent to the government (the reverse transparency is nowhere to be found) and use its ample resources of initiated violence to cajole, fine, kidnap, cage, maim or kill the alleged malefactors depending on their level of resistance to perceived state authority.
As Lysander Spooner observes: “If two individuals enter into a contract to commit trespass, theft, robbery or murder upon a third, the contract is unlawful and void, simply because it is a contract to violate natural justice, or men’s natural rights.” Unless you are the government.
Most of this rests on the iconic notion of the rule of law. Like the Constitution and limited government, the idea is assumed a priori to be correct for one reason or another. But like the two items I just mentioned, it does not stand any man’s scrutiny when examined.
So what is the rule of law?
John Hasnas: “[T]he law as a body of definite, politically neutral rules amenable to an impartial application which all citizens have a moral obligation to obey.”
Hasnas does a brilliant job of unpacking this nonsense and I urge my readers to read the full text of his 1995 examination of the rule of law in which he destroys the notion in detail. I wanted to add two observations to his magisterial essay.
First, there is no such thing as objectivity despite the mewlings of both presstitutes and attorneys. Even those of us who consciously practice critical thinking, bias is absolutely unavoidable in the human condition. We are all discriminatory in the rhetorical sense. We all have limited time and resources that inform our worldviews and perspectives; we all have lower evidentiary bars for information favoring our belief systems. This is confirmation bias. One can see it in any controversy. Whether a religionist or an atheist, both sides will debate their respective views from the bias filters they consciously and unconsciously employ for apprehending the world. This applies to practically any great controversy that happens to entertain people at the moment.
Per politics, the myth of the rule of law is ideal for creating, maintaining and expanding societal controls at the point of a gun. All politics is based on the use of violence. If we were honest, we’d call all politicians violence brokers. That is all they are, they dispense the rules for threatening and ultimately killing people by approved government agents. In America, the legislative branch of thuggery formulates the sparse guidelines for the latest variation in the application of the stick to a targeted victim group and then the executive agencies and the armies of bureaucrats crank out tens of thousands of pages of regulations that become the enforcement edict of the hundreds of thousands of badged and armed government bureaucrats who are the pointy end of all politics.
Many in my readership have had the misfortune of going to college (including myself) and suffering through the usual suspects in the political science department listening to over-educated half-wits drone on about the advantages of their favored system of institutional violence. The political science professorate is the intellectual soothsayer caste of the coercionists. Thought experiment: with extraordinarily few exceptions, what would the professor say to a class if he could not discuss the initiation or use of violence to keep government afloat? The class would go home early.