Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Bill of Rights and Political Anarchy

As I argued recently, political anarchy is the absence of unrighteous dominion. The state, characterized by its monopoly on the use of force and/or the coercive nature of its collection of funds, is one form of unrighteous dominion. Before a number of American colonies would ratify the United States Constitution, they demanded that it be amended to include what is called the "Bill of Rights". Even though the Constitution was designed to grant only certain powers to the Federal Government, these colonies understood how nearly futile it is to "chain" down the state from exercising power beyond its granted authority. They understood that political anarchy, relative to the central state, must remain in certain spheres of action. As I will argue, the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the political anarchy of these spheres, and we should be diligent in expanding political anarchy into other spheres of action.

What Are Rights?

There are two ways of looking at the concept of rights: positive and negative. The term positive rights means you are justified in doing something. The term negative rights means you are not justified in doing something. For example, a positive rights approach to life means you are justified in defending your life, a negative rights approach to life means you are not justified in taking the life of someone else. I believe a safer and less abused approach to justifying my actions and the actions of others is through the concept of negative rights. The positive rights approach taken by many supporters of liberty have led to such ideas as "a right to good housing" and "a right medical-care". Of course these "rights" can only be granted by infringing on the rights of others, therefore, they are not rights at all. Through the lens of the concept of negative rights, we can understand that someone only has a right to do something because it would be unjustified for anyone else to prevent them from doing it. I have a right to my life because no one else has a right to end it. And I have a property right in my body because no one else has a property right in my body. Therefore, when justifying an action that involves someone else, it must be shown that you have authority to do it.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is essentially a list of "thou shalt nots" for the Federal Government. The First Amendment states,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

In other words, the people, through the First Amendment (and the others) are telling the Federal Government, "Thou shalt not make a law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof," "Thou shalt not abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press," and "Thou shalt not abridge the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Federal Government for a redress of grievances." This all means that the Federal Government is powerless to pass laws that would interfere with the people's ability to do these various things. The Bill of Rights contains many other "thou shalt nots", including the Ninth and Tenth Amendments which state,

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Not only does the Bill of Rights list spheres of action the Federal Government has no power over, but it even goes so far as to clarify that the Federal Government also does not have power over the people's actions the Bill of Rights does not enumerate, other than what the Constitution specifically gives the Federal Government power over. So what does this have to do with political anarchy?

A Bill of Political Anarchy

Another way of looking at the Bill of Rights is as a bill of political anarchy. Whenever two or more entities exist without a higher power exercising unrighteous dominion, these entities are in a state of political anarchy relative to each other. Two governments under the absence of a higher government exist in a state of political anarchy relative to each other. Neither are ruled over by a higher power, nor is their a higher power imposing itself to settle their disputes. Further, where there exists unrighteous dominion between two or more entities in only some spheres of action, the other spheres of action between the same parties exist in a state of political anarchy. The reason I consider the Bill of Rights a bill of political anarchy is because it protects the political anarchy of certain spheres of action between two entities: "the people" and the Federal Government.

According to the Bill of Rights, the Federal Government has no power to make laws within certain spheres of action. The First Amendment seeks to preserve the political anarchy between the people and the Federal Government in the spheres of religious worship, speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and grievance redress. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments seek to preserve the political anarchy between the people and the Federal Government in every sphere the Bill of Rights does not enumerate and those that the Constitution has not been given the authority to make laws in. It is because the Bill of Rights seeks to keep the Federal Government from exercising unrighteous dominion within these spheres that it in essence protects the political anarchy of these spheres. The Bill of Rights is in fact a bill of political anarchy.

Expanding Political Anarchy

The Bill of Rights protects the political anarchy between the people and the Federal Government of a great many spheres of action, and I am very grateful for this protection against the Federal Government. The Federal Government has grown beyond the bounds set by the Constitution, and historians and economists have shown the disastrous consequences of this growth in areas such as drug prohibition, retirement savings and disability insurance, and foreign policy, to name just a few. Expanding the Bill of Rights protection of political anarchy to even more spheres of actions is a desirable goal for those who love peace and liberty. There really is not a sphere of action that the Bill of Rights should not be expanded to protect the political anarchy of. It is my belief that it should protect the political anarchy of free enterprise and commerce in every market, including national defense. The Bill of Rights should abolish the unrighteous dominion exercised by the Federal Government in every sphere of action.

Conclusion

As I have explained, the Bill of Rights is really a bill of political anarchy because it prevents the Federal Government from exercising unrighteous dominion in a number of spheres of actions. I have argued that the number of spheres of actions whose political anarchy is protected by the Bill of Rights should be expanded, until every sphere of action boasts the absence of the Federal Government's unrighteous dominion. I believe only then will we have true liberty relative to and protected from encroachment by the Federal Government.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely pathetic. I can't believe you actually hold to this junk. There has to be a state of some short. Come on, be at least halfway realistic.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece Skylar. However, Anarchy, as I would hope you know, is the desire for society without government. Therefore the bill of rights which set guidelines in establishing the Democratic republic in which we live does not pertain to anarchism. Condone it? No. Rather anarchy exploits the loopholes in the Bill of Rights to protect their abilities to assemble, protest, practice anarchy, and etc. Anarchy is usually the transition between governments. Government must be destroyed to be rebuilt. the American revolution was led by anarchists, but anarchist societies cannot be maintained, and so the United States was formed as a Democratic Republic. I can certainly see where you would make the connection to anarchy from the Bill of Rights, but to call it a Bill of Anarchy is a gross exaggeration, it was rather quite the opposite.

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