Do We Obey?
If some random
guy ordered you to submit to his will or else most
of us would at least consider it assault. Many of us would try to
escape or defend ourselves. Very few would quietly submit.
And almost no one would submit willingly.
But when exactly
the same thing is done to us by a person wearing a uniform,
most of us not only submit and obey we do so without even
questioning the rightness of the thing.
and other totems of officialized authority confer
legitimacy upon the illegitimate. It is a startling thing. It reveals
that most people are incapable of grasping the concept of a moral
principle that something which is wrong when committed by
an unsanctioned individual is just as wrong when committed by a
sanctioned individual or a group of them.
If it is wrong
to kill, then it is always wrong to kill. If it is wrong
to steal, then it is always wrong to steal. Neither killing
no theft nor any other intrinsically wrong act becomes not-wrong
because its sanctioned, approved or euphemized by the state,
or by a politician, or by a bureaucracy. Stalin reportedly once
said that a single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths a statistic.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A million single deaths
is an atrocity as much as a single individual death is a
tragedy. And you are no less the victim of theft if the theft is
done by a collective or its purported agent under color of
law, or via the ballot box.
is theft. The essential nature of the thing is not altered by how
it is done or by whom.
There may be
shades of grey in many aspects of life but not when it comes
to questions of basic morality. Your life is yours
and it follows that you are entitled by right to be at liberty.
Else your life is not yours, but rather the chattel property of
someone else to whatever extent that other person (or persons)
exercises control over your life, and against your
it follows that if you own your life, then you also own the fruits
of the labor of your body and mind, of that which is you.
To say that random others what collectivist psychopaths refer
to as society have a moral claim to the fruits
of your labor is merely another way of saying you are owned, wholly
or in part, to the extent you are forced by threat of violence to
hand over the fruits of your body and of your mind. You are either
free or you are slightly more (or less) enslaved.
There is no
in-between. It is impossible a contradiction in terms.
A free man
is beholden to none except those he freely
chooses to be beholden to. An enslaved man has no such free choice.
He is beholden to whomever society that is, to
whomever wields political power over him decrees. At best,
he may plead to be slightly less enslaved, or to have the fruits
of the labor of his body and mind forcibly distributed against his
will to random strangers or groups of them, or projects or causes,
he finds somewhat less disagreeable. But he cannot refuse;
he is not permitted to say no. He is bound by a social
contract he never signed, by consent he never gave. By debts
and obligations assumed on his behalf by people he has never met,
much less entrusted with proxy power.
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[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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