A blupete Essay

Notes, to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Government"

1 Political Discourses (1752), ii., 38. This is known by those who study the subject as The Paradox of Freedom. There is nothing new about this; it was expressed by Plato. The argument as put by Sir Karl Popper runs this way: "freedom in the sense of absence of any restraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek." [Popper Selections; Edited by David Miller; (Princeton University Press, 1985).]

2 Leviathan.

3 This Lockeian view is coined in Shelley's words as follows: "Government has no rights; it is a delegation from several individuals for the purpose of securing their own."

4 It took on hideous tones on account of the activities of the Russian terrorist Mikhail Bakunin (1814-76), his associates and imitators.

5 Thomas Carlyle, Heroes (1858).

6 Chambers Biographical Dictionary (Edinburgh, 1990), often referred to in my papers simply as Chambers.

7 This is a false theory. See the work of Sir Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism (1957) (Routledge, 1969): "The fundamental thesis of this book [is that] the belief in historical destiny is sheer superstition, and that there can be no prediction of the course of human history by scientific or any other rational method ... [it is dedicated to] the memory of the countless men and women of all creeds or nations or races who fell victims to the fascist and communist belief in Inexorable Laws of Historical Destiny."

8 One wag described a communist as a socialist with conviction.

9 The Slavery of our Times, 1900.

10 If you understand the legal notion behind the legal words "common law" then you will understand that a great body of English law exists which was never written down, but still it was followed, and still it was enforced; the very strength of England, certainly in the past, is attributable, I would say fully attributable, to the stabilizing and enriching institution known as the common law.

11 The absence of fear brings peace, with peace people can lead productive lives; the group, together with its leader, will prosper. It is a valuable commodity, peace; the history books refer to it as the "Lord's Peace" or the "King's Peace."

12 Professor W. H. Hutt expressed it this way: "The term [individualism] is an extremely convenient one to express the views of those who would confine the functions of the State and various public authorities to a relatively small province, i.e., maintaining law and order, the army, the navy and other means of national defence, the enforcement of contracts, the maintenance of public services which cannot conveniently by entrusted to private enterprise, and in general the provision of a fair field for the play of individual energy." ("Individualism in Politics," as found Henry Hazlitt's book, The Free Man's Library (Princeton, N.J., Van Nostrand, 1956) at p. 29.)

13 Diogenes (c412-323 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a cynic who "searched with a lantern in the daylight for an honest man." This quote is from Bentham's The Principles of Morals and Legislation (1780).

14 "Power is wealth, in these days, or of arms and adherents as in the old days."

15 Progress and Poverty.

16 Ethics of the Dust (1865). Ruskin likely had in mind the meaning of value rather than wealth.

17 Thus, we see about us devastation and ruin of all things which have no value as tradable property; whether it is breathable air or drinkable water, or the "goods and services" provided "free" by a socialistic government. It is on account of this principle, as is demonstrated in nature, that things gratuitously afforded by anybody, including the state, have little or no value. This, fundamentally, as attractive as the idea might be, is why socialism cannot work -- people waste free stuff, always have and always will: it is in the nature of man to do so. We waste the free bounty of nature just as we waste the wealth of a country in a socialistic state.

18 From such a definition of wealth, it seems to me, that one can conclude that any "free" government goods or "free" government services do not add to the store of a country's wealth, but rather will lead to the gradual destruction to the wealth of the nation. [Principles of Political Economy (1848).]

19 See The Federalists Papers.

20 As found in the introduction by Herbert Spencer to A Plea for Liberty, An Argument Against Socialism and Socialistic Legislation (New York: Appleton, 1891) at p. 17.

21 Confucius lived during the turbulent times of the Chou dynasty (c.1027-256 BC). He urged a system of morality and statecraft to bring about peace, stability, and just government. Confucius was of the view that both the governed and those who governed were to be principled and virtuous; and that the first order of business for government was to instill in the population, as a whole, such virtues as to make good government easy. This was a system where one treated both inferiors and superiors with propriety. Confucianism laid down practical social concepts. Confucianism is not forced; it is not dogmatic: it is less a religion than it is an ethic by which people live.

22 "On Great and Little Things."

23 Locke in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding explained power this way: "Power is another of those simple Ideas which we receive from Sensation and Reflection. For observing in ourselves, that we do and can think, and that we can, at pleasure, move several parts of our Bodies which were at rest; the effects also, that natural Bodies are able to produce in one another, occurring every moment to our Senses, we both these ways get the Idea of Power. ... [Power is thus,] twofold, viz., as able to make, or able to receive any change: The one may be called Active, and the other Passive Power."

24 "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." This was written in a letter written to Bishop Creighton in 1887.

25 One of the few that comes to mind is George Washington. He was, at the end of the American revolution, a powerful general at the head of troops loyal to him alone, and, yet, he surrendered his sword to the American people and surrendered himself to the doctrine of democracy; in all of history there were but a few men like Washington.

26 Notes on Virginia, 1782.

27 An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748).

28 "Masses are rude, lame, unmade, pernicious in their demands and influences, and need not to be flattered but to be schooled. I wish not to concede anything to them, but to tame, drill, divide, and to break them up, and draw individuals out of them." (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Conduct of Life, 1860.)

29 We come to an understanding of what a natural law is by one, or by a combinations of two ways; "implanted by nature in the human mind, or [is] capable of being demonstrated by reason." (OED.) The choice depends on one's philosophical view: does a person come into this world with a blank, a tabula rasa and then, as life unfolds, acquires knowledge through the use of the five senses and a process of reflection; or does a person come delivered and equipped with a primary set of ideas, innate ideas. The correct answer lies in either the ideas of Locke and the Empirical School, or Descartes and the Rational School.

30 One of the finest problems in legislation is to determine "what the state ought to take upon itself to direct by the public wisdom, and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual discretion." (Edmund Burke.)

31 Montesquieu was an admirer of John Locke, indeed, he spent two years (1729-31) in England. His work, The Spirit of Laws, written in 1748, held up the British Constitution to the admiration of the world. Montesquieu's doctrine on the separation of powers was picked up by the framers of the American constitution.

32 Jeremy Bentham.

33 A great amount of the cost of past government, as measured in monetary terms, has ended up as government debt, which we now carry, all of us. An article in the Financial Post (September 25th, 1991), reveals that Canada's government gross debt totals about $1,000 billion, that is to say one trillion dollars. The total is comprised of $460 of federal debt, $290 provincial debt, $46 billion of municipal debt and $320 billion in the Canadian Pension Plan's unfunded liability. Most of this debt, because of the interest that must be paid periodically -- over and over again -- has seriously impacted on government expenditure in other areas, other areas which most of us might readily agree need government attention. And the bad times brought on by government spending (government spending always leads to inflation and/or taxation) impairs its credit with the international lenders to such an extent that it has no choice but to either tax more, or to inflate more, or to spend less; or any combination there of. But if the government is not to exacerbate the problem, then it has no choice, at all; -- it must spend less and wait for things to self-correct.

34 Lest we forget, and as is amply demonstrated by history -- Governments Kill. In the 20th century alone, it is estimated that governments have killed 170 million people. This is to be compared with the 133 million people who were murdered over the first several thousand years of human life, with China's emperors and the Mongols being classified as the top killers. It would seem that there is a correlation between the level of government power, to the level of those innocents who have been killed. But, Alas! This power/death relationship has not stopped people, wittingly, or not, from placing ever more and more power in the hands of those who control government; such, as leads to ever more and more killing. This is easily demonstrated by a review of 20th century history. The most murderous system was the "Soviet Gulag State" -- some 62 million died, most through communistic state policy of committing genocide: the Don Cossacks, Ukrainian peasants, and Estonians. The communists even resorted to killing themselves as massive purges were carried out by the communist party: the communist regime in Russia, over a 75 year period, killed off 35 million men, women and children -- all in the interests of state planning. The communists of 20th century China, too, have carried on with this country's sad and ancient record of mass murder. Hitler, with his ovens, ranks 3rd in the 20th century for mass murder: he and his henchmen of the Third Reich killed off 21 million of those whom they felt did not fit in with their vision of things. The state planners in Russia, China and Germany, as we can see, for the 20th century, take the top three prizes; however, on this dismal and deadly list of 20th century governments, who butcher people, we will also see: Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, Turkey, Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Mexico: all have killed their dissenters and in the process have received little attention from the rest of us. (We will not include in the analysis, the terror bombings of civilian populations during the Second World War by Great Britain and the U.S. whereby 816,000 innocent people died.) These are the grim, government, killing figures from both our long and recent past; but let me remind you, government killing continues, to-day: in Afghanistan, in Angola, in Bosnia, in Chechnya, in Georgia, in Iraq, in Liberia, and in Rwanda, and in country, after country, after country. (The figures set out in this note are taken from a work by political scientist, R. J. Rummel, in his book, Death by Government.)

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Peter Landry

2011 (2019)