Category Archives: Political Science

Another Example of the Prudence of Minimal Governmental Intervention

The outrageous tragedy at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, provides another example of the vital importance of governments, particularly at the national or international level, maintaining a “skinny agenda”.

It appears that his hysteria on the Immigration issue was the ultimate motivation of the unspeakable villain, Robert Bowers, in his evil attack at the synagogue.  Forming a conclusion that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was engaged in activities on the opposite side of the divide on the issue, he lashed out at innocents who he identified with it.  (This in no way implies any justification for his heinous actions but is only intended to provide the context for below perspective — as his psychopathic behavior was not inspired only by personal animus but by positions on public policy.)

The question of Immigration policy has of course been one of the most hotly-disputed current issues. It has inflamed people and occasioned excessive incendiary rhetoric on both sides of it. The polarization on the question has resulted in a constantly-spiraling descent in inflammatory rhetoric by both sides.  (At the risk of inspiring ire by paraphrasing POTUS’ inarticulate comments on the 2017 Charlottesville Virginia rancor, there are, in addition to good people, also bad people, on both sides of an issue.)  Certain people are deranged by this rancor.

On any issue there are discrete groups of people with contrary opinions.  On both sides one will find tiers of these groups, consisting of:

  • good people espousing rational arguments,
  • good people espousing irrational arguments,
  • bad people, and
  • evil people.

If an issue is sufficiently detached from immediate interest and impact on most people, the persons involved in expressing and effectuating an opinion on these issues will generally be only those upper tiers.  However, as the impact from it becomes more direct and significant, as well as the rhetoric surrounding it becoming more incendiary, then the lower tiers will begin emerging from the woodwork.  Then the threat of intense conflict and violence accelerates.

Wisdom and prescience are always in short supply.  The inability to accurately assess and evaluate an issue curses the vast majority of the decisions of everyone.  Therefore, maintaining flexibility and humility in formulating, expressing, and effectuating one’s opinions is of paramount importance; for the most confident anyone should be is that the contrary opinion of another may be the correct one.

Unfortunately, in the context of government, this is usually an impossible challenge.  Both historically and by theory the vast majority of decisions are decided by the will of a simple majority.  This necessarily then excludes a substantial portion of the people within its jurisdiction, and imposes a policy contrary to their opinion.  This policy will necessarily, proceeding from the decision by only a portion of imperfect persons, fail in attaining its intended objectives.

The more a government attempts to intervene in the regular activities of its citizens, the more intense will be the reaction of those who disagree with and oppose the policy.  Rancor will then result, and the tiers of bad people and evil people will swarm into the controversy.  Thus, the skinnier the agenda, the less likelihood of intervention in common activities and the inspiring of hostility by those affected.

Admittedly, Immigration policy might be a poor example upon which to base this characterization.  This policy is not only one that can only be determined and administered by a national government but is a basic function thereof — as well as one which was required to be performed not only by the current administration but by all previous ones.  Yet, if government had not intervened on many other issues that are justly outside of its jurisdiction — thereby introducing an environment of hostility and conflict — the impact and effect from the controversy on Immigration policy might have been minimal.  For the less a government causes irritation among its citizens, the less sensitive will they be to policies with which they disagree, and less susceptible to agitation by malefactors.

Thus, government structure, when conforming to this “skinny protocol”, can be envisioned as a pyramid, with the national government at the top pursuing the narrowest agenda, and downwards gradually expanding into broader agendas at lower levels, with the broadest being at the local level.  With local units that are, by chance or choice, more homogenous in their citizen composition, then even broad agendas will be unlikely to inspire hostility and conflict.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Sanilac County, Michigan USA
30 October 2018

NATURAL RIGHTS, NATURAL LAW & NATURAL JUSTICE — A Theoretical Construct

[The following is the first draft of Appendix C to the Second Edition of my Interstice Amid the Fabric of Life / Volume 1 : The State of Primordial Mankind, [paperback and Nook® ePub or Kindle® ePub] essay. As I will for awhile be in the process of finalizing the second edition, I provide this as preliminary notice of this addition thereto.]

These three principles are basic premises, and essential to the perspective, of this essay. Accordingly, inclusion in this edition of this discussion was deemed essential.

However, as they are the premises and perspective, it was considered that insertion of them in the text — the suggested chronological narrative of the development of civil society and its support institutions — would cause disruption in the “narrative flow”. Therefore, even though this development could only have transpired within the context of the operation of these principles, this construct is assigned to an appendix instead.


Origin and Character

When the first inhabitant appeared he was unrestricted — other than by his personal mental and physical limitations, as well as by his locality’s geographical features — in his liberty of choice.1 He was endowed with the right to select the course of his life, those means and devices to utilize in order to preserve it, the area of habitation for it, his food for survival during it, and the labor to be performed to secure those goals. These then were his Natural Rights.

Exercise of these Natural Rights though was not random. As Liberty is an active state, it entails conscious, intentional behavior. However, as all energy is finite, and particularly that available to any individual, in a natural state there must be a direction and vector for this behavior; otherwise the energy that would be utilized to enable performance will be dissipated and no longer available to that individual.2 This dissipation of energy then would restrict the capacity of the source individual in the exercise of his Natural Rights.

But such a consequence would constitute a deprivation of these Natural Rights. And the endowment of these on all persons is an axiom. Thus, since such a state is inconceivable as it would destroy the system, there must exist certain principles for the guidance and regulation in the exercise of these Natural Rights. In these principles then is the basis and substance of Natural Law.

Natural Law then consists of original, inviolable, universal principles governing and directing human conduct.3 Any violations, much less repudiation, of Natural Law necessarily leads to social decay and destruction. For as they are integral to the system, the system cannot survive without observance of them.4

Not only the inaugural inhabitant but all successive inhabitants were likewise unrestricted, endowed with these Natural Rights and subject to this Natural Law — of the same degree and equivalence, as if they had been the inaugural inhabitant. For it was the system which invested them and subjected them, and not their predecessors. Therefore it was beyond the power of any predecessor inhabitant, either individually or collectively, to alter either.

Only when contact occurred between these inhabitants did the necessity arise for mutual restriction of the scope of their liberty. And even then the degree of this restriction was only in proportion to the duration of the contact, whether temporary or permanent.

Only in community did each of the members of it voluntarily abridge their Natural Rights — and then only some of them and only to the extent necessary to remain in community. By mutual concurrence upon appropriate and necessary restrictions in response to exigencies encountered in community, gradually considering alternate solutions to each unique circumstance, uniform standards of fairness and equity were identified.5 This then was Natural Justice.

As civil society enlarged, further adjustments to practices, in order to preserve peace and order, were required. These however, since Natural Rights, Natural Law and Natural Justice existed before any inhabitant, much less community, emerged, did not and could not redefine, much less abrogate, them.

Attributes

Natural Rights
These original rights are inherent in and implicit to nature. While these rights can be codified, as they are integral to the system of life, they then need not be made explicit, and any absence of codification cannot be construed to abrogate or restrict them in any degree. None are displaced by any delegation of authority to anyone else unless possibly by explicit and unambiguous surrender.6

These original rights consist of those which are primary and secondary. Primary original rights cannot be divested, though secondary original rights, for predominant reasons and with unambiguous consent, can be potentially and partially divested. Those primary original rights, ones which cannot be divested, consist of the following:
–  life
–  self-defense
–  a domicile and shelter within its curtilage
–  food
–  performance of productive labor
Those secondary original rights, ones which can be potentially and partially divested, consist of the following:
–  movement
–  clothing
–  procreation

Natural Law
Natural Rights and Natural Law, being integral to the system, originate concurrently. However, as Natural Rights can be exercised in isolation, Natural Law, or at least a segment of it, initially remains inchoate. Yet, even if partially inchoate, Natural Law always remains present and active.

For, as already observed, mankind in its natural state were endowed with certain essential rights. When exercised in isolation, and thereby under the control of a sole individual, order is present. However, when exercised in sufficient proximity to another individual as to limit the other person’s liberty, then disorder is introduced.

This is the consequence of Natural Rights being of equivalent characteristics and with equivalent orbit in their effects when exercised. Accordingly, when an individual no longer exercises these rights in isolation, the orbit of their effect will overlap the orbit of another. But since no two properties can occupy the same space, collision between these sets of rights — even if not necessarily conflict between the individuals — is inevitable.

Accordingly, a mechanism must exist to enable order.7 Otherwise chaos would have ultimately ensued incident to this clash of orbits of Natural Rights, with all inhabitants subject to endemic war and insecurity. But entropy is not the natural state of a system, but rather is only its end, deteriorated state. Consequently, it would be impossible for disorder to be the natural state of mankind; ergo, it must be concluded that conditions promoting and constituting order were originally present. These conditions were the principles of Natural Law ensuring survival of mankind.

What is the nature of Natural Law? In analyzing it let us look at the prime Natural Right, viz, Liberty. Liberty endows each person with the right of choice. It is therefore individually-oriented, with the choices reflecting the person’s unique psychological composition. As these psychological compositions are unique, the choices of any set of various persons will then proceed in disparate directions8; ultimately they will converge on each other. These multiple and conflicting vectors though are contrary to order, the innate quality of the natural state.

Natural Rights thus require direction. Natural Law directs the proper exercise of these Natural Rights. Natural Law then is mandatory in character.

Now, what are the principles of Natural Law? Being integral to the system, these principles are not merely inviolable but fully and perfectly integrated. But Mankind’s comprehension is congenitally limited and imperfect — demonstrable not merely empirically but as Mankind is but an addition to and component of the system and therefore subordinate to it. Therefore, these principles are essentially incognizable and imperceptible.

Yet, the core principle is manifest. The function of Natural Law to institute and maintain order. Thus, the core principle is harmony. From this core are radiated the corollary principles.

Unlike Natural Law, the scope and elements of Natural Rights are known. Each person then knows he is endowed with them. Therefore, he knows that all other persons are likewise endowed with them.

In a state of harmony there is understanding of and appreciation for the conditions and circumstances of the social environment, including the knowledge of this universality of Natural Rights. They thereby are then mandated to observe respect for the Natural Rights of each other inhabitant. Respect for the Natural Rights of others then is a prime sequential mandate of Natural Law.

Nevertheless, a course of activities by one will necessarily intrude upon the course of activities by another.9 Thus, some exercises of Natural Rights by one person will necessarily infringe upon some exercise of Natural Rights by another.

This infringement, though, is in conflict with the mandated respect for the Natural Rights of others. How then to resolve this conflict? One can only do so by structuring the activities in which they engage so that these observe the Natural Rights of the other inhabitants. To do so, they are mandated to mutually cooperate with any inhabitant who is affected by any of their activities. Mutual cooperation then is another prime sequential mandate of Natural Law.

Further, if a given inhabitant is more adept and successful in accumulating resources, they are mandated to share those resources with those inhabitants who are less privileged — as the inequality between them will, to some degree, produce disharmony; the occasion and extent for this assistance, though, remains an election and exercise of choice by the more-privileged inhabitant, as he remains endowed with his Natural Right of Liberty. No inhabitant is compelled by any collective body of society to perform these acts of charity, but rather only compelled to so by Natural Law. Charity then is one more prime sequential mandate of Natural Law.

Other prime and corollary principles must exist but, not only are they beyond the ken of this writer, they are by definition not fully cognizable. Rather, only the failure to observe these principles is always cognizable; for any neglect in adhering to these principles will result in disharmony in the community — and this will be the evidence and the proof that the community is instead engaged in violation of Natural Law.

Thus, many of these principles will be discoverable only by observation of the effects in pursuing contrary principles, and not by means of a priori knowledge. These then are revealed empirically, during the process of resolution of a conflict between the apparent Natural Rights of disputant inhabitants, in determining the equitable and harmonious solution. In doing so the community then effectuates Natural Justice.

Natural Justice
Natural Justice is a standard that is constant. For the cornerstone of its precepts and its application is a respect for Natural Rights and an observance of Natural Law.10 Yet, while it does not arise out of but precedes civil society, it is a standard that remains inchoate without civil society.

Justice is the moral consequence of an unjustified act or failure to act. While it can occur in isolation — such as, for example, a person neglecting to perform some necessary labor, and rather remaining lounging somewhere, as a consequence of which a rotten tree limb falls on him, injuring or killing him — it almost invariably occurs relationally, in determining which of two acts (or failures to act) was morally justifiable and then sanctioning the person who performed unjustifiably.

Thus, justice almost invariably depends on the existence of interactions between people. And, consequently, civil society is a prerequisite for the materialization of an understanding of what justice consists. Natural Justice is the version of justice which optimally preserves Natural Rights and employs the principles of Natural Law. Just as civil society is essential for the emergence of Natural Justice, so Natural Justice is essential for the preservation of civil society. If so, then, the revealing of Natural justice is also essential.

Just as mankind is endowed with superior analytic intellectual capabilities — and the ability to make critical discernment — it is endowed with a sense of the contours of Natural Justice. A component of this sense of Natural Justice, and parallel to our superior critical capabilities, is the capacity to discern between actions and policies that are either just or unjust.

If we are able to discern actions that are just and unjust, then we likewise are endowed with the capacity to choose between them. For an element of discernment capacity is the employment, or non-employment, of that capacity — ergo, the capability of choice.

Integral to, and a component of, this choice and free will capacity, is the ability to choose evil acts. Therefore, while all mankind may be naturally endowed with a sense of righteousness, they are also subject to committing acts of unrighteousness. Thus both righteousness and unrighteousness dwell within each individual simultaneously and concurrently. Consequently, in these interactions between people there always will be some acts that are just and some that are unjust.

Moreover, there may be some corresponding actions by multiple people that are both just, but of a varying degree of justness. In these situations in particular the discernment capability is most crucial.

For it is in those complex and challenging contexts that the character and mandates of Natural Justice emerge. For Natural Justice is disclosed and defined as situations which require its explication arise.

As civil society develops and becomes more complex, the quality and extent of interactions between its members will expand and evolve. This though does not suggest that the inherent nature of Natural Justice evolves, but rather that its contours become more delineated, as well as more comprehensive. For the essential and common interactions between people have been and remain constant and omnipresent, and the lessons of Natural Justice learned from them are extrapolated to these emerging contexts in order to reveal and maintain its symmetrical contours.

In this Natural Justice effectuates Natural Law and preserves the harmony of civil society. Nevertheless, civil society will experience conundrums in its development where the unabbreviated exercise of Natural Rights interjects certain tensions in civil society. For this it will conclude that certain human-inspired rules are required. Hence, Positive Law is introduced.11

The Role of and Limitations upon
Positive Law

Introduction and Role of Positive Law
In the extended family and neighborhood stages, elementary application of Natural Justice was easily administered, since: first, the disputes were, in this sparsely-settled environment, relatively-infrequent; second, the disputants were more likely to be familiar with each other, and thus more inclined to assist in amicable resolution; third, the circumstances of the disputes were relatively-uncomplicated; and, fourth, the adjudicator could have the advantage of familiarity with the parties and circumstances.

Eventually, though, as the community emerged with its greater expanse and concentration, the volume and complexity of interactions proliferated, resulting in more disputes, the greater likelihood of minimal familiarity between the disputants and adjudicator, and increased factors for consideration in crafting a solution. In addition, the proliferation of interactions occasioned a greater intertwining of them, thereby, both in the dispute and its resolution, incidentally impacting other members of the community — injecting further factors for consideration.

Thus, the promulgation of subordinate rules to account for and prioritize these myriad factors was deemed to be of utility. Thus was introduced Positive Law.

Limitations upon Positive Law

Positive Law though is preceded by Natural Rights, Natural Law and Natural Justice. It is also an invention of human ingenuity rather than an inherent quality. It thus must be limited in its authority. Those limitations then should now be addressed.

Subordination to Natural Law
The nature and foundation of Natural Law is a foundation, a structure, albeit an intangible structure. An action either conforms to and matches the structure or it is incompatible with it.

Righteous actions and unrighteous actions thus can exist in the state of nature. If a person by his actions conforms to Natural Law, even if in ignorant of its requirements and mandates, then he may be deemed to act rightly.12

A known code of conduct, against which to measure an action, then is not required for it to be classifiable as righteous or unrighteous. Its success or failure to conform to the structure and standard of Natural Law then may be unknown — but for the stability or instability flowing from it, by which fruit it then will be known.

In the state of nature, then, an action either preserves harmony or promotes disharmony. It is the impact, or lack of impact, upon the social order then which qualifies it as righteous or unrighteous. As there is no code of conduct, there is no commendation for or penalty against the actor.

Without Natural Justice or Positive Law, then, an action will not be classified as wrong. However, since Natural Law is omnipresent, a wrong action, even if not explicitly prohibited, may still yield adverse consequences.13

Natural Justice, in determining the character of various actions, then (to analogize from quantum mechanics) collapses the question, by determining which action (or set of actions) is righteous. Yet, in a more-complex society where actions have proliferated (and necessarily then where wrong actions have also proliferated), advance guidance and classification was deemed prudent.14 Thus, Positive Law identified, and imposed penalties upon, unrighteous actions. Its function was to endeavor to codify the process and results which would have been employed and attained by Natural Justice.

While Positive Law then endeavored to perform the function of Natural Justice in a more complex and dispersed society, we should also consider its interaction with Natural Law. Natural Law provides mankind a direction toward which it must conform; and to conform, there are actions which it is directed to perform. Positive Law is not authorized — as it is inferior, being later in origin and of human invention — to conflict with or counter Natural Law. Therefore, Positive Law then is prohibitory in character.

It formally articulates the elements of unrighteous actions which Natural Justice revealed were implicitly prohibited by Natural Law. In conjunction with identifying those elements, it also imposes penalties upon the person performing these unrighteous actions. In this its prohibitory tenor is demonstrated and proven.

Positive Law then, to the extent it performs its assigned role, encompasses those actions which Natural Law implicitly prohibited. In this it parallels Natural Law, but as the analogue thereto.

But what if it does not? What if instead of promulgating the implicit prohibitions of Natural Law it conflicts with it? It would then yield an unjust society; for justice consists in what Natural Law decrees to be righteous. How then to minimize conflict between Positive Law and Natural Law?

Positive Law that mandates certain actions by individuals will obviously conflict with liberty, for it constricts the scope of choice which would otherwise be within the discretion of the individual. Positive Law that prohibits certain actions by individuals will likewise constrict liberty but, if in accordance with the strictures of Natural Law, would be a permissible restriction. Positive Law which expands prohibitions beyond those implicitly enjoined by Natural Law will, as indicated, produce injustice in the community.

Justifying an expansive application of Positive Law then is problematic. Rather, a narrow scope to Positive Law then would appear prudent — if not required. Nevertheless, certain conflicts will be expected to arise that would seem to require the attention and guidance by Positive Law; yet, the promulgators of it should be cautious in the imposition of it.

Perhaps, any Positive Law proposed for promulgation also should be deemed to be of temporary duration, to avoid both misconception of the prudence of it, and also to avoid binding descendants of the current generation to standards for which it is inapplicable in a new context. (The conundrum posed by conflicting considerations pertinent to this issue will be addressed in a succeeding sub-part.)

Finally, we began with the acknowledgment that Positive Law is of course subordinate to Natural Law. Another palliative might be a duty upon Positive Law promulgators to delineate any potential conflicts between them, enable these conflicts to be apparent to observation by the members of the polity through explicit notice thereof, and a duty to repeal any Positive Law proven by experience or manifest opposition to be in conflict with Natural Law (as well as to establish the mechanism therefor).

Restriction by Limited Government Powers
The pervasive cause of excessive, and potentially unrighteous, Positive Law is attributable to a misconception of the power of government. A crucial, if not primary, corrective to the danger of such Positive Law consists of a constant recognition of and adherence to the proper function of government. Thus, a brief summary of its role would seem to be proper.

It is the duty of civil society to both secure the Natural Rights with which its members were endowed and, in conformity with Natural Justice, resolve any conflicts arising from mutual exercise of them. As it expands, though, those conflicts become more numerous and complex, and eventually, due to the inability of its members to divert sufficient time and energy from their private obligations for the considered resolution of them, government is formed by the members of civil society. Since civil society predates government, its only authority consists of the powers delegated to it by civil society. This delegation consists of only those specifically-enumerated powers granted to it, as a recipient cannot receive, nor claim to have received, more than was given.

Thus, those powers not expressly granted to government are necessarily retained by civil society. For they cannot vanish but must repose somewhere; and as there was no active dispersion of them, civil society is the only possible repository. But these retained powers of civil society are only those granted to it by its members, so that all rights not affected by or subject to those delegated powers are likewise necessarily retained by the individuals composing civil society.15

Natural Rights, and the powers associated therewith, are bestowed on each individual at birth and as a birthright. They can only be vacated by the knowing, voluntary surrender by the individual. The surrender by any individual, or group of individuals, cannot vacate these rights of another.

Thus the powers associated with these rights are not delegated to civil society without the unanimous consent of all citizens of the polity; the withholding by even a single citizen of his consent vitiates the consent given by any (and all) other citizens. For Positive Law is obliged to retain the respect of the citizens and their voluntary compliance with it16; consequently it must eschew any unequal treatment as this would have the general tendency to diminish respect for its provisions.17 Therefore it must be uniform; excluding even one citizen from any particular prohibition requires excluding all citizens from the prohibition.

This framework then requires that the provisions of Positive Law have as limited an ambit as possible and that its effects within this ambit be as limited as possible; in the event of any legitimate doubt as to this question, then the promulgators must refrain from expanding it. Consistent therewith, Positive Law should never suffer any extension by implication; it should rather be construed as narrowly as possible.

Even with these restrictions upon it, there remains yet one more threat from it to consider. This now will be considered in the succeeding sub-part.

Restriction by Duration
We have in the preceding sub-part visited the formative stage of social order in order to define the inherent limits upon Positive Law. Still, as there remains an innate deficiency of Positive Law to consider, let us trod it again to reveal this aspect.

When civil society emerges and then government is formed, all individuals remain endowed with, and without any implied divestment of, their Natural Rights. Only explicit and voluntary surrender of them would allow divestment. But can a person, either individually or in concert, surrender their Natural Rights?

Natural Rights, being an integral component of the natural order, are inherited from Nature. If any person, much less all of the members of a polity, surrendered them it would disrupt the very foundation of the order. This then would inevitably lead to its collapse and chaos.

Still more central to the issue though is the attribute of the prime Natural Right, Liberty. Liberty is exercised affirmatively. Moreover, Natural Law obligations are mandatory in character; to adhere to them requires active engagement with the remainder of mankind, as well as nature.

A surrender of Natural Rights though would narrow the scope of actions which an individual could initiate — and thereby limit his powers. Since as to those surrendered rights and powers he could no longer be active, his respective potential now would necessarily be passive. This however is inconsistent with the character of Natural Rights and Natural Law. Thus, any purported surrender of Natural Rights must be deemed void.

Nevertheless, some limited reciprocal divestment of Natural Rights might be permissible. Once population concentration within a community attains a certain threshold a collision between the exercise of certain rights will necessarily transpire. The respective segment of the particular right being exercised by the affected members might then, voluntarily and with consent, be divested for transfer to the immediate government of these members so that it then could exercise them. This then would would avoid this segment of the right being deemed surrendered, as it would instead be affirmatively exercised by a different instrumentality.

However any such limited divestment would not survive the generation which transferred them — since these rights, including the divested segment, are the natural birthright of all people. As liberty is a birthright, divestment of the liberty naturally conferred upon posterity is impossible. Accordingly, any limited divestment not merely could not survive the extant generation but would have to be consented to by each member of the successor generation — as they cannot in advance be deprived of their birthrights.

Nevertheless even a purported explicit and voluntary divestment of any Natural Rights by an extant generation should be deemed void. An individual might divest himself of a material resource, and thus adversely impact his posterity by diminishing their inheritance. But Natural Rights are not posterity’s inheritance from their antecedents but from Nature.

Thus, any apparent divestment is subject to strict scrutiny as both to the volition of the polity who allegedly exercised it and as to its scope. For even though no individual can engage in a de jure divestment of the powers later naturally bestowed upon posterity, divestment of their own powers might have a de facto adverse effect upon these descendants.

Accretion is an inherent force of existence; dominant structures, until their demise, tend toward accumulation.18 Within an institutional structure, there is a gravitation toward power accretion. If there are a sufficient number of competing institutions, then this dynamic can be counteracted. However, if one institution attains a dominant status, then this dynamic will remain operative.

Accordingly, with this inertial force in institutional practice, disgorgement from it of purportedly-divested powers could be problematic. Thus, not only should surrender never be implied, it would be beyond the power of the polity to engage in any surrender that could divest posterity of a Natural Right. As liberty is the quintessential power bestowed thereby, divestment of posterity’s liberty is impossible.

Strict Construction
All Positive Law then should be cautiously promulgated and, if promulgated, strictly construed. The legislative function should only be employed as necessary and subject to approval by a predominant constituency, both of the legislature and the polity; it should be infrequently and narrowly exercised.

But if exercised, then it should be construed only as much as necessary to attain its initial objective and satisfy its expressed conditions. Rather, Natural Law should be unimpeded in performing its function of ameliorating disharmony in civil society, the use of Positive Law being the exception.


1 As elsewhere contrasted in this essay, liberty is the right to perform an act, while freedom is the right to not perform an act; Liberty then is active, and Freedom then is passive. In the natural state original man was not constrained in his actions by the choices of other inhabitants; only with expansion into the unitary family, extended family and community was there sufficient habitation concentration to result in inhibition and limitation of his choices. Liberty then was the natural state and freedom was only a bulwark erected later, to preserve a certain scope for his independence in choice. Thus, liberty is the prime right.
2 Admittedly this unused or misused energy will not be destroyed, but it will instead migrate to another person.
3 As they channel this conduct in particular directions, they are also restrictive in that they channel conduct from certain directions. However, as Liberty remains the prime right and it is affirmative in character, emphasis should remain on the mandatory nature, rather than prohibitory results in the application, of Natural Law.
4 In the penultimate sentence it is demonstrated that Natural Law is essential to the social order. In this sentence it is demonstrated that Natural Law is essential to the natural order: the world existed before human life; the world in that stage of existence did not expire or devolve into destruction, but rather thrived; a natural order then must have sustained the world; the natural order then must have been sustained by Natural Law; and thus Natural Law predated the social order.
5 These standards were not developed, but rather only identified. For they are not the invention of human intellect but formed by and preexisting in nature, the only function of human intellect being to discover them.
6 While potential surrender is posited here, the theoretical possibility thereof is more complex. This question will be explored later in this Appendix.
7 While Natural Rights are the birthright of every person, they do possess a latent potential toward disorder; this is not their inherent quality but only a product of misuse as the system itself tends toward entropy. The inherent quality of Natural Law is order and, when not obstructed by human intervention, thus operates in tandem with Natural Rights to maintain the integrity of these rights. Therefore the relationship between them is symbiotic, each enhancing and effectuating the other.
8 As each person is imperfect, as well as complex, his various choices will frequently themselves be of disparate quality and effect. This inconsistency will itself produce a certain degree of disorder; but it would be of relative insignificance when the person is operating in isolation. It is when the orbit of the effects of an individual’s actions intersect the orbit of another — and particularly when the orbits of multiple persons intersect — that a propensity to systemic disorder is present. (Despite the deprecation in the first two sentences of this footnote of the significance of disparate individual choices, yet, when isolation ceases, they would have the potential to exacerbate systemic disorder.)
9 Even independent of the influence of randomness, some of the vectors proceeding from a certain point will necessarily intersect some of the vectors proceeding from another point; it is impossible for all vectors from multiple points to be parallel to each other. Therefore, intrusion is an inevitable condition.
10 The term “precepts” is used here in a limited sense, as Natural Justice is applied contextually and thus is inherently relational. Consequently, a set of elaborated, prescribed rules would be an aberration as the contexts are theoretically infinite. Rather, “precepts” contemplates a certain framework for the recognition and application of Natural Justice.
11 The term “Positive Law” is appropriated from, and employed in the same sense as used by, St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae. While St. Thomas’ hierarchy of laws included numerous additional layers, only Positive Law and Natural Law are utilized herein.
12 Acting rightly may or may not yield material benefits to the actor. A direct, personal ramification is not the standard by which to determine righteousness or unrighteousness.
13 It has already been posited that Natural Law is mandatory in character; it directs all people to perform righteously; it only sanctions righteous conduct. A tacit corollary, though, is that it refuses to sanction unrighteous conduct. Therefore, there is an implicit prohibition against unrighteous conduct — even though its explicit principles remain mandatory.
14 This was deemed prudent for, as explained in the text of the essay, the members of the polity — as a result of the deluge upon the community of a profuse volume and novelty of interactions — were suffering increased alienation from the traditional methods of dispute resolution and courses of interaction; more formal tribunals were established, and the persons with whom they interacted were often no longer immediate and direct but rather were often now physically separated.
15 It is to be remembered that a right is the power to initiate or to refrain from action of some type; liberty is the power to initiate, and freedom is the power to refrain. Thus, implicit in and a component of any right is a power. Therefore, even when reference may only be made to a right, it also acknowledges the corollary power.
16 Liberty is the prime Natural Right. Compulsion is inherently anathema to it. Accordingly, for a just society, adherence to Positive Law (excluding consideration of any inveterate malefactors who, by their own actions, have excluded themselves from society) must be voluntary.
17 Different treatment of different classes of citizens could still be consistent with this principle, depending upon the structure of the government. If it is composed of multiple levels with more-extensive powers being exercised by those levels in more-direct proximity to its citizens — such as in the neighborhoods discussed in the text, where there would be greater homogeneity — then acknowledging unique classes within those discrete communities, and exercising different authority over them would not conflict with this injunction against unequal treatment — as the citizens combinations into those discrete communities would be voluntary.
18 If an area has numerous equivalent objects, they will tend to accumulate unattached-substances equally. However, if one of these objects attains an appreciably-greater size, then it will tend to accumulate a disproportionately larger share of these substances. By this,is meant the term “dominant”.

 

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
08 September 2018

Freedom or Liberty?

Freedom and Liberty are frequently used as interchangeable terms. In this those who do so err.

It is true that both constitute Rights. But these rights are each of a different character, with different ramifications.

Freedom is a passive state, one in which the person has the right not to be circumscribed by external duties, at least within described spheres of action. Those duties to which the individual is not subject can be either mandatory duties, viz, you shall do, or prohibitory duties, viz, you shall not do. The degree of freedom depends upon the quantity and scope of those spheres.

Liberty is an active state, one in which the person has the right to engage in certain activities, at least within described spheres of action. Any duties to which the individual is subject are ones which are only internally imposed, by the individual himself or herself. The degree of liberty depends upon the quantity and scope of those spheres.

Freedom

Freedom and Liberty can exist within the same system and be concurrently available to its member individuals. Because of their different characters, though, they are employed in different contexts and for different objectives.

Freedom is an essential right. It consists of the right to chose what not to do. For certain activities can be detrimental to the individual, either by their immediate material impact or persisting moral impact.¹

However, in comparing it with Liberty, as we shall see, it is more important for the emphasis to be upon Liberty than it is upon Freedom.

Liberty

This is demonstrable since Liberty is not only the right to choose what to do, it also consists, as with Freedom, of the right to chose what not to do. Like as with Freedom, it consists of the opportunity to determine the range of activities in which to not engage — since being compelled to engage in certain activities will obstruct the opportunity to engage in different activities of one’s choice — but also the range in which to engage.

But in what range of activities should one engage? For it is not Liberty to engage in all activities within one’s capacity.

On a reflexive level, some activities appeal to the individual and some don’t; some appeal to certain impulses, some to others. To engage in those which are anomalous to the person and to which he would have a propensity to offer resistance would be to abandon one’s identity and, perhaps, one’s own self. Thus, if one is induced by external influences, rather than one’s own character, to engage in such an activity, the result would be the loss of the person’s liberty.

However, there remains an aspect of Liberty more profoundly significant. It is in the symbiotic relationship of it with Freedom.

For we have already recognized that some activities can have a detrimental effect. These effects can be immediate or persistent. In those which are persistent does danger most lurk.

For engaging in some activities can constrain us from embarking toward other theaters of participation. If then a certain activity or activities are so preoccupying that they captivate a person, one then suffers a loss of their Liberty.

All people are endowed with a certain potential for attainment of productive objectives. The criterion then is whether a certain activity constrains or expands the exercise of the potential for successful attainment of them

While some activities liberate us by activating us toward engagement in further ones, what we choose out of liberty might instead enslave us. The question then is recognizing whether doing something particular harms or inhibits an individual, since if the answer is in the affirmative it is not the exercise of Liberty to do it.

Therefore, True Liberty is refraining from those activities, and rejecting those objectives that can restrain or inhibit us. Thus, a rejection of certain activities or objectives, and a refusal to engage or embrace them, can be Liberty in action.


¹ While the spurned activity is an election by an autonomous consciousness, the impact to be avoided may be one perceived as detrimental not to this particular individual (or at least not solely) but instead to other persons. However, if the danger is the latter, the detrimental impact would concomitantly impinge upon the range of activities otherwise available to these other persons. In this it would potentially impact both their Freedom and their Liberty. Consequently, it would seem that, in order to rigorously distinguish between these two rights, it is suggested that restricting application of Freedom to its impact upon the particular individual is more prudent.

² While the endeavor is usually of an active nature, it can occasionally be of an inactive nature.  For in appropriate situations observation or simply rest may in the aggregate yield expanded constructive attainments.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
20 November 2017

The State of Primordial Mankind

[This is to be considered a “work in progress”. As indicated by the designation of chapters, it will be supplemented and possibly be the basis of a more-extended work. However, as its development has been in progress for awhile, it was deemed preferable to publish the initial portion, with which the writer is presently sufficiently satisfied, and then to supplement it as he becomes satisfied with the later chapters.]
[Subsequent to my posting of the above explanation, the following text has been revised and incorporated into, as well as expanded by, my Interstice Amid the Fabric of Life / Volume 1 : The State of Primordial Mankind, published in both paperback and Nook® ePub or Kindle® ePub formats. Accordingly, no further additions will be made herein to the following.]

 

INTRODUCTION

At its origin Civil Society was circumscribed and defined, but these attributes have long since dissipated.

As Civil Society developed it became less circumscribed and more complex, albeit with definitions within the complexity. Eventually though — as with all complex systems operating within every sphere of existence and experience — it was doomed to suffer deterioration. This essay is an endeavor to trace this development.

While it is possible with justification to assess that Civil Society is now spiraling into chaos, by necessity no record exists of it at the outset; therefore much of this survey must be a matter of speculation. Yet not infrequently it is possible to arrive at sound conclusions by relying upon and utilizing rational hypotheses emanating from a background of knowledge, sufficient in breadth and depth, of behavior and propensities despite the absence of verifiable data with which to pursue a deductive methodology.

The following then is consequently believed to constitute a fair, defensible outline of these processes. Civil Society emerged, evolved and metamorphosed. During this process Government emerged and interposed between the factions of Civil Society to ameliorate the consequences of friction, and itself evolved and metamorphosed. And while some benefits were yielded during these processes, neither metamorphosis now constitutes a specter to behold with anything but trepidation.

Perhaps this review will assist in identifying those attributes that should be reinvigorated or, if necessary, restored and those features which should be jettisoned.

 

CHAPTER 1

THE INCEPTION OF CIVIL SOCIETY

 

Initial Habitation

Every geographical region on Earth is composed of numerous localities. The original locality is theoretically occupied first by a single individual. However, leaving aside the question of the origin of the occupation by the earliest individual, the reality of his presence would have been extinguished but for the production of progeny through the presence also of a mate; for without the production of progeny, or the presence of other persons upon whom he could have had an impact of some nature, his status would be as if he had never existed. Therefore, each inhabitable locality is necessarily populated initially by a single family.

However, unless the family produces, and becomes the core of, an extended family, it will suffer extinction; therefore, expansion of the core family is requisite. The expansion of the family requires introduction of external members by one of two methods: one, a solitary individual or individuals who voluntarily or involuntarily depart from another locality and encounter a core family; or, two, the migration of another unitary family from its own locality and its immigration into the habitat of and its fusion with the core family. (These scenarios ignore the possibility of a hostile, forcible invasion by a predominantly-superior extended family or group of extended families, since the resulting displacement would require tracing the invaders’ posterity rather than that of those who were invaded.)

 

Extended Family Development

The differences in the occasion for development of the extended family betokens potential differences in whether its culture remains static or experiences mutation. In general, though, it would seem the tendency should be similar.

The solitary individual or individuals will be expected to be subject to psychological insecurity, at least to a certain degree. Even if he has certain aggressive tendencies, regardless of whether this condition resulted in his expulsion from his previous locale or provided the motivation for his voluntary departure due to vexation with a contentious environment, he nevertheless is in a state of isolation; thus, he will necessarily be susceptible to real or perceived threats. An individual or individual without these tendencies will even more be in such a state and even more be susceptible. Moreover, by virtue of being solitary, he will be in a numerically-inferior position.

Further, by virtue of the same solitary status, he is unsupported. Consequently, the capacity to secure his necessary resources and perform the essential support functions is less than that of a unitary family. Thus, he will be expected to be subject also to material insecurity.

Consequently, the normal tendency will be for him to be susceptible to and subscribe to the culture, mores and support of the inhabiting family. For by doing so he will escape those insecurities.

While not as consequential, it would seem an immigrating unitary family will tend to be subject to the same influences. Their wandering and consequent lack of a home locale will engender a similar sense of psychological insecurity, though offset somewhat by the recognition of being supported by the other family members; contrariwise, if each member of the immigrating unitary family exhibited this sense, then it could reinforce that of each other and thereby magnify the group insecurity. Confrontation by a residential family could accentuate such a sense, as the latter might be more apprehensive of the immigration of a unitary family than by an individual, express a greater degree of hostility (or, at least, a less degree of receptiveness), and thereby induce a reciprocal anxiety and trepidation.

By virtue of being a unitary family, it would have a presumptive capacity equivalent to that of the residential family to exploit the resources of the locality. However, due to its lack of equivalent familiarity with the nature or location of those resources, the residential family would still prevail in this regard. The level of confidence then would reside with the latter rather than the strangers.

Further, as the residential family might have already experienced the immigration of an individual or individuals and the absorption of it or them therein (though, by definition, this would be the residential family’s first encounter with a unitary family), the residential family might well be more numerical than the migrating family and thereby impose a defensive posture upon the latter. Therefore, similar to the immigrating individual, the new unitary family would be inclined to be submissive toward the residential family, and thereby more inclined to adopt its culture and mores.

There would be instances in which the culture and mores of the immigrating unitary family would predominate. One prominent circumstance might be if the members of the immigrating unitary family had inordinate strength and skill capabilities; this might compensate for the potential numerical superiority of the residential family. It might also have latent aggressive tendencies, which while negative for an individual’s success, could be positive for the larger family assemblage, and could allow it to prevail over the residential family. And the latter, by being sedentary, might have developed greater passive tendencies.

Accordingly, the immigrating family might have the capacity to impose its culture and mores on the residential family. But this would be as a result of force rather than suasion; and such a result would produce an intense environment that could well lead to the destruction of the new unit and its ultimate replacement in the locale by a more durable unit. Therefore, in most situations of continuity in the inhabitation of a particular locale, the general propensity would be for the residential family to enlarge, retain its original culture and mores, and, by protraction, reinforce and perpetuate them.

 

Geographical Expansion

Initially, the flora and fauna in the locality should be sufficient to support the residential family, and, in fact, may flourish and increase. As the family expands, it necessarily initiates the depletion of both flora and fauna resources in the primary locality, though for awhile it may remain in equilibrium with the extended family. Eventually, though, the degree of depletion will be insufficient to support all members of the extended family. Consequently, its geographical range, through the expansion of the periphery of the extended family, then will radiate into a contiguous locality.

The rapidity of this expansion is a function of the wealth of resources in the appended localities, the velocity thereof being in inverse proportion to the volume of those resources. In the event of substantial resources, there is a propensity toward greater extended family density due to the availability thereof. In the event of inadequate resources, there is a propensity toward dispersion into further additional localities.

These expansions then are the result of two (2) factors: one, the physical need for sustenance and materials for shelter from the elements; and, two, an intellectual disposition to investigate and explore. All species have an inclination to utilize the unique capacities with which they are endowed, as these are features with which they are innately familiar, have experienced success in employing, and therefore are motivated to exercise. As mankind is endowed with greater mental capacities than other species, there is an enhanced propensity to utilize this capacity. Thus, curiosity alone would motivate their investigation and exploration of further localities and of what they might consist. This conclusion that primary mankind is endowed with innate curiosity is demonstrable, with his exploration of and expansion into these contiguous localities being just one indicator thereof.

Moreover, the extended family has become accustomed to, and developed habitual practices of, investigation, even if albeit of a rudimentary rather than systematic character. Thereby is its disposition to investigate and explore reinforced; for the influence of an inherent quality can be supplemented by a parallel cultural trait, and thereby enhanced. These dispositions will soon become most material and crucial.

For this expansion by the extended family ultimately results in it advancing into contact with other unitary families or extended families. Whether the latter is a unitary family or extended family will depend upon the longevity of the unit, with both its volume and the resilience of its culture being in direct proportion to its longevity.

In the event of an extended family encountering a unitary family (and hence a unit of relatively-short longevity), there will be a tendency for the unitary family to be assimilated by the extended family, for the same reasons an individual is incorporated into a unitary family. In the event of an extended family encountering another extended family, no such dynamic is likely to operate, either initially or even after an extended duration; for by virtue of their extended family status they each will have acquired longevity and hence display resilience.

These extended families, rather than being repelled by the strange and unknown, are disposed to tentatively interact and familiarize themselves with each other; this process results in each becoming aware of differing, or the possibility of the reinforcement of their equivalent, capabilities. Either would benefit both, since differing capabilities will expand the scope of their commodities whereas equivalent capabilities will increase the volume of output. In the event of such complementariness, recognizing then their mutual self-interest through combination, these families potentially become a symbiotic community.

 

Emergence of Neighborhoods

The extended families begin cooperation by virtue of recognizing, and upon the basis of, mutual self-interest. Otherwise they may remain, except for those areas of cooperation, relatively-isolated. However, if they have or begin to develop sufficient self-identifying characteristics, they might become a neighborhood; this would not cause or betoken the elimination of all cultural or mores differences, but rather only an identity upon those cultural or mores characteristics that would be present in those instances of regular interaction.

Upon first contact it would be expected that the extended families each would establish or maintain secure perimeters for their separate territories: if the contact was by virtue of each expanding their peripheries into new localities, then the effect would be for each to arrest those perimeters at contact; whereas if the contact was by virtue of a migrating extended family encountering a residential extended family, then the former would sequester its settlement, around which it would establish its perimeter. Preliminary contact would only be through envoys, after which more general intercourse might become regular.

Inquiry by the envoys enables a preliminary assaying of similarities or complementation of cultural and mores. However, since the envoy is necessarily limited in the scope of his knowledge and the time which can be expended in observation, general intercourse is requisite for proper appreciation of the possibility of compatibility. The inherent trait of intellectual curiosity will be expected to result in such general investigation, as the members of each extended family will be aware of the presence of the other unit and will not be restrained in pursuing their own efforts simply because of the inquiries of the envoys. However, if the envoys, or one of them, are firmly convinced of patent incompatibility, then this has the capability to obstruct and even bar any general intercourse.

A determination of such incompatibility then can be expected to generate an attitude of hostility between the extended families, each (or at least one) fearing for its safety. Such an attitude likely would have the general tendency to produce conflict and the destruction or assimilation of one of those families. The prevailing extended family would generally be the most aggressive one thereof.

However, if the extended families, through these regular interactions, displayed common or complementary characteristics, then there would be a propensity for them to together form a discrete neighborhood.

 

Chapter 2

Elaboration of Neighborhood Structures

Introduction of a family into a locality, and then its growth into an extended family, has already been discussed. We concluded with recognizing the potential formation of a neighborhood from these extended families. Let us now begin to explore the nature and development of such an incipient neighborhood, its encounter with another neighborhood, and the interactions — some constructive and some destructive — between them.

Isolation Stage

Each neighborhood is initially compact and discrete. However, each will regularly experience population accretion, whether internally or from migration or both.

The usual impact from internal accretion will be to maintain the cultural homogeneity of each extended family therein, as the characteristics of each will tend to be adopted by its new members. This ought not to affect the cohesion of the neighborhood since any potential conflict due to differences between the extended families were already resolved at the time and by virtue of the formation of the neighborhood — and thus the addition of new members to one of them would not insert dissonance.

Nevertheless, the propensity to maintain cultural homogeneity will usually apply also to migration accretion as the normal tendency will be for the migrants to adopt and embrace the characteristics of the original population rather than for the latter to adopt those of the former. This is projected to proceed from two causes: one, the inertia of the original population, resulting from its longer tenure, and its inherent property of resistance to change and adaptation; and, two, the greater numerical size of the original population and the inclination of the migrants to adapt to avoid conflict.

However, there is a different dynamic in operation in the case of migration accretion than in internal accretion, or at least in the case of migrating extended families. The resident extended families already occupy the physical terrain of the neighborhood. Therefore, the migrating extended family will be required to occupy territory along and outside the current periphery, thereby also expanding the neighborhood’s periphery. By necessity this new territory would be adjacent only to one or a limited number of the resident extended families and isolated from the balance.

As noted, the migrating extended family, for many reasons, is in a less-advantageous and less-secure condition. Therefore it will normally select territory adjacent to the extended family whose culture and mores it deems most compatible. This then will potentially cause a latent disequilibrium in the median culture of the neighborhood. And in the formative years of the neighborhood, when it is composed but of a few extended families, it would seemingly have a disproportionate impact and could then lead to dissonance. Yet, since by definition there are but few extended families, the likelihood of irreconcilable discord is reduced as the heads of the extended families then have the greater opportunity for constant communication and thus the greater capacity to directly resolve any possible strife.

In either event, there will be a constant expansion of the number of members of the neighborhood and consequently of the territory occupied by it. Thus the periphery of the neighborhood will be in constant flux and constantly expanding.

This dynamic will occur in all neighborhoods. Ultimately, then, the peripheries of a neighborhood will impinge upon those of another.

Cluster Stage

At this early stage of inhabitation there will be few non-natural obstructions to a given neighborhood in its quest for additional resources. Therefore, the density within each neighborhood will be low. And, as this is but the early stage of inhabitation, the density in the locale in which a given neighborhood is located also will be low. Thus, the inertial force of the neighborhood is toward expansion. Contact then with other neighborhoods is consequently inevitable.

These neighborhoods to which a neighborhood eventually would become adjacent might be ones which display minimally-varying, or might instead display radically-differing, culture and mores. It is indisputable, though, that they will vary and be different.

However, because of the low density in the locale and within each neighborhood, they need not impinge upon each other nor initiate intercourse — even though there accordingly would be minimal obstruction to infiltration into these adjacent neighborhoods. Therefore, there will be minimal perception of challenges or threats to a neighborhood by one in proximity to it even if their respective culture and mores are radically different.

Still, because these neighborhoods would be contiguous, various interaction between them, by virtue of, and upon the basis of, mutual self-interest would be present. This would occur despite the existence of those differing culture and mores that are observable in cases of regular interaction; other differences would abide but would not be revealed in the course of common interaction, and thus would be isolated from corruption and rather preserved. Rather, curiosity being an inherent trait, the interaction would be enhanced because of these differences, as the members would each be stimulated to explore these differences. The existence and maintenance of these differences then would not only not inhibit but would intensify these interactions.

The existence and maintenance of these differences would yield a further benefit. Recognizing their distinctness would imply the value thereof. This should then result in an enhanced self-esteem of the respective members. Such then would lead to greater psychological self-confidence. And such self-confidence would enable greater interaction with other families and neighborhoods, including those, who by definition, would display differing characteristics. All of these factors would reinforce and perpetuate the distinctive culture and mores of each.

As the neighborhoods increase in population density, there would be proliferation of the variety of skills that could be employed in each neighborhood. Further population density would result in specialization within each of those skills. However, in the primitive stage of development, the absence of technological sophistication — technology being used here in its broadest sense, including learning how to start fire with sparks or friction, sharpening stone to form an ax head, identification of edible flora, and the like — would impose a limit on the extent of specialization. Rather, the advance in specialization would be gradual, with each development reaching a plateau at which it would repose for an extended period until a new technological introduction would allow it to advance to a new prolonged plateau.

Thus, during this primordial state, there would eventually be intense, or even fierce, competition between the contiguous neighborhoods due to these conflicting and limited skills. As only limited production from each’s efforts was possible in this primeval state, the resources available would be limited and the relationships between the neighborhoods would be inimical. Disputes would be constant and numerous, and mechanisms to resolve them or propitiate the participants necessary.

Yet the neighborhoods would still be of a limited geographical breadth as well as formed of a limited number of extended families. The most influential extended family in each, and the head thereof, would be known to the other, or at least known by the head of the leading family of each. Therefore, contact, communication and discussion between them would be without complication. Since these competitions and disputes would be adverse to their interests, these extended family heads would form an informal council, to meet sporadically or regularly (depending upon the size and extent of their neighborhoods), to resolve these disputes and eventually set policies to minimize or avoid them in the future.

If this council was successful in these efforts, then a Community of these neighborhoods might be formed. Such a community would not necessarily result in a blending of the culture and mores of the neighborhoods. Rather, since they would be liberated, to a greater or lesser extent, from disputes and animosity between them, they would be free from external aggravation and free to focus internally.

A peaceful relationship between the neighborhoods in the community would tend to result in an enlargement thereof as resources on contests between them would be redirected toward more constructive use, and thus a more attractive locality within which to reside; regardless, the peaceful environment would encourage, or at least eliminate an obstruction, to the greater integration of the community. Thus, an evolution of the council into a formal governmental structure, consisting of separate dispute resolution and policy making bodies, might transpire; such an evolution would be expected to normally occur since any body once formed tends to be possessed of an expectation that it has functions to perform and an obligation to deliberate upon the institution of additional mechanisms to perform those functions.

Eventually, perhaps as a consequence of the elimination of strife as a distraction, technological sophistication would proceed to a “takeoff point” where periodic prolonged plateaus would no longer be necessary or occur. The types and quantities of improvements would proliferate on a geometric basis. Further, as a result thereof, the resources available to the community, and each of the neighborhoods thereof, would likewise proportionately magnify.

As a consequence the conflict between the neighborhoods would diminish, as each (or the majority) of the families would have virtually sole recourse to their own specialized technology, and derivatively greater household resources. Conflicts likely would persist for the most affluent extended families, with each head thereof seeking prestige from his material acquisitions, but these would seem to be beyond the purview of the conflict resolution or policy making mechanisms, would be of little moment to the vast majority of families, and would be resolved again on a bilateral basis. Thus, many of the mechanisms for resolving conflict might be capable of being abandoned and the governmental structure shrunk.

We have in brief considered the development of a neighborhood, its encounter with another neighborhood, and some of the impacts upon and consequences to each as a consequence. Now it is appropriate to explore further neighborhood interaction and possibly consider a different focus.

 

Chapter 3

A Macrocosm Perspective:

Cooperation and Conflict between Neighborhoods

Treatment has been given to neighborhood formation and development, focusing on the microcosms of neighborhoods. These developments though did not occur within a vacuum, but rather as but one component of activity within the larger framework of an entire region. Thus, since those neighborhoods would be impacted by parallel activity within the region, it is necessary now to embrace a broader vista, from a macrocosm perspective.

Cooperation or Conflict are the polar dynamics for interaction between neighborhoods in contact.¹ The direction to be adopted by these neighborhoods will be a function of their respective cultures, resource environment, and neighborhood mores.

Cultures / Diversity or Homogeneity

The peripheries of contiguous neighborhoods will necessarily ultimately experience collision. And because of the likelihood of clash between the cultures of each, there will be a likelihood also of conflict. Nevertheless, after the initial collision, as a consequence of the separation in distance of each periphery from its core, there will be a propensity of these contiguous peripheries to homogenize. This will be the usual result regardless of whether there has been homogeneity between a periphery and its respective core. Thus, viewed solely from the perspective of the peripheries, there exists a dynamic toward reduction of cultural diversity.

Restricted Geographical Region

However, this dynamic would preponderate only in a region that is constrained and confined by peculiar geography. Because of those constraints, only a limited number of neighborhoods would be possible and their separate origin generally would have developed in relative close proximity to each other. As a consequence there would exist a tendency for parallel cultural development and a narrower diversity range.

In addition, as the region would be limited in size, it would also, except for extraordinary circumstances, be limited in resources also. Consequently, the earlier-noted potential for radical cultural adaptation due to enhanced, and aggressive, migration accretion would be minimized. Due to both of these factors there would remain a predilection to stability, both in cultures and cooperation.

Open Geographical Region

In a region of greater geographical expanse, there would be a greater likelihood of neighborhoods developing with sufficient separation between each other. In addition, because of this greater expanse, there would exist the potential for a constant increase in the number of independent neighborhoods being developed. Both factors would enhance the possibility of broader cultural diversity.

A possibility would exist for at least some of these neighborhoods being developed without great separation between them. Yet, as each neighborhood expanded, there would be a necessary greater demand upon the resources available to it. When the resources would become too scare for the population of the neighborhood, then there would occur emigration of some of the families from it to new areas. And, as the scarcity of resources was the catalyst, there would be a predilection for the emigrants to locate themselves at a sufficient distance from any other neighborhood by utilization of the unoccupied expanses, thus also being a propulsion toward exploiting and realization of this potential for a proportionately larger number of neighborhoods.

Admittedly, the potential for homogenization when neighborhood peripheries collide would still be present. But inherent in the larger volume of neighborhoods is also the necessary corollary of a larger volume of neighborhood cores. And as the cores are intrinsically separate from each other core, there would be minimal external forces toward adaptation. Therefore, since a constant increase in the number of neighborhoods would yield also a constant increase in the number of cores, there would result both a greater variety of different cultures, these being maintained within each additional core, and the maintenance of the diversity of these different characteristics.

Resource Environment

The effect of the scarcity or abundance of resources has been briefly mentioned. It should now be more fully considered to identify any possible aberrations from this effect.

If a particular neighborhood was rich in resources, it could experience a dramatic migrant accretion, thus reversing the inclination toward cultural inertia. This could proceed from the expectation of the enhanced aggressiveness of the migrants, due to their avidity for these resources, and the corresponding greater numerical volume thereof. Thus, the homogenizing influence from the original population — or, stated differently, the strength of the inertia effect — will be in inverse proportion to the volume of the migrant accretion or the enhanced radius of the neighborhood due to this accretion.

Nevertheless it would seem that such a scenario would only likely develop if the resources of the neighborhood were uniquely rich, relative to those of the contiguous localities. For in this primordial state where there is low density of inhabitation, any locality would tend to have sufficient resources for one or a few extended families. The incentive then for aggressive migration would be minimal.

In the unusual event of any undue scarcity, this would result in migration, with the migrating individual or family, who would be subject to the aforedescribed dynamics, being in a passive posture. Accordingly, the norm for the aggressiveness of these immigrants or emigrants would usually be inconsequential.

Avidity for the resources of another, then, would require either a more-advanced state of development or a patently-demonstrable substantial disparity in resource allocation. One or the other is a precondition for greed.

Absent one of those conditions, any desire by the migrating famil(ies) for the enhancement of their current resources would present two conflicting factors: their coveting of the resources of another; and the abhorrence of potential destruction, given their (by definition) inferior power, and hence aversion to conflict. This being so, it is to be expected that in the usual context the latter consideration would be of greater weight than the former, and that the migrating family(ies) will experience cultural assimilation.

From this we can conclude, then, that as long as the aggregate resources within and between localities remained of a sufficient volume to satisfy the necessities of the various neighborhoods, then the dynamics toward cultural diversity would continue to exert their influence. However, once these aggregate resources became sufficiently depleted or the population too large for them, then a clash of the cultures would unavoidably ensue. Such a clash would result in the destruction of some of these cultures or at least a radical reduction in their strength. Also, as history demonstrates, once cultures clash there is a lamentable tendency for each to adapt to, and often incorporate the worst characteristics of, the other. From both influences there would now be a potential for diversity to suffer.

There seem to be some conclusions that could be deduced from the foregoing. Since a restricted geographical expanse would seem, at least initially, to be an anomalous environment, there would be default tendencies toward:

  • conscious efforts toward segregation of the neighborhood from those in proximity
  • increased inhabitant density of the neighborhood as a consequence of the segregation policy
  • an above normative level of cultural disputes
  • a below normative level of economic disputes
  • a below normative level of technological development
  • an above normative variety of mores structures

The grounds for those conclusions are:

  • the disparity between the cultures of the respective neighborhoods, resulting from their independent development, would motivate each neighborhood to insulate itself as much as possible from the perceived possible corruption by the other neighborhood
  • as the neighborhood would endeavor to secure an enhanced insular status, it would as much as possible avoid expansion that would result in closer proximity, thereby necessitating increased inhabitant density
  • due to the disparity in cultures, there would be an increased tendency toward cultural conflict
  • both because of their early stages of development and the effort to avoid geographical proximity, there would be reduced appropriation of or at least immediate access to the localities within which are deposited the region’s material resources
  • as there would be less interaction between the neighborhoods, technological development would not have the benefit of efforts in concert but would be independent
  • due to the below normative level of interaction, there would be less occasion or reason for adaptation of a neighborhood’s mores structure

For awhile these tendencies, particularly because of the fourth (4th) and fifth (5th) influences, would be extended in time. The differences in mores structures and above normative level of cultural disputes would reinforce the disinclination for resource exploitation and reduced economic development. Eventually, however, this persistence would dissipate.

For expansion of the neighborhood peripheries would be inevitable, as would be the necessity of utilization of an increased volume of resources. Concomitant with these circumstances would be accelerated technological development.

Accordingly, there would be resonance of these conditions with the propensity of diversity to suffer as a consequence of physical clashes between the cultures. Yet, the potential for abbreviation of cultural diversity could also be instigated by other causes. One concluding instance of those causes should now be considered.

Neighborhood Mores

During the early stages of occupation the inhabitants of each neighborhood in a region are isolated from the other neighborhoods in the region. Even after augmentation of the inhabitants of the neighborhoods they nevertheless remain in relative isolation. Therefore, their behavior, and the mores that are the foundation of this behavior, of each set of inhabitants develop independently without restriction upon or impact by the behavior or mores of proximate neighborhoods.²

As the neighborhoods expand into contact with their proximate neighborhoods, then occasion arises for critiques of the behavior and mores of one by the other. These critiques are the product of the mores of the observer being offended by what is perceived to be the aberrant behavior of those being observed. Their expression of their resentment both promulgates and reinforces their own set of mores, and has the potential to impart a reforming influence by compelling the offender to analyze and reexamine the justifiability of their set of mores and, if necessary or appropriate, the refinement and embellishment thereof.

Nevertheless, since only an accumulation of these critiques will instigate such a possible reformation — due to the effect of psychological inertia to maintain tradition and accepted norms — occasional conflict results therefrom. If the conflicts become sufficiently frequent or contentious, then the neighborhoods are induced, as alluded to in the preceding chapter, to form a council composed of the heads of the largest families to resolve these conflicts. Thereafter, of which brief allusion has likewise been earlier made, further elaboration thereof would be expected to occur.

Those anticipated developments are then to be treated in the next chapter.


¹ While this contact is usually due to, and almost always requires, intimate physical proximity, there theoretically could be a significant geographical distance or obstacle between them if there nevertheless is sufficient functional interaction.

² Mores refers to a unified set of group values, manifested by their interactive, group behavior. In contrast, Culture refers to a compounded set of overt behaviors, combining a variety of solitary behaviors.

 

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
28 September 2017

Limitations of Science

[The below consists of a comment by the writer on The Volokh Conspiracy blog on a posting about today’s “March for Science”.]

While I have no essential difficulty with the concept of “evidence-based policy” — ignoring for the moment the intractable problem of capacity limits on apprehension of evidence, the accurate measurement thereof, and the interpretation of this data — it seems to me the real questions consist of:

One, what policies ought to be addressed, and,

Two, if it is decided that a particular policy ought to be addressed, how is it to be implemented; a subsidiary question to the latter is who is to implement it.

A wide swath of issues and problems are a constant feature of existence. However, does this mean that a uniform policy ought to be formulated to address any specific one? Ought not some be deferred or avoided simply because they are beyond the capacity of mortal minds, or as they involve such conflicting values or considerations that any policy is unfeasible?

Even if there is sufficient concord that a specific problem ought to be addressed by a particular community, there remains the question of which facet of the community ought to address it. Climate Change might be a good example. While I fully concur that excessive human activity necessarily has a deleterious effect, might not the best solution be individual, rather than concerted, behavior to restrict one’s unnecessary activities? A perception that the existence of a problem automatically necessitates the formulation of a policy to solve it is the threshold for oppressive centripetal interference in all areas of life.

Finally, there always remains the issue of the hubris of certain science advocates. It appears to me that many may be excellent technicians but are unaware of the very nature of science, perceiving it as some vehicle for identifying Reality or even Truth. (While announced in a different context, with a different meaning and for a different purpose, Pilates’ famous question of “What is Truth?” is a thought of continuing relevance.) Even Reality is a chimera subject to constant metamorphosis.

It seems that many of these proponents have forgotten that the scientific process is to constantly search for and identify new data and to formulate an hypothesis that comprehensively and accurately explains this data. It is a process, and for a purpose, that is much more humble and modest than to Discover Reality — unless one adopts a definition of Reality that is itself modest.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
22 April 2017

Social Order — The Counter-Majoritarian Influence

Assailing government as abusive and hostile to the civil society for which it is responsible is not infrequently countered by an assertion that the government is us. This assertion is understood to suggest that the critic ought not to figuratively (or literally) topple government by reviling its essence and deeming it a counterpoint to civil society, but rather satisfying himself with only calibrating its contemporary machinery; for it seems the premise is  that the government is not the enemy, and no presumption should exist that its restrictions or imperatives should be viewed with suspicion or skepticism. With this assertion I am unable to concur.

At least three (3) reasons seem to suggest this conception is without rational support. These can be categorized as follows:

I.  “Government as Us” — The Threshold for Tyranny

First, the oppression of the body polity is a necessary consequence of such a conception. Preliminary to the discussion of the basis for this danger, an explication of the evolution and nature of the body polity ought first be examined. However, as the writer is in the process of gradually developing this thesis, the reader’s indulgence, in permitting later reference thereto as an introduction to the following, is requested. Presently, the writer will address only the state of

Civil Society and Government in Unpeaceful Coexistence

In any community there exist two (2) levels: civil society; and the government which is a creature of it.  Civil society, though, encompasses every facet and component of the activities of the lives of the persons of which it consists — civil society then being vast,  touching all elements of those lives and activities within the geographical boundaries constituting its periphery, and being inseparable from those component lives. These activities, while not technically infinite, are innumerable, consisting of every minor and major solitary action of each person as well as each minor and major interaction they might have with a constantly-varying ensemble on a daily, weekly and annual basis.

Thus, if government is us, viz, civil society, then it would follow that it should be parallel- engaged in every detail of the solitary thoughts and activities of each, and the interaction between every, member of the polity; for, if civil society is not independent and the primary forum for interaction, but rather subordinate or even tangential to a paramount influence upon the polity from government, then must it not mean government is integral and inextricable? But is not this then the very definition of Tyranny?

Such a scenario of course introduces an additional tension. The greater the scope or volume of social interaction that is impacted or regulated by government, the greater the stake in the government of the various power centers; for, in any civil society no matter how primitive or complex, there is a necessary differential in power between self-identifying sets of its members (or, at least, until the theoretical arrival of the state of entropy at the “end of history”) — as constant exact equality of power is impossible to either attain or maintain. And the greater the stake, the greater the propensity of the stakeholder to insert itself into governmental determinations and outcomes — as the greater the level of its power, the more the interest of the stakeholder is impacted by governmental operations. And the more frequent and the more intense the insertion of the stakeholder into governmental determinations and outcomes, the greater the likelihood of corruption of government thereby.

This corruption occurs in two (2) forms and senses: one, the common sense of moral contamination through favors of some sort from a power center; but also, two, the disruption of and diversion from what would have been the prescribed functioning, as measured either by process or outcome, of the governmental personnel or agency. In either sense, though, there will have been a deviation of the focus of its functions and operations toward a subset or subsets of the civil society. Thereby, will the other sets thereof be neglected and, by definition, consequently oppressed.

II.  The Breadth of Civil Society Inherently Inhibits and Restricts Governmental Competence

Second, if we do not view government as essentially isolated from, but rather coexistent with and integrated into the social structure, then it would follow — as above discussed — that it would be expected, if not explicitly sanctioned, to express judgment or opinion, either imperative or precatory, on all aspects of these interactions. But in that event its magistracy would have to be both as numerous and intensely knowledgeable as the number of members of the society. But this, by definition, is impossible.

If the magistracy was of this numerical extent, then it would consist of all members of the polity, and the civil society would be wholly subsumed within and virtually abolished by the government. But government is a creature of civil society and instituted to perform functions of which civil society is incapable of efficiently or expeditiously performing on its own. It then would not only have exceeded its mandate but destroyed the very reason and justification for its existence.

It then must be concluded that preservation of the rationale for government’s existence necessitates some restriction upon and confinement in the growth of its magistracy. In that event, though, this limit on the number of magistrates will likewise limit both its capacity and expertise in the regulation of the full scope of activities of the members of its polity. Instead, its capacity and expertise will be properly confined only to influence or regulate those activities of members that affect, or the impact upon them by, persons with whom they are not in direct contact1 — the original rationale for the creation of a government.

Thus, both by physical principles and to adhere to the purpose for its creation, the competence of government is innately limited and incapable of being treated as other than a subset of “us”.

III.  The Consensus vs Competition Principles

Third, and most significant, a civil society does (or at least should) operate on the consensus principle. Government however operates upon the majority principle. By nature, they then are wholly inconsistent with and hostile to each other. This alone renders one the opponent, rather than the associate or counterpart, of the other.

Mankind first congregated in civil society from, and to enhance and serve, mutual self-interest. Such an objective by definition requires and involves complementary interaction between those in direct contact with each other; if not then their respective actions would be in conflict and therefore not to their mutual self-interest. With complementary interaction, the actions of each benefit both. To determine how these actions will generate mutual benefit, each must express to the other which result is in their primary interest — or, rather, which of their primary interests will not conflict with a primary interest of the other. Thus, this necessitates consensus by both on which of those interests are least in conflict and the particular action that will attain realization of the respective harmonious interests.

If consensus failed, or perhaps even antagonism developed between these participants, then mutual self-interest would dissolve. As this was the reason for the formation of civil society, then as a result it would itself commence disintegration. Ergo, consensus is the operative principle of civil society.

Ideally, government would operate likewise. However, except for the occasional imposition of super-majorities, history and experience demonstrate that legislative and judicial decision-making operate upon the majority principle.2 For how else could it? While unanimity might be ideal, except in a exceedingly-small body of members — an option possible only for a equivalently-small body politic (though this factor might well be deemed to constitute evidence of the superior benefits of a smaller, rather than a larger, community) — requiring unanimity would paralyze the operations of such a council, as it would provide each member a veto on any action by the balance of the members.

Thus, to avoid this prospect and to enable the law-making or law-adjudicating body to perform whatever functions are legitimately within its purview — the performance of this function being the reason for its creation and, thus, also the very justification for its continued existence — they traditionally and generally operate upon a majority rule principle. Such a principle, though, necessarily excludes, at least in part, the interests or preferences of a portion, and sometimes a substantial portion, of its body politic.

For expedience, as well as the means to implement policies that benefit the interests and preferences of the larger portion of its body politic, such a principle is generally the better operative principle. Nevertheless, it further belies the claim that Government is Us.


1 These persons may be either internal to – as a result of, in a geographically-extensive community, being substantially removed from the respective members – or external from, the body politic.

2 Philosophically, it is possible to categorize only the executive functions as the government, whereas the legislative functions are the expression of the sovereign body politic and the judicial functions the exercise of immutable logic operating on eternal truths and positive law. Employing such a categorization should enable more comprehensive and incisive analysis of the within issues. However, a full exploration would unduly expand this discussion and is best deferred for separate consideration.

 

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
15 April 2017

A Well-Armed and Well-Regulated Militia as a Mechanism for Gauging the Presence of Tyranny

Certain semiautomatic rifles, particularly the AR-15 and similar configurations, have been characterized by some as “weapons of war”. Since there are significant differences between the AR-15 and M16, particularly in the modes and rate of fire, it is well-known the characterization is inaccurate.

However, given the similarity in general design, including its ability to accept a high-capacity magazine, let us for the moment accept the designation as a “weapon of war”.  Does this then disqualify it for civilian ownership?

Preceding posts have sufficiently demonstrated, it is believed, that a large block of civilians in this country are compelled, in certain exigent circumstances, to provide military-type services to the country or their State in their capacity as members of the unorganized militia — or at least be available and prepared to do so.  By definition, then, would they not be engaged in war-type activities?  And, if so, should they not then be experienced in and have available a “weapon of war”?  How then can they be proscribed from ownership of and familiarity with such a weapon?

Moreover, the statutory prescription of potential militia service is parallel to the prefatory clause of the Second Amendment.  While historically and contemporaneously there have been continued conflicting interpretations of the purpose and scope of the amendment, there can be no dispute it includes two (2) clauses and that at a minimum the right to keep and bear arms was to enable the people to perform militia service.  Now, by both historical and legal definition, the performance of militia service was engagement, as the circumstances might require, in paramilitary and military service.  How then is the keeping and bearing of a “weapon of war” incompatible with this capacity?  Rather, does not this capacity instead require it?

One might also analyze the question from the perspective of the purpose of a militia.  It is beyond cavil that a militia was considered more harmonious with liberty, in contrast with the greater threat to liberty that was posed by a standing army.  While not as universally accepted, there was also an understanding that a militia could potentially act as a bulwark against a standing army controlled by persons with objectives in conflict with those of the larger — or, at least, a sufficiently substantial — body of the people.

Certain critics have cast scorn on the continued viability of this function, given the geometrically-superior firepower of the country’s military forces. How can, they say, a militia equipped with AR-15s and sidearms realistically oppose a standing army with, inter alia, M16s, tanks, fighter aircraft and bombers?  This however overlooks a singularly perceptive observation (or, at least, its corollary) from our Declaration of Independence.  It is tendered that this provides the mechanism which preserves and proves the viability of such a resistance — albeit one that hopefully will never be required.

Mr. Jefferson noted that “[p]rudence … dictate[d] that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  Thus, even if evils are being perpetrated, they are likely to be borne by the greater body of the populace if they are not excessive and egregious.  Any rebellion by an insignificant body of the populace then allows, if not compels, a conclusion that the causes of the outrage are sufferable.

What then is the conclusion that is allowed, if not compelled, when a significant body of the populace engages in some form of insurrection?  It is tendered that it should be deemed then that these evils have now become magnified into ones which are excessive and egregious.  And it seems Mr. Jefferson concurs, as he further states that in such an instance of “… a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinc[ing] a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Let us then suppose that just Five percent (5%) of the population between 15 and 54 years of age deemed themselves outraged by a “long train of abuses and usurpations”.  Nay, instead of more than 8,500,000 citizens, let us suppose that but One percent (1%) resolved to resist what they deemed despotism.  What is conceived to be the likely reaction of the U.S. military forces to a civilian force of more than 1,700,000 citizens?  Would they likely view with equanimity the slaughtering of such a large body of their fellow citizens, deeming it to be consistent with morals and the law?  Wouldn’t they instead be likely to conclude that the perceived grievances of their fellow citizens had become, consistent with Mr. Jefferson’s formula, “insufferable” and due to excessive and egregious “abuses and usurpations”?

It is tendered that out of natural and innate morality — much less and regardless of any concern for their potential jeopardy as a consequence of possible commission of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity — these military forces would conclude that the actions inspiring such resistance, as well as any orders to overcome such resistance, were patently illegal, and therefore would themselves resist.

It would be impossible of course to reduce to mathematical certainty what proportion of the citizenry would be required for an observer to conclude that resistance was legal rather than illegal.  Suffice it to say that there would be sufficient parameters, when viewed in the context also of any surrounding relevant circumstances, to allow a resistance by a substantial body of the citizenry to be cause for concluding the resistance was justified.  And upon a determination of such justification would instead eliminate the despotism that caused the resistance.

Consequently, a citizenry keeping and bearing arms sufficient to cause a suspension of exertion of force against them, in order to allow an assessment whether their actions were rather justified, demonstrates that the existence and interposition of a militia remains a viable mechanism for resistance to potential despotism.  And the keeping and bearing of arms compatible and consistent with their function as a militia continues to be an essential right.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
04 July 2016

Duty of Every Citizen as Militia Member to Defend State as Nullification of Restrictions upon Means of Defense


As suggested by my three (3) postings this past February 26, I commenced work upon and intended to post the below shortly thereafter; however, other circumstances and obligations interfered with my completion hereof. Those three (3) postings provide context and reference for this posting and, in some respects, elaborate on this subject.)


The massacres over the past seven (7) months have, as is well-known, resulted in more calls for “gun control”. Unfortunately, these have to a great extent focused on the type of weapon used rather than the type of person who used the weapon or, perhaps more precisely, the deficiencies in the person who used the weapon.

In my opinion, the controversy and ill to be eradicated can be better addressed by attention to the well-regulation of persons who acquire what are deemed to be certain kinds of weapons that justify further regulation. This is further addressed at length in my ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN Memorandum, one of those postings published at this site on February 26. For prolonging exhausting and futile discussions about types of weapons, with certain exceptions of course, ignores and repudiates the reality of the right to keep, and justification for keeping, arms, the obligation to do so, and the necessary circumstances incident to the exercise of this right and obligation.

It is indisputable that there is a natural, and long-recognized common law, right to self-defense.  Nay, the writer tenders that there is not merely a right but further a duty of self-defense. The fact of birth of each living person is a given. If a person was born, then there is a reason for his or her life, be it, among possibly others, the choice of God, or the decision of his or her parents, or a role or purpose for him or her to perform, or an objective for him or her to realize or status to attain. In any event, the very fact of the person having life necessarily implies that it ought not be terminated but ought be allowed to endure, for fulfillment of whatever might have been its reason; for each person had no control over and was not the cause of his or her birth. If then he or she as it were was “impressed into duty”, he or she has no right to shirk this duty but rather a further duty to defend himself or herself from anyone who might endeavor to terminate their life and thereby prevent him or her from performing this duty or realizing their destiny.

The right to keep arms is but a corollary of that right and duty. While the circumstances under which one might have to defend oneself have not it seems been explicated, nevertheless the scope of this right of self-defense is intrinsically wide. For it must encompass at least each of the situations where a person is called upon to defend oneself against a:

  • savage animal,
  • solitary criminal aggressor,
  • band of criminal aggressors,
  • foreign or rogue domestic paramilitary force, or
  • foreign or rogue domestic military force.

All of these situations indicate that there can not be a severely-circumscribed scope of arms to which one is entitled. For an individual weapon that might be sufficient to protect oneself from a small savage animal would not be sufficient to protect oneself from a military force. Consequently, the conclusion must be that a person is entitled by right to keep arms that are sufficient to protect oneself against each of those exigencies.  [The writer of course recognizes that there are certain legal limitations to a broad rule — limitations though which are not incident to or inherent in the natural right of self-defense — as historical usage has, first, extended the entitlement to weapon types which an individual would commonly keep and personally bear, and, two, carved out weapon types that are specialized or might be usually stored in a facility such as an armory. Still, the burden should be upon the one arguing for a restriction that the type is one that should fall into the latter, rather than the former, category.]

 Buttressing this line of reasoning is the insufficiently-examined significance and description of what a militia consists. The coupling of the militia phrase in the Second Amendment is frequently used as an argument that the right in the succeeding phrase should be limited.  However, this ignores what was the understanding of the composition of the militia at the time of its adoption. In addition, even the present meaning of the term “unorganized militia” — assuming that the term’s existence is even recognized, much less the significance thereof appreciated — encompasses a broader range of persons than is frequently acknowledged.  (For the succeeding citations the reader is referred to the writer’s Statutory Definitions of U.S. Militia posting this past February 26.) As a perusal of 10 USC 311 indicates, all able-bodied citizens of the United States, between the ages of 17 and 44, inclusive, are automatic and mandatory members of the militia. It would seem that the States have authority to expand the composition thereof since, for example, Michigan has expanded, by 16 years, the age group of persons who compose its unorganized militia, they likewise being under compulsion to be members of the State militia. MCL 32.509.

And what duties and in which circumstances may the unorganized militia be called upon to perform? Among them are to:

  • “… suppress Insurrections and repel invasions” US Const, art I, § 8, cl 15.
  • serve in the defense force “… in case of riot, tumult, breach of the peace, resistance of process, or for service in aid of civil authority, whether state or federal, or in time of actual or imminent public danger, disaster, crisis, catastrophe or other public emergency within this state.” MCL 32.555.

At a minimum certain of these duties, and the circumstances in which they would be performed, clearly are paramilitary or military in character. And is not some of the material with which they must be equipped well known?

If these persons are then part of a contingent military force and thus would be bearing arms in this service, is it not then incumbent upon them to have available and be trained in the use of the weapons which they might be required to employ in a hostile action? And it would seen that such a possible scenario is not simply academic, since, for example, both the U.S. Constitution and the statutes of Michigan allow the President and the Governor, respectively, to call forth the unorganized militia in exigent circumstances. US Const, art I, § 8, cl 15; MCL 32.555. If a person then is a potential military conscript, is not familiarity and training in the use of the arms necessary for them to competently perform their function essential?

Now it is perceived that an argument might be presented that the arms need not be kept by these members of the unorganized militia, but could be stored in some type of armory facility. However, in addition to this being inconsistent with the terminology of the Second Amendment, viz, a right not only to bear but also to keep, there could be a gross impracticability in the administration thereof. For in the event of some type of untoward and unanticipated emergency, might not the members of the unorganized militia require immediate resort to those arms? In addition, having the arms constantly available allows these members to frequently practice and train and perfect themselves in the use of the weapon, something that would not be as conveniently, if at all, possible if they were not always readily available.

In sum, undue restrictions upon the types of weapons available to the populace would not only be inconsistent with but would conflict with and vitiate both the rights granted to them and the duties imposed upon them. For these reasons, any effort to restrict or prohibit certain types of weapons appropriate to these potential functions would negate and interdict this right and this duty.

The writer shortly will further address a related issue in a succeeding posting.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
03 July 2016

“Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013” Bill Commentary

[This is being provided both as an independent commentary and as further background to a later post to be published, the below though not being issues to be directly addressed therein.  This constitutes the body of an additional letter, this being disseminated during April, 2013, by the writer to Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.]

I provide this in my capacity as one of your constituents for consideration in your deliberation on the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013” Bill.

While I may have overlooked some material improprieties in Title II or Title III of the bill, it would appear to me that, other than the reference in Sections 203 and 205 to “ammunition”, that these provisions are within the jurisdiction of Congress, do not offend any rights secured to the States or the people, and appear to be reasonable policy.  I however exclude from this sanction the above reference to “ammunition” since it is not mentioned in the preceding sections and therefore is beyond the scope thereof.

I do though have significant problems with Title I of the bill. In fact my difficulties with it are so many — a conclusion that surprised me as I thought many of the opponents of broader background checks were being too extreme — that I am uncertain that I can set forth these objections in as complete or organized a fashion as I would prefer.  Initially I would note that the prohibition set forth in Section 122(a), especially when taken in conjunction with the definition of transfer set forth on pages 13 and 14 of the bill, is far too broad.  In addition to it being so intrusive, as affecting almost every conceivable action constituting a “transfer”, and therefore being in violation of Amendment X of the Constitution, its prohibition on transfer, except by means of the conduit through a federally-licensed person, is a deprivation of a property right that renders it in conflict with Amendment V of the Constitution.

The very narrow and minimal exceptions set forth on pages 11 through 13 of the bill prove the excessive inclusiveness of this prohibition.  Reviewing and reflecting upon them it is an easy matter to conceive of a whole panoply of normal and innocent activities involving a firearm that would be criminalized by such a prohibition.  For example, a person who visited another friend (in a rural area where there was no ordinance prohibition on firearm discharge) and who, while engaged in target practice on his friend’s property, handed his firearm to the friend standing next to him, so as to allow him to practice with it, would apparently be guilty of a felony.  Can it be imagined that it was anticipated that the federal government was permitted to regulate such an extensive range of otherwise permissible and innocent private activities?

The obnoxiousness of the proposed regime, it seems to me, is further proved by Section 123 of the bill. Now a person who has his firearm stolen and fails to at all realize he has to report the theft to the U.S. Attorney General, or is too busy for, say, a day-and-a-half to so report it to the federal government, is also guilt of a felony?  Is it really conceived the U.S. Congress has the constitutional authority to prescribe such conduct ordinarily within local purview only?

I could focus on other provisions and set forth the basis for why these are defects, but I trust the foregoing adequately indicates the core deficiency of Title I as currently drafted.

I understand that Senators Manchin and Toomey are engaged in endeavoring to fashion a compromise substitute for Title I.  I believe the effort is directed at regulating only arms-length transactions, such as gun show sales and online transactions and to not include temporary transfers or those between people who the owner knows or with whom he has the opportunity to familiarize himself. This seems consistent with the catalytic purpose of the bill, viz, preventing firearms from coming into the possession of prohibited persons; for under the latter circumstances the owner knows or would have the opportunity to know whether the recipient appears to be a prohibited person. And if the owner nevertheless delivers it to a prohibited person can be penalized under existing law or perhaps Title II (or a variation of Title II).

Thus I would urge support for such a substitute for Title I.  Failing an adequate substitute, then I would urge a Nay vote on the current version of Title I.

WAYNE A. SMITH

STATUTORY DEFINITIONS OF U.S. MILITIA

[This is being provided both as an independent memorandum and as an introduction to a later post to be published.]

UNITED STATES

10 USC 311 Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are-

(1)  the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2)  the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 14; Pub. L. 85?861, §1(7), Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1439 ; Pub. L. 103?160, div. A, title V, §524(a), Nov. 30, 1993, 107 Stat. 1656 .)

MICHIGAN

MCL 32.509 State military establishment; composition; organized and unorganized militia.

The organized militia of this state taken collectively shall be known as the state military establishment and constitutes the armed forces of this state. The organized militia consists of the army national guard, the air national guard, and the defense force when actually in existence as provided in this act. The unorganized militia consists of all other able-bodied citizens of this state and all other able-bodied citizens who are residents of this state who have or shall have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who shall be age 17 or over and not more than age 60, and shall be subject to state military duty as provided in this act.

History: 1967, Act 150, Imd. Eff. June 30, 1967

MCL 32.555 Unorganized militia; power of the governor.

The governor may order into the defense force any members of the unorganized militia in case of riot, tumult, breach of the peace, resistance of process, or for service in aid of civil authority, whether state or federal, or in time of actual or imminent public danger, disaster, crisis, catastrophe or other public emergency within this state.

History: 1967, Act 150, Imd. Eff. June 30, 1967 ;– Am. 2013, Act 99, Imd. Eff. July 2, 2013

 

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN Memorandum

 

[This is being provided both as an independent commentary and as an introduction to a later post to be published.  This was drafted originally as an enclosure to a letter disseminated during February, 2013, by the writer to Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.]

This is provided as a brief commentary in connection with the consideration of the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013” Bill, introduced in the United States Senate, and any similar bills that might be or have been introduced in either house.

Certain enhancements of the current regime may be appropriate, but I would tender that a ban of either so-called “assault weapons” or so-called “high capacity magazines” — being terms of art and having no meaning independent of arbitrary statutory definition — would be patently unconstitutional.  In addressing the question one should first give attention of course to Amendment II of the Constitution of the United States of America, viz,

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. [Emphasis supplied]

By the use of the terms Militia and Arms, it is clear that certain weapons arguably of a military character are not prohibited to the people but rather protected from infringement.  Thus, the use of the term “weapons of war” as characterizing implements that can be restricted is plainly a canard.

Now, by the terms of the amendment, the right is not unrestricted, for there are also present, one, the terms keep and bear.  The latter term protects only those arms that could be borne by an individual and whose primary capacity and use is to incapacitate or disable a single individual with each discharge, and the former term further identifies arms as those that both can be and historically are of a type that would have been kept by the people in their individual capacities, viz, arms that by the nature of the function they were designed to perform would not have been stored, in preparation for use, in a community armory.

However, more signal as a criterion is, two, the adjective well regulated.  The right to bear military (or quasi-military) arms is within the context of their disciplined use.  The concept of discipline reminds me of the analogous context of the CPL structure in Michigan.  Any person can, unless within certain defined categories, purchase and maintain a handgun.  However, they are not permitted to carry it concealed without certain training by an authorized person or persons.  By this they are both enhanced in the practical use of the weapon and also subjected to the observance of the instructor, as well as the other participants, in the process.

Thus, might not a tiered system of training, relative to the type of weapon to be used or the context of its use, thereby resulting in a better regulated citizenry, pass constitutional muster?  It would seem it might if the various additional levels of training required were not so arbitrary and capricious as apparently designed simply to be obstacles to the right to bear. In addition to imposition of a greater sense of responsibility upon the person, the additional training required should provide significant opportunities for observation by the other trainees as well as the instructor of any possible psychological or personality aberrations exhibited by any of the participants; if unacceptable or abnormal attributes were observed, then the observer could report this behavior, a determination that the offending person failed in his training might perhaps be issued, and the right to bear such a weapon possibly obstructed.  This it would seem would offer the most efficacious and practicable solution to problems ineffectually attempted to be addressed by misguided “gun control” restrictions.

Would institution of such a regime be consistent with the powers of Congress?  In addressing this question it would now seem appropriate to give attention to the following provision of the Constitution of the United States of America:

Section 8 – Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power

[Clause 16]

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; [Emphasis supplied]

The Congress then has the explicit power to prescribe the training discipline to which the citizen-soldier is subject.  This would include it would seem the reasonable level of knowledge, skill and mental acclimation to use an “assault weapon” equipped with a “high capacity magazine”, or other implements of war that can be kept and borne, as a condition to the purchase and keeping of it.  And depending upon the implement there could be gradually expanding levels of training for each, as appropriate.

To my mind, such a regime would provide the necessary amelioration to certain problems conceived to exist in the abuse of these types of weapons, while avoiding the constitutional defects incident to an effort to ban them.

While other proposals in the aforesaid Bill might be consistent with the Constitution, and also be amenable to a sufficiently broad range of the populace, and thus appropriate, I have focused here simply on the provisions endeavoring to ban “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines”.  For the above reasons I consider these provisions constitutionally defective, in addition to being misguided as the objectives thereof ought to be attained by alternative and more acceptable mechanics.

WAYNE A. SMITH

Religious Liberty vs Civil Rights

The confrontation between proponents of and conflict between putative religious liberty and asserted civil rights has of course been the subject of much recent commentary. It would appear to me though that many of the commentators overlook at least one crucial element in their analysis.

To me one obvious element, which has already been the subject of comment by some, is whether the action by a person asserting the right to religious liberty consists of a form of creative expression rather than the provision of a fungible product. If the former, then an external compulsion to perform constitutes more of an, if not an egregious, interference with their personal liberty; this conclusion proceeds from the recognition that the coerced performer is engaged in customized activity that succeeds and is pursuant to, and arguably restricted by, the demand of the requester. In the latter situation, however, the provider has performed the activity preceding the request for supply thereof, and thus any compulsion to supply it cannot, by definition, restrict or affect activity already performed.

I though have chosen to utilize instead the criteria of whether the performance constituted some form of personal service, the law having long recognized that personal service contracts occupy a unique niche and are subject to different rules of contract. In either event what would be entailed is a person performing an activity that was special, rather than general, and thus possibly deemed constituting or implying a conscious and intentional ratification of the object and product of the activity. Other than for practical reasons, no person in a free society can be compelled to perform any action of any type; they might possibly be properly prohibited from performing certain types of actions. But the power to mandate actions of particular types, much less being compelled to engage in approbation of the principles of another, is the indicia of a tyranny.

However it now occurs to me there is another element that might even better clarify as well as be dispositive of the issue. And this would be whether the person is differentiating based upon the attributes of another or instead the activity or behavior in which they are engaged. This could be deemed parallel to the well-recognized sociological dichotomy of Status and Role.

Most service providers who object to certain activity do not resist based upon only the attributes of the requester; in such a context, since the status of the requester is only a passive element, it is only the provider’s behavior which is in question in this situation — and this therefore does not impinge on the provider’s liberty. But in the context of the activity or behavior in which they are engaged, since it is the requester’s behavior to which the provider is responding, compelling their support of it amounts in effect to participation and ratification — and this therefore does impinge on the actor’s liberty.

Is this a distinction without meaning? I tender the answer is No, it is a significant distinction. The wrong that is the gravamen of the conflict is excessive integration between the sphere of action of one person and the sphere of action of another. If the participants mutually choose to allow these spheres to intersect, then there can be no offense. But the body politic should be encumbered with the obligation to maintain separation between these spheres as much as practicable. Conflicts though are engendered and become onerous when the polity seeks to excessively enunciate and impose certain standards and modes of action that it deems principled and moral. Might not then the proper foundation of the body politic be amorality, doing neither bad nor good but only approving and enforcing policies that are quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, beneficial.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
04 Oct 2015

 

“Right (or Wrong) Side” of History? — Part I

Two of the most overused, misused and abused phrases currently in vogue are “common sense” and the “wrong (or right) side of history”. Both phrases, while possibly innately innocuous, are now used in contexts that render them malignant.

While Common Sense is now usually being used to imply a solution or answer that ought to be obviously correct, still one person’s Common Sense is another person’s sophistry. Worse though is the aspersion that a person who does not perceive the obvious truth of a solution must be stupid, immoral or corrupt, or a combination of these faults. Consequently, while proposing solutions dictated by Common Sense is ostensibly for the purpose of optimizing the volume of support, it tends to incite conflict rather than collaboration.  Thus it is most clearly not common sense to employ a rationale of Common Sense in an effort to persuade adoption of one’s position.

While perhaps not as irritating, the “wrong (or right) side of history” phrase possesses the potential of — and can be anticipated to almost always inflict — the vastly-greater pernicious effect. For, first, it implies an innate certainty: a present development or condition (either conceptual or tangible) linked in a direct relationship to an overt inevitability. Moreover, second, it is subject to a fatal defect and error: it assumes the progress (a word itself perceived to be endowed with a subjective sense that is questionable) of history is consistent, continuous and positive — despite the evidence that the vector of much, if not most, change is in a negative direction. If historical change results in deterioration, do we really want to be on the side of corruption?

The proper mechanics for analysis is not a prognostication of the misty course of future events, isolated from their meritorious significance. Rather it should consist of an analysis of the virtue and value of an outcome, and whether it then is a sufficient improvement justifying a conscious and persistent effort to attain it, not simply a condition projected to occur in the absence of any effort to obstruct it or substitute another outcome for it. Might it not then be a reasonable proposition that: If an outcome does not require a conscious, intentional and exacting design, implemented by substantial effort, to attain it, then it generally should be avoided and prevented? For, if a condition develops in the natural course without deliberate guidance — a state that might be properly designated as accidental, not purposeful — can it not generally be concluded that it proceeds from sloth, obtuseness, cupidity, corruption, or another like baser human instinct?

I would respectfully tender that numerous examples, parallel metaphors and extrapolations abound to support this harsh assessment of our fecklessness in prescience of history’s direction, and the superiority of using righteousness instead as the guide. I will however reserve addressing these for Part II of this essay.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
11 May 2015

Voter “Suppression” Revisited

[This is in supplementation of my previous post regarding this issue.]

One primary motivating factor behind expanding the electorate — or the ease of exercising the franchise — is the apprehension that “Democracy” is somehow the highest form of government. This type of conception seems unfortunately too much akin to the usual superficial analysis by present society of most questions and subjects.

As we know, classical political theory, first discussed by Aristotle, conceived of three (3) types of government forms — government by the one, by the few and by the many — none of which were considered intrinsically superior to the other; rather they were respectively considered better than the others for a particular community depending upon the type and development thereof.

These classical types were denominated as: Monarchy (or Kingship); Aristocracy; and Democracy. It was conceived however that the proper functioning of these forms could deteriorate and become corrupt. The corrupt forms thereof, respectively were denominated as: Tyranny; Oligarchy; and Ochlocracy (or Mob Rule). Polybius later conceived of these forms as a cycle, with one leading to the other, viz, Kingship -> Tyranny -> Aristocracy -> Oligarchy -> Democracy -> Mob Rule -> Kingship, and ad infinitum.

We no longer of course talk in these terms. We talk in the terms of Bad Government, on one side, and Democracy, on the other. This is unfortunate, for two reasons.

First, a lack of precision yields superficial, and therefore inaccurate, analysis. Vague definitions result in vague thinking. Yet present practice is to subsume too much under the rubric of “Democracy”. It hence has little meaning and less utility as a tool to measure competing policies. If we then want to avoid muddled thinking, we must avoid this muddled definition of Democracy and instead revert to a narrower and delimited sense that is more in keeping with its original meaning. This will yield benefits not only in this specific context but, by training a more rigorous habit of mind and thinking, by replication of this type of analysis in related contexts.

But even more importantly, by failing to recognize the boundaries of legitimate democracy, we stray into a rampant wilderness that our forbears rejected. Studied observation over millennia resulted in a normative conclusion that Democracy is capable of degeneration into a mutated monstrosity. Vigilance in scrutiny, to enable discovery of any aberration from its accepted limits, was as important here as it was for detection of corruption in any of the other forms of government.

Such a perspective then would sanction any form that would partake of the characteristics of or otherwise resemble classical direct democracy. Critical elements of this of course would be presentation of arguments and evidence directly to the citizens of the community and personal approval or rejection by them of the proposed legislation or policy; similar systems are known by us in the original New England Town Meetings setting. Mechanics that would tend to stray beyond such norms would be suspected of likely tending toward or at least laying a foundation for what they characterized as Mob Rule.

Presently though we do not seem to be concerned about such propensities. We seem to think that expansion of what we deem Democracy by ever greater indirect participation tends toward a favorable outcome. [However, this, among other things, confuses the franchise  — and its exercise in elections  — with Democracy; it is not the sine qua non of Democracy much less the definition of it but just a device for the selection of magistrates for a variety of forms of government, since both Kings and Aristocrats occasionally were chosen by election (in one form or another)].

Further, if we are prepared to accede in the “wisdom of the ages”, then we have to be concerned about and seek to avoid departures that might tend toward what could be characterized as extreme democracy. For if we accept these premises of classical theory, then it would seem only those elements that have historical frequency predominance would be deemed appropriate components of Democracy — since they would have developed during the Early and Middle stages of each community and therefore not in the fringe stage most contiguous to Mob Rule; all communities that had the experience of Democracy would have passed through an Early and Middle Stage but not necessarily a Late Stage, and thus measurement of frequency would yield identification of elements more common to the former — and therefore before deterioration and corruption.

I would tender that devices which make it too easy for too many people to indiscriminately elect various partisans are subject to such a characterization. As such, then, they likely would be viewed by the ancients as indicia of entry into the Mob Rule phase and, hence, would be rejected. I then would suggest that we should very critically view:

  • early voting,
  • extended voting periods, and
  • expanded absentee voting,

presuming they are generally dangerous and destructive of the interest of the society. Such a conclusion would proceed from the recognition of these devices as novel, and therefore not inherent in core Democracy. (Again, we must remember that the weight of authority and wisdom rejected erection of any hierarchy of particular governmental forms, which would treat one as usually superior to another, but deemed each as possibly more appropriate for a particular time, conditions and circumstances. Thus, unless experience demonstrated that certain devices or modes were commonly practiced, they would be considered a corruption, being arbitrary and subjective.)

Unfortunately, our present age seems to be afflicted with unparalleled arrogance. Rather than accepting the societal application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics principle, it views change as “progress”, i.e. transformation that is good and positive, rather than of what it most often partakes, viz, deterioration into corruption. Thus study of the old is repudiated and “new ideas” are what are honored; somehow an absence of the “burden” of history is beneficial, enabling the constant pursuit and introduction of new forms.

This rejection of historical restrictions on election procedures in favor of adoption of untried and untrue procedures is but one example. But it is the example, in the writer’s repudiation of the demagogic “voter suppression” diatribe and characterization, that is castigated here.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
26 Oct 2014

Voter “Suppression”

Procedures to purportedly enlarge or restrict access to the ballot, as well as also enlarge or obstruct convenience in voting, are of course a matter of current controversy. Much can be said supporting, and significant educated thought does support, procedures that are restrictive; yet, on reflection, it would even appear that such mechanics ought to be viewed and accepted as reasonable by most observers almost without cavil.

Historically, of course, the franchise was limited to persons who were deemed to have a sufficient “stake in the society”. During Colonial times in the American colonies, and extending to the early years of the Republic, this consisted of a requirement of, and was measured by, the ownership of a certain minimum amount of land; unless one met this minimum property qualification, the franchise was not extended to them. The majority of the populace — at least voting populace — as well as Founding Fathers deemed this kind of a requirement to be a reasonable method to assure a virtuous government and citizenry.

Opinion has of course turned. Such a perspective seems “no longer in style”. Much of this is due of course to the abuse that occurred when the States of the former Confederacy instituted certain procedures in connection with and built certain roadblocks to the exercise of the franchise for ulterior and illegitimate reasons; therefore, caution has to be exercised in approving adoption of any such procedures and roadblocks as they likely might be tainted by malignancy. But this alone does not mean the objective of a virtuous government and citizenry is thereby also tainted.

For everyone should be able to agree that all to whom the franchise is extended should be capable of being educated as to the issues to be decided. Further, it seems likely to be without dispute by virtually all that a voter, to properly exercise the franchise, ought to be first informed about the competing considerations and qualifications upon the issues or candidates being submitted to a vote. Unless they are sufficiently informed, how can a vote be made intelligently and with a salutary result? But how would one measure whether a person who is casting a vote is qualified and the vote itself is well-considered? Many mechanics have been used, frequently with discriminatory and unjustifiable effects, if not intent. So these generally should be considered beyond the pale.

However, in what seems a swing of the pendulum to the opposite extreme, there now are new artificial devices being suggested to be employed, and these for the purpose instead of expanding or promoting greater access. But do not these seem just as objectionable? It would seem the following ought to clarify, address and constitute a rejoinder to these concerns.

Ideally, both the capacity and the degree of investigation should be of a sufficiently-high level. The rub of course is the problem of quantifying both (or perhaps either) capacity and issue/qualification education.

Optimal capacity to assess and knowledge of the issues is of course but theoretical, as all have intellectual limitations and comprehensive knowledge is but a phantasm; therefore we can dispense with any serious attempt to utilize either measure. The objective to secure then is the best possible approximation of optimal capacity and knowledge while also avoiding the abuse that (even if not intrinsic) frequently becomes attached.

It would appear that this objective can be legitimately attained not by erecting it as a filter but rather allowing it to develop naturally, in the ordinary course of events, simply as a normal and unobjectionable byproduct. This proceeds from the normal relationship between the relevant factors.

It should be conceded that one of the axioms in society is the direct relationship between an interest in exercising the franchise and the willingness to educate oneself on the issues. Thus, if one is not motivated to or has a low interest in voting, it is equally likely they will have expended an equally low level of effort to educate themselves as to the competing factors on the issues. Cannot all agree that electors should vote wisely and on a rational basis? Thus, it would seem most should agree that procedures ought not to be adopted that circumvent and fail to take into account the degree of interest. Making it easier to vote then circumvents the effect of the level of interest in voting. Therefore, most should agree that procedures to make it easier to vote are imprudent as they enhance the proportion of uneducated voters likely to vote.

Now, from a different facet and interjecting an additional contrary rationale, efforts to abnormally elevate interest in or willingness to exercise a franchise should be deemed inconsistent with the purported objective and therefore objectionable. If a person has a lower than average interest or willingness, then, if a motivator or facilitator is able to overcome their resistance, it should be presumed the rationale employed reflects the policy preferences of the motivator/facilitator; for if the elector was uninclined to exercise the franchise, the overcoming of the resistance had to be the result of some argument of the motivator/facilitator and any argument by such a person must necessarily be the product of and reflect those preferences. However the argument in favor of enlarging participation is that it will avoid the interests of an otherwise unrepresented segment from being so unrepresented and will enable the interests of more of society to be represented; but if the above analysis is sound, then the policy preferences of the motivator/facilitator will be unduly represented by having his or her choice magnified. Would this not then be inconsistent with and rather a repudiation of “equal protection” of those with a contrary viewpoint and result in the dilution of their choice and selection?

The mantra in opposition to measures that might discourage exercise of a franchise constantly echoes that these constitute voter suppression. But haven’t we always had “voter suppression” since we have requirements of, among others, citizenship, age and residence duration. Do these not restrict and in a sense suppress? And aren’t these type of requirements beneficial since they are designed to be inclusive of those persons who are more familiar with the relevant factors bearing upon the respective choice, and thus better likely to make an educated and rational selection? For, as an example, allowing those persons who only have a new and temporary relationship to a community the right of the franchise are clearly more likely to result in superficial, uneducated choices, ones more imbued with and the product of irrational, emotional influences.

True, various persons not infrequently have malicious motives in the procedures and mechanics they propose. And rational dispute can exist as to which is most propitious of various targets. But one objective seems unassailable, and this, not so much as an educated electorate — the standards for and attainment of which might be problematic — but an educated vote. For attainment of this objective, any policy that has as its goal the elimination of reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the franchise ought to be subject to the most rigorous and critical review and critique.

 

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
6 Aug 2014

Gun Control

Do we need Gun Control? Looking at our world and the obscenities and tragedies rampant throughout it, it seems the answer has to be a resounding YES!

However, I would suggest a direction and focus that might be a bit different from what is likely the common answer. I would suggest that the direction and focus should be on controlling access to and use by our Political Leaders rather than, the usual suspects, the Private Citizen.

We have tragedies in Israel/Gaza, the Ukraine and all over the Middle East and Central Asia, to name just a few. After stepping back and taking a look, do we really want access and control in the hands of the likes of, for example, Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Khaled Meshaal, or Barack Obama?

I would suggest that just about, say, any N.R.A. Member is more trustworthy than any of those people. So, Yes, let’s start a move toward Gun Control, by exerting more overview of and placing more limitations on the use of Military Force by all Political Leaders. (In the meantime, why not just move on from some of the concerns about our Private Citizens and allow them to continue to retain and exercise their rights in this arena.)

Sound reasonable?

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
18 July 2014

Bonuses to Government Officials? Revisited

Since posting of my earlier message, I had occasion to reflect further on the appropriateness of bonus awarding. This resulted in a reinforcement of the hypothesis that they generally are unjustified.

A person agrees to render services for a specified compensation. He then performs his obligation and a benefit, theoretically at least, is realized by the person with whom he contracted. If the benefit is greater than might have been anticipated, and if this might be due to the ingenuity and perspicacity of the service renderer, is not the result and is not the nature and extent of the services but the scope to which these parties earlier agreed? If so, why is the one due anything more than what he agreed to accept? (Though the dynamic and principle is different, one could look to Matthew 20:1-16 to see a parallel scenario.)

But, for argument, let us accept that a bonus might be able to be justified in an activity performed in the For Profit Arena. While it should be carefully structured because of the great possibility of abuse if loosely granted and administered it might be permissible under limited situations where a significantly greater-than-expected result is produced. But is this what is expected in the Governmental Arena?

Here, the dynamic and principle is to unilaterally provide benefit to the citizens, without a corresponding benefit to the government; a government exists only to do what the citizens cannot easily and efficiently do themselves, and thus it is to serve, not to itself benefit.

Further, because it is the agent of many, it has been delegated extraordinary power, that must be carefully controlled and exercised. Authorizing bonuses for its personnel, because a personal benefit would be received by them as a consequence of the performance of their duties, only encourages potential excessive and onerous exercise of this power, even though the dominant principle is to confine and restrict exercises of power, as being fatal to liberty.

Hence, for both these reasons also, allowance of bonuses to government officials is even more obviously wrong and impermissible.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
14 May 2014

Bonuses to Government Officials?

Only recently has it come to my attention that certain government agencies provide bonuses to certain of their employees. To say the least, I was astounded and shocked!

On what basis could a public agency justify providing bonuses? Now, the answer may be given that private enterprises not infrequently do provide such extra compensation. But those private enterprises (or most of them) are, by definition, profit-making ventures; their purpose, in addition to providing a valuable product or service, is to make money.

The only reason for the existence of a government agency is to perform functions that its citizens are unable to, or at least can only inadequately, perform for themselves. Thus, its purpose is but to minister in the interest of and upon behalf of its citizens. Consequently, private enterprises and government agencies have different characters and postures, and thus must need be organized on different principles.

Perhaps most saliently the private enterprise is paying bonuses from its own monies; and its shareholders have the capability to directly control awarding, or not awarding, such compensation. The government agency though would be paying these bonuses from someone else’s money, that is, from the pockets of its citizens. And who could possibly say the citizens have the de jure, much less de facto, power to countermand such awards?

Yet someone may say: But certain of our officials perform long, arduous service and thus are entitled to this extra compensation. If so, might not the answer be to appoint additional personnel and divide the work between them?  so that the volume of work is now more in proportion to the compensation? Not only would this seem to resolve the putative objection, but would have the further salutary benefit of allocation of authority between numerous officials and, thus, division of power.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
27 April 2014

Income Inequality / MINIMUM WAGE

Various discussion has recently been generated over the issue of “income inequality”. Ancillary to this has been controversy over the practical repercussions and moral posture of an increase in the Minimum Wage. It is possible that in the noise some perspectives have been ignored. (One which the writer believes can be ignored is the effect or lack thereof on income equality from such an increase, since to this individual it seems clear that any effect would be de minimis.)

In analyzing the questions we should first consider: Who is the Minimum Wage intended to benefit? It would seem a fair conclusion that it is those who are only marginally skilled, either by being new to the work force or by not having had the opportunity or inclination to develop any skills other than the rudimentary. Thus, it would seem that most persons would or ought to be relegated to this category only for a relatively-brief duration. (For those who do not have the capability to develop these skills, due to various physical, mental or psychological deficiencies, there should be provided some type of permanent financial support; since this, hopefully, will only be a small segment, its effect on diminishing overall resources should not be controversial.)

Now, would an increase in the Minimum Wage have the intended effect and the desired efficacy? It may well be doubtful since, by definition, it would only benefit those with marginal skills. The basic and introductory premise, it would seem, is that those with these marginal skills have the least job security since they would most easily be able to be eliminated and replaced, and would only be supplying a limited benefit to the employer. Can we now, from this perspective, further analyze these questions?

This limited benefit to their employer necessitates a conclusion that these employees are of marginal value to the employer. As the differential between the value and the cost to the employer is thus narrow, any magnification of the cost will be material. And if the cost is increased too much so that the cost exceeds the value, the employer may decide termination of these employees, and the investigation of alternatives, is required.

Even if the differential is only narrowed — with the value of the employee still exceeding the cost it is likely the same result will be yielded. For marginally-skilled employees, because of their minimal level of abilities and consequent similarity between equivalent employees, are relatively fungible. Now, even if the differential in value is somewhat diminished, the employer may still continue the relationship out of convenience, habit or tradition. But if the differential between value and cost narrows too much, an exchange for an employee who may be more compatible with the position and of more value may be more easily justified. Thus, the inherent dubious tenure of these employees will be threatened even more under such a regime, viz, where the Minimum Wage is significantly increased.

The above examination of course has proceeded from the position and perspective of the absolute and relative attributes of the employees. It should be at least equally pertinent to consider the position and perspective of the financial status and considerations of the employers.

To this writer it would seem the type of employer who might most often utilize the marginally skilled are also those who experience only marginal profitability. For more skilled employees are of course capable of performing more efficiently and at a higher level of quality. If a person is operating at sufficient profitability, it would normally then be expected they might seek the more qualified (as long as they are not overqualified) employees. If the employer utilizes instead the marginally skilled, it is likely due to it being unable to afford higher-value employees due to their own marginal profitability. Now, if the cost to them of these employees increases, they may be faced with the prospect of becoming unprofitable, resulting in either elimination of some of their current employees or termination of their operations. In either event, the already-questionable tenure of this class of employees becomes even more tenuous.

Thus, it is doubtful that an increase in Minimum Wage levels would in fact attain its objective. Nevertheless, I perceive there being a sound policy that would support and induce such a change. And this would be the pressure it might exert to eliminate or at least reduce so-called Economic Stimulus programs.

A switch of activities or programs to attain this objective from the governmental sector to the structures within society already would be salutary indeed. If this were to result in private, rather than public, organizations being the ones to help others up by their bootstraps, then such a change in policy certainly would be most beneficial.

Now, one could attempt to condition a Minimum Wage increase on an offsetting reduction in appropriations for Economic Stimulus programs. However, it may be sufficient simply to induce a change in the mentality of recourse to resources looking first to and relying upon the private sector by resort to employers rather than government agencies for magnification of disposable income. Thus, even if their is no immediate reduction in governmental expenditures, adoption of such a change in attitude ought to justify obstruction of or even reduction in later expenditures for, much less enhancement of, these programs since the objective thereof ought already to have been attained by the greater disposable income flowing from the private sector. I consequently would think such a Minimum Wage increase should be supported for the above reasons; the conclusion that the purported income inequality reduction argument is merely a phantasmal exercise without weight or logic should not be deemed a reason to refrain from pursuing a policy that has its own good and sufficient rationale.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
3 March 2014