Tyranny of One, Tyranny of All
Written by Darrell Anderson.
After several years of reading, study, and analysis, I decided I have arrived full circle to my beginnings.
When I first began my journey to understand the nature of the problems surrounding me, I at least began my endeavors with an understanding that, left uncontrolled, humans tend to be greedy. Thereafter, much of what I studied often failed to surprise me as I expected to see humans acting in the manner I discovered. Yes, I encountered some moments of emotional displeasure about some of my discoveries, but my understandings about human nature helped me restore my objectivity.
An objective study of history reveals two approaches of people satisfying needs and wants. People act out of self-interest and attempt to participate in mutually beneficial exchanges, or they act out of greed to usurp the property rights of other people.
With an understanding about human nature, I was able more than many people to overlook postulations about conspiracies. If there was indeed a conspiracy afoot, the conspiracy was the conspiracy of “me.” That is, humans tend to act and react according to principles of serving and preserving self. I accept the possibility of conspiracies, but assert that chasing them is fruitless; most also are impossible to prove.
My lack of enthusiasm for uncovering conspiracies in no way implies I deny that people with common goals and ideas often succeed together to fulfill those shared aspirations. I also allow that such objectives occasionally represent agendas opposing the well-being or best interests of the general populace. However, to witness such people cooperating together does not automatically imply conspiracy, that is, a concerted effort to perform and inflict evil upon others.
Yet, as I started my journey several years ago, I recognized that one of the political root causes of many current miseries was an unsound currency and tax system. Frederic Bastiat has best summarized the situation with his term legal plunder.
The reason for the legal plunder mindset is that people in general have forgotten their roots to: 1) maintain justice (provide remedy for trespass), and 2) do not trespass against the rights and property of other people. Legal plunder cannot survive when people abide by these two basic precepts.
Nonetheless, I realized that those observations are political root causes, but in deeper study, the root cause of the problems is human nature. Short of Providential intervention, the only solution is to continue seeking doable remedies. Those remedies can be peaceful or bloody, but I hope people exhaust all efforts to apply the former before the latter.
As my studies have taken me through a scholarly effort to understand root causes, I grew further away from the distant drums of the so-called modern-day patriots. I find myself having little in common with such individuals. Most of those people mean well and I greatly empathize with their grief, but generally most refuse to study history or in the least, fail to study history with an understanding about basic human nature. Many of these individuals act as though everything is set in stone, and little could be further from the reality. Many seem to believe that people must return to “what was,” yet fail to understand human nature — or the time domain; and that all anyone can ever do is live in the transition between “what is” and “what is hoped for.” Nobody can relive the past. People can only learn from the past.
Academic research by objective historians reveal the struggle the original American Framers encountered while formulating and writing the Constitution. Not only did those men struggle initially, but among some of the Framers the original meaning changed within a few short years after ratification. Some of the original debaters changed their positions as the years progressed. If anything, the American political model is indeed little more than another experiment in the annals of human history.
I do not believe the Constitution to be an evolving document; but then again, neither do I believe that understanding the original meanings is a straightforward process. Language is a continually changing medium, and historical documents record that even the original Framers admitted as much during their debates. I acknowledge the corruption and elements of faction facing everybody today, but I do not underestimate the limitations of language in understanding statutes when people attempt to live together in a homogeneous community. The narrow audience of the original Framers could not agree on certain meanings. How then does anyone expect millions of people to agree?
I believe the problems and corruption witnessed today arise from a lack of understanding and education regarding essential principles. James Madison was acting positively in hoping to create a document that would help control the elements of faction, but such control is hopeless without fundamental agreements regarding human nature. With a proper foundation to understand the precepts of life, liberty, and property, much of the legal plunder disputes existing today would evaporate; and “interpreting” the Constitution would be relegated to a mere healthy intellectual debate instead of an attempt to manipulate social policy for nefarious gain.
George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yet, interpretations of history often are misleading because people tend to manipulate those interpretations to support their own agendas. The model for many of today’s thinkers is legal plunder, not reciprocating beneficial relationships. Yet, such foundations are essential to understanding history within proper context. Understanding human nature is essential before attempting to interpret history.
Parchment barriers are futile when the people entrusted to enact the embedded protections are the same people who get to decide what those embedded protections mean. Therein lies the great fallacy of constitutions. John Acton was correct in observing that [political] power tends to corrupt and absolute [political] power corrupts absolutely.
Thus, I have returned full circle. I began looking for root causes already knowing that human nature itself was the sole root cause for human misery. Along the way I discovered numerous problems and challenges that ultimately were derived from this root cause, but the root cause remains the same. I’ve learned much on my journey, but in a way I feel like the Red Queen, who the faster she ran, went nowhere.
Perhaps the cartoon character Pogo best summarized human nature, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Seems to me that Pogo was merely summarizing a critical message presented throughout history by philosophers and theologians. A cursory observation of history certainly affirms the statement. That is why I reject the philosophy of statism and embrace the philosophy of anarchism. Only through the principles of free association and voluntary exchange can we hope for a better world.
Next: I’m Tired