Monday, January 9, 2012

Fascism of Wealth

Fascism is, by dictionary definition, a system of governance which exerts control upon those subjected to it in a few particular ways. Properly executed, a government only exerts control to protect Essential Liberty and to resolve any conflict that at may arise between individual claims of liberty. We know that Fascism is not a properly executed government. Fascism is led by a dictator, with complete power, who forcibly suppresses opposition and criticism while controlling industry. [1] Fascism does not require any particular industrial or economic model, nor are any immune to potential Fascist control. The opposite of an Anarchist government, and potential result of any improperly executed government, is Fascism. As a government legislates beyond what is ideologically justified, through claims of security or arbitrary benefit, it begins to establish a dominion. A government of dominion exerts control over those subject to it in the same was as a Fascist government, the difference is only scale. The end result of the logic used to justify any coercive government is Fascism itself.
In industrialized nations, money is used as an indicator of goods owed from services rendered. Wealth is how a society tracks the profits generated by labor. This practical invention, created to prevent excess products from spoiling before the individual whom labored upon them could use them, has become more conceptual with the creation of systems of investment, trading, incentive, and compensation. Industry has adopted wealth as a motivator and society has adopted it as a numerical indicator of worth, a concept so tied to monetary value it is hard to think of worth indicating anything else. Worth is also an indicator of quality, excellence, or importance. [2] There was a time when to be valuable was not to be expensive but to be excellent in quality. To be a person of worth was not to be a person of wealth but of good character. When an individual is promoted within a business, their pay increases. When an individual performs in a desired way, they are given wealth. Should a government of dominion wish to encourage behavior, they provide monetary encouragement for certain actions such as marriage, the purchasing of certain commodities, charity, et c.
The role wealth plays as an incentive, and indicator of success, in society has affected political systems in profound and measurable ways. In America, the elected officials had more campaign money than their opponents over ninety percent of the time [3] and forty-four percent of congress is counted as millionaires, as opposed to just one percent of the American population. [4] Though correlation does not mean causation, the amount of money spent lobbying and the small portion of the population it comes from (one quarter of contributions coming from one hundredth of one percent of the population, each individual spending more than the median American income) [5] suggests that the funds are making an appearance somewhere in our political system and are not limited to travel and expenses while an individual presents a logical argument to a representative in person. To look at the role money plays in politics we must understand what this wealth exchange is, compensation for services rendered. When campaigns spend money, the service being rendered is the delivery of The Message. A politician must market themselves to potential voters, convincing them of their suitability for office. The citizenry must be convinced (sometimes through false claims) to cast their ballot for the candidate. When lobbyist spend money, they too are delivering The Message.
In the realm of lobbying, The Message may not be as clear as it is in politics. The Political Message is essentially to vote and to do so for the candidate advocating it. At best, the candidate’s message is a listing of their beliefs and political claims. High levels of wealth used to support a campaign may suggest something more, an element of coercion. Once The Political Message is delivered, campaign funds should only need to support travel to debates and appearances, maybe. However, campaign funds are increasing and by significant amounts. [3] If campaigns are doing more than giving voters access to a candidates beliefs and ideology, by distribution of the information and providing access to the candidate, then the wealth allowing a candidate to do more (such as run political attack ads) is part of a coercive element. Once a candidate is in office, this coercive element persists in lobbying, functioning the same way upon an elected official it did upon a voting populace; the excess of wealth goes beyond providing detailed, factual information to coercion which is a trait of authority.
If wealth is a trait of authority, by being an element of coercion, then we should view it as such. Authority is control over the self abdicated to another entity. Wealth, in it’s most base form, is compensation for services rendered. We must ask if an individual can purchase authority. As a simple mental exercise, if we can conceive of an individual offering money and that exchange influencing an individual’s decision, we can see that money can be coercive and thus purchase authority. Being a coercive element, not ideological, we can deduce the kind of authority wealth is, as well. Wealth is the authority of dominion, where those subject to it relinquish their power over self determination to allow another to dictate action to another, the provider of the monetary incentive. It is the ultimate result of any government of dominion, and those coercive elements which support it, to be a Fascism – The State. Wealth, as it exists in these conditions, forcibly suppresses opposition and criticism through it’s existence as a coercive element. Profit, the gain of money, is the deciding factor in business transactions and their continuation. By definition, wealth is most certainly a fascist ruler, one that is becoming more and more influential in American politics.

[1] “Fascism.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 27 Dec. 2011.
[2] “Worth.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 27 Dec. 2011.
[3] Communications. “Money Wins Presidency and 9 of 10 Congressional Races in Priciest U.S. Election Ever.” OpenSecretsBlog, 5 Nov. 2008. Web. 28 Dec. 2011
[4] Lovley, Erika. “Report: 237 millionaires in Congress.” Politico, 6 Nov. 2009. Web. 28 Dec. 2011.
[5] Drutman, Lee. “The Political One Percent of the One Percent.” Sunlight Foundation, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 28 Dec. 2011.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Government of Security

As previously stated, properly formed law exists in society to protect Essential Liberty and resolve conflict between two or more individuals pertaining to those liberties. Further legislation only serves to reduce liberty by presuming the government is more capable than the individual in making decisions for that individual. Even should that be the case, as it certainly sometimes is, for one to be more capable than the other qualitative statements must be made about capability which the two opposing forces may not even agree with at a fundamental level. As soon as the government becomes involved in things other than protecting liberty, the things in which it must become involved increases exponentially as it must make normative and qualitative claims to do so. Legislation must then define terms beyond Essential Liberty, it must make purely pragmatic claims instead of ideological, it must justify law that does not exist to protect liberty, and it must deal with the logical implications of that law. The confusion that it is the responsibility of government to provide security, the right to life in excess, suffers from this exponential growth of legislation.
The government must protect an individual’s right to life, the most fundamental component of human society is to gather in order to protect each other from that which might harm us. Initially this imperative was for predators and we were protecting one another from the wolves, to be iconic. Anywhere two people gather, there is conflict. The government then became an intermediary body meant to resolve dispute as favorable to blood feud; this is still a direct protection of life, from other humans as predators. Even a militia, military, or law enforcement community may exist as an entity to protect a people (individually or in group) from other humans as predators. As human society advanced, industry began to damage the environment and even that is an indirect threat to an individuals life. All of these things are thought to be traits of security (as a consideration beyond Essential Liberty) but their function is to protect life. The over extension of the right to life (security) is when an individual is subjected to legislation directing them to not perform certain actions not for another individual’s safety but for their own. Security often subjects citizens of a government which employes it to undue scrutiny justified as a preventative measure.
To legislate for individual safety [1] not only assumes a government is more capable of making decisions than a specific individual but, as laws properly apply to all, it assumes the government to be more capable than every individual. As casually accepted earlier, no individual or community can be reasonably expected to be the most capable in every situation and in every instance. The hallmark of security, the thing that makes it unacceptable, is that security requires (under threat of violence, the ultimate authority of a government of dominion) an individual to act in a certain way they may know to be wrong even if no other individual is involved, endangered, or in dispute. Security, in this sense, is the coercion of an individual or a group by the government justified by the claim it is for ‘their own safety.’ This safety, the protection of the individual from themselves by a government of dominion, is the essence of security and the assumption made by the government of the individual (that it is more capable) assumes a government of superiority in direct defiance of equality.
The trappings of security [2] are such because they are inherently indiscriminate as tactics and machinery. The government, as the superior entity, enacts surveillance upon the individual. Justified publicly as allowing the apprehension of those who would harm others, surveillance can not possibly be limited to that use. The government, as an entity that is not truly superior, will inevitably make a mistake and in doing so will investigate an innocent individual. At that moment, when surveillance is not used to protect Essential Liberty, the government will be placing a person under secret criminal investigation without the support of the ideology which justifies the existence of the government itself. A clandestine event in which some individual will be secretly observing another individual in an unanticipated way, a violation of equality allowed by the assumption of governmental superiority. The observer is placed in a position of power as one individual over another, as the government is itself a collection of individuals.
The dynamic of a government of dominion allowing certain individuals, under guise of governmental authority, to violate equality and exert unjustified power over another is The State. The police are often seen as the paragon of this condition due to the justification of surveillance as security and the role it plays in policing. While police in The State certainly do exist in this role, as violators of equality by enacting surveillance, this is not a necessary state of law enforcement. It is incidental to the true cause, excessive legislation and dominion exerted by the governing body. It is conceivable that a government could exist without Kratos, without dominion, and that law enforcement could exist in that government as simply champions to protect Essential Liberty from those human predators who may violate it. The resistance of the police as the enforcers of The State is like striking the hand of an attacker instead of a vital organ. As the government of dominion and security, The State should be resisted on a foundational level by explaining and disseminating the ideology of Liberty in contrast to the actions of The State so that the best of us may be informed and the worst of us exposed.

[1] That is, to create a law dictating an individuals action for their own safety, not to resolve conflict.
[2] In this sense, those things which are used by the government upon the populace, not used by an individual within their own space.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Liberty, lībertās, lībertātis

Though Freedom is often defined as arbitrary action with impunity, no restriction placed upon behavior at all, the initial definition of Liberty [1] calls to an idea of individualism and release from constraint in a very physical sense. Those physically restrained are those enslaved. So closely is the relationship between restrained and enslaved that the First Section of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly states that slavery shall not exist in the country unless it is used as punishment for a crime. To preclude slavery under all conditions would be to abolish incarceration in kind. Separation and independence do not carry, in their proper definitions or connotations, a sense of lawlessness or arbitrary action. Liberty (in this context) should be viewed not as freedom to act in any way one cares with impunity, instead Liberty is a release from slavery, from physical bondage, from unnecessary restraint, from inequality.
If Liberty is not chaos, as many may assert when asked, then a rare investigation is called for; Liberty’s relationship with law. The function of law, as discussed in Law as Incentive, is to codify the Social Contract in order to protect Inalienable Rights. The interaction of Liberty and Inalienable Rights is conditional, one can not be Liberated if they exist in any sort of society which threatens their Inalienable Rights as they will be restrained from acting as they wish, in very least, because they will have to protect their Inalienable Rights independent of society. It is the protection of Inalienable Rights, and freedom from coercion, that allows the independence necessary for Liberty. This conditional relationship shows that, if not requiring law, Liberty at very least requires a society in which no individual would transgress against another in a way that would violate laws which protected the Inalienable Rights of all people. Law does not restrain but supports Liberty in how it defines interaction through codification so, as we interact, there is a commonly understood structure to how people relate to each other.
The structure of interaction provided by law is often confused for having the intent of providing safety. While it is the essence of justified law to protect all people’s Inalienable Rights, justified law is not intended to provide (or in cases force) safety. Law is meant to ensure the codification of Inalienable Rights, to provide Liberty so that all people may act as they see fit under their own power. It is not necessarily the case that each individual will see safety as the guiding principle of their actions. When legislation forces upon people evaluations such as those, which are not directly justified by protecting another person’s Inalienable Rights, that legislation is undermining equality in assuming that the individual to whom it applies is less capable of deciding their own course of action than a governing body. The Liberated person must be capable of self-determination and responsible for the consequences of their actions.
One who is Liberated is independent and unconstrained, free from coercion and unnecessary legislation. The Liberated Individual is neither bound in physical restraints nor the coercion that shackles the mind with a lack of clarity or threat of unnecessary repercussion. The threat of violence, for example, is a mechanism of restraint and the very mechanism used by governments of dominion, by definition. To restrain Liberty with the application of unnecessary law is coercion (under threat of penalty) coercion, constraint, and so violence when leveraged upon an individual. A government of dominion does this inevitably when individuals abdicate their power to create governmental authority. In a case of self defense, it is not a commonly held belief that the defender is exercising any sort of authority over their attacker. A government focused only on the defense of Inalienable Rights could conceivably too be an entity without authority, at very least without authority in the way expressed by a government of dominion.
The Liberated State would have to allow for the Liberated citizen and so it would have to govern only enough to protect Inalienable Rights, as earlier defined. Law prohibiting homicide (and violence in all forms) would have to exist, of course. The Liberated State would have to ask itself if there was a significant difference, in the defense of one’s rights, between violation by a person or by environmental conditions (such as cold or disease) and how that may effect housing and health care. Property (as a means to pursue happiness) would have to be protected on some level into which further investigation would be necessary as to what property a person may lay claim. Coercion would have to become a focus in laws regarding business, government, as well as individual interaction. Even staples of current criminal justice systems, such as the surprisingly unacceptable interrogation [3], are institutions of coercion with no place in the Liberated State.

[1] “The Meaning of Liberty.” Breed’s Hill Institute, Dec. 2008. Web. 19 Dec. 2011.
[2] Lībertās - Unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint. Contains the idea of being separate and independent.
[3] Rosen, Marie. “Where the Truth Lies: The Phenomenon of False Confessions.” John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Web. 20 Dec. 2011.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Law as Incentive

The law of any representative government (republic, democracy, constitutional monarchy) exists to perform only a few simple and essential functions. In America, law exists to protect life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness (partially through the acquisition of property) as proclaimed initially with The Declaration of Independence and defined by The Constitution. The penal reformation of the late eighteenth century defined the essence and maxim of punishment while considered in context of a representative government. [1] While previously justified as retribution from a dictator [2], the penal reformation defined legislation as a style of Social Contract. The participants of any society are obligated to abide by laws so that society can provide those things which justify its existence. Consider society as an unavoidable state, something that exists any time two or more people interact. Codification of the Social Contract conceptually referenced by law becomes necessary, particularly with larger societies, to explain, justify, and ensure compliance with those guidelines necessary to prevent or resolve conflicts between citizens to ensure the protection of Inalienable Rights.
The danger of government, and one all current First World countries succumb to, is using law as an Incentive Program for desired (not necessary) behavior. Incentive Programs, to speak broadly, fail to function as anticipated as they develop what could be referred to as a ‘game.’ An Incentive is an arbitrary [3] rule lacking intrinsic value which is developed in order to produce specific behaviors. They often fail as those subject to the ‘game’ find ways in which to bypass the ‘rules.’ As thoroughly described by some economists, [4] those subject to arbitrary laws meant to encourage particular behaviors (such as behavior – reward systems) find ways to exploit the conditions for the reward in ways not supportive of the desired behavior or in repetition to gain multiple rewards for emulating (not truly prescribing to) desired behavior. Social Engineering (the use of laws to reinforce desired behaviors not necessary for society to exist) is the essential function of an Incentive Program and numerous laws in every society (such as vice law) perform this function. These laws are not justified in reformed penal theory as they do not perform the essential functions of society (for they are arbitrary.) They are the remains of previous, normative dictations meant to restrict liberty in a society in order to gain uniformity.
The existence of arbitrary law to gain conceptual benefits such as uniformity suggests the function of the government is seen as something beyond the social entity which protects Inalienable Rights and resolves conflict involving the violation of those rights; arbitrary laws extend beyond the justification the Social Contract provides. At best, a government that does more than ensure Liberty is a voluntary social club to some, at worst a parental figure that enforces arbitrary rules, ultimately with violence, to others. While many people may see that condition as desirable; the Social Contract is not justified through necessity as a club charter instead but only as an essential outline of Liberty through the protection of inalienable rights, nothing more. Nationalism [5], as excessive patriotism, is a symptom of this mentality. One can only be nationalistic if a country expresses traits others do not and this can only be the case if countries, when compared, do not legislate in the way truly justified by the Social Contract. Government as a social club, or parent, requires authority and that is gained through the relinquishment, or confiscation, of personal autonomy and power.
The government of dominion (one that legislates more than necessary and thus exercises authority) often justifies Incentive Programs as developing desired traits or conditions for the citizens it governs. While that may even be the case, the use of any Social Engineering law is at the cost of Liberty and it must be recognized that (any time Liberty is restricted) there are individuals in society whom confront an unnecessary law and are forced, through violence, to relinquish their Liberty. At best, those unnecessary laws may be for the safety of those violating the law but often they are for the comfort of others. The justification for unnecessary law, and even Incentive Programs which are more regulatory, assumes that the governmental body is more capable than the individual of determining the best course of action when inalienable rights and conflict is not involved. A further assumption, one rarely (if ever) referenced, every thing which is ‘wrong’ should be illegal.
To be wrong is not to be illegal, nor should it be. Wrong [6] in neither technical nor specific when used as a descriptor yet it is the justification the populace of a society receives for many enacted laws. For example, while there is an argument to be made for underground distribution of drugs as harmful, a free person has power over their action without government interference (should that action not conflict with a person’s rights.) To legislate a person’s action for their safety assumes that the citizen is incapable of evaluating their own actions with similar or better capability than the government. Furthermore, legislation to enforce safe choices by and for that same individual assumes safe is always the best choice. These are the underlying assumptions of Incentive Programs in the sense it is being used and, as a path to Social Engineering, these assumptions give room for even representative societies to perform the atrocities conceived in dictatorships. The essential trait of Liberty, and the penal reformation born what we now know it to be, is equality and a respect for humanity; to allow a government to assume it is more capable of its individual citizens (or that some are more capable than others in majority rule) is to undermine Liberty fundamentally by cutting at the conceptual foundation of equality.

[1] Foucault, Michel. “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.” New York: Vintage Books, 1995. Print.
[2] Dictator in Law as Incentive not intended with negative connotation but only as one who dictates as opposed to represents; need not be in the form of a monarchy.
[3] “Arbitrary.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 19 Dec. 2011.
[4] Freakonomics. Dir. Heidi Ewing et al. Chad Troutwine Films et al, 2010. Film.
[5] “Nationalism.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 19 Dec. 2011.
[6] “Wrong.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 19 Dec. 2011.