There is one subject more important than any other earthly subject. It involves everyone. And it dictates the lives of billions.
But most people overlook it as an academic exercise reserved for the scholastic elite.
Politics deal with life and death on a daily basis. I’m not talking about dictators or genocides.
I’m talking about the root of all government power–democratic included: Controlling people by threat of violence.
This how every form of government on the planet functions. Laws only mean something if there are consequences.
Without the threat of physical force, laws wouldn’t be enforceable. If you got a speeding ticket, but there were not consequences to not paying it, no one would pay their tickets. And everyone would speed.
Every government on the planet operates via cooperation by threat of violence… Laws only mean something if there are consequences.
I am not making a value judgment on this statement (in this post). I am merely stating what is. Right or wrong, good or bad, governments operate via the cooperation by threat of violence.
Not only that, but governments have a legal monopoly on violence.
No one else is allowed to use violence unless it is in the most dire circumstances.
Here is one thing we to need take away from this: Governments are about control, and achieving that control by threatening violence.
This is true of ALL government. Not just tyrannical ones. Free societies still need their governments to have teeth. If they can’t enforce laws, everyone’s freedom would be in jeopardy.
But, this also means we live under an entity that can legally use violence to get us to do what it wants.
Whether that power was established by vote or conquest, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if we don’t do what our particular government wants, they can use guns to make us do it.
This is a sobering thought.
The “gravity of government” should lay a heavy responsibility on our shoulders. We must put more thought into our political positions than any other earthly subject.
We must put more thought into our political positions than any other earthly subject.
We should not adopt ideas simply because we think they make sense. Or because they are “common sense.” Sometimes, things this weighty and important require more thought than a soundbite, meme, or news article.
Even if we think something is a good idea, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to have this idea enforced at gunpoint?”
That may seem extreme. But if your neighbor doesn’t want to participate in a law that you support, eventually the law–backed by guns–will force them to do it anyway.
So, when your favorite candidate speaks, whether you’re Feeling The Bern, or wanting to Make America Great Again, are you willing to support their ideas with a gun?
This is why political philosophy is so important. As boring as it sounds, political philosophy deals with the things of life. It has ultimate consequences. And they shape the lives of every human being.
What we choose to do with government today will dictate the lives of billions tomorrow.
We cannot be rash. We cannot be flippant. We hold the lives of every human being in our hands.
When we cast our vote, we are deciding which laws and principles we want to force on those around us.
During this election season, think about that. And realize this: If we want to make the world better for tomorrow, we need to study philosophy today.
If we want to make the world better for tomorrow, we need to study philosophy today.
For more reading, I would suggest:
- Road to Serfdom, by Frederick Hayek
- The Theory of Money and Credit, by Frederick von Mises
- Atlas Shugged, by Any Rand
- The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
- Second Treatise on Government, by John Locke
In it, I boil down the philosophical roots of our nation, and make political philosophy easy and poignant. But any of the books listed above will challenge and encourage you.
Originally published at www.seanedwards.com on May 10, 2016.
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