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Archive for November 3rd, 2012

The Paradox Of Self-Government

Posted by pwl on November 3, 2012

The Paradox Of Self-Government
By Alan Lovejoy

The state hypothesis argues that granting the state certain powers and authorities that no other entity has is the optimal solution to the problem of peaceful human interaction, cooperation and collaboration. Of course, there are many variations on the theme: Absolute monarchs, direct democracies, and modernly Constitutional republics, to name just the most common.

The principle argument for the state hypothesis is that human beings tend to mistreat each other, and so the state is necessary in order to protect the rights of all from the deprivations and abuses of the few.

But who will guard the guards themselves? Humans do not cease to have a tendency to mistreat others simply because they become employees (or leaders) of the state. That is the central paradox of establishing a state with a monopoly on the authority to operate as a government.

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” ~ James Madison

The United States was founded by those who believed that a Constitutional republic might be the optimal form of a state, and that a Constitutional republic with limited powers might be a good solution to the problem of how to keep the state from becoming the very thing that it is intended to prevent from coming into existence, namely, a tyrannical violator of individual rights that no one has sufficient power to oppose:

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” -Thomas Jefferson

But the state hypothesis has a fundamental flaw that categorically prevents it from being true: It’s based on multiple logical contradictions.

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