Column by Paul Hein.

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Back in the Christian era, one sometimes encountered the phrase “fear of the Lord.” The fear referred to was not so much a fear of punishment at the hands of powerful but capricious and spiteful gods, but rather a sense of awe and respect towards someone you loved, not feared. It was the “fear” that you might feel for neglecting a lover; a guilt-inducing fear of not living up to expectations, of rejecting a gift.

Of course, that was then, and this is now. Fear of the Lord, which was regarded as the beginning of wisdom, has been replaced with fear of The Rulers, which is the beginning of servitude. We might at one time have been a God-fearing nation, but today we are certainly a man-fearing nation.

Thomas Jefferson believed that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed. He could hardly have said otherwise, although one cannot but wonder if he ever regarded his slaves as having given their consent to his governance. Surely if you are under the domination of others—calling themselves “government,”--you are their slave, unless, of course, you have consented to the arrangement. A question naturally arises: How do The Rulers gain the consent of their subjects?

The answer, in a word: fear! How could it be otherwise? If you and your colleagues have given yourselves authority over others, why would you expect your commands--call them “laws”--to be obeyed if there were no threats attached? You could, for example, demand that young men carry out your will overseas by invading and, if need be, killing, to accomplish your objectives in that part of the world. And, almost certainly, there would be some young men anxious to take advantage of an opportunity for adventure, and the thrill of combat. But what of those who declined your “invitation”?

Authority absent a power to enforce is meaningless, a joke. A little girl may laugh at an order from an older sibling to clean up her room, but if that order is accompanied by the threat to tell Mom, compliance might be obtained. You would probably dismiss as preposterous a demand from various strangers to help finance some project dear to their (not your!) hearts, but if that demand was accompanied by a threat of fine and/or imprisonment, you would reach for your checkbook.

I’m sure The Rulers are aware of Jefferson’s comment about the “consent of the governed.” They would protest loudly if you charged them with a modern version of enslavement. You are surely free to withhold your consent, they would insist. They might point to the assertion by the IRS that our system of taxation is BASED upon voluntary compliance! And, at least in their own minds, they’d be right. No one is standing over you with a weapon, demanding you complete that tax form. If your son receives a notice from the draft board to present himself at a certain place at a given time, no one is going to physically drag him there. Not in the land of the free!

Rather, if you complete the tax form, or report as ordered by the draft board, you are indicating your consent. You are volunteering! Only if you ignore the authorities will they, with great reluctance, threaten you with violence; and in that case, you deserve it for refusing the demands of Your Country, Your Flag, Your Fellow Americans, Motherhood and Apple Pie. The Rulers know all the psychological tricks, and will use them with great effect, to convince you that you are not, in face, a modern slave, but instead, a high-minded volunteer for great and noble purposes. The young man, subjecting himself to the demands of the military, may feel a sense of pride in donning the uniform of “his” country. Perhaps he should realize that other young men are also wearing a uniform--an orange jumpsuit uniform, are getting up and going to bed when told to do so, are eating when and what they are told, and doing what they are commanded to do, with severe punishment in the offing should they decline, or God forbid, leave their assigned premises. The difference is that these malefactors disobeyed the Rulers, while the hero-to-be recognized the necessity of giving his consent. The orange jumpsuit gets no respect; the khaki uniform can cause folks to thank you for “your service.” As though making license plates wasn’t a service!

Psychology rules. You’re not a slave; you’re a volunteer!

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 150


Samarami's picture

Nice essay, Paul!

Have just finished a private "edit" of Larken Rose's "The Most Dangerous Superstition" (the downloadable text version was ridden through with errors, and I found myself changing some wording -- copy for my own use only).

Rose once again has reinforced my ongoing mantra that I can be free. Here. Today. Where I'm "at".

I'm convinced that many "libertarians" will not agree with that, pointing to the slave-like conditions you outline. But, in my book, that's the challenge for the men and women of freedom. To sidestep and circumnavigate the beast and remain free in the process. Not to spend time or angst in attempt to change others.

Once on these forums I had an interesting interchange with our old friend, Suverans (now disappeared from STR I think -- at least haven't seen any comments from him). I had made the above declaration, referring to myself as a "sovereign state". I had made an analogy of the rattlesnake -- that, in order for me to be free I do not need to rid the woods of snakes, but I need to wear tall boots and heavy gloves to the woods and be careful where I sit and/or reach (was bitten as a young man -- the doc declared me "immune for life" from snakebite; which I still doubt). I commented, "I am not free to walk barefoot in the woods!"

So, Suverans responded (in part): "no, Sam! You ARE free to walk barefoot in the woods!..." And, with that, he exposed the soft underbelly of many, many "libertarians" -- that, somehow, someway, we only attain "freedom" at the behest of the white man. That he must be "dissed" or "changed" or "outed" in order for me to be free.

Larken ascertains that any of us can be free by simply exorcising that dangerous superstition called "authority".


Jim Davies's picture

Larken's book is magnificent, and as you may have noticed, I selected it for recommendation on almost every page of the QuitGov site. But to suggest that he is so complacent as  "not to spend time or angst in attempt to change others" is a serious misrepresentation. Why do you suppose he wrote the book?
Having become convinced that government is a dangerous superstition, it is clearly of paramount importance to end its miserable existence at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise, it will certainly destroy us, or our children and theirs. I love my family, so want to terminate it A.S.A.P.
At the end of my Blog today, I asked this question, which seems appropriate here: "Some say [that] cannot be done, the task is impossible, or that it will take centuries. To those, I pose the question 'What, then, are you doing here, wasting your time on an impossible dream?'"

Jim Davies's picture

Another fine article, Paul. Fear is certainly how today's rulers gain "consent", but back when the FedGov began was there not a different factor in play: deceit?
What I mean is that the 39 lawyers and politicians who set things in motion fooled the people into thinking that this new country would be run by representatives of the people themselves. Hence the opening words, "We the people..." Hence their echo today, the oft-heard "We are the government."
Reality was quite different, especially if one accepts my theme in 1789 - that from the get-go, it was always planned that ultimate power would reside in the judiciary.

James Clayton's picture

Fear is one way that your Rulers can obtain the consent of their subjects, but consent can be more effectively engineered and/or purchased; and perhaps it shouldn't even be called consent if it has been obtained through intimidation or deception.