Paradoxes, Inconsistencies and Political Anarchists

Column by new Root Striker L.K. Samuels.

Exclusive to STR

The article below contains excerpts from L.K. Samuels’ new book, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action.

Why do things rarely turn out as they should? Why do plans routinely backfire? Why is life so contradictory? Is there some logical explanation or theorem that would account for so many counterintuitive, incoherent, and contradictory phenomena? Or is the universe so mind–numbingly complex that paradoxes must permeate our time–space continuum? Whatever their causes, paradoxes have the dexterity to reveal profound truths, valuable insights, and oxymoronic contortions.

But paradoxes are more than just brawls between literal and figurative truths, semantics of grammar, or finite and infinite absurdities. Paradoxes have the quality of being infinitely divisible. They expand beyond Zeno’s “the all is one” conflicts and beyond the perplexities scientists uncover in nonlinear systems. In truth, paradoxes are good at piercing the armor of long–held assumptions and shallow beliefs.

One could easily dig beneath the surface of any issue and uncover counterintuitive findings that would better represent reality. Thorny paradoxes have a way of revealing profound patterns contrary to what one would expect. For instance, many chaologists would argue that when more order is imposed, the less stable the results. The larger the welfare program, the greater the poverty. The more spent on government education, the higher the illiteracy rate. The harsher the drug laws, the greater the use of illegal drugs. The more laws enacted, the higher the crime rate. The more public housing units built, the greater the number of people living in slums. The greater the effort by the Federal Reserve to stabilize the economy, the more turbulent roller-coaster rides of inflating and deflating bubbles. The more farm subsidies handed out to keep prices stable, the more drops in crop prices (because of the surpluses created by the subsidization). The longer unemployment benefits are provided, the longer joblessness will persist. The list seems endless.

But the paradoxes that libertarians find most interesting are the ones that flip around the whole meaning of how rulership comes about and why state-centric politicians often behave as if they were dedicated anarchists.

Rulers’ Paradox

For political wonks, the “Rulers’ Paradox” defies modern assumptions about how a democratic society operates. Under John Locke’s “consent of the governed” axiom, authorities derive their power from the citizenry, under the auspices of participatory democracy.1 The people, via the election process, transfer their authority to governing officials, who serve in the best interest of society. This transfer of power and privilege resembles the power–of–attorney that bestows the fiduciary authorization to act on another person’s behalf. For instance, those in government can rightfully defend their citizens, because each person has the identical right to defend him or herself from an attacker.

But what if officials in a democratic government organize death squads to assassinate international leaders? Where does such authority to commit murder come from? What if a freely elected government takes property away from its citizens through “eminent domain” powers, incarcerates accused persons with neither due process nor habeas corpus, tortures suspects, kidnaps troublemakers, takes away money from citizens, or wiretaps citizens’ phone lines? Where and how does a representative government acquire authority to perform such coercive acts, acts disallowed for individual citizens?

If ordinary citizens could assassinate, steal, imprison, torture, kidnap, and wiretap without incrimination, that authority could be transferred to government for its democratic arsenal of policymaking weaponry. However, in most countries, the public does not have such rights or power. And if citizens were to do what governments often have done, they would be arrested and jailed. This idea is succinctly spelled out in a quote attributed to John Locke: “The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.”2 Nonetheless, governments routinely exercise such abuse of authority on a grand scale, although most people adhere to the belief that nobody, not even their leaders, should be above the law.

But this paradox falls deeper into the rabbit hole. It is no secret that government officials concur that the people, for the most part, cannot be trusted to do the right thing. If this were not the case, legislators would abstain from passing thousands of meddlesome and nanny–like laws, confident that people are good and decent, and will behave appropriately. Yet, the ironic twist is inescapable: If people are unfit to choose the right thing, then the government agencies administered by people must also be unqualified. Thomas Jefferson noted this conundrum when he wrote: “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?”3

The most important implication of this paradox is that if the consent of the governed is violated, so is the social contract. The social contract is considered the central pillar that binds society to a legitimate state authority. Elected governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed. If the government breaks its contract with the people, then the people are no longer bound by it, and they have a right to regain their complete sovereignty.

The Political Anarchist Paradox

One would not think of power brokers and lawmakers as exhibiting anarchistic traits. But save–the–world prima donnas tightly gripping their scepters are eager to push for more power, and fewer checks and balances. With a craving for everything in life, they cannot resist the egotistical urge to overreach their authority and thus to become the quintessential lawbreakers.

This is no accident. As reported in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, narcissists tend to become leaders. If a group has no leader, it is the narcissist who usually steps up to the leadership plate. “They like power, they are egotistical, and they are usually charming and extroverted. But the problem is, they don’t necessarily make better leaders,” asserted Amy Brunell, the lead author of a study at Ohio State University at Newark.4

The effects of narcissism have always been a major stumbling block to peaceful society. The politically addicted always want others to follow, blindly, their intransigent agendas. They may appear to be the embodiment of absolute law and order, but beneath their badge of officialdom, they are more interested in keeping everyone else at bay for their own personal satisfaction. Arrogantly self-righteous, they don’t particularly like competitors interfering with their social or economic policies. In fact, some have referred to the politically engaged as “anarchists in drag.”

Narcissistic politicians feel exempt from the rule of law, and routinely violate or ignore it. For instance, President George W. Bush claimed that he had the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted by Congress during his terms in office, contending that they infringed on his power as commander in chief. He made that rash assertion when he got caught violating a law requiring the federal government to obtain warrants before wiretapping telephones in America.5

According to legal scholars, it has not been uncommon for presidents to refuse to execute some congressionally enacted laws, claiming that they were unconstitutional. . During a 1977 television interview with David Frost, Richard Nixon asserted that presidents were above the law, arguing that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” But the scale of President Bush’s ignoring of the law was unprecedented. Bush actually violated laws he himself had signed, secretly engaging in conduct that those laws criminalized.

For political narcissists, no outside laws or authority apply, except those they agree with. An anarchist could ask for no less, except that the philosophical anarchist wants control over only his own life, while the political anarchist wants control over everybody’s lives. The political anarchist is so bereft of conscience that he will twist, distort, and break any law to gain the authority he feels entitled to.

In a sense, many political leaders are identical to bomb–throwing anarchists, in that if they don’t get their way with foreign leaders, they will send tanks and bombers across international boundaries. Historically, the destruction from warring nations has been far more catastrophic than anything cooked up by small bands of sophomoric anarchists.

The anarchist–tyrant mindset of narcissistic politicians allows them to defy the law while simultaneously presiding over the creation and enforcement of those very laws—an obvious conflict of interest. Authors Morris and Linda Tannehill in The Market for Liberty confront this anomaly, writing: “The contradiction of hiring an agency of institutional violence to protect us from violence is even more foolhardy than buying a cat to protect one’s parakeet.”6 This political lawlessness represents an anarchistic duplicity, a paradoxical role that is difficult to identify, since pathological narcissists disguise their true, egotistical intentions under a law–enforcement uniform.

Obviously, political anarchists are attracted to the adrenaline rush of power, because that is where they can get the largest dose of self–gratification and audience admiration. In truth, most politicians imbibe the spirit of both anarchistic and authoritarian criminality, blending moralist and amoralist camps into a sort of schizophrenic artifice that has led to epic disasters of almost unimaginable proportion.

L.K. Samuels is the editor and contributing author of Facets of Liberty: A Libertarian Primer, first published in 1985. He was President of Rampart Institute, which he and Robert LeFevre founded in Orange County, California. His In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action was published by Cobden Press in 2013. Visit his website at www.lksamuels.com. For more information on L.K. Samuels, see his Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.K._Samuels

1 Consent of the governed was succinctly expressed in the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), initially drafted by George Mason, which proclaimed that “all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people…” The declaration also contends that the people had the right to rebel against “inadequate” government.
2 This quote is apparently a paraphrasing of Locke’s ideas, since its exact wording is not found in his major works.
3 The Rulers’ Paradox is my invention, formulated to highlight the contradictions in how power is routinely abused in democratic nations.
4 “Narcissistic People Most Likely to Emerge as Leaders,” Science Daily, posted Oct. 10, 2008. http://www.ScienceDaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007155100.htm. Main source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “Leader Emergence, The Case of the Narcissistic Leaders,” Sept. 15, 2008.
5Charlie Savage, “Bush challenges hundreds of laws; President cites powers of his office,” Boston Globe, April 30, 2006.
6 Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Market for Liberty, self–published in 1970, p. 41, reprinted in 1993 by Fox and Wilkes Books, Center for Independent Thought, NY: New York.

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Lawrence Samuels's picture
Columns on STR: 7

L.K. Samuels is the editor and contributing author of Facets of Liberty: A Libertarian Primer, first published in 1985. His new book, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, was published in 2013. All of his books are available at www.lksamuels.com.

Comments

Samarami's picture

Nice to have you on board, Lawrence.

"Political anarchist" is a first class oxymoron. "Libertarians" -- even "anarchists" -- will argue and debate over meanings and nuances and expressions. I once posted a list of "isms" and "ist's"associated with the liberty phenomenon that I'd encountered on the web. I think it is now approaching 100.

Freedom allows you to say what you want to say, and other free individuals to argue with you about it. Libertarians and anarchists will even engage in disputes to prove one or the other are free or not free for pity sake.

I'm a fan of John Hasnas, who wrote:

    "...Anarchy refers to a society without a central political authority. But it is also used to refer to disorder or chaos. This constitutes a textbook example of Orwellian newspeak in which assigning the same name to two different concepts effectively narrows the range of thought. For if lack of government is identified with the lack of order, no one will ask whether lack of government actually results in a lack of order.

    "And this uninquisitive mental attitude is absolutely essential to the case for the state. For if people were ever to seriously question whether government is really productive of order, popular support for government would almost instantly collapse..."

My observation (thanks, Murray Rothbard) is that the history of virtually all abstractions most of us call "government" or "the state" had their origins in prehistoric bands of hordes who would attack caravans or cities. All most certainly had narcissists as leaders -- as do all "governments" to this day.

Xiongnu might encircle and besiege a city, and eventually breech the walls. They would then rape the women. Afterword they would slaughter all men, women and children, and leave their corpses to rot on the desert floor.

Only then would they pilfer and leave the city in burning ruins, then proceed to the next conquest. Scorched earth.

So, as you say, political "wonks" will wring their hands and wail about the "paradoxes" in government. But I think it's simple: as you say, those who gain control are the narcissists. Interestingly, there are schools of thought as to what it is that gives rise to rulers. One is "Stockholm syndrome", the idea that many of the captives ("hostages") will come to virtually love their captors, who are now their rulers.

Another -- I can't think of the official name -- describes the phenomenon of narcissists and psychopaths within those captives who are recruited to do the grunt work of rulership. The recruits ascend to positions of power and become far more vicious tyrants than the conquerors.

The Genghis Kahns and Attila the Huns of history became what is now known as the power elite -- those who direct and control that genius discovery called "democracy", and that eager willingness of those being robbed to insist that "...everybody should pay his fair share..."

There is nothing paradoxical about government. Government is paradox.

The enormity of the truth is incredible.

Sam

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Glock27's picture

L.K.
I have deep appreciation to your biblography. It is something you rarely see around here other than references to ones own works. Now there is nothing wrong with that except the if that's all you reference it smacks of egoism. My writing is terriable and I am not ashamed to admit it, also I am not the brightes color in the box. Given this I would like to ask a simple question of you and pm would be more than acceptable should it be longer than the typical article. I believe in the Constitution, but I also know it is loaded with flaws of which legislators are not eager to fix because of the advantage it gives them, however they are surely hell bent on getting rid of the bill of rights. Especially the 2nd of which they recently failed to achieve thank G-d!
Since we are a collected society of people I find it essential for some guiding principle. My argument is that i believe the Constitution is a workable document if it were given an honest application, but it was violated at the very beginning with Washington in his attack on the Whisky Rebellion, which I was corrected to have occurred in Pennsylvania and not the carolinas. So. After such a lengthy introduction I would like to ask what your perspective of the Constitution is and why?

With deepest respect (Please not this is not presented to open of a wrathful debate. I would just like to know. Maybe it can wisen me up some)

Glock27

P.S. It's obvious I hold no great esteem for the document but do believe if makes the better model.

Samarami's picture

Glock:

    "...I would like to ask what your perspective of the Constitution is and why?..."

If you read my previous post(s) you've gathered where I stand regarding coercively funded monopoly "government" commonly accepted as necessary by the masses. Their constitution(s) are -- to use one of their trite adjectives -- frivolous. Since I am a sovereign state their documents have no consequential meaning for me.

But since you've asked a legitimate question I'll let a legitimate individual provide theanswer: click here.

Lysander Spooner wrote this over 130 years ago. It has as much validity today as it did around the year 1880.

It is also a good treatise on their hero, Lincoln's war to prevent state independence -- written from the perspective of a tried-and-true Yankee.

Sam

Glock27's picture

Sam--I fear I am confusing you with the Word Constitution. Everything you have said is true, my singular point is "I do not believe the Constitution ever got a chance to operate the way it was intended" Now I cannot disagree that there are some disparities in it, given the time it was written. Our good General Washington I believe was the first to violate it with his "Whiskey Rebellion" tactic to pay off the revolutionary war debt and tried to force it on the Pennsylvanian moonshiners. So. Right from day one it was not a respected document and I wonder if any were even in agreement. I have dipped into the Federalist Papers and the Anti-federalist papers. Both sides make points.
Now, with my limited understanding, when two or more people come togeather there will need to be some ground rules established. I have haggels with a few amendments made but most of them I can live with because they seem to be quiet natural to me.
I have read Lysanders rebuttal, but I don't fully agree. He has a strong argument, but still, somewhere there needs to be some kind of common ground of guidance.
I also do not disagree with Lincolon being a scoundral or illiterate, either works. Even at this point Most of the constitution merely outlines how old you have to be, and a few other elements (I am writing this on the fly).
My base proposition is; what is wrong with giving it an honest try? Or is everyone so set in their ways they are unwilling to apply the least bit of effort to make it work? (I have to be cautious here for there are a few points which are bothersome in the document). This, for me, is not a simple issue. At first blush I believe that the majority of the Constitution would be workable and we surely don't need a full time federal legislature. Some of the misery arrises from the buearucratic appointments and the ability to establish regulations without any oversight by anyone other than the people harmed by the buearuacy which should have absolutely no authority to make rules and regulations over people and businesses.
Essentially this country has never operated off of the Contitution. No one has held the three branches accountable. Mostly what I am saying is that I do not know if it will actually work or not because no president to date has tried to actually follow it, nor legislature nor judiciary. Now they all took oaths to defend and uphold it but none have. Except to start their little wars and develope their hand out programs.
Most of the argument I hear comes from a point as though the Constitution has actually been followed the way it is written. Now granted, some parts have been, especially those parts which give advantage to the setting party. Can't recall where, but Bush, the last one, is calculated to have violated the Constitution 786 times in his eight years. Now tell me, is that following the Constitution? I don't think so. This is not easy for me to explain, but I do hope that something I have said helps you to understand why I say what I do.
Alex wanted to know what it was about the Constitution I was so strong about, but has never answered me back. I guess he figures I am hopeless!
I think you would agree that it would make no difference what document would be fashioned it could be abused "Twilight of Psychopaths". Therein the crux. People. Someone always wants power.
I hope this helps because I just do not know how else to say it. All I know for sure is that I will not live to see the day the Constitution is actually used. (Now that I think of it "executive orders" needs to be amended out.)
This is not a position Sam it is just one box I trying to figure out how to open, at least to my satisfaction.
Do you believe the Constitution would work if every branch of government were to follow it to the letter? (Of course there are a few exceptions like executive orders, and some others I noted is just not healthy until they are amended out, but given the removals). Is is possible or probable for it to function as the people were lead to be believe?

With all due respect,
Stay Saft, Stay Well and Watch your six.
Glock27

Samarami's picture

Glock:

    "...somewhere there needs to be some kind of common ground of guidance..."

The only observation I can make at this point, Glock, is that it looks to me as if you're assiduously attempting to create a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I mean, by "guidance" do you mean "state"? Because if that's where you're headed you're talking to the wrong group of folks here.

Because here at STR, Glock, you'll discover most of us agree that the solution for that "common ground of guidance" is NOT government, or The-State. I am a sovereign state. As such I am personally responsible for my share of that "guidance" -- and I expect you to be responsible for your share.

Long before "...our good general Washington..." arrived on the scene, the idea of statism was sold to the early tribes of human beings as necessary for "order". In fact, if you grant certain credence to the Hebrew Book, the very first promulgator of this idea also was also the very first politician in recorded history.

From what you say you like to be armed to the teeth, so I presume you're equipped to deal with that element of individuals you may encounter who do NOT have a "ground of guidance". Are you saying (or asking) that you need some form of coercive government in case your armaments fail?.

    "...Is is possible or probable for it (white man's constitution) to function as the people were lead to be believe?..."

No.

Sam

Samarami's picture

I tried to embed a link to Harry Browne's "Why Government Doesn't Work" in pdf, then had to go back three times to try to find one that would embed. Plus the server here is so painfully slow this has taken at least a half hour.

So, here's a Mises website where you can "click" on the offer of the free book in pdf if you'd like to read or save it on your hard disk for later reading:

http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Why_Government_Doesn%27t_Work

Sam

Glock27's picture

Sam,
First: I appreciate the challenge you are throwing at me. The manner of decency, respect, kindness and the will to engage rather than finding or creating some rude and crass approach to tell me I am an idiot. Thanks
Second: I understand that everyone at STR is anti-government, do not require a government. As you have and others as well said, government is an abstract. It does not exist. The exact same thing can be said about freedom and liberty. They are abstract concepts like government. “Problem, reaction, solution” provided a insightful overview of the psychopaths who operate within a form of a power base. Also, as you have said so succinctly through many different posts, demonstrates that man has been governed from the cave to the grave using the Hebrew reference demonstrates that. The idea that there will ever be free people is not going to happen as I understand events. Although the references you shared were anti-government in their origins also, contributed to the idea that governments will always be in control. I am not saying that a free society could not be possible or even probable. It’s just that I do not see it as ever happening—mostly because of the references you have shared trend in that direction as well as playing the anti-government card.
Third: As I understand you, you seem to be talking of a different kind of freedom. Having read H. Browns book and getting ready for a second trip, I think I understand the nature of freedom being spoken of; individual freedom. My first reading I understand him saying more a personal freedom than he is actually speaking of freedom from government although it is tied into them.
Four: By guidance do I mean federal or state or local. NO! With nearly 300,000,000 people on this section of soil what would you propose to maintain general welfare? Some people will work, and some will not work; in reality people are not going to change their nature. There will be power seekers, psychopaths, murders, pedophiles etc. They will make their own arrangement of laws and then rush other peaceful settlements. I think one has to look beyond the philosophy and see what might be the unintened consequences of such. P.S. The government sticker you put in your post before last would not permit the site to come up. Blocked every time I tried.
Freedom is not free. To attain it there will be a cost. I can tell you I certainly do not want the government we currently have. I am thinking that the only solution I have is one of my old originals. To be free, you have to be 2oo to 400 miles away from the nearest society.
Fifth: Should my armaments fail then I fail. Where I currently exist that is a forgone conclusion.
In closing, I would like to have seen how the Constitution would have worked out if a few snakes were cast out of it. Would it have worked? Maybe? Maybe not? We will certainly never know.
Stay Safe, Stay Well, and watch your six.

Respectfully
Glock27

Samarami's picture

Glock:

    "...The idea that there will ever be free people is not going to happen as I understand events..."

Ah, my friend, but I am free. And I am a people (one of the cute statements one of my grandsons blurted out one day when he was 3 or 4).

Granted, I live in occupied territory, and find it an ever-increasing challenge to steer clear of the white man's oppression and tyranny. But he is stupid, inept, and so full of presumptuousness that it is not that difficult to navigate around his insolence. Sometimes you fly under, other times over.

Some on this site (and others) misinterpret my declaration of freedom and seem to experience angst at my refusal to whine and wring my hands over the way "things" appear to be headed. Have no fear.

First of all, there are things I cannot change or control. Freedom (some call it "serenity") is understanding that. I must be willing to change the things I can.

I do not advocate sitting on "our" (I can't speak for anyone other than me) hands. I believe it is incumbent upon me to lead by example and advocate for "a free society" ("society" also being another of those illusory abstractions).

If I'm not free I'm gonna play hell helping you or anybody else acquire liberty.

    "... To be free, you have to be 2oo to 400 miles away from the nearest society..."

You're the only society you've got. You can run, but you can't hide.

If you don't believe you're free, it's time. It's time, my friend. Right here. Right now.

You can gallop all over creation trying to preach liberty -- and whine about those who you perceive as preventing you from being free -- but it will be elusive until you become free inside your own skin.

Just sayin'. Goin' truckin' for the week.

Sam

Glock27's picture

SAM: Very good points. I am in the presumption that there are things I must work out for my own. I was fairly certain of your position and you confirm it again. Internal freedom must or maybe should be the first goal to grasp and achieve. I am working on the idea of my "Independent Soverigenty" and I note that you speak straight from Browne. I had an art teacher one time to tell me I was trying to force my work. He said it will come to you when you are ready and no sooner will it come to you" I think this may be where I am and I feel I must be getting close because some of it is making more and more sense to me than before, that is your words are beginning to make more sense to me.
On the surface you probably see and ask yourself "It's so simple I can't understand why you haven't gotten it yet." I haven't gotten it yet because I guess you might say I am not entirely ready yet. Your blue spots sure do help. I have really taken to "Twilight of the Psychotic" and now to the Helgian Premise you posted. With all the damned drugs I have to take to feel human is slowly eating away my brain that it takes numerous amounts of effort on my part to get it to sink in and remain for any period of time.

Stay Safe, Stay well and watch your six.

Glock27