Looking carefully at that which is unseen.

Daily Archives: July 12, 2011

Thinking about: The purpose of governments

Politicians, in addition to having any sense of shame or irony surgically removed, also generally have radical changes made to their eyes and frontal lobes in order to prevent them from comprehending plain English, in the event that that English clashes with their world view and ambitions. Take for example this simple bit from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

See? The purpose of government is to secure the rights of the people. That’s the purpose in a republic, anyway, but after a historical while republics seem to inevitably transform into something much more authoritarian, and the purpose of governments becomes a combination of aggrandizement of the oligarchs who inevitably assume the (ever growing) reins of power, and keeping the commoners in their place, subservient to the oligarchs.

Fear is a wonderful tool for control of the plebes, better and cheaper than bread and circuses. Nothing keeps boobus americanus subservient like a good scare, preferably of some terrible fate that awaits him if only the Nanny State (or the Daddy State) does not interpose itself.

Good oligarchs also like to keep the plebes quiet by using established institutions and procedures whenever possible. Again, the sheeple are more likely to look up from their contented grazing if the will of the oligarchs is being imposed by familiar means. This does not mean that a good crisis can’t be used to create, say, a Transportation Safety Administration out of whole cloth, but maintenance of that control and tension generally needs more mundane means, such as the courts.

The purpose of a court – and we’re looking at criminal courts, generally – is nothing more exciting than to determine guilt or innocence. This is handled by a fact finder, either a judge or a jury, hearing all of the presentation from both sides and arriving at a conclusion based on those presentations. Bear in mind that guilt or innocence is not necessarily the same as “what really happened.” It simply is a determination of whether the State has successfully proven that the event occurred and that criminal liability needs to attach to the defendant. Under the Declaration of Independence theory, William Blackstone’s adage of “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” applies perfectly. The purpose of governments is to protect the rights of that one innocent.

But allowing the arguably guilty to escape is not conducive the oligarchs because neither they, nor the sheeple they rule, ever see themselves as being the one innocent falsely convicted.* Therefore you end up with people like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who manages to roll both the fear card and the “oligarchy knows best” card into a single liberty-hating position with his different view on the purpose of courts. To his mind, courts apparently should be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the desires of the oligarchy. Doubtless he longs wistfully for the old Soviet show trials, where there was an outward appearance of legal procedure, but the results were actually a foregone conclusion.

Given the way that the sheeples are pounding their little hoofies over the Anthony case, I expect that Mr. McConnell will find plenty of support for his position – and the inevitable expansion thereof.

*which brings to mind the old joke: “A Conservative is a Liberal who’s been mugged. A Liberal is a Conservative who’s been indicted.”