Right now, America is facing a level of lawlessness that is highly disconcerting. Everywhere we turn, we see the dismissal of what is supposed to be the law. Whether it is at the border, on our streets, in our courts, in our schools, or even in our homes, there is a dedicated, purposeful, and intentional desire to undermine the rule of law. Therefore, as we are in dire need of a discussion and understanding of the topic, it is pertinent to ask: what is the law?
I recommend that we look to a French economist named Frederick Bastiat, who wrote an essay, first published in 1850, called “The Law.” His essay is as relevant and pertinent as ever to the question posed in this missive.
“…it is because personality [individual life], liberty, and property exist beforehand, that men make laws. What, then, is law? As I have said elsewhere, it is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. Nature, rather God, has bestowed upon every one of us the right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property, since these are the three constituent or preserving elements of life . . . The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense; it is the substitution of collective for individual forces, for the purpose of acting in the sphere in which they have a right to act, of doing what they have a right to do, to secure persons, liberties, and properties, and to maintain each in its right, so as to cause justice to reign over all.”
The common themes one finds in this defining quote are life, liberty, and property. This comes from the writings of the father of classical liberalism, John Locke, and his theory of natural rights as presented in his seminal work, “The Second Treatise on Government,” 1689. What Bastiat is affirming is that our natural rights that come from the Creator God–life, liberty, and property–are ours to defend and protect.
However, each of us, even though we have the right to, cannot operate in a civil society seeking our own means of defense of these unalienable rights. Therefore, individuals grant this individual right to a collective organization, meaning consent of the governed, to defend and protect those rights. That is the purpose of the law. That is what the government is established to do. That is the premise of our Declaration of Independence. Government does not exist to usurp individual unalienable rights; it exists to protect them. That is why our Constitution, our rule of law, establishes this in its first ten amendments, our individual Bill of Rights.
The reason the progressive socialist left has embarked upon this crusade of lawlessness is that they have no regard for individual rights, unless they align with their ideological rights. Leftists do not study or read the philosophies of Locke, Bastiat, DeTocqueville, or anyone who advocates for individual rights. The leftists in America are grounded in the rantings of Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Saul Alinsky, and other proponents of collectivism. This is why we should not refer to these progressive socialists as liberals. True liberals — classical liberals — are today’s constitutional conservatives who believe in and understand that the individual is supreme over the institution of government, not vice versa.
Just recently, Kamala Harris misquoted the Declaration of Independence by intentionally excluding “Creator” of the first unalienable right, “life.” Bastiat, if alive today, would have immediately called her out on this purposeful omission. As well, when the government is making decisions to release violent criminals back onto our streets, that is a violation of the Law. We have a government that is allowing millions of illegal immigrants to violate our national sovereignty which endangers our lives by way of drug, human, and sex trafficking, not to mention the destruction of private property. This is a violation of the Law.
When our government believes in the theory of Karl Marx which states, “from those according to their ability, to those according to their need,” that is the premise of economic socialism. It is also a violation of the Law because it is not the raison d’etre of the government to decide how the property of one must be taken away for others. That is what Bastiat termed “legal plunder.” How could it be part of the Law to have the government decide which businesses are essential, or not?
Even Benjamin Franklin asserted, “those who would surrender essential liberty for temporary security, in the end, will deserve neither liberty, nor security.”
We live in a constitutional republic, not a constitutional monarchy. We abide by the Law, which exists to protect our rights, freedoms, and liberties. We are not bound to obey, or be ruled by, edicts, orders, mandates, decrees, and rules which reflect more ideology than constitutionality. Laws are not made by courts, regardless of what the progressive socialist left states, and courts do not grant us rights, especially rights to take the life of another, born or unborn. Legislatures, not judges or executives, make laws. As our elected representatives, laws are supposed to reflect their fundamental duty to protect our life, liberty, and property, not cherry-pick who they will defend.
Bastiat tells us what it is that most perverts the Law:
“The law has been perverted through the influence of two very different causes — naked greed and misconceived philanthropy…he may live and enjoy, by seizing and appropriating the production of the facilities of his fellow men. This is the origin of plunder. It is easy to conceive that, according to the power of the legislator, it destroys for its own profit, and in different degrees amongst the rest of the community, personal independence by slavery [physical and economic], liberty by oppression, and property by plunder.”
If we are to Live Free in America, which is our mission at the American Constitutional Rights Union, that means we must restore the original intent and purpose of The Law, and we must comprehend what the Law is. The sad reality in America is that many are blind to what is happening and have joined the campaign of progressive socialism to make individual rights subservient to the collective.
Bastiat reminds the progressives, socialists, Marxists, statists, and communists of a time-tested truth, “It is in the nature of men to rise against the injustice of which they are the victims.” That rise, that movement happened some 246 years ago in America. Lawlessness was defeated by those who preferred liberty.
Steadfast and Loyal.
This article first appeared at Townhall.com