Enforcing the Social Contract

Via LewRockwell.com, Butler Shaffer points a profound problem with modern American statism and social contract theory:

Those who argue against secession must, in doing so, negate the entire notion of "contract" upon which the theory of the modern state rests. But if the state becomes, by our fictional "contract," our "agent," upon what philosophic or legal principle is the "principal" to be denied the authority to discharge the "agent?" The Declaration of Independence has logical consistency on this point.

Further evidence that the Civil War was the end of the American ideal of government of, by, and for the people. No matter who's side you supported, the experiment was over: a republic of sovereign individuals was replaced by a domestic and, eventually, international empire. Given that, it's clear that enforcing the interests of the people in the "social contract" would naturally lead to rebellion, as Jefferson indicated (found via the Mises Blog):

"I like a little rebellion now and then," Jefferson wrote Mrs. Adams, "...the spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."

Indeed, the South's cause may have been plagued by some very evil notions. Even so, it is still better to resist centralized authority. There is really no principled difference between overthrowing an oppressive regime based in the plantation owner's house and one based in the White House. The challenge itself, regardless of the particular motivating agenda, serves as a valuable check on the ruling class.

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Written on Friday, October 20, 2006