There are two general ways in which people follow the law. One group is careful to stay within the letter of the law. If there is any question about their compliance, they have well thought-out arguments about the precise meaning of each word and phrase within the law in question. The other group is concerned with the spirit of the law. They understand that language is not always precise, so they think about what the lawmakers intended when they crafted the specific law in question.
Both approaches, as is true of every human activity, are prone to corruption. The letter-of-the-law side will play fast and loose with the definition of words, often feigning ignorance about the meaning of common words. The famous sociopaths Bill and Hillary Clinton have always been fond of this. Bill famously challenged the meaning the word “is” in one of his depositions. This is probably the most extreme example of tactical nihilism ever committed. The Clintons were trail blazers.
Corrupting the spirit of the law is a tougher process. It requires the corrupt to recast history in order to mischaracterize the intentions of the lawmakers. The usual form this takes is another type of tactical nihilism, in which the corrupt claim the people who wrote the law never intended its current use. The gun grabbers like to play this trick when talking about what the Framers meant when the put the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights. They simply lie about what can be easily confirmed.
Because restating the past is difficult, the corrupt tend to congregate in the letter-of-the-law end of the pool. We see that with the seditious conspiracy to overturn the 2016 presidential election. The people involved were wholly invested in finding loopholes and exceptions in the letter of the law. During the virus panic, some information has been declassified, showing how these guys parsed the law. Supposedly there is an investigation into all of this, but that is probably a myth.
The dynamic at work leading to this conspiracy was something like this. Someone high up in the Obama administration decided to use the surveillance agencies for domestic spying, which is in direct violation of the law. There’s a mountain of testimony from lawmakers, who crafted the laws creating these powers, that they were to never be used to spy on Americans. Even today, grammar school children are told that only despots spy on political opponents, so the intent of these laws is clear.
That’s why the Department of Justice, the FBI and the CIA have ignored the spirit of the laws and instead focus in the letter of the law. Like Bill Clinton warming up for a deposition, they pored over every word of the regulations in order to craft fraudulent warrants and court filings. They did so in a way that could allow them to muddy the waters if they got caught, by claiming simple errors of fact were just honest mistakes, not an effort to mislead the court and get around the law.
This is the nature of the subversive. The reason he focuses on the letter of the law is because he is at war with the spirit of the law. His first step in killing the law and what it represents is to strangle its spirit by denying it exists. First, he denies it in his mind then he denies in his actions. You see that with the FBI agents involved in the Spygate conspiracy. They hated that they could not spy on Americans, so they first denied they should not be doing it then found a way to do it.
This is not a unique to the FBI. It is just one of the many corrupt institutions in present day America. You see this hatred for the spirit of the law in the Senate’s conduct during the FBI scandal. They surely know the laws in question were never intended to be used as political weapons, but they don’t care about intent. From their perspective, the law is for the commoners they try hard to avoid. You’ll note that Richard Burr sits on that committee, the guy fond of trading on his insider information.
In The Spirit of the Law, Montesquieu observed that every form of government has a principle that motivates the citizenry. In despotic societies, it is fear of the ruler that inspires the people. In aristocratic societies it is the love of honor or the desire to attain greater rank and privilege that inspires the people. In republican societies, it is virtue that inspires the people. By virtue, he meant the willingness to put the interests of the community ahead of private interests. To sacrifice for the greater good.
Montesquieu can be forgiven for not anticipating the development of what we now call liberal democracy. Even the most radical mind of his age would have scoffed at the idea of giving women and criminals the franchise. They would have doubled over in fits of hysterical laughter at the assertion that all people are equal. They surely would have assumed you were mad if you suggested there were more than two sexes. Not so long ago, what we take for granted was beyond the realm of imagination.
Still, it is worth considering what it is that motivates the citizen in the liberal democracy, as it is certainly not virtue or honor. We see that with our public officials. They may seek rank and privilege, but only through the most craven and dishonorable means available to them. They are happy to sacrifice your interests for their greater good. In fact, the only time they work together is when it is time to siphon off more of your greater good in order to top off their tanks of greater good.
That leaves us with fear as the great motivator, but not fear of the despot. Instead, it is a fear of the law itself. Every new law brings new opportunities for the liberal democratic ruling elite to torment the public. Since words have no meaning and the spirit of the law is strangled in its crib, the law is whatever the ideological enforcers happen to think it means in any given moment. The public is left to the mercy of a ruling class filled with self-righteous anger at the people over whom they rule.
This is the spirit of our age, the liberal democratic age. The great fear of the law is actually a fear of order and stability. A hatred of it, in fact. The liberal democratic regime needs to feed its sense of necessity and it can only do so in a crisis, so it creates panics and emergencies. What we are seeing in this virus panic is the full flowering of liberal democracy. It is a world of the forever present, because it is without law and a world without order. It is a world with no tomorrow.
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