In the West, the morality of the state has been determined by how much or how little it respects the basic rights of its citizens. During the Cold War this was a critical measure used to justify foreign policy. The American government claimed it was within its rights to overthrow South American governments that got too chummy with the Soviets because they would endanger the rights of their people. On the other hand, they would back anti-communist dictators because they were better than communists.
There was a lot of lying and dissembling on this issue, but the principle was important to Western governments, so they made a big show of it. In America, for example, this meant protecting property rights from the excesses of the state. As a practical matter, it meant the state had to prove they had good reason for violating your rights before the court would permit them from doing it. They had to get a warrant, for example, before tapping your phone or riffling through your papers.
Government is always a blunt instrument and men are not angels so to avoid office holders and bureaucrats from abusing the rights of the people they first had to demonstrate there was a compelling government interest in declaring your backyard a wetland or banning a certain activity. Put another away, it was the duty of the government to make the affirmative argument. Citizens did not have to justify their rights to exercise them. They were assumed.
Property is a useful metric in this regard because it is simple and the economic basis of Western society. Even in feudalism property rights were respected, because ownership was what made the system possible. The right to speak out or organize are up for debate to some degree, but the right to own the fruits of your labor is the starting point for social organization in the West. It is what makes communism alien and why it has always been the domain of outsiders and subversives.
In the United States, property rights barely exist now. This story about the Feds smashing into a private business and taking their stuff sounds like something from North Korea or maybe Australia. For reasons they feel no need to explain, they broke into a private bank vault and stole the property of the customers using the service and refuse to return the property. By any reasonable moral standard, this is theft and worse, it is legal plunder. The state is plundering the citizens.
Like all criminals, conmen and sociopaths, the state is throwing up a dust storm of legal points to distract from the moral point at the center. In a just society, is it appropriate to take the goods of the people without first demonstrating that the state has a reason for seizing that property? The answer is obvious. By Western standards, this is immoral and the sort of thing that justifies revolution. In fact, it is this sort of behavior that justifies the very existence of the United States.
This is not an atypical story. The Federal government now routinely seizes the property of citizens without justification. Nick Fuentes, the young firebrand nationalist, had his bank accounts seized by the government. They have not explained why they took his money, and they refuse to even acknowledge it. One day he had money in his account and the next day it was cleaned out. The bank finally told him it was the government, but it took them weeks to get around to telling him.
The general violation of property rights is now the norm. The tech oligarchs, for example, strongly oppose private property. If they don’t like what you are saying on your website, they will steal your domain name. They will collude to limit your ability to hold a job or have a bank account. What used to be a sacred right of all people is now up for debate with an unelected oligarchical class as the judge and jury. What is yours is theirs and what is theirs is theirs and they own everything.
It is tempting to call this feudalism as people have a cartoonish understanding of the term and the times from which we get the term. The fact is the typical feudal lord had a greater respect for property rights than anyone in authority today. The authority of the lord was rooted in property rights. He respected the rights of small landowners, because he expected his lord to respect his rights the same way. The upper cast of modern society has no respect for the people in the least.
This is the critical thing to understand about the modern authoritarian. They no longer respect what used to be the common morality of the West. The ultimate constraint on feudal excess was that universally accepted morality with regards to property, the law and governance. Most people were illiterate, even the rulers, so the letter of the law was not paramount. It was the spirit of the law that mattered. In fact, it was this respect for the spirit of the law on which authority rested.
Today, the people in charge have no respect for the law or the concept of law, so their agents just do as they please. In fact, they take pride in trampling the rights of the people, because it pleases their masters. The goons prosecuting the January 6th protestors, for example, take a sadistic pleasure in the torment they are inflicting on the people caught in their trap. Their intentional cruelty has become a positional good, something that elevates them in the eyes of the oligarchs.
The Declaration of Independence is a remarkable document that is mostly remembered for the opening lines. Even though those lines have been abused by the very tyrants that now rule over us, the document is a remarkable expression of Western thought and Anglo-Saxon morality. After the long bill of indictment against the king, a list familiar today, there is this line. “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
The beauty of that line is that it qualifies the moral depravity of the tyrant by juxtaposing it against the nature of a free people. A people who sit idly by as their rulers trample their ancient rights are getting the government they deserve. A free people, in contrast, must hold their prince to the highest moral standard. It is immoral for them to do otherwise, as it violates that which defines them as free people. Every tyrant issues his own death warrant to the free people he seeks to oppress.
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