Friday, October 7, 2011

The Rule of Law, humanity’s greatest achievement

Historians can, more easily than the rest of us due to their training, look back over the past and compare it to the present.  Thus they have a unique perspective on current events.  If you make your own study of history, you will find that over the many centuries of human experience true Liberty and the Rule of Law is a very rare occurance.  Totalitarianism makes up the vast majority of governments that have existed, and even many contemporary governments tend towards totalitarian systems.

Thus the statement that the Rule of Law is humanity's greatest achievement.  The Law binds not people but government; it is put in place to ensure that liberty is protected, that honest men remain free and can persue their own activities and reach their own goals.  It binds government for one simple reason - it is government that is the greatest threat to individual liberty.  Not a mugger, not a banker, not a terrorist.  Government.  The Rule of Law brought justice to the people.  Before we had the Rule of Law, any strongman could take over and extort, pillage, rape, murder and otherwise suppress a people.  This happened everywhere.  In time these guys became feudal lords. 

Feudal lords, then, were the government - they owned everything, including you.  They controlled the coin, they controlled the land, they ran the justice system, they operated the prisons and police.  One man would run the entire show from the top.  He was answerable to no one, and had the ultimate power of life and death over the people.  The stronger his power became, the more he covetted it - the feudal lord raised armies, conquered lands, became a king.  Law was a farce - in that situation it really meant the will of the king.  If his whim was to take your daughter and give her to a vassel, that was the law of the day.  If you should be executed for not paying enough in taxes, so be it.  Dissent was never tolerated, spies were often everywhere. 

The Rule of Law changed this.  The Rule of Law set the previous rulers, the Kings, the feudal lords, the strong men, below the law and subject to oversight, review, and indeed, justice.  The Rule of Law is humanity's greatest achievement because it made men free.

Think about this when your government, be it your local police, your state senators, or your President, throw away the law that they are sworn to obey, in the name of false security or even simply expedience. 

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