By Butler Shaffer at LewRockwell.com, 21 August 2015
Striker: The above leadoff line is clearly tongue-in-cheek, but as you’ll see below, the point is made. It’s a great article – I wonder only why the author did not use the word GOVERNment rather than “Socialism”, as everything he wrote so applies.
[Yes, Bernie Sanders is a socialist, actually a communist,] and so are all the other presidential candidates; and all the other politicians; and all political parties; and all political systems! Throughout human history, and regardless of the label under which any have operated, every political system has been premised on the arrogated authority to preempt decision making over the lives and property interests of individuals. This is the implicit meaning of “eminent domain”: the state is the ultimate owner of all within its boundaries.
In this sense, King George III was a socialist, as were the colonials who became the “Founding Fathers” and expelled the British (if you doubt this, ask what became of the lives and properties of Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War!) The American Civil War was fought by two socialist camps: the North against the South, each of whom claimed the authority to impose their wills upon the lives and property of their respective citizenries. When World War II foes Germany and the Soviet Union clashed, it was one branch of state socialism against another (you will recall that the German regime marched under the banner of “National Socialist German Workers’ Party”, or “Nazis” for short). When the United States entered this war, it was under the presumed authority to confiscate the wealth (i.e., taxation), conscript the lives of young men for soldiery, and regulate the lives and property interests of any and all Americans to whatever degree desired by state officials.
Political systems hide behind numerous labels, lest their predatory, trespassing, looting natures be seen for what they are. Among the more abstract names can be found “democracies,” “republics,” “monarchies,” “oligarchies,” “dictatorships,” “military juntas,” “constitutionalists,” and “democratic-socialist.” More specific political parties can be found parading as “Republicans,” “Democrats,” “Libertarians,” “Greens,” “Peace and Freedom,” “Socialists,” “Dixiecrats,” or “Independents” (although being independent of whom or what is never revealed). Whatever the characterization, every political system, party organization, or person who seeks political office, is necessarily devoted to the socialistic practice of usurping the decision making authority of individuals over their lives and property interests.
The “state,” universally defined as an entity enjoying a monopoly on the use of violence within a given territory, is inherently “socialistic” in the sense offered by one dictionary meaning “nobody being able to take personal control of resources.” If the capacity for violence is the essence of the state, over what is such coercive power exercised if not the lives and property of individuals? To enjoy a monopoly in the exercise of such forceful means requires the subordination of any would-be competitive actions. The idea that the purpose or methodology of any political system can be said to be to protect privately owned property is negated, at the outset, when such an agency taxes its alleged beneficiaries in order to fund its operations.
That even the U.S. Constitution – a document conservatives are always talking about “getting back to” – is at war with the private property principle, is evident from a close reading. The purpose of this system – as expressed in its Preamble – makes no mention of protecting private property. Instead, speaking in the collective voice of “We the people,” and without identifying any individual agreeing to be contractually bound to the arrangement, the document presumes to promote ends that depend upon preempting the property interests of others. Such stated purposes include, among others, “to form a more perfect union,” “insure domestic tranquility,” “provide for the common defense,” and “promote the general welfare.” These “Founding Fathers” went on to confirm their socialistic dispositions by empowering Congress “To lay and collect taxes,” and “provide for the common defense and general welfare;” “To regulate commerce;” and “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States.” How would any private property interests be secure when confronted by persons who enjoy the exercise of such powers?
I shall refrain from listing other enumerated powers to be enjoyed by the American state. Suffice it, at this point, to suggest that if I were granted the authority “to lay and collect taxes,” “to provide for the common defense and general welfare,” to “regulate commerce,” and to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” for carrying out such purposes, one would be hard-pressed to identify any action on my part that would exceed the bounds of my powers. “Lay and collect taxes?” In what amount, and for what ends? When the first post-16th Amendment federal income tax was proposed – a measure which, as I recall, imposed a 1% tax on incomes over $10,000 – opponents of the measure argued that nothing could keep Congress from imposing a 10% tax on all incomes. Those supporting the tax accused opponents of using scare tactics; that if the federal tax ever rose to 10%, there would be rioting in the streets!
And who – but myself – will decide which threats require a “common defense,” the foundations of the war-making system that will grind up your children and grandchildren? Furthermore, which programs – and by what criteria – would promote the “general welfare”? Who would decide this? As the power to “regulate commerce” encompasses the entirety of the economic life of the nation – and, thus, affects the “general welfare,” would I not be empowered to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” for achieving whatever noble ends I select?
As words, by their nature, are abstractions that require interpretation to any set of circumstances, it may be argued that my constitutionally-derived powers must be further defined. But who is to identify such meanings? Who is to interpret the scope of the state’s powers? In the constitutional scheme of things, the U.S. Supreme Court – in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison – usurped such authority unto itself. The government, in other words, became the judge of its own authority! There is no language in the Constitution that even remotely confers such powers on the courts, legislature, or executive branch of government!
Add to my above-listed powers the authority to interpret the meaning of such abstractions, as well as the awareness that we are all self-interest motivated, then ask yourself: would you be prepared to place into my hands your life, liberty, or property interests? Is there any announced presidential candidate – or candidate for any other political office – to whom you would entrust your interests? Hillary? Donald? Lindsey? Jeb? And would you be particularly opposed to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders because, unlike the others, he at least has the honesty to admit to what he is?