How should a subject of the law view the laws that govern him? What is the rational way to look at the law?
The truth of the matter is that citizens are, for lack of a better term, consumers of laws. Use of this term is somewhat problematical (I am not, in general, a fan of those who try to reduce every facet of human existence to the rules of economics), but looking at one’s relationship to the law in the context of the modern consumer allows us to see it in a practical light. Do you care – or even really know – how the things you consume are made? How much do you really know about what is involved in making flat-screen televisions, or scotch tape, or breakfast cereals? Most people, in fact, don’t know or care about these things, and why would they? All they care about, and all they need to care about from a rational perspective, is that the end product is of high quality.
If there is a good reason why the same logic should not apply to laws, I don’t see it. As a citizen, my interest in government is, and really only is, that it provides good laws and enforces them fairly and consistently. Thus, the only rational definition of a good government is one that reliably does these things. If a government does not reliably do those things, then it is not a good government. It does not matter what process is involved in coming up with its laws. No process of coming up with laws should be accepted prima facie as being good irrespective of the quality of its results. After all, what is the rational definition of a good process? A good process is one that consistently produces a high quality result. If it does not consistently produce a high quality result, then it’s not a good process.
I cannot speak for you, dear reader, but as for me, I care precious little about process compared to results, and see no rational reason why it should be otherwise.
Which brings us to democracy.
One of the things that makes democracy such an insidious hazard to decent governance is that it is, in essence, a species of con game; a magic trick played by governments to fool people into thinking that they have acceptable government when they actually don’t. Like most magic tricks, this one relies on sleight of hand, in which the viewer’s attention is distracted away from what’s going on in one of the magician’s hands and focused on what’s happening in his other hand. Thus, while everyone is looking at him wave around cards in his right hand, he quickly pulls an ace out of his left sleeve. It’s an age-old method employed by carnival hustlers, sidewalk three-card monte dealers, and riverboat card sharps worldwide, which explains why it is also popular with politicians in democracies.
This is what democracy does: it focuses attention on the process by which laws are made instead of the results that come from it. Are you worried about the creeping surveillance state, the sweeping away of free speech and free association in the name of combating “hate”, the slow death of the 4th Amendment, and the militarization of the police? Nonsense, say the democracy’s politicians! This is a democracy – it is your government, which you voted for – and thus it cannot possibly be oppressive! Further, it lays blame upon the citizens themselves (some of whom deserve it, some of whom don’t) for the dysfunctional, nonsensical, and oppressive actions of their government. They use the word “democracy” as a synonym for “liberty” and “decency”, and you are expected to accept this prima facie; thus it is expected that you should define democracy, as a process, as being good irrespective of its results.
Does this make any sense? Look around you, to the state of your nation and the whole of the Western world. Do you have high-quality governance by any reasonable definition of the term? Are these governments providing high-quality laws, and enforcing them fairly and consistently? Do these seem like good results?
If not, then why would you – why would anyone – continue to believe in the unquestionable, inherent goodness of the process that has provided these results? Because the people whose power relies on the scam of democracy have spent years trying to scare you away from the perceptions of your own senses and the judgments of your own rationality by feeding you the idea that there are only two kinds of government possible – mass democracy, or Hitler?
No… I just don’t see it.