I Support the Rule of Law
by Mark Luedtke
publication date: evergreen
You can’t turn on talk radio without somebody dishonestly declaring they support the rule of law. Every time a police officer kills a peaceful individual, government’s apologists start shouting from the rooftops that they support the rule of law. Maybe they don’t know what the rule of law means, but I doubt it. I think they’re lying.
Part of the problem is people have redefined the term over the centuries to make it confusing. The Free Dictionary states: “The rule of law is an ambiguous term that can mean different things in different contexts. In one context the term means rule according to law. No individual can be ordered by the government to pay civil damages or suffer criminal punishment except in strict accordance with well-established and clearly defined laws and procedures. In a second context the term means rule under law. No branch of government is above the law, and no public official may act arbitrarily or unilaterally outside the law. In a third context the term means rule according to a higher law. No written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice that transcend human legal systems.”
Although ambiguous itself, only the last definition make sense. An exaggerated example illustrates this point: if the government passed a law saying every firstborn child must be killed, nobody would believe that law was legitimate. Nobody would believe it was consistent with the rule of law. That’s because that law violates the rights of its victims. It empowers some to legally commit crimes against others. The law is a law of aggression.
This principle extends to all laws. All laws of aggression are illegitimate and violate the rule of law. Understanding this leads to a simple, unambiguous definition of the rule of law: all laws must apply equally to every person. This is the only definition of the rule of law that makes sense. Nobody can be allowed to steal. Nobody can be allowed to threaten peaceful people. Assault and murder are illegal for everybody. The only aggression allowed would be in defense of property, self or others.
Any law that empowers some to victimize others violates the rule of law. But every government in the world violates the rule of law. The rule of law has never existed in the United States. The vaunted Constitution violates the rule of law.
The fundamental property of modern states is they fund themselves through armed robbery. Governments pass laws legalizing armed robbery from all the people by government agents. They euphemistically call this armed robbery taxation. Pay your taxes or you will be attacked by armed men, robbed, kidnapped or killed. When done by organizations other than the government, people immediately recognize this is illegitimate, but because we’ve been brainwashed by government schools and government-controlled media for generations, most people don’t recognize it’s equally illegitimate when done by government, which is the supreme criminal organization in its geographical area.
The rule of law follows from the non-aggression principle which states nobody is allowed to aggress against the property of another. Property rights follow from self-ownership. Because your body naturally responds only to you, it’s self-evident you own yourself. It follows that any good you produce belongs to you. Any good you trade for belongs to you. You can claim ownership of any unclaimed property by homesteading it. You can consume your property, invest it or save it for future use. You can give your property away. You can form any voluntary associations or contracts you like and refuse any you don’t.
But under the rule of law, nobody may steal your property or force you to do something with it against your will. Government as we know it - the aggressive, thieving state - is incompatible with the rule of law.
Note that if we enjoyed the rule of law, John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and so many others would be alive today, or at least their killers would be punished. Like all human endeavors, justice under the rule of law would not be perfect, but because only the inherently corrupt state can create massive, systematic violence and miscarriages of justice, it would be superior to what we have today.
The rule of law provides a consistent framework for resolving disputes. Because the state creates systematic conflict and violence by claiming rights to the property of others, constantly changing the rules, and becoming ever more aggressive against the people it preys upon, a society based on the non-aggression principle and the rule of law would enjoy less conflict and violence, greater justice, and therefore greater productivity and well-being for everybody.
So the next time you hear some talking head proclaim he or she supports the rule of law, check if he isn’t just apologizing for government aggression and violence. Maybe you’ll see that person in a new light.
I support the rule of law. That means I reject the state’s systematic aggression, theft and violence. If we all supported the rule of law, we’d be much better off.