Forgive me, Gentle Reader. I’m barely awake, but I had to get this down before it could slip away.
Near the end of the 1978 movie made from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, when Inspector Javert finally has Jean Valjean at his mercy, he asks Valjean why Valjean set him free of the rebels who’d captured him. Valjean briefly explains his conversion – the old priest who’d “bought his soul, cleansed it of all black thoughts, and gave it to God” many years before – and says “I could not do otherwise.” Javert replies memorably…and shockingly:
Good and evil do not exist outside the law.”
That scene is not a faithful reproduction of the climax of Hugo’s gigantic novel. It’s far superior, literarily and dramatically. Moreover, it expresses an important principle of the dictator, without which he cannot ascend to the estate he believes he deserves, to wit: There is no Law above the will of human lawgivers.
But if human lawgivers are unconstrained by a Supreme Law to which the laws of men must conform, then there is no enduring barrier to any kind of “legal” oppression, expropriation, or slaughter. Conceptions of good and evil, however formed, have no force: they’re trivia for men in their cups to banter and joust about. All that matters is the capture of the State. After that, whatever the dictator decrees shall be the whole of the law: unchallengeable and unopposable.
The Christian view is, to put it mildly, somewhat different. It was that view, even if it wasn’t articulated as such by the Founding Fathers, that animated the Constitution of the United States:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. [Article VI, second paragraph.]
The Founders knew what could – and would – come of a “law” that recognizes no moral limits.
Thanks to a citation by Brock Townsend, I’ve just read this brief essay by Claremont Institute president Ryan P. Williams about the encroachment of totalitarianism. It’s a good piece overall – you’d expect sobriety and rationality from the president of Claremont – but I was particularly struck by Williams’s conclusion:
We should, within the law, plan, act, and organize accordingly—before it’s too late.
I added the emphasis.
“Within the law.” Oh, really? And if “the law” should abrogate the Bill of Rights, impose federal censorship upon all communications, decree the seizure of all privately held firearms, and demand that we cease to oppose the Usurpers by word or deed, what then? Note the recent emanations from the Usurper Regime about “white supremacy” and “domestic terrorism,” its determined efforts to purge patriots from the armed forces, and its relentless use of the media to condemn attempts to audit the 2020 elections, and tell me how far off a law of that sort seems to you.
Thomas Jefferson was aware that private citizens will not easily be moved to rebellion:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
How long the “train of abuses and usurpations” must be is the question of the hour.
The Usurpers have already done great damage to the United States: to its economy, its international standing, and its citizens’ sense of stability. Under the pretext of the Covid-19 “emergency” it seeks to do still more, though given the intensity of the reaction against the “lockdowns,” mask and vaccine “mandates,” and other nonsense, how far it can go without provoking a rebellion is unclear. What’s perfectly clear is that the Usurpers “want it all:” absolute power, unbounded by any principle of right and wrong. Certainly they have no regard for the constraints of the Constitution. Never mind that it was to the preservation, protection, and defense of that compact that Usurpers Biden and Harris swore themselves. Remember Gropey Joe saying that “no amendment is absolute” — ?
“Salami tactics” have brought the Usurpers this far. You might think they’d have sense enough to stick with what’s worked for them. However, there are signs that they’ve become impatient of any further constraint. Their attacks on the military, the energy industry, the dollar, and the southern border indicate an eagerness to get on with the wholesale demolition of the nation. There have been hints that their next target is the grand collage of retirement funds – 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, pensions, and the like – upon which Americans rely for the protection of their old ages.
John Locke was darkly foreboding about such things:
Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved of any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence.
“Arbitrary power” is what I sense approaching. Indeed, some elements of it are already upon us. There must be a point at which the American people say they’ve had enough. When that point arrives, whether actively or passively we will invert Inspector Javert’s statement:
Good and evil do not exist outside His Will.”
Do have a nice day.