Rant follows. For lighter content, come back tomorrow.
It is one of Kipling’s poems that bugged me for a very long time, in part because it requires some context to really “get.” It is from 1918, entitled “The Death Bed.”
I got some of the ideas, but not really what he meant.* However, the opening lines have been floating around in my mind recently. “This is the State above the Law/ The State that exists for the State alone.” And later, “There is neither Evil nor Good in Life/ Except as the needs of the State ordain.”
That sounds all too dreadfully familiar, doesn’t it? The State above the Law, the state that does whatever it “needs” to for the good of the State, however defined. Or acts to impose the General Will in order to free everyone, because true freedom is obeying the will of the People. The little people, the deplorables, the rabble, don’t need to know this. They can’t be trusted to know what’s good for them. They betray their own best interests by voting against their interests. So wise leaders are needed. Just because he was elected doesn’t mean he’s really the president, and we need to get rid of him before he “damages” the State.
The State always knows better, or so devoted loyalists and fans of the State claim. “Only the government should be able to…” is probably a good test question. Once you get past “conduct international diplomacy,” and “wage war,” and “have nuclear weapons,” and possibly “set international tariffs and export fees,” arguments start getting warm. I lean toward “Is it in the Constitution, explicitly in the Constitution? Then probably not.” Others prefer, “If it is not explicitly prohibited by the Constitution, the State needs to do it/should do it/can do it better.” And then I think of Kipling’s lines.
The State above the Law has been in the news far too much recently. By far too much, I mean the very idea of a federal agency’s members discussing forming a group to work against the president in order to end his or her term in office should be unthinkable. But apparently, some employees of the State believed that their idea of the State was above the law and must be preserved from any threat, in this case the head of the executive branch. One is reminded of Communist Party of the USSR members planning how to retire Khrushchev, except without the pension and nice dacha. Because if the President is bad for the State, he is bad for everything else and must be removed, even if duly elected by the people and/or the Electoral College.
Everyone’s seen the meme about “You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.” What the past few weeks have brought to mind is a picture of a group of people glancing over their shoulders looking for listeners-in as they furtively whisper about aliens, the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission, and the CIA. Because if you want more “the government really has turned against the people and is out to get us and they are tapping our phones and trying to destroy the country through unlimited immigration and destroying the family and eliminating Christianity and Cheyenne Mountain is where the parallel government is meeting and…. aliens“, then what’s apparently been going on in the FBI, IRS, NSA, and so on needs to keep going. They seem intent on proving every strange conspiracy theory (except the part about Santa Claus and Elvis assassinating JFK on the orders of the Masons) to be an understatement.
Statists. People who think the State, as they imagine it, knows best and will do everything right. Except… look at Communist China, which has taken Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, and the philosophy underlying Imperial China to their logical ends. Cameras and id checks to do everything short of breathing (at least in the far western provinces). Assigning citizens a score based on education, good behavior, and usefulness to the state. Low score? No benefits and reduced opportunities for other things. The State that uses “undesirables” and convicted criminals as organ donors, because the greatest benefit the State can gain from them is selling their bodies or using them to keep more valuable people alive who better serve the State. Denying people the right to relocate or to choose their occupation because the State has other needs. Because the government knows what is best for the masses, and eventually things will improve and everyone will have what they need and all will be well.
The State above the law doesn’t scare me as much a make me furious. This is not what the Founders envisioned. This is what WWII and the Cold War were fought to prevent.
No State should ever be permitted to be above the Law. Because Trump might just prove to be a soft, mild, gentle correction compared to what comes after if the State, or those who consider themselves the State, rejects the Law and attempts to subjugate any who protest or challenge it.
*And if you think this is savage, read the short story “Mary Postgate.”