Sunday, May 18, 2014

Let's Win the War on Coercive Authority

The first step in winning this war is to recognize coercive authority.  This isn't too hard to do, although it is difficult to write down a method that works.  This is because there are an infinite number of ways to coerce people.

Some people feel coerced by a person who has been helping them when that person threatens to stop helping unless ... something or other.  This is typical of young people under the care of parents - parents who are authorities.  Defeating this kind of coercive authority requires the completion of the simple and natural process of growing up.  When you don't need the help, having it taken away is not coercive.

The fact that parents wield this authority and (generally) love the children over which they exercise it is not a bad thing in itself.  It does create a relationship that can be mimicked (and is mimicked) by external authorities that only pretend to love those over which they exercise authority.  For example, people on welfare "need" the help and can therefore be controlled by the source of the help, which is the state.

An authority directs your actions, either because you respect its counsel, or because you fear its punishment.  When your behavior (or lack of behavior) comes from fear, you may be dealing with a coercive authority.  Will the punishment be looked upon as criminal by your friends and family?  If not, then you are certainly dealing with a coercive authority.  If you are a child and the authority is a parent or guardian, this may be the kind of coercive authority that will be defeated by simply growing up.  We all have to grow up, or we cannot reach our potential.

Parents also wield coercive authority that can't be solved by simply growing up.  Everyone knows about spanking and lots of people recognize that word as a euphemism for violence against children.  It is used to coerce them into behaving a certain way.  It is widely recognized as immoral.  Imprisoning children (for example in their bedroom) falls into the same class.  These are the early examples of coercive authority that teach us that it's acceptable.  Our learned acceptance of coercive authority then blossoms into the horrible state of affairs we now endure.  Most people fund state sponsored terrorism (aka war) because they are afraid of getting caged, and such imprisonment is unfortunately not recognized as violence.

If we ignore the coercive authority wielded by parents over their children, what's left is coercive authority that can only be defeated by adding the one missing ingredient: recognition that the punishment is immoral.  If we want peace and freedom, we must recognize that coercive authority is harmful, and challenge it wherever possible.

When Martin Luther King Jr. suggested that we have not only the right but also the duty to break unjust laws, he also said "One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty."  I disagree with the words "a willingness," but, since the state is always more powerful than the individual, I'd use "the endurance."  During the creation of that penalty, it is important to constantly call attention to the immorality of the law.

That's it.  Two steps, recognize coercive authority, and then call attention to the immorality of the punishments it uses to control behavior.  This is how we defeat coercive authority.  As they make more unjust laws, our opportunities to demonstrate their depravity multiply.

Lastly, I want to make this claim: For a law to be just, it must be enforced only against those who agreed to follow it.  If anyone has some decent argument against this claim, please present it.  Since I recognize the sovereignty of the individual, I don't think you need a law to get back from a criminal whatever he took from you.

2 comments:

Lexington Law Reviews said...

Great quote by Martin Luther King there at the end. I think that pretty much spells it out for us!

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