January 9, 2023

Politics, according to the Greek philosopher Aristotle is the study and practice of matters concerning a polis or political body.  A political body is an aggregate of people that share some ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural affinity for each other and cooperate for their mutual security and governance.

Most people think of city, county, state, or national governments whenever discussing politics.  However, political bodies also exist in what are commonly considered private institutions such as clubs, churches, fraternities, or homeowners associations.

In fact, according to economist Ed Stringham, the majority of the average person’s daily interactions are governed through private political bodies.  As a martial artist I immediately think of the strict regulations imposed within a traditional Japanese dojo.

My aikido teacher not only sets the rules of conduct within his dojo yet also dictates regulations for a network of affiliated branch dojo worldwide.  Further, every member of my teacher’s network implicitly agrees to obey the instructions and standards of behavior, relative to the practice of aikido and matters related to training in those dojo or other events.

Moreover, the senior students within the organization act as the primary enforcers of the rules, acting as the “bad guys” so that our organization chief can appear benevolent.  All of this also involves the voluntary payment of dues from each individual member and branch dojo up to the central authority.  In light of all these facets, the martial arts dojo can truly be thought of as a private, and voluntary, political body.

A voluntary union of ‘free and independent states’ cooperating for their mutual security and administration of liberty under law was the ideal set forth in the United States Constitution.  Rather than being ‘ruled over’ by a monarchical king, the people and their respective states contracted into existence a general government, a new political entity, with limited and
enumerated authorities to deal with, essentially, foreign affairs and to establish a free trade zone among the members.

Obviously, to bring these authorities into effect a governing body needs resources to sustain their operations.  The common narrative was that the member states were not paying their union dues adequately under the Articles of Confederation and, therefore, the general government created by the Constitution was granted authority to collect all taxes ‘necessary and proper’ to carry out its responsibilities.

As good as this sounds in theory, the practical effects of the taxing authority opened the door to the Leviathan menacing virtually every aspect of personal life today.  However, without definitively assigning at this time all the causes leading to the current state of affairs, it is safe to recognize the absence of the Constitutional institutions deemed “necessary” as a significant factor as to why the people of the United States no longer enjoy the “security of a free state”.

The people of the United States, or anywhere else for that matter, are not secure in their persons, houses, papers, or effects because of the voracious appetites of politicians and bureaucrats have for spending other people’s money.  Even though the Constitution restricts the taxing authority to collect revenues only to spend on the limited and enumerated powers assigned to it, those restraints have been eluded long ago.  The definitions of common defense and general welfare have been so distorted to such degree that federal spending is completely untethered to the authorities intended in the Constitution.

Yet, this untethered governmental spending is not a structural fault, it is a feature embedded in the nature of a monopoly state.  Granting any political body a monopoly on the use of force, coupled with the power to tax, creates a perverse incentive structure.  Under such an arrangement, to put it generously, the political caste are induced to spend more than required to provide for the common defense and general welfare.

We can take this idea with the speculative assumption that every politician and bureaucrat is a selfless and altruistic patriot with the sincere intention to serve their constituents in the best way possible, and still the arrangement will lead to perverse, liberty destroying, outcomes.  Monopoly is the problem and competing polities, both formal and informal, are the cure.  This is another area where the Second Amendment offers practical legal avenues for securing a free state.