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Monday, July 29, 2013

Social Contract Part II: The Loss of Checks and Balances

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Anthony Freda Art
Susan Boskey

The House of Representatives on July 24, 2013 rejected by a 12-point margin an amendment to limit NSA surveillance via data collection on Americans. The rejection allows the NSA with unlimited access to spy on American’s private information. How exactly, you might ask, does this jive with the social contract that assumes the people will hold up their end of the bargain because government exists only to serve the “general will?”

One is left to wonder. Earlier this month prior to the NSA amendment vote, Democrat John Conyers pointed out that the NSA had already violated the law because the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure. Rep. Spencer Bachus, Republican, also chimed in to liken the NSA surveillance to the 17th century English Court of the Star Chamber. Popular early-on with the people, it ended up as a political tool the king used for retribution. The Court of the Star Chamber was finally abolished in 1641 due to flagrant abuse of power.

In my last article, Social Contract: Exceptions to the Rule, July 17, I included the definition of social contract: an obligatory agreement the people of a nation make voluntarily with government for their mutual benefit and reciprocity. The underlying premise for its need was that individuals will only focus on themselves and their own self-interest when left to their own devices.

The social contract, however, is but one political philosophy and part of history’s ongoing debate: How do individuals function the best in a group, i.e. society. At the bottom of this debate is one contentious question, whom or what has the final say over the individual in society? The State? The community? The individual? The Creator?

America’s Declaration of Independence championed the individual and their unalienable rights in society and added that “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…” Americans were in no way, whatsoever, to tolerate a repeat of British colonial control over the colonists.

Yet somehow the social contract philosophy crept in. It was a slick move on the part of the Founding Fathers to engineer consent of the people who, in general, never knew what hit them when the Constitution of 1787 was created. Anyone who reads American history learns in no uncertain terms how the Founding Fathers did not like the liberties and autonomy enjoyed by the 13 fledgling states under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. As a decentralized confederation, the federal legislation of America’s first constitution lacked the power to compel performance from the people of the states for any reason, including taxation.

Thereafter, with the second constitution, the social contract philosophy prevailed and effectively signaled Americans to stop thinking for themselves. Instead they were to depend on the State to decide what was best for them. But since many Americans have persisted in thinking for themselves, they see how the plan is not working.

To them, mainstream media acts as nothing more than a propaganda-mouthpiece for government and big corporations. They find themselves disillusioned by the remaining action allowed to them, i.e. voting. Their vote was meant to provide them a voice in America’s democracy, but voting seems no more than a futile gesture while governmental power grows and consolidates further.

Cui bono? Who benefits from massive surveillance on Americans backed by a virtual police state of SWAT teams to enforce surveillance allegations besides government, monopolistic corporations, and government contractors? Many now believe the masses exist simply as worker-bee revenue units to insure the funding of mega-corporations and government. 

America, the supposedly freest country in the world, cannot admit that democracy (per the Constitution of 1787) has failed. The U.S. Government entity is in no way what Americans first signed up for in 1776. Entities such as corporations are legal constructs. As such, they have no conscience or inherent moral compass. Only individuals can sense right from wrong and employ conscience if they so choose. 

It follows that the U.S. Government entity has no conscience or moral compass. Rather it is a system comprised of millions of salaried employees. As recipients of more and more power and money, over time and from top to bottom, these employees tend to make and go along with decisions that first and foremost preserve their own self-interests per their careers and the benefits that go with it. 

After all, it’s only human. That’s what social contract philosophy espouses regarding “the people” and their propensity for self-interest but ignores when it comes to the other half of the social-contract bargain: “the people” who run governments.

If Americans are to abide by their founding Declaration of Independence from the British Empire, they must become aware of what is going on. In today’s plugged-in world, awareness would mean being willing to un-plug from the mainstream media and find sources of information not invested in controlling your thinking to support the popular party-line of politics, culture, finance, etc.

After that? The all-important next step is to discover what it means to withdraw your consent from the American social contract gone wild if “to institute new government,” whatever that may be. There is no knowing what new government might look like until enough people opt-out of the social contract broken by the powers that be. Strength is in our numbers but our numbers can only grow one by one, not collectively.

Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations. -- A. Maurice Low, “What is Socialism? III: An Explanation of ‘The Rights’ Men Enjoy in a State of Civilized Society,” The North American Review, vol. 197, no. 688 (March 1913), p. 406.
Susan Boskey, freelance researcher and writer, is author of the book, The Quality Life Plan®: 7 Steps to Uncommon Financial Security and more recently helped bring to market the book, Beyond the National Myth: waking up in the land of the free

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