“THE INDIVIDUAL VS. THE COLLECTIVE”
by Michael Gaddy, ©2015, blogging at The Rebel Madman
(Dec. 12, 2015) — “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.” ~ Samuel Adams
Over the past few years I have discussed with several people whom I admire and respect, two of whom are devout men of God (thanks Parsons), whether or not the organized church of this country is the single greatest threat to liberty outside of the actual government. We agreed that is true. Along this same line of thought I wrote an article a few months back titled “Government as God” which can be found here. If you take the time to read this article, please also take the time to watch and carefully listen to the attached Youtube video in that article narrated by Larken Rose.
At this point I think it would be proper to offer my definition of “Civil Religion.” Civil religion is when a person has accepted government and government laws as being supreme over the rights of individuals as portrayed in our Bill of Rights. Remember, please, there are no group rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights or our Constitution, although this seems to remain a well kept secret from the majority of people in this country today, unfortunately including the great majority of people who inhabit the halls of government. The president, Congress, Supreme Court and judges of all stripes certainly fit the bill of those who are devout followers of this civic religion.
Of course we are constantly regaled with catch phrases such as the “greater good,” the “general welfare” etc. Obviously these phrases have some merit, but the pursuit of their principles must end where the rights of the individual begin. Ayn Rand covered the basic principle of individuals vs. the majority quite well in this quote:
“Individual rights are not subject to public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities, (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)
Of course what this all boils down to in principle is the individual vs. the collective. But, what can be done when society (the collective) acts as a tyrant over the rights of the individual? John Stuart Mill covers that in this excerpt from his work, On Liberty.
“Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”
So, Rebel, one might ask: what happened to lead you back to the subject of Civil Religion? Yesterday morning I was directed to an article in the Huffington Post wherein a person named Kutter Callaway, a self-described “Evangelical Christian” and certainly a member of “society” wrote the following:
“Let the record show, I hereby renounce my constitutional right to bear arms as outlined in Amendment Two of the Constitution of the United States.”
Here, unabashedly, Mr. Callaway, advocates for the desires of society to prevail over the rights of the individual. I will not go into a complete deconstruct of Mr. Callaway’s essay for brevity’s sake, but I believe it is readily apparent after reading a few paragraphs that Callaway is a firm advocate of “the greater good” philosophy and is more than willing to surrender his constitutional rights to government for that express purpose. Therefore, Callaway advocates for a civil religion as opposed to honoring the rights defined in our Declaration of Independence as the “laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” Paramount under the laws of nature is the right of an individual to defend themselves and others from the assaults of “society,” the government, and others who would wish them harm.
How many people in San Bernardino would still be alive today if everyone who chose to, who was present in that room, had been armed? Waiting for the protective arms of government employees when chaos begins is never a good alternative for those who cherish life. This horrific incident, like so many others in our past, began and ended with a gun. Ending such acts early rather than later, after the death toll mounts, would certainly make good sense. But good sense and the desires of government are seldom compatible.
While I was reading through Callaway’s plea to the Christian community to surrender their means of self defense against tyrants and criminals, to surrender their Creator granted rights and to assume victim status, I was struck at the difference between the words of Callaway and the individual considered by many of his peers to be the most devout Christian in our founding era: Patrick Henry.
“Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the direction of Congress? If our defense is the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety, as in our own hands?
As previously stated in a direct quote from his essay, Mr. Callaway publicly “renounced his constitutional right” and the rights provided by “Nature’s God” as defined in the Second Amendment. While I am not sure what other rights Callaway is prepared to relinquish in his pursuit of civil religion, perhaps he needs a primer on the stated purpose of the Second Amendment he renounces by founder Tench Coxe:
“As civic rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which may be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article [Second Amendment] in their right to keep and bear arms.”
One can always identify those who are strict adherents to the civil religion faith. They routinely counsel others to relinquish the individual rights granted by their Creator for the greater good of society and to be sure and exercise their civic religion mandate to vote. I’m not real sure how the mandate to vote for the lesser of evils will ever lead to returning to the rights of Nature’s God, but the viewpoint has many advocates.
But, it should be noted, I not only advocate for Mr. Callaway to write about his personal convictions, but I would also gladly defend him and others should the situation present itself with a .45 or a .308 while he and those who agree with him and his civil religion dial 911 and wait for help.
In Rightful Liberty