25 March 2009

Beware of Mob Rule *updated* *again*

There's a very long story behind the thought, but it boils down to this:

Since we can't afford to spend all our time defending our lives and our property from ne'er-do-wells, we have a government set up to protect our essential rights.

There's a fine line between too much federal power and too little; to see that, just look at the US Constitution - it wasn't the first draft of government after the American colonists had thrown off monarchy. They instinctively swung (and erred) on the side of too little government - one that was not sufficiently strong to protect their freedom and other rights.

Our Constitution navigates that fine line by providing for a government strong enough to protect rights while not strong enough - properly executed - to usurp and abuse them. That's why it's so important, so revolutionary, and so worthy of our respect and protection.

So...

As we are doing what we can to preserve that delicate balancing act and keep our government from growing too powerful, we MUST be wary of the opposite temptation: mob rule.

It's happening in the UK.

It's happening in the US. Here, here, and here.

[Update 26Mar2009/11:56 - It's also happening in France! Boss-napping, h/t: Glenn Beck.]
[Update 30Mar2009/15:37 - Here's an interview about the wonders of past mob-ruled systems.]

We need to be careful how far we let our anger take us. Protest if you feel it is appropriate; demonstrate if you feel it is necessary; but be very, very careful of groupthink.

Anger and frustration do not justify threats, and in the meantime, they will only empower what we're struggling to fight.

8 comments:

Ann said...

VERY good thoughts. It is amazing what a delicate balance it all is.

Carissa said...

Great thoughts! I've often pondered how much work and deliberation the founders went through in creating just the right balance of government power (and separation of powers within that government) in the constitution. We need to be mindful of their formula and not try to "reinvent the wheel" due to popular opinion of some program or another.

Righteous anger in a justified situation can help people be motivated to set wrong things right. But venting and behaving in unproductive or harmful ways, as you say, will only hurt your cause.

I think, too, that a lot of people are misdirected in their blame right now. What pains me most is to hear good people and friends, turning their anger and frustration on capitalism because of this mess (which, they don't realize, is NOT the fault of the free market)

kannie said...

Thanks!

And Carissa, I think you hit the problem on the head - SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE ARE STILL SO WILLFULLY IGNORANT. They "don't have time to be informed," but they figure government's doing the right thing, and they take all three sound bytes they catch on the news at face value. Rush says that ignorance is the most expensive commodity; I'd say that it is the most effective weapon in our enemies' arsenal.

This 90% tax in Congress right now is insane, and it's a) totally the kind of thing that happened during the (multiple) French revolutions, and b) totally representative of the mentality that doomed France, Russia, and others. The more I learn, the uglier it looks, and the more familiar it sounds...

kannie said...

Oh - I forgot to mention the "willful" part of "willfully ignorant": while they "don't have time to keep up with it," they don't want to talk about it when the subject does come up. It's "boring," or they "don't understand," or whatever. I really think some people are so nonchalant that they would be happy under a Soviet system, LOL...

Its just me said...

Hi there. Thanks for checking in. This has been a very rough flu season in my household. But thank you so much for checking and reminding me of what I left on the table.

I'm baacck. I see you have been busy as usual. I have a lot of catching up to do.

I have not lost hope for our government just yet. I will never loose hope for our country but we are faced with some tough times ahead with difficult decisions that will have to be made.

I'm sitting on the side line for a while before I jump in and say yea or nay. But I will say that our government is too big and it is growing day by day.

Frank Staheli said...

In "The Federalist Papers", James Madison reminded us that:

Democracy is the most vile form of government... democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

It is not more Democracy that we need. It's hard to imagine that the people who keep voting the same sorry schmucks into office would do any better governing as a mob.

We have very few real statesmen and stateswomen in government now, crafted in the mold of Madison, John Adams, and Ron Paul. Instead we have those in the mold of FDR and Lyndon Johnson who waste enormous amounts of time and taxpayer dollars seeing who can grant themselves the most toys and largess out of the federal pig trough.

The ONLY solution is to turn the rat race off and get enough people to vote honest men and women into office. Or maybe Jesus will return to earth soon...

;-)

Jennifer Dunn said...

Interesting thoughts and comments.

If the Consitution needed to be ammended to better protect the people to begin with, how can we know when to leave it alone? Obviously, there are different answers to that question, and you can see why there are differnet parties based on how strictly the Constitution should be interpreted.

Like you, I am critical of the willfully ignorant, and feel that they are largely responsible for government growth and groupthink, evident in both Congress and in angry demonstrations.

I feel more sympathy for innocent AIG employees who are watching their incentives to work disappear than the poor parking meters in Chicago. But you are absolutely right that when we react in anger, we empower our opponents.

A statement made by the LDS church in response to the controversial "Big Love" episode and other attacks against the church really exemplifies your point.

Thanks for your post.

Chantile said...

Saw this the other night and it reminded me of your post... (And it made me laugh because I love the Godfather movies lol)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Dzkzt-SIYo