The Pathos of Politics – Legislation


“Laws are rules made by people who govern by means of organized violence.” ~ Russian author Leo Tolstoy

If we consider our bodies as properties, then almost all laws are about property: its sanctions, proscriptions, proper usages, and violations. In man’s grand dominion, this includes the entirety of Nature, which is considered common property until conveniently carved into a bit of the private variety.

Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of government. ~ Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

All necessary laws of property date to antiquity. New laws are enacted only to grant favor to some special interest, regulate yet another facet of the market system run amok, or grant the state further power over people’s lives. Rare indeed is the measure whereby the state disabuses itself of power.

When the US supreme court held in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) that states could be sued by citizens in federal court, Congress and the states conspired to quickly adopt the 11th Amendment so as to shore up sovereign immunity. Democracy has seldom served as a solvent to state impunity.

“More law, less justice.” ~ Cicero

Laws are themselves fulsome with tedium. The process by which they are made, and the directions in which they tend, illustrate the nature of political affairs. In modern democracies, legislation demonstrates how tenaciously oligarchy clings, interrupted only sporadically by populist spasms of revolt against subjections both real and imagined.

“Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” ~ American poet John Godfrey Saxe¬†in 1869