Tag Archive for: The Divine Right of Kings

Absolutism, an old political philosophy that may be in America’s future

07 Aug
August 7, 2012

Nature abhors a vacuum. A vacuum of power is the same. Absolutism is a political philosophy recognizing that reality.

America fills the gap of power with rights specifically protected by the Constitution.  Allow a leader to usurp those rights, and the leader has obtained absolute power and control over the people.  The vacuum is filled.

No so long ago, as various societies of Europe were emerging from the middle ages, political thinkers struggled with the problem of who should fill the absolute power position at the top of a society.  In order to achieve stability, these political thinkers theorized that a doctrine  of absolute authority should be established to protect a monarch from the constant challenges to his authority.  It was as clear then as it is now, that some person or thing must fill the vacuum of absolute power.  Anything less, and societal instability ensues to fill the power vacuum.   The core political theory came to be known as “absolutism.”

Technology and communications during the time of absolutism’s emergence were not what they are today.  As a result, the monarch often had a tenuous hold on power.  The aristocracy could and did challenge the monarch’s right to have that absolute control over the people.  So a refinement of absolutist theory was in required in order to justify the monarchs’ right to possess that power.  Some of these refinements are well known:  heredity and divine right.

But in America, neither really makes sense.  Another absolutist sub-theory however, does –“enlightened” absolutism.  Achieving total control of the population over the heads of the aristocracy is difficult at best.   So during the enlightenment, it was the absolutist thinking of the day to justify possession of absolute power over the people through a “social compact” with the governed.  The enlightened ruler agreed to use his power for the benefit of the governed (for good).  Sound familiar?  In this way, the monarch or absolute leader could reach around the aristocracy and appeal directly to the people in order to hold onto their absolute power.  In other words, total and absolute power was achieved through democracy.

America is different.  The founders of the American republic chose to set aside key components of power and leave them in the hands of the individual, so that an absolute ruler could not amass total control over the populace. This is how the Constitution works.  It protects individual rights.  It does not grant them.  By protecting individual rights, the Constitution, another social contract, places a wall around the place in society where absolute power is obtained, so that not even some part of government can obtain absolute power.  So long as democracy is used to maintain that protective wall around absolute power, and not by electing your preferred choice of all powerful leader, the republic and the individual is protected.

But you also lose what you don’t use.  We are pro se litigants.  We do not use attorneys to fight our battles with the government (the disputes of this website).  Originally we made the decision because of cost.  Now we understand that, for the sake of liberty, we can’t.