by Garret Ean
May 2, 2011
The ever-evolving celebration of the First of May has become a rather obscure holiday in the United States. Having historically pagan origins, the holiday was converted into a festival for Christianity’s Virgin Mary and seemed to fall out of favor with some in the West as it became a labor movement action day in the late 1800s. During the second red scare, President Eisenhower countered the labor movement’s celebration of the holiday by instituting “Law Day”, which was to fall on the First of May beginning in 1958. Eisenhower said of his idea, “In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law.”
The false dichotomy presented by Eisenhower is ironic in that the two concepts are symbiotic. George Washington is known for having stated, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Are not then, laws themselves force?
Taking care to define our words, it is worth noting that there are those who would distinguish law from statute, with law being a “rules of harmony” concept, a la natural law, and statute being the physical words on paper that serve as the justification for the government’s enforcement activities. There are more rules under which human beings are governed in the United States than it would be possible for one person to even read in their lifetime. The IRS tax code, NAFTA regulations, Obamacare, and the USA PATRIOT Act are not documents which enshrine or further protect an individual’s liberty. These texts are enforced by armed agents of the state, and the individual does not have the choice of accepting these statutes as Eisenhower alleged. The only choice one has if within the borders of the United States is abide by their statutes/laws, or be forced to do so. When the law is just, as it applies to the protection of life, liberty, and justly acquired property, then the law is abided by as it is the morally responsible thing for the individual to do. In the absence of choice, the individual is no longer acting as a morally responsible being, but is instead acting under duress. Such a coercive legal system is not fulfilling its intended purpose of protecting liberty.
Eisenhower was perhaps being honest about one’s choices, that under a monopolistic government, you either follow their rules or face their force. Let us remember that it is not the absence of governmental dictates which we should fear as resulting in more force and coercion in our daily lives. It is the nonconsensual nature of current laws, and the perversion of natural law in the ever-expanding tomes of legalese that are the true threat to our natural liberties.
So, in honor of May Day and all the holidays which have derived thereof, let’s celebrate our liberties by reflecting on the bad laws which threaten our peace (and perhaps break some)?
Here’s a view from the walkway in front of the State House grounds this May First: