A Journal for Western Man




Punishing Politicians

Michael Miller

Issue VI- September 27, 2002


When your puppy pees on the rug, you tell him he's a bad dog, maybe swat him with a newspaper, and send him outside. When your kid lies to you, you tell him he's a bad kid, maybe swat him with a newspaper, and send him to his room. 

You do not just forget about the violation, on the grounds that what's past is past. You don't just "roll over." You do not say, "Well, the damage is done. The incident is closed." It is only closed when the culprit has been punished. 

To punish those who offend against you is not only your right, it is your moral obligation: justice and your own selfish interests require it. Punishment is one side of justice, just as reward is the other side. A society in which nobody retaliates against wrongdoers is a society being taken over by wrongdoers. A society of doormats will find themselves walked on! 

Punishment of offenders is a positive moral good. The offender positively deserves to suffer; he has earned it fair and square. Furthermore, the unpleasantness which befalls the offender is a deterrent to him and to bystanders. 

This is no new idea: this principle is the foundation of government. We establish governments to put a certain kind of retaliation under objective control, namely retaliation by means of force against those who initiate the use of force. In civilized societies, we delegate the right of forcible punishment to government. If we didn't have such a right to begin with, government would have no moral foundation. 

But private citizens retain their right of punishment; we only delegate the right of forcible punishment-and only beyond a certain degree of severity. An ancient legal maxim says, "the law is not concerned with trifles."

There are many other kinds of punishment, and these other kinds are our means of defending ourselves against politicians who use government to invade our rights. We must learn to use them. 

We must make clear to politicians that we will punish them for their invasions of our rights. The word "punish" is important; it implies conscious, deliberate, purposeful long-term action. It implies that we will not "roll over" and forget about their violations-that we will indeed hold a grudge. It says that their violations will provoke, not a momentary, emotional "backlash," but a systematic campaign against them-on many fronts. 

Even more important, the word "punish" announces moral self-confidence. It announces that our motivation is not mere irritation, but a moral principle. In political combat, moral principles are the heavy artillery, a fact which is not lost on politicians. 

How are we to punish politicians? By becoming political activists! Support their political enemies. Circulate books and leaflets which are hostile to their cause. Carry the campaign to their home turf. Target, not only parties, but also particularly noxious individual politicians. 

The important point is to set the goal of punishing those who invade our rights. It is time we held politicians to the same rigorous standards we set for puppies.

You needn’t despair at politicians' invasions of your rights—you can become a Quackgrass activist! Copy this article! Keep the original for future copies. Paper meetings with it! Paper your office! Leave a stack on your business counter! If you expect hostility, use stealth and cunning—it’ll drive your opponents wild! Be ingenious! Have fun!

Michael Miller is an engineer and Objectivist philosopher with thirty years of experience. He had been a member of Boycott Alberta Medicare in 1969 and of the Association to Defend Property Rights from 1973 on. He writes in-depth philosophical theory at his publication, Quackgrass Press, which can be accessed at http://www.quackgrass.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.