Politics of Obedience: The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The 'no government' movement.
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#15003229
The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government. The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.



Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives. All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your own bodies unto death. He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check.

From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free.

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Against-One (French: Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un) is the most famous work of Étienne de La Boétie. The text was written probably around 1549 and published clandestinely in 1576 under the title of Le Contr'un ("The Against-One"). "One" here means 'single ruler'.

#15003252
One useful lens through which to view obedience is expenditure of energy. For the teeming masses, it is easy to go along with the flow. To the extent you defy what is expected, you will be isolated and thrown back on your own devices. The most extreme examples, like Assange, will be imprisoned on some convenient pretext. Even seemingly minor things like living off grid, or growing your own food, are made as difficult as possible through a network of laws and legislation. You can do these things, but they require a high level of sustained energy expenditure, physical and emotional, to pull off.

There is a Japanese saying that translates as "the nail that sticks out will be hammered down."
#15006993
Sivad wrote:The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government. The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.

Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives. All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your own bodies unto death. He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check.

From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free.

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Against-One (French: Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un) is the most famous work of Étienne de La Boétie. The text was written probably around 1549 and published clandestinely in 1576 under the title of Le Contr'un ("The Against-One"). "One" here means 'single ruler'.


I think disobedience and resistance to work for / cooperate with those in power can indeed work; if done in the broad scale, take general strike for instance. But that will need organisation, which gives the whole experience an active nature; as oppose to the 'passive resistance' as being suggested by some.
#15008328
Sivad wrote:The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government. The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.



Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives. All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your own bodies unto death. He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check.

From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free.

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Against-One (French: Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un) is the most famous work of Étienne de La Boétie. The text was written probably around 1549 and published clandestinely in 1576 under the title of Le Contr'un ("The Against-One"). "One" here means 'single ruler'.




Hi @Sivad and thanks for posting this thread. I find that people are in different stages of spiritual and social development. So preaching or scolding people for where they are in live isn't always going to motivate them. It might work for those who need a solid kick in the behind. But some people are more like middle schoolers than college kids. Some need a teacher or mentor and just aren't ready to govern themselves independently.

Especially people who have been through abuse or trauma, or suffered incarceration in their families where there is a mix of dependence and rebellion and possibly regression. People respond to conflicts in different ways, like the Grief process and stages of anger, or denial and depression, that can last for 5-10 years or for generations before they are ready for the next stage or step in changing.

Because I DO believe the purpose of society and humanity is to work toward SELF GOVT, I propose that we organize communities, parties and institutions to set up SUSTAINABLE CAMPUS towns and communities.
This model would ACCOMMODATE the fact we have DIFFERENT people at DIFFERENT stages, including total dependence on teachers or mentors. And some who are disabled and would rely on live-in assistants, for which I recommend student internships so that we can sustain "medical education" for low cost or free by on site training to offset the costs. If we are going to achieve universal health care "at cost" this will involve
(a) health care cooperatives owned and managed by the people directly (EX: www.medcoops.net www.medcoops.com nonprofit coop structure based on 1500 member-owners per chapter to achieve the numbers necesssary to predict and reduce costs to get the maximum discounts on services at the minimum patient-to-provider ratio needed to sustain)
(b) converting or running criminal correction/detention programs as TEACHING HOSPITALS to diagnose, treat and cure causes of criminal disorder and mental illness to cut costs while providing medical education and training through enough mentors and interns, doctors and nurses, to localize care in each district and generate enough providers to serve the population at a ratio of 170:1 (compared with current US shortages of over 400 people to each physician)
(c) building systems of self government based on campus style democratic management (whether populations PREFER socialism, communism, anarchism, capitalism, green living, military or law enforcement, or even "all women" centers to help women and children in recovery from abuse) so that people mentor each other in supporting their own beliefs, religious or political, without conflict with other such groups that can manage their own "city states" democratically and/or congregate in larger pools similar to states in a union that are still sovereign.

EXAMPLES:
I. Sustainable Campus Community plan (passed into federal HUD laws in 1994) to reform public housing to be Democratically Managed by Residents through their own elected councils on site:
www.campusplan.org
II. Nonprofit that sets up sustainable centers/jobs/schools to combat slave labor trafficking and exploitation in poor regions:
www.paceuniversal.com
III. BORDER PROPOSAL to replicate above models to combat trafficking crimes targeting immigrant workers, and setting up military prisons and teaching hospitals to contain dangerous criminal for treatment rehab and restitution, while creating SAFE JOBS HOUSING and SERVICES for workers, families and citizens trained to build, manage and govern their own communities, resources and "campus towns" to stabilize the border and economy:
www.earnedamnesty.org

Again, 1500 is the minimum number found to support collective health care in a sustainable self-managed cooperative. As for "management" within a group, one person studying this said 150 is the most, but I'd say most groups aren't equipped to handle more than 10-20 or 40-50 (based on how well teachers respond to students, where "master teachers" can work with 40 or more students in one group, but even experienced teachers say 10 is the most they can ensure one-on-one attention and mentorship, and 20 can be managed but is better with a teaching assistant team teaching)

(d) I would ESPECIALLY include teaching basic principles of democratic governance and natural law (whether people respond to Scriptural law, Constitutional law, or whatever language for the law "motivates" and "compels" them to protect each other's interests equally as a self-governing community), with a focus on conflict resolution, mediation to resolve issues of BELIEFS (so people can either work together or separate civilly to form their OWN groups when they outgrow and develop to later stages of autonomy, which tends to be the pattern as Populations grow, similar to children outgrowing their parents), and health care/restorative justice models that teach diagnosing and treating mental illness and criminal disorders that otherwise can prevent a person's ability to comply with either "laws, authority" or AGREEMENT with others if everyone is equally their own authority.

This level of treating mental and criminal illness as part of the SPIRITUAL process is MASTER LEVEL, and one of the reasons we are split up in society. Not everyone has access to or knowledge of the spiritual laws and process that can diagnose, treat and CURE severe medical and mental illnesses, so that's where people become "enslaved" politically and economically to prison systems and medical systems that exploit human sickness and social ills.
However, if master teachers and experts in this field AGREE to mentor others through campuses so more people can be SELF GOVERNING, we can BREAK the cycle of oppression by liberating and equalizing "knowledge of natural/universal laws" (UNIVERSAL LAWS on spiritual healing wellness and recovery that can change our failed prison systems into sustainable medical schools, teaching hospitals and health care to cover education and services for all; natural laws on democratic process and CONFLICT RESOLUTION so people can solve their own problems and not become dependent on "third party administrators" or political elite under corporate influences; laws/dynamics on cooperative economics and how to manage labor and credits so people can sustain their own self-governing coop communities without fear of getting bought our or hijacked by outside interests; laws/dynamics on property and land management including sustainable "green" development and renewable resources; and education and mentorship assistance "in general" in other areas of arts/sciences from media for communication to technology needed for cost effective sustainable living and development.)

SOURCES for further research and development in education to empower more people to become self-governing:
* www.ethics-commission.net Teaching and mentoring conflict resolution and managing relations and group dynamics based on democratic principles in the Bill of Rights, 14th Amendment on equal protections for all persons. (I might also add Civil Rights policies on "no discrimination by creed" since we seem to have an internal civil war going on within and between political parties fighting to dominate by majority instead of mentoring these warring groups to GOVERN THEMSELVES and FUND/FOLLOW their own internal policies and let others do the same)
* www.christianhealingmin.org
www.healingisyours.com
www.spiritual-healing.us
Resources on teaching the spiritual process of diagnosing, treating and curing physical, mental and even criminal illness as diseases with a root cause and a cure instead of punishing these or punishing taxpayers with debts and damages from failed mental health and criminal justice systems that merely create more crime, costs and poverty.
* other sources for teaching conflict resolution and healing to liberate people from past cycles of oppression
www.centerhealingracism.org
www.avpusa.org

Whether people prefer or respond to a secular approach, political or religious, all such programs and what they offer should be accessible as an equal choice so everyone has opportunity and assistance to overcome dependence and oppression from the past and have help to become independently self-governing without fear of further "enslavement." We can set up campus communities to achieve this, and include people and groups "at all levels" of development, even if some are still "dependent on others."
#15008339
Sivad wrote:The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government.

No, that's not even a very interesting question. They obey government because it is safer, easier and more comfortable than being forced to obey the worst of their fellows in government's absence.
The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants.

Nope. Anarchy is the rule of a thousand tyrants. Some people are intelligent enough to understand that.
Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.

Fine. Decline to support tyrants. But don't be a fool and imagine the end of government would be the end of tyranny. All of history refutes that kind of nonsense.
The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Against-One (French: Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un) is the most famous work of Étienne de La Boétie. The text was written probably around 1549 and published clandestinely in 1576 under the title of Le Contr'un ("The Against-One"). "One" here means 'single ruler'.

So, written at a time when absolute monarchy was universal, and democracy unknown. Thus irrelevant to advanced, modern society.
#15008433
Truth To Power wrote:No, that's not even a very interesting question.


:knife: legitimacy is the central question of political philosophy.

They obey government because it is safer, easier and more comfortable than being forced to obey the worst of their fellows in government's absence.


That may be one [really bad] reason to obey government but that's not why people submit to illegitimate authority. People obey because they're trained to obey, most people have never given it any thought at all, they just mindlessly submit.

Nope. Anarchy is the rule of a thousand tyrants. Some people are intelligent enough to understand that.


Anarchy is governance without threat or force. It's self-governance through mutual aid and voluntary association. You should maybe figure out what anarchy is before attempting to critique it.

Fine. Decline to support tyrants. But don't be a fool and imagine the end of government would be the end of tyranny. All of history refutes that kind of nonsense.


No anarchist in history has ever suggested government is the only form of tyranny. The entire project of anarchism is devising systems of non-coercive governance that ensure peaceful and prosperous social relations.

So, written at a time when absolute monarchy was universal, and democracy unknown. Thus irrelevant to advanced, modern society.


:knife: It's relevant to the extent that illegitimate power in the form of the state is still oppressing people, so totally relevant.
#15008618
Sivad wrote:legitimacy is the central question of political philosophy.

But that question is why they should obey government, not why they do obey it. The latter is a psychological question.
That may be one [really bad] reason to obey government

It's actually a very good reason.
but that's not why people submit to illegitimate authority. People obey because they're trained to obey, most people have never given it any thought at all, they just mindlessly submit.

I agree that most people are followers and creatures of habit, and don't typically think matters through for themselves. The point is that obedience to government is inculcated in the first place because it works in practice to obtain more safety and comfort than society could provide in government's absence.
Anarchy is governance without threat or force.

I.e., a fantasy. As soon as a society's economy rises above the hunter-gatherer and nomadic herding stages, secure, exclusive land tenure becomes necessary, and there is no way to establish it but by force.
It's self-governance through mutual aid and voluntary association.

People won't voluntarily give up their liberty to use land without just compensation. Why should they?
You should maybe figure out what anarchy is before attempting to critique it.

At least I know what it isn't: feasible in an advanced economy.
No anarchist in history has ever suggested government is the only form of tyranny.

It is the only solution to tyranny. The basic conundrum is that any government strong enough to deter evil is strong enough to commit evil, and there is always someone interested in committing evil who sees government as providing an opportunity for him to do so.
The entire project of anarchism is devising systems of non-coercive governance that ensure peaceful and prosperous social relations.

But it's absolutely impossible to deprive people of their natural liberty to use all land non-exclusively without coercion. Therefore, anarchism can't work in a society above the nomadic herding stage.
It's relevant to the extent that illegitimate power in the form of the state is still oppressing people, so totally relevant.

Question begging fallacy. You merely assume state power is always inherently as illegitimate as a monarch's power when that is precisely the point of difference.
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