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 Another morsel of wisdom from Ol’ Remus at the Woodpile Report.  Very insightful analysis of “Legal” vs. “Legitimate” government as it relates to the current political status in America.  Because Ol’ Remus doesn’t archive his articles, they vanish after about a month, so I included the article here in its entirety so that it may be preserved for readers to enjoy longer.

A legitimate government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. Notice, legitimate is different from legal. A regime can be legal yet not legitimate. The Soviet Union’s rule over eastern Europe was legal but not legitimate. A legal but illegitimate regime rules, a legitimate regime governs. Legitimate regimes are a franchise granted by the people and accountable to the people. Where instead the people are held accountable to the regime, where the regime grants franchises to the people, there we find illegitimacy. Said differently, a legal but illegitimate regime is a player disguised as a referee. In Woodpile Report issue 249art-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only.gifRemus said,

When a government loses legitimacy, or the appearance of legitimacy, with or without the substance, it’s a terminal condition. Anything they say or do speeds them to the wall.

Illegitimate acts are like a fart in an elevator, it’s not illegal, it’s an offense of a different order, one which can’t be denied, defended or undone, and there’s nothing the offender can do to stop proof of his malfeasance from spreading. We sniff something offensive when a regime won’t or can’t balance its budget, defend its borders or declare and win its wars. Remus went on to say a regime has lost more than the appearance of legitimacy when it behaves as an occupying power,

unresponsive to the will of the populace, resting on arbitrary rule unconstrained by due process, relying instead on intimidation and use of disproportional force—home invasion in particular, networks of anonymous accusers, checkpoints and humiliating searches which can’t be predicted or avoided, indefinite detention and lack of genuine avenues for redress.

Illegitimate regimes have a ruling class, but so does every legitimate regime, dating from the republic of Rome’s patrician rule over the plebeians. Yes, we too have a ruling class. Yes it’s membership varies by whoever is compiling the list and yes, “who is king, who is not king” drifts over time. We recognize the true nature of our ruling class when they’re plainly described, as by Angelo Codevilla in his articleart-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only.gif, America’s Ruling Class, at Spectator magazine:

Our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in… Its first tenet is that “we” are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained… the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don’t have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower… Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally


Unlike the the Roman republic, our ruling class openly commits illegal acts, not just openly but serially and proudly. It draws attention to them, its elected members campaign on them. This is apart from run-of-the mill-corruption. Such acts are mostly seen by the citizenry as sorta-kinda legal if not rigorously defensible. The appeal seems always to renormalization as defined by the beneficiary, Affirmative Action and other balms for self-selected victims for instance, or they’re payoffs to satisfy similar improbable theories of retroactive justice, the redistribution of GM‘s assets to the labor unions for instance, or they facilitate an imagined notion of a greater good, liar loan guarantees for instance, or they’re so narrow the general populace is materially unaffected by them, or is ignorant of them, generally by choice, or so arcane their import can’t be known by persons of ordinary intelligence. Such dubious excursions are never temporary, they now comprise a large part of the body of law.


The cost to the citizenry is like the old-timer’s lament, the really expensive repairs to his car are for things that weren’t even on his car when he started driving. Nor is much of them optional, we can’t refuse the black boxes that record our supposed noncompliances and report them to law enforcement, for instance. Consider: we have the right to confront our accusers. This doesn’t mean confronting law enforcement itself, much less devices of their design, under their control and subject to their interpretation. Convoluted outrages are not more legitimate for being convoluted. The 19th century thinker Lysander Spooner argued that the ‘social contract’ notion of government is bogus when government force is used against one of the parties. The ‘party’ being forced is the people in this case, the paying customer via the automobile manufacturer, who is further coerced into keeping self-reporting gadgets in good working order. Stalin’s NKVD used to send the family a bill for the cartridge used to execute one of its members. Same principle.


So far we’ve seen legalities and illegalities with shadings of illegitimacy. So far. But it gets worse. This regime has gone beyond such malfeasance. With the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012art-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only.gifour putative representatives have enabled the president to place any citizen or any group of citizens beyond the law and summarily imprison or execute them, a prerogative common to criminal enterprises and tyrannies everywhere. Self-conferred license to terrorize the populace without due process, or trial, or future accountability is both illegal and illegitimate; illegal under the Constitution—Section 9, Article 1 which deals with Bills of Attainder and the Writ of Habeas Corpus—there being no rebellion or invasion as required, and illegitimate because the governed do not consent and accountability to them is omitted by intent.

How is this not the voiding of the Constitution and its bedrock principles? How is this not a knowing and calculated betrayal of the citizenry? It has the features of rule by divine right, of sovereign and subject, of a return to feudalism, of rule by law rather than of law, of privilege without responsibility and without accountability to the people.

It’s right about here where we expect to hear an appeal to vote the rascals out but as Mark Twain said, if elections changed anything they’d be made illegal. A regime consists only partly of elected office holders, and it may well be the least part. The ongoing regime, the real government, lives in its departments, bureaus and agencies. It’s here we find unchecked power and a craving for growth without limit, serial emergencies, enabling acts and de facto bills of attainder, unaccountability and high legal walls for protection from the consequences of their actions.

Addendum: Martial law (legal term: State of National Emergency)

Background: US Constitution, Section 9, Article 1 (in part): The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpusart-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only.gifshall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it, and, No Bill of Attainderart-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only.gifor ex post facto Law shall be passed.

1861 State of National Emergency, American Civil War, Writ of Habeas Corpus suspended, fiat currency mandated, &c.

1939 to 1952 State of National Emergency, World War II

1976 National Emergencies Act – two year limit set on National Emergencies unless the president extends them

1977 State of National Emergency, International Emergency Economic Powers Act

1979 State of National Emergency, Iran Hostage incident

1995 State of National Emergency, Iran

1998 State of National Emergency expanded to target designated terrorists

2001 State of National Emergency, attack of September 11

2008 State of National Emergency, Terrorist targeting expansion extended

2009 State of National emergency of 2001 extended

2010 State of National Emergency of 2001 extended

2012 National Defense Authorization Actart-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only.gif, Writ of Habeas Corpus suspended; authorizes military prosecution with indefinite detention, rendition and interrogation. Also contains Bill of Attainder-like language: ‘terrorist’ defined as anyone who assists or commits a “belligerent act” against the U.S. No expiration, see 1976, above.
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