Freedom and Government Part II

First Published: 2015-10-25

INTRODUCTION
During the early part of the decade of the 1980’s, I wrote a series of articles entitled “Freedom and Government” for the Bahamian Review Magazine and subsequently for the Freeport News.  As was the case, in the early part of the decade of the 1980s, this treatise is still relevant to the basic understanding of the relationship between government and the governed. This being the case makes this work relevant to this present decade and beyond.  It is my fervent hope that this series of  six articles will provide all, who read and study them with the tools that are necessary to protect their fundamental rights and freedoms which are entrusted to those whom we allow to govern us.
One of the greatest issues in modern times is whether government is to be the master or servant of the people.  For the greater number of Bahamians this issue was supposedly settled some thirty years ago with the “quiet revolution” and the ushering in of Black majority rule.  For some, perhaps the issue was settled in 1992 when many Bahamians felt that “deliverance” had become a reality.  For many others, the issue has not been settled at all.  Whatever your view-point, I am sure, you would agree when I say that any Government that is formed by the people, of the people and for the people, is the servant and not the master of the people.

Read Part I here…

Freedom and Government Part II
The Dilemma Created by Freedom and Government

Dr. Donald M. McCartney, D.M.

One of the greatest issues in modern times is whether government is to be the master or servant of the people.  For the greater number of Bahamians this issue was supposedly settled some thirty years ago with the “quiet revolution” and the ushering in of Black majority rule.  For some, perhaps the issue was settled in 1992 when many Bahamians felt that “deliverance” had become a reality.  For many others, the issue has not been settled at all.  Whatever your view-point, I am sure, you would agree when I say that any Government that is formed by the people, of the people and for the people, is the servant and not the master of the people.

One of the leading proponents of the restrictions of the power of government, John Locke (1632-1704) had this to say with respect to the relationship between the governed and those who govern.

“But though men when they enter into society give up the equality, liberty and executive power they had in the state of nature into the hands of the society, to be so far disposed of by the legislative as the good of the society shall require, yet it being only with an intention in every one the better to preserve himself, his liberty and property – for no rational creature can be supposed to change his condition with an intention to be worse – the power of the society, or the legislative constituted by them, can never be supposed to extend farther than the common good, but is obliged to secure everyone’s property by providing against those three defects above mentioned that made the state of nature so unsafe and uneasy.  And so whoever has the  legislative or supreme power of any commonwealth is  bound to govern by established standing laws, promulgated  and known to the people, and not by extemporary decrees; by indifferent and upright judges who are to decide controversies by those laws, and to employ the force of the community at home  only in  the execution of such laws, or abroad to prevent or redress foreign injuries, and secure the community from inroads and invasions.  And all this to be directed to no other end but the peace, safety and public good of all the people.”

At the crux of the matter are the basic differences in the natures of man and government.  It is generally agreed that the nature of man is to be free.  To take the issue one step further, man is, by his very nature individualistic in his outlook.  Going back to the original point, i.e., the nature of man is to be free.  Let us look at some instances from our local history:  the Lucayan Indians, when kept in captivity by the Spaniards, gave up and died because they were by nature a freedom loving people.  During the world wars many Bahamian sons went to fight in foreign countries to preserve their freedom and the freedom of their fellow Bahamians.  Many of our African ancestors risked death rather than live in captivity.  Many of the early English and Scottish settlers risked the unknown perils of the new world just to be free.  There are many Bahamians both living and dead, who could have held positions of power and authority, but because they wanted to be free, they chose not to take the path to power and authority at the price of their freedom.  There are many more men and women, whose names are too numerous to mention, who chose to be free as opposed to being bondsmen or bondwomen.  There are numerous instances from history that give testimony to the fact that men and women often chose death rather than not be free.  It was Patrick Henry, that great American patriot, who said in the face of his British enemy:

“…..Forbid it, Almighty God.  I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

On the other hand, the nature of government is to govern, regulate and control.  Let us take this point one step further and say that the nature of government is uniformity.  We do not have to look at distant history for proof.  If we take a closer look at the socialist government in Cuba, China, the former Union of the Socialist Republic, East Germany and the Eastern bloc countries, it is evident that the purpose of Government is uniformity, i.e., control, regulate and govern.  Even in many of our so-called democratic countries, we see signs of governments’ efforts to control and regulate activities of their citizens.  We see these regulations and controls in the form of taxes and laws regulating the morality of citizens.  We see further regulations and controls in immigration and customs statutes.  These regulations are all put forward in the name of uniformity for the public good.  We see then, that conflict is between individualism and unity and between freedom and regimentation.  It is clear that the natures of man and government are in direct opposition to one another.

It is of the utmost importance that Bahamians keep in front of them, at all times, the contrary natures of man and government.  The lack of insight, into these fundamental areas, causes no end of trouble.  In addition, this lack of insight causes us to be blinded to the truth.  When we fail to see the truth for what it is worth, we are like a ship at sea without a captain or mate.  Without the basic information or guide to gauge relevant issues, our individual freedom or liberty is diminished while government’s power grows by leaps and bounds.  With the growth of its power, government becomes bolder as it encroaches on our doorsteps.  We need only to read our daily newspapers and listen to or watch the news on radio or television for proof.

Bahamians, then need a firm foundation, which has its basis in the basic principles of the natures of man and Government.  This accomplished, the complicated and difficult issues are simplified.  The solution to our problems becomes obvious when we look at them based on the basic principles mentioned earlier.

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