This nation was founded on the notion of the Social Contract. Unfortunately, too few of us know what this is, let alone what its limitations are. In fact, when it comes to the Social Contract, many people are completely ignorant on the subject — even people who make their living talking about and defending it don’t understand it. For example, I recently heard a ‘conservative’ radio talk show host, Andrew Wilcow, complaining about people who refer to the Social Contract. According to Mr. Wilcow, the Social Contract does not exist, yet the man makes his living talking about and defending it. In the radio spot I heard, Mr. Wilcow was challenging listeners to show him a Social Contract. Well, Mr. Wilcow, I accept your challenge. What’s more, I am going to link you directly to the most famous social contract in human history. Mr. Wilcow, if you read this post, here is the link to that famous social contract: The U.S. Constitution! Now, Mr. Wilcow, please, stop talking to people about the Constitution and matters of Natural Law until after you have taken the time to educate yourself on the subject. Once you have done that, maybe you could help the situation by explaining what you learned about the limits of the Social Contract to your listeners instead of making things worse by telling them the Social Contract does not exist. On the slim chance that you or one of your staff reads this post, I took the time to give you the Cliff Notes version on those limits. Please keep reading.
The Social Contract is based upon the individual’s Natural Right to willingly enter into a contract with another willing individual. If you and I agree to terms and draw up a contract, so long as the terms of the contract do not violate the principles of Natural Law, then that contract is valid under the principles of Natural Law. When an entire community, or even an entire nation willingly enter into such an agreement with each other, that is known as a Social Contract. Your City Charter is a social contract, as is your State Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is also a social contract, though it is once removed from the People as it is a contract between the States, and not a contract directly between the People of the several States. Still, so long as the People, through their States, continue to support the U.S. Constitution, then the U.S. Constitution remains a valid contract under the terms of Natural Law. But there are limits to what one can agree to under those terms.
Under Natural Law, one cannot agree to surrender their Natural Rights. Natural Rights are inherent in your being, and you retain them until you die. You also retain the right to claim and/or assert your Natural Rights. Now, if I cannot willingly surrender my Natural Rights, then it follows that I cannot demand that you surrender yours. Therefore, according to Natural Law, no party to a contract can surrender their own or demand the surrender of another person’s Natural Rights. Now, while this may sound simple, in practice, it is very difficult to get people to accept the truth of this simple deduction. Still, if we take it to the extreme, I think we can make the point.
Do you have a Natural Right to your body? I hope you say yes, because, if you say no, then slavery, rape and murder cease to be immoral; and if you are going to argue that there is nothing immoral about slavery, rape and murder, then you have no place in civil society. Therefore, I am going to assume that we can agree that we each have a Natural Right to our own body. So, how can we vote to force each other into slavery? If we all vote, and 51% say it is now ‘legal’ to enslave the other 49%, it would be immoral; and since morality is based on the principles of Natural Law, this means that vote would violate those principles of Natural Law. Thus, we cannot construct a Social Contract that allows slavery without violating the very principles upon which the contract rests. yet, we have done exactly this and we wonder why our Social Contract does not work.
Are you wondering why I said we have legalized slavery when the 14th Amendment prohibits slavery in the United States? It’s because we have violated other principles of Natural Law. We just don’t see those violations because we are so utterly ignorant of Natural Law in general. In this case, I am talking about the plain meaning of words. What if I tell you I have totally illuminated rape, but I have had to make ‘other-service’ (as in: to serve another person) legal. What would you say to that? What is ‘other-service’ you ask? Oh, nothing much. It just means that, if another person asks, you must have sex with them — for the sake of serving their needs, of course. Now, would you still accept my claim to have illuminated rape? Why not? I mean, don’t you see that I have totally eliminated the heinous act of rape while making it mandatory that we all provide for each others needs by making it illegal to refuse to serve each other? This is a great thing I have done, isn’t it? Well, if you say no, then why do so many Americans change their mind when I make a small change to this assertion. Or do you recognize that this is the same argument I just made about rape, it is just put in different terms:
I have totally eliminated slavery, but I have had to make ‘other-service’ legal — only, this time, ‘other-service’ means “working against your will to give goods, services and money to others.”
This is important; please take time to think this one through. Do you see that the claim is the same in both cases? In both cases, either slavery or rape were eliminated, but another form of it was made legal under a different name. Then I claim that the name changes the act. So rape becomes ‘other-service’ in the first case, and slavery becomes ‘other-service’ in the other. Who could possibly object to this? In both cases, immoral acts have been totally eradicated, and in both cases, people have been forced to serve each other by making it illegal to refuse to take care of the needs of other people. So, are you ready to agree that the whole world should live under such a system? I hope you said no, but now let me ask you something tougher. Without just saying “it’s wrong,’ or anything connected to “I don’t feel like…,” can you tell me why such a system is wrong?
You see, if we cannot explain why something is wrong, then how can we know it really is? In this case, both of these claims — to have eliminated rape and slavery — are wrong. All we did is change the terms we use from ‘rape’ or ‘slavery’ to ‘other-service’ and then act like they are totally different. In the first case, we pretend they are horrible acts against the Natural Rights of another person’s body, but in the latter, they are acts of ‘social justice.’ After all, no one can object to serving other people — especially their ‘needs.’ So who can object to ‘other-service?’ Only a horrible monster would object to this system. But we just agreed that the system is immoral, so which is it: are we right, or are we horrible monsters against social justice and the needs of other people? Once again, if you cannot explain why this is all wrong, then you must be a monster who wants people to suffer.
Here’s where the Social Contract comes to the rescue! Our laws are part of the Social Contract. To be a law, something must conform to the social contract that allows that law to be written and enforced. If that law violates the terms of that social contract, then it is not a law at all. In terms most of us understand — at least in part — if a law violates the Constitution, it is “unconstitutional,” therefore, it is not a law at all. This is just another way of saying the law violated the social contract known as the Constitution. But the Social Contract has limitations. It cannot demand that we surrender our Natural Rights, nor can we demand that another person surrender their Natural Rights. To do so would be a violation of Natural Law, therefore, it would also be a violation of the Social Contract. So, in the two cases we just discussed — ‘rape’ and ‘slavery’ — both violate the Social Contract because both violate Natural Law. Any time we force another person to do something for another person when doing it is against their will, we violate both the Social Contract and Natural Law. In this case, no matter what we call it, rape, slavery or ‘other-service,’ we are forcing people to use their body, against their will, for the benefit of another. Any and all laws, constitutions or any other form of Social Contract under which laws are written or societies govern themselves which demand such force is a clear violation of Natural Law, thus, they are immoral. This is how you would explain your objection, and it is a very, very difficult argument to get around.
Now, let’s go back and change just a few words and then see what you might think about the way we currently govern ourselves. Given everything we have just discussed, what if I had said this:
I have totally eliminated ‘blanks,’ but I have had to make ‘other-service’ legal — only, this time, ‘other-service’ means “welfare, ‘Obamacare, social security…?”
Now, do you see the problem with socialism and/or the whole notion of ‘social justice’ yet? If you don’t, then you lied to yourself when you said you were against making rape and slavery legal under the term ‘other-service.’ What you really meant is you are OK with those sort of things so long as you are not the one who is affected by them, in which case, you have no business in civil society. In fact, civil society — the Social Contract — was created specifically to protect others from the likes of people who think that way. And that is why Natural Law places limits on the Social Contract.