the consent of the governed
If people do not consent to the laws which the government requires people to
obey, then the laws have been imposed on people against their wishes. The
people are not free. The people are slaves. The government is a tyranny.
Governments and laws are not legitimate unless they are based on the consent
of the governed.
It is not practical for every person to consent to every law. Governments
and law may be based on indirect or implied consent.
For example, if a person travels to another nation, then the choice to go to
another nation implies that the person has consented to the laws of the
destination nation. However, this might not apply to a person who was forced
to leave his home; because although he chose the destination, he did not
choose to leave. This also might not apply to a situation where all the
tyrannical governments conspire together to make sure that people are
equally oppressed in every nation.
For another example, if people elect representatives, and if the
representatives enact laws, the people have indirectly consented to the laws
by consenting to the representatives. A person who chooses not to vote is
consenting to allow other people to make the decision, so the person who
chooses not to vote is indirectly consenting to the laws.
But what about the people who lose the election? Suppose there is an
election with two candidates. The war candidate wants to raise taxes and use
the money to invade some other nation. The peace candidate opposes both the
war and the tax increase. Should the people who voted for the peace
candidate be forced to pay the war tax?
If the people who lost the election are forced to pay the war tax, then
majorities have the right to oppress minorities.
But if the people who lost the election are exempt from the war tax, then
there will be different laws for different people. Justice will be more
complicated because the government will have to determine which people are
supposed to obey which laws. Which laws a person has to obey will depend on
who that person voted for, so which candidate each person voted for needs to
be a public record. There could be no secret ballots. Vote fraud would be
more difficult, because anyone could check if their recorded vote matched
the vote they had intended to make, anyone could count the votes to
determine if the official totals were correct, and anyone could check the
list of voters to determine how many dead or nonexistant people had voted
and whom the dead and nonexistant people had voted for. But the public vote
records could easily be abused. The government could use the public vote
records to reward its supporters and harass opposition supporters. A
candidate could scare people into voting for him by announcing that after
the election, his supporters would beat up everybody who voted against him.
A candidate could buy votes by announcing that after the election he would
give money to everybody who voted for him.
The solution is autonomy.