Definition of the Day 2-11-16 — Legitimate Government

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Politics
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illustration from The American Heretic's Dictionary

LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT, n. A curiously unremarked-upon oxymoron on the level of “compassionate conservative” or “vegetarian piranha.”

The basic premise of the “legitimate government” concept is that as long as a government (an organization using coercion, the threat of violence, and often outright violence to force those within its area of domination to bend to its will) is “democratically” elected, it is “legitimate.”

To put this in perspective, let’s consider an island with ten inhabitants. If six of the island’s residents decided to form a government and elected three of their number to make laws binding on all residents, with the new laws enforced under threat of violence or through actual violence, and if the new governing body armed itself with deadly weapons and extorted money from everyone on the island, under current concepts that island government and its “taxation” would be “legitimate.” And if it then passed laws regulating the most intimate aspects of the daily lives of everyone on the island, including those who wanted no part of the new government, and enforced those laws at the point of a gun, those laws would, in the eyes of the world, be the “legitimate” acts of a “legitimate,” democratically elected government.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover

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