This comes from Robert Nozick, pages 149-150 in Anarchy, State, and Utopia:
The term “distributive justice” is not a neutral one. Hearing the term “distribution, ” most people presume that some thing or mechanism uses some principle or criterion to give out a supply of things. Into this process of distributing shares some error may have crept. So it is an open question, at least, whether redistribution should take place; whether we should do again what has already been done once, though poorly. However, we are not in the position of children who have been given portions of pie by someone who now makes last minute adjustments to rectify careless cutting. There is no central distribution, no person or group entitled to control all the resources, jointly deciding how they are to be doled out. What each person gets, he gets from others who give to him in exchange for something, or as a gift. In a free society, diverse persons control different resources, and new holdings arise out of the voluntary exchanges and actions of persons. There is no more a distributing or distribution of shares than there is a distributing of mates in a society in which persons choose whom they shall marry. The total result is the product of many individual decisions which the different individuals involved are entitled to make.
[U]nder the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action. Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to pursue his personal ends and desires, certain that the powers of government will not be used deliberately to frustrate his efforts.
Now ponder that in light of what is happening in Cyprus.
I was recently discussing the drone war with a co-worker of mine (a person who seems to inspire posts from me). His position was that it’s likely that this sort of clandestine killing of foreign threats has likely always gone on, and therefore wasn’t bothered by it. Additionally, he was sure that the people killed in the attacks, “…did something wrong.”
So, I tried to turn it around a bit. What if it were announced that the president were going to launch drones in the US, in order to fight the war on drugs? Let’s say there’s a kingpin somewhere in the continental US, and drones were to be used to take him and his ilk out, without a trial (for now we’ll ignore the issue of collateral damage).
I was disappointed when my co-worker said he wouldn’t have a problem with it at all, provided the administration publicly announced their decision to use drones prior to actually using them. “Without a trial?” I asked. He replied, “I think they should know that if you break the law, this s#@% could happen to you.”
To me, his response is very telling. I fear that he is not simply an outlier within the sphere of political opinions on this matter, but in fact representative of a very large number of Americans indeed. Many people don’t seem concerned about the drone strikes, or the lack of due process in targeting Americans. It seems that there is blind trust for executive power, and there doesn’t seem like there’s much that can be done to shake it.
In my view, substituting due process for an executive decision should concern each and every American. It is through that process that truth (hopefully) is revealed and justice (hopefully) occurs! To simply assume that the president has the best intentions with the policy is downright naive. I hate to say it, but I think America is ripe for tyranny, and once we hit the tipping point, turning around will be very difficult indeed.