The American government uses true absolutism, which is a major aspect of The Divine Right of Kings, due to the fact on how they use wiretapping, monitoring phone conversations and general surveillance without consent. The Divine Right of Kings is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God. A monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is actually or normally embodied in a single individual, the monarch.
The Homily of 1547 expressed the whole doctrine of divine right in Louis XIV’s rule over France or Charles II’s rule over England could have battered. John Neville Figgis states right after that the people “may not resist, nor in any wise hurt, an anointed king, which is God’s lieutenant, vice-regent and highest minister in the country where he is king” (xxiii). The Divine Right of Kings was a notable doctrine during the seventeenth century; it gave the monarch absolute power. The main aspect of The Divine Right of Kings was absolutism.
Absolutism is the political doctrine and practice of unlimited, centralized authority and absolute sovereignty, as vested especially in a monarch or dictator. The essence of an absolutist system is that the ruling powers is not subject to regularized challenge or check by any other agency, be it judicial, legislative, religious, economic, or electoral. When Louis XIV was king he proclaimed, “I am the state” (Encyclopedia Britannica). This statement alone made by Louis XIV showed familiar assertion of absolutism.
It has existed in various forms in all parts of the world, including in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. The most studied form of absolutism would be absolute monarchy. Absolute monarchy originated in early modern Europe and was based on the strong individual leaders of the new nation-states that were created at the breakup of medieval order. The most common defense of monarchical absolutism is known as The Divine Right of Kings.
The American government is guilty of using true absolutism today, due to so many constituents. Wiretapping has been around for many years, basically an “interception of telephone or telegraph communications by electronic listening or recording devices for espionage or surveillance” (Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia). Another component that contributes to absolutism is video surveillance, “technology-aided surveillance began in the 1970s with closed-circuit television systems that were analog based.
These systems were built from cameras, multiplexers, time-lapse video camera recorders (VCR) and monitors” (Fullerton 01). To maintain the VCR system, operators had to manually change the tapes on a regular basis as they became full, sometimes several times a day, which would be a labor-intensive routine. Also, the VCR required frequent service checks and typically had to be replaced every two years. By the 1990s, due to the problems experienced with the VCR, people began installing digital recorders, DVRs, as that technology became available.
In a DVR, a digital storage media such as a computer hard drive is used for storing the video recordings. With digital video recordings the storage of surveillance no longer had quality loss over time and manual intervention was greatly reduced, resulting in lower cost overall. These factors stated were all done without consent from the people. On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks was launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and Washington D.
C. area. Four passenger airliners were high jacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists so they could be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Two of those planes were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within two hours, both towers collapsed with debris and the resulting fires caused partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, as well as major damage to ten large structures nearby.
A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. A fourth plane was targeted for the United States Capitol in Washington D. C. , but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers. In total, about three thousand people died in the attacks, including the two hundred twenty-seven civilians and nineteen hijackers on board the four planes. Although the group’s leader Osama bin Laden initially denied any involvement, in 2004 he claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U. S. support of Israel, the presence of the U. S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as motives for the attacks. These attacks sparked a signing of a law by the President of the United States, George W. Bush. The law that was signed on October 26th, 2001 was called The Patriot Act. The Patriot Act had lofty aspirations, for it was designed to correct five perceived weakness, or failures, of the national government to prevent the 9/11 atrocities.
It sought “1) to improve sharing of information between law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies; 2) to gather antiterrorism intelligence by taking advantage of the flexible warrants requirement of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; 3) to expand wiretap authority over electronic communications; 4) to seize funding utilized in terrorist activities; and 5) to impose mandatory detection and deportation of non – U. S. citizens who are suspected of having links to terrorist organizations” (Panetta 163).
The Patriot Act is suppose to protect Americans from any known threats that may happen in the future, but it just shows how it violates human rights. If it were really supposed to protect the people, the government would have spotted clues about the Boston Marathon bombing by listening in on phone conversations; which would have lead to someone who was doing something suspicious before anything bad could happen. This right here is a prime example on how the government flexes their muscles and makes excuses on why the Patriot Act is only here to protect us. Basically, the government only uses true power only on their convenience.
Toni Panetta said in one of her articles about the Patriot Act that truly makes sense is that “it is worth nothing due to complexity and scope of the U. S. law dealing with the War on Terror, the Patriot Act is just one legal element affecting human rights in the United States” (163). Also in current events that are happening today, the NSA is abusing human rights by asking cell phone providers to give up all their customer’s personal information so they can see if anyone is doing anything suspicious. This is a prime example of how the government is abusing their power and using true absolutism.
In a way, absolutism is needed sometimes because video surveillance and wiretapping are needed. Without it, anybody can commit a crime without being afraid of the notion of someone watching them through camera or listening in on them scheming to do something that could potentially harm or kill someone. In a way, there is a good and bad to everything and it will not always please everyone. Is absolutism still part of today’s society? Of course it is. This is due to all the recent events that are running all over the news. There is the Edward Joseph Snowden case that is happening right now.
His case is very special because it shows how the government is using true absolutism. Joseph Snowden was a former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, who leaked details of several top-secret U. S. and British governments’ mass surveillance programs to the press. This case right here shows how the Patriot Act is being abused. Of course people cannot live without technology, but this is a prime example of something that is supposed to be good backfiring back to the American government.
The Divine Right of Kings is very much in full effect as of today, because people all around the world want true power; it is human nature to always want more. Nobody wants to be on the bottom of the totem pole. It is the same as the monarchy system, because the monarchs were always on top and their people were always under them. The government says they listen to the people, but since the recent acts that are happening all around the world, it shows how the governments are abusing their power and shows how they use true absolutism to control their citizens.
There will always be people who want true power and to be able to control people. Technology will just get more and more advanced, which means the government probably would not need to wiretap anymore or have any need for video surveillance. That is why The Divine Right of Kings is such a revolutionary idea today. Works Cited Figgis, John Neville. The Divine Right of Kings. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. Print. “Absolutism. ” Britannica Online (n. d. ): Britannica Online. Web. 11 July 2013. “FBI Asks Internet Companies’ Cooperation In Wire Tapping. ” Information Management Journal 46. 4 (2012): 10.
Business Source Complete. Web. 11 July 2013. “Wiretapping. ” (n. d. ): Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 11 July 2013. Blankner, Reinhard. “Absolutism. ” Absolutism. Ohio University, 09 Sept. 2004. Web. 11 July 2013. < http://www. ohio. edu/chastain/ac/absoluti. htm> Panetta, Toni. “The USA PATRIOT Act” University of Denver, (n. d. ): Web. 11 July 2013. . Rubio, Brett, and Bridget Baker. “Journal of Educational Controversy – Article: Are We Targeting Our Fellow Countrymen? The Consequences of the USA PATRIOT Act. ” Western Washington University, (n. d. ): Web. 11 July 2013.