The polls did not follow suit, though. Trump not only remained the front-runner—ahead of Bush and Cruz and the neurosurgeon Ben Carson, depending on the poll—but broadened his lead. (Two weeks after the debate, DeVolder changed her mind on Trump again. “I forgave him, as his message/platform continues to resonate above all else,” she wrote to me.)
In a society where there is pluralistic use of force, there needs to be respect for natural law, and natural rights, in order to avoid strife and civil war. Similarly a belief in natural rights tends to result in pluralistic use of force, because people obviously have the right to defend their rights, whereas disbelief in natural rights tends to lead to an absolute monopoly of force to ensure that the state will have the necessary power to crush peoples rights and to sacrifice individuals, groups, and categories of people for the greater good. Conversely a monopoly of force leads to the denial of natural rights (by making it safe and profitable to disregard natural rights) and the disregard of natural rights necessitates a monopoly of force to avoid frequent violent conflict.
Regardless of the name, and regardless of the rhetorical flourishes used to make the doctrine sound different from what it is, their doctrine remains the same: that justice is whatever courts do, that any law whatsoever is lawful, that right and wrong is what the law says it is and the law is whatever the nation says it is. This is the doctrine of absolutism, and anyone who advocates this doctrine is an absolutist, no matter how many names he thinks up for himself. Because these ideas acquired a bad odor in the seventeenth century, people are always finding new and different ways to express these ideas, so that they sound different, whilst remaining the same, but each new form of expression again acquires a bad odor when some ruler puts it into action.
The absolutists then concoct a new name, and dress their doctrines in new plumage so that they sound like the normal actions of the state to sustain the rule of law, rather than what they truly are, the use of violence by the state to crush the rule of law.
The absolutists/ romantics/ relativists/ post modernists continually change their name and plumage in a vain effort to escape their past, but the stink of piles rotting dead lingers on them.
Words carry with them systems of ideas. The only system of ideas capable of repudiating limitless and absolute state power is natural law. It is impossible to speak about limits to the power and authority of the state except in the language with which such ideas were originally expressed. No other language is available.
Utilitarianism has two serious problems, problems that most utilitarians regard as advantages. The idea of the greatest good for the greatest number implies that someone should be in charge, with the authority and duty to sacrifice any one persons property, liberty, and life, for the greater good. It also assumes that a persons good is knowable, and that other people can judge this good for him, make decisions on his behalf, and balance that good with other peoples good. Since any one person is expendable, then there can be no such thing as human rights, as Bentham frankly argued. Clearly the doctrine of the greatest good is going to be highly attractive to those intellectuals who envisage themselves as being in charge of deciding what is good for other people, deciding whose property shall be confiscated for the greater good, who shall be imprisoned for the greater good, or for his own good.
The utilitarians have constructed an artificial language in which it is impossible to express such concepts “the rule of law”, “natural rights”, or any idea or fact that would reject the limitless, absolute, lawless and capricious power of the state, and they seek to impose that language on the world.
If disagreement on the nature of good is a common cause of violent conflict, then the absolutists are correct. If violent conflict is almost always a result of ordinary everyday uncomplicated, easily recognizable evil, then natural law is correct.
Hobbes is often called the first atheistic political philosopher. This statement is misleading. There were plenty of political philosophers before Hobbes who had little use for religion, or were hostile towards Christianity, and made little pretense of Christianity. Hobbes was, or pretended to be, a conventional Christian. What made Hobbes different is that he saw religion as a threat to the moral omnipotence of the state. Hobbes argued that subjects of Leviathan should submit not merely their actions but “their Wills, every one to his Will, and their Judgments to his Judgment.” Hobbes's Leviathan was to define the meaning of all words, including, indeed especially, the meaning of the words good and evil. Thus Hobbes's state was to be God, and man could have no other gods before the god of the state. What made Hobbes different is not that he was cynical about Christianity (there were many political philosophers before him more cynical than he) but that he was the first in the sophist tradition to propose what Plato had proposed: to divert religious impulses towards the state, as was eventually done on a large scale during the twentieth century, most vigorously in Nazi Germany and in the Communist countries.
For almost two centuries, historians have used the term "absolutism" to characterize this new regime of laws and police power, be it for Paris in particular or for the entire realm. The word, in its political and legal significance, simply means total, complete, without appeal, unquestionable. Royal power was not only deemed to be legitimate and divinely ordained; it was absolute. There were no legal or spiritual grounds for disobeying it.
Normans, Picards, Bretons, young people from the Beauce and from Champagne who know how to take care of babies, make fires, rub down horses—all with regional accents, colloquial turns of phrase, and some sense of pride at hailing from a particular market town or province—came to Paris in search of work. If a foreigner asked them where they came from, "France" was the immediate reply; but if a French person asked the same question, the name of the province of their birth was the answer. These young migrants would seek out relatives, often not all that close, or other young people from their village, and would beg for shelter; and as in all cultures of poverty, the hospitality they received was often accompanied with a warning that it was temporary. It was discouraging to walk the streets, looking for work or for a handout. On each street, in each quarter, the artisans, their apprentices, and the common laborers knew one another: they drank and caroused together. Merchants and their wives conversed as they set up their stands, all the while eyeing passersby or "idlers," to ensure that they did not filch a sausage. It was not easy for a new arrival to worm his way into the street sociability of the capital. Knowing someone, and being introduced, was almost indispensable.