|I agree that each and every citizen attempting to defend themselves as individuals would be useless. And even if the citizens gathered together forming defense agencies (consenting to an agency), but the agencies weren't required to work under a common set of laws, it would still be useless. Consent may go to the enforcer, but it has to be in the context of laws enforced.|
If any consent were required, I think it would have to be to both the government and the law as a unified whole to which consent were given. It wouldn't, in this context, make sense to separate them. For example, "I consent to being governed by this government, but I want a different set of laws" or "I consent to this set of laws, but I want a different government." In an important sense, there is no government without the laws that define it.
To make any sense in this context it has to be a very general form of consent - such as, "I consent to be governed by this government whose laws are based upon my individual rights, understanding all the while that it will not be perfect."
The heart of the concept of "consent" is the individual human choice to affirm a voluntary arrangement. I can't consent for someone else. It can't be called consent if it were made without someones knowledge or against their will.
There might be one way in which everyone can be said to have consented to be governed by a government instituited for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights by means of enforcing objective law over a given geographic area.... It is the same as my moral agreement to not violate the rights of someone who arrives at my desert island. Before they arrived there was no context in which individual rights applied. But the minute they stepped ashore the context does exist. Physically, I could violate their rights, but I can't do that and still have a claim to my rights. If I claim to have any rights - UNIVERSAL rights - the claim is a statement that others have the same right. I have, in effect, "consented" to acknowledge the existence of such rights. And, logically, I can't thereafter object to their protection - to the enforcement - hence the enforcer. If I take the other position and say that there are no such things, then I can't make any moral complaints no matter how I'm treated. But that is still a feeble and ambiguous use of the word "consent." There is explicit consent, there is implied consent derived from behavior, but this would be what? "Assumed consent"?
Another sense of the word "consent" might be that if the people don't up and overthrow the government then the government can say, "The people haven't removed us; they continue to use us; they accept our benefits, and that stands as our implied consent." But that doesn't work because of the real threat of force against any attempt to overthrow the government. Consent achieved at gun point isn't consent.
Is there another sense of the word "consent" that I'm missing?