Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Right to Revolution

Om July 4, 1776 the American Republic was born. After roughly 12 years of opposition to the tyrannical and anti-liberty policies of the British government, the American Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, laid out the essence of what the ideals of the American Revolution were all about

" We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying it's Foundations on such Principles and organizing such Powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and that accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, envinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty to throw off such Government, an to provide new Guards for their future Security."

Such is the language of the libertarian belief in the natural right of the people to overthrow, violently, if necessary, a tyrannical government. This right had been articulated earlier in history by the English Levellers, and the radicals of the English revolutions of the 17th century, particularly John Locke, Algernon Sidney and the English Levellers John Liliburne and Richard Overton. History has proven it is the nature of all governments to become corrupt and oppress their people. Vigilence is required to keep a government free and committed to protecting the liberties of the people. These principles were next articulated by the American Revolutionaries, as shown above, and even by the revolutionaries of the French Revolution.

The principle of overthrowing a government has always been something the conservative rulers of the United States have been uncomfortable with and have always tried to keep hidden. Instead we are taught in school to be good little citizens, obey the government, inform on lawbreakers, and trust those in authority. Fortunately for those who want to educate themselves about the principles of the American Revolution there is a rich history of what were once called "English Liberties" which were then translated into "civil liberties", "sovereignty of the people", and the right of resistance to oppression. Our tradition of state's rights as articulated in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, , and the many writings of Jefferson and James Madison
show that limited government with defined powers and a written constitution are all outgrowths of the radicalism that started in Great Britian as far back as the Magna Carta. Things we take for granted: the protection of habeus corpus, trial by jury, representative institutions, individual liberty, and due process.

The ideals which governments embrace today oppose our traditions and ideals. Their ideals are ones of centralized government, a powerful standing military, high taxes, favored individuals and corporations, war, and the suffocation of individual liberty through such laws as hate crimes, anti-discrimination laws, and laws by adminstrative decree. These "ideals" are strangling our civil society and are soon to completely annhilate our liberty. These "Ideals" are the ideals of Thomas Hobbes, Sir Robert Filmer, and Edmund Burke, all spokesmen for aristocracy, centralized government and the rule of the few over the many.

We must do all we can to combat these tyrannies and embrace our revolutionary history and principles. Hopefully any revoluton can be accomplished through peaceful, legal, and educational means. Unfortunately most rulers do not give up their powers easily or without a fight. Let's hope we never have to use our natural right to revolution, but always keep it's flame alive.

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