Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quite the Ramble Based on My Previous Post

In my previous post, I advocated secession and even suggested the possibility of violence being necessary to establish a just government.

My purpose was to get someone up in arms against me, but since no one took me to task, I will attack my own argument.

First off, I do not disavow the possible necessity of secession, but I have much more hope (i.e. the opiate of the desperate) than I let on that secession may be unnecessary. I don't rule it out, it's just that secession will mean violence, and lots of it.

Now on to violence. Bob has pointed out--and I think that it's a great point--that a violent revolution will only spawn a violent resolution. One we take up arms, then we begin to do things contrary to our principles, and once we assume power we use the very violence that got us there to keep us there. This is blatantly true in a seemingly endless supply of examples, including

1) Cromwell's overthrow of Charles I. He had the king beheaded, declared England a free republic, and appointed himself "Lord Protector of England" (a euphemism for military dictator). His disdain for hereditary monarchy was so great that, as he grew ill and approached death, he arranged for his nearly limitless powers--he ruled via his control of the army--to be transferred to his son).

2.) Napoleon Bonaparte gained fame fighting for the "Liberty, equality, and fraternity" promised by the French revolutionaries. As his powers grew, he eventually crowned himself emperor (at his coronation, he took the crown from the Pope and placed it upon his own head!).

3.) Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin proved that no matter how terrible were the Tsar's powers, a violent revolution could (and did) result in something much worse.


The bottom line is that every time that men have organized and taken up arms to fight for freedom and won, they end up using their new powers to destroy the very freedoms for which they fought.

This is true even in the case of the United States.

At first things were good. The British signed the Treaty of Paris (1783) and recognized the United States as sovereign.

The thirteen states were themselves largely sovereign, held together by "a firm league of friendship with each other" (quoted from The Articles of Confederation--the first Constitution for the United States. According to the Articles, the national government had very few powers--none of the powers that had so tyrannized the colonies in decades past (how's that for learning from history?).

However, there were forces at work, well organized forces, led by Alexander Hamilton, who sought to establish an American Empire in the likeness of the British Empire (which we had so recently fought).

Hamilton and his allies exploited the economic turmoil of the time, which could only be expected given the costs of the war and whatnot, in order to convene a convention supposedly to "revise" the Articles.

Instead, the Articles were thrown out and a new Constitution was born.

Unfortunately, while the vast bulk of this Constitution was good and within the guidelines of the Revolution, the Constitution included a few relatively ambiguous clauses.

These clauses, when interpreted "loosely," greatly expanded the national government's powers--to the extent that the Federal government today is exponentially more tyrannical than the Parliament was in the 1770s.

Among the Constitution's drawbacks is in Article I, Section 8 (the part that grants powers to Congress).

Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 says that Congress has the right to regulate trade between the states, with foreign countries and the various Indian nations.

Under a loose construction, this clause is the reason why the government is involved in every aspect of economic activity.

California's legislature now has before it a bill that would legalize marijuana production, distribution, and consumption--to be taxed, of course. However, since Congress has assumed the power to regulate trade (under I.8.3), it will be a meaningless gesture to pass the bill.

This is accepted as fact even though the Constitution states that Congress has the power to regulate trade between the states. Nowhere in California's bill does it mention exporting marijuana to other states or importing it from other states, foreign countries, or the various Indian Nations.

This should mean that the Federal government cannot stop California.

But it doesn't because a leviathan was created in Philadelphia, and the patriot Patrick Henry knew it from the start when he refused to be a delegate for Virginia, stating "I smell a rat in Philadelphia that reeks of monarchy."

The men who fought the Revolution learned that, if you want to accomplish something, then you needed violence for it.

Therefore, they turned to a Constitution that established a strong federal government capable of exerting vast quantities of violence.

In the early 1830s, South Carolina nullified a ridiculously high protective tariff designed to benefit Northern manufacturers at the expense of everyone else. The President responded by threatening to invade South Carolina in order to collect the tax by force.

So much for the Boston Tea Party.


And this is why we cannot shoot our way into freedom. I said earlier that secession means violence, but it must not be from us. We must be willing to suffer the violence, like Gandhi, like Martin Luther King, Jr. in order to show the justness of our cause.

This is, of course, why I would rather not secede. I have no desire to stick my hand into the fire.

However, what if we all did so? Or what if enough of us did so?

Henry David Thoreau may have been right when he wrote, in "Civil Disobedience," that the only thing necessary to accomplish the revolution is for every man to withhold his loyalty to the state. Once the soldier refuses to fire and the taxman declines to collect, the tyrant will be on his knees.

We need no fire any shots.

We must not fire any shots, even in self-defense.

We must suffer, and we must be strong.

This is not my nature--my typical reaction to insult and injury is to insult and injure my assailant--but it is the best way.

It is the only way.

Pax tecum.

FYI: I.8.18 is also particularly odious, especially under a loose construction. "Necessary and proper"--could you be more ambiguous? Then again, it was Napoleon who said "A Constitution should be short and obscure."

Ours is both.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Aristos. I too think that passive resistance would be the only way to resist without bringing on justified retaliation from the government. Those in power (like that guy talking on all the channels right now at 9:35)take comfort in the polls that show most of their countrymen (serfs)approve of most of their decisions. We need something stronger than a low approval rating (did that stop Bush?)but not as strong as a Harper's Ferry.

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