Ockham’s Razor is the principle that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity” (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem). The popular restatement of this principle is that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
William of Ockham was a 14th-century English logician that came up with this principle. The term razor refers to the act of shaving away unnecessary theories to get to the simplest explanation.
So today we’re going to look at secession and compare it to the other solutions presented by various modern thinkers and writers.
The Articles of Confederation
We should begin this discussion with thirteen new sovereign North American nations in 1781. They decided that they wanted to be a confederacy of thirteen sovereign nations. The Articles of Confederation (AOC) were ratified that year, but had been sent to the various new nations for review as early as 1777. That tells us that the colonies, due to the words of the Declaration of Independence, considered themselves free and independent States, and were fighting the British prior to ratification of the AOC. The war did not end until 1783.
The Articles of Confederation acknowledged and guarded the sovereignty of each new nation, and created the United States of America as an errand boy…sort of a property management company, designed to do the bidding of the principals. The USA was funded by the several State legislatures. The AOC formed a Congress of only one house, the unicameral legislature. The USA only existed as a Committee of the States when the Congress was not in session. And, alteration of the AOC had to be approved “in Congress assembled” and ratified by ALL thirteen States.
The AOC was pretty simple and required no Bill of Rights. After ratification in 1781, the United States was ineffective until 1787. The weakness of the AOC was intended to protect the sovereignty of the States. Consequently there were lots of disputes between States…primarily about commerce between the States…that the United States was unable to settle. Then Shay’s Rebellion occurred in Massachusetts (Massachusetts politicians deserved it), and many made calls for a stronger government. Thomas Jefferson refused to be alarmed by the rebellion, and uttered the famous quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
So, for a confederation of thirteen sovereign States who wanted to be a bigger nation, the Articles of Confederation were the simplest solution. But malevolent men brushed it aside for a new government with nearly unlimited powers.
The US Constitution
The Philadelphia Convention of 1787 was organized and held under the premise of amending the AOC to settle the ongoing trade disputes between the States. But the more radical leaders like Alexander Hamilton pledged to entirely rewrite the AOC into a new Constitution for a nation with overarching power, setting the stage to subsume the States under a strong central government. (For a detailed history of the Constitutional Convention, read “Hologram of Liberty,” by Kenneth W. Royce.)
Perhaps you didn’t know that, of the 55 delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, only eight had signed the Declaration of Independence. Men like Sam Adams, Thomas Paine and Christopher Gadsden were not even chosen. Patrick Henry refused to sign the Constitution, saying, ”I smelt a rat.”
As Lysander Spooner wrote in his epic “No Treason,” “The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”
The US Constitution was a quiet coup d’etat. It established the foundation for an uncontrollable and unaccountable central government. The seeds sown in 1789 are now a maturing crop of crushing taxation, relentless regulation and unchecked tyranny. The US Constitution was designed to be ambiguous, to protect the Federal government from the citizens, and to perpetuate the Federal government into the future. Everything that is touched by the Constitution, and the Federal Government created by it, is part and parcel of its ability to enslave. One cannot be separated from the other. Reform is impossible. The Federal Government that has grown like a cancer on the American population is now so complicated…so ubiquitous…that it cannot be controlled. Ironically, even the Federal Government cannot now control its own growth. And like a cancer, soon the Federal government and its Constitution will consume its host…we Americans…and it will die.
So Ockhams’ Razor cannot be used to shave away the unworkable and unmanageable bureaucracies of the Constitution and its whelp, Washington, DC…any more then a close shave separates one from the pigment of one’s skin. The Constitution created the Federal Government. They have both played their roles exactly as intended by the Framers. The corruption and tyranny is genetically designed into the Constitution.
Nullification begins with two preconceptions: (1) that there is a compelling reason and some unknown, unstated benefit for states to remain in the Union; and (2) that states and “we the People” retain power not delegated to the US. But the Tenth Amendment phrase, “nor prohibited by it to the States,” usually goes unmentioned. In order for states to nullify Federal law, states must have the ability to enforce their own will. By ratifying a Constitution authorizing the Federal government to collect taxes directly from the people, and power to control the state militias, and by giving the Federal government the power to coin money, the states willingly sold themselves into slavery to the United States.
It is common for slaves to groan under the weight of the oppression of their masters. But slaves who have no money of their own and no weapons to defend themselves can only balefully sing “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”…while they continue to obey the Master.
Applying Ockham’s Razor to nullification shows the simplest explanation: Nullification is only possible if the slavemaster allows it. (Remember the Federal REAL ID Act?) Any time that the slavemaster resists nullification and moves to punish the slave for resistance, it will lay the lash to the back of the slave without mercy.
The Constitutional Convention
Many today call for a “ConCon.” They optimistically propose that if we can only rewrite the Constitution, “We The People” can bring the Federal Government under control once again. Those hopeful folks must not have read the old Constitution and the method whereby it can occur. The deck is stacked in favor of “the house.” In Article V, it states that two-thirds of the state legislatures (34 states) must apply for a ConCon, or that both houses of Congress must approve of the ConCon by a two-thirds majority. A ConCon opens the Constitution to any amendment or to be entirely rewritten. Then, whatever is produced by the ConCon must be ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures (38 states).
Why would two-thirds of the ruling class in Congress voluntarily open themselves to being fired? They already have all the power. There is no benefit to Congress to participate in a ConCon. And to think that 34 states would agree to a ConCon, and then that 38 states would ratify a new Constitution, is naivete writ large. So, Ockham’s Razor, applied to the ConCon, leads us to the conclusion that the states are too inured to the US Constitution to change it.
Election Victories and the Two-Party System
Most Americans still believe in elections. Most Americans still believe in the two-party system; roughly 40% are Republicans, 40% are Democrats. They faithfully trot to the polls whenever they are told to. But there is no quorum…no minimum number at which an election is made null and void. So if only three votes are counted, someone will win. Ockhams’ Razor applied to elections tells us that elections are intrinsic to the Constitution and the Federal Government’s system. To continue voting is to perpetuate the system, but cannot abolish or amend it.
Secession and Sovereignty
Any entity subject to the US Constitution must play by its rules. That includes the US Federal Government and the serf states. Ockham’s Razor will indicate that any effort to reform the United States cannot succeed, since remaining a part of the system requires slavish obedience to it. Voting in Federal elections only mollifies the voter and makes him believe his vote matters. Nullification cannot be successful since the States cannot enforce it.
The only solution…the simplest solution…is Secession. Secession makes nullification, Constitutional Conventions and Federal election victories irrelevant. It removes a State from the dictates and tyranny of the Constitution and the United States Federal Government. It seeks no overthrow, desires no further amendment, begs no permission. It is the embodiment of the natural law of freedom of association.
The only solution to the darkness of tyranny is the sunlight of secession.
DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.
© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.