A Troublesome Document: The Declaration of Independence

The trouble started with “The Declaration of Independence of The Thirteen Colonies” – the underlying philosophy of which is encapsulated by those immortal and inspiring words:

“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.”

It’s a rallying cry for freedom that echoes far beyond the borders of the USA – and, in fact, has become a universal code of freedom lovers everywhere.

However, as a “political” document, I believe that what follows is equally important – the operational principle by which these “unalienable rights” are to be ensured:

“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 to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The “trouble” I’m referring to is the explicit right asserted by the Declaration – the right to “alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”.

It’s surely trouble for existing governments – because such a notion is talking about the right to not only forcibly abolish or alter such a government, but more importantly, to start a new one.

And, ultimately, that means the right to secede. Not an idea that any government, anywhere, is happy to countenance.

To secede means to break away, to separate or withdraw from. In other words, to opt out. And in the case of the 13 Colonies, they were announcing their breaking away from the British Crown – the British Government.

Thus, if July 4 means anything at all, it celebrates the right of individuals everywhere to determine the method and means of how they will be governed – and explicitly states that should a government become destructive of such rights, then it is proper and just that it should be altered or abolished – and that a new government may be formed.

Strong words indeed!

The question is how, in a democracy, can one abolish an abusive government? Of course democrats will say this is not necessary, and that we have the right to “alter” government through the democratic process. Bollocks of course, as any sane person knows. Democracy is code for head-counting, mob rule, and the unseemly spectacle of people voting themselves money from other people’s pockets. It’s certainly not a tool of freedom.

Besides, even if you DO attempt to assert your right to alter the government by voting – fat chance you’ll succeed. For no matter what party gets in – you’ve still got government, the SAME ruling class. It’s called the “Arthur or Martha” syndrome.

No, “voting” in no way grants the sort of rights the Declaration of Independence had in mind.

That leaves only one alternative – the right to SECEDE. If you can’t change or alter a state of affairs you find objectionable, then it is only right that you be allowed to opt out of such an arrangement. Freedom, if one is to take it seriously, must at least include that right.

And the right to secede must, as a matter of principle, apply not only to groups of individuals acting in concert (like a town, or a city, or region), but equally to individuals themselves – if no other option is available.

The right to secede is thus the one right that is absolutely necessary in any society that calls itself “free”. Anything less is totalitarianism in disguise.

So, how do the nations of the world stack up in this regard? Dismally, of course. Not one of them grants such a right – no matter whether you are a group, city or town – or an individual. You have no such right, according to the given theory of state.

In other words, there is no country on earth that recognises the rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence – not least of which, the country of its origin – the USA.

Not being able to secede, completely undermines the idea of freedom of association – the right to decide who you will associate with. To have any meaning, this right doesn’t just apply to who you will invite for dinner – but to what type of government you will submit to.

I am convinced this one idea alone, the right to secede, has the power to change the world – for the better.

Just consider the logic of it – with which most normal people would agree. For example, who would disagree with the right to secede (or to separate from) in the following scenarios:

The company you work for: Would you consider it justified if they could force you to stay against your wishes? Or worse, prohibit you from leaving them and starting a new company in direct competition?

The sports club you are a member of: Would you consider it fair if they prohibited you from leaving and joining, or even forming, another one of your own choosing?

The restaurant you frequent: Would you consider it businesslike if they demanded you always ate there? Or even worse, prohibited you from opening your own restaurant?

Of course, all the above are obvious examples of how we take for granted to right to choose our associations. So what makes it different when it comes to who we allow to govern us? Why must I subject myself to a government I find intolerable?

I can almost hear someone suggesting that we do in fact have the right to secede from a particular government – by leaving the country. Well, firstly, having a right to leave a particular jurisdiction is not much use, if you cannot get into another one.

And secondly, having the right to leave a country, a government, a jurisdiction – is most definitely NOT the same as having the right to establish a government of your choosing, to “most likely effect (your) safety and happiness”.

Having the right to leave a country is better than nothing, but it is far removed from what the Declaration of Independence is talking about. The early colonists had already “left” Great Britain – but still found themselves ruled by it. Seceding in their case, didn’t mean moving again – but separating from the government of Great Britain.

The right to secede is also the only way to prevent the ongoing and relentless movement to world government – an idea too scary too think about (if you believe Lord Acton’s dictum that all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely).

There is an inbuilt “logic” to the existing nation state – and that is to forever centralise and expand. The original 13 colonies ended up becoming the USA. The many countries of Europe are moving towards a European super state – and the same drive can be seen in other parts of the world. Even the United Nations would like to see the implementation of a “world” tax.

And if you think your own government is wasteful, bureaucratic, corrupt, or tyrannical enough – then just imagine what a WORLD government would be like! And to put it into perspective, just imagine how puny your vote would be then!

At present, your only opportunity to “opt out” is to leave where you are, in the hope of finding a freer country to “join”. But as more and more nation states “roll” into one – even that poor excuse for the idea of secession will become worthless.

I believe it is imperative to spread the idea of secession as a legitimate idea, and as the only strategy available to us which will allow us to “secure these rights”.

Another important point about secession is that it is a peaceful freedom strategy. To leave something is not an act of violence. Certainly, violence may ensue – but that would be initiated by those trying to stop you from seceding.

It’s also an idea that fits in perfectly with the concept of being a sovereign individual. A sovereign individual is one who believes he is quite capable of governing himself – so the right to secede is a paramount strategy of anyone so inclined.

In fact, the whole sovereignty/expat/PT strategy is an attempt to secede (in limited areas) in the face of overwhelming odds.

The right to secede would also undermine the warfare/welfare state – in all its manifestations. For just imagine, if one could secede, then any number of communities, cities, regions – or even interest groups, would have the right to opt out of the present regimes, and be free to set up alternatives.

Yes, The Declaration of Independence is most definitely a “troublesome” document – for governments. For it not only lays down a foundational principle of freedom, but also provides the practical means for ensuring it.

But for those of us who truly value freedom, it represents a statement of belief, intent, and a blueprint for action.

Yours in freedom,

David MacGregor

David MacGregor runs an information service designed for those who seek more practical and financial freedom: www.sovereignlife.com

2 Responses to A Troublesome Document: The Declaration of Independence

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David and Christine Brandt, Robert Wagner 2012. Robert Wagner 2012 said: A Troublesome Document: The Declaration of Independence http://bit.ly/i0vXQ1 #VT #C4L […]

  2. Brad Taylor says:

    I agree entirely. For implementation, see The Seasteading Institute.

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