Open Versus Closed Carrying of Firearms – The Last Bastille Podcast #68

Audio version of my article on openly carrying firearms. This episode is available as a free downloadable podcast.

 

Prise_de_la_Bastille

 

Episode Description

Firearms are about as American as you can get. Symbolically, they serve as reminders of our hard won liberties, as guardians of our freedom, and as instruments with which to prevent further violations of our inalienable natural rights. One of the most contentious debates amongst gun owners (aside from those dealing with the technical specifications of the tools themselves) lies with whether it is better to carry concealed or openly.

Featured music is AshleyAlyse’s “A Puzzling Predicament,” and Bosa’s “King’s Quest,” both of them available pursuant to CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported.

The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places

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If prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, then espionage is the second oldest. Humans have been keeping secrets even before recorded history, and for good reasons, since not all truths need to be said. One class of techniques for safeguarding information is by concealment, so as to keep it out of the reach of those who intend to seize it.

 

 

Understanding the psychological dynamic of searches is integral if your goal is to stash away items that won’t be discovered by a trained team. The purpose for which both “normal” and secret police may be acting upon, and in what context, predetermine their behavior while they ransack your home, car, or business. Since searches are more of a mind game than anything else, the most powerful tool they (and yourself) have is none other than the mind; the next most important tools are the hands and the eyes, for the tactile and visual cues provide the best clues. Smugglers use visualization techniques to prepare themselves for customs inspections given that it works and is very cost-effective.

Speaking of tools, the ones you’ll need (besides the ones your mother gave you) are the kind that you’d find in just about any hardware store. Constructing hidden compartments requires hand tools, such as screwdrivers, hammers, and wrenches. Of course, the best fabricated hideaways are useless if the location for them is either obvious, too large, or susceptible to the elements. Even if you lack basic carpentry skills, don’t fret, for there are all sorts of secret hiding places that require virtually no construction experience in order to use.

Various locales can be pressed into service that lay outside of your home. Automobiles are also pretty typically utilized for covertly moving both men and materiel. Hiding small items in your clothing has been done for centuries, and is not limited to concealed carry permit holders. In fact, there are literally numerous locations where to stash and smuggle weapons through, yet, the very best weapon is what’s in your noggin.

Jack Luger’s The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places is a phenomenally important work, for it also draws upon the hard-won experiences of those who survived the Second World War. Even though it does heavily emulate How to Hide Anything, it takes what needs to be covered toward the next logical steps by going outside the realm of the home into what’s carried on your person, a car, or even smuggled through various kinds of checkpoints. Please keep in mind that this book was written in 1987, so the information regarding airport security particularly is going to be dated; however, instead of haplessly waiting around to be raided, Luger’s book also takes the offensive by exploring how materiel can be moved through enemy controlled areas.

Pacifism – The Last Bastille Podcast #67

Audio version of my articles on self-defense and “libertarian” pacifism. This episode is available as a free downloadable podcast.

 

 

Episode Description

Self-preservation is a fundamental value held by all creatures. All rights, liberties, or any other notions of freedom are only guarded by the willingness of individuals to use physical force against criminals and tyrants alike. Anyone who prefers instead to engage only in non-compliance by pretending that that alone will somehow protect him from the ravages of the enemy is either deluded, or worse, that he does not value his own life.

Featured music is AshleyAlyse’s “A Puzzling Predicament,” and Bosa’s “King’s Quest,” both of them available pursuant to CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported.

How to Hide Anything

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As governments become more oppressive, the less they care about your private property. Tyrants get off on sending their minions to invade your home and give the place a good toss, just to show you who’s boss. Preparing for raids, although not exactly a topic for polite dinner table conversation, is a necessary prerequisite that any resistance must take.

 

 

You can stash just about everything pretty much anywhere. Electrical outlets, shower curtain rods, and even books are some examples of hides for small items. A more elaborate example would be to partially disassemble the upholstery in your furniture and then reassemble it. Visual tricks can be used to disguise the entrances to entire secret rooms designed to house personnel, which would also be particularly useful in running an underground railroad. Bathroom mirrors in some motel rooms can be easily removed and slim items hidden in the space between the mirror and the wall.

Regardless of whether you are dealing with private or public criminals, you can mislead them by setting the stage ahead of time by playing on the human tendency to recognize patterns. Through manipulating their cognitive expectations of what they expect to find, it is possible to defeat both burglars and police “no-knock” searches. Deliberately confusing the focus of the raid by being as helpful as possible in all the wrong areas for them to search can obviously work in your favor (that is, unless they’re pointing a sub-machine gun at your head and ordering you to not move).

Michael Connor’s How to Hide Anything is a treasure trove of methods for how to conceal that which you would prefer not be stolen from you. While I would love to go into more detail, I must admit that “not all truths need to be said,” especially considering that a lot of these techniques only work if they’re not blabbed about publicly. As a final note, what I will say is that some of the more eclectic hides do require power tools and a work space (preferably a machine shop) that provides adequate privacy.

Interpersonal Diplomacy: The Value of Keeping the Peace

2/24/16 UPDATE: In learning more about diplomacy and etiquette, I realized this article really needed a serious overhaul. Entire paragraphs have been deleted and brand new ones added, with only a few elements kept from the original version. I sincerely hope this revision is more helpful to you all.

[Download a PDF of this article]

“I often used to find myself in conversations with people who are self-destructive and negative. They were so ardent when describing their negative self-image to me that my protective, nurturing instincts kicked in and I would find myself trying to massage their ego, in some misguided attempt to bolster their confidence and shake them out of their pessimistic view. I invariably failed; my belief in them and their potential was clearly never as strong as their own belief that they were ugly, shy, unable, or whatever it might be. They were completely enraptured and hypnotized by the little voice in the back of the their heads, the one who pretends to be your friend but secretly wishes to destroy your entire life…the trouble was that once I was sold on their idea of themselves, I was no longer as interested in their company because I invariably felt completely drained afterward. Eventually, I developed a new tactic, a new response for dealing with their self-loathing, one that never fails. ‘If you say so.’…You’ve just managed to reach the place thousands of mystics and seers have struggled to attain through years of meditation, and all with four little words. And without Prozac. My gift to you. You’re welcome.”

The Anti-Terrorist

 

 

Diplomacy, simply defined, is a “skill in dealing with others without causing bad feelings.” Given that only individuals exist, whatever cooperation is available in this world is made possible not by “society,” but by individual humans. Therefore, the utility of etiquette is to function as a “social lubricant,” especially in the context of superficial interactions between two people who would otherwise not naturally get along.

A large part of the reason for adages such as, “In polite society, don’t talk about politics, sex, or religion,” is to grease the skids of business negotiations, as well as other tense scenarios where the window of time you spend with particular strangers is already quite small. Whether it be police interrogations or Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, refraining from talking about divisive topics with some individuals might just keep the peace. Techniques such as “non-violent communication” (NVC) have the potential to smooth over tensions, yet the experience of being the grey man during a political fieldtrip shows that discretion really is the better part of valor; simply put, while you could invest time and money into learning NVC, you could just lower your opportunity costs by avoiding fruitless “debate” with disagreeable individuals.

Good role-modeling is vital whenever one is attempting to use diplomatic tact. Two months ago, I got accused by James Babb of “issuing orders” to the audience for merely suggesting other approaches to teaching folks about jury nullification (as well as the method of jury nullification itself). I only mention it here to illustrate how the sheer lack of basic etiquette can really turn people off to anything else you may have to say, and even statists complain about this phenomenon. If an indispensable element of securing our liberties is “winning hearts & minds,” then I fail to see how inconsiderate manners in the public arena furthers the accomplishment of that goal.

Internal balkanization, which is colloquially known as “infighting,” often happens when there is a lack of interpersonal diplomacy. Such occurrences could have been avoided if at least one of the parties, if not preferably both, had acted like adults with the simplest of etiquette. Failure to keep your own counsel is an excellent way to burn bridges with business associates, open-source intelligence contacts, and even political alliances. All you have to do is peruse the examples of miscreants like Jim Stach, Rick Light, Jerry DeLemus, and Brandon Curtiss in order to understand that not adhering to the biblical golden rule of “treating others as you would like to be treated,” only sets the stage for counter-productive bickering and demoralization.

Peaceful coexistence with a variety of individual personality temperaments is the whole point of “killing them with kindness.” Learning social graces is an admirable pursuit, but don’t allow it to overwhelm your own sense of self; you’re an individual, too! Practiced empathy is what you’re aiming for, and this comes from quiet confidence, not insecure psychobabble. As Thomas Jefferson said in 1785:

 

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

 

Keeping the peace is a balancing act, and I only care about what others (might) think about me to the extent it affects my own freedom; otherwise, they’re entitled to their own opinion, which, just like assholes, everyone has one, so it’s no skin off my nose.

Our Vanishing Privacy

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Tyrannical governments always make it a point to indiscriminately surveillance the hapless citizens under their jurisdiction so as to control them better. By incrementally ratcheting up the rate of interferences with the lives of the populace, the more omnipotent the State begins to appear. Statism is all about convincing people that the State is God, and one of the easiest and most pernicious ways of accomplishing this is to give the strong impression that the government is omniscient.

 

 

 

One of the traditional hallmarks of police states is that they require, either officially or culturally, that everyone carry on their person at all times some sort of documentation validating their legal identity. While the courts like to play games with stop and identify statutes with their contradictory case rulings, usually if you refuse to identify yourself based on the request (or command?) of a blue-costumed thug, typically that is grounds for him to up the ante and harass you further. Although it was originally promised by agents of the State that Social Security numbers (SSNs) would never be used for identification, it is has become ubiquitous for everything from opening a bank account to getting a library card. What was initially touted as a “benefit” of the welfare State has now become little more than a prisoner ID number.

The United States Postal “Service” (USPS) willingly allows corporations to engage in direct marketing from the information you provide on those Change of Address cards. Caller ID on telephones is a double-edged sword, since while it is useful for you to screen calls, if you call someone and they have Caller ID too, they’ll know it’s you who’s calling them. In detailing the invasive nature of target marketing by corporations who solicit for customers’ preferences, the author observes that:

 

“It is a myopic view of privacy to say that so long as information is protected, the individual’s privacy is protected. Privacy, in the 1990s, includes not only the right to control personal information about oneself and how it is used, but also the right to be free of manipulation, whether in the marketplace or vis-a-vis the government. Privacy includes the right to exercise autonomy in one’s life and one’s personal affairs [emphasis added].”

 

Confidentiality is non-existent in regards to medical records due to the very broadly worded “privacy policies.” Unfortunately, Texas is one of those states within the federal Union that does not recognize the doctor-patient privilege.

Employers have become much more authoritarian by insisting that job applicants submit to a battery of utterly invasive and degrading screening tests, ranging from trick question riddled “honesty” quizzes to urinalysis. Tabloid journalism is on the rise within the corporate whore media, as evidenced by the so-called “celebrity news” that is covered so commonly now. Because of this:

 

“[A]verage citizens who may find themselves thrust into newsworthy situations or whose careers or civic activities bring them into contact with the press are entitled to impose upon the press reasonable expectations when it comes to reporting on private lives.”

 

Sensitive material should never be sent by facsimile, corporate advertising is so prevalent in public that many have joked that it’s only a matter of time before the moon has the Pepsi logo on it, and taxes on major publications are common place.

Hackers are able to infiltrate just about any computer database. Europeans have comprehensive, omnibus-esque protection for all kinds of records, which is something lacking in the USS of A. The Big Three credit bureaus sell your personal credit files to whomever can afford to buy them, which in turn they are able to recoup those expenses (and make a profit) by directly marketing to you products and services that not only do you not need, but that you also can’t even afford. The legal doctrine of “pre-emption” serves only to negate the power of the several states by reinforcing the legitimacy of the 14th Amendment while simultaneously lowering what privacy safeguards are still left. The author may argue that there are federal statutes on the books forcing corporations and Administrative Agencies to respect some forms of individual privacy, these have since been effectively negated by the USA PATRIOT Act.

I truly appreciated Smith’s attempt to codify philosophical principles respecting privacy. Unfortunately, the practice and enforcement of these enumerated principles are mostly in the power of the State, the very same entity that, in some instances, negligently permitted the abuse of information and, in other cases, directly enabled it. I don’t see the fundamental nature of government changing anytime soon, particularly with regard to providing effective safeguards for individual privacy.

In terms of what you can do to protect your privacy, I regret to admit that I found Smith’s lack of suggestions greatly disappointing. What he did advise was to not automatically give out your SSN to whomever asks for it, unless it is a government agent who has a demonstrated need for it. Customers should pay in cash as much as possible; credit cards do not require any more data beyond a signature, and checks at most should be accompanied by a government-issued ID. Medical patients need to alter the language of the privacy policy before they sign it, and probably the smartest piece of advice was Smith’s recommendation that you become a self-employed entrepreneur who preferably works from home. Aside from these tidbits, nothing else is offered besides a wistful desire for the government to step in and legislate yet more statutes into the legal code to supposedly protect our privacy.

Robert Smith’s Our Vanishing Privacy and What You Can Do to Protect Yours is a good introductory examination into the very beginnings of the Big Brother control mechanism. Published in 1993, the specifics are a bit dated, but what is valuable about it was that it showed that the American police state was already active before 9/11. This historical documentation testifies that all 9/11 did in terms of the homefront was to place the already emerging police state on steroids. Other than proving the case for the grievances related to violations of the 4th Amendment (if only in spirit if not according to the letter of the law), the utility of this work is greatly limited to mitigating the use of your SSN, not leaving a paper trail of all of your financial transactions, rewording medical confidentiality agreements, and becoming self-employed.

Keeping Your Own Counsel

1/1/16 UPDATE: In learning more about security culture, I realized this article really needed a serious overhaul. Entire paragraphs have been deleted, and brand new ones added; sentences have been noticeably edited, and a few elements have been kept from the original version. I sincerely hope this revision is more helpful to you all.

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Full spectrum dominance is all based upon the complete predictability of a targeted population. A surveillance society is only possible if the captive public throws caution to the wind by divulging every inane thought that comes into their heads. Reverence for privacy must be reinvigorated if any of us are going to have a meager chance at exercising any of our common freedoms.

 

 

Privacy is all about the control of information. Whatever you choose to discuss reveals something about yourself. Contrary to popular belief, you retain absolute control over what comes out of your mouth, even if you are being coerced. Written text and verbal speech are evidence that you are in charge of your own faculties, for it requires a minimum of self-control in order to express yourself.

American dissidents who commit themselves to transparency should really heed the warning that not all truths need to be said; pointing out the injustices of the State is one thing, but airing your neighbor’s dirty laundry is completely different. While it may be possible to hook an audience with salacious tabloid nonsense, in order to reveal true atrocities, it is counterproductive. Being misunderstood, ineptly judged, or cowardly decried is too great to risk. Given that time is finite, why gamble on derailing any positive outcomes with reckless gossip?

Some of you may be familiar with the concept known as operational security (OPSEC), which has been popularized by survivalists like James Wesley, Rawles. Although is it commonly understood that OPSEC entails the use of various privacy measures, I must ask as to what is the nature of the active operation in question? Perhaps information security (INFOSEC) is a more accurate acronym?

What information, though, would “count” as being within the bounds of INFOSEC? Consider what details would be valuable to the government police during one of their investigations. I would suggest that, for instance, personally identifiable information (such as your Social Security number, or the legal names of your security team members), the passwords for your encrypted data, and the location of your supply caches, are but just some of what ought to be considered as INFOSEC. Indiscriminately spouting this knowledge over the Internet, or revealing it during a police interrogation, could result in harm to yourself or others.

When someone tells you something in confidence, you are expected to keep it private. Surreptitiously recording VoIP calls has come up more than once – I have been asked if I would mind being recorded on a private conference call, which I responded to by saying that I did; on another occasion, a third-party asked, of whom I was talking to, if a previous conference call between the three of us had been surreptitiously recorded, to which he responded that it had not been (thankfully). Intimate or sensitive details can be used to sabotage relationships, so those who betray confidences ought to be blacklisted as untrustworthy gossips.

Regarding your own personal identity, limiting what you say about yourself to others can help keep you relatively safe, but it is by no measure a guarantee. An adage I remember from what one author and former vlogger said, is that you can only be 100% private if you never left your home, never said anything, and consequently, never did anything, either. Obviously, this is patently ridiculous, but it serves to illustrate the voluntariness of anything you choose to say, and therefore it is important for you to be cognizant of so you can make informed decisions about what to do. The beauty of keeping your own counsel is that it encourages you to make conscientious decisions about what you never say over the telephone, what you will say only privately, and what you may say publicly, if at all.

As a blogger, I realize that I am constantly walking a tight rope when it comes to INFOSEC, and it can be a very precarious balance at times. If you decide to go public about what was said during private conversations, then at the very least don’t say whom you were talking to, because to do so otherwise would be a violation of their individual privacy. Not too long ago, I considered writing a tutorial on how to expose informants, but upon reflection, it dawned on me that such knowledge ought to be considered within the realm of INFOSEC.

Speaking of informants, snitching is the act of purposefully giving intelligence to the government. Snitches are dangerous because what they say to agents of the State usually gets people in serious trouble (like being fined, incarcerated, physically injured, or even executed). This is why an adage like “snitches get stitches” becomes socially acceptable, even by those without criminal records – the sheer danger of tattle-telling to the police is so high that counter-cultural socialization reflects the condemnation of this behavior. If the use of “confidential informants” against political prisoners such as William Wolf and Schuyler Barbeau isn’t enough proof for why snitching is repugnant to human liberty, then I don’t know what else would be sufficient.

Aside from snitching, I think it is imperative to be aware regarding your own propensity to accidently let private knowledge just “slip out” carelessly. Whether it be due to your habit of talking to yourself out loud, or falling victim to a social engineering hack, you must guard against letting yourself unwittingly assist hostiles in acquiring personally identifiable information. Doxing is but just one way that can be used to compromise INFOSEC; if you ever plan on conducting an armed resistance against the government, for example, then cache your guns somewhere, and keep your mouth tightly shut.

There will be times when you find yourself attempting to decide whether filling in application forms is worth the privacy trade-off. Consider leaving entire field entries blank, and fill them in only if the clerk or bureaucrat hands it back to you, instructing you to provide a specific piece of information. Letting your fear of being turned away empty-handed should not dictate that you act with unmitigated subservience to “the powers that be.”

As the old World War II idiom goes, “Loose lips sink ships.” To further reinforce this point, it could also be said that, “Fish are only caught because they open their mouths; keep yours shut,” and, “If you keep your lips pressed together, the silly words won’t fall out.” I hope you can see how this disciplined practice of keeping your own counsel is also applicable as an entire way of life.

Monarchism in America

Comparative politics is a sub-genre with the field of political science that deals with the different structures of government. Dissimilar forms of the State can be primarily distinguished between top-down versus bottom-up flows of sovereignty. A particular style of governance that was once considered during the formation of the early American republic was none other than monarchism.

 

 

During the revolutionary period, it must be kept in mind that the thirteen colonies had inherited a monarchical tradition from Britain. At the end of 1776, Congress resolved that “General Washington be possessed of full power to order and direct all things relative to the department, and the operations of war,” effectively making him a military dictator under the condition known as martial law. Surprisingly, Samuel Adams capitulated that it had “become necessary” for Congress to do this; even one member of that body complained that:

 

“General Washington must be invested with dictatorial powers for a few months, or we are undone. The vis inertiae of the Congress has almost ruined this country.”

 

Despite Tom Paine’s Common Sense being inflammatorily anti-monarchical, it should be kept in mind that during the Siege of Boston, both armies prayed for the person of King George III as well as the Protestant Succession.

Perhaps the biggest contingent of monarchical sympathies was within the Continental Army itself. Colonel Matthias Ogden proposed a plan to capture Prince William Henry during his visit to New York City in September of 1781, perhaps as part of a larger strategy to reconcile with England by enthroning the son of George III as the patriots’ king; despite the fact that the operation never occurred, it was approved by none other than General Washington himself. Colonel Lewis Nicola wrote the following year to the General expressing his desire for an American monarch:

 

“This abominable financial condition of Congress must have shown to all, and to military men in particular, the weakness of republics, and the exertions of the army had been able to make by being under a proper head…. [s]ome people have so connected the ideas of tyranny and monarchy, as to find it very difficult to separate them. It may be therefore requisite to give the head of such a constitution, as I propose, some title apparently more moderate; but if all other things were once adjusted, I believe strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of King, which I conceived would be attended with some material advantages.”

 

Needless to say, the General recoiled at what the Colonel was suggesting, and thus the antipathy of Washington becoming the first American king had begun.

In the effort to form civil government, especially through the ratification of the federal Constitution, the proclivity towards monarchy was anything but absent. Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, a letter was published in Philadelphia stating:

 

“[T]he genius of the Americans… is of a monarchical spirit; this is natural from the government they have ever lived under. It is therefore impossible to found a simple Republic in America. Another reason that operates strongly against such a government is the great distinctions of person, and difference in their estates or property, which co-operates strongly with the genius of the people in favor of monarchy.”

 

Interestingly, the accusation of being monarchical was used by the Federalists against the anti-federalist Republicans; however, it would not be far off the mark to turn that accusation around and apply it to the Federalists themselves, specifically Alexander Hamilton, who viewed republicanism as a stop-gap of sorts before American monarchism was ready to become established. The reason why this never happened is because there was never the formation of a cohesively visible aggregation of American monarchists (composed largely of educated soldiers) who pressured openly for the total centralization of political power into a new line of royalty to which they would pledge their undying allegiance.

Contemporary American monarchism has been vastly underemphasized by the alternative media. Who could forget the fascination that typical Americans had with Princess Diana and her subsequent untimely demise? How about the fairly recent royal wedding between Prince William Arthur Philip Louis and Catherine Middleton? Or the goings-on of Queen Elizabeth II in general? Why would average Americans care one twit about the British royal family if there wasn’t still some undercurrent of admiration for monarchy? The author even admits to being a member of The Constantian Society since 1981, and he lists some other American monarchist organizations and websites, such as the Royalist Party of America, RoyaltyMonarchy.com, and the now-defunct Monarchist Society of America.

William Moody’s Monarchism in America is an absolutely fascinating examination into the monarchical undercurrent present in the history of early America. While monarchism is admittedly a form of statism, the absolute monarchists constitute some of the most virile political dissidents in these United States that I have ever seen. I would strongly suggest that, regardless of your own personal political orientation, you take a little bit of time and understand where these folks are coming from by, at the very least, listening to the 51st episode of The Last Bastille Podcast as well as taking a look at the Monarchist Party.

Individuality – The Last Bastille Podcast #66

Audio version of my article on individuality. This episode is available as a free downloadable podcast.

 

 

Episode Description

Childhood is that pivotal period of one’s life where character is forged. In school, children are taught to “fit in” with their arbitrary peer group, to “respect authority,” and most importantly, to never ever deviate from the “norm” (whatever that happens to be at the moment). If one is not a “team player,” they are unjustly ridiculed for their individual autonomy. Indignities against self-determination are an indispensable hallmark of contemporary America.

Featured music is AshleyAlyse’s “A Puzzling Predicament,” and Bosa’s “King’s Quest,” both of them available pursuant to CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported.

Common Sense

Any revolution without a self-published manifesto is a revolution not worth having. Laying the grounds for why armed insurrection is not only inevitable, but in fact desirable, is the necessary precursor towards eliciting sympathy from the downtrodden populace. A political treatise that can do this in a thoroughly persuasive and compelling manner should not be overlooked in its utility as a key recruiting tool for bringing new manpower into the ranks of the resistance to tyranny.

 

 

The author begins by distinguishing between society and government in terms of their respective origins and functions. He portrays them in a sort of yin-yang type relationship, that is, anything good comes from society and everything bad comes from the government (albeit, in a “necessary” way since all government is, is the reflection of individual human wickedness). Natural liberty is only suited to persons living in a state of nature; any civilization more complex requires government to mitigate those most dangerous amongst us, which by default provides the conditions necessary for everyone else to survive and grow. Put simply:

 

“Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and of reason will say, it is right.”

 

In other words, Paine does not think it is possible for the people in common to be ethically consistent enough to live without some manifestation of at least a nightwatchman state.

I find it intriguing that Paine’s utter disgust for monarchy (both of the absolute and “constitutional” forms) stems from a common practice that was eventually copied by the Jews. As he asserts:

 

“In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throw mankind into confusion. Holland without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this last century than any of the monarchial governments in Europe. Antiquity favours the same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first patriarchs hath a happy something in them, which vanishes away when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.”

 

He goes on to describe how veneration of a king is little different from idolatry. His lambasting Jews for their “natural delusion” for wanting a king, as comprising one of their collective sins for why there is a curse denouncing their entire people for it, admittedly does seem to come out of left field.

Hereditary succession is frowned on as well, for it engenders a degradation of both everyone currently living and those yet unborn. Paine seems to view the very concept of the legitimacy to rule based solely on a bloodline as antithetical to any notion of responsibility, which is totally based upon individual merit. He also seems to lay blame against hereditary royalty for sowing the seeds of discord in the future, as evidenced by the War of the Roses. Regarding the possibility of American monarchism, Paine had this to say:

 

“But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law OUGHT to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony, be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.”

 

At this point, I think it is a gross understatement to say that Paine is no friend to the divine right of kings.

Stressing the Battles of Lexington and Concord as the pivotal tipping point, Paine constantly refers to it for why independence should be pursued instead of reconciliation. Explaining how continuing to associate with Great Britain will in the long run drag down the colonies, Paine presents an admittedly compelling case for permanent secession. He even uses the disparity in geographical sizes:

 

“Small islands not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet, and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident they belong to different systems; England to Europe, America to itself.”

 

He also argues that the king has violated the English constitution repeatedly, which such a behavior by itself will continue to further destabilize the colonies. This is plainly unacceptable, and since reconciliation is insufficient as a serious form of redress for their grievances, revolutionary principles must embrace independence.

I found it intriguing that Paine laid the groundwork both for what became later the Declaration of Independence as well as the Almighty Federal Constitution. He proposed a “continental conference” to draft a “continental charter” with “assemblies” of representatives to manage the process. A “manifesto” detailing “the miseries we have endured,” as well as those methods of lawful process that have failed, is to be written so as to establish more succinctly why independence is the only way to secure their Liberties. In many ways, Paine was planning ahead as to what needed to be done in order to establish the legitimacy of a truly sovereign American civil government.

In the Appendix, Paine deeply questions the judgement of the Quakers who attempted to diplomatically appease the king. His response to their pacifism reminds me very much of my fairly recent criticisms regarding some of the anarcho-capitalists. Perhaps this is due to the mostly complimentary yet slightly contrasting notions of natural liberty versus reciprocal liberty, respectively.

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense is a vital political document elucidating why the thirteen colonies needed to secede from the British Empire. The rhetorical techniques demonstrated against reconciliation with the crown can be used effectively in any kind of situation. I think several lessons can be learned from the arguments presented in terms of forming your own personal political philosophy.