Every once in a blue moon, history surprises you with something so absurdly wonderful that is surpasses even the most wild of expectations. Bucking all the normal historical trends and choosing a better alternative is never heard of, either because the means to do so are not available, or the willingness to be singled out is cowardly missing. Whenever something rarely occurs, it would behoove us to understand it, appreciate it, and try to gauge the likelihood of something like it happening again.
“Secession” is defined by Webster’s 1828 dictionary as, “To withdraw from fellowship, a communion or association; to separate one’s self.” Based fundamentally on the freedom of association, secession is implied by “for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another;” however, it would be an error to assume that there is any supposed “right” to secede. As Gary Hunt commented regarding Kosovo’s attempt to secede from Yugoslavia:
“These Republican [Party partisans] say that the Albanians have the ‘right’ to secede. Perhaps they do. But, who has the right to protect their right to secede? In our history, the right to secede came only from might. The obvious conclusion is that only the Albanians have the right to direct their might to secede — or fail.”
What I find additionally revealing is that according to the corporate whore mainstream media, secession is always sanctioned unless it is American, as can be discerned from their control of the moral narrative regarding Norway’s 1905 secession from Sweden, or Panama’s 1903 secession from Colombia, versus the War Between the States.
It would behoove us now to understand Liberty as actually defined. According to Ballantine’s legal dictionary (3rd edition), “Liberty” is defined as:
“Absence of servitude and restraint. A most broad and extensive concept, embracing every form and phase of individual right that is not necessarily taken away by some valid law for the common good.”
Most other definitions of Liberty revolve around the notion of civil liberties, that is, being subject to the Law of the land. Interestingly, the following definitions of natural liberty from Bouvier’s (6th edition) and Black’s (2nd edition) law dictionaries (respectively) are as such:
“Natural liberty is the right by which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consonant to their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature, and that they do not in any way abuse it to the prejudice of other men.”
“The power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature. The right which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consistent with their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature, and so as not to interfere with an equal exercise of the same rights by other men.”
If I am interpreting this correctly, then it would mean that natural liberty is the same as the Non-Aggression Principle. Thus, with regards to secession, there can be no civil liberty that would grant the legal ability to politically disband from a nation-state, but you do possess the natural liberty to engage in self-defense against criminals of all kinds, including those who are agents of the State. Any serious effort to politically disband from a nation-state (that is, secede) necessarily also entails a revolutionary or constitutionally restorative type of war.
One of the several abuses against the Declaration is expanding far beyond its original meaning, just as that Tyrant-in-Chief, Abraham Lincoln, did. “Equality” is grossly overrated because of his molesting the language and inferring more than what the Second Continental Congress, or even Thomas Jefferson, had ever intended it to mean. Jefferson himself would hang his head in shame that “equality” itself is still being used as the primarily justification for the Nanny State.
It has been suggested that if the segment “deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed” were instead phrased as “deriving their just Powers from the unanimous Consent of the Governed,” then we would never have been suffering from the effects of statism as we are today. While that is a truly intriguing idea because it would grind the gears of the State to a halt (since it is literally impossible to achieve unanimous consent from every single individual of who would constitute the body politic), it does assume that the Lockean “state of nature” is a viable condition for living one’s life indefinitely.
At issue here is whether absolute liberty (that is, anarchy) is possible or even desirable. Those who prefer a form of moderated liberty (such as the ordered liberty or reciprocal liberty that one would receive under a nightwatchman state, such as a Republic or a kritarchy) think that such anarchic liberty is either impossible or wholly undesirable, since they assume that universal plunder would consummate just as soon as we are “without rulers.” The essential impasse arises from the more libertarian perspective that an absence of plunder would occur upon the abolishment of the State.
The Declaration could also be thought of not so much as a justification for independence, but instead as a dissolution of government. While the right of revolution is certainly appealed to “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it,” and “it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government,” it should be kept firmly in mind that a declaration of dissolution of government is not law! It is simply an announcement of principles as well as reasons why a withdrawal from political union must happen.
Coming full circle, secession is similar to (but not as absolute as) a dissolution of government, the latter of which is the same as abolishing the State; however, it is stated twice in the Declaration that following such dissolution, it is necessary “to institute a new Government…and to provide new Guards for their future Security.” Although anarchists could theoretically issue such a Declaration of Dissolution of Government, they would be violating both the spirit and letter of the Declaration of Independence, since they would have no intention of reestablishing any form of government whatsoever because they prefer to exist in a “state of nature” permanently.
Some have semantically nitpicked the Declaration to death. Probably the best example of this has to deal with “inalienable” versus “unalienable.” For all intents and purposes, those words are synonymous with each other. Even though I do take issue with the Jeffersonian phrase of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” I do concede that this was done to improve the flowery rhetoric that was stylistically central to the Declaration. I personally prefer the freedom formula of “Life + Liberty + Property = Happiness,” but hey, who I am to criticize the hypocritical mainline civil theology that literally puts Jefferson and Lincoln up on pedestals in their own shrines and altars as if they were Olympian gods?
Would it be too far off the mark to for me to claim that approval of the Declaration was akin to signing a death warrant as well as an official recognition by the Second Continental Congress of the events surrounding Patriot’s Day? As I said this past 4th of July:
“Upon reflection of Jefferson’s accusations against the British Crown, I must admit that as bad as they were at that time (and at the risk of sounding as if I’m making light of them, I’m not), they seem like child’s play when compared against the tribulations of our own period. A key problem is the belief held by the acquiescing mainline public that most, if not nearly all, of the actions of the State are somehow morally acceptable. The State continues to ‘impos[e] Taxes on us without our Consent.’ Drug prohibition empowers ‘swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.’ Terrorism statutes effectively ‘render[s] the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.’”
Is this enough to declare that we be “absolved from all Allegiance… and that all political Connection between them and the the State…is and ought to be totally dissolved?” Is it time now that “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor?”
To top it all off, Wendy McElroy has argued that the American Revolution violated the principles the Declaration of Independence, yet her examples to justify this seem to be wholly economic. As she puts it:
“Like every war, the War for Independence involved massive violations of individual rights and the rapid growth of the state. Thus, as the Revolution became a war, it violated the core principle of the Declaration that was its justification: namely, the equal and inalienable rights of all men. The War of Independence should be scrutinized with the same critical eye as any other war.”
I would beg to differ; the American Revolutionary War for Independence fulfilled the principles of the Declaration of Independence in every way humanly possible. McElroy likes to act as an apologist for the Tories, apparently oblivious to the fact that those colonial Loyalists were statists, plain and simple. What were the Patriots supposed to do, let those statists give aid and comfort to the Redcoats while also spying on defensive militia operations? Her other claim is that the principle of “no taxation without representation” was hypocritically inconsistent with regard to the “peculiar institution” of ancient Egyptian styled slavery. I have already said that:
“The fact of the matter is that the Founders inherited the human slave trade from the British Empire, much like how we have inherited the spoils of corporatist imperialism. The primary problem laid in liberating the enslaved without totally tanking the economy (if events had transpired that way, I doubt the recently freed slaves would be thankful for it; from the frying pan of slavery into the fire of a hyperinflationary depression is, I think, the last thing they’d want).”
In other words, gradual manumission was the only way to free the slaves while simultaneously keeping the Republic together so as not to risk a collapse that would have invited the British Empire to come in and reconquer, thereby making any gains with abolition totally moot. Imagine, if you will, our equivalent probably being the sudden abolition of the national debt, or that of the Federal Reserve Notes losing its coveted status as the world’s reserve currency.
Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence must be read in the context of when it was drafted and approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th of 1776. Construing it to mean something it does not is heinous against those who have put everything on the line in order to ensure that we have as much liberty as we do today. Those who prefer to denigrate this excellent document that strives to elucidate the pinnacles of human achievement, by inferring that it supports their convoluted social engineering experiments, need to get their heads out of their asses and truly begin to understand the message of Liberty.