Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Letter to Congressman Adam Putnam Regarding Iran

I just sent this letter to my congressman after receiving an e-mail from him indicating that he would be supporting sanctions against Iran.  Please feel free to use this text for your own letters to representatives and senators.  I will be sending a similar letter to Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux, respectively.

Mr. Putnam,

I received your e-mail regarding your intention to support sanctions against Iran for its supposed "secret" nuclear weapons facility. I am writing to express my extreme dissatisfaction with your position on this issue, as well as that of the US government in general.

I have read the news accounts, your report, and several different analyses on this supposedly new revelation. I find the statements made by various government officials and the press extremely misleading and often self-contradictory. I have concluded that Iran never intended to keep the Qom facility secret from the IAEA, but was merely waiting to make it public at a moment that would serve its political-diplomatic objectives.

In any case, Iran is a sovereign nation and while I certainly would not want to live there, they have every right to "keep and bear arms" just as any individual or other sovereign entity, treaties they have signed notwithstanding. More importantly, they represent no danger to the United States of America and I object to one dollar of my tax money - already looted beyond comprehension - to be allocated toward defending people in other countries.

Furthermore, I object on moral grounds to our brave U.S. soldiers and citizens, both here and abroad, being put at risk due to acts of aggression by our civilian leaders.

I remind you that your sole purpose in Washington is to defend the Constitution of the United States and thereby to secure my unalienable rights. If you would concentrate on that and leave the affairs of the Middle East to the people who live there, we would be far richer and in much less danger from terrorists.

Please vote against any sanction, military action, or show of force to further provoke Iran. Due to the colossal mistakes you and our other representatives have made regarding domestic economic policy, it is safe to say that you have plenty to do repealing those unjust interventions. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Best regards,

Tom Mullen

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Myth of the "Christian Nation" Divides Us

While our politicians get on with the work of plundering our wealth, planning our lives, and preparing their next war of aggression, they remain comfortably insulated from criticism of any of these substantive actions because they have successfully distracted average Americans with issues that should not involve government at all. There is none more divisive than religion.

The left reads into the First Amendment of the Constitution an active role for government in prohibiting the acknowledgment of religion or God in any public setting. The right reads into our Declaration of Independence a requirement of belief not only in God, but in the Christian God, in order for one to claim the unalienable rights that are “endowed by our Creator.” Neither position is correct.

If there was one thing that our founders made clear, it was their belief that each person’s inner life belonged wholly to him or her. They referred to this as the “right of conscience,” and they revered it above all other rights. They believed that each human being had the right to answer for himself the questions of whether there is a God and what the nature and will of God might be. They believed that reason was the means for man to do so. Regardless of the conclusions that any individual might reach, he was still entitled to all of the same unalienable rights. This is the true meaning of “religious freedom.”

Among the growing minority that has recognized our loss of liberty and the importance of regaining it, there are many who mistakenly say that the United States was “founded as a Christian nation,” and that only returning to Christian principles will solve our problems. Others may not require that one believe in Christ, but do insist that belief in God is necessary in order to give authority to the law of nature and the natural rights. These positions not only alienate atheists, who are admittedly a small minority, but also a large contingency of Christians and other believers in God who do not want government – which is an institution of force – to play any role in their inner lives. This is an unnecessary division among people who might otherwise unite to fight for their liberty.

It is long past time to answer some fundamental questions about our history once and for all. Did the founders of the United States believe in God? Was the United States founded as a “Christian nation?” Was the Constitution based upon Christian or Judeo-Christian laws as found in their scriptures? Did the founders believe that belief in God was necessary to claim the unalienable rights?

The answer to the first question is a resounding “yes.” Even Jefferson, arguably the most “liberal” of the founding fathers, believed in a supreme being, despite the accusations of atheism made against him by political rivals. He also revered Christianity as the greatest religion in human history, as did his “conservative” counterpart, John Adams. However, neither Adams nor Jefferson believed that Jesus Christ was the son of God or even a divine being. Most people are familiar with Jefferson’s bible, which he cut apart and reorganized to eliminate all of the miracles. However, John Adams, a Unitarian, was even more ambivalent about the idea that Jesus Christ was God. In a letter to Jefferson, he wrote,

“They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Hershell’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.”[1]

Neither Adams, Jefferson, Washington, nor Franklin believed that Jesus was literally the son of God or otherwise a divine being in any way. Rather, they admired most of the moral principles of Christianity, although not all of them. For instance, they disagreed with Jesus’ doctrine to “turn the other cheek.” They believed that self defense of one’s life, liberty, and property was not only a right, but a duty. However, it was the Christian principles of love and non-aggression that are espoused in virtually all religions that inspired John Adams to say, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[2] This will become even more apparent shortly.

In any case, the answer to the first question is “yes.” Most of the founders believed in God. They revered the moral teachings of Christianity, although most of the philosophical leaders among them did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Our second question is, “Was the United States founded as a Christian nation?” In 1796, the United States signed a treaty with Tripoli, promising a monetary gift in return for a cessation of hostilities. That treaty was unanimously ratified by the senate and signed by President John Adams. Among its articles resides the answer to our second question.

"Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."[3] [emphasis added]

Thomas Jefferson confirmed this statement in his autobiography when commenting on a Virginia bill to establish religious freedom.

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”[4]

Next, there is the question of the philosophical basis for the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and original system of laws of the United States. According to Thomas Jefferson, that philosophical basis was most directly the enlightenment philosophers, specifically John Locke and Algernon Sydney. In 1825, Jefferson actually got a resolution passed by the Board of the University of Virginia to make this point clear.

"Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Board that as to the general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and in society, the doctrines of Locke, in his 'Essay concerning the true original extent and end of civil government,' and of Sidney in his 'Discourses on Government,' may be considered as those generally approved by our fellow citizens of this, and the United States."[5]

Despite this and other unqualified statements by the founders regarding the philosophical basis for our founding principles, there are many that claim that the founders drew their philosophy from Judeo-Christian scriptures or teachings. While there is much common ground between these teachings and the enlightenment philosophers, the founders were clear that where scripture or dogma conflicted with the enlightenment philosophy of liberty, it was the non-aggression philosophy of liberty that prevailed. Regarding the scriptures, Jefferson wrote,

The whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.[6]

The founder’s skepticism about man’s knowledge of the will of God was not confined to the scriptures themselves. John Adams makes clear that at least he recognized that human beings had no ability to definitively determine the will of God.

“That there is an active principle of power in the universe, is apparent; but in what substance that active principle resides, is past our investigation. The faculties of our understanding are not adequate to penetrate the universe.”[7]

Finally, there is the most important question. Did the founders assert that belief in God was necessary to claim the unalienable rights? As with the other questions, they answered this one quite unambiguously. In a letter to Peter Carr, Thomas Jefferson advised his young friend,

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”[8]

“Do not be frightened from this enquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comforts & pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a god, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat that you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, & neither believe nor reject anything because any other persons, or description of persons have rejected or believed it.” Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness but uprightness of the decision.”[9] [emphasis added]

There are those who argue that without God, there is no authority to base the natural rights upon. This was not the assertion of our founders and it directly contradicts our Declaration of Independence, which reads,

“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…” [emphasis added]

While the founders believe that our rights came from our Creator (whomever or whatever the Creator might be), they explicitly said that these truths are self evident. They are truths that can be observed directly. This is directly inspired by Locke’s empiricism. While he, too, believed in God, he based his philosophy only upon what he could directly observe in nature or reasonably conclude from those observations. Therefore, his philosophy recognized the existence of God but did not depend upon it for its validity.

Consider a useful analogy. If a priest and an atheist were both to consider a rock lying upon the ground, both would agree that the rock exists. They could see it, touch it, and hear its sound if they picked it up and then dropped it from their hand. The priest would say that the rock was created by God. The atheist would explain its existence with scientific theories. They may disagree vehemently on this point, but no third party would have to decide who is correct. All can see that the rock exists, for its existence is self evident. The same is true of our natural rights. Our Declaration of Independence says so explicitly.

The only authority that the founders recognized as the basis for our laws was the non-aggression principle, which they recognized as the fundamental law of nature. The beauty of this idea is that it transcends religion and thus welcomes members of all religions, as well as those with no religious beliefs at all. The non-aggression principle allows each individual to use his reason to answer the most important philosophical questions of life for himself, without being forced to assent to any beliefs that he does not hold. It allows people to believe in God voluntarily, or to not believe, as their reason dictates. The only restriction upon them is that they commit no aggression against anyone else, regardless of their beliefs. Jefferson expressed this beautifully when he wrote,

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.[10]

If all of America’s founding principles, including freedom of religion, could be summed up in two sentences, no better than these could be found anywhere. If we could agree to live by this one statement alone, the number of people no longer divided along partisan lines would be staggering. Our politicians are wasting trillions of our dollars and assuming un-delegated powers over us that apply to believers and non-believers alike. We must grant each other the ability to exercise the right of conscience freely within the boundary of non-aggression. Only then will we see clearly where the true source of our crisis lies – in a government whose every act contradicts the reason for its existence and perpetuates a state of war with its people. We must unite together to eliminate this earthly threat in order to resume the pursuit of our happiness, both in this world and the next.

[1] Adams, John Letter to Thomas Jefferson January 22, 1825 from The Works of John Adams Second President of the United States Vol. X Charles C. Little and James Brown Boston, MA 1851Pg. 415

[2] Adams, John To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachussetts 11 October 1798 from The Works of John Adams Second President of the United States Vol. IX Charles C. Little and James Brown Boston, MA 1851Pg. 229

[3] Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary June 17, 1797 from The Avalon Project Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library There has been some debate on whether the language in Article 11 was translated correctly from the original Arabic in which the treaty was written. However, this is irrelevant. It was the English translation containing these exact words that the Senate reviewed and ratified, making the question of translation irrelevant on this point.

[4] Jefferson, Thomas Autobiography from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 40

[5] Thomas Jefferson, Writings, ed. Merrill Peterson (New York, N.Y.: Library of America, 1984), p. 479

[6] Jefferson, Thomas from The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 14 edited by Albert Ellery Bergh and Andrew A. Lipscomb The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association 1904 pgs. 71-2

[7] Adams, John Letter to Thomas Jefferson January 22, 1825 from The Works of John Adams Second President of the United States Vol. X Charles C. Little and James Brown Boston, MA 1851Pg. 414

[8] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Peter Carr August 10, 1787 from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 902

[9] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Peter Carr August 10, 1787 from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 903-4

[10] Jefferson, Thomas Notes on Virginia from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 285

© Thomas Mullen 2009

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Next They'll Have Us Salivating

“Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

- Frank Sinatra as Major Bennett Marco in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

For anyone who has seen the film classic, The Manchurian Candidate, the quote in the prologue should bring back the subtle horror of the premise of the film. Using experimental methods of operant and classical conditioning, the villains of the film – the intelligence community from the eastern communist bloc – were not only able to control the actions of their subjects, but their thoughts and feelings as well. While the most horrific moments in the film are the scenes in which Raymond Shaw is forced to kill people he loves or respects while in a hypnotic trance, the control exerted over the other members of Shaw’s unit is equally disturbing and much more relevant to our political discourse today.

For those who have not had the opportunity to see the film, Marco and the several other characters who repeat the adoring words about Raymond Shaw only do so because they are conditioned to do so for the purpose of covering up the massive plot that constitutes the storyline of the movie. Marco later says, “It’s not that Raymond Shaw is hard to like. He’s impossible to like!” He tells his superior officer that while praising Shaw he really believed what he was saying, even though deep down he knew it wasn’t true. He had been trained to respond emotionally in a way that contradicted his reason. A more appropriate metaphor for American politics is hard to imagine.

The United States of America was born during the Age of Reason. Its founders believed that reason was the law of nature itself, and that the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were logical conclusions based upon observable facts. Further, they believed that reason was a duty and a prerequisite of those rights – one could only be entitled to liberty if one followed the law of nature, which requires non-aggression in return for the natural right to do as one pleases. This is why children do not have a natural right to liberty. They must first develop their reason sufficiently to be able to responsibly claim that right. As Locke said,

“The power, then, that parents have over their children, arises from that duty which is incumbent on them, to take care of their off-spring, during the imperfect state of childhood. To inform the mind, and govern the actions of their yet ignorant nonage, till reason shall take its place, and ease them of that trouble, is what the children want, and the parents are bound to: for God having given man an understanding to direct his actions, has allowed him a freedom of will, and liberty of acting, as properly belonging thereunto, within the bounds of that law he is under. But whilst he is in an estate, wherein he has not understanding of his own to direct his will, he is not to have any will of his own to follow: he that understands for him, must will for him too; he must prescribe to his will, and regulate his actions; but when he comes to the estate that made his father a freeman, the son is a freeman too.”[1]

So, it is not surprising that an absence of reason has accompanied our loss of liberty, for in fact it is only the former that can make possible the latter. No one would logically conclude that they would benefit by placing their life, liberty, or property under the arbitrary power of anyone else, for to do so is profoundly illogical. Yet, every generation, Americans have surrendered more of their rights to a government that has grown into the most pervasive institution of power that has ever existed in human history. They have done so for the most part because they have allowed their passions to replace their reason. Until we recognize this, every “change” we make is going to be for the worse.

Third parties and other tiny constituencies aside, American political discourse is dominated by our two major political parties. Their primary goal in any debate is not to reach the truth, but to enlarge their voting base. Having discovered long ago that appealing to the voters’ feelings is more effective than appealing to their reason, there is little more to most political dialogue coming out of politicians and activists than ad hominem attacks against their opponents and empty jingoism that similarly appeals to conditioned emotional responses rather than any rational position or argument (and once in a while, they cry). Perhaps this has always been true in politics; perhaps it will never change.

However, what is truly frightening is how successfully these parties have been able to train average Americans to think and act as they do, and ultimately to cast their votes likewise. For anyone that has given their allegiance to either of the major parties, no dissent or even discussion of that party’s platform is permissible.

If you are talking with someone who identifies him or herself as a Republican or a “conservative,” the mere suggestion that the United States government should consider decreasing military spending or changing their nation-building foreign policy results in a vitriolic, ad hominem assault of the most vicious nature. Often, the response will reference positions that you not only did not take but were not remotely related to the discussion you were having before you questioned party dogma. You may criticize the war in Iraq and find yourself attacked as “godless” or an atheist or even a traitor, while your subject goes on to tell you why you are so wrong about supporting amnesty for illegal aliens, regardless of the fact that the subject of illegal aliens was never heretofore mentioned and you happen to oppose amnesty for illegal aliens.

Similarly, when talking with someone who identifies him or herself as a Democrat or a “liberal,” any mention of support for a free market will elicit a similar attack. You may be called a racist, a fascist, selfish, or greedy amidst a blustering diatribe about the importance of the separation of church and state and religious tolerance, which are likewise subjects that heretofore were not part of your conversation and which you may well agree with wholeheartedly.

One must recognize at this point that you are not engaged in a debate. The person you are talking to is no longer reasoning, but instead giving conditioned responses to words he or she has been trained to react to with abhorrence and intolerance. In most cases, you can expect no chance to redirect the person back to the discussion you were having nor any chance to make a further point, as your opponent will likely continue to cut you off and ultimately withdraw from the conversation, having heard nothing beyond the trigger word(s) that set the absurd reaction in motion.

If the whole encounter seems bizarre, consider the associations that were likely revealed during it. Anti-war equals godlessness (is God pro-war?). Free market equals racism. Property equals greed. Neither Orwell nor Burgess could have imagined a victory over reason so complete. Soon, like the iconic Dr. Pavlov, our masters will need to do no more than ring a bell to direct our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Without reason, there can be no liberty. Reason - the law of nature - is what allows us to discover the natural, non-aggression limit to human action. It is what defines liberty and distinguishes it from the state of war. It is doubtful that any one of us has not been guilty of abandoning reason at one time or another, although there are some that are certainly guiltier than others. It is also clear that there are those who would go on exhorting our passions in order to cloud our reason and therefore rob us of our liberty, for their own gain at our expense.

There is only one way that we can regain our freedom. We must “pull out the wires,” as Major Marco said to Raymond Shaw. We must break the links that we have allowed others to implant within our minds and begin to listen to one another again, even when we disagree. Pacifism is not communism, freedom is not racism, and property is not greed. These associations are as insane as “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”[2] We should be disgusted with our political class for manipulating us this way and ashamed of ourselves for allowing them to train us like dogs.

Until we break free from this irrational partisanship, we are like the children that Locke describes above, without the understanding that qualifies us for liberty. There are plenty in our political class that prefer us this way, so that they may “will for us” in regard to every aspect of our lives. However, unlike wise and loving parents, they have demonstrated throughout all of history that they will teach us nothing but nonsense and guide us nowhere but to war and economic destruction. Even a small child will stop touching the stove after he has burned his hand a time or two. Are we not even as intelligent as this?

There are a few simple things to keep in mind as you attempt to fight the good fight. If you are conscientiously arguing a position that you believe in but find yourself being called a racist, a satanist, a right-wing extremist, or a traitor, keep doing what you are doing. You are very likely winning. On the other hand, if it is you that is resorting to calling your opponent names, ask yourself, “Why am I attacking my opponent? Am I unable to refute his argument?” Maybe it is time to consider the other side.

If you find yourself saying anything that you heard a politician or any of the politicians' lapdog media hounds say, think very carefully about whether you really agree with it or not.  It is likely that further thought will change your mind.

Finally, if you hear a bell ring and find your mouth starting to fill up with water, be aware that there is something very, very wrong.


[1] Locke, John Second Treatise of Government Hackett Publishing Co. Indianapolis, IN (1980) pg. 32

[2] Orwell, George 1984 New American Library (Penguin Group) New York, NY (1961) pg. 4

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!


© Thomas Mullen 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Natural Law Provides the Answers

There are many well-intentioned people that invoke the Constitution of the United States when looking for the solutions to what they believe (or are led to believe) are “dilemmas” confronting America today. This results in spirited debates about what the framers of the Constitution might have intended when writing it, in spite of the fact that there are hundreds of essays by our founders that explain what they intended beyond any reasonable doubt.[1] However, establishing the specific meaning of each article or phrase in the Constitution cannot supply the answers to the questions confronting us now. The Constitution is not a philosophical document. It is a legal one. As such, it does not express the philosophy upon which our nation was founded. In other words, it does not answer the question, “What will our government attempt to do?” but rather, “How will our government attempt to do it?”[2]

The answer to the former question, “What will our government do?” or, more precisely, “What should our government do?” is answered by the other of our founding documents, The Declaration of Independence. Some mistakenly dismiss the Declaration because “it does not have the force of law,” which it does not. This completely misses the point. The law is merely the attempt to codify the underlying principles of justice - to put the philosophy into practice. However, it is the Declaration that articulates that philosophy. Like the Constitution, the statements made in this document are clear and unambiguous. While often mistaken for platitudes that are left open to subjective interpretation, each statement in the Declaration of Independence actually has a specific, objective meaning that must be known in order for the whole to be understood.

The very first sentence of the Declaration contains one of its most important philosophical concepts: the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Before one proceeds any farther, it is vital to determine exactly what the law of nature is, for it is the foundation for all that follows. The law of nature is clearly defined in John Locke’s Essay Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government.

“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…”[3]

Reason is the law of nature that the Declaration refers to. It was reason that allowed Locke and our founders to observe the self-evident fact that all men are created equal, to conclude based upon that observation that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and to further conclude that the sole purpose of government is to secure these rights. These were not articles of faith, but reasoned conclusions based upon empirical evidence.

That it was Locke’s philosophy that our founders adopted is also clear. They did not conclude, as Hobbes did, that man should give up his natural rights upon entering society in return for the security that an absolute monarch could provide. Neither did they conclude that man must subordinate his rights to the “general will,” as Rousseau thought necessary for civil society. Rather, they clearly stated, as Locke did, that the purpose of government was to secure our rights.

There are further conclusions that proceed directly from this. First, we do not have “Constitutional rights.” Our rights are neither granted by the U.S. Constitution nor by its first ten amendments, commonly referred to as the “Bill of Rights.” Our natural rights precede the government and the Constitution. The so-called Bill of Rights does not grant rights but rather prohibits certain violations of our rights by the government.[4] The Constitution is a means toward an end: the end of securing our rights. To the extent that it does so it is a useful instrument. To the extent that it fails to do so it is not.

Similarly, we must also conclude that we cannot lose our inalienable rights. The very meaning of the word “inalienable” means that they cannot be taken away, not even by majority vote. Regardless of any Supreme Court decision or new legislation, our rights will not and cannot ever change. No Constitutional Amendment can revoke our rights or grant us new ones. Those rights may be violated by unjust laws, rulings, or Constitutional amendments, but they remain our rights nevertheless. It is appropriate for us to demand that they be respected and it is our duty to defend them, for the exercise of our natural rights is the essence of being human.

Finally, our Declaration answers the question that is ultimately asked whenever our present difficulties are truly understood. “What can I do?”

Our Declaration also answers this question.

“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.”

This also comes from Locke, who wrote,

“…whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence. Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society; and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and, by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society.”[5]

Based upon these passages, one might be tempted to conclude that we have no alternative but armed rebellion. To be sure, it is the right of every individual to defend himself by force when his natural rights are violated, for violation of those rights is the definition of the state of war. However, before loading our weapons, we should stop to consider whether our government has truly acted against the will of the people or not. Has it truly acted against our will in establishing massive redistribution programs that violate each individual’s right to property and bankrupts us as a whole? If so, then what of the tens of thousands cheering President Obama as he promised universal health care and the tens of millions who voted him into office? Has our government truly acted against our will in creating and expanding our military empire and tyrannical security/police state? If so, then what of the tens of thousands cheering President Bush and the tens of millions who voted him into office?

In truth, reason should force us to recognize that our government has not become the monster that it is by acting contrary to our will, but by giving us exactly what we have asked it for. As a people, we now openly refer to government as a “provider of services” rather than a “securer of rights.” We have elevated Democracy to an ideal, allowing the majority to grant the government power to violate the very rights that it exists to protect, most consistently property, which is the means of both life and liberty. This was anticipated by our founders, who warned us specifically against the dangers of democracy.

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Government, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of Constituents.”[6]

We have forgotten that the “checks and balances” written into our Constitution were put there to protect us from democracy. We no longer have any concept of what our natural rights are, much less how best to secure them or even that we should be trying to secure them. If anything, we have come to believe that man in civil society has what Hobbes mistakenly believed he possessed in the state of nature – a right to everything, which is why he equated the state of nature with the state of war. Our society now exists in that state of war of “everyone against everyone” that Hobbes described in his state of nature, for most of us believe that we have a right to everything and that we can bring the force of government to bear against our neighbors to secure that right. To engage in armed defense of what we think are our rights amidst such confusion would result in a bloodbath of unprecedented proportions, which is no small statement considering the wars of the last century. As important as rediscovering our true natural rights is the understanding of what we do not have a right to – namely the life, liberty, or property of any other human being.

It is not the majority that determines what our rights are, but it is the majority that makes the laws that are supposed to protect them. We must rediscover our founding philosophy and persuade our fellow Americans to again accept it as our creed, with a written Constitution as its supporting code.[7] For any one of us to regain our freedom, we must “educate and inform the whole mass of the people.[8]” While they are ignorant of the law of nature, they are a force of tyranny that cannot be overcome, no matter how just the cause or how committed the patriot. Once reacquainted with this most fundamental of laws, they are equally irresistible as the “only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.[9]” When the inhabitants of America are again guided by reason to reclaim their natural rights and to defend those rights for everyone, we can institute new Government without firing a shot. What could be more progressive than that?


[1] These are, of course, the Federalist Papers and the rebuttals to them called the Anti-Federalist Papers.

[2] Even the preamble, which states “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense…,” is really a list of objectives, rather than a statement of the ultimate goal.

[3] John Locke Second Treatise on Civil Government Ch. 2 Sec. 6

[4] Neither are the rights specifically protected in those amendments an exhaustive list of our rights. To ensure that there would be no confusion on this matter, the Ninth Amendment clearly states that the “enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

[5] Locke, Second Treatise Ch. 19 Sec. 222

[6] Madison, James to Thomas Jefferson October 17, 1788

[7] This wonderful characterization of the Declaration of Independence as our American Creed and the Constitution as its corresponding Code was suggested to me by my friend and respected colleague, David R. Gillie.

[8] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to James Madison December 20, 1787 Memoirs, Correspondence, and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Late President of the United States Vol. 2 edited by Thomas Jefferson Randolph Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley New Burlington Street London 1829 Pg. 277

[9] Ibid.

© Thomas Mullen 2009

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!