portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article creative portland metro

economic justice | government | imperialism & war

A little quote for the times from the Declaration of Independence

Just a little quote for the times:
"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

--- Declaration of Independence
Just a little quote for the times:

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

--- Declaration of Independence

too bad 27.May.2004 11:47

-

this quote doesnt have the backing of law. in fact it has, somewhat ironically, been established as unconstitutional. so however inspiring - it would be illegal. but you knew that and that wasnt your point.

1951 Dennis Et Al. v. U.S. -- The Supreme Court ruled the 1946 Smith Act constitutional; the act made it a crime to advocate the overthrow of the government by force. In its 1957 Yates v. U.S. decision, the Court tempered this ruling by permitting such advocacy in the abstract if it is not connected to action to achieve this goal.

good luck overthrowing anything through use of "advocacy in the abstract...not connected to action"

Legal, schmegal, rights trump legality 28.May.2004 11:57

rights given by "nature" not government

Of course it is illegal to overthrow the government. So what? The Right that Jefferson refers to here is not a question of law. By definition, "inalienable rights" are those rights which no law, no gvernment can take away. The right of the people to "alter or abolish" a bad government is an inalienable right in this sense, not conditional to law.

Certainly the early American revolutionaries knew they were breaking England's laws. That is exactly the point. Bad governments create bad laws, which the people then have the right and duty to break. The Declaration doesn't say that such changing of government will be peaceful, or legal. And thus, the powerful pledge at the end of the Declaration, which we have to understand is completely literal. As Jefferson wrote (this is from memory, so perhaps not exact) "On this (i.e. the revolution) we pledge our lives and sacred honor." When you do take that statement literally, you can understand the bravery it took to sign the Declaration.

How many of us would be willing to sign our names, risking our lives in a very real sense, declaring our intention to break away from the US and form a new association in its place? Until we are willing to risk our lives, really risk them as Jefferson and company did, then secession, Cascadia, or even major change in the US will be impossible.