Sunday, April 19, 2009

Voluntary Union equals the Right to Secession

Yes; put me on Homeland Security Dept.'s watch list for making such a wild-eyed, crazy, nutty, dangerous assertion. Because, you see, there's no truth more evident to my mind than the truth I've selected above for the post title. It's a truism I've long known and understood, and one I've advanced and propagated within my circle of influence during the same lengthy period of time. This single fact makes me, according to Homeland Security chieflette-in-drag, Janet Napolitano -- of open borders, immigration-policy-is-the-exclusive-domain-of-the-federal-government fame, more dangerous than the growing, increasingly influenial and empowered, Muslim population in this country. But let's get down to where the rubber meets the road, shall we?...

If I voluntarily (the only legitimate kind of contract) enter into contract with another person or entity, and the other person or entity has clearly violated the explicit, plain terms of the contract, evincing a design to reduce me under his absolute control or sway extraneous to the terms of the contract, then I have the right (and the duty under certain circumstances) to declare myself, and by extension those persons whom the contract affects but have yet to establish a viable voice by which to restrain the other party's tendencies to oppressive excess, no longer bound by the terms of the contract as the other party is interpreting and applying them.

That's about as simple a principle as there possibly can be. Any third-grader is capable of understanding it, just as any third grader is perfectly capable of understanding that no one has the right to reach into his pocket as a means to support the other's profligate habits and dependency. Where I come from we call it self-preservation.

When we apply the principle on a larger scale -- say, to the states as parts of the federal union of these states -- then the phrase in the post title, and the principle undergirding it, becomes abundantly clear. To say otherwise is not only unreasonable or irrational, it is a verbal act of aggression against the other party/parties to the contract. And who can forget President Clinton's infamous opinion/proclamation before a worldwide audience regarding a movement to secession among some Russian states in the 1990s during his presidency when he said something to the effect that we (Americans) had settled the question on whether a state or states could rightfully secede from a political union during our own "civil war."? Pardon me for saying it, and with all due respect, sir, but your opinion on that matter, Mr. President, sucks! We know for whom your totalitarian leftist statement was really intended, but I've always wanted to ask you by what authority you presume to speak for the rights (or non-rights) of other states and other peoples?

But here's the problem when it comes to the common folk...

We've so long neglected or otherwise re-written our glorious history that The People no longer understand what the American Revolution was and what it was all about fundamentally. The principle of Voluntary Union is an alien concept to this generation, truly. To speak about it outside a small circle is to speak an alien dialect which is "Greek" to the other side and to those "educated" by the other side. Nonetheless this nation, as Vanishing American correctly writes in this blogpost, was created in the aftermath of a movement to secession after it became abundantly clear that the Mother Country was going to continue to exercise arbitrary rule over the thirteen colonies from a distance of 3000 miles (in spite of the founders' repeated petitions), and that their British brethren were also deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity, lending the force of their support to their government's illegitimate arbitrary policies regarding the American States. It is, in point of fact, a history of repeated injuries and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object, evincing a design to reduce them under absolute despotism with at least the tacit consent of their British brethren. And such a prince or government, as demonstrated in the DoI, is not fit to rule over a free people.

And speaking of being properly fit for a particular job or profession during one's adult life, Noah Webster wrote in his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language that "Education is all that series of instruction and discipline intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations." (emphasis added) Under the same word he further wrote that "Education in arts and sciences is important, but a religious education is indispensible," and that "a heavy responsiblility rests on those parents and guardians who neglect these duties."

Now, if you think that fitting one for usefulness in his future station(s) is to make him a dependent and servant of his protector and bread giver the "federal" government, and/or, an advocate for and immovable defender of the same, ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth, then I would suggest to you that you are an enemy of America and of Americanism. And I suspect that a great many of you who advocate for this line of "reasoning" and this kind of "education" are of relatively recent immigrant stock. But we'll leave that for another post.

Once again, put me on the watch list. I'm going to end up on it irregardless at some point (if my name doesn't already grace the document), what with my absolute dedication to the cause of liberty, of self-government, and of a defense of God-granted unalienable rights as explicated by the founding generation and circumscribed in our founding documentation. By that definition, an unapologetic right-wing extremist I most definitely am. It's all a matter of perspective. And from the perspective of the radical left, I'm an extremist of the first order. Yes, little ol' me. How about you?

No King but King Jesus!; No Government for a Free People than a Government founded on (and operating according to) its legitimate principles!


Call Me Mom said...

Hear! Hear!
And may I further add that being included on such a list for holding these views should be counted a badge of honor to those who proudly wear the title of American citizen.

Terry Morris said...

You certainly may add that, and thank you for saying it because it needs be said.

There are some very exciting things happening within my little circle of influence, ... I'll be sharing more details with you in a private email.

Ron Russell said...

Of course the question of seccession has never been settled in the courts. Only by force of arms during the "War for Southern Independence". The Nullification papers of John C. Calhoun express the ideal best. The three great leaders of their respective areas in that period Clay, Calhoun and Webester had something in common they were all elected in the election of 1810 to congress--know as the warhawk congress. The great debates of the mid 1800's were just that great with each expressing the views of the different areas with Clay caught in the middle. My favorate of the period was the Virginia, Edmund Ruffin. Quite a character. Have a page in by blog devoted to him. I leave the link. Edmund Ruffin

Anonymous said...

I think you need to emphasize that the right you advocate is to be released from a contract which the other party has already abrogated. When you enter into a contract, you do not have a 'right' to unilaterally withdraw from the contract without any forfeiture, which is what the Southern states attempted during the Civil War. And it is what the American government has thought to carry out indefinitely.

It may be argued that Lincoln had abolitionist tendencies, but it cannot be argued that simply having an anti-slavery president--absent any definitely unconstitutional action--represented a violation of the Constitution. Nor would it be particularly easy or seemly to argue that the abolition of slavery would be unconstitutional, even absent amendment.

On the other hand it is virtually impossible to seriously argue that the current national government is Constitutional without resorting to some argument that equates Constitutionality with whatever the government happens to manage to do.

In the end, we cannot really resist such an argument with logic alone. Might may not make right, but it certainly does establish who is going to have a say for all practical intents.

Your would-be masters understand this. They know they will absolutely have to bring force to bear in order to rule. They fully intend to do so. But it would seem they have blundered, as oft happens when men set themselves up to rule other men. Despite what these fools privately believe, humans generally have free will, it is not a rare commodity, no matter how precious it may be.

And...there are other factors in play.

Terry Morris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Terry Morris said...

Chiu wrote:

On the other hand it is virtually impossible to seriously argue that the current national government is Constitutional without resorting to some argument that equates Constitutionality with whatever the government happens to manage to do.That is precisely correct. Yet certain persons among us tend to do so anyway -- they seriously equate constitutionality with whatever the central government manages to do. The immigration issue is a good case in point.

There is a school of thought out there which states that since the central authority has "occupied the field," and "intended a complete ouster," then the states and their susidiaries have no authority whatsoever over immigration policy; that the central government has exclusive authority in the area of immigration on these bases alone. Which is to argue precisely what you said above -- that the central government has exclusive authority in a 'field' whenever it declares itself to have such authority. The Constitution be damned.

But alas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and several other states (and their subsidiaries) have written, passed, and enacted their own immigration laws nonetheless. Whenever the central government declares these laws null and void, there'll be hell to pay. Hide'n'watch.

P.S. I'm not ignoring the rest of what you said, but I've been through all of that before and I'm really not in the mood to go through it again at this moment. I will say this, I don't look at Lincoln as the greatest of all tyrants as some on the right do. I have my reasons, and I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in an era and area where a solid dose of "War between the States" mentality, in it's most elevated and carefully race-neutral form, was firmly entrenched in the education industry. That view regards Lincoln as well-intentioned but unschooled in the principles of limited government, rather than being a tyrant. It embraces a tragic narrative which attributes the noblest of motives to everyone and regards everything as being a mistake rather than a sin.

But it is wrong on the simple facts of the Constitution and history. Lincoln represented a threat to Dred Scott, certainly. But that decision, which legally forced free states to accept importation of slaves (even though it was mainly intended to force the return of slaves to out-of-state masters), was a far more gross violation of true state rights than anything Lincoln did himself. Lincoln wasn't acting in ignorance of the Constitution, even when he really did transgress. He realized that certain rights granted directly to the people (rather than to the states) had to be protected by the direct intervention of the Federal government if the states infringed them.

And, in the end, the Confederacy was hardly the pure defender of states' rights during its short history. But that hardly matters, since the critical problem with secession is the issue of preserving individual rights.

If a state decides to secede from the Union, absent any clear violation of the Constitution by the Federal government, then the burden of fully protecting the Constitutional rights of the individual citizens of that state must fall on that state. If the terms of secession do not provide for the full protection of those rights, the Federal authority is clearly mandated to intervene. That case was not made clearly or well during the Civil War, but then again men of reason used to understand reason's natural limitations.

I understand the rules governing intercourse between individuals and corporations to be rooted in natural law, by which I mean the law of what naturally happens when you try to break those laws. Thus, my contention is that the laws of war do not protect unlawful combatants who either actively violate the laws of war or simply fail to comply with basic requirements like declaring a country of allegiance and wearing a proper uniform.

The first is obviously a simple matter of reciprocation. The laws of war only restrict what lawful combatants may do to extra-national lawful combatants and non-combatants, of course, because it is naturally impossible to dictate treatment of unlawful combatants. They are already violating the laws, hence the law cannot be applied to them until after they have been properly disciplined (which usually just leaves treatment of the remains to be decided).

But what about spies and mercenaries? Why can't they be protected as well? Because the entire structure of the laws of war depends absolutely on distinguishing between lawful combatants of distinct nations, non-combatants, and unlawful combatants. To even try to provide for the protection of persons deliberately subverting those categories is to undermine the fundamental logic of the system.

Thus the laws of war do not restrict the treatment of unlawful combatants simply because it is an outright impossibility.

The Constitution is, in the end, likewise subject to natural law. If the Federal government squanders the regard of the people to a degree which makes secession possible, then secession is legal. If not, then it is illegal. "Legal" and "illegal" mean nothing more than that sufficient will and force exist to punish certain defined behaviors and not others. In theory, this is the essential justification for anarchist thought.

But of course the thinking anarchist recognizes that, legitimacy being an illusion, so must illegitimacy be a pretense. A government is just an existing agreement between individuals, if that agreement breaks down it is no great matter, but if it holds there is no reason to disparage it. If I agree that I and my descendants will serve at the command of a king and his descendants, such an arrangement is entirely "legitimate" for as long as it proves practicable (which may not be very long, human nature being what it is).

Any government has the 'right' to exist for as long as people continue to be willing to let it govern, and no longer. This does include people not under that government, so there is nothing 'wrong' with toppling a government you happen to dislike even if it makes no claims on you.

Thus it is incumbent on any government, for its survival, to undertake to provide benefits to the governed so as to encourage them to submit to its rule, as well as providing deterrent to attack from outside. The second happens to be one of the most important aspects of the first, which is to say, protection of the governed populace as a body against outside interference is one of the natural duties of a government. Providing enforcement of contracts between citizens is another natural duty of government, as are general laws regulating behavior harmful to other individuals or the society at large. In doing these things, a government can provide substantial benefits with minimal imposition of harm.

What about transferring wealth? Unfortunately, this always involves direct harm to the people equal or greater than the benefit. If the wealthy wanted to buy the affection of the poor with bread and circuses, they could do so themselves, and have. Moreover, they can do it far more efficiently, so a government trying to buy the affection of the poor by taxing the wealthy will always be at a disadvantage, as it soon occurs to the wealthy that, while they cannot beat the general influence of the government individually, they can win local support. And collectively they can put the government to shame, and often do.

A government that pursues fundamentally unsound strategies in attempting to secure support will fail...this is almost a tautology. That theory of 'rights' which discourages pursuit of flawed methods of governance is practical, which is the highest test of truth to which men can obtain. A theory of 'rights' which encourages unsound government is impractical, which is the most fatal impugnment.

This is actually the theoretical justification for referring to the "constitution" of a government as being what that government actually does, rather than what is written as the charter for what it may do. But such a reference merely makes "sound" or "unsound" the basis on which government action must be judged, since it does not provide any mechanism by which any actual action of the government could ever be declared "unconstitutional". To refer to the actions of the government being "constitutional" in this sense without admitting that the action then needs to be defended as sound, rather than constitutional, is a mark of the deepest and least honorable sophistry.

I believe that the written document known as the Constitution of the United States of America--including the first fifteen amendments--is a fine example of a eminently practical government, and the accelerating movement away from its elegantly expressed principles marks the current government as unsound. And that even before examining the gross impracticalities on which the government has subsequently seen fit to embark.

I even happen to believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired, from both the internal evidence and the biographies of those involved in its creation. This does not mean that I believe in a divine mandate or even that the Constitution was ever 'perfect', just that the design for government contained is extraordinary and the assertions made by the writers about guidance from the hand of Providence are not mere hyperbole.

I also have cause to believe that the departure from those principles of government will bring about consequences beyond what might be reasoned strictly from past experience with "nature" if one is disinclined to admit acts of God. This does not mean I regard divine favor as being a mandate of government, just something to be taken seriously.

Rick Darby said...

If the Federal government squanders the regard of the people to a degree which makes secession possible, then secession is legal. If not, then it is illegal.Chiu, you seem to be negating the very basis of law in morality, fairness, or even the will of the citizenry.

Surely you can't mean that if something is possible, that makes it legal. Every crime on the books is possible. If anything that is impossible is also illegal, we need no laws.

I now favor secession in principle. It's sad to say, but there is no longer a united United States, nor can I see any possibility of there being one again. There are many social cultures, several basic philosophies of government. This endless cultural and political war is doing no one any good.

I'm willing to let the liberals have their welfare/affirmative action/race replacement/political correctness state. They are the majority now. But there is still a significant minority that puts a premium on individual liberty, meritocracy, sound currency and budgeting, limited government. That minority has a moral right to its own state.

What remains is a number of tough practical issues.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to have to say it, but I don't see how basing the law on anything other than reality is feasible. And I cannot accept as moral or fair any course of action which cannot produce desirable results.

I understand that my position is theoretically anarchistic, and I said as much. I am making the argument in favor of republican government from anarchist principles because those are the only principles which I find to be consonant with the unalterable truth that the whole reason we need government is because men are corruptible.

I do not say that anything is legal if it is possible. What I say is that a government is legitimate only if it is perceived to be so by the governed, and if the current government is not perceived to be legitimate then the people can choose a new government for themselves and assign to that government the sanction of "legality". This is the only basis on which practical law exists, absent some super-human entity willing to establish the government, every government has to be implemented by the assertive act of humans to govern and be governed under that government.

In other words, what makes something legal is that all the relevant people believe it is legal. Legality is nothing more than the agreement of those with the power to enforce law. The forms that legality takes in order to secure that central object are hardly irrelevant, but they are nonetheless superficial. No resemblance of some system to any legal government will give it the force of actual law unless the people who possess such force believe that system to be law. And no novelty of a system of law will prevent it from being law so long as those with power to enforce the law believe it to be law.

To a certain extent this does make all laws a form of voodoo, but let us not forget that it is well established as a basic principle of medical science that voodoo, the sympathetic physical response to belief in the power of a curse or cure, really does work. Just because rational examination of legal systems reveals them to be creations of belief rather than abstract reality, this does not imply that they cannot function.

Of course, voodoo has limits. And so does the law. Just as you cannot cure cancer by giving patients cyanide and telling them it's a new wonder drug, so you cannot create a true republic simply by mass hypnotism. I gave a few examples of the principles that mark legal systems as practical or impractical. There are many, given the complexity of humans and their interactions.

The nature of humans (and their eternal destiny, if any) dictates natural law. But systematic law is never actually natural law, nor can it be even in theory. A rock is not gravity or relativity or any such, even though it is subject to them.