July 4th, Declaring Independence From Tyranny
On July 4th 1776 congress adopted the Declaration of thirteen United States of America for their Independence from the tyranny of The King. I haven’t read this document enough over the years. I’ve taken for granted that I understand the meaning of the words Jefferson penned, but my most recent reading has revealed the depth of meaning he crammed into relatively few words. I had similar thoughts when I reread the Declaration of Independence as I did when I read The Road To Serfdom by Hayek for the first time in 1993. Those thoughts were, “Oh my God, he’s writing about today”. Before we look at some of the words in the declaration lets look at what it was like in Colonial America.
EVOLVED FREEDOM IN COLONIAL AMERICA
Colonial America developed relatively freely for a couple hundred years before 1776. A culture evolved here over these two hundred years which was different from the culture in England. In a book titled “A Patriot’s History Of The United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, they write about a few trends that led to the spontaneously evolved freedom that existed at the time of the Revolution.
“First, the sheer distance between the rulers and the governed – between the King and the colonies – made possible an extraordinary amount of independence among the Americans”…..”Second, while the colonists gained a measure of independence through distance, they also gained political confidence and status through the acquisition of land. For immigrants who came from a nation where the scarcity of land marked those who owned it as gentlemen and placed them among the political elites. The abundance of soil….make them the equals of the owners of manorial estates in England. It steadily but subtly became every citizen’s job to ensure the protection of property rights for all citizens, undercutting from the outset the widespread and entrenched class system that characterized England. Third, the precedent of rebellion against a government that did not carry out the most basic mandates – protecting life, property, and a certain degree of religious freedom (at least from the Church of England) was established and supported by large numbers, if not the wast majority, of colonists. Fourth, a measure of religious toleration developed.” (1)
“By 1774 American colonists already had attained a standard of living that far surpassed that found in most of the civilized parts of the modern world.” (2)
The economic system in place at this time was mercantilism (read here), which was a system where the state gave special subsidy and monopoly privileges to businesses, individuals, and groups the state favored. It encouraged exports and discouraged imports, and the enforcement of these regulations created a bureaucracy that built state power.
Patriot’s History talks about mercantilism, “Mercantilist doctrine demanded that the individual subordinate his economic activity to the interest of the State….it didn’t help the English that mercantilism was based on a conceptual framework that saw wealth as fixed and limited, meaning that for the Government to get more wealth, individuals had to receive less of the fruit of their labor…….Having the State pick winners and losers in the fields of enterprise proved disastrous……Americans came to despise regulations that threatened the further development of America’s thriving merchant trade…..Traders at the top favored regulations because they allowed them to freeze out aspiring competitors, but producers and consumers disliked the laws and they were swiftly becoming the majority.” (3) Does any of this sound familiar? (Crony Capitalism)
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
The tyranny of Government is what man has been fighting since before recorded history, and it is what we fight today. The freedom of the individual is rare in history, while the tyranny of government over the individual is the historical norm. Here are a couple of excerpts from the declaration, ask yourself if these words are applicable today.
“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–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, 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.”
Our rights are above the Government, they don’t come from Government. Governments are instituted by men in order to secure each individuals rights. Governments get their just power from the consent of the individuals. When a Government becomes destructive in securing the rights of individuals, the people have a right to change or abolish it.
“Governments long-established should not be changed for light and transient Causes……Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
Individuals will suffer evils for a long time before they will pay the heavy price of changing or abolishing Government. The evil has to become intolerable before men will make a change. Remember intolerable is in the eye of the beholder. We are not there yet, but we are getting closer with each new regulation, tax, intervention, along with each new case of political corruption.
Jefferson then lists the abuses by the King. There are too many to list here, read the Declaration and see if any of the abuses apply today.
“In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms…..A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.”
When a rulers acts are the definition of tyranny, he is no longer fit to be the ruler of a free people.
“…and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free ad Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…….And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.“
The founders absolved their allegiance to the crown, and instead pledge to each other their lives, their fortunes, and our sacred honor.
TYRANNY OR RIGHTS
Why do I see tyranny where others see government giving rights. Health care is only one example. I see Government telling me what I can and can’t do with by healthcare decisions as tyrannical and a violation of my right to property and contract. Others see Obama care mandates on their health care as somehow gaining rights. We obviously have different visions on how the world works. Compromise between the two visions only creates a chaotic middle ground, and this is where we are right now. Which direction we go from here will determine if we will face the sobering decision at some point to “rely on divine Providence, and mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”.
Related Article, What Is Tyranny? The President Should Know The Definition, by austrianaddict.com
Related Article, The Most Recent Arbitrary And Unrestrained Exercises Of Power By The Federal Government, by austrianaddict.com
1) From A Patriot’s History Of The United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, pg 25-26
2) From A Patriot’s History Of The United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, pg 25
3) From A Patriot’s History Of The United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, pg 49-50