Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You Say You Want a Revolution?

La Liberté Guidant le Peuple
par Eugène Delacroix
La Révolution Française de Juillet 1830
Apparently the government is getting ready to trample upon our Second Amendment rights. I've seen a few mentions, on Facebook, of people indicating their readiness to resist.

After the election, there were petitions of secession filed at (of all places) the White House website. I'm assuming those were gestures rather than serious announcements of the intent to dissolve the ties between, say Texas, and the Union.

Are people serious when they start muttering about revolution? That's some pretty serious stuff. I'm guessing most people, when shouting "Revolution!" (or perhaps "Революция") don't quite get what exactly a revolution entails.

Now the United States has had, arguably, two revolutions. The one everyone recognizes which created the country by separating from the Kingdom of Great Britain which ran from 1775 to 1783.  And the other, which ran from 1861 to 1865.

Northerners know that one as "The Civil War", to some Southerners it's known as "The War Between the States", to other Southerners it's "The War of Northern Aggression". In a post a while back I believe I referred to it as "The Great Bloodletting of 1861 to 1865". Regardless of what you call it, it was a very "messy" affair.

And it 
most certainly was a revolution. The southern states which seceded from the Union may not have viewed it as a revolution as their argument was that what they were doing was perfectly legal. I'm pretty sure many cited the Declaration of Independence. Especially that bit at the very beginning:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Now I'm also fairly sure that the South did "declare the causes which impel them to the separation". So I can see where they had the idea that what they were doing was, indeed, "legal".

Revolutions are violent and bloody affairs. Trust me, you don't want one. Only as a very last resort. Only if there is NO OTHER WAY TO STOP THE MADNESS. Also, revolutions generally don't turn out the way the people who started them wanted. Typically the people who get to be in charge turn out to be very bloody-minded. Revolutionaries are of no use once the revolution is over. So they tend to take over and keep the revolution going. (Which translates to killing off all of the folks the revolutionaries don't like. And finding more groups to dislike, for the sole purpose of keeping the revolution going, in perpetuity.)


The point to all of this is that I've heard the Declaration of Independence mentioned in a few forums as to how and why we need to deal with what's happening in the country at the present time. (Especially that bit at the beginning, cited above.)

You say you'll change the constitution

Yup, I've heard that too. From what I would call "the other side". That is the side to wish I have no affiliation and no desire to be affiliated with. Because we're not just talking about the Constitution, we're talking about the Bill of Rights. What's that look like? (Many speak of it, just how many have actually read it?) So here it is...

Now one thing should be noted right away. Note the wording of these ten articles. These are all worded in the negative, as in "shall make no law", "shall not be infringed", "shall not be violated" etc. The Bill of Rights is not granting the people of the United States anything, the Bill of Rights spells out what the government can't do.

I say that because these rights as specified in the Bill of Rights are inalienable*, which Webster's defines as "incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred". (Note that "alienable" is defined as transferable to another's ownership.)

Another definition, provided by Wikipedia states that:
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable. In contrast, legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system.
 (The emphasis above is mine.)

Also according to Wikipedia:
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been held to apply to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(Again, the emphasis above is mine.) Seems pretty clear to me that any action taken by the United States Government which would abrogate or violate any of the Articles spelled out in the Bill of Rights would be, by definition, unconstitutional. One shouldn't need a law degree to figure THAT out.

The government would be INSANE to violate or abrogate any portion of the Bill of Rights. To accept a commission in or enlist in the United States Military requires an oath, which in both cases contains the phrase "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". Therefore this sort of government action would pretty much require the military to take action against the government to restore those rights.

There is no need for a revolution in this country. Not if everyone does their job. If you don't like the policies put forth by the politicians, vote them out of office. If the government breaks the law, hold them responsible.

So take a deep breath, pray - and hope that the system continues to work. It hasn't failed us yet. Though, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).

*"Unalienable" is an acceptable alternate spelling of "inalienable".
Means the same thing. In case you were wondering, which I was.

10 comments:

  1. not to mention that if we actually had a constitutional convention it would actually turn out better than what we have.

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    1. I shudder to think what a modern Constitutional Convention would look like.

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    2. well my syntax is off on the above reply. I meant to say that a new convention we might not get as good as we
      got now so perhaps we shouldn't even go down that road. Lime you I shudder to think of what would happen to
      our Constitution with a new convention. I suspect it would resmeble something more like the USSR or similar.

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    3. Whew. I was hoping you were going to say that. I kind of figured that's what you meant.

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    4. And apparently I can't spell or type either

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  2. Revolutions are violent and bloody affairs. Trust me, you don't want one.


    Amen. I keep hearing a lot of loose talk from pundits, bloggers, and other Usual Suspects in this space. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

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    1. And I can picture those types sitting in front of their keyboards ranting about revolution. Of course, they don't plan on getting their hands dirty, do they?

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  3. A most excellent essay, Sarge. Ditto what Buck said and then this:

    When I see the Bill of Rights printed out like that, I'm always struck by how simple and straightforward it is. It's a page, maybe two, in length. And the language is clear and understandable. Can you imagine what we'd get today if the Senate and the House tried to come up with something similar?

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    1. Thanks Dan.

      If today's politicos attempted this, it would be 300 pages plus and you'd need a law degree to read it. No one would understand it, ever. Simple is good, the Founding Fathers were smart guys indeed!

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)