Advocating the violent overthrow of the government is, by definition, sedition.

Making war against the government is, by definition, treason.

But hold on there.

This was the precise situation in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence launched a war of independence against the legally constituted government of that time.

The United States of America was born in violent revolution. Its founders were, in fact, charged by the government with being seditious traitors. In modern parlance, they were terrorists — enemy combatants. When caught, the American rebels were imprisoned without trial and often summarily killed.

In 1787 a new constitution was written in secret session, and ratified by state governments. It proposed a system with sovereign states bound together by a federal government with strictly delimited powers.

Today the facts on the ground are that no branch of the federal government given lawful authority only by that constitution operates within those limits.

Not Congress, which regularly passes legislation never authorized by the Constitution.

Not the Executive, which decrees and enforces thousands of regulations with the force of law that are not only not legislated by the people’s elected representatives, but which are in areas never authorized by the Constitution.

Not the Supreme Court and its inferior courts which, in Marbury v Madison, staged a judicial coup d’etats, nationalizing — stealing from juries and grand juries — the people’s right to decide for themselves what is an unconstitutional act having no legitimate standing as law.

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence states explicitly where any rightful government authority comes from:

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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 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.

When that consent of the people to be governed is withdrawn, the government’s rightful authority ends. If those in power continue in the absence of rightful delegated authority to continue to send armed men to enforce their decrees, the very founders of the American system of government declared that the people have the exclusive moral right to disobey, resist, and — if necessary — use deadly force to defend their lives, liberty, and property against the armed enforcers and those who dispatch them.

It is not necessary, as was done in the Declaration of Independence, to make a laundry list of sundry violations of the people’s rights. The facts on the ground, today, is that almost everything done by the federal government is unauthorized by the Constitution and violative of the people’s rights, immunities, and powers.

Generations of the American people have been patient, relying on their elected representatives to awaken to their duty and retract the government to within its authorized powers.

The arithmetic of that happening is not encouraging. The American people’s patience is not endlessly elastic. In my lifetime I have seen that impatience become brittle.

When heavily armed men are dispatched by the government on actions never contemplated or authorized by the Constitution, and in violation of the people’s rights, any immediate casualties are those who attack and those who defend, but the moral accountability rests with those who sent them.

During the American Revolution, no American launched deadly force against the King or Parliament who sent troops against them. The King and Parliament were simply too remote.

A few days ago a Member of Congress was shot and almost killed by a mad asshole. Jared Lee Loughner had no coherent thinking process, much less any well-thought-out grievance against the Congresswoman he shot in the head, with 18 other casualties, six of them fatal.

By all accounts, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is nothing but a sweet woman, moderate in her views compared to many in her party.

But here’s where precisely the question of “where the buck stops” comes in.

Is even a Member of Congress — who is, by all accounts, a decent human being — subject to the usages of revolutionary force when that body is comprised of members who daily violate their oath to abide by that Constitution’s limits on their legislative powers?

Were there no decent and sweet representatives, in the British Parliament of 1776, who sent armed Redcoats against the rebellious Americans?

Certainly the legal principles established more recently at Nuremberg place higher moral accountability on those who send armed troops to commit criminal acts, even though the troops themselves may not be held blameless because they were “just following orders”?

Government, while it exists, is the most powerful player in the life of a society. Nothing short of a full-fledged revolution can end its application of power. Random acts of violence directed at the perception of government only brings more repression and retribution.

But, if we’re to be as manly as those who signed the Declaration of Independence, a government that breaks its own laws is deserving to be taken from power, even if those who issue unlawful decrees are too powerful be held accountable.

Thoreau, Gandhi, and King insisted that victories for justice and liberation could be won without force of arms.

The history of the American Revolution suggests otherwise.

This is not a call for the overthrow of the government of the United States by force of arms.

This is not a call to make war against the government of the United States.

This is a call for seeing reality.

This is a call to remember that the government, itself, founded in violent revolution, relies on the violence of armed men to enact its decreed policies, unlawful though they may be.

This is a call for those in power to look at the history of how the government in whose name they act came into being … and why the government that came before it had to be ended.

Unlawful violence begets unlawful violence. What is ultimately deemed lawful violence is decided by who prevails.

What is ultimately deemed the moral use of violence is a decision above any of our pay grades.

This article is Copyright © 2011 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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