An American Shibboleth

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April 30, 2007

In my last article, I explored the history of the word shibboleth and what some American shibboleths may be. I have received many positive responses, including one from Jim Davies. After reviewing his response, I agree with Mr. Davies and stand corrected on all points except the last. Unfortunately, the last point was the most disconcerting.

'Lastly with regard to the Declaration of Independence , for some of its glaring inadequacies see my "Source of Evil" at'

I think that Jacob Halbrooks argued more effectively about the disconnect between the ideals and the practice in Fundamentals of Liberty: Law and Liberty in America without demeaning the efforts that have afforded Mr. Davies his diatribe. The Declaration contained five profound premises that dared to stretch the imagination and at the same time upset the existing social order of the time. Premises that were both sound and true in spite of the 'glaring inadequacies' of the syllogism that followed.

It is only retrospectively that we see the deficiencies were not in the Founders' ideals, but in their implementation and exercise of those ideals. We, who in the infancy of the 21st Century look back to previous centuries, must recognize that it took almost 200 years for those ideals to reach some form of technical fruition. It wasn't until the later half of the last century that we even see the actual practice of liberty for all and equal justice under the law receiving sporadic and reluctant recognition by the powers that be. The Founding Fathers were men of the 18th Century. At that time, they were on the cutting edge of a liberty cultural social evolution.

By whose standards do we judge them, our own? We, who have allowed so much more infringement on the rights that they pledged their Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor for?

We, who stand upon the shoulders of revelatory independent thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries as Josiah Warren, William B. Greene, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, Henry David Thoreau, Herbert Spencer and Albert Jay Nock, who preceded us in their evolution of liberty philosophy, cannot now recognize that the Founders stood upon ideas and philosophies of 'radical' thinkers that preceded them?

The Founders' worldview, experience and vision rested upon the social theories that existed in and before their time, not ours. It was an evolution of thought that brought them to the next step of declaring that the people chose their representatives to act for them for set terms, that the State is not a representative of a deity, and that the people themselves created the institution(s) to aid in the mutual protection of each others' individual rights. Each generation has had those who challenged the status quo and raised a higher mark to grow towards. Mankind has gone through many cultural changes of both advancement and regression. The overall progress has been toward freedom until recently. We stand at a point where the very validity of the social concept of individual liberty is on a precipice.

What really makes the difference between being a 'source for evil' or good is how that institution functions. The Law by Frederic Bastiat starts out by identifying the problem:

'The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law becomes the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!'

He goes on to identify the result of perverted law:

'But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.'

Today we are practicing and functioning collectivists otherwise known as communists or socialists. Unless, of course, you live in an isolated, self-built, self-felled log cabin on property that you pay no tax, deriving your existence solely from the action of your own body trading goods and services with others. However, if you live in this country, in a town, in a home with potable water not from your own well, using electricity or gas not supplied by your own invention, eating food that you did not grow, catch, or kill, buying, selling, or trading and paying a tax of any amount however reluctantly, you are a functional collectivist. We benefit by it and are harmed by it.

While the benefits outweigh the harm for most, we didn't groan too much. Neither did the Founders until the cost of the 'benefits' outweighed their own value.

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

We are at a similar point today. The cost in individual liberty for the 'benefits & privileges' of our socio-political structure is outweighing the value of those benefits. Rogues have hijacked our socio-political organization away from the very premises by which it was called into being. I could go into details, citing statistics of government employment, laws that stand to be enforced that eviscerate any checks or balances that would protect rights from infringement, the misuse of military people and civilians for chemical and nuclear experiments, deficit spending in our name and the imposition of payback with interest on us and future generations to unseen money lenders, the growth of militarized police enforcement for misdemeanors, and more.

All the talk, philosophizing, complaining, and listing of infringements will not make a difference unless we as independent and free people are willing to agree to some basic premises for the validity of our resistance. Therefore, I assert that the five premises of the Declaration of Independence are still valid today. It is the exercise and fleshing out of those premises that has been adulterated, mutated, and violated by unscrupulous men rather than we who hold those truths to still be self-evident and must wrest back the socio-political organization from those who have corrupted it. It is our right and our duty.

Now please don't misinterpret me. I absolutely love TOLFA! It is inspirational and seductive! (I copy it onto CDs and give them away to high school youths in my 'Socratic' attempt to corrupt them.) I just hope that we have the time to see it happen. In the meantime, we need a way to determine who the lovers of individual liberty are and those who want to remain collectivists. As Gary Franchi Jr. of Lone Lantern Society states, "Place one lantern in the tower and set forth the riders, for they are on our soil. Paul Revere rode at the sight of two lanterns in the Old North Church . He rode his horse and announced, 'The British are coming... the British are coming...' Now, decades later enemies of our country are here, and have been, for quite some time. So we are placing a lone lantern in the virtual tower and dispatching the riders to sound the alarm, and expose the new enemies of our great republic." Because if we cannot agree upon a common foundation for the exercise of the right to resist tyranny, then how shall we prevail against the collective? Resisters will be knocked down as they individually rise to resist. If that is the situation, then 'resistance is futile!'

I agree with Davies in most of his articles including What Might Have Been. I also agree with his Article Three except for the common mixing up of the Founders who debated, constructed and signed the Declaration of Independence with the Framers who brought us that 'charter that would appeal to most Americans as giving them power over their own government, while in practice and with effect increasing over time, it would ensure the government had absolute power over the people.' A small point that has a distinctive difference. There were many Founding fathers who were opposed to the Federalist Constitution--the Anti-Federalists. Those writings clearly predicted the morass that we are now in. To quote from one of those men, Patrick Henry,

"If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, a navy, and a number of things: When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, Sir, was then the primary object . . . . But now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire." June 5, 1788, in the Virginia Convention

He also warned us about the people losing the power of the sword:

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined . . . . The Honorable Gentleman who presides told us, that to prevent abuses in our government, we will assemble in Convention, recall our delegated powers, and punish our servants for abusing the trust reposed to them. Oh, Sir, we should have fine times indeed, if to punish tyrants, it were only necessary to assemble the people! Your arms wherewith you could defend yourselves are gone . . . . Did you ever read of any revolution in any nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all? A standing army we shall have also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny: And how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders?' June 5, 1788, in the Virginia Convention

The issue of the exercise of force is important here because whether physical, mental, educational, emotional or religious, force is a human reality. If the powers that be choose to, Mr. Davies' plan for a generational (20 year) methodical change through education by way of '21st Century facilities' is over. Which brings me to my last points. To succeed in this cause of liberty, we need to develop a multi-pronged strategy. At least two of the prongs are a common philosophical foundation (meme) and a mobilized lawful resistance based upon it. The philosophical foundation is the five premises of the Declaration of Independence as articulated in The Creed of Freedom from Freedom Force International. The mobilization is articulated by Edwin Vieira, Jr., in his masterful work 'THE MILITIA OF THE SEVERAL STATES.' How those strategies are implemented are tactics. Spreading a Liberty meme is a strategy. Using TOLFA as a way of spreading a Liberty meme is a tactic.

"Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live . . . . at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take . . . OUR FREEDOM!" ~William Wallace from the movie, "Braveheart."

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Tim Wingate's picture
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Tim Wingate is a Liberty Activist, who tends to be an abolitionist. He is a member of ISIL, Freedom Force International, We the People Congress, and teaches a seminar, Sons of Liberty Seminar - Practical Ways to Resist Tyranny for Liberty Activists. He contributes to Freedom Shenanigans & High Jinks blog.