it is the Right of the People...
11 November 2005, 9:29 AM
Well, and so far, what has happened? Mr. Jefferson and his fellows have established that they speak with sixteen kinds of authority, they have established that they are not out for their own profit, they have established that they speak from historical necessity and philosophical truth, they have established that they are, on the whole, followers of Locke and Priestley, and would govern as such, and as it turns out I missed a nice and subtle bit where Mr. Jefferson establishes that residents of the New World are one people and that the Brits are another, a highly controversial idea that doesn’t sound controversial in its context, which is what I’ve been hocking about. They also outlined the purposes of government, which leads us to the next bit:
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.
It’s not clear to me from the form whether this Right of the People is one of the inalienable rights that the Declaration says was Endowed. It’s clearly different from individual rights; this right is clearly only for a People, however defined. It gets complicated when you look at it closely, I think. How do we know then the Government is destructive? Who decides? How to you decide whether to alter it or abolish it? Who gets to lay the foundation for the new Government? If there is, as there must be, difference of opinion on what will effect Safety and Happiness, how do you resolve that difference? And yet, with all the problems, it is clearly more correct than the reverse. The idea that nobody has the right to alter a destructive government, or the idea that the right to alter a destructive government resides somewhere other than the People (whoever they are).
At the time, however, this is pretty strong stuff. It is also flattering to our Connecticut farmer, you know. Who decides? Why, you do, Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Beebe, Mr. Durkee. This is the equality-up I was talking about, and it’s a big promotion for Mr. Page and Mr. Cummings. You get to institute a New Government. That’s this democracy we keep hearing about, but it goes much further than the English kind, as not only do you get to send a Member to Parliament, you get to abolish the government and set up a new one. Not bad. Furthermore, that new government will be for you, Mr. See, Mr. Wolcott, Mr. Allen, for your Safety and Happiness. Surely that’s worth fighting for.
chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,