It has been my experience that there is one thing most people give little thought to; that being the foundation upon which other things are built. Take the foundation of your house for example, it is always there providing support for the dwelling you reside in; but how often do you think about its security and stability? Yet were it to fail your home may suffer all kinds of problems; up to and including a complete collapse.
Or one could take a tree as another example. A tree derives its strength, and sustenance, from its root system. If a tree has a strong root system it will remain healthy and strong. Conversely, if a tree’s root system is weak then it could become subject to disease, and the slightest storm could uproot it.
If you look to the dictionary you would find that the word foundation has two meanings. The first is: the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level. The second, and the one I’m more interested in, is; an underlying basis or principle for something.
If it were possible to travel back in time to the moment man first made his appearance on Planet Earth, one would find that there was no such thing as government. Government then must be a contrivance, or a creation of man himself. Therefore, if government is something that is created by man, it must have been created for specific reasons; to serve specific purposes.
Therefore it is logical to conclude that governments are created either to serve people, or to enslave them. The question then arises, for which purpose was OUR system of government created?
I know that questions such as this one are of little concern to people these days; all they care about is how government can make their lives better, safer, or more comfortable. Yet these questions which have driven me to spend countless hours reading and studying the writings of the men who actively participated in the establishment of our system of government.
Let me as you a question, and be honest with your answers: Who do you think has a better understanding of the reasons why our system of government was established; those who have never even read the Constitution, or someone like me who has spent endless hours studying the thoughts of those who established our system of government?
As I said, this question, or more specifically, these questions are the reason I have spent hours engrossed in books, and online searching out all I could find on the history of our country and the period which saw America transform from 13 British Colonies into an independent nation with its own system of government created by the will of the people.
Yet I didn’t stop there; I wanted to know what formed the beliefs of the Founders themselves. After all, they were born into a world where it was accepted that the Colonists were subject to the rule of a monarch; so what beliefs would cause them to rebel against that authority if that’s simply the way things were? It was this question which led me to the writings of John Locke; specifically his Second Treatise on Civil Governments.
During his term as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson invited Vice President Adams and Secretary of Treasury Hamilton to his residence at Monticello to discuss matters of State. While there Hamilton was examining portraits which hung upon the wall in Jefferson’s home. He asked Jefferson who those men were, to which Jefferson replied, “I told him they were my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced…” One of those paintings was of John Locke.
When I first read Locke’s Second Treatise I could almost physically feel the influence he had on Jefferson; it was as if Jefferson channeled Locke into his own writings; particularly the Declaration of Independence. It is therefore reasonable to say that if people adhere to the principles espoused by Thomas Jefferson, then they also adhere to the principles espoused by Locke himself.
You may feel otherwise, but I believe the Declaration of Independence to be the single greatest document ever produced by man. The first paragraph of that document is simply a preamble of sorts; stating its purpose; “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.”
It is the next paragraph that takes my breath away every time I read it; for Jefferson encapsulated much of what Locke takes pages to say into just over two-hundred words; “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.”
If there is one thing our Founders were, it was proponents of the belief in Natural Law, or more specifically, our rights under Natural Law. If you had spent any amount of time reading the works of men like Jefferson, Samuel Adams or Patrick Henry, you would have seen that they all believed our rights come not from any government, but as gifts of our Creator; a part of our being as much as is the color of our eyes or hair, and that no government can deprive us of them without the gravest of injustices.
If, as I have already posed, there was a time when government did not exist, then what state did man exist in without any government to control his actions? Locke gives us an answer to that question in Section 4 of his treatise on Civil Governments, “To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.”
What Locke describes is liberty in its purest form; unfettered ability to enjoy all our rights without interference by other men. Over a century and a half after Locke wrote his Second Treatise, a Frenchman by the name of Frederic Bastiat wrote a similar book about the purpose for law itself; simply titled, The Law. In his book Bastiat states, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
It took me a few times reading that before I understood its significance. What Bastiat is saying is that our rights do not come from the law, nor do they come from those who make the laws. In fact, it was because we all have rights as individuals that man created entities to enact laws on their behalf.
Therefore, if we as human beings are all free, or to use another word, sovereign, then why would we even consider empowering others to pass laws which we must then obey? The answer to that can also be found in Locke’s treatise, “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. To which in the state of nature there are many things wanting.”
Now by property one might assume that Locke meant the people’s belongings; such as their homes, their cars, their clothing and all the other items they purchase. But this is not necessarily all that is covered by the word property.
In 1792 James Madison wrote an essay on property itself, stating,
“In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.
In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.
In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.
He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.
He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.
In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”
As you can see, to our Founders property encompassed far more than simple personal belongings. So when Locke speaks of people uniting under government to protect their property it is so that ALL those things spoken of by Madison can be protected. In fact it is this very principle which Jefferson spoke of in the Declaration of Independence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…“
And when government no longer serves the purpose for which it was established? Well, Jefferson then said this, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…“
In Section 222 of Locke’s treatise we read “The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a legislative, is, that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power, and moderate the dominion, of every part and member of the society…“
He then follows by saying, “…for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into society …“
Which is exactly what Bastiat refers to in the opening of his book, The Law, “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!”
And what is the remedy for such a situation? Why Jefferson told us we can alter, or abolish even any form of government which becomes destructive to the ends for which it was established. Locke states that, “…whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence.”
These beliefs and principles, these foundations, apply to all forms of government; be they local, state, or federal, as all governments are creations of man, given certain powers for certain specific purposes. As Jefferson said, “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends…” it is our right to alter or abolish it.
Backing up a bit in Locke’s treatise, in Chapter 4 Locke states, “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. No body can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it.“
You may choose to live by the laws passed by our government which violate your most sacred rights, but you cannot force me to do so; not without the grossest of injustices. You may choose slavery over freedom, but you cannot force slavery upon me. That is the foundation upon which our system of government rests; not the will of the many outnumber the will of the few. We are not a democracy where a simple majority is all that is required for laws to be passed; our government was established for certain specific purposes, with certain rights protected by constitutional amendment, and whenever the government exceeds its powers, or violates those rights it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established.
You may like the things our government does, but that does not make those things the ENDS FOR WHICH IT WAS ESTABLISHED! Unless the Constitution is amended, specifically giving government new powers, then the actions of our government, be they undertaken by Republicans or Democrats, which exceed the specific powers mentioned, or which violate a single right, are destructive to the ends for which THIS government was established, and it is the right of the people to resist.
But resistance is futile when it is but a mere handful of the total people in America who are willing to stand up to the encroaching power of government. We have a massive standing army, both militarily and in the various agencies established by government to enforce their laws upon us. We have local and State law enforcement that also enforce any number of unconstitutional laws upon the people. For resistance to become effective it must be overwhelming; so that there are simply too many of us to arrest or kill.
Which means that unless a great deal more Americans wake up to the fact that their government is no longer serving the purpose for which it was established, and stop supporting it by voting for those to fill the seats of power within it, nothing is going to change. As long as you support government as an entity, it will continue to grow.
Government does not care if you support Republicans or Democrats, only that you believe in it and continue to support it by voting. Withdraw that support in sufficient numbers and begin standing up for your rights and you will see government lose its power. After all, Jefferson did say that government derives its just power from the CONSENT of the people, didn’t he?
Yet I hear people say that America is still a much better country to live in than many others; that our system of government is not as oppressive as the governments of other countries. That may be so, but let me tell you a little story.
I was at a Latter Day Saint, (Mormon), event called a Fireside a long time ago when a speaker was asked if a person was basically good, wouldn’t they be allowed to enter Heaven when they were compared against all the evil that goes on in the word. The speaker said something I’ll never forget; “You should not compare yourself against all the evil committed by other human beings, rather you should compare yourself to Jesus. How close do YOU come to being as perfect as He was, not how far do you find yourselves from the evil that is present in others?“
I find that a perfect analogy for my beliefs in regards to politics. I don’t care how well the Republicans or the Democrats come to fulfilling your desires as to what purpose government should serve. I care only how well government serves the purpose that our Founders intended it serve. It all boils down to party over principle; you either adhere to the principles, or foundation upon which America was founded, or your loyalty is to party; which is susceptible to corruption and external influences.
I know upon what foundation my principles rest, and what I stand for; do you?
July 9, 2017
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.