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You may have seen this column by Pat Buchanan, which TPM linked to:

http://www.wnd.com/...

The Oath Keepers bring to the fore a fundamental dilemma in U.S. political philosophy, one that is also part of the Heller gun case.

The issue is this:  How does a government which was founded on the right of the people to make violent revolution if the felt they were too oppressed exercise its authority over its own people?

The Declaration of Independence is celebrated, rightly, as a document which established that human beings have certain fundamental rights.  But it is also the document which the then colonies used to justify armed insurrection.  It is an important document as much because that insurrection was successful as for any of the principals it expresses.

The Declaration contains a list of grievances which Jefferson and the other signers thought justified their engaging in violent revolution.  The idea is that a group of citizens cannot simply decide that they do not like what is going on with the government and then go directly to armed rebellion/revolution.  The causes of their grievances must be serious and the exercise of the right to violent resistance must be the only option available.

The issues of what constitutes just cause and whether all non-violent means have been exhausted were also at the heart of the philosophical debate over secession in 1860-61.  Lincoln did not believe that the preservation of slavery justified the violent resistance of federal authority, especially when the federal government had not sought the abolition of slavery in states where it was lawful, but only in territories controlled by the central government.  Jefferson Davis and the other southern radicals thought the preservation of slavery and the right to carry their slaves with them wherever they went was so fundamental that it justified armed revolution.  Latter day apologists for this rebellion try to ignore that debate and instead focus solely on the right to revolution.

In the Heller case, Justice Scalia discusses the issue of how the second amendment is there not only for the protection of individuals from other individuals, but is there to allow citizens to control the course of their society if the courts and other institutions fail them.   However, Scalia fails to follow through on that part of the decision when he states that, although there is a right to violent revolution protected by the second amendment, this does not mean that individuals can own heavy artillery or fighter jets, etc.  In other words, he is not willing to give "the people" a level playing field against the government in the event of a showdown.

The Oath Keepers Buchanan mentions in his column and Buchanan himself seem to be carrying this debate into the 21st century.  They seem to think that things are getting intolerable enough that armed rebellion is justified.  They anticipate that the central government will attempt to disarm those who feel that way and they are intent on resisting any such disarmament, or at least refusing to assist the central government in that project.

The problem with their position is that, like the slaveholders, the grievances of the "white people" are not sufficient to justify armed resistance to the central government.  Buchanan thinks that the "white people" are the only ones who have a right to feel resentment towards the central government, wall street, etc.  This harkens back to the campaign slogan of the Democrats in the 1868 presidential election:  "This is a White Man's Country" (I kid you not.  That was their slogan).  On the other hand, those who advocate the dissolution of the racial system, or at least the opening up of the racial system to permit individuals who do not qualify as white to gain access to power and privilege can call up the words of the very declaration of independence (and war) which Buchanan and the Oath Takers and the slaveholders before them rely upon to assert their right to use armed violence against the central government.

What we are witnessing is the 21st century version of a debate that Americans are doomed to have because of the way in which we came to be a nation.  We cannot, as a country, rule out violent revolution as a remedy to grievances.  In our country, because of our past, the question is not if, but when is it ok to take up arms against the central government.

It is a mistake for progressives (or liberals or democrats) to characterize people like Buchanan and the Oath Takers and the militias as "crazies."  They are no more crazy than Jefferson Davis and the other slaveholders who incited rebellion against the central government in 1861.

I don't want you to have the false impression about what I think about guns.  I do not think that Americans should have the unfettered right to bear arms, even handguns.  It is not, however, because I think the 2nd Amendment does not protect that right.  It is because I don't think we are, as a culture, mature enough to handle that responsibility.  Maybe if we ever grow up as a people and learn to agree on the fundamentals of human rights we will be able to handle it.  Unfortunately, however, we have incorporated armed insurrection into our political culture and, without a repeal of the second amendment, we are stuck with it.

Originally posted to Wandering mind on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:38 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Do these folks actually read the Declaration of (7+ / 0-)

      Independence?

      You know, when it says things like this:

      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. 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.

      Healthcare as a human right is now seen by these folks as "evincing a design to reduce them under absolute depotism".

      Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson is giving them the facepalm.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:51:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  O, and this bit... (5+ / 0-)

        In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

        "Humble terms" doesn't quite fit the description of fisticuffs at townhalls and Obama=Hitler signs.

        "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

        by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:53:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  To play devil's advocate a bit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnfire, BachFan, danmac

        One of the underlying "grievances" which the colonists had was that the British government had a policy of halting westward expansion into the Ohio valley.

        This was a result of treaties with Indian nations after the French and Indian War.

        The colonists opposed that policy and violated it.  After the revolution, they were free to take over all of the Indian territory they wanted.  And they did.

        Was that goal justification for violent revolution?

        My point is that there will always be debate over what kind of grievances justify violence.  It is usually the winners who get to answer that question definitively.

        •  Playing devil's advocate to your devil's advocate (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gooners, Otherday

          there were a whole list of grievances, and this is just one of them. imho, your example is a preview of the whole "manifest destiny" thing, which also bolstered the earliest versions of American exceptionalism.

          A little beside the point...

          ...what I think was the start of the tipping point was a lack of local, elected representation to speak for the colonies in England - that and the fact that commerce was controlled by the Crown thru the granting of licenses and such. This is the thing that stuck in the craw and made people feel justified in overthrowing the govt.

          Again, all imho of course.

          "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

          by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:25:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right. But the Canadians (0+ / 0-)

            were faced with the same problem and they didn't see the need to rebel.

            And they have a democracy now.

            It is the difference between evolution and revolution.

            •  Not trying to state the obvious... (0+ / 0-)

              ...but Massachusetts isn't Canada - and the relations between the French who occupied Canada and the English who occupied New England is a whole other thing entirely ;-)

              I've been putting off work b/c this has been a very enjoyable debate (I'm geeky so I like things like this), but I will reluctantly have to go.

              Post again soon - even if I don't agree I like thought-provoking stuff.

              "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

              by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:49:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  You want a revolution? (0+ / 0-)

    Try repealing the 2nd. Wish granted.

  •  We have a revolution every four years. (0+ / 0-)

    You repeal the Second Amendment, that will be every four days.

    •  Actually, we have an election (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EthrDemon, kyril, Dr Marcos

      every four years.  We have not had an attempt at a revolution since 1861.

      •  It's a peaceful revolution. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo

        Hey, I am just quoting the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution here.

        Take it or leave it.

        •  I'd say that the Founding Fathers' definition (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, RenderQT

          of a revolution is poorly conceived, since the term usually applies only to cases when the constitutional order itself changes, not the politicians in charge.

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:51:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Contextual history here. (5+ / 0-)

            Remember, when we went rogue on our masters in England, revolutions were occurring at a terrifying clip around the world.

            One of America's greatest inventions was the civic wonder of modern transition of power among the executive of the nation-state through a peaceful process involving a voting republic.

            Of course, most Americans can't remember what happened last week, much less 250 years ago.

            So the contextual history of the peaceful revolution is lost on them, especially those on the far Right.

          •  But It Can (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gooners

            Each successively elected government can change the Constitutional order, according to the Constitution, by amendment.

            A revolution is a rapid and substantial (>50% is different) change. Wars that are revolutions do that, but elections that are revolutions do that too. Just because the people rarely exercise their option for revolution in elections doesn't mean they don't have that option. However, 2006+2008 is as close to a revolution as we have gotten. Largely because the Constitution is acceptable to practically everyone, largely because of its flexibility.

            Notice that the US Constitution is perhaps the longest surviving form of government existent in the world, except in the Vatican, and arguably in Egypt and China. Because it was designed and executed to accommodate revolutions, like the one that formed it, without a breakdown in order and justice.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:54:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The Civil War was not a revolution (0+ / 0-)

        There was no attempt to destroy the governing system of These United States.  The southern states attempted to simply leave the Union - not to destroy it.

    •  So, do you think that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlynne

      individuals should have the right to own howitzers and rocket propelled grenades?

      •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlynne

        But I am from rural Texas.

      •  If Only We Could See the Equivalent Threat From (6+ / 0-)

        allowing individuals to own global hyper sized communication companies.

        Press and speech freedom is for basically 6 persons, in terms of the mainstream information and discourse.

        We disallow nukes and bio from the 2nd amendment because of their gigantic power and reach; we've never considered whether there could be a level of power and reach for press and speech that became more of a threat than a benefit.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:51:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A better balance (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        EthrDemon

        would be to constitutionally limit the government's use of weapons domestically to those weapons that are legally available to the populace.  

        If they can use tear gas for crowd control, then tear gas should be legal for citizens to own and possess.  

        If they can use rocket propelled grenades against American civilians, then American civilians should be able to legally have the same.  

        If they want to prohibit handguns, then cops shouldn't be able to use them either.

        "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

        by jlynne on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:28:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's right to bear arms, not artillary. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theatre goon

        There is an important legal and military distinction.  Small arms are essential for a functioning militia -- a quickly-produced, emergency paramilitary body established by the Constitution.  Artillary are large tactical weapons used by armies, and therefore are not included under the 2nd Am.

        •  Nuclear Arms (0+ / 0-)

          Small arms were necessary to the signers of the Constitution because the new government couldn't afford to issue all those necessary to continue defending the new country. Without allowing people to keep their arms, the British might very well have taken back the country in the War of 1812.

          The Constitution did not establish the militia, which served the revolution well - and in which founders including Jefferson served, but it did indeed institutionalize it. If we'd kept only the militia model, like the National Guard and legitimate procedures to federalize it, we might have avoided so many "foreign entanglements", especially the kind of aggression that virtually always blows back on us.

          But "arms" can indeed mean even the largest weapons. "Nuclear arms" are specified in many of the most important legal documents in the world.

          So the 2nd Amendment does say that people have the right to nuclear arms, therefore any scale weapon, which shall not be infringed. Just a more extreme example of how the 2nd Amendment is wrong. Or at least badly written for clear interpretation, since its prefacing qualifier "being necessary to the security of a free state" is almost never applied to separate what's rightful and what's an abusable privilege.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:35:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Interesting point. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DocGonzo, theatre goon

            But the 18th century context clearly divided "arms", ie small arms, from "artillery", i.e. canons, rockets and explosives.  While we've since grown the language to lump all weapons under the term "arms", the original meaning, in context, was clear.  Local militias at the time were run more like Elks Lodges than paramilitary units (read Abraham Lincoln's hilarious account of the Illinois Militia for context) where any heavy arms like canon or mortars -- largely unecessary for the kind of security missions militias were undertaking -- were provided and supplied by the real US Army.  That was one of the issues at the onset of the Civil War.  The South had plenty of small arms, due to a proud military tradition and violent local conditions, but most ordinance (non-small arms) were peskily in the hands of the Union.  Of course plenty of Union officers native to the South were able to turn their coats and deliver the ordinance, but a few hold-outs (like Ft. Sumter) made that difficult.  A lack of artillary, as much as anything else, contributed to the Confederacy's inability to defend itself against a much better equipped Union.

            •  What's a Machine Gun? (0+ / 0-)

              You are correct (except a South the rest of the world was willing to bet on would have bought sufficient weaponry on credit). But the problem is where to draw the line between "small" and "large" weapons. Is a machine gun "artillery" subject to infringement by Federal law? How about a hand grenade - or a hundred, with a grenade launcher? A Stinger missile?

              We have a similar problem with vehicles. Driving a Cooper Mini requires a different license than does a tractor/trailer. But all vehicles are subject to regulation - if "small" vehicles were excluded, we'd have a bigger nightmare than even the one that lets "soccer moms" use their license to drive SUVs that are otherwise classified as trucks. Likewise, all weapons must be subject to regulation. The Constitution should instruct the government to protect our right to self defense, including the defense of a free state through a well-armed militia, and judge local laws against those actual rights, striking down any challenged law that violates those rights to self defense.

              "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

              by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 12:21:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  A machine gun (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                theatre goon

                is a light infantry support weapon, with no analog in Revolutionary times.  But it's clearly on the artillary side of the debate.  Likewise hand grenades and other explosives.  Small arms -- pistols, rifles, shotguns, including semi-automatic varieties -- are sufficient for a well-regulated militia.

                The changes you propose to the 2nd are inelegant and open it up for even more interpretation.  I don't think it needs to be specified any further, not with the volume of case law and precedents available for its interpretation.

                •  Clear to You (0+ / 0-)

                  You might see that a machine gun is not protected by the 2nd Amendment, but that line is not at all clear to many people.

                  The 2nd Amendment is inelegant. It's one of only two prescriptions in the Constitution (in addition to copyright) that include an explanation, which indicates to me that the prescriptions themselves are contrived, and require justification instead of being self-evident. With so many people dying, hurting and being coerced by gunshots that should be outlawed but aren't, the need to specify our actual rights, rather than some derived privilege all too often abused, is quite clear to me.

                  "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                  by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 08:43:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm (0+ / 0-)

          Tell that to the boys at Lexington and Concord, where the first shots of the revolution were fired because the British didn't like that the colonials had stolen and hidden a couple of siege cannons...

          There is no goal in the "War on Drugs" that couldn't be more effectively met by legalization & regulation.

          by EthrDemon on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:44:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

            That's why there's a distinction: a "well-regulated militia" wasn't a threat to the political power of the nation, and the 2nd ensured that the right for the people, without qualification, would be secure.  If "arms" covered artillary, then it would have been expressly been legitimizing casual revolution and civil disorder, when in fact the complete opposite was the purpose.  The FF weren't idiots -- guns are needed for an ad-hoc security force in a time of invasion or emergency.  Ordinance is only needed when you want to make or break policy and establish a belligerant political force.

            •  Or... (0+ / 0-)

              when someone else has ordinance and wants to do the same...

              There is no goal in the "War on Drugs" that couldn't be more effectively met by legalization & regulation.

              by EthrDemon on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 03:24:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The problem with this view (0+ / 0-)

              is at the time of revolution and after the Constitution was ratified private ownership of canons and artillery was legal.  Thus the distinction you seem to believe to be clear was non-existent to the individuals who wrote it.

        •  Arms at the time of the writing (0+ / 0-)

          was defined as "weapons used to wage war".  If the military has f-22's civilians get f-22's.  

      •  Rights Are Not "Should Haves" (0+ / 0-)

        should have the right to own howitzers

        That's not how rights work. Rights are inalienable characteristics of people. Either people have a right, or we don't. As the Constitution says, we create governments to protect our rights. So if we have a given right, our government should protect it. If it doesn't, we should make it.

        There is no right to own howitzers, or a broader right which includes it. People have a right to physically defend ourselves, but the limits on that right, and privileges act on it in ways that threaten the rights of others vary by time and place. There are clearly many cases when a person can, and indeed must, be legitimately separated from their howitzer, or indeed from any weapon including a sharp pin or small stone. But only in the most extreme, and enduringly paradoxical case in a free country, state imprisonment, should anyone be alienated from their right to defend themself - and even there, of course never entirely.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:27:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not For Long (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnfire, gooners

      You repeal the Second Amendment, that will be every four days.

      It depends on what we replace it with. If we replace it with an Amendment that protects each person's right to defend themself, that would satisfy the people actually interested in liberty rather than just in shooting someone and getting away with it. If we reformed weapons laws to be consistent with their parallel, vehicle and driving laws that protect people's right to travel but not some technological extension of their personal power enough to hurt other people without limit, we'd have a much safer populace that kept our actual rights without pretending those rights cover dangerous privileges.

      There would be a very big pushback from gun people. Perhaps even violent. But that wouldn't last long, and it would bring to the surface the truth about where the lines really lie between rights, privileges, liberty and violence. The main effect would be an initial surge of money into the gun industry, which would spend to fight the new rules civilizing them. Followed by a slacking in that money, as their sales dried up while their market shrank and gained new costs.

      It would take a while, but eventually we would settle down, after some serious conflicts that, handled properly, would drain more and more popularity from the gun people. Eventually only the hard core fetishists and criminals would be left arming themselves to the teeth and perhaps violently attacking people, which isn't enough to fund the corruption and propaganda that keeps so many dangerous weapons in so many dangerous hands.

      But that is what disarmament always looks like. And within a decade or so, the total amount of violence, including all the attacks from the gun people starting with introducing the reforms, would become less than the violence we would have had if we'd just let people have all the guns they want, as we do today in so many places.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:16:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We're better off with the right to insurrection (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    Enshrining it just makes it look implausible and ridiculous: if it were real, no country would dare enshrine it.  It's like the right to happiness, purely illusory.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:45:02 AM PDT

  •  regardless of what you may think (4+ / 0-)

    the 2nd does apparently say (as interpreted by SCOTUS) that Americans do have that right.

    I don't care for guns either but the 2nd Amendment is the 2nd Amendment and you just can't just pick and choose which amendments your government is going to follow. That's what your Bible is for.

    (-2.12, -5.33)Bill Maher was right (about the stupid thing. he's a total smeghead moron on vaccination.)

    by terrypinder on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:46:15 AM PDT

    •  Which is what causes the problem n/t (0+ / 0-)
      •  These debates always get kind of heated (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, theatre goon, RenderQT

        so I'm going to bow out pretty soon, but my feelings are if you don't like guns (as I don't), then don't buy one. The vast supermajority of gun owners are responsible citizens just like everyone else. it's the 1% who are smegheads, criminals, paranoid freaks, and so on.

        the whole "we're not mature enough," well, on some levels (although not this one) I do agree because in the last 30 years we (collectively) have become as dumb as boxes of hair, but that's an opinion, not a legal basis based in any legal, constitutional fact.

        (-2.12, -5.33)Bill Maher was right (about the stupid thing. he's a total smeghead moron on vaccination.)

        by terrypinder on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:51:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the right to revolution... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EthrDemon

    in the second amendment is a stupid argument coming from comfy middle-class white males who never experienced hardship or oppression in their lives.

    The right to revolution comes from winning the revolution.

    •  Like the slaveholders, (0+ / 0-)

      who also relied upon that right and those who defend them today.

      White Sox!

      •  relied on what right? (0+ / 0-)

        I don't see the connection.

        •  Jefferson Davis (0+ / 0-)

          and other slaveholders asserted that states had the unequivocal right to either stay in the union or withdraw.  That was "state sovereignty" as opposed to state's rights.

          Davis addressed the right to withdraw from the Union (violently if necessary) in a letter to the first Confederate Congress, which mimics the declaration of independence.

          He says that the South had a right to secede because of Northern oppression and that the world was owed an explanation.

          •  that's not revolution... (0+ / 0-)

            revolution is changing the government. The South succeeded, which is why we call it the Civil War and not the Second Revolution or something.

            Secondly, the question was not settled in court, it was settled on the battlefield. They lost, therefore they had no right.

            •  Which is something that (0+ / 0-)

              can only be determined after the violence is ended.

              My point is that one cannot know which causes justify violence if the only criteria is who wins.  Prior to the first gunshots, everyone can claim they are right.

          •  The South wasn't Oppressed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wandering mind

            Jefferson Davis, and his allies, wanted to keep their preponderance of power in Congress. The law that permitted slaveowners to count each slave as 3/5ths a person gave the South more power than they should have had to begin with. It warped the representation in our national government and explains much of the arrogance that exuded from the slaveocracy.

            And the idea that the national government couldn't restrict the ownership of slaves in territories is bogus also. The national government had restricted ownership of slaves when they passed the Northwest Ordinance simultaneously with the U.S. Constitution - thus Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, et. al. were to be admitted as "free" states from the get-go. There would have been no Constitution without that NW Ordinance because the people of the North demanded a domain where "free" institutions could expand into. Slavery was banned by national agreement in that region.

            The chemicals in your body are worth $3.18 - Capitalists appraise you while licking their chops

            by Otherday on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:03:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  All correct. But that didn't stop (0+ / 0-)

              the slaveholders from asserting they were oppressed or from waging war based on that idea.

              And that idea persists to this day.   Apologists for the South call the rebellion the "War of Northern Aggression."

              The sense of grievance dies hard, regardless of whether it was ever justified.  

              One of the points of the diary is that we should not off-handedly dismiss the phenomenon of unjustified grievance that Buchanan represents, but take it seriously enough to refute it in the minds of the majority of citizens.

              •  Founders didn't back "Unjustified Grievance" Wars (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wandering mind

                The dairy also tries to claim that our country is founded somehow on the idea that we have a license to make revolutions whenever we feel angry and bitter about something. Horseshit. Nothing could be further from the truth. That many are dumb enough or nasty enough to hold that false notion isn't surprising, but we shouldn't be making arguments as if that is what America is all about.

                The chemicals in your body are worth $3.18 - Capitalists appraise you while licking their chops

                by Otherday on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:49:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you have misinterpreted the diary (0+ / 0-)

                  One of the points is that violent revolution cannot be undertaken lightly.  It requires special circumstances.

                  What those special circumstances are, however, are the subject of debate.  The extreme right wing of this country probably thinks they have just cause to engage in violence.  Most of us disagree.

                  However, to dismiss them as "crazies" is a mistake, in my opinion, given the history of our country.

    •  The Black Panthers claimed that right (0+ / 0-)

      back in the day and I'd disagree that it's "comfy
      middle-class white males" putting forth the argument. It's mostly uncomfy, downwardly-mobile males of various ethnicities, though mostly white. Mr. AK-47 from Obama's town hall was African-American.  

      I never liked you and I always will.

      by Ray Blake on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:48:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting post (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SicPlurisPoenaPrestantia, kyril

    My view is that any state that calls itself "free" or "democratic" cannot rule out the Revolutionary factor.

    Moreover if the vast majority of people in the country support a revolution a Democratic government would be morally bound not to attempt to repress it.

    So Yes America like every free nations does have the right to Revolution.

    Non Violence is fine... so long as it works. - Malcolm X

    by Dr Marcos on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:51:30 AM PDT

    •  if the vast majority of people... (0+ / 0-)

      in a democracy support a revolution, they can just go vote. Actually, I can't think of one revolution ever in a democratic country. Ever.

      •  United States - 1861-1865. It failed. (0+ / 0-)
      •  Well start reading (0+ / 0-)

        On you're first point:

        if the vast majority of people in a democracy support a revolution, they can just go vote.

        But that is not always the case. Elections can get stolen (possibly see Bush v Gore). Democracy while good can get subverted in a number of different ways. Doesn't that then justify a revolution?

        Actually, I can't think of one revolution ever in a democratic country. Ever.

        Well ignoring some of the Latin American coups against democratically elected leaders a good example would be Iceland. When the Economy collapsed people went out on the streets in massive numbers demanding the collapse of the government. No election was due for a few years but the government did collapse, then a new special election was called.

        Another example would be Serbia, which of course had committed huge international crimes but was a democratic government. Again in 2000 protesters stormed the Presidential Palace.

        But you of course are right. Democracy is a much better tool than revolutions in toppling unpopular leaders. But just because it is better doesn't mean the in some cases where the democracy is being subverted that people don't have the right to fall back on Revolution if the majority of the population support it.

        Non Violence is fine... so long as it works. - Malcolm X

        by Dr Marcos on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:24:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Democracy can get subverted.... (0+ / 0-)

          well, then it isn't democracy anymore, is it?

          •  Not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

            Democracies do get manipulated and subverted. Again look at Florida in 2000 whether or not it was stolen can be debated but there is no doubt that there was some major subversion.

            But despite that America was still a democracy. There are plenty of people willing to subvert and manipulate the democratic process. Some subversions are small and are tolerated some can be big.

            Non Violence is fine... so long as it works. - Malcolm X

            by Dr Marcos on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:33:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Can't vote for that (0+ / 0-)

        We only get to vote for people to represent us.  What if you think representative democracy is the problem?

        There is no goal in the "War on Drugs" that couldn't be more effectively met by legalization & regulation.

        by EthrDemon on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:49:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  But the question is when democracy devolves (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EthrDemon, Bobs Telecaster, Dr Marcos

      into mob rule.

      Unbridled democracy would mean that anything the majority wanted would be carried out. If, for example, 50% + 1 US citizens agreed that, say, Kos should be publicly castrated with a rusty straight-razor in front of the White House, then, well, the people have spoken.

      It's usually held that a Constitution, a social contract, binds and limits the state and the people, the source of authority, as well. Got a problem? Is the constitutional order functioning? Then change the Constitution. Or get treated like a rabid dog.

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:55:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Of course the premise of that earlier movement (5+ / 0-)

    was that these inalienable rights required Revolution, because it was a distant overseas government depriving them of these rights, one that would not negotiate for local sovereignty.

    So what does a modern teabagger live under? A Federal system, where a limited central government exercises foreign, monetary, and national powers, and regional governments exercise whatever powers remain, both at the sole pleasure of the electorate who are both taxpayers and stakeholders.

    Show me a teabagger that can't vote because of a foreign, occupying power, and maybe then the merits of these Oath Taker arguments can be taken seriously. Right now that stuff really is out to lunch.

    If apes evolved from humans, why are there still humans?

    by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 09:56:02 AM PDT

    •  I agree that there is no (0+ / 0-)

      basis for armed resistance.  But, here in America we have to have the discussion on the merits because we have not ruled out armed resistance, but have guaranteed the right.

      •  Check Article III, Section 3... (4+ / 0-)

        Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

        •  Treason existed in 18th century Britain, too. (0+ / 0-)

          I believe it was Franklin who said that either we hang together or we shall hang separately.

          Governments naturally are going to make every attempt to preserve themselves.  The tension in the constitution comes from the understanding that sometimes governments are oppressive enough to be overthrown.

          •  you don't think that section... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DocGonzo

            conflicts with the idea of the "right to revolution" in the 2nd Amendment? If the US government ever became oppressive enough to be overthrown, it would have to have gone so far away from the constitution that any arguments about the rights enshrined in the 2nd Amendment (or, more accurately, in Scalia's imagination) wouldn't matter anymore.

            These bored, over privileged, immature, gasbags should get out into the world and see what oppression really looks like.

            •  There is a conflict. (0+ / 0-)

              Which is the point of the diary.  No government is going to sit by and let itself be overthrown.  It will resist.

              The question is when is it justifiable to attempt an overthrow?

              In some countries the government is such that there is a debate over whether there is a right to revolution.  In contrast, this country recognizes the right, so we open ourselves up to the kind of arguments which Oath Keepers, slaveholders, the Black Panthers and other have made over the years.

      •  I'm not fully convinced the 2nd amendment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grannyhelen, DocGonzo

        actually says that - it does not self-identify as providing a means to overthrow the government. It would be easy to interpret it as a right to defend the government by armed force, in fact. (And at the time, that circumstance would have been very present in mind to the framers, given that the revolution was in living memory, and Britain still a threat.)

        If apes evolved from humans, why are there still humans?

        by Bobs Telecaster on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:05:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They Tried Democracy First (7+ / 0-)

    The American colonists didn't just stage an armed revolution simply because "they felt too oppressed". They specified certain specific rights their government had violated and abused. They tried negotiating with the British government to stop abusing those rights, but failed. Only then did they declare independence from that government, and established their own to protect those rights. At which point they were definitively attacked by the British military, who started the battles of Lexington and Concord ("the shot heard 'round the world").

    The Constitution is the resolution of the tension between our rights and governments that fail to protect them. It is the remedy for violent revolution. Instead it installs nonviolent, orderly revolution: rapid change, nearly total, every 2/4/6 years. Every 4 years, the entire Federal government can change (including the Supreme Court, through impeachment), if the people say so, except 1/3 of the Senate which must wait another 2 years. The American Revolutionary War took 8 years, and then another 4 years to form a stable government (adopt the Constitution). Most civil wars or wars for independence take longer than 4-6 years, and often fail to change the government (perhaps usually fail) - while abusing the people's rights beyond tolerability.

    The way we became a nation was not as much the Revolutionary War as it was the adoption of the Constitution. The war was the way we stopped being Britain. The Constitution was the way we became America.

    If we spent more time and care teaching students about how we wrote the Constitution and adopted it than we do teaching them who shot whom where in the war, we'd be a lot more American now.

    And we'd have a lot less specious arguments about the 2nd Amendment. Which by now we'd have replaced with a grammatically correct rule that protects people's right to defend ourselves, not simply our keeping guns. Just as we have protected our rights to travel but not pretended driving a car is sacred, leaving registration, licensing, and revocation of those up to the state's discretion.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:07:47 AM PDT

    •  now you're being all rational and stuff... (0+ / 0-)

      ...quick, throw on some gaiters and a powdered wig, it'll make you feel more like nonsensically ranting ;-)

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:11:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have thought some about this (0+ / 0-)

      and I think there is an argument to be made that the grievances which the colonists had were not sufficient to justify war.

      The contrasting example is Canada, also ruled by the British at the same time.  The Canadians turned out fine.  In fact, slavery was abolished there sooner than it was here.

      They don't seem any less free than we are and seem to have the same amount of guns.  It's just that they seem able to handle the responsibility better.

      •  Britain Still Exploits Them (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grannyhelen, Wandering mind, Otherday

        No, Canada is still a resource extraction site for Britain. Their queen still owns large sections of their land, has a say in their policies when things get too "free" for her benefit.

        I lived there for several years. I had as a client their federal "protocol office", which is the liason with their queen. It's not merely a ceremonial relationship, just as it isn't in Britain itself, though that's the propaganda.

        America's problems in contrast to Canada's are largely the result of our ignoring our Constition, and allowing privileges like monarchy's to continue to hold power here. Canada was not nearly as subjugated by the British as were our 13 colonies, and our own revolution scared the British into a more laissez faire policy in governing Canada. Indeed, the history of Canada's sovereignty is a history of British reactions to America's military and ideological power. Just look at how N America's colonial status evolved.

        The abolition of slavery in Canada was a function of its British colonial status, as the British abolished slavery before the US did. That is one among many demonstrations of the US failure to live up to our rhetorical commitments to liberty for all, especially in slavery, which shows how monarchial power systems continued in the US despite our adoption of the Constitutional democratic republic. But though the violent conflict caused some damage, and some entrenchment of some enemies of the supposed victors, we couldn't have simply waited for democracy. Without the US revolution, Canada never would have evolved in response, and Britain itself still doesn't have a constitution - but does still have a monarchy. Just as without our Civil War we might possibly have eventually dropped slavery, but there's no convincing evidence we'd have equal rights for every citizen, regardless of ethnic origin, by now.

        Also, Canadians don't have anywhere near the same amount of guns. There's a lot different between them and us, much of it to Canada's credit, and many of the neuroses that keep America armed to the teeth (very much including our health finance systems) don't produce those symptoms there. But Canada also doesn't have anywhere near the ethnic diversity the US does, and has always had the US' example of how (or not) to cope with it. Canada's own treatment of its tribal nations has always been at least as bad as the US', and especially in the past few generations has often been much worse than the contemporary US version.

        These comparisons to Canada are more complex than you present. The truth shows that the closer either of us adheres to producing governments that only protect our actual rights, the more peaceful we are.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:38:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  All good points. (0+ / 0-)

          They demonstrate the dangers of engaging in "what if" history.

          However, it seems to me that in one respect, Britain took a trajectory different from the United States which probably was not influenced by our revolution, and that is with respect to slavery.

          From a slave's point of view, it would have been much better if the American revolution never happened.

          •  Britain, #1 Slave Power in the 18th Century. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DocGonzo, Wandering mind

            The British record on slavery is not so rosy. British policy during the years it controlled its American colonies was a big reason why about 400,000 to 500,000 African slaves were brought here, most of them to work the plantations of British subjects. The first law passed to end the importation of slaves was passed only after the British were defeated in the Revolution. Once Britain ruled the seas, and surpassed Spain in slave trafficking, it was the #1 slave power of the 18th century.

            That the abolition of slavery would be a bigger, more difficult, problem in the United States than in Canada or Britain only makes sense. Slavery was established here and would have to be uprooted. It was the "cornerstone" of the Southern economy, as Confederate VP Alexander Stephens said, and without the slaves, the land values in much of the South dropped by half. Britain didn't allow slaves to take root in their own country, but thought it fine to establish it in their colonies. Canada, because of its colder climate, wasn't a great place for the sorts of crops that made slavery so lucrative: cotton, sugar, rice.

            The chemicals in your body are worth $3.18 - Capitalists appraise you while licking their chops

            by Otherday on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:42:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  All of what you say about Britain is true. (0+ / 0-)

              But the abolition of slavery in the 1830's had the potential to cut off the power base of slaveholders before they were strong enough to resist violently.

              It is impossible to know "what might have been" but we do know that the British, despite being the major slave traffickers of the 18th century, were the major force behind abolition in the 19th.

              •  "Major Force" for Abolition? (0+ / 0-)

                The "major force" for abolition, by far, in the 19th century was Abraham Lincoln's military and those who put Lincoln in office and supported his efforts. Yes, there were influential Brits who came out against slavery, a few helpful pols, and their navy came around eventually.

                Note that the British also made out like bandits supplying the Confederates, their blockaide runners brought in guns and ammo by the ton. Had Britain, and it's Canadian underlings, supported Lincoln in that war from the very start, it would have been a great deal shorter and less costly. But they didn't.

                The chemicals in your body are worth $3.18 - Capitalists appraise you while licking their chops

                by Otherday on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 02:30:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  ohboy, i suppose this cat is out of the bag.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grannyhelen

    I've been aware of this group for a while now, wrote a long-ish report on 'em, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Feds are very much aware of them as well.  

    I was hoping this stuff wouldn't get a lot of public attention until there had been time for a bit more research on these people, but oh well.

    Anyway, what they're doing is attempting to capitalize on the old arguement about obedience to illegal orders, and give it a rightie spin.  

    Almost all of what I found over there is clearly protected speech, but there were a couple of things that were indicative of violent threats/plans of the type that cross the line.  

    Now I guess we get to see if any cases will be forthcoming.  

    •  did you see them on Hardball last night (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      with someone from the SPLC?

      Pretty interesting clip - the guy was practically dancing around all of the coded messages he's been sending out there.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:27:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i don't have cable, but thanks for the headsup. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grannyhelen

        Ohboy, so now i have to go push a few buttons over here and do another capture on them.  

        If that interview is available anywhere online please let me know, it needs to go in the hopper as well.  

        Here we go for another 40-page writing exercise.  

        I wish these people would just take a chill pill and wait in the queue until we have time to deal with them, but so it goes, and we just find the time or make the time or whatever.  

        And I only do this part time.  If I did it fulltime, I wouldn't object to taking them down on whatever charges were expedient.  

  •  Drive'em Crazy (0+ / 0-)

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    These people want to claim that they have rights while also retaining total license.  Just look at the language in that amendment.  The people may have the right to keep and bear arms, but the State has an interest in a "well regulated" Militia as a result.  That means anyone who keeps and bears Arms automatically must enroll in the official state militia, register their weapons after having a mandatory background check and undergo regular training and testing - at their own expense as required by the State.  How else can the State create a "well regulated" Militia?

    If you fail any of the above, you can't be a member of the "well regulated" Militia and can't keep the weapons or are subject to fine and prison.  I suspect that, once this crowd gets a taste of the intrusiveness into their lives which this will entail, the enthusiasm for pursuing this line of attack will lessen.  After all, that's what the amendment demands.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 10:43:57 AM PDT

    •  "well-regulated" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SicPlurisPoenaPrestantia

      did not mean subject to license and registration requirements.  It meant "well-equipped".  Very different focus.  

      One justification for the 2nd Amendment is the savings to the government.  If people were allowed to keep their guns, then when the government called up the militia, it wouldn't have to incur the expense of providing arms.  

      "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

      by jlynne on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:13:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's an interesting discussion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wandering mind

    Violent revolution is the ultimate voice of democracy.  That people have a right to throw off the chains of their oppression really isn't subject to debate.  

    Allowing the citizenry to remain armed served a number of valid purposes in 1790.  As relevant to this discussion, it serves as a "check" on governmental abuse of power through the implicit threat of armed revolution.

    The problem is that the fundamental equivalencies in arsenals have been dramatically altered.  The Constitution never envisioned that the government would have a standing military force, much less one with nukes in its arsenal.

    So, we can either chuck the 2nd Amendment, or we can rethink the issue of how to balance the existing realities to serve the original goal.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

    by jlynne on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:10:48 AM PDT

    •  The manner in which the Berlin wall fell (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlynne

      and other fundamental political change has occurred since the second world war gives me hope that it is possible to redress grievances, even serious ones, without resort to violence.

      Yes, the government has the guns and other weapons, but that does not always mean an unarmed population has no recourse.

  •  "A Well Regulated Militia" (2+ / 0-)

    Since the United States had no professional army at the start, the "well regulated militia" was guaranteed to protect communities, and nation, from dangers. That's a valid purpose. Scalia's notion that the those who gave us the 2nd Amendment wanted to make sure that there would be a perpetual threat of violent revolution is a wingnut fantasy.

    The Founders were familiar with history and knew very well the terrors of a chaos without a functioning government and society - check out the 30 Years War, for instance. Washington and company didn't view their revolution as a mere "armed insurrection" either, but as a defensive conflict. They lived here, the British didn't. If the King is sending his lobsterbacks to  march on Lexington & Concord, we're going to chase them out. Good for them!

    The chemicals in your body are worth $3.18 - Capitalists appraise you while licking their chops

    by Otherday on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:20:45 AM PDT

    •  Unfortunately, I think Scalia's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooners

      review of the historical setting is probably not far off, at least as far as the ability to fend off oppressive governments is concerned.

      That is what makes his assertion that people don't necessarily have the right to own heavy weapons such a contradiction and exposes the hollowness of his claim that he just follows the rules and cannot be concerned with the consequences of where that process takes him.

      But that is a different discussion.

      As far as chasing out the bad guys is concerned, that is how many white southerners view the actions of the confederate army.  Shelby Foote, who wrote a multi-part series about Civil War, quotes an exchange between a northern and southern soldier.  The northerner asks why the southerner is fighting.  The southerner says because you're here.

      So, it seems to me that the tradition of violent resistance to government can be re-packaged to suit the advocate of it.

      •  Guns Cemented in Frontier Consciousness? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wandering mind

        Americans' ever present frontier settlements, at least for the first 250 years or so, made guns necessary. And not just for hunting. The French & Indians wars, that series of conflicts that continued on and off for a century, made sitting ducks of just about every person living in a cabin within a couple days hike of the enemy. Raiders could, and did, appear without warning. Communications were so bad that those killed in it didn't even know that trouble was about until it was too late. Little wonder that men clung to their rifles and muskets. Even a farmer or rancher today usually lives far from any law enforcement people - should a troublemaker appear out in the boondocks, those living in the boondocks have to deal with it.

        As for Shelby Foote, I own a dog-eared copy of his trilogy. And I recall that quote that you mention. James MacPherson wrote an interesting book entitled, What They Fought For. He examined diaries and letters to find the actual reasons given by the soldiers of both sides. Interestingly, both sides cited the Founding Fathers as inspirations, many on both sides believed they were furthering the purposes of the revolutionary generation, that they kept the torch from flaming out. Both North and South were proud of their revolutionary heritage. Not that I buy the equivalency argument, but that is what they believed.

        The chemicals in your body are worth $3.18 - Capitalists appraise you while licking their chops

        by Otherday on Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 12:15:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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