The Right of Revolution
Some call it the right of revolution; others, the right of petition. No matter what they call it, hardly an American understands its full power. Indeed, this book, The Lost Right, explains that the American Revolution was nothing more than one long, and historic, exercise of the right of petition. Since that time, knowledge of its enormous power has been erased from our history and law books.
Every man has the right of self-preservation. It is the law of every living organism; neither man nor beast would survive without it. It is a natural right. The irony of it is that, while beasts employ it automatically, men ask for permission to use it.
This right includes the right of judgment, and the right of execution. In most men, these rights are defective because of weakness, ignorance, or incapacity. They are defective, also, because there is hardly a man that can be impartial where he has an interest; and, in the heat of passion, he may retaliate far beyond his injury. Because of these defects, men have organized governments and have made partial delegations of these rights to such governments.
The theory is that governments will provide impartial judges, and make restitution and punishment equal an injury. Ten thousand years of history have failed to give an example of it.
Despite this, American governments began reasonably; but have degenerated into oriental despotisms. As such, they have committed uncountable crimes against humanity; Operation Keelhaul, Operation Phoenix, among others come to mind; the mutilation of American soldiers with depleted uranium is another. All these were consciously done, and consciously concealed. A man who does such could hardly be expected to investigate – much less, prosecute – his own crime. The same is true for a group of men, and women; it makes no matter whether they call themselves a government, a priesthood, or nobility.
How, then, do we obtain redress when governments commit crimes?
Algernon Sidney was a major influence among American Founders; his observations are scattered thru-out American Founding Enactments. He wrote, “They who create magistrates are the sole judge as to whether the intended goal be achieved or not.” In other words, if a man appoints an agent to perform a task, he who appoints is the sole judge as to whether the agent performs properly; the same is true between American people and their governments.
It is time to abandon this failure of ten thousand years; and take back our rights of judgment and execution. We do not have to invent anything; we only have to learn English and American history. The right to take back delegated power was clearly declared during the American Revolution.
If a man surrender all his [natural] alienable rights, without reserving a control over the supreme power, or a right to resume in certain cases, the surrender is void.
In other words, ‘We part with the natural rights of execution and judgment so that one power may exercise both with justice for all. When that one power fails in its duty, those natural rights return to their original source.’ We could say this right is reserved to us by amendment Nine; but this is unnecessary. This right to resume delegated power is a component of the right of petition; thus, it is more particularly reserved to us by the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
So, how do we take back delegated power? We do precisely what American Founders did: they exercised their ‘right of petition’ – their ‘right of revolution’ exactly as English parliaments had been doing for more than five hundred years. Parliament originated as a body of private men for the purpose of presenting petitions to the king for redress. Such petitions have always been mandatory on the king. Originally, if the king or his justices failed to redress a grievance within forty days, the entire nation had a right of violence against the king and his justices until remedy was given.
This right of violence was later modified to a procedure that required the king to satisfy grievances before parliament would vote taxes for him: that is, no redress, no taxes. It’s real simple.
English history is full of examples of this procedure. This procedure of ‘redress before taxes’ has always been an essential component of the right of petition. The Continental Congress officially declared it to be one of three “grand rights” Americans intended to secure by the Revolution.
The influence of this right (that is, “the first grand right”) extends still farther. If money is wanted by Rulers, who have in any manner oppressed the people, they may retain it, until their grievances are redressed; and thus peaceably procure relief, without trusting to despised petitions, or disturbing the public tranquility…
Our confederation… has no other objects than the perfect security of the natural and civil rights of all the constituent members,… on the salutary and constitutional principles herein before mentioned.
Did you notice? The right of ‘redress before taxes’ was the second “grand right” Americans intended to secure with the Revolution. The third “grand right” was the trial by jury; some people remember this right as being guaranteed to us; but, who remembers the second one? You see, if Americans have a grievance, they have a constitutionally protected right to withhold their taxes. But, who knows it? Knowledge of this right has been lost for more than two hundred years. As such, when Americans exercise the right of petition, they use one twentieth of its power – maybe that much. It is a purpose of The Lost Right to show the remaining ninety-five percent of its power – both by examples from English and American histories, and by official enactments during the American Founding Era.
So, what is a grievance? It is any act that tends to subvert the constitution, rights of man, or law of the land. It makes no matter whether the act is committed by a private person or a public servant: either would be a grievance. Here are some examples: the failure to investigate the events of 9/11, and the attack on the USS Liberty; unlimited immigration; CIA complicity in the drug trade; the war in Iraq. Oh, there are so many more.
So we have a right and grievances: what can we do with them? Here, English history gives spectacular examples. English parliaments prosecuted
* Judges for rendering unconstitutional decisions; inflicting cruel and unusual punishments, and excessive fines; accepting bribes; intimidating juries and witnesses; violating rules of evidence, or any other rule of due process;
* Sheriffs, tax farmers, and officers of the custom for imposing and collecting taxes without the consent of parliament;
* Officers of the king for dispensing with laws enacted by parliament; and executing “laws” not approved by parliament and
* Members of the clergy for preaching the doctrine of divine right of kings – the nostrum that kings had sovereign immunity, and could not be sued but by their own consent.
Punishments for these men included banishment, fines, imprisonment and loss of office.
Three prosecutions were noteworthy: a governor of Scotland, and then Ireland, an archbishop, and a king – thought they could execute laws and collect taxes that had never received the assent of parliament. They all, that is, promoted the divine right of kings. They, also, were led to the block; and their heads struck from their bodies. So much for the divine right of kings.
All this was done by an assembly of private men: for, at this time parliament was not a part of the English government. Also, please notice: The American Revolution was conducted by private men.
Thus, we see that the right of petition is not a right at all – it is a power that guards all other rights, and makes governments accountable.
Did you notice how American Founders began, and then won, their Revolution? They first organized into “assemblies.” Here, they met one another; they discussed their grievances and ways to obtain redress; they declared their rights; and then appointed committees to accomplish their goals. By this procedure, they took back their sovereignty – and founded a most unusual experiment in the history of man.
But there were flaws in our origin; now, the nation is drowning in grievances; what shall we do?
Our story has already been written. Four hundred years ago English Parliaments tried to redress grievances that are identical to those that now torment us; bandits never relent – they only become more clever in disguising their crimes. The Lost Right, among other things, is a narrative of events we must re-live; procedures we must re-establish; and grievances we must redress; it previews the role we must play in what should be another unusual experiment in the story of man.
Furthermore, the book deals with a topic that seems to have escaped notice by all others who discuss revolution: that there are two kinds of revolution; one that advances the cause of liberty, and another that advances the cause of tyranny… and that each operates according to a particular set of principles. Without this knowledge, those who discuss revolution will invariably lead their audience to missions of suicide.
We have a choice: we can spend the next two hundred to five hundred years re-inventing the procedures of the right of revolution; or we can spend a few weeks learning and confirming the same as given to us by our ancestors.
I greatly enjoyed reading The Lost Right. I have long searched for a good history of the influence of the events of the English Civil War and Revolution of the 17th century on the American Revolution of the 18th century. Your book is fantastic. Far better than any single work that I have ever read on the origins of liberty. Thank you very much. MB
Finally, after 217 years, someone has explained the real meaning of the First Amendment [as of 2008]. ArtP
See Posts for several excerpts from the book, Thanks
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It is now time to take a break; put on your headphones and listen to Vivaldi’s “Spring”.