Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Right of the People

From the article "Most Likely to Secede" passed on by Carolyn Baker from the Atlantic Free Press (currently offline) is this excerpt:

"The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-right split meaningless and dead," said the declaration. "The privileges, monopolies, and powers that private corporations have won from government threaten everyone’s health, prosperity, and liberty, and have already killed American self-government by the people." The answer, it went on, was that the American states ought to be "free and self-governing." Two hundred and fifty years earlier, the Declaration of Independence asked for a similar dedication to self-governance: "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive," wrote Thomas Jefferson, "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

Not sure why this struck me as revelatory having quoted the Declaration of Independence so often myself but it did. Perhaps it was because of the BBC report on "The Century of the Self" and the video short "The Story of Stuff" where the world has been turned into a giant plantation for rich aristocrats and the average person turned into a serf, peon, or slave.

But there is something else about this right that seemed to tease its way into my brain. It is the right of the people to establish rules of behavior and to admonish those who transgress those rules whether they be individuals or institutions.

At the individual level I am thinking of a listserv or email list. At the institutional level we have, of course, the corporation. In each case rights are asserted that are inimical to genuine preservation of life or the promotion of peace.

In this regard, I consider it the right of the people to ensure that the rules are followed. The problem is when there is no enforcement. Just as parents must follow-thru when setting limits with children or making "no" actually mean "no," it is this lack of enforcement that engenders an "any goes" attitude in society. Unfortunately, parents who don't enforce the rules end up with spoiled brats who throw tantrums have no respect for others.

There is no "right" to profit, especially when it comes at the cost of what sustains life on the planet or actively causes death either through poisoning or denial of the basic necessaries as shelter, food, water, clothing, warmth, and medical care. Any government or any world-view that is destructive to life or its capacity to restore itself is one that certainly needs to be abolished.