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Refocusing on Self-Determination

February 27, 2011

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.

– Thomas Jefferson

That is simple. In the Colonies we issue our own money. It is called Colonial Scrip. We issue it in proper proportion to the demands of trade and industry to make the products pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating for ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power, and we have no interest to pay no one.

– Benjamin Franklin

In light of recent events where Americans rights to determine fair pay, fair benefits, and a safe work environment, I thought it was time to revisit the underpinnings of Jeffersonian ideals: self-determination

The revolt of the British colonies in North America has been defined as the first assertion of the right of national and democratic self-determination in the history of the world.

Resenting domination from across the seas, and especially the imposition of taxes without representation, the American colonists invoked natural law and the natural rights of man, drawing inspiration from the writings of John Locke to support their view. Locke taught that political societies are based upon the consent of the people who compose them, each of whom agrees to submit to the majority. Man has a natural right to life, liberty, and property. Sovereignty belongs to the people and is therefore limited by the necessity to protect the individual members.

Thomas Jefferson emphasized Locke’s theories as American ideals and epitomized the republican spirit of the century. In drafting the Declaration of Independence in June 1776, Jefferson stated his fundamental philosophy of government, upon which the modern concept of self-determination rests. He asserted that “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and unalienable Rights [“certain unalienable Rights” in the Continental Congress’s final draft], that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”; that the “just Powers” of government are established “by the Consent of the governed” to protect these rights; and that when government does not, “it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

In considering the American Revolution as the seminal example of the modern principle of self-determination, it is important to focus attention on both elements of Jefferson’s view. He was concerned not only with throwing off the foreign yoke but also with ensuring that the government was that of the people and that their will was supreme.

Since the formation of the United States, American statesmen have continually expressed sympathy for the basic principle of self-determination. In 1796, President George Washington stated that he was stirred “whenever, in any country, he saw an oppressed nation unfurl the banner of freedom.” Three years earlier, Thomas Jefferson, then the American secretary of state, had said: “We surely cannot deny to any nation that right whereon our own is founded—that every one may govern itself according to whatever form it pleases and change those forms at its own will.”

Jefferson’s view, supported by his fellow Virginians James Madison and James Monroe, was widely accepted by the American public during the ensuing years although never actually implemented as official policy. Nevertheless, regardless of its original intent, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Declaration of Independence provided a beacon of hope both to European peoples struggling for independence against autocratic governments and to colonial peoples seeking to advance toward independence. Frequently, American idealists threatened to drag the nation into European affairs by demanding that the government underwrite a policy of liberation abroad. For example, when the Greeks staged an abortive independence movement against the Turks in the 1820s, the Monroe administration was assailed by Daniel Webster in Congress and by many others for its apparent indifference to the cause of liberty in other parts of the world. Although realists like John Quincy Adams opposed the expression of sentiments unsupported by action, President James Monroe nonetheless placed on record his public support of the Greek struggle for self-determination in his famous message of December 1823.

Read more: http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/O-W/Self-Determination-The-american-revolution.html#ixzz1F75phbx5

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  1. Margaret Kittelson
    February 27, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Ever since listening to the phone conversation between Scott Walker and “David Koch,” I have puzzled over Walker’s references to “the cause,” and to “the world movement.” Walker did not clarify these references, so he assumed that David Koch was in-the-know. But I am not. Are you?

    Throughout the conversation, it appeared that Walker was addressing his superior…giving him assurances, for instance, that “I always win, because I never budge”…and “I am willing to talk with them, but am not willing to negotiate.” Did he then add, “You don’t need to be concerned about that.”?

    Additionally, Walker indicated that he talked with governors around the country, and daily with Kasech (sp?). Then he added that if Koch gave some help to Snider in Michigan, he might also be able to do this. So it sounds like a plot, maybe hatched and planned by Koch.

    Walker bragged, “I will crush them to move THE CAUSE forward.” He spoke of this as his “defining moment”…as “ground zero”… and “Bottom line, we will get to the WORLD MOVEMENT.”

    This sounds to me like a form of treason. And, of course, there are other revelations in this conversation – such as Walker’s “crisis-ending ruse” – that also raise red flags. So I am left wondering whether anyone is in authority over governors. To whom are they accountable, other than the citizens of their states?

    Between now and the point when citizens can legally move to recall Walker, he can do lots of harm. Perhaps by then, he will have used the authorizations in this bill that he wrote (and tried to ram through within less than a week) to sell off a lot of state government property (without even needing to put anything out to bid). So I keep expecting someone to pull this governor up short.

    Actually, I expected President Obama to yank out this rogue governor. But now, I’m thinking that our president is aligned solely with corporate wealth…so won’t be making any waves that might rock the fat-cats’ boats.

  2. February 27, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Read my exclusive article just posted: The Big Con and you will find out who the Kochs are, their history, and their goal. I have lived long enough to see their ilk rise, shrink, and re-emerge. Please continue to stop by. I welcome your comments. And please, Twitter, FB, and otherwise network the message.

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