Friday, December 17, 2010

Sedition Sentiment

So far in this series we’ve discussed various responses to an unconstitutional overreaching federal government. Tuesday’s column was about submission as a strategy. Wednesday we examined nullification as a means of counteracting big government, and yesterday we briefly reviewed secession as a means for thwarting an out-of-control federal monolith. Today, we take a look at sedition or resistance as a strategic vehicle for preserving individual liberty when confronted by an oppressive government. This is a difficult avenue to explore for a couple of reasons. One would pray that our situation doesn’t deteriorate to the point where sedition is necessary, and even with a successful outcome for the resisters, the tragedy of the process would be phenomenal.

Sedition is defined as an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government. Clearly by this definition, any seditious attempt to dislodge the federal government would be illegal or unlawful. Those who engage in the seditious activity would be subject to extremely harsh penalties. The moral justification for a citizen’s involvement and promotion of sedition is based on the premise that the federal government has exceeded its authority, exercises power beyond its mandate, and engages in practices and activities which are blatantly unconstitutional. In other words, if the government is illegitimate and operating illegally, then those who oppose it in the name of constitutional validity are functioning as lawful and legal enforcers of the Constitution. In the moral and philosophical universe the tables are reversed and the government and the resisters exchange places on the legitimacy scale. That’s the ideal. The reality is much different.

Over the years, film, television and literature have explored the nobility of a just resistance in the face of tyranny. (e.g. “Red Dawn.”). Generally the good guys win. Despite the evil government’s massive superiority in weaponry, personnel and power, the pure-of-heart remnant manages to prevail. That scenario is not real. Sedition and resistance are messy affairs. Former friends and family members will choose “security” rather than join the remnant of resistance. They may even report the resisters to the “authorities.” Trust will become a rare commodity. Fear of discovery will be a constant concern.

The fires of liberty will not be easily extinguished. While many will succumb to the power and illicit authority of the government, there will be those who yearn for freedom. They’ll have furtive encounters and obliquely test others as they seek new allies. Not all resisters will be militant warriors. Some will produce broadsides and pamphlets or sound the cry of liberty on pirate broadcast, hard-wired and satellite outlets. The huge government apparatus will be directed against the freedom fighters, and artificial crises will be generated to co-opt the people. The government will attempt to dam every rivulet of resistance and quell the flames of freedom. Because of its awesome power, and the fearful indifference of most citizens, the flame will be compromised. It will be smaller. The embers of liberty will not be extinguished however. People of faith, people of hope and people of strength will nurse the embers, and pray their prayers until the oppressive regime implodes. Liberty must prevail. For some generations it will be only in their hearts and in heaven. For others it will be a day-to-day effort to teach and inform their peers. Some generations may taste the fruits of freedom and flourish, but every generation will have those who cherish Liberty. The spark of liberty in the heart will not die.

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