The 28 Principles of Liberty: Principle 11
“The Majority of the People may Alter or Abolish a Government Which has Become Tyrannical”
by: Charity Angel
The Founders were well aware of the abuses and injuries that can result from an autocratic and over inflated government. The American colonists experienced the violation of the English constitution for thirteen years. Thomas Jefferson shared what a majority of Americans were feeling when he wrote:
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has 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.”
John Locke also expressed this same truth when he said, “The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property. Therefore, whenever their legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves in a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. Whensoever, therefore, the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people, by this breech of trust, THEY FORFEIT THE POWER THE PEOPLE HAD PUT INTO THEIR HANDS and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and provide for their own safety and security.”
Government was established by the majority of the people, and only a majority of the people can authorize an appeal to alter or abolish a particular establishment of government. Locke also points out that there is no right of revolt in an individual, a group or a minority, only in the majority. Basically, if a small group of people have their own private agenda, and want to alter the government to accomplish it, they cannot do it. If the majority find that they are being repressed, oppressed, or that the government is taking illegal acts against the majority of the people, or they have taken illegal acts towards a group that seem to be a precedent and the consequences seem to effect all people, the people cannot be stopped from righting that wrong. This would pertain to laws, estates, liberties, religion and their very lives. In other words, the majority are likely to revolt, just like the American Founders did, when their plight finally becomes intolerable.
On June 12, 1776 the Virginia assembly passed the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which in section 3 states:
“That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people…And that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a Majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”
So, the people are sovereign and the majority of them can take over whenever necessary to restructure the political machinery and restore liberty. What is likely to be the best form of government which will preserve liberty? The answer to this question is principle 12, and was a favorite theme of the American nation-builders.
The 28 Principles of Liberty are written by Charity Angel, and are adapted from W. Cleon Skousen’s book “The 5000 Year Leap.” Learn more about the 28 principles of liberty at http://theprinciplesofliberty.com