J.R.Donohue/Commentary/Jefferson's Glory Part 2
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Author's Preface
Part 1: Intellectual Assassination
Part 2: The Meaning of Created Equal
Part 3: Freedom Equals Opportunity
Author's Afterward: The Unbounded

Jefferson's Glory
A Vindication of "Created Equal"

Written April 3, 1998
Revised June 2001


Part 2: The Meaning of Created Equal

An Absolute Truth

    What does Thomas Jefferson's mean by "all men are created equal?"

    If this statement is universally true forever - past, present and future - yet doesn't denote "fairness" or egalitarianism (equality of results), what does it mean? is the meaning worthy of glorification? How can one judge whether Americans' passion about the Foundation Principle is a virtue or a failing?

    The Foundation Principle, the rock of the greatest nation ever, is a profound declaration of individualism. It speaks of "all men" as in 'each and every one,' by definition none excluded. It states facts about existence absolutely true for all; that means it is stating facts about existence that cannot be severed from the individual, true for all, true for every. And the facts elucidated in the Foundation Principle have no meaning except as traits and characteristics of the individual, each and every.

   
    To Jefferson, each individual is equally human, each and every individual human being's life belongs to himself and no one's life does not belong to himself. This is the root of the absolute sovereignty of the individual.

    'All' in this context means: the set of human beings alive on the earth. Note that under a rational epistemology, it is not the 'set' that is born equal. 'All' is not some reified 'thing' that 'contains equality.' No, 'all' means the actual individual humans, each and every existent subsumed under 'all', and in this case it is clear that no human is not included. It might be added that absent any evidence that a human could be alive and yet not be subsumed under the term "all men,' then this is an absolute, universal truth about individualism.

  That way of saying it may even be sequential, opening a gap where no Revolutionary would ever see one, a gap sadly exploited by unscrupulous deconstruction experts intent on separating humans and their lives, claiming that 'ownership' is theft, one's life belongs to others. It might be better said: each and every individual human being's life is himself and no one's life is not the self of that one.
    Another way the statement might be formulated: All are equally sovereign. There is not one individual for whom this is not true. Every individual is therefore born equal in this respect. One might say, as if explaining to a fellow citizen, 'Because of the peril of loosing the inclusion of myself under the definition of "man" as a result of being irrational, I cannot make the claim that you are less of a whole than I, nor will you or anyone else successfully argue that I am less of a whole than they, my life, my freedom, my choices. I am myself. You are yourself. This is an absolute.'

    Factually, it is clear that my body is not your body. I am not you nor can the opposite be true in any way. Moreover there is no factual truth that my mind, my consciousness is you, nor is your mind me. These facts are sustained and made vibrant by an even deeper truth: the activation of my will can only be by an act of my self. I exercise my volition, engage my mind and voluntarily move my body into action according to my choices. The spark that ignites my soul is lit by me, it is in my mind, it powers my life. So it is, by definition, with every human being, equally.

  Definition of man: a rational animal.
    Again, there is no human being for whom this fact of volitional consciousness is not true. Some may attempt to stop thinking, to make no choice, to not act in any way, but that in itself is a choice and if put consistently into practice that person would not be a human being for long. Others may attempt to have "the world" (others) think and make choices for them. Such people are purposeless, dependent, parasitical. This is not evidence that some can do without thinking and choosing; it is only to the extent that, under the fog of abdicating their mind, they still make efforts of the will however small and pitiful, usually a plot to find their next host. No, we are all equal in the fact of volitional consciousness, in requiring thought and consciously chosen actions to sustain existence.

    This exact identical truth can by stated in converse. If a person is deprived against his will of the ability to act to sustain his existence, this qualifies as an attempt to void his life. Any attempt by one person to employ physical force, or threaten physical force, against another blocks the operation of the volition of the other, volition being that spark that in fact is one's mind. If I choose to act, intending no contradiction of another person's life in the act, and you impede this act by force, you are acting irrationally -- attempting to foist the contradiction that my life is not mine, my liberty is not absolute, my choices are not mine. By doing so through an act of the will, you suspend your inclusion in the definition of "man" or "human" because the essential characteristic of "man" is rationality, non-contradictory thinking and acting. In short, your act of initiating violence against me results in you contradicting right reason, thus piercing the shield of your sovereignty.

    That bears repeating. It is critical, vital, imperative to understand: no person can have taken away from them their right reason of existence; the possession of life is unalienable. The only way the sovereignty of an individual can be voided is by self-abdication. Should an individual perform an act that initiates force against the will (volition) of another, he abandons his absolute sovereignty. It therefore no longer becomes a contradiction for others to step in and apply physical force to constrain that person's violence against others, since the violator has abandoned right reason to his life.

    By understanding individualism on the fundamental levels explicated above, one slowly realizes the immense importance of the Foundation Principle.

    "Life" is primary. The facts of existence pertain only to those living. Without life the discussion of "equality" or anything else is null.

    "Liberty" is absolutely imperative. It must be an absolute. Any attempt to impinge on my liberty by another, even the slightest infraction, is an attack on my volition. My volition is that which makes me human and is the tool of survival.

    The "Pursuit of Happiness" means to make my choices, establish values and act to gain them or keep them, including all property, everything and anything required for my safety and sustenance.

    The well known political term "rights" may be understood by a Revolutionary as "right reason." Reason is the noncontradictory identification of that which exists. (Ayn Rand) So, a "right" in the political sense is merely an announcement, an acknowledgment, an affirmation that the facts and characteristics of man's existence qua man have been identified through reason and found to be true, universally true and equally true for all humans in existence.

  By using the verbs of existence, "is" and "are" in various formulations in clarification of "all men are created equal" the gap is closed between one's existence and one's ownership of one's life. This forces any plots by government or individuals to separate the two to deny the existence of objective reality itself. Protection against such insanity is an honorable duty for a Foundation Principle to perform.
    Therefore, my "right" to my life is not different from, contingent upon or antecedent to my life itself, the fact that I exist; they are one and the same thing. It is therefore irrational - contradictory - to envision any condition wherein my life can be sundered from me. Nor my liberty. Nor my property. Thus I exist, I am myself and not another, nor can another be me, nor have I the slightest claim whatever to another, each other being also an individual having the same characteristics of existence as myself.

    Jefferson and the other Revolutionaries employ the phrase "created equal" to invoke the above realities. Identification of someone as one instance of the species Homo Sapiens by definition fixes the equality.

    The Foundation Principle makes a profound metaphysical statement about the facts of reality, stating something simple yet Revolutionary. But why does this need to be posited so dramatically and so dominantly in the Declaration of Independence, and against what does the Foundation Principle revolt?

  In no sense is a sovereign's right to life given to him by an authority or "allowed" to him due to expediency. Nor is it a privilege automatically invoking duty and obligation. It is simply a corollary to the fact that he exists, unalienable from him while he lives. Jefferson says that the right comes directly "from that equal creation ."
    All men are born equal sovereigns. But people sometimes act is if this truth were not so. These irrational acts do not in themselves change the truth of the Foundation Principle, but the buildup of unanswered acts of violation, and especially the existence of entire cultures in which individual sovereignty is not explicitly named and rigorously respected can result in forgetfulness, despair and doubt about it. Some societies are so deeply enmeshed in Counter-Revolutionary ideas that they revile the individual, believing that any value placed on the individual amounts to the sin of selfishness. Instead they actively foster the illusion that 'the collective', 'the race' or 'society as a whole' is the common unit of measure, the unit to which rights apply, a mystical idea that defies common sense. A group of people cannot be "a thing" that has rights. To believe so is to reify an idea into the equivalent of a person, in this context. This harmful error breeds abdication of personal responsibility, accumulation of power, interest group warfare, all contributing to the sickening project of fulfilling the evil dream of all dictators: that mankind might have one soul, the easier to place it in chains.

  Reify: "convert (a person, abstraction, etc.) into a thing; materialize." Oxford English Dictionary.
    It is by denying the truth of all men being equally sovereign, obfuscating it and running rough-shod over it that the evils of the world history occur, barbarism, mass murder, totalitarianism, slavery and theft on a grand scale. It is against any collectivist system that permits some to initiate coercive power over others, that does not respect the individual as sovereign, that the Foundation Principle revolts. This includes all monarchies, all feudal systems, all statist and totalitarianist regimes, all fascist, socialist and communistic systems, all theocracies and all tribal schemes of any size, any system that encodes and enforces sacrifice of one human to others. The list also includes Social Democracies such as the system currently in place in the United States The sovereign citizen of a Revolutionary nation holds all of these in contempt and maintains serious vigilance against them.

    Why is vigilance required? Because the Revolution is not automatic. While the Foundation Principle is absolutely true whether citizens conform to it or not, if the structure of government is to remain in harmony with it, conscious thought and valuation is required. Otherwise, irrationalities can steal in.

    If an individual initiates force against another, stealing for example, and the victim forgives or blocks justice, if the crook makes no restitution and if the government is too complacent to prosecute, this contributes to irrationality.

    If a government begins to initiate force against citizens, conscripting them, confiscating property through taxes, blocking liberty, etc., and these actions become accepted in the culture, that contributes to irrationality. Eventually, with enough unresolved contradiction of this sort, with enough injury to the concept of individual sovereignty, collectivism sets in. This portends the onset of totalitarianism, war, or general collapse. Unless non-contradiction is restored, the struggle for survival will be a horrible nightmare in which "the pursuit of happiness" is a sad, pale ghost.



  It is instructive to note that in a nation of sovereign individuals, citizens are perfectly free to combine forces, pool talents, share money, speak as one in an organization, and in general take mutual and collective action, always on the condition that the sovereignty of others is not violated. They are also perfectly free to not engage in these behaviors.
But under a government that violates individualism and initiates coercive force on citizens, cooperative action my be prohibited brutally, or may be forced on a subset of citizens. Solitude likewise might be forced upon the populace, or prohibited.
Individualism provides for all possibilities of human interaction in a myriad of formats. Collectivism kills choice, variety, initiative and passionate accomplishment, making slaves of once-free citizens.

Government

    What does the government of a nation functioning under a Revolutionary political philosophy of individualism look like?

    There must be an agency that responds to the fundamental truth that because of the volitional, finite nature of man's consciousness, there is no automatic assurance that a given citizen will act according to The Foundation Principle and respect the sovereignty of others. The only alternative to retaliating against such a wayward citizen is to do nothing and consider our species helpless in the face of violence.

    This agency must be an arbiter of objectivity, determining if and when the trespass has occurred, taking strong action to put a halt to the violation and obtaining restitution for the violated sovereign. This agency is called government.
  If men are not free of the initiation of force, they are barely more than animals living on instinct and ferocious savagery.

     With the entire system resting securely on the foundation of absolute sovereignty of the individual, with government subject to the Foundation Principle no less than citizens and with judges trained like scientists and passionately dedicated to right reason, human beings can achieve a very high, very wise culture. So wise, in fact, that government can be trusted with a monopoly on physical force.

    Constant vigilance of judges will be needed under the criteria of concordance with the Foundation Principle to assure that government can not initiate force against any citizen. But the sense of security is enormous when sovereigns know there is a professional government, that it follows one Principle and only one and that those entrusted with the power of force have, on the one hand, the biggest stick, assuring that criminals cannot get away with anything, and on the other a completely enfeebled power lust, because the Revolutionary populace will not stand for the slightest encroachment upon even one sovereign.

  For those who maintain there ought be no government, or competing governments, please click here.
    The line is drawn. We are speaking of a culture and government that respects objectivity, that existence (individual sovereignty) has primacy over consciousness (human wants, whims and drives.)

    This state of affairs has not existed yet in the world; humans have always had to live with the threat of their own king or tribe or church or government initiating aggression against them, or with a government that allowed crimes against citizens to go unrectified.

    With individualism planted at the root of a nation as its political First Premise, every law would be judged thus: is it in accord or in contradiction with the individual rights? No other concept is required at the base of a political philosophy.

    If a citizen initiates force against another, he has self-voided his sovereignty and is therefore subject to force in rectification. Taking on the role of rectifier is the purpose of government. For it to do more than this would immediately place it in contradiction to the Foundation Principle.

  If individualism is the primary focus of the Foundation Statement (and our political philosophy), what of social intercourse? Jefferson would respond that government ought have no say whatever in commanding, demanding or encouraging or blocking the life choices of individuals; it must remain absolutely detached from such control and leave the choice of how to exercise freedom to the individual; this is the meaning of "pursuit of happiness."
    If the government attempts to make a law that contains even the slightest element that initiates force against any citizen with intact sovereignty, that law must be struck down. Secondly, given a body of rational law, if government attempts to act outside of law, that action must be struck down. This becomes the objective limit line for government.

    No law is needed or permitted to "set people free," since that is inherent in their existence. No law is needed or permitted to help, guide, encourage or foster industry or non-industry, agriculture or non-agriculture, cities or non-cities. No law is permitted that encourages or blocks contractual cooperation and trade between sovereigns. No law is permitted that conscripts sovereigns into labor, charity or military service, or that forces them into educational or employment choices. No law is permitted establishing an orthodoxy of ideas of any sort, or prohibiting the spread of an idea mind to mind. No law is permitted that labels private behaviors as moral or not moral. And no law is permitted that enables government to confiscate wealth from a sovereign.

  If government fails to rectify a crime (an attempt to foist a contradiction on a citizen) then it has failed. If a government itself initiates force on a sovereign citizen, it doubly contributes to the pile of seeming contradiction, first by violating the sovereignty of the victim, second by failing to fulfill its purpose of rectifying violation.
    A crucial element required to focus and make practical a Revolutionary system is the judiciary. This consists of a small, rigorously trained group of highly intelligent, highly impartial, highly rational men and women. Their sole purpose is to be sure all laws do not contradict the Foundation Principle and then to adjudicate particular instances, determining by objective evidence only if a sovereign's life, liberty or property has been intruded upon.

    Because the judiciary is solely concerned with the evaluation of violations of sovereigns and because every human is equally sovereign, therefore every citizen possesses:

    Equal standing before the law.

    The law exists only to adjudicate the boundaries between individuals and rectify any attempts by one to foist a contradiction on (commit a crime against) another. Each individual human being is a sovereign with a firm and objectively discoverable realm. Each is equally absolute in the ownership of all in that realm, each is equally free to take action within that realm and by the converse, none has the right to obtrude on the realm of another sovereign. On a metaphysical level, Jefferson's "created equal" clearly means that each human is born "equally and absolutely sovereign." On the level of government, it means the each sovereign has equal standing before the law.

    All of this has one and only one purpose, to assure that every individual, every equal individual, remains sovereign. The identification of this Principle by Jefferson and the Founders is nothing less than the end of tribalism, the destruction of the illusion of group mind, and the beginning of true civilization, which Ayn Rand defines as "the process of setting man free from man."

    The amount of freedom, prosperity, joy and fulfillment under such a system is indescribable. We have never experienced it on earth. Life in the United States at the start of the 21st Century is fantastic compared to the horrors of countless Dark Ages in the past, but compared to what it would be under a true Revolutionary nation, as envisioned by the brilliant Thomas Jefferson and the other Enlightenment thinkers, we are but now barely out of the mud.
  The extent to which vast sections of the current American governmental system (not to mention the rest of the world) would obviously be stamped "in violation" of the Foundation Principle reveals the awful truth. Our once near-Revolutionary nation has been beset by a corrosive Counter-Revolution. Today we have a social democracy, individualism strongly infested with collectivism and statism.

Author's Preface
Part 1: Intellectual Assassination
Part 2: The Meaning of Created Equal
Part 3: Freedom Equals Opportunity
Author's Afterward: The Unbounded

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