Essay #1: Regarding the Concept of the Sovereign

To the People of the United States, August 29, 2018:

Americans have always had an uneasy relationship with the concept of the Sovereign.  That said, no country has ever achieved stability or success without a strong committment by its citizens to the idea of a Sovereign.  All of this begs the rather uneasy question, what is a Sovereign, anyway?

Quite simply put, the Sovereign owns everything within a specified geographical border.  Period.  By everything, we mean everything.  We mean the air above and the ground below.  The beaches and the oceans, at least within a few miles of the shoreline, as well as the lakes, rivers and streams.  The Sovereign owns the minerals, the crops and the livestock.  All the wild animals, the fish, the bugs and the birds.  The Sovereign owns all the wealth of the nation, the companies, their products, resources and buildings.  Finally, the Sovereign owns all the people within it’s borders, all it’s intellectual property, ideas and discoveries that are brought into the public domain.

But, you say with alarm, “I’m an American!  No one and nothing owns me!  I am free to pursue life, liberty and happiness!.  That’s what the Declaration of Independence states!   Not quite.  Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are all born “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.  Assuming the statement is true (and we will be discussing the Declaration of Independence in detail in future essays), but just because we have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, doesn’t mean that we really “own” our life or our liberty, and we are only free to pursue the kind of happiness that the Sovereign agrees to.  While it is the government that enforces the ownership of the Sovereign, the government, which is selected by the Sovereign, is NOT the Sovereign.  This reality is not subject to debate, but does call for additional explanation.

We have stated that the Sovereign owns everything within a specified geographical area.  The sovereign decides whether or not minerals can be mined.  It also decides when hunting season begins and ends.  Decides if a river can be dammed, and if people can buy land near the ocean.  The sovereign decides which land can be used for grazing cattle, and where airplanes can fly.  Citizens are owned by the sovereign, because the Sovereign can decide whether or not a person can move about freely or should be sent to war or be incarcerated.  The Sovereign owns all property, even property of which citizens hold title  (Title, of course, is a Right to own, not ownership in and of itself), and the Sovereign can evict citizens from this property should it be required.  The Sovereign owns a citizen’s right to work, and can tax citizens income, property and purchases.  The Sovereign can decide how and when a person should die.  The sovereign owns the airwaves as well as all ideas in the public domain.  Citizens have rights to own themselves, their children (until they become citizens in their own right) their property and their ideas.  Some rights are unalienable, at least, as far as Thomas Jefferson was concerned, but even this concept is debatable, as all rights are inevitably granted by the Sovereign.  Rights can be granted by the Sovereign,and rights can be rescinded by the Sovereign.  That’s why it’s called “the Sovereign”.

A Sovereign was once defined as a king or emperor, and in many instances, it still is.  The Sovereign was / is usually embodied through a person who gained his or her power over his dominion by “the grace of god”.  God endowed the king with his powers over the people, and while the king owned everything, he granted rights to the people and created a government to administer his people and land.

Yet “the divine right of kings” is nothing more than a marketing ploy by a shrewd (some would say unscrupulous) person who had the ego, brains, desire, courage and popular support to declare himself to be king.  The fact is the Sovereign only gains power through an implied contract with the citizenry.  Jefferson eloquently states in the Declaration of Independence “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Each citizen of a country trades his or her own personal sovereignty, essentially his freedom, to the Sovereign for three basic protections:

  1.  Protection from enemies both foreign and domestic.
  2. A set of rights granted by the Sovereign.
  3. A sovereign pledge to distribute scarce resources, goods and services fairly, equitably, efficiently and productively throughout society.

The first two of these three pieces of consideration (using a legal term) are usually expressly written and agreed to by the Sovereign and the citizenry.  In the United States, for instance, these points are embedded in the preamble to the Constitution.  The third piece of consideration noted above is usually an implied right.  All three are implemented by the government chosen by the Sovereign.  It is the government’s job to achieve these goals for the citizenry and the Sovereign.  If the government fails in it’s duty to provide any one of these three protections, the citizenry will lose faith in both the government and the Sovereign, and the government should / will get replaced.  If the government continues to fail over a long period of time, the Sovereign gets replaced.  Replacing the Sovereign rarely ends well for either the citizenry or the Sovereign.

It has been noticed by no less a scholar than the above mentioned Mr. Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that the replacement of a Sovereign, for whatever reason is not something to be done rashly or without serious consideration.  Jefferson writes “Providence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;”  Indeed, revolution, meaning the renunciation of the ruling Sovereign, should only be carried out when the citizenry have no ability to achieve the three protections stated above through current law.  Yet as Jefferson states “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 -” (1)  The reason for utmost caution when removing a sovereign is that the renunciation creates a vacuum among the citizenry which needs to be filled.  The citizens have taken it upon themselves to revoke the implied contract they had previously made with the old Sovereign, and now they need to agree upon a new contract with a new Sovereign.  The vacuum created invites poseurs in search of power and wealth to vie for the mantle of the Sovereign.  This invites conflict among the people, for two questions must be answered and agreed upon by the citizenry in order for a new Sovereign to rise:

  1. What kind of Sovereign do we as citizens want?
  2. Who / what will be the embodiment of that Sovereign?

History has shown that it can take years, decades and even centuries for a citizenry to coalesce around a new Sovereign.  The first example that comes to mind is that of the Roman Empire.  Rome was founded as a kingdom, but in 509 BC the last king was expelled and the Roman Republic was established.  “SPQR” – The Senate and the People of Rome was the established sovereign for nearly 500 years, until after years of mismanagement, incompetence and rampant corruption, Julius Caesar and his army crossed the Rubicon, defeated Pompey, and took over as Emperor of Rome, beginning the Roman Empire.  It could be argued that the Roman Sovereign began as a Kingdom, shifted to a Republic and then to an Emperor based Sovereign.  But because there were so many convulsions throughout the history of the Empire, it is highly unlikely for the Roman Sovereign to have been maintained through the embodiment of an Emperor or multiple emperors.

It is far more likely that the citizens of Rome were bound to the Empire itself, rather than any one emperor or dictator, as there were far too many assassinations, coups d’etats and deaths for the people to maintain their allegiance during this chaos.  It should be noted that before the Republic fell, the Empire was taking hold.  The Legions were conquering enemy states and bringing wealth to the people.  It was this belief in the Empire, and the Roman Legions, that bound the citizenry to Rome.  It was the legion who conquered new territories and brought new wealth and prestige to the Empire.  It was the legion who protected the citizenry from enemy attack.  An expanded empire under an enforced Roman peace led to greater trade and a stable economy, improved infrastructure and better quality of life.  Emperors came and went, some better than others, but the Legion conquered foes and kept the peace.  The Roman Sovereign was stable.

The Empire only began to falter when the military could no longer maintain it’s dominion over it’s foes.  The Legion was stretched too thin, and could no longer gain new ground.  The economy began to falter as the Legion took more and more money and energy in order to maintain the people’s safety.  The infrastructure began to fail, and corruption became rampant.  The city was sacked continually by barbarians.  This weakened the citizens commitment to the Sovereign such that the Empire could no longer be trusted to maintain the safety and security of the people.  Thus, the Empire crumbled under it’s own weight.  At the same time, the rise of Christianity allowed the people to latch onto a new Sovereign, that of the Roman Catholic Church.  Thus was the ignoble end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.

After the Empire fell, Europe broke apart and descended into a dark age that lasted over a thousand years before the reformation.  We would suggest that Europe has only achieved stability after the defeat of Fascism in 1945, and as we have come to realize, that stability is shaky at best.

Thus, the people should never remove or dissolve their commitment to a Sovereign unless it is absolutely the only way to remove the shackles of despotism.  It is dangerous to renounce a Sovereign, and will almost always lead to civil war, terror and genocide.  America was one of the few exceptions to this rule, at least for the first 70 years of the Republic.  We will be exploring the American Sovereign in greater detail in future essays in order to get a better understanding of it’s success and potential future failure.  Thank you for your time.

Enjoy the day!

Publius II

  1. The Declaration of Independence, United States of America July 4, 1776

 

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