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A Revered Freedom Document Critique

Declaration of Independence (USA)

Magnificent but fatally flawed

Published July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence (TDOI) was a quite magnificent statement for its time and place. It was one of the few times in the history of mankind that a group of intelligent, well-read and wise men had assembled to rationally and passionately frame a statement of principles and explanation as an integral part of a revolution involving the extreme use of physical force. TDOI was written with the best of intentions and with all the knowledge and wisdom which was reasonably possible to be held by the best of men at that time in history. However, TDOI is not today generally viewed from the perspective of those living in the 18th century who wrote it, signed it, and agreed with it! Instead, it is often seen as a bible-like text that all US citizens should revere and consult as an exposition of principles on which to base their society. The purpose of the analysis presented here is to clearly show that, as written, TDOI contained fatal flaws which ultimately led to the subversion of its principles, and to the gross distortion of its intentions that exists in the United States of America today - a process which history shows started soon after the conflict, relating to its creation, was over. It is my (Paul Antonik Wakfer's) contention that TDOI should therefore not be deemed to be any kind of optimal statement of the principles to which the government and its citizens should return, but be revered as strictly and simply one highly significant document in the history of the human liberty.

Critique of the Original

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

1) The use of the phrase "one people" is based on collectivist rather than individualist thinking. It is just this kind of "us" versus "them" approach which has led to and continues to foment all the horrors of religious bigotry, genocide, racial discrimination, super patriotism and wars between nations. In TDOI, it sets the stage for that document to later declare that all non-colonist Englishmen are enemies of all the colonists (everyone not for me, must be against me), again a highly collectivist and thoroughly false idea. The action of any group of people thinking of themselves as different, as a group, from any other group, rather than each individual knowing that he is unique and different from every other individual, must be denounced in every occurrence and must be eradicated from everyone's thinking, if mankind is ever to mature to full rationality and responsibility.

Instead, an essential aspect of human nature is that each person has a mind a) uniquely different, and b) almost completely separated from that of each and every other person. With respect to b), one individual is only "connected" to another individual by means of the very limited conduit comprising their senses. The amounts, types and rates of information transferable between individuals are enormously less than that within the brain of any one individual. Furthermore, certainly at the current state of neuroscience, and likely within any foreseeable future it appears that it will be impossible for one individual to ascertain the information within the brain of another except in the grossest manner. In particular, neither the thoughts nor the feelings of another may be determined to any significant degree. The complexity of reality together with these facts of human nature imply that each individual has distinctly different purposes, desires and valuations which are only very partially and imperfectly known to any other individual. Thus, any use of a collective noun or pronoun relating to the thought or actions of a group of humans must perforce be purely figurative, rather than objectively meaningful and hence literal. For that reason alone, as well as the above more powerful one, such uses should be understood as mere hyperbole by all reasonable men, and should be eschewed by all logical, objective thinkers and writers.

Thus, there never has been, is not and will likely never be such an entity as "one people" - a collection of humans which jointly thinks and acts as one simply does not exist (humans are not Borg). Given this obvious fact of nature, it was both presumptuous and factually false for those men who wrote and signed TDOI to declare that they were speaking for all the people within the thirteen colonies. Moreover, this exaggeration was entirely unnecessary, since all that each of them needed to do was to declare his own individual independence, and that of any particular individual who he knew for certain to agree with him and had given him permission to do so. This same philosophically flawed collectivist thinking and pompous language, by which those men who wrote and signed TDOI presume to represent the views of all, continues throughout TDOI (and, of course, has now become a characteristic of politicians, leaders and public officials - not to mention social philosophers - everywhere). It was truly unfortunate that those men who wrote and signed TDOI did not recognize that humans are individually thinking, independent volitional beings each of whom can only evaluate for himself according to his own personal inner value code - a code moreover which is unknowable in any significant detail by anyone else. Or if they did realize this fact of reality, that they did not give it a fundamental role in their Declaration. (A more thorough discussion of how the use of such collective pronouns hampers individualistic thinking is the subject of my essay, "The Essential Collectivism of Language and Thought", which can also be accessed from anywhere in the Self-Sovereign Individual Project under Fundamentals.)

2) As used in TDOI "political bands" appears to be little different in kind than are the bonds of dependence and partial servitude which children have with their parents. Just as everyone agrees and understands that, and why these familial bonds need to be dissolved in order to enable children to attain the full independence and maturity of adulthood, so it should be obvious why any group of individuals (the colonies) who have been nurtured by a parent group (Great Britain), in order to fully mature, should need to evolve to full independence from them. This need should not require any explanation to "the opinions of mankind" except to make it clear that the use of force is only necessary because the parent is acting as a tyrant rather than as a wise benevolent mentor. Furthermore, the exact same argument can be made to justify the secession of an adult human from his "political bands" with the State and I have done just that in the Declaration of Individual Independence which has been written to facilitate a public declaration of self-sovereignty and independence from governments everywhere by any human mature enough to understand and declare it.

3) An appeal to "Nature's God" is both superfluous ("Laws of Nature" being entirely sufficient since nature - reality - is all that exists) and promotes a continuation and strengthening of the irrationality of supernaturalism from which the State and all the forces of anti-rationalism gain strength.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

4) The statement: "that all men are created equal" is an obviously false claim, the improper statement of which in TDOI has led to enormous abuse in modern times. Great harm was caused by not making it very clear that what was meant was that all men have equal rights, not identical characteristics and equal abilities, nor even that all men ought to be treated as if they had identical characteristics and equal abilities, since in fact humans are highly unique both in genetic endowment and acquired characteristics. And the latter is even true for identical twins after lengthy separate development.1

5) Once again there is no need to appeal to a "Creator" who has "endowed" men with rights. The rights of which they speak, if they consistently exist at all must be fully derivable from the nature of man and of reality, as the conditions of interaction of intelligent volitional beings which conditions are necessary for each to optimally increase his integrated lifetime happiness (see the Theory of Social Meta-Needs for details about the actual non-existence of "rights"). Moreover, the concepts "endowed" and "unalienable" are mutually contradictory, for if these alleged rights are truly unalienable then they were never absent from humans and could never be endowed. If rights existed, they would be unalienable specifically because they would be a necessary consequence of the reality of the nature of human beings - ie. a part of existence. That is, they would be essential and logically unalienable because that not being true would be contradictory to the immutable structure of reality. This is why anything that is a true right also could not be endowed by any god, king or government. Nor, being an existent of reality, could any true rights ever be removed. All that could be done is to "break" them - ie. to not allow them to take their natural course and to be fulfilled. (Exactly as applying a force to a mass moving at a uniform velocity does not violate Newton's Law of Motion - that an unaffected body travels in a straight line at a constant velocity, but only prevents the unaffected result from being fulfilled in a particular case.) In contradistinction to this, any so-called rights that can be so endowed (usually called positive rights) are not rights at all, but instead are privileges requiring theft from others for their realization, and of course, these kinds of rights can easily be removed. The idea that true rights need to be, or even can be endowed by any being or entity is another major flaw in the thinking of those men who wrote and signed TDOI, which flaw has lead directly to the current idea of rights being granted to people by the State (which in modern times has largely replaced the original function of the "Creator").

6) The fact that the listed rights does not include the right to property ownership is another major flaw in TDOI. Many people take "life" to include property and logically this has merit. However, this logical derivation is not completely transparent and some people even believe that there should be no right of property ownership, especially real estate. On the other hand, "the pursuit of happiness" is unnecessary for inclusion because it is logically derivable from the rights of Life, Liberty and Property. Moreover, its being included in TDOI opened the door to a pandora's box related to the State judging just what is and is not meant by "happiness", whereas in reality such a judgment can correctly only be made by the individual himself under the circumstances of full freedom of life, liberty and property. This lack of definition of "happiness" is a much bigger flaw than any lack of definition of "Life" and "Liberty" since it is much easier to clearly differentiate when these do and do not hold. (For detailed criticism of the rights idea, in general, see the Theory of Social Meta-Needs.)

It is highly regrettable that TDOI did not use the text of The Virginia Declaration of Rights (which was available to them) for its statement of rights:

That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

It should be noted that this statement uses the correct phrase "equally free and independent" for its description of man's nature, contains no reference to any endowment by a Creator, and lists "the means of acquiring and possessing property" as one of the "inherent" rights. In addition, this statement contains other important ideas omitted from TDOI such as: that men cannot divest their posterity of these inherent rights and that "safety" is linked with the right to pursue and obtain happiness.

Another statement which would have been perhaps better still is that which begins the Constitution of Vermont - July 8, 1777:

THAT all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. Therefore, no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one Years, nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law, for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.

Note that the Vermont statement makes it clear that no one has the right to have life or liberty, but only the right of "enjoying and defending" these, ie. the right to attempt to enhance and maintain life and liberty to the best of one's ability.2 It also applies all these "certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights" to adults (beyond the "age of twenty-one years" for males, and "the age of eighteen years" for females), unless bound by voluntary contract or debt of restitution. The statement thereby makes it very clear that dependent children do not enjoy full rights, that all adults of whatever race or origin do have them, and that violators of the rights or property of others (ie. convicted offenders) do not have full rights. (Compare how all these are handled in the Natural Social Contract)

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

7) In making the statement: "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men", the unwarranted assumption is made that governments (monopoly institutions with the legally sanctioned entitlement to initiate threat and use of force) are the only means to "secure these rights". Moreover, the requirement for governments to be "instituted" (by whom?) immediately introduces a contradiction by not allowing any particular man to opt out of being governed by the laws of the others - thereby violating several aspects of his rights to life, liberty and property (particularly, his right of association - derived from his right to liberty - and his right to control his own property by not allowing it to be used to support the government).

8) The phrase "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" once again references a non-existent collective entity, "the governed", where in reality there are only individual humans, some of whom will give their consent to a given form of government and/or some of its particular laws, and others of whom will not. However, the most important and damaging aspect of this phrasing is that it sets the stage for the rule of democracy - the entitlement of the majority ("the governed" from whom the government derives its "just powers") to override the wishes of the minority - even their unalienable rights - as modern democracies have repeatedly done. This is because the phrasing appears not to even require that the powers given to the government by the governed satisfy a reasonable definition of being "just". It suggests that government powers are "just", purely and simply because they have been derived from "the governed". This, of course, is also totally contrary to there being rights to life, liberty and happiness (not to mention property).

A much better phrasing would have been "deriving their just powers from the inalienable rights of the individuals who have consented to the formation of the government". For in that manner it would have been clear that any government could have only those powers and rights which any individual citizen held and no more. Again, some people have argued that this later interpretation is already implied by "secure these rights" and "consent of the governed", however, this is logically weak and has not been upheld by the courts in modern times.

9) The phrase "that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends," does not make it clear to exactly what "these ends" refers. Does it mean merely the "unalienable rights"? Does it include the idea of "just powers"? Does it also include that the government should have the "consent of the governed"? If the last, then all forms of government are violational by definition, because all have the power to violate the unalienable rights of the non-governed (ie. those who did not give their consent). However, if "these ends" only and fully include the securing of the unalienable rights (to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), no government would have any means to finance itself except by voluntary subscription from the populace, and no means to maintain its monopoly power. Therefore, the very concept of government as defined by the authors of TDOI is self-contradictory and can never logically exist!

10) "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

If government derives all its powers "from the consent of the governed", it is, ipso facto, always their right to abolish or change it as they see fit. Such action does not depend on any abuses or destructive tendencies of the government having first taken place. Moreover, it is also their right as individuals to institute such different forms of social arrangements to govern their relationships to each other as they see fit, which forms may not have any of the essential attributes of a government (particularly the legally sanctioned entitlement to initiate threat and use of force). And furthermore, because of the unalienable right of others to do the same, it is not the right of anyone or any group to insist that others consent to their form of government or any other of their rules of order except on their property where a contract stating this has been executed by all relevant parties. The major flaw here, as so often throughout TDOI, is the use of the collective terms "the People", "them" and "their", since the requirements for the happiness, nay even for the safety, of any one individual are not identical to that of any other and cannot even be fully determined by any such other. The phrase, "seem most likely", therefore, must be a value judgment and an independent choice made by each individual for himself alone, which no individual or group no matter how wise, can fully determine for even one other, let alone for all. Furthermore, there may not even be any judgment of "seem most likely" which is common to a significant number of the populace, at least not until some fundamental derivation for such a common judgment has occurred and become understood or at least accepted by a significant number. (The derivation of such clear common principles of social order is the purpose and accomplishment of Theory of Social Meta-Needs and gaining the understanding and agreement of a significant number of people is the purpose of the entire Self-Sovereign Individual Project.)

11) "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;"

While in general this is a wise statement, those men who wrote and signed TDOI should have known that one man's "prudence" may be another man's folly. In reality, no man can, or ought to judge for another what is prudent for him and what is not! Similarly, the judgment of whether certain effects are "light" or "transient" will vary enormously with the individual. Moreover, if the change in social order that those men who wrote and signed TDOI wished to come about had not needed to be for all at once and requiring a violent revolt, this difference between men would not have mattered, since only those who deemed the change to be prudent and necessary need have taken part in it.

12) "and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

The reason for this is hardly "prudence". It is far more likely fear, irrational custom and conservatism, and simple laziness and procrastination. To a pompous statement such as this, one should righteously shout back "Speak for yourself!"

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. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

13) This would all be well and good if the "abuses and usurpations" under concern were strictly violations of the unalienable natural rights of the individual members of the 13 Colonies. However, as one reads further it becomes very evident that this is more a list of abuses and usurpations of the powers of the governments of the 13 colonies by the King of England, than of violations of individual colony members.

14) Interestingly, the phrasing "reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty" returns to the idea that the violation of the individual rights of the citizens of the 13 colonies rather than the rights of their governments was the justification for throwing off the rule of King George. However this is still only in order to "provide new Guards" (and keepers) for themselves and to alter "their former Systems of Government". In the end, it is once more the tyranny of King George over "these States" which is really at issue. It is a great pity that those men who wrote and signed TDOI could not envision the possibility of order among men without the institution of a government with the power to violate their unalienable rights.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

15) Again it is regrettable that those men who wrote and signed TDOI did not understand the principle of the fewer laws, the better. The individuals in the populace could/should have instituted their own contractual relationships relating to any laws which were being delayed by King George, and employed wise arbitrators and adjudicators. Alternatively (but not as good), the legislatures of which they were representatives could have realized that they did not need the King's validation of their legislation. They could have simply promulgated their laws, enforced them with their own police/militia, and set up their own courts without any need for the approval of the King.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

16) Yes, this requirement is a violation of the individual's right of association (part of the right to liberty), but the corrective action could have been as above (to make and oversee their own laws) and little would have been lost by his refusal.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

17) They did not have to go and they did not have to assent to the measures. They could have either ignored his dictates and held their meeting in more convenient places, or they could have all resigned in protest. Actually, the last is exactly what they should have done - resigned and begun a society ordered by voluntarily agreed social contracts.

"He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people."

18) This is a strange complaint. They should have dissolved voluntarily and started a society ordered by voluntarily agreed social contracts. But at the least they could have ignored his orders and remained in assembly to deliberate and legislate.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;

19) This is a really empty complaint. All the power should belong to the individual citizens anyway. Again it is regrettable that the intelligent men of the day did not have the philosophical basis to begin a contractual social order. At the very least, they could have conducted their own elections without the king's sanction.

the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

20) This is quite illogical except possibly that the Colonist's taxes to pay for this had already been taken from them. However, all people must ultimately pay for their own defense from without, and the maintenance of order within. The first could have been done by a voluntarily funded army and the second by use of contract law, protection agencies, and wise adjudicators. This was a golden opportunity to begin such a contractual social order! It is extremely unfortunate that they missed their chance.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;

21) What need is there for such laws! Just allow complete freedom of travel, and staking of claims to unowned land. Maybe terminate the ownership rights of any lands that have not been worked or actively defended for a certain length of time (ie. have been abandoned).

refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither,

22) There should be no affirmative actions encouraging migration, since any such are discriminatory (giving more to immigrants than to current colonists) and by definition must involuntarily distribute assets from the current settlers (or other subjects of King George) to the immigrants.

and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

23) If this meant that the King placed restrictions or charges upon the homesteading of virgin unclaimed land, then this was a direct violation of the right of individuals to properly acquire property. If it related to the annexing of new land by a State, then is was merely another State grievance.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

24) What is the problem here? Governments have no right to pass such laws anyway if they in any manner set up mandatory monopoly police powers and courts. All necessary "Judiciary Powers" can be set up by the free market as paid services for those who want them or need them to judge disputes under a social contract.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

25) Similarly to 24, such Judges can and should be paid directly by those who need and use their services. In this manner they would be independent businessmen with no "office" and for which the word "tenure" would be irrelevant. Furthermore, having no dependence on any authority, such Judges could more easily seek the truth and make wise impartial decisions. They would have a monetary interest in being impartial and wise in order to attract more clients and this would be quite clear to everyone.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

26) This is certainly a violation of the rights of individuals on whom this process has caused the initiation of force. Of course, the phrase "our people" is another example of at best paternalism and at worst a kind of tribalism in the viewpoint of those men who wrote and signed TDOI.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

27) This is only wrong if its result has been the initiation of force on individuals in the colonies - ie. the violation of their unalienable rights. Furthermore, any such violation would be no more correct if the legislature had consented!

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

28) Which means nothing unless accompanied by evidence that such Military initiated force and violated rights of individuals! That the Military should do so is not more harmful than is the same violation by the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

29) Once more this makes it very clear that this is a dispute between governments, not between individuals and a tyrant who is violating their rights. The only point of contention should be if the results of the "jurisdiction foreign to our constitution" and the "pretended Legislation" are a violation of the unalienable rights of individuals.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

30) There would be nothing wrong if the "quartering" of the "large bodies of armed troops" were paid for by voluntarily acquired funds and not either forcibly requisitioned or paid for by stolen money (the result of taxation).

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

31) This is certainly wrong, since it is unequal justice and disallowance of the right of restitution for violations inherent in the rights to life and liberty (and property). However, I cannot help but be reminded of the similar special rights and privileges enjoyed by government officials (including especially police) in modern times.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

32) If all of these were done through initiation or threat of force against the express wishes of others (as it seems was clearly meant), then these are all direct violations of rights; the last two of the derived right to be adjudicated in the manner previously agreed to.

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

33) To the extent that this does not cause any violation of the rights of the individuals in the 13 Colonies, it is no business of theirs. If any of them wish to help the citizens of the "neighbouring Province" that is up to them as individuals to band together and do so.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures,

34) These are all beneficial actions which by themselves enhance the freedom of the individuals of the 13 Colonies. Any lack of order initially ensuing can soon be fixed by voluntary contractual cooperation. Instead of complaining these actions could/should have been accepted as a golden opportunity to begin a market driven social order.

and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

35) In principle, one form of legislation (legalized use of force) is the same as another. The difference all depends on the degree of violation of rights inherent in the legislation.

He has abdicated Government here,

36) This would appear to be a contradiction to the previous charge, but perhaps the key word is "here", by which it was meant that the government was now remote instead of local. If so again what difference does that really make? It is the specific nature of the legislation which is invasive, not who makes it or where it is made!

by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

37) These are two completely separate and independent items. Since no one has a right to protection by someone else, being "out of his Protection" is not a violation unless such protection has been contracted and paid for. However even then, except for any loss of prepayment, one can solve the problem by organizing one's own protection, and that is what, in fact, those men who wrote and signed TDOI proceeded to do. This point about protection is totally unrelated to the clear violation of rights inherent in the waging of War against a person or persons by someone else.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

38) These acts are all wrong because they violate the unalienable natural rights of individuals, not for any other reason - certainly not because they are a violation of some non-existent collective "our".

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny,

39) Does it really make these acts of violation, ("death, desolation, and tyranny"), any worse because some of them were done by "foreign Mercenaries"?

already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

40) Are the same acts of violation less cruel and barbarous when done in a more "civilized" manner? There should never be any "Head" of any group in the sense that such a "Head" has special rights or entitled "worth" different from any other individual!

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

41) If involuntarily "constrained", this is simply another particular kind of violation of liberty and of life.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,

42) If done with words only, such "excited" is a mere exercise of the right of free speech on one's own, or on common property (which is derived from the right of liberty). Any responsibility for the initiation of violence thereby resulting rests solely with the violators.

and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

43) This is similar to the employ of mercenaries. It is the violations that they do which are wrong, not who they are or how they do them. In fact, if most countries adopted the same "rule of warfare" as the "Indian Savages", war would become so horrific that it would be far less palatable as an instrument of dispute settlement and would be used far less often. It is the making of war into a civilized, gentlemanly affair which has promoted the perpetuation of this enormous violation of the natural rights of so many innocents.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

44) Injury to what? To the individual people, or the powers of the legislators? There is a vast difference!

A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

45) This is a truly vacuous statement and one totally contradictory to the statements about "unalienable Rights" which were earlier made. No one is ever fit to be a "ruler of a free people" since no one can ever know what is the personal evaluative choice of each of the individuals who he is trying to rule, and therefore, by making any choices for them, must logically violate their inalienable rights. By definition, a person who understands liberty will never voluntarily have a relationship with anyone who could be termed a "ruler", whether he be a prince, a pauper or a president, and to the extent that a person truly understands and desires liberty, he can have no such relationship at all (since being ruled by another person is contradictory to being fully at liberty to rule one's self).

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.

46) The one thing that should have been argued was not. That all men have the "unalienable Right" not to be governed at all! Since all forms of government and governing must, by definition, violate the unalienable natural rights of individuals which were set forth at the beginning of this document (unfortunately without full understanding or elucidation).

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

47) No one should be held an enemy except as he has initiated the use of force against the person holding him as an enemy. This was especially true for innocent individuals in "the rest of mankind" who had not initiated force upon anyone in the 13 Colonies. This statement is tantamount to saying that all Englishmen ("our British brethren") are enemies of the 13 Colonies merely because the King and his hired thugs have caused the violations that they have. This is collectivist thinking at its worst! It is precisely this kind of thinking that has been the basis for most of the horrors of war on the local population of the war zone throughout recorded history.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America,

48) No! They were representatives only of themselves (and of anyone who had explicitly given them permission of representation), certainly not of every individual residing within the United States of America.

in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies,

49) Here once more is made the gross error of "appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world", a non-existent, and then the presumption that those men who wrote and signed TDOI speak for all those resident in the 13 Colonies. They should have had the grace and courage to speak for themselves with an additional motive being an attempt to help many others who were being violated.

solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;

50) Again it is regrettable that this opportunity was not seized to declare that all individuals resident in the 13 Colonies were free and self-sovereign as individuals, and that all State power was revoked and abolished.

and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

51) This statement is totally inconsistent with the concept of the unalienable natural rights of individuals. Only individuals have the right to do such things and even then, only if using force in retaliation against the initiation of force, or as defense against the threat of force by others. However, a review of the historical motivations behind the Declaration makes it clear that this portion was to establish the full independence of the 13 colonies from Great Britain so that other countries (particularly France) might come to their aid against Great Britain.

--And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

52) A fine individualistic method of joining together for mutual benefit, except for the reference to "Divine Providence". It is too bad that so many things were spoiled and distorted before this fine ending.


Looking back for a better way forward

In making this analysis, I have had the advantage of the over two centuries of thought and experience occurring since TDOI was written. Using the understanding of those thoughts and experiences, my analysis has shown clearly where TDOI is flawed and has suggested many of the ways in which TDOI might have been better phrased, even at the time that it was written, yet while still maintaining the same basic organization, in order to have avoided some of the eventual pitfalls and misinterpretations from which it suffered. In addition, my analysis shows that overall the objections of the declarers to King George were more like those of complaining children than of proud, independent, rational adults. The tone and substance of the charges against King George seems to suggest that if he had been a benevolent dictator the declarers would have been fully content to continuing abiding by his rule over their lives. Thus, it is very clear that TDOI would need to be radically changed today both for it to have the same revolutionary effect that it did in 1776, and to promote the emergence of a stable free society of humans exchanging goods and services according to the purposes of the individual rational self-interest of each - something that the original failed to accomplish. I have therefore written what I think is required of such a document today, the title of which I have distinguished from the original by calling this new document a Declaration of Individual Independence.

Nevertheless, it remains instructive to continue a review and analysis of the world's most revered freedom documents. Even before issuing TDOI, the revolutionary leaders of the various rebelling States knew that not only did they need to declare the sovereignty and independence of each State from Great Britain, but that some statement must be made about the relationships between the individual sovereign States to guide their joint purposes and prevent the interstate rivalries and wars which were the norm between sovereign governments elsewhere. This then was the purpose of the Articles of Confederation issued by the continental congress on November 15, 1777, which I have also critiqued.

Text of "The Declaration of Independence" taken from

1. For a detailed treatment of the fact and importance of individual uniqueness see the essay "Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Interaction"

2. It is interesting to note in passing the similarity of this idea to that of Den Uyl and Rasmussen's concept of rights as being meta-normative as described in John Hasnas review: "Are There Derivative Natural Rights?" Public Affairs Quarterly 215 (1995)