Mr. Michael B. Vanderboegh of Birmingham, Alabama, has posted an appeal to begin the process of civil disobedience by means of a “window war.” He quotes John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government (1690): “Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.”
In addition, Vanderboegh cites a famous historical precedent in the somewhat similar vandalism in Boston by the Sons of Liberty just prior to the American Revolution. The plea to “modern Sons of Liberty” has apparently inspired a number of attacks on congressional and Democratic Party offices.
Vanderboegh’s manifesto has already generated demands that he be arrested for inciting sedition. See, for example, a Facebook site entitled, “Arrest Mike Vanderboegh.” Though reduced to disability at the age of 57, MBV strikes me as a citizen willing to put principle as he perceives it over his own personal safety and economic security. If he gets arrested, Social Security may stop his monthly pension. With mixed feelings, therefore, I have emailed him the following open letter.
Let me begin this open letter by noting my appreciation of your readiness to put your country’s plight above personal and economic well being. Furthermore I am not altogether unsympathetic to your political position as expressed in your blog March 19th. Indeed, my fifth chapter in Treatise on Twelve Lights, examines the possibility and the morality of armed insurrection in the United States – provided all peaceful alternatives are exhausted beforehand.
However, chapter four, entitled “Insurrection of Suede,” emphasizes the primary importance of care and patience, and of following through on the peaceful options bequeathed to us by the Framers. Once we cross the Rubicon into the realm of violent resistance, a series of escalations might lead to outright armed insurrection. But Americans are currently in quite a different position than armed revolutionaries like Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins during Ireland’s Easter Rising, April 1916. Their political options against British occupation had long since been exhausted, whereas the written U.S. Constitution allows us to eschew bullets and employ ballots of a kind reserved for exceptional circumstances.
The Article V “convention for proposing Amendments” provides the political means at the national level that is closest to the initiative and referendum process employed with effect at the state level. Thus the Constitution itself offers us a revolutionary process that is legal. Inherent in this process is the means potentially to accomplish a counterrevolution that restores the Republic to beauty, health, and balance.
Notwithstanding provocations by the Feds as described vehemently in your web page, my own moderation, as you (not I) might term it, is based on an overriding consideration, i.e. God. Surely insurrectionists cannot fight to victory without His blessing, any more than our Forefathers could have won the American Revolution against the mighty British Empire without a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” (Declaration of Independence). I believe all Christians contemplating violent resistance to the beltway abomination, and against economic and cultural aspects of the postmodernist regime in America, should heed the council of the Roman Catholic Church on this issue.
Articulating the position of America’s largest and oldest religious denomination, the Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five preconditions for armed insurrection to be morally justifiable (CCC, 2243). These checkpoints are worthy of pondering carefully if we want Almighty God on our side. Otherwise hotheads recapitulating the firing on Ft. Sumter may catapult us into a losing civil war that, like the 1861-65 version, ends up centralizing power still further in Washington, D.C., and nullifying what remains of the Tenth Amendment. I believe, therefore, that violent civil disobedience is premature at this point, unless one supposes pridefully that your “Three Percenters” are so formidable that they can do it without the help of the great Helmsman of history.
Rather, let us abide by the dictates of wisdom. To be sure, citizens must look to counterrevolution against what has been inflicted on this country since approximately the assassination of JFK. But, sir, if such a counterrevolutionary enterprise is to succeed, we must at all costs avoid impulsive or precipitous revolt. Instead I propose that the fight against the regime proceed realistically and morally.
First we must acknowledge that the electoral process has been so corrupted and co-opted at the Federal level that traditional political campaigns can no longer serve the primary interests of the citizen body at large. Our once enviable democracy has been diverted to the service of the few (oligarchy) and the rich (plutocracy). They bribe, buy and manipulate all but a weak minority of the incumbent politicians inside the D.C. beltway. In other words, put no stock in the predictions based on wishful thinking, i.e. that the 2010 or 2012 elections will turn things around enough to reverse our nation’s decline. Pursuing chimerical expectations will only sap our energies and further demoralize our citizenry.
Having disabused ourselves of delusional political hopes, we can then refocus our political efforts and energies. Let our focus at the national level be the sort of campaign which the Framers recommended for the very purpose we face today. The writers of the Constitution foresaw the possibility of a Federal power structure impervious to the will of the people. And so under Article V and its convention option, they empowered the people to organize through the States, thereby to circumvent the Federal oligarchy.
If the foregoing effort is blocked or somehow compromised, then (and only then) let us escalate to the level of physical confrontation. Passive civil disobedience as per Mahatma Gandhi worked for Martin Luther King and his civil rights movement. “Through the centuries,” as the recent Manhattan Declaration indicates, “Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.”
Or as the late Mario Savio put it compellingly in 1964, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”
In conclusion, sir, if the aforesaid constitutional convention drive gets thwarted, and if we the people attain little more from passive resistance than an outlet for our frustrations; then the issue of active resistance will come naturally to the fore. At that point it will be timely to consider your window war, and/or the possibilities discussed in my fifth chapter.
Again, the key is to solicit the interposition of Providence on our behalf. With Divine blessing and our own careful planning, we might yet restore America the Beautiful under God and the written Constitution.