A Principle of The Traditional American Philosophy


4. Man Organizes Governments To Be His Tools

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men . . ." - (Declaration of Independence)

The Principle

1. The traditional American philosophy teaches that government is merely the creature and a tool, or instrument, of the sovereign people.

Government's Primary Function

2. The people create their governments primarily to serve one supreme purpose: to "secure" the safety and enjoyment of their God-given, unalienable rights. To make and keep them secure is government's primary function and chief reason for existence, according to the philosophy proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.

Government a Tool

3. This makes clear the correct role of government in relation to the people, as viewed by the American philosophy. It is merely their tool, like any other tool such as saw, or a plow, or a steam engine, created by them to serve its assigned and limited purpose. As the people's tool, or instrument, any government could never soundly be said to possess sovereign power--that is, unlimited, or total, power over all things and all persons. Under the American philosophy, no legal, meaning governmental, sovereignty exists anywhere; while any political sovereignty is possessed by the people alone and even they are limited by the obligation to keep inviolate the God-given, unalienable rights of every Individual. Government may possess and its officials may exercise, as the people's servants and trustees, only such limited part of the people's power as they see fit from time to time to delegate to it through their fundamental law: the Constitution, as amended by them; and this applies to all governments and Constitutions, Federal and State.

Government Lacks "Just Power" to Violate Rights

4. Therein lies the significance of the limitation by the people of government's role and power, under the American philosophy. The fact that government cannot have any "just" power or authority--as meant by the term "just powers" in the Declaration of Independence--to violate any unalienable right of The Individual follows from the fact that no Individual can have any right, power or authority to violate any other Individual's unalienable rights. Because it is created by the people (a group of Individuals) primarily for the purpose of making secure all rights of all Individuals, this tool of the people, government, could not conceivably derive from them any power or authority, morally or constitutionally, to do the opposite by infringing any such right. Since no Individual possesses, or could grant, any such power or authority, the many Individuals composing the people of a country are similarly lacking; many times zero equals zero. No vote of the people, by however great a majority--even all of the people but one Individual, opposed to that lone Individual--could give to any government any such authority or power. (This is subject, of course, to the point previously discussed in Paragraph 9 of Principle 3, regarding just punishment of offenders against just laws, or against the rights of other Individuals.)

Government Cannot Delegate Any Power to Violate Man's Rights

5. By the same token, it is impossible for the people's tool, government, to possess any authority from the people--any "just power" (to use the term of the Declaration of Independence)--to delegate to others any power which it does not and could not possess under the traditional American philosophy. As such a tool, government could not possibly possess, could not be given, any power to authorize any person, group or organization to do that which it is itself powerless to do. This precludes, for example, government's authorizing or empowering any person, group, or organization to violate any Individual's unalienable rights--including the right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"--or any of the supporting rights, such as the right to property and to freedom of association.

No Coercion of Man as to His Labor

6. Under the American philosophy, these supporting rights include, for example, The Individual's right to use all of his faculties, talents, abilities and energies--basically his own labor--as, when and where he sees fit without any restraint by government or by others. This is subject, of course, to his duly respecting the equal rights of other Individuals (in part as discussed regarding Equality in Pars. 8-9 of Principle 7) and just laws expressive of the above-mentioned "just powers" of government designed to help safeguard the equal rights of all Individuals. This means, for example, the enjoyment of this right without any such restraint upon his right to freedom of association, to freedom of choice with regard to joining, or not joining, any organization--for instance, an organization of his fellow employers or an organization of his fellow workers. Violation of this right involves necessarily violation of his unalienable rights to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" as well as of the supporting rights--notably the right to property (money or any other type), including acquiring, possessing and using it. Such violation results in any case of coercion of The Individual to join, or not to join, such an organization. This is true whether perpetuated by government directly, or by it indirectly through others acting with its sanction--for instance, by any group or organization of other Individuals who exert pressures of any kind or degree to induce, or impel, him so to join, or to refrain from joining. As Man's tool, government not only can have no just power so to perpetuate any such violation but is affirmatively obligated, under just laws, not only not to tolerate but actively to prevent such violation by others--always strictly in keeping with its limited powers and related responsibilities as prescribed in the applicable Constitution (as amended), Federal or State, as the case may be. To repeat, any Individual's right to freedom of association (freedom of choice of associates) is always subject to the equal rights of others - including their right to similar freedom of choice of associates. This right's enjoyment always involves the essential factor of mutual consent, free from any element of coercion.

Sovereign Citizen over Public Servant

7. All public officials are subordinate as public servants to all citizens. Under the American philosophy of Man-over-Government, the American heritage assumes that the most modestly circumstanced Individuals among the sovereign people rank higher than any public officials, even those serving as the highest ranking of public servants. It is a case of The Sovereign over servant--each Individual in this regard representing in a sense the sovereign people as the creator of their tool, or instrument: government.

Betrayal of the American Heritage

8. It was the firm conviction of those who founded America--notably the leaders of the period 1776-1787 and their fellow Americans in general--that to forget, neglect , or defy this great American principle is to betray the American heritage of Individual Liberty--Man's Freedom from Government-over-Man--and to contribute in practice to its erosion, or subversion. Sins of omission in this connection are as heinous as sons of commission. Any public servants who ignore this truth are guilty of desecration of the spirit of traditional America and the higher the offender's rank, the worse the offense morally. Any Individual who condones such an offense against this heritage is similarly blameworthy.

The Conclusion

9. Each Individual, among the sovereign and self-governing people, embodies a part of the supreme sovereignty of the people in relation to their creature and tool, or instrument, government, and to its officials as public servants--wholly subservient to the people as their superiors, their masters.

Quotes from The American Ideal of 1776 supporting this Principle.