“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…”
– Thomas Jefferson- The Declaration of Independence
Mainstream pop-culture in present-day America tends to denounce anyone who refers to the above quote in any other context than in a history class, as anything from “crazy right-winger” or “teabagger”, to “extremist” and “terrorist”. We see it over and over again depicted in television and movies- the crazy right -wing extremist with their conspiracy theories about government tyranny being a domestic terrorist (and a racist because they’re usually white men), with a stockpile of guns and ammo, living in an underground bunker.
A recent CNN article responding to last month’s “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” stated the following:
“They’re carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority… A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism”
The article went on to say:
“Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to — and in some cases greater than — the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention… The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010… The government says these are extremists who believe that they can ignore laws and that their individual rights are under attack in routine daily instances such as a traffic stop or being required to obey a court order.”
We are essentially led to believe that people who are label themselves as “sovereign citizens” or have any number of “qualifiers” to be labelled as such, (‘preppers’, anti-government, pro-constitution, etc.) are dangerous and want to go on shooting sprees and ultimately overthrow the government. We have profiles of these classes of people given to local law enforcement by Homeland Security and the FBI (see the MIAC Report).
miac-strategic-report <Missouri Information Analysis Center report on Militia Movement
However it should be noted that the FBI has a well-documented tendency to provocateur and enable terrorist activity that it then “thwarts” (sort of like fire departments starting fires that they then put out in order to maintain funding). Furthermore, I challenge folks to look into these 24 cases cited (which is a very small number in statistical terms) for themselves and see what they find.
This ramped-up fear of right-wing “extremism” brings back memories of the Oklahoma City Bombing. It should be noted that the FBI has been involved in a case surrounding the 1995 bombing and the family of a eyewitness to the events leading up to the bombing, Kenneth Michael Trentadue, who was later found hanging in his cell after being picked up on unrelated charges shortly thereafter. Local Fox 13 out of Utah reported last year:
“Jesse Trentadue said John Matthews, whom he claimed worked as an undercover government operative in the militia movement in the 1990s, had been contacted by an FBI agent and told ‘it would be best if he didn’t show up to testify.’… Trentadue told FOX 13 that Matthews had known convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh and worked for the government in an operation targeting the patriot militia movement known as ‘PATCON.’… ‘He was part of an operation the FBI ran for a decade during the ’90s where they would infiltrate, and it’s questionable whether they incited the right wing,’ he told FOX 13… To bolster his case, Trentadue introduced into evidence an FBI lead sheet that had been heavily redacted. It claims that the ATF and FBI had ‘prior knowledge of the bomb’ and the agencies had attempted to set up a ‘sting operation and did not take the bomb threat seriously.’”
Again, the FBI and other federal agencies have been caught enabling and creating terror attacks many, many times. However this has not stopped the narrative of the dangerous “lone” right-wing extremist from being parroted in the media repeatedly. One may even recall that before the suspects of the 2013 Boston Bombings were chosen, the immediate response all over the media by the “reporters” and pundits was that it was an act of right-wing domestic terrorism. You might recall that some aspects of that “label” were still pinned to the Tsarnaev brothers after the fact (ie. 9-11 “truth-er”, Alex Jones follower, etc.).
So who are these “extremists” really? Who are these people we are being taught to fear? More often than not these are veterans and rural folk and people who want to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, and want to be left alone- especially when it comes to government. Many of these folks don’t believe in the legality of the income tax (and there is MUCH historical and legal evidence to back that claim up) or the national security state. These are people who want to “throw off the chains” of what they see as an increasingly intrusive and oppressive government.
These folks can tend to be “separatists” or even “secessionists” when it comes to government. They want to, as Jefferson stated “throw off” government and live life and raise their families according to their own terms, morals and values. These folks will often tend to migrate toward rural areas and try and live “off the grid”. My question is that if these are people whose every action seems to be geared towards being self-reliant with a strong desire to simply be left alone, then why are they deemed as being so dangerous to society?
Obviously the first thing pointed at by the media and pop-culture is the fact that these “extremists” believe in the right to “keep and bear arms”- and not just in a hunting sense. It is hard to ignore the “echo chamber” created in the media regarding owning firearms for the defense of oneself, one’s family and one’s community as an overtly negative thing that inevitably leads to the deaths of innocent schoolchildren and police officers.
This reminds me of a recent anecdote a friend of mine told me about when he and another co-worker of his were discussing strange inconsistencies regarding 9-11. At one point, another co-worker of theirs overheard them and vehemently chastised them for being “conspiracy theorists” who would potentially go and “shoot up a school”. This is the sort of fear-based mindset being disseminated to the public regarding anyone who questions the government.
All that aside, I have there to be a less-overt characteristic of this “sovereign citizen equals domestic terrorist” narrative; and this involves the difference between what it means to “throw off” government versus what it means to “overthrow” government- something that many, including myself until recently, never thought any distinction between the two terms.
To “throw off” is essentially the severance of ties or the ending of a relationship. Think of throwing off the covers in the morning. The blankets are still intact (hopefully) and no damage has come to them, they just aren’t on you anymore. To “throw off” a government means you separate from that governing body and establish a different form of “governance” elsewhere. It is a separation- like separating from a spouse- “you do your thing and I’ll do mine”. The act of throwing off or separating is in and of itself a nonviolent act. Violence typically only happens when the party being separated from attempts to “hold on” to the relationship and maintain it through use of violent force, coercion, extortion, manipulation and/or other methods of control.
“Overthrow” on the other hand, is inherently forceful and more often than not, violent. Overthrow inevitably involves one individual or group imposing their will upon another. It is about physically forcing someone to abdicate or cease what they were doing so you can do it “your way”, which is the “better way”. Overthrow is a battle of egos. When a government is overthrown, it involves a forceful takeover or “coup” through the use of violent force, coercion, extortion, manipulation and/or other methods of imposing the will.
Historically speaking, the American Revolution was a “throwing off”, as the colonists did not seek to go to London and overthrow the British government. They simply wished to separate and live independently. Conversely, the French Revolution was an “overthrow”, as the palace was stormed, the monarchy and government officials (an everyone with any sort of remote connection to them) was executed, with the “overthrowers” setting up shop in their place and paving way for a dictatorship.
The vast majority of revolutions are “overthrow” revolutions. It should also be noted that the VAST majority of those revolutions created a more oppressive government than the one they got rid of. The Bolshevik Revolution that established the Soviet Union in Russia and surrounding territories in 1917, and the vast amount of suffering and death it caused is one of the best examples of this principle.
We are led to believe that these “sovereign citizens” are domestic terrorists who want to overthrow the government, when in truth they simply want to throw off the government and be left alone. The word “sovereign” means “self-rule”- this is the ideology of the sovereign citizen- one of self-determination, self-sufficiency and self-rule. This ideology is exactly why they are so dangerous to government. The government is well armed doesn’t actually fear attack, but it does fear the removal of the resources it gets from its compliant citizens.
Government cannot exist without a population to rule over and accept its ruling status. If it does not have this basic source of food, it withers and dies. And yes, while government is made up of “individuals”, individuals fall victim to a sort of gang or mob mentality when involved in any sort of large institutional body, which is compartmentalized and maintained by a top-down authority structure. This loss of individuality and the desire to please authority creates a sort of “hive mind” that turns the institution into a sort of machine; the larger the government or institution or corporation, etc., the greater this phenomenon.
I would also add, the larger the government, the more resources it needs to sustain itself. These resources are typically taken from its “citizens” in the form of taxation, property, labor, etc.
The sovereign is dangerous because his/her IDEA is dangerous to the life of the state, because if people were to separate themselves from the Federal and State government system, “ending their relationship” to it, then the way of life for the politicians, bureaucrats, and the corporate interests that use the system to enrich themselves would be over. This is why Homeland Security has been stating these sovereign citizen groups as more of a threat than Al-Qaeda. If people were to realize that they are capable of surviving and thriving without the authority of a governing class and the “safety” and “infrastructure” it claims to provide, then government as we know it would be without a job.
We are taught to equate government with society and civilization. We are even taught in western society that “we are the government”, but when was the last time we were in a cabinet session or involved in creating legislation or setting foreign or even domestic policy? Having us vote every few years is akin to letting your two-year-old bang his toy hammer on the piece of wood you’re using to build his new bedroom. However, many are coming to realize that our government doesn’t serve the interests of the people at large. It serves the interests of the moneyed class. Statism (a belief system in which the state should have substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs, and trump the rights/needs of the individual) is tied to mercantilism. Author Richard Hoskins stated the following:
“The Merchant must establish a King to protect him and promote his interests.”
We may see monarchy as a thing of the past, but so-called “democratic” governments still operate under the same basic principles as the old feudal systems of serfdom. The state has the “right” to tax and micromanage your life because you live on ITS land (outright property ownership practically non-existent with property taxation); just as a king or a noble had the “right” to tax and micromanage the lives of the serfs who lived on their land. And the king and nobility, while “land rich”, were forever in debt to the merchant and banking class who financed their endeavors- the more things change…
However, history is like a mosaic and most folks are looking at it up close. This may be part of the reason why we still believe we need government like mom, or dad, or even God. We are taught that the world could not exist in any sort of livable manner without it. And many of us BELIEVE this in some manner. We are taught that those who don’t contribute to and comply with government and its wishes aren’t “pulling their weight in society” and are anti-civilization and dangerous. The truth is, if everyone stopped paying their income taxes tomorrow, the sky would not fall and human civilization would go on.
We are taught that those who go against the wishes of government want to destroy our way of life. We are taught to believe we NEED government. Why do you think such a spectacle is made every time a “government shutdown” looms? It is to further cement into the consciousness that government is the sustainer of human civilization and order. The truth is, we don’t need government to survive. Our ancient ancestors did not; the lone settlers who established homesteads in the old west did not, and neither do we. We have just become comfortable and accustomed to abdicating our power to others.
This is why WE fear people who would “overthrow the government”. We believe we need it to keep us safe and maintain order, as we have forgotten how to do these things ourselves. We have become detached from who we are to the point where we have forgotten our roots as beings from the Mother Earth who have within ourselves her infinite wisdom, least of which is how to survive and protect ourselves and our families.
We should look at how we are persecuting and fear-mongering around these sovereign citizens and how it has become socially acceptable to do so with historical perspective. We look at them as dangerous outsiders, lashing out at them for the way they see and live life and labelling them as “enemies of the state” due to their desire for separateness and their unwillingness to support the government and mainstream commercial pop-culture. Because of their affiliation we view them as those that would subvert and destroy our way of life. Of course there are going to be unbalanced and violent people in any strata of society and any socio-political movement, but to single out and label whole group of people as dangerous based on their ideology and how they want to live their life and because of the actions of a small number of individuals (many of whom had links to government infiltration groups) is wrong. This is why many Jews and Communists and other political “undesirables” were rounded up and put in forced labor camps in Nazi Germany. This is the EXACT same ideology and justification. We are told to be tolerant of everyone, EXCEPT these people.
Government is not morality and it is not community, even though it seems to masquerade as such. While we see a constant megaphoning of “doing our part” when it comes to complying with government, we see and hear very little when it comes to promoting individual communities looking out for their own local interests and associating freely. We don’t need government to build community nor do we need it to tell us what is right and what is wrong. These things are “written on our hearts”. Human beings need to be allowed to learn and grow and build relationships in a natural, organic way, rather than constricted and molded to meet the needs and desires of the governing class and the merchant and banking oligarchs that feed of the power of the government and the livelihood of the people.
Belief in external authority and helpless dependence upon external entities like government and its ideology of collectivism runs counter to the inherent individuality and self-determination of the true spiritual seeker. The true spiritual seeker seeks mastery over him or herself and recognizes this self-mastery or self-rule, aka. sovereignty cannot be achieved through threats, manipulation, or force from any external entity or from themselves. We cannot overthrow our lesser nature and character defects and we certainly can’t have someone else do it for us. We cannot use force to get the ego out of its seat of power and control. We need separate ourselves from our counter-productive “thinkings and doings” that keep us in a state of internal division and chaos. We “throw off” these things and surrender to a new way of doing and being.
As Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas, “..when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner… then will you enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
This can be looked at as uniting this inner sovereignty of BEING with the outer sovereignty of DOING. And while we realize and readily accept that we may have responsibility and ties to those we have chosen to bring into our lives, we recognize and maintain this as all done by our own free will, and we refuse to accept imposition by an external “authority” that demands and involuntary and compulsory relationship we did not ask for, as if it is our “birth right”.
Our birth right is the willful and voluntary discovery of and building our relationship with the Divine Light within that is our connection to the universe and the limitless potential that comes with it. The realization of this limitless potential, completely unbound from the restraints of our would-be rulers or “archons” (both internally and externally), is FAR more dangerous to the state and the established “order” than owning a gun or not paying taxes. They just don’t believe we can ever do it, but I do. I KNOW we can.
“Let our Mind, Heart and Will be Unified in the Light of Christ and Moved to Action by the Holy Spirit.”