Atanu Dey On India's Development

Abolishing Unjust Governments

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. — 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. 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.

Those words, from “The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies” proclaimed in CONGRESS, July 4, 1776, are far too important to be forgotten, and should be read by all freedom loving people frequently. Long live the American Revolution. When will Indians become collectively smart enough to understand the meaning of those words?

  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    Time for some Robert Heinlein.

    From starship troopers

    Lieutenant Colonel Jean V. Dubois:

    (Quotes the passage in the post)

    Ah, yes, the ‘unalienable rights.’ Each year someone quotes that magnificent poetry.

    Life? What ‘right’ to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries. What ‘right’ to life has a man who must die if he is to save his children? If he chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of ‘right’? If two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man’s right is ‘unalienable’? And is it ‘right’? As to liberty, the heroes who signed that great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called ‘natural human rights’ that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.

    “The third ‘right’? — the ‘pursuit of happiness’? It is indeed unalienable but it is not a right; it is simply a universal condition which tyrants cannot take away nor patriots restore. Cast me into a dungeon, burn me at the stake, crown me king of kings, I can ‘pursue happiness’ as long as my brain lives — but neither gods nor saints, wise men nor subtle drugs, can insure that I will catch it.”

  • http://ike.pigott.name/occam Ike

    Nice going, Sandeep. Let’s all turn to science fiction writers for our interpretations of “worst-case scenarios.” Heinlein’s little diatribe doesn’t hold water, because he’s concocting scenarios of nature and circumstance, and not of the free actions of men.

    If you’re going to rely on sci-fi for your thoughts on liberty, you might as well start reciting L. Ron Hubbard.

    And to you Atanu — I ask “When will Americans become collectively smart enough to understand the meaning of those words?”

  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    It is Gaurav, not Sandeep.

    Ike, Heinlein makes a simple point, there is no such thing as “unalienable” rights.
    No Gods bestow them, these rights are not a law of nature,these rights have to be “earned” by men, to be bought by blood and toil, to be snatched from tyrants.
    Weaks possess no rights, they just avail of charities.

  • http://ike.pigott.name/occam Ike

    My apologies, Gaurav – but I still disagree with Heinlein’s point.

    Nature does not grant us any quarter, but the rights of individuals to pursue their freedoms are not to be artificially constrained by another. You got dumped out of your ship in the middle of the ocean? Too bad. Someone pushed you overboard? Different story entirely.

    I do agree that those that cherish freedom must be vigilant in defense – but I wholeheartedly reject any “might makes right” ad baculum argument. To say that these rights must be “Snatched from tyrants” is to presume the tyrants had any legitimate authority from which to grant freedom.

    My personal philosophy: “Life is not fair – but we must proceed with the faith that over the course of all our lives, it will be more or less equally unfair to all of us.”

    Call the faith a faith in God – call it what you will – at the end of the day I’ll cast my lot with the freedom that comes with equality of opportunity over the tyranny of the majority or the strong.

  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    Ike,
    “The rights of individuals to pursue their freedoms are not to be artificially constrained by another”

    It is your moral position (with which I agree), but it is certainly not “unalienable”, that is to say it is up to us to defend our freedom, no one is going to do it for us.

  • dhruv

    Did you happen to write about this after watching the movie ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ ?
    ‘Cause i just did, and it is a wonderful movie too! It’s based on the true life story of Chris Gardner, now millionaire brokerage firm owner. A must watch to understand what the pursuit of happiness means, and the central theme is based around this very declaration made by Thomas Jefferson in the ‘Declaration of Independence’. And as Gaurav said, (eventhough he has based it on a fictional writer’s thoughts) the pursuit of happiness goes on throughout one’s life and we achieve these moments of happiness now and again, but never really achieve happiness , and the struggle to achieve what is dear to one goes on. Whether its life,liberty or property, its all about the pursuit of happiness.

  • http://ike.pigott.name/occam Ike

    Gaurav, we’re arguing two sides of the same coin.

    My interpretation of an “inalienable right” is one that is morally justifiable to defend above all others. It is not a “moral certainty of outcome.”

    Any freedom not defended may be ceded and lost. But it is without a doubt yours to give away if you choose, as a default.

    And to the final point, it is in fact up to me to defend the rights of others. That is the cooperative stake we all have, to repel the bullies and send them packing before they succeed in using force to steal our freedoms.

  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    Atanu,

    I must protest.
    Calling Heinlein a mere fiction writer is like call Paine a mere pamphleteer :-)