Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

When is a citizenry justified in deposing its government?

Written By: Bob - Mar• 25•13
The Execution of Louis XVI.

The Execution of Louis XVI.

As nation after nation rushes towards backruptcy due to profligate spending that was easily avoidable with even the most basic restraint, the question posed in the title of this article is moving from being a purely academic question to one meriting serious study.

The government of Cyprus is one of those that justifies the question:

Imagine waking up to find out that as much as 40 percent of the money you thought was safely deposited in the bank was seized, without your permission, to bail out a near-bankrupt government.

That’s just what thousands of large depositors in Cyprus woke up to Monday morning after European Union officials accepted a last-minute deal offered by the island’s lawmakers to secure a $13 billion bailout to avert imminent financial meltdown.

I would postulate that as governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that if a government becomes destructive towards its people—in this instance, arbitrarily manufacturing a “legal” right to commit the mass theft of private funds—then the people have the right and duty to cast off such government, dissolving it through any means necessary. Please stop me if you’ve heard these words before.

Human beings are social creatures; we form and dissolve bonds as insignificant as marketplace transactions to bonds as formal as constitutions, laws, and treaties between tribes and nations. All people belonging to a group have accepted a social contract to live within the laws of their group, tribe, or nation… but what if the nation’s governors no longer acts within the bonds they has set for the nation? What should a people do, when the government has become irrevocably compromised, or corrupted, or tyrannical?

The answer is simple, clear, and morally just: the people have not just the right, but the obligation to dissolve that government. This is the right of revolution that is the right of all men, everywhere.

It is a right of cultural preservation. It is a right of self-preservation. It is the right that says no group, however “official,” has the right to take the property not rights of another by force. It is right for the sheepdogs and rams turn on a shepherd that has turned mad and who has determined to harm the flock.

The people of Cyprus have the right to revolt against their government for this outright theft. They may protest peacefully. They may protest violently. They may even wage an insurrection if it comes to it, and they would be morally justified in doing so.

The government of Cyprus failed in its stewardship of the nation’s finances, and they failed to be good trustees. When a trust fails, it is right that it be dissolved.

If those who failed in the public’s trust did so with intent, it is the right of the people to bring them to justice. Of course, in a nation where the government itself is illegitimate, who has the authority to pass sentence on the government itself? The people reserve that right for themselves, and while that right is sometimes exercised in unpleasant, it is still their right.

Every government, in every nation, would be wise to remember that truth.

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  1. Allan Harrison says:

    Roger that!

  2. Glen Harness says:

    I’ve often wondered how this “right of revolution” works. For example, in 1861, several states of the US decided that the government in Washington was no longer representative of them, and broke off from that government. But the government in Washington forcibly refused to let those states secede and fought a war to, again, forcibly bring them back into the union. I would suggest then that Abraham Lincoln invalidated this concept of “right of revolution”.

    • Steve D. says:

      He didn’t invalidate it…he flouted it. Just as the present administration is flouting many of our rights, without in the least invalidating them. How that will work out for them in the long run remains to be seen.

      The lesson to be derived from 1861 is not that secession is invalid, but that you can be right and still lose.

      • pat says:

        He didn’t flout it. The South had no right of revolution preceding the Civil War. The slave population of the South, however, did.

      • Steve D. says:


        “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.”

        –Abraham Lincoln, 1848

      • pat says:

        So do agree that the slave population of the South had a right to overthrow their oppressors?

        Believe me, 90% of the time I’m in agreement with the statement Lincoln made. Except in the case of the Southern secession. Why? Because they were literally enslaving a large portion of their populace. The reason people bond together to form governments, in theory, is to both provide for the common defense and to ensure that citizens do not infringe on each others’ rights. The Southern governments were totally suppressing literally every single right that the Slaves were entitled to as human beings. Since the slaves were incapable of overthrowing their masters (do to them not being allowed firearms), I’d say it’s arguable that the North had the duty to assist them in that endeavor.

        There’s also the matter of the South firing first at Fort Sumter. I’m a huge Clausewitz fan, and the inner Clausewitzian in me says once war starts, the gloves come off. As you can imagine then I’m furious over how we’ve conducted the Afghan war, but that’s a topic for other blogs.

      • Steve D says:

        Absolutely the slaves had that right. Some of them tried from time to time. I wish it had worked, because now they’d have their own country (which would be like a larger Haiti) and liberalism in the United States would be without a huge chunk of its base.

        Actually, though, they would have lost, and then the Holocaust would have taken place in North America, so we’d have something even worse to feel guilty about.

    • Armitage12 says:

      They (the South) opened fire first. Then the game of rhetoric and posturing changed.

      • Real Deal says:

        Ahhh but if a gang camped out in your front yard, threatened to charge your visitors tolls, and ignored your repeated requests to leave what would you do? Especially when they respend with saying they are going to get more gangbangers?

        That’s why the CSA had to fire on Fort Sumtner.

  3. Dan P. says:

    Our founding fathers articulated the grounds for casting off a government on the back of a rather tacit, but well founded presupposition: that God (distinctly Christianity)is at work in the population and that his presence manifests itself in the pronounced moral behavior (not perfect)of the citizenry. In general, the society in which God is head is marked by a pervasive accent to moral behaviors (truth, justice, equity, kindness, selflessness, etc.) and ethical behaviors (if I don’t work I do not deserve to take from others simply because I can, want to, and am committed to luxury without industry). By contrast, contemporary societies are not marked by these conditions; chief among the failings of contemporary humanity is humanities insatiable lust to shape the function of social outcomes to suite his every whim; not to the glory or praise of God. Therefore, if Cyprus or America seeks the overthrow of a corrupt polity, it will do so to its own just condemnation in that the citizens have for decades sought luxury without industry, greed over selflessness, wealth over contentment, physical pleasure over spiritual and moral discipline. To what will the people of Cyprus turn when they revolt against the corruption they enjoyed for so long? They won’t turn to the wisdom of our founders because they’ve long ago thrown them off as mere dead white men. No, they will simply seek another despot that will promise more of what they really want: bread and circuses.

  4. LFMayor says:

    The correct answer is: When they win the war.

  5. Survival Skvez says:

    The problem is once the (tyrannical) government is removed you are left with anarchy. Someone or something steps up offering to fill the void and more often than not often that someone or something is worse than what you had before. Look at Iraq, SH was a bad person and a bad leader but he kept some sort of order. Look at the chaos that followed the collapse of the old soviet union.
    Frying-pad / fire: Sometimes you options just suck.

  6. mytralmann says:

    The right of revolution is determined by the winners of the revolution, that is since they won they say it was right. this can be disputed forever by the losers or those sympathetic to the losers but as long as the winners have(armed) power, such protests are to no avail. Armed conflict in the US is a pipe dream at present and probably will remain so for a very long time. something like a nuclear war would be necessary to bring it about. The revolution I would like to see would be to change the eligibility to vote making it a privilege rather than a right. this too will never happen without a major armed conflict, perhaps not internal however. Anyway, the US is on a course which makes many sad but one that can only be incrementally altered. It is a feature of the constitution itself which was designed to resist violent change. Originally it was in republican form but was perverted into a democracy by those it governed. Freedom was too hard to take.

    • smitty says:

      Voting is not a right, at least not at the federal level.

      The Constitution was perverted to be sure, but by the people? Hardly.

      The document was likely designed from the start to incrementally provide for the authoritarian government we have. Controlled by the elite.

      It was drafted in secret, mostly by lawyers who exceeded their authority to merely make adjustments to the Articles of Confederation.

      Lysander Spooner nailed it with his on-point either/or:

      “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”
      ― Lysander Spooner

      Some talk of “restoring” the Constitution. We have and still are operating under that flawed document.

      The Anti-Federalists have been vindicated by experience…

  7. when contemplating revolution you must look to the end, not to the beginning. With what do you want to replace the existing government? If you haven’t thought that through, and made plans to implement it, the revolution will probably end up worse that what triggered it.

    One of the factors in the success of the American Revolution was that we started with a “government in being:” colonial legislatures and judges (governors were appointed by the King, not elected). It made the transition from revolution to nation much easier.

    One of the factors in the success of the Viet Cong was that they did much the same. They set up parallel governments in contested areas. For better or worse, people had authorities to whom they could appeal for adjudication of claims, etc.

    Any revolutionaries should plan on setting up parallel governments in contested territories, in addition to fighting. Victory should find them with governments on the spot, not a shambles from which to construct a government.

  8. emdfl says:

    Personally, I’m want to sit back and watch the Russian mobsters with money in the Cypriot banks take care of this problem of theft by government…

  9. Nam Marine says:

    NOW !

  10. pat says:

    What really disgusts me about the Cyprus national theft is that the politicians say “It’s o.k because most of the money that we seize will be Russian.” That’s cold comfort to the Cypriot who has been diligently saving a portion of his modest to measly salary for his entire life, only to see the fruits of that lifetime of hard work and diligence stripped from him because the country he resides in has been run into the ground largely because of the irresponsible actions of unelected bureaucrats. The Russian millionaires and billionaires will recoup their losses. That poor, hard working, aging Cypriot citizen will not.

  11. pat says:

    Let’s put this into perspective, just to demonstrate how outrageous this is. The national theft taking place here only targets accounts greater than 100,000 Euros. 100,000 euros equates to $129,400. Let’s say you make $30,000 per year ($20,000 below U.S median yearly household income). Starting at age 20, you deposit 10% of your yearly income into a savings account that has 1% interest, and you consistently deposit 10% of your income into this account over a period of 40 years. When you turn 60, you now have about $150,000 in this account, which represents your ENTIRE LIFE SAVINGS. Suddenly, the government comes along and says “We have been totally irresponsible running the country and have racked up massive debt, so to pay for our irresponsible actions we are confiscating 40% of your life savings.” For you, that’s $60,000 gone in the blink of an eye, and the equivalent of about 18 years worth of savings. At 60, you likely do not have the lifespan remaining to recoup that cost.

    This is the price of a massive entitlement society. Eventually the government runs out of other people’s money and comes for yours. Anyone who thinks our national debt is meaningless and just a number should look at Cyprus and cower in fear for what’s in store for us, because when the time comes to pay our debt taking 40% of savings accounts over $130,000 will not come close to covering it.

    • pat says:

      ^I’d also like to point out that I used fairly conservative numbers for the above calculation with regards to interest rates and inflation, so the actual amount the Cypriot government would be stealing from this theoretical citizen would likely be much higher.

  12. Orion says:


    I’m already moving my money OUT of the bank, except for what I need to pay bills each month.


  13. smitty says:

    The key document is not the Constitution…

    The time has come to dust off the Declaration of Independence.

    Once it is re-addressed to our present government, rather than the British Crown, few adjustments are necessary in order to present that petition once again.

    Nearly all the complaints Jefferson listed are as valid, or even more so, than in his time.

    Note especially the complaints regarding the corrupt British legal system.

    Our present judicial system has sunk to vastly lower levels of corruption, incrementally, over time.

  14. bogbeagle says:

    Social Contract? … the postulations of Rousseau and the cornerstone of all “progressive policies”.

    Surprised to see this stuff given credence on a blog of this flavour.

    Anyway, no such Social Contract exists … and I defy anyone to show it me.

  15. pa says:

    Alexander Hamilton answered Bob’s question in Federalist No. 28. The last sentence in this quotation is just great:

    “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”

  16. Donald Conner says:

    “When, in the course of human events,….”. No more need be said, need it?

    The whole of Europe has sucked at the teats of American generosity ever since the end of WW2. None have ever repaid one penny, that I know of. All went on spending and taxing sprees just like Ovomit. And now the chickens have come home to roost. As long as America had troops on the ground, they fancied themselves quite the urbane and sophisticated sybarites.

    And now that the SHTF is very real, none of them want to do the hard things that The Iron Lady in Britain did, and that the Germans have moved on also. Well, let’s just let this thing play out to the bitter end on both sides of the Atlantic, and other places too. No more knives in our back as we go out the door, after having rescued them once more.

    I pay my bills, So do most other Americans, except the super and ultra rich oligarchs, who have the whole of Congress in their pockets, and so get “private bill” passed in the dead of night. A private bill is a bill written so that only 1–just ONE–entity can possibly fit the description written into the bill. Why do you think they continue to get richer? That before the “Great” (HA!!) Recession there were 26 million on food stamps and now under Ovomit there are 47 million getting food aid?

    How can a native born citizen get a job when illegals of every stripe, color, and description are filling jobs black and white Americans used to have? The Turks are no longer so welcome in Germany or Switzerland, nor the Africans in England, France, and Scandinavia.

    We are bringing on ourselves the same problems, and have only ourselves to blame. People knew what slime ball Clinton was, and what schmuck Ovomit was, but they still voted for them because they offered another free suck on the teats of American capitalism. One of these days before too long, there may well have to be written again “When, in the course of human events….”