Monday, October 12, 2009

Private Property, Liberty, and Tyranny

"[A]ccording to Thomas [Aquinas], he [the ruler] may not take private property beyond what public need requires, though strictly speaking property is an institution of Human rather than Natural law. Above all, the rulership of one man over another must not take away the free moral agency of the subject. No man is bound to obedience in all respects and even the soul of the slave is free (a doctrine Aristotle would hardly have understood). It is for this reason that the resistance of tyranny is not only a right but a duty."

George H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, Third Edition (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1937, 1950, 1961; 1965) pp. 255-256

This natural law principle is the philosophical anchor of American political theory. And it's why a leftist/Marxist style revolution can never succeed in the U. S. As I've said previously, any successful revolution is the U. S. would have to be premised upon our individual right to private property and liberty and the premise itself is based upon natural law.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a believer in natural law and it was the philosophical basis of his successful non-violent social liberation movement. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, King asked: "

"How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal .law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."

King's non-violent revolutionary movement had a sound philosophical basis: the individual's right—by virtue of their humanity—to private property and liberty, which has been the basis of Western civilization and law for centuries. And this is why the movement was ultimately successful. Any revolutionary movement for the liberty of the oppressed in America, if it's to be successful, must be based upon these to fundamental concepts, which are themselves based upon natural law: private property and individual liberty.

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