Modern Sense (Part IV)
(With absolutely no apologies to Thomas Paine)

by Edgar J. Steele

January 19, 2003

The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.  The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel.
    ---Thomas Paine, "Common Sense" (Feb 1776)

Preface (to each of the four parts)

There are a remarkable number of parallels between pre-Revolutionary America and the America of today.  It is disquieting how, in the writings of that time, our founding fathers might have been speaking directly to this generation of Americans.  Then again, I do not believe in coincidence so perhaps, in a sense, they were.

How appropriate that those of us who advocate a return to the ideals of those days are called "patriots," a word which has taken on as derisive a meaning when mouthed by government agents today as those uttered about our forebears by King George's men during the first American revolution.  

Nor is it coincidence that those of us labeled as "patriots" wear the mark with respect and honor.  I count myself proudly among their number and pray only that my work be worthy of inclusion.

It takes some effort to update the founding fathers' works to modern forms of language and phrasing, but the result is nothing short of amazing, particularly when we replace "England" with "Federal Government" and "King George" with "The President."

I have presumed to do just that in this series with Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," a four-part work written and published in early 1776 as part of a broad effort to convince the American settlers to declare independence from England.  

In several places, I have retained Paine's wording intact, where it has particular impact in its original form.  In others, I have edited and rephrased mercilessly, while trying to hew to the apparent intent of his argument, though updated to apply to modern circumstances.  

I do not suggest that this is an improvement upon what Thomas Paine had to say.  I believe only that this is how he might have said it, were he alive today and speaking of the grotesquerie that our government has become.

As you read this section, you might find it useful to contrast it with its counterpart in the original "Common Sense."  One of many on-line sources for Thomas Paine's "Common Sense":  http://www.federalobserver.com/words.php?words=1299 .  I have maintained the original's organization and structure in this rewrite, in order to facilitate direct comparison.

To the Inhabitants of America
on the following interesting subjects

I. Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on the American Constitution. (released 12/26/02) 

II. Of the imperial presidency and hereditary succession. (released 12/28/02) 

III. Thoughts on the present state of American affairs. (subpart a released 1/2/03; subpart b released 1/8/03; subpart c released 1/15/03)

IV. Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections. (released 1/19/03)

---------------------------------

Part IV:  Of the present ability of America, with some miscellaneous reflections.

I have never conversed with anyone related to the Movement who has not seen a wholesale revamping of America's government, if not America's outright breakup, as inevitable.  The present course of foreign imperialism, welfare, citizen control (oppression), economic opportunism and privilege for the few leads inevitably to economic catastrophe and revolt.

As so many agree as to the event, but disagree only as to its timing, let us take a general survey of things and endeavor, if possible, to find out the very time.  But we need not go far.  The inquiry ceases at once, in fact, for the time has found us.  Inevitability has a way of bringing things to a head.

Many bewail the fact that we seem so few in the face of the overwhelming masses of government agents and employees.  It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.  Besides, should the government move against us in wholesale form, masses of the American population will rise up in number sufficient to repel the force of all the world.

America has, at this time, the largest body of armed and disciplined private citizens of any power under Heaven, should armed force become necessary.  Huge portions of the government's forces will refuse to fire upon us and, instead, will join with us against the sweeping tyranny then apparent for all to see.

The present government never will allow formation of an organized citizen militia.  Witness what has been done in the face of small forms of organization, as at Waco.  Never will we be allowed openly to organize or form an effective resistance force.  Even now, the government is taking opposition leaders, our leaders, into custody and jailing them on sundry manufactured charges.  What it fails to realize is that its enemy is an idea, a spirit, generated by its own tyranny.  For every leader taken away and jailed on trumped-up charges, ten more will take his place.

At present, we have little to defend, therefore little defense is necessary.  If we actually possessed a foothold for our people, the more would we have to defend - and lose.

Neither have we debts, for the massive indebtedness of the current American government is attributable to the very forces arrayed against us.  When the time comes, the assumption of debt in furtherance of our cause will be worthy and worthwhile.  For now, to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present Administration, only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty because it is leaving them the great work to do, with a debt upon their backs, from which they derive no advantage.  Such a thought is unworthy a man of honor and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart and the peddling politician.

America is burdened with a total debt of upwards of twenty-seven trillion dollars, for which she pays interest of over a trillion dollars.  Another twenty-two trillion dollars' debt burdens private American companies and individuals.  Somewhat less than another trillion dollars' interest, for a total of about two trillion dollars in interest alone, paid primarily to bankers, most of them foreign, a sum equal to the entirety of the American government budget today and approximately one-third America's total annual economy.  

America's current budget deficit is one-fourth that paid in interest, or about five-hundred billion dollars.  A similar figure is the amount by which America's foreign trade deficit grows each year, representing the outflow of American assets to foreign shores.  Another four-hundred billion dollars is spent on America's military, primarily in support of foreign imperialism and intervention in the affairs of other countries; funds spent on destroying other economies, all while many of America's citizens do without the necessities of life.

A cancer both foreign and hostile to America sits astride her, sucking her dry and directing her policies and government to ends inconsistent with those set forth by her founding fathers.  This is our real enemy, make no mistake.  Most of those employed in the service of the American government are ordinary people, like any other, people who will rally to our cause when the time comes.

That portion of the American government which will oppose us past the point of open and notorious tyranny is small.  We will have a force greater, by far, should that dark and fateful day befall us.

Some say that we can reform government - just pass the right bill, repeal the appropriate act, elect the right president.  Then, once we have made it up with the federal government, it will protect us.  Common sense will tell us that the power which has endeavored to subdue us is, of all others, the most improper to defend us.

The average American's knowledge of government tyranny and oppression, both domestic and foreign, is hourly improving.  Resolution is our inherent character and courage has never forsaken us.  Wherefore, what is it that we want?  Why is it that we hesitate now to demand our own portion of America, free from rule by the federal government?  From the federal government we can expect nothing but ruin.  While it holds sway over us all, this country will not be worth living in.  Jealousies always will be arising; insurrections constantly will be happening.  

The economic fortune of the average citizen, perhaps, has not yet declined sufficient to engender a passion for change.  Trade being the consequence of population, men become too much absorbed thereby to attend to anything else.  Commerce diminishes the spirit, both of patriotism and military defense.  

History sufficiently informs us that the bravest achievements always were accomplished in the birth of a nation.  With the increase of commerce, America has lost its spirit.  Notwithstanding her numbers, America submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward.  The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.  The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel.

Youth is the seed time of good habits, as well in nations as in individuals.  Now is the time for New America to be formed and separated from those who wish to continue the policies and plunder of Old America.  However, the vast variety of interests occasioned by an increase of trade and population has created confusion.

When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave them law at the point of the sword.  Until we form a New America, immune to the tyranny and oppression now afoot in the land, we shall be in danger of having the seat of power filled by some true and awful despot, who will treat us in the same manner.  Then, where will be our freedom?  Where our property?  

Some say that despot already has assumed power, thus more the need for us to move swiftly.  Bush the Second has engineered passage of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Defense Act, blueprints for tyranny passed by the Congress without even being read.  Should the general American electorate know the contents of these Acts and the manner of their adoption, it would not hesitate a moment to think its elected representatives unworthy of their trust.  Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions.  Expedience and right are different things.

To conclude, however strange it may appear to some, or however unwilling they may be to think so, matters not, but many reasons can be given to show that nothing can settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for separation of New America from America.

First, it is the custom of nations, when any two are at odds, for some other powers, not engaged in the quarrel, to step in as mediators.  While we call ourselves a part of America, no power, however well disposed she may be, can offer her mediation.  In our present state, we may quarrel on forever.

Second, it is unreasonable of any foreign power to lend us their support if they suppose it will go to merely mending our internal relations, thereby strengthening America; those powers would thereby suffer by the consequences.

Third, while we profess ourselves to be a part of America, we must, in the eye of foreign nations, be considered as rebels.  The precedent is somewhat dangerous to their peace.

Fourth, were a manifesto to be published and dispatched to foreign courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured and the peaceable methods we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring, at the  same time that not being able, any  longer, to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the American federal government, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connection with her; at the same time, assuring all such courts of our peaceable disposition towards them - such a memorial would produce more good effect to this country than if a boxcar were freighted with petitions to Washington, DC.

Under our present denomination of American citizens, we can neither be received nor heard abroad.  The custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until by independence, we take rank with other nations.

Just as America allows Mexicans to hold dual citizenship, that of Mexico and America, and Israelis, of both Israel and America, so should we now designate ourselves citizens of both America and New America.  We must concentrate ourselves geographically in those portions of America most likely to be allotted to a New America in a breakup of the country, just as Mexicans have concentrated themselves in Southwest America, which they have taken to calling Aztlan.  Already, fully a quarter of the productive white population of California has left in the past decade, resettling mainly in Northwest America, thereby providing an example to us all.

Until a separation is effected from that portion of America over which the federal government will continue to hold sway, we will feel like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.

New America - an idea whose time has come.

-ed

"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright ©2003 Edgar J. Steele

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