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I toyed with the idea of how the Ricochetti could craft a new “Declaration” modeled on the Declaration of Independence. It wouldn’t be a declaration for “independence”– that would be a credible claim of “insurrection”. It would be a declaration of renewed fidelity to the US Constitution. Recall that the Declaration states some overarching principles (that are not in need of updating) and a list of grievances against the then-prevailing power. And it is this section that would be interesting to “update” because of the similarities between the type of abuses then and the type of abuses now.
But as I considered it, I came back to a different parallel between then and now: slavery. That was not a topic directly addressed by the Declaration of Independence, but certainly at issue due to a proper understanding of natural rights. If the Declaration is true, then slavery cannot be countenanced. And that was the animating thought of the Abolition Movement of the 19th Century. (You could have indentured servitude as an element of contract, but not chattel slavery.) The only logical way to square chattel slavery with the Declaration of Independence was to deny humanity to the slave.
The term “American Exceptionalism” has been both touted and derided, usually based on different understandings of the term. My own preferred understanding is that it referred to how America, unique among the several states extant in the 18th Century, was citizen-governed. If America had an “original sin” it was not slavery per se, it was the failure to recognize the natural rights of all adult citizens to self-govern themselves and the state. We had rid ourselves of that “sin” in our legal processes by the end of the 20th Century. But in this Century we seem to be falling back into “sin” albeit in different ways.
The “equity” agenda with its identity politics and relying on the centralized power, denies the individual agency inherent in natural rights. In effect, the progressive agenda of today is to enslave rather than liberate. You must be what your identity dictates, you must not say what you think, you must not be caught out thinking what you think, and you cannot freely associate with whom you choose. You are not free to contract with disfavored persons. You can be denied a livelihood and associations through wrongthink.
To be sure, the line of demarcation between individual liberty and adverse consequences to others is often unclear. It is always and ever a struggle between impermissible legal restrictions and permissible cultural pressure. Hence there is always fodder for political ferment. But if we are to recognize everyone’s basic humanity we are obliged to toleration to the point of accepting the risk of harm.
And so it is that we need a new Abolition Movement. We need to reject the mental slavery imposed by ideology that leads to physical restrictions, confinement, and even death. We know where progressivism leads. And we must be clear-eyed about the fact that slavery is its end goal. It must be rejected, disreputed, and pushed as far back as possible if it cannot be eradicated. We must see ourselves as Abolitionists. We must recognize that our Founding Documents necessitated Abolition and that we can never live up to our principles without Abolition.Published in