History is not a series of accidents or unrelated events , but is rather a complex living organism with a lot of shape, structure and (to put a very specific face on it) intelligence. There is something quite real we can call the Genius of History.
The historical sequence of civilizations is then developmental and progressive. A long term process is unfolding, driven by many factors, not the least of which is human striving. Human beings have certain basic hungers and desires, and these manifest in the shape and texture of events as these grow and metamorphose over time.
One of the basic hungers is for freedom, or what was said during the French Revolution: "liberty, equality and fraternity". The oppression of the human spirit, whether by an older hereditary aristocracy, or a modern aristocracy of wealth, is always resisted; and, this resistance grows wiser and better over time. This resistance reached a kind of high point in the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the U. S. Constitution.
These documents were an attempt to embody a certain impulse of the human spirit in which the sovereignty of the individual was to predominate, instead of the previous domination of the individual by an aristocracy of blood. This is a huge change in the nature of the relationship between the individual and the State. With the American and French Revolutions this change was set in motion, but as History has revealed, not everything could be done to effect such a change very quickly.
Unfortunately, it didn't take long before a tyranny of concentrated wealth was able to impose its will upon this impulse of the human spirit. We see this in the present corruption of civil processes by wealthy elites, and in the shape and texture of elite globalization. The sovereignty of the individual has yet to fully incarnate in human affairs.
For students of the activity of the Genius of History, it is clear that the End of the 20th Century and the Beginning of the 21st (that is the Dawn of the Third Millennium) is a crisis point at which it is possible to step forward again, and through the efforts of individuals acting in free concert, to take this desire of the human spirit another step further. Granted it sometimes seems that the elites of wealth hold most if not all of the cards, but this is only an appearance - an illusory seeming.
The defeat of the movement to create the Multinational Agreement on Investments is a case in point. Further examples of the resistance of the human spirit to its continued oppression by the tyranny of concentrated wealth can be found everywhere today. What I want to do next is to focus on a rather narrow aspect of this process, one which I hope to demonstrate has quite unusual potential.
Modern States, especially in the industrial West, have over the course of Western Civilization rooted themselves in a number of principles, one of the main principles being the rule of law. Whatever the elites of wealth seek to do, they must make use of the rule of law, and it is through various aspects of the rule of law that minorities resist the continuous efforts at further tyranny. In the United States of America, our Founders were able to place into the rule of law certain very fundamental Ideas, which rest like forgotten treasures whose time of use has now arrived. There are three places where this Idea is expressed, and which clearly reveal that our rule of law is based completely upon an appreciation of the sovereignty of the individual.
The first place is in the Declaration of Independence wherein it is stated: "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,..."
Let's isolate a particular phrase: "...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...". Here is one very exact statement of the intended new relationship. The power of the State, to the extent that it is just in terms of self evident and unalienable Rights, is only just to the extent that it is derived from the consent of the governed. The power of the State is entirely dependent upon Consent, and only Consent, which Consent can be withdrawn.
Now an argument could be made that the Constitution does not contain this language. However, the fact is that the Constitution clearly does contain this Idea, whatever form of language is used. In fact, the Constitution begins and ends with this very Idea.
What else can be meant by the beginning phrases of the Preamble: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.". "We the People...do ordain and establish this Constitution...".
Following this beginning, the Founders discovered to their dismay that some people didn't quite get it, so they had to add what is called the Bill of Rights, or the First Ten Amendments to the original document. It is the Bill of Rights which puts the final touch to the Idea of individual sovereignty with what is sometimes called "the Reserve Clause", or the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Thus, the essentials of the Constitution begin with "We the People...do ordain and establish", and ends with "powers not delegated...are reserved...to the people." The rule of law under which we live establishes clearly who is in charge, and upon whose Consent all powers of the State depend.
When, for example, the State, in the guise of Executive and Legislative exercises of granted powers, makes treaties by which it tries to give away sovereignty of the United States, such as in the Multinational Agreement on Investments, the State can only make a limited give away - one which does not bind the People. There is no act which either of the three Branches can make which binds us. Our individual sovereign power is superior in every way.
If there is a difficulty, it is that we have to act collectively, just as we did in the beginning. WE are the "governed" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and WE are the People mentioned in the Preamble and in the Reserve Clause of the Constitution. Our individual sovereignty can only be expressed collectively, to the extent we want to change the nature of the rule of law (our social agreement). This does not, however, as Thoreau clearly saw in his remarks on Civil Disobedience, limit our exercise of our individual sovereign moral will.
Our individual sovereignty then is expressed collectively in grants of power to the State, wherein WE arrive at a shared rule of law, or social contract, concerning the legal rules to which WE all agree, or individually in acts of moral choice (higher law) rooted in the sovereignty of our own I-AM (or spirit).
What does it mean that the Power of the State under the rule of law is limited to that which we collectively grant to it? How does this effect our path into the future and how we act during the many social crises we now face?
My view is that these facts challenge us to recognize that to truly face our current problems, we must go all the way into reconsidering the nature of the most fundamental acts of governance by, for and of the People. It is hard to do this properly. It first requires that we recognize that the normal processes of governance are so corrupted that they must be abandoned. We have to reject our current co-dependence upon a flawed two party system and on those lamed public servants, who lack enough wisdom to correct the effects of the tyranny of concentrated wealth as these manifest in the excesses currently observable in our society connected to corporate abuses of power and other symptoms of social dysfunction.
What I am suggesting is that we can do nothing less then start again from the very beginning, and do this is such a way that we are not dependent at all upon those currently in office. We must have another Constitutional Convention - one that is created and drawn together entirely outside existing forms and structures.
We need not ask the permission of any Branch of Government to do this. Those powers previously granted can be withdrawn, and we can rewrite the whole thing once again, from the bottom up. We need not wait for the Legislative Branch to rewrite the laws governing Corporations, but can change the very Constitution ourselves to keep a Corporation from falsely claiming the same Rights as living sovereign human individuals. We need not fear the excesses of a right-wing minority, whose influences in our Government are unconscionable, such that they seek to be able to make their personal morality have the force and effect of law. By turning our attention to a Second Constitutional Convention we take up the fundamental power upon which any derivative power of the State depends.
Does anyone doubt at all that we must rise to this full potential of Citizenship, and using our sovereign individuality in conscious cooperation, once again consider the deepest questions of the nature of the State and its relationship to its Citizens?
Yes, this will take time. But again the question's answer is obvious - it is serious grants of time and effort we must spend if we want to count ourselves as alive in this grave and troublesome moment in History. Where else is the Genius of History to be found, but in the acts of the collective wisdom of the human spirit?
Let's go at this Idea one more time, so that the reality can become as clear as possible.
History is progressive and developmental, being an unfolding of the human spirit as it seeks to express itself. The desire for freedom, equality and brotherhood, that arose in the time of the Revolutions in America and France, was only able to begin the process of the transformation (metamorphosis) of the earlier relationship of the State and its People. We are now on the cusp of a further deepening of this transformation.
Our tool in this can be no less than that tool first used by the Founders - a gathering and engendering of the collective will (WE) of individual sovereign human spirits (I-AMs), which we came to call the Constitutional Convention. Once again we must gather together and consider the fundamental relationships of the State and its consenting People, in the light of our experiences since the first convention.
This will not be easy. Nor will it be accomplished without drawing toward itself the greatest opposition.
At the same time, History demands of us no lesser act. If the expression of human individual sovereignty is to move forward during this time of crisis, it will only do so to the extent that we risk,and put in play, our comfortable material existence and our very lives. The Altar of Freedom requires no less Sacrifice.
This is a sacred charge, one requiring discipline and sobriety. It needs to be done carefully, and with a mind alerted to prior excesses. The anti-establishment actions of the '60's and '70's are not appropriate here. We cannot indulge ourselves in an us versus them confrontational process, but must recognize that all are Citizens and sovereign individuals, whether one is homeless, in prison, or the CEO of a Fortune Five Hundred company.
Our blessing is that the Founders did succeed in embodying the basic Idea. First in the Declaration of Independence, with its expression: "Governments...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"; and then second, in the U.S. Constitution, which begins: ""We the People...do ordain and establish", and ends with "powers not delegated...are reserved...to the people."
One of those powers is to have a new Constitutional Convention whenever we deem it necessary. Isn't it about time?
[background reading: America's Global Responsibility: individuation, initiation and threefolding; by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon.]