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Nullification Advocates Take Show On The Road

By Robert Steinback on April 26, 2011 - 2:53 pm, Posted in Antigovernment

Possibly coming to a city near you: A citizens’ seminar on how to weaken the “united” in United States by canceling federal laws that states don’t like.

The traveling conference, called “Nullify Now!” pushes nullification, the notion that a state has the right to invalidate and disregard any federal law. The concept relies on a spurious interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states and the people any power not explicitly given to the federal government. Nullifiers ignore a long history of Supreme Court rulings defining federal authority.

Nullification is nothing new. Battles over states’ abilities to reject federal government initiatives go back to the founding of the country. During the 1950s, Southerners revived the idea as a way to reject the federal government’s efforts at desegregation.

Today’s nullifiers seem to decry just about everything the federal government does.

With the help of this growing antigovernment movement, nullification has gained traction lately. State lawmakers have introduced, but not passed, numerous bills to nullify federal initiatives like gun regulations and the new health care reform act. Some have sought to deny the authority of federal agents to act in state jurisdictions. Arizona’s senate even passed a bill earlier this year that would create a legislative committee to “recommend, propose and call for a vote by simple majority to nullify in its entirety a specific federal law or regulation that is outside the scope of the powers delegated by the People to the federal government in the United States Constitution.”

The Nullify Now! road show stopped in Austin, Texas, on April 16. The lead national sponsor is a group called the Foundation for a Free Society. Executive Director Jason Rink, in a video on the group’s website, describes the federal government as the primary threat to liberty. He compares the present-day nullification movement with the American colonists who overthrew British rule in 1776 – thus equating the federal government with that of King George III.

“What happened that the protector of the liberties of man has turned and begun to hack away at the roots and branches of the tree of liberty?” Rink says. “Government itself has become the enemy of liberty over time.”

The other driving force behind the movement is the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC), a clearinghouse of nullification efforts founded and headed by Michael Boldin. The next conference is planned for May 28 in Los Angeles, though Boldin said in Austin he needed donations to make that happen.

Nullification Now’s conferences are headlined by prominent figures in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, which has been growing fast in the last two years. Patriots generally define themselves as opposed to the “New World Order,” engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing about the government, or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. The Austin conference featured several prominent Patriot group leaders, including the CEO of the John Birch Society, which once argued that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist, and the head of Oath Keepers, a relatively new group that encourages police officers and soldiers to disobey orders they think may be unconstitutional.

Here are some highlights from the conference’s speakers:

  • Steve Baysinger, Texas coordinator of the Tenth Amendment Center, told the audience: “Texas sovereignty is under attack.” He implored them to “engage the enemies of the Republic.”
  • Catherine Bleish, founder and former executive director of the Liberty Restoration Project, railed against so-called “fusion centers” – terrorism response centers developed after the 9/11 attacks that are meant to help the FBI, CIA and other federal law enforcement services sift through domestic intelligence. For many nullification extremists, fear of terrorism has been eclipsed by fear of an overreaching government. The Department of Homeland Security, Bleish exclaimed, “needs to be nullified.” (Bleish was profiled by the SPLC in 2010 as a leader in the revitalized Patriot movement).
  • Daniel Miller, president of the Texas National Movement, generated thunderous applause when he told the audience: “We are secessionists. The fire of the federal government seeks to consume you!” He was previously with the Republic of Texas, listed for years by the SPLC as an anti-government militia group. In his book Line in the Sand, Miller wrote, “The Federal Government is the stereotypical bully in every sense of the word. It bullies those it considers its own people. If they step out of line it uses threats, picks us off one at a time to make examples to the rest that they had better not stand up or else.” Interestingly, Miller thinks nullification isn’t a radical-enough strategy. Secession, he writes, “Is a total solution for a big problem.”
  • Republican Texas state Rep. David Simpson, who has introduced legislation making airport security pat-downs and body scanners illegal, stated that America has a runaway government and that “we’ve settled for it and we’ve gone to sleep.”
  • Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, told the group that a “citizens’ posse” formed as a militia “is necessary to secure a free state.” Oath Keepers is made up mostly of active-duty and retired law enforcement and military personnel who have pledged to disobey any order they believe conflicts with the Constitution, as a means of counteracting government repression and tyranny.
  • Jack Blood, an Austin-based talk show host, said of Oath Keepers, “If we get cops and military on our side, we’ll make a lot of people nervous.”
  • Art Thompson, chief executive officer of the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society, blessed this movement as the only nullification effort that “didn’t have a hidden agenda.” He also said, “Most Southerners were not pro-slavery.” The John Birch Society denounced the civil rights movement in the 1960s as a communist creation and believes a cabal of bankers and internationalists is plotting to absorb the United States into a global “New World Order” under the United Nations.
  • Debra Medina, a pro-nullification candidate for Texas governor in 2010, endorsed a proposed Texas law “making it a crime for any official, agent, or employee of the United States, or an employee of any corporation, to enforce any part of the [federal] health care act in Texas, and imposes fines of up to $5,000 and/or five years in prison for anyone convicted of doing so.” If the feds try to enforce the health care bill in Texas, Medina promised, “We’ll lock you up!” During her 2010 campaign, she said of secession, “We are aware that stepping off into secession may in fact be a bloody war. … We understand that the tree of liberty is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”
  • Thomas E. Woods, a former member of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South and the author of Nullification: How to Resist Tyranny in the 21st Century, asserted that the states created the federal government and that “the people are sovereign.” He supports an end to the Federal Reserve System. “It is beneath the dignity of a free people to keep on believing this stuff,” he said.
  • CJ

    Gee, what with the “government” sending our jobs overseas,
    engaging in endless wars, trashing our liberties, spending us into oblivion, throwing money at wallstreet and banker criminals, what’s there to like about government? Actually, in Libya, the poverty level is lower than the U.S.!

  • hey

    ***Obama publicly declared Manning guilty before Manning has even had a trial or been charged with anything; no one, especially a President who was a Constitutional Law professor (adjunct). Even Nixon did not do this.

  • hey

    “The belief, for example, that government is secretly preparing to round up and confine law-abiding citizens can stir in some a willingness to violently resist police or federal agents.”

    What about Guatanamo? The Patriot Act? What about Tim DeChristopher? Or the Muslims that have been detained in secret detention centers since 9/11? What about the spying that the government has been doing on peace groups, pro-Palestinian groups since 9/11. Ever hear of Sami Al-Arian? Ghassan Elashi? Animal rights activists who have been placed in detention centers and have not been given due process? Look how the US government wants to have Julian Assange extradicted to the US to stand for trial when Assange does not live in the US and is not a US citizen and is a journalist who posts top-secret documents that were given to him by various sources, including Bradley Manning, who was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being forced to sleep naked in a cold jail cell. Obama publicly delared him guilty

    As a left-wing anti-Stalinist socialist, I do NOT support the Teabagger movement or this far-right “Patriot” movement, but this description that Robert Steinbeck posts,

    “Catherine Bleish, founder and former executive director of the Liberty Restoration Project, railed against so-called “fusion centers” – terrorism response centers developed after the 9/11 attacks that are meant to help the FBI, CIA and other federal law enforcement services sift through domestic intelligence. For many nullification extremists, fear of terrorism has been eclipsed by fear of an overreaching government. The Department of Homeland Security, Bleish exclaimed, “needs to be nullified.” (Bleish was profiled by the SPLC in 2010 as a leader in the revitalized Patriot movement).”

    I see nothing wrong with abolishing Homeland Security considering the many lives that are being destroyed because the power of the government is becoming so centralized.

    SPLC: shame on you! I do not know your reasons for this blog post, I do not know who you are trying to curry favor with, but you are targeting those who are criticizing the government in a time where our rights are truly being eroded. I suggest you get your priorities straight, since many of the people that I listed ave been harrassed and detained by the government for practicing their first Amendment Rights.

    However, I am not surprised to see such rubbish from a group that will target loony militia men in the woods, but does not have the temerity to stand up to hate groups that actually have power, like the Republican Party, ADL (Anti-defamation League), or AIPAC, one of the nations most powerful lobbies. And do not even try to throw the anti-Semitism label in my direction. Most of those in the US who are offended by the hate speech and hateful actions of ADL and AIPAC are Jewish.

  • Kyle Trowbridge

    I have a question for whomever wrote this:

    Are you under the impression that Thomas Jefferson was a dangerous man who had dangerous ideas? Because, as I am sure you are aware, he (Jefferson) is so to be the “creator” of the nullification doctrine.

  • CM

    AJ,

    Only the last five paragraphs? Wow, thanks, glad you approve of all the rest of my comments. And that was really cute the way you made up a little phrase to go with my initials. Sorry to have to say it, though, but everything else you wrote sounded like pure drivel straight out of the reactionary reader, which is sort of ironic for someone who wants to talk about innovation and freedom and stuff. Anal Jackasses substitute dogma for thinking.

  • ken kershaw

    ok now i have read this hit peice and most of the comments, what truely scares the hell out of me is not the idea of a militia starting a new civil war, or the splc’s list of potential domestic terrorist (which as a disgrunteled vet and oathkeeper im on) but the total disregard and dismissal of the rule of law by splc and its followers. nullification is legal, and yes the states do have the right to nullify any unconstitutional laws passed by the feds. its called the 10th amendment, both jefferson and madison wrote about this issue as patriots and memebers of the GOVEVERNEMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. it is the states duty as jefferson worded it, to protect the citezens against the unjust and unconstitutional laws passed by the federal government, there are only 16 enumerated powers granted to the federal goverenement by the constitution. if they go beyond those powers it is tryanny! the states should nullify just like the states above the mason dixon line did against the 1860 runaway slave act did.
    when are you people going to learn, strong central governements are a bad idea! they oppress and enslave the people… this is history, this is why we fought our revolution, this is why jefferson wrote the declaration of independence and madison the constituiton. all you people need to go out and learn history. start with the constitution it is only 2 pages long and easy to understand, unlike 2700 page monster,obamacare (as example) that have such wonderfull things like gold purchase registration and the funding / authorization of an armed civilian defence force in it.

  • AJ

    Gentlemen and Ladies, I have found that arguing with Statists and socialists, while good for the digestion and excellent for venting your spleen, is very intellectually unsatisfying and endlessly frustrating. They can always find more ways to dredge up the same old, tired arguments that the very institutions that prevent freedom, restrict liberty, stifle innovation, and suck the life out of people just trying to live their lives, are actually those things that make your life better.
    It is self evident that the Founders intended a stronger Federal government than they had, but far weaker than the leviathan it has become. It is obvious that several events completely changed the nature of the Federal and State interaction, including the War Between the States, FDR’s programs, Johnson’s programs, the Warren Court, and Nixon’s work to increase power.
    And most importantly, it is obvious that those who are in favor of more Federal power over more details of your life are especially hostile to anything that would re-devolve that power back to the states, as it makes their control more difficult. Rather than becoming effective Laboratories of Democracy, the states become adjuncts of the Federal government, and you lose your freedom of self determination and freedom of departure.
    CM: States Rights allowed Massachusetts to create their health service, experiment and fine tune it. It allowed New Hampshire to choose Progressive ideals in many areas, but follow classical liberal ideals in their gun laws. It allowed California to continue to allow the Federal government to ignore their duties to defend our borders against the gangs and militias running the drug and people smuggling efforts responsible for so much death and destruction on both sides of the border, and allowed Arizona to make efforts to protect said border until the Statists changed their mind.
    The Federal Government has destroyed your fair wage by devaluing the dollar because of overspending us into an unsupportable debt. The Federal government has prevented states from…
    Never mind. A Closed Mind gathers no knowledge, and this site is full of those. CM (like those initials) shows that by completely misinterpreting history, you can make completely nonsensical arguments like his last 5 paragraphs.

  • http://splcenter.org Robert Steinback

    In general response to our guest commenters:

    As deputy editor of the Hatewatch blog, and also as the writer of the above story, I extend a welcome to the many unfamiliar names who have joined the comment thread on this issue. Although I am not one of the screeners of comments, it sure looks to me as if a lot of critical commentary is being posted — evidence that SPLC does not seek to suppress opinions for content alone. If you had a comment blocked, e-mail me at robert.steinback@splcenter.org, and I will find out why it was not published and inform you.

    To gstear: No comment I made suggests that I reserve to myself the power to decide what language is potentially dangerous, although I, individually, or SPLC as an organization, may very well have a view on that — which I am sure you would recognize as our right. Our right to criticize certain ideas is equal to your right to express them. Again, I reiterate that criticizing a point of view is not the same as advocating its suppression, which SPLC does not do. You may not agree with our view that certain language might be potentially destructive to the domestic peace of our land, but the fact that we are both entitled to our side of the disagreement cannot be — if you’ll pardon the term — nullified.

    There are too many other intriguing points expressed by our pro-nullification commenters for me to respond to all, but I will note two others.

    In response to Eric Owens: Your comments about my freedom to move to a state more in line with my beliefs makes me wonder whether or not you consider the United States a nation at all. As you know, at any moment in time, we are subject to the laws of the jurisdiction where we are, not those of the jurisdiction of our domicile. As a U.S. citizen, I want absolute assurance that my right to equal justice under the law will not vary whether I am in Minnesota or Mississippi. I want assurance not only that I will be served in any restaurant open to the public, but that the food and water in that restaurant is safe for consumption. I want assurance that I will not be stopped and questioned by police in any state just because of my race. I want my money to be honored in every state. These are among the many citizenship rights I demand as an American (not as an Alabaman or Texan or Alaskan) and they must be protected by federal law. While there can and should always be a debate about federal vs. state jurisdiction, I find many nullification supporters loathe to recognize the need for national uniformity of certain laws and governmental obligations. I am as much an American here in Alabama as I am in each of the 49 other states I visit. And regarding those who endorse secession: Does a Texan have a right to deny me access to that state simply because I live in Alabama, given that we both, equally, are Americans? Suppose my mother lives in Dallas — do you have a right to force me to obtain a visa to visit her, thus depriving me of an absolute right I now possess?

    Regarding a point raised by several commenters: I am surprised by the downplay I am reading here of the supremacy clause of the Constitution’s Article VI, which expressly states that where federal LAW (not just Constitutional provisions) and state law conflict, federal law prevails. The Tenth Amendment does not, at least as I read it, give the states the power to unilaterally decide that a federal law doesn’t apply to them, nor does it say that the legal process of passing federal laws (stipulated in the same Constitution) can be summarily voided by any state legislature that chooses to. Any state that feels a federal law is unconstitutional can sue — that’s the process provided for in the Constitution.

    Again, welcome to this blog. Feel free to return and participate.

    Robert Steinback
    Deputy Editor, Hatewatch blog

  • CM

    Eric said:

    “The Mineral Rights Management Service (EPA) was partying with BP et al and ignored while spending their bribes to do so until the Gulf of Mexico became toxic. I’ll let you determine the number of U.S deaths specifically related to the FDA failing to do its job and subsequently killing 1000’s of people–or is it 10’s of thousands since its inception (not to mention, one drug–20 patents, one at a time). Or perhaps you’d like to look at the SEC and how fond of Bernie Madoff they were? Personally, at this particular time in our history, I’d like to think of how Unions allowed 2 of the 3 largest automotive manufacturers in the U.S. to become bankrupt and dependent on 300million Americans. They are, after all, private corporations–bad business plan, deserve-to-go-extinct-and-allow-other-business-plans-to-become-reality business plans.”

    Thanks for helping make my case. All of these examples date from the post-Reagan era of deregulation and privatization and starvation of our regulatory agencies, and all are examples of how the wealthy and powerful have succeeded in manipulating politicians (and some of the public) for their own selfish benefit.

    The mineral rights office scandal was under oilman G.W. Bush’s appointees, the FDA became useless because of drug-industry pleas for “fast-tracking” and congressional cuts to the enforcement budget under Newt; much the same with the SEC.

    And you want to blame the unions for destroying the U.S. auto industry instead of the corpocrats who’ve been busy shipping manufacturing offshore ever since Bush I made China the home away from home for American businesses that resented having to pay their workers a living wage? Aren’t these the same unions that agreed to deep pay and benefits cuts to try to keep the plants open?

    And don’t let’s forget the total non-enforcement of the antitrust laws over the past 30 years and the wrist-slapping regulation of the coal miners and the non-prosecution of the mortgage brokers and the judges taking bribes to throw juveniles into privatized prisons and and and ….

    But when faced with these obvious and unrelenting assaults on our rights to a fair wage and safe job conditions and decent living conditions and poison-free air, water and food, etc. etc. etc., you want to open the gates even wider by turning over the protection of our well-being to the even smaller, worse-funded and more easily manipulated state regulators? Brilliant.

  • Eric Owens

    <>
    “Just as a reminder, the 11 states that seceded from the union in 1860-61 were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. They’re also the places that did the most bellowing about states’ rights during desegregation and continue to do so today.

    And how do they rank in performance on the kinds of indicators most of us would consider significant? Among the lowest in the nation on median income, educational attainment and health, and among the highest on poverty, teen pregnancy and infant mortality. Etc. etc. etc. ”

    Let us remember the 1 million + American’s who lost their land due to the TVA in many of those States. The very States that FDR punished for voting against him. Had those people–the poorest in the nation at that time–not had to move to the 2nd and 3rd poorest regions at that time and bankrupted those regions, not had to have done so, the South might well have been an economic farming wonderland for this country. But we’ll never know now–despite every effort by FDR made to save this country failed. And don’t pretend–WWII was the only thing that saved the U.S. from the Great Depression–not one single attempt by the at-the-time-most-racist Party did. You can look that up yourself. Look up the data yourself. The GAO is a good place to start.

    To continue busting your bubble:

    “On the other side of the coin, it’s plain silly to deny that numerous federal laws and programs were part of “what made America great”: things like the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, child-labor laws, the Pure Food and Drug Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week and mandatory overtime pay. Etc. etc. etc. In short, all the things the neo-feudalist corpocrats have fought against for generations.”

    Which of those are going broke less than 50, 75 yrs after being enacted? Here’s real news (aside from the fact that since their inception this country has faced every economic catastrophe in half the time it took the last one to occur):

    The Mineral Rights Management Service (EPA) was partying with BP et al and ignored while spending their bribes to do so until the Gulf of Mexico became toxic. I’ll let you determine the number of U.S deaths specifically related to the FDA failing to do its job and subsequently killing 1000′s of people–or is it 10′s of thousands since its inception (not to mention, one drug–20 patents, one at a time). Or perhaps you’d like to look at the SEC and how fond of Bernie Madoff they were? Personally, at this particular time in our history, I’d like to think of how Unions allowed 2 of the 3 largest automotive manufacturers in the U.S. to become bankrupt and dependent on 300million Americans. They are, after all, private corporations–bad business plan, deserve-to-go-extinct-and-allow-other-business-plans-to-become-reality business plans. That coming from someone whose entire family has been in the cycle of UAW dependency for well over the 80 years–are we employed? are we not employed? Do I love being dependent or what? Personally, I would prefer my family to get work where they don’t have to question it, but you know…UAW…the promises they make to their *dues* payers. And yet you declare the only way to stop corruption and unethical behavior is to have more of what is unethical and corrupt…the SEC, FDA…hows that Department of Education thing working out since Jimmy Carter and the failing U.S. standard of Education when graded against other superior scientific countries? Oh…did we steal scientists from other countries after WWII to make you think we were superior?

    Which brings me to this: Republicans & Democrats. Which is the less evil? Neither. They both want you to give up your rights. They both want the money that goes with Big Government–socially or militarily. The issue is: you are too willing to give up too many of your rights to feel protected by a Police force that will arrive 30 minutes too late to defend you from a racist stomping your skull on curb. And you will deserve it for pretending that anyone other than yourself can defend you from such an act.

  • gstear

    Ruslan,

    I’ll try one more time to break the illusion; the cause of all the world’s problems is NOT that America did something wrong and the stock remedy for them is not continually more government. America did not invent slavery. Slavery has existed from time immemorial and still exists in most of the world, in one form or another and to some degree. In ancient Rome it has been reported that fully 93% of the population were slaves at one point of measurement. What America did was to abolish it because we came to understand that it is wrong, so if you want to denigrate this great country because the institution existed here for some days, then you are obligated in the same breath to commend her for abolishing it. But by your logic, if it was then “self-evident” (by your reasoning, although not declared to be such) that slavery was correct in principle at the time of our founding, then it is even more so self-evident (having been so declared) that the sole purpose of government is to secure our God-endowed rights and that the people have an unalienable right to alter or to abolish it when it becomes destructive of this purpose and authority. This was my point (for which you asked) in explaining why it is not prima facie wrong or destructive to argue a principle that someone might want to allege to be “anti-govermnent” (sic).

  • Eric Owens

    New Note 5

    It appears that there are numerous individuals (here and nation wide) who entirely ignore the simple fact that it is the Constitution *for* the United States, not the Constitution *of* the United States. The former, and the document itself, tells us that we are 50 individual, sovereign governments with the exception of specifically granted powers and rights that the Federal government has; the later pretends to say there no limit and is a figment of post FDR fantasy (you can do your own research).

    The commerce clause does not, however much the Fed would like to otherwise believe, extend to my door step. The drug war is far from within their scope and as well the Real ID Act–to name just a few Federal laws that *expressly* target minorities and that are extremely pertinent to the current day discussion of nullification (yes, liberal, thank nullification for the Real ID Act *not* being enforced anywhere but Florida). The Underground Railroad could not have existed without nullification (yet the SPLC would have us believe it’s racist to believe nullification is legal), the “South” failed in their attempts to undermine the Constitution via nullification for several reasons, the largest being, simply that the terms “People” and “Citizen” are not decided by individual States–despite how much gun control advocates would like us to believe. So, in like terms–if it is racist to believe that nullification is an act that is legal and important in our country–then it is racist for supporting the drug war and are you not one of the “People” if you don’t believe in the distinct right to own firearms without infringement (you are completely able to give up your U.S. citizenship and move elsewhere for believing so).

    But back to States rights–if you don’t like the laws a State creates, you have 2 options: move to a State that does have laws you can live with or work to change the laws of the State in which you live. If neither of those options are palatable to you, then obviously the issue is not really that important to you except in social conversation.

    The simple fact that the SPLC, according to this article, fails miserably to understand that there is a double edge sword in nullification does not mean that the People will tolerate the very things the SPLC works to end. The SPLC works to end what most People will not tolerate–what excuse does it have in working to end the other things the People will not and do not tolerate? The SPLC is already there in ending discrimination–so are (L)libertarians. The difference is, the SPLC sees the issue as a Federal responsibility with which to hold the entire country hostage, while libertarians believe you can only hold those responsible for discrimination hostage. After all, theft, rape and murder is not tolerated, but only those we believe to be responsible for it go to trial–not everyone in the household, neighborhood, town/city, county or State where the accused lives.

    Until today, reading this article, I had much higher respect for the SPLC’s work. In seeing that the SPLC would rather have enslaved the People in Federal debt, I no longer have that level of respect. As for libertarians being “fluff”–look up the Free State Project. Those folks don’t mind moving to a State that most exemplifies their beliefs to start changing this country one State at a time. In the end it is about principle: the principle of freedom and equality, or the principle of excessive force and power. The SPLC seems to prove it believes in the later.

    But back to States rights–if you don’t like the laws a State creates, you have 2 options: move to a State that does have laws you can live with or work to change the laws of the State in which you live. If neither of those options are palatable to you, then obviously the issue is not really that important to you except in social conversation.

  • Jim Kress

    BTW, any choice the SPLC makes to not post my previous comment is proof positive of its accuracy.

  • Jim Kress

    It appears the SPLC has reached the same point as the government of the Soviet Union, i.e. anyone who disagrees with them is insane. The only difference is that, in the case of the SPLC, anyone who disagrees with them is a hate group.

    You people are pathetic and the antithesis of a free society.

  • Sean

    Count 1 more proponent of the legal theory of nullification as laid out in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798. For the record, I *do not* support the use of the theory of nullification to justify actions by states that violate the rights of individuals (slavery, racial segregation in public institutions, etc.). I *do* support nullification as a means for states to check the power of the Federal government. I believe in federalism, i.e., the distribution of authority between state and federal governments to ensure that neither is infringing upon individual rights.

    While it’s fair to point out that some southern states argued for nullification during the civil rights era, etc., why do people neglect to point out that nullification was used to fight the immoral Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850. These Acts made it mandatory to capture runaway slaves and return them to their owners. Naturally, states like Wisconsin and Massachusetts told the Federal government to mind their own business, and rightly so.

    Those who call for nullification of certain laws should not be deemed “racist” or “anti-government” as a blanket rule. To do so would be academically dishonest, though I see how it can be easy for those who haven’t educated themselves about nullification to make that mistake.

  • Derek Sheriff

    Even removing the slant and bias, this is really horrible reporting…

  • CM

    A lot of smoke being blown here the past couple of days, but none of it changes the facts: Devolving authority to the states is a terrible idea, as anyone can see who ignores the dogmatic economic and political rationalizations and looks at the evidence instead.

    For starters, if the federal government hadn’t intervened, the South would still be home to segregated schools and neighborhoods, separate-but-grossly-unequal public facilities, anti-miscegenation laws, unpunished lynchings and all the rest of the apparatus of Jim Crow. So no one should act surprised if their secessionistic talk gets them accused of being racists; if you really aren’t one yourself, you’re helping enable those who are.

    It’s also true that socioeconomic conditions in the anti-federal South supply a strong argument against easing central government oversight over those states.
    Just as a reminder, the 11 states that seceded from the union in 1860-61 were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. They’re also the places that did the most bellowing about states’ rights during desegregation and continue to do so today.

    And how do they rank in performance on the kinds of indicators most of us would consider significant? Among the lowest in the nation on median income, educational attainment and health, and among the highest on poverty, teen pregnancy and infant mortality. Etc. etc. etc.

    On the other side of the coin, it’s plain silly to deny that numerous federal laws and programs were part of “what made America great”: things like the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, child-labor laws, the Pure Food and Drug Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week and mandatory overtime pay. Etc. etc. etc. In short, all the things the neo-feudalist corpocrats have fought against for generations.

    In case you didn’t notice, America managed to rise to superpower status both militarily and economically with these laws and protections in place; some would say, because of them.

    It’s worth noting in particular that the Glass-Steagall Act kept the banking industry safe and profitable for decades, but as soon as the anti-regulation zealots were able to dismantle it, the whole banking system ran lemming-like straight into the toilet and had to be rescued by (gasp!) the federal government.

    The reality is that the tenther or state’s rights or nullification movement is just another tactic being organized, funded and exploited by economic warlords like the Koch brothers, the Scaife/Mellons and the Coors family to divide and conquer the population, demolish all worker and consumer protections, and stack the deck even more heavily in favor of the wealthy and powerful, in the name of deregulation and privatization. We’re seeing the payoff now in the form of, for example, Wisconsin’s anti-worker governor and Virginia’s anti-sanity attorney general, both of whom have been recipients of sizable Koch campaign donations.

    If you’ve been fooled, it’s no reason to feel ashamed, but it’s not something to brag about, either.

    All IMHO, of course.

  • Mark Potok

    TT, in the comment just before this one, adopts without checking the assumption that we get government funding — something that’s repeated endlessly on far-right blogs, but that is entirely false. As a matter of policy, we do not accept government funding. I’ll leave others to debate TT’s long list of other allegations.

  • TT

    SPLC wants to do what all Old World intellectuals want to do – control. They’re drawing an iron curtain around the debate by name-calling, distorting, and subverting the subject before anything is said. This agitprop is a useful tool for people who have been indoctrinated and sensitized to watchwords like racism, bigotry, and hatred. It’s these watchwords that appear with such stale regularity they’re losing their meaning. Ergo, they need to invent new watchwords to replace the old ones – “Birther”, “Bircher”, “anti-Government”, “neo-Confederate”, and “Deather”. All of which is meaningless except it distorts, demonizes, and subverts which was the intention all along.

    The problem with this approach is it created an illiterate society. Since everything is shouted and meaningless nothing will ever be taken seriously. Those who are willing to take things seriously are beginning to read for themselves. The Sokal Hoax proved that the Intellectual Left has left itself with no intellect.

    SPLC only knows that Nullification threatens their power since it takes away their Federal Funding. That’s all they need to know. To the Old World intellectual they’re the ones to decide what is valid or invalid, what is right and wrong, and what is good or evil. The Old World intellectuals are the arbiters of truth. In order to have these self-appointed powers they must have a system of government who defends them. Nullification takes away this authority. It threatens the Ivory Tower by giving the people a can of paint thinner and allowing them to strip away a veneer of lies and propaganda.

    Thanks for trying to shut this down! You did everyone a big favor by exposing who you really are.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    It didn’t have to be in the text, action speak louder than words.

  • Dwayne Stovall

    While working to create a nanny government that will re-distribute the wealth while taking liberty and freedom from one to give to another, has anyone at the Southern Poverty Law Center actually read the Constitution? You consider nullification radical? You can’t be serious. History clearly disputes that notion. Of course, those of us that want the States to use their right to nullify to re-establish their sovereignty and help bring this leviathan back into its constitutional limitations must be neo-confederate racists or birthers, right? Right… Sorry, I forgot the rule.

  • gstear

    To CM,

    Why should we not be all fired up? Is that only the proper province of the left? If so, why? For the record, I am NOT a “Bircher”, never been a member, although I know that John Birch was a Christian missionary martyred by the Communists in China. And I do not know what a “neo-Confederate” (sic) is. I am simply an un-modified American. Or is this blog only intended in reality to be a province of the left that somehow “got hijacked”, which seems odd given that your moderator declared it to be “four-squared” in support of free speech? Hmmm?

  • gstear

    To Ruslan,

    I do not find anything like that in my copy of our Declaration. Show it to me where it says that it is self-evident that people can own people. It does not. That said, the weaknesses of individual men cannot translate logically to infer weakness in principle. The Declaration elucidated principles in clear and unambiguous language. It is wise to read it and to re-read it from time to time.

  • CM

    Interesting, almost a week after the original blog entry, a whole host of comments suddenly appear that make the same basic claim: that nullifiers aren’t anti-government, in fact they’re the only true defenders of the true understanding of the Constitution. I wonder which right-wing blog linked to this post and got the Birchers and neo-Confederates all fired up.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “First, please consider the third and fourth truths in our Declaration of Independence, which the founders held to be SELF-EVIDENT.”

    They also found it self-evident that people had the right to own other people as property. Point?

  • Tom Mullen

    To Mr. Rand,

    The American philosopy of liberty was based, according to Thomas Jefferson, upon John Locke, not Rousseau, whose philosophy is incompatible with Locke’s. Locke asserted that man’s natural liberty was not merely limited by his strenght, but the “law of nature,” which is the natural limit of human action. ““The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

    According to Locke, man gives up only his authority to prosecute crimes after the fact, and that the law of nature still applies to the elected legislature, regardless of any “general will (which doesn’t really exist anyway).” When the elected legislature begins violating the law of nature, i.e. passes laws that invade, rather than protect the life, liberty, and property of the people, it is the right of the people to resist and if necessary to dissolve the government and reassert their natural rights, which they have not given up. That is why the Declaration of Independence says, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    Locke’s philosophy is the philosophy of liberty. Rousseau’s of socialism and tyranny. The American revolution was based upon Locke, the French Revolution upon Rousseau. Judge the results for yourself.

  • gstear

    As an aside, but unrelated to nullification, three people have touched my life over the years who taught me that poverty is a state of mind and is not a state or measure of economic station in life. They all knew the lesson of Philippians 4:11, and each acquired an asset that most Americans never even conceive exists: the ability to contentedly live on little. Coincidentally, two of them were black, the third was Vietnamese. I met one of the men in 1974 who was a bootblack in the barber shop I started going to; over his life he shined shoes on the same block in a small Texas town for 65 years, and janitored at night many of those years. All one needed to know about him was said in the voice and expression of his wife one day after he could no longer work, when I knocked unannounced at his front door and asked if he was in. I had never met her, and the doorbell woke her up. Her response to my inquiry was, “Come on in, he’s back in da back, he’d love to see you.” The contentment in that woman’s voice when she spoke of her man after so many years of struggling erconomically spoke mountains about him, as did the love and effort shown at his funeral a couple of years ago, which I drove 300 miles to attend. Another was a lady who, with her husband, were employed as live-in housekeepers for my dad’s cousin from the late ’30′s, and was loyal to the cousin in her decline and through the loss of both of their husbands. She once wrote to my mom that she was 80 years old and had been working since she was 8, and was getting a mite tired, but her rent was $1 more than her Social Security check. I had the privilege to visit her in a nursing home by taking an extra day when we were in New York a couple of years ago; her nephew whom I had never met face-to-face met us at the train station, took us to the nursing home, and treated us like lifelong friends. She died later that year, and was like family to us. The third was the lady who did washing for myself and three other GI’s the year I was in ‘Nam, who worked all day long for $10/month from each of us, plus supplies. Each was always cheerful about life, thankful for what they had, and scrupulously self-respecting and honest. Rarely did I ever see a tinge of sadness from any of them, and I shall cherish knowing them as long as God gives me breath. If I can share with others the love and wisdom they taught me, then my time will not have been wasted.

  • gstear

    Mr. Steinbeck,

    You speak of respect for free speech but then seem to denigrate anything YOU deem “anti-government” (sic) as being potentially destructive or otherwise inappropriate to be said. Respectfully, since you are not the arbiter of the first amendment, permit me a few thoughts to place some perspective on what is and is not proper to be considered, respecting “the government”, and what is or is not properly “anti-government”:

    First, please consider the third and fourth truths in our Declaration of Independence, which the founders held to be SELF-EVIDENT. Considering the linguistic distinction between the third self-evident truth and the one immediately preceding it, one can only conclude that the SOLE purpose of government is to secure those rights that are the endowment of out God and Creator (If they did not consider it thus, they would have included language suggesting that “among the purposes of government . . .”; also, by logical inference, when government thus constituted denies our God, it has abrogated its authority! I further suggest that the taking of wealth from one citizen by government and the giving of it to another who did not earn it is NOT within the purview of securing those rights.) Similarly, if they did not know that governments in all ages tend to exceed their authority, it would have been unnecessary to include the fifth self-evident truth, “that when governments become destructive of these ends it is the RIGHT of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation upon such principles and assuming such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”. (Did I get it about right, from memory?) So there are times when it is proper to criticize the government, and the right to do so is enshrined in our first amendment.

    Secondly, there is a quote attributed to Teddy Roosevelt (you can find it on the frontispiece of Robert Welch’s book on Eisenhower, to which you alluded above, but that book was written several years before the JBS was even founded) in which he said: “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree to which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth …” The same sentiments seem appropriate when it is the government itself that exceeds its lawful or Constitutional bounds and limitations. That is what the whole 10th Amendment, and the historical concept of nullification, is all about.

    Thirdly, Paul Johnson, in his excellent 1977 book “Enemies of Society” admonishes us to “beware those who seek to win an argument at the expense of the language, for the fact that they do so is proof positive that their argument is false and proof presumptive that they know it is . . .”

    And fourthly, in his book on the fall of Cuba, Mario Lazo reminds us that, “An ideology, as I understand it, is a habit of thinking and feeling so ingrained and compulsive that it functions independently of reality. It involves such a strong commitment to a doctrine that if empirical truth conflicts with dogma, it is truth that becomes distorted.”

    We are unfortunately living in an age characterized by irreconcilable and opposing views of all of reality (or of ‘truth’?) which divide the people in significant proportion, and it is not the proper province of the one to declare that the viewpoint of the other is destructive when that conclusion if predicated on the worldview of the one accusing. Whittaker Chambers in his autobiography Witness speaks of both worldviews, having experienced them both in succession and concluded that one had to be both wrong and evil. Until our gentle republic gets on the same page respecting our understanding of all of reality, and until we restore an obligation to individual honor among the predominant consensus of the people, we cannot rectify the structural excess of government. If that does not happen before the tax consumers can consistently outvote the tax producers, the collapse of the United States and all that we hold dear is inevitable. The concept of an enfranchised entitlement class was alien to the founders and to the endowed rights from our Creator, and it is never wrong to argue that this kind of concept and governmental structure is wrong.

    Some years ago, I recall a survey which concluded that 85% of the people would do something wrong if they thought they could get away with it. That speaks mountains about the casualty of honor that we are living under, but there is an even greater admission by such a conclusion, that I doubt the surveyor even considered: By their very admission, that same 85% of the people are acknowledging that there is a common standard of right and wrong. We need to get back to it as a nation, and, when we do, we will have no trouble acknowledging that there really is a Power higher than the state, from whence cometh our rights.

  • Chuck

    Texas became a nation on March 2nd 1836 and should never have agreed to be anything less.

  • Ken Kennemur

    DC is a tyrant and does need to be abolished , the country at one point was built on common ground but the left has pushed for years dervirsity and diversity kills nations . Good bye America as long as the tyrant DC is around it will die..

  • Tim

    I like how this article spells out nullification under the tenth amendment exactly and then says it is bad. I would like to point out that the law is the constitution. It even says so in the supremacy clause and is the basic concept behind constitutional governments. Anyone who says that tenthers are disregarding the law is false since the law itself allows us to nullify any law that is not within the confines of the constitution. Tenthers are simply following the law as it is written.

  • Roger

    So adherence to the United States constitution, as written, is anti-government? Does anyone here understand how asinine that position is?
    It is plainly clear, using common language, that the federal government was created by the states with specific enumerated powers. Anything beyond those powers is an illegal usurpation.

  • http://www.diamondkequipment.com Dwayne Stovall

    Gary Wood is absolutely correct. Being in favor of States using the completely constitutional option of nullification is not a sign of anti-government. It’s a sign of anti-destruction of the Constitution and a sign of anti-socialism. It is a sign of pro-limited government and individual responsibility. If you are a socialist, say it. Don’t hide behind your contempt for the founding of this, The United “States” of America, and attempt to spin the constitution, poorly I might add, with pure rhetoric that flies in the face of the 10th amendment. We have had over a century of damage to the Constitution. Since Lincoln made his ridiculous claim that no State just by a motion of its own could leave the Union and the sitting congress did not challenge him we have been on the path to some form of Socialism. The vast majority of current government departments, agencies and programs are not Constitutional and they must be repealed. The fedral government will obviously not correct itself, therefore I am all for each State using whatever constitutional means it has at its disposal to get the leviathan as far out of their affairs as possible. By the way, you didn’t have a review on Professor Kevin Guztman. I’m sure he would love to hear your appraisal of his position on nullification.

  • apache

    Wow. SPLC once again demonizing dissent and manufacturing their “boogeyman”. Stick to what you do best, Neo-Nazis. (oh wait I forgot everyone with a Gadsden Flag is now one of them too).

  • Gary Wood

    An anti-government movement? Really? I’m a strong believer in the Constitution, the 10th Amendment, and federalism as given to the world under the framers and founders vision. I support the right of any State to stand in opposition to any federal law not brought about under the rules of the Supremacy Clause and support all federal law (even if I don’t like it) that is brought about under the rules of the Constitution.

    This does not make me anti-government but quite the contrary, I fully support federal, State, local and personal governing in accordance with the agreed upon constitutional order. Even though many amendments I oppose, until they are repealed they should be followed. I question and distrust all governing politicians and special interest groups…it is our duty as citizens to question and challenge those that are beyond our laws or those who wish to use law for thier special interests or political favor.

    I am not radical. I took an Oath to uphold our Constitution over 35 years ago and still hold to my responsibility. The 10th Amendment and the concepts found in a Resolution of Interposition, up to and including the obligation to make unconstitutional federal laws null and void within a State, is not radical nor anti-government. This is a completely unfair and inaccurate characterization of many of us who support the 10th and our Constitution.

  • skinnyminny

    Deep Ecology,
    Okay, now I think I understand! What I’m confused at most, is ‘you don’t vote!’ Every week, we have (personal friends) what we couples night out, during ball season – you know, how when game season is on, the men would rather not be disturbed while watching the game – so, instead of us feeling left out, we get together and watch documentaries, discuss politics and issues while the men watch sports…and yes, we do vote. You can’t change policies or be heard unless you vote. You also can’t expect good government if you keep voting in the same people that never give you the time of day until it’s election time.***look at some of my comments posted on the tea party elections – you will see I predicted Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina…would not win in Califas. What’s happening here is amazing – the City of Vernon, Califas, an industrial/corporate city with less than 100 residents, the city will likely be unincorporated and merged into the county of L.A. instead of keeping their city charter. Investigations within the city hall shows that employees (i.e. working in the mayor’s office) use city cars for personal use, thereby charging the taxpayers up to $600k a year in gas…, state employees (i.e. in management) using credit cards, car allowances of up to $30k a year…so again, if you look at the MSM, tea party type groups, you will have you think it is the teachers, pensions, health care, unions that’s breaking the state – well, it has come out that the City of Bell, management had an additional secret pension plan, some of the upper management are getting bonuses. Bonuses, I say, for what? The Firefighters/Cops don’t get bonuses when they become a hero in certain situation- i.e. 9/11, they most likely get public recognition, a medal, handshake. Oh, what about the teachers who become heros, i.e. Columbine, where are their bonuses? So again, these are just some things that people need to take into account.

    Jonas Rand,
    Sorry if I come off to aggressive at times, especially now that I know you’re only in the 9th grade, I will use extra caution. Please, continue to engage, this will be as good an education as any other.

  • Deep Ecology

    Mr. Steinback, we are in agreement on the threat from fringe, anti-government, conspiracy theorists. SPLC’s position is a reasonable one considering the growth of these movements.

    The extreme polarization in our contemporary political scene seems to encourage a drift for some to the lunatic fringe, left and right. My concern is that we don’t create the impression that legitimate movements, be they anarchism, libertarianism or nullification advocates, be linked in the marginally informed public with true extremists that sometimes hover around the periphery of those movements.

  • http://splcenter.org Robert Steinback

    In response to Jonas Rand and Deep Ecology,

    Your questions regarding the nature of the “threat” in being antigovernment are fair ones. Let me take a crack at addressing them.

    First of all, SPLC stands four-square behind the freedom of speech and expression, so we see nothing inherently objectionable to having a debate over the role of government or even whether government itself is desirable or necessary. But even within legally protected speech, there can be hate, lies, wild conspiracy theories, vitriol and other content that hold the potential of unleashing destructive reactions that can become, in some people, destructive acts. SPLC, within its own freedom under the First Amendment, seeks to scrutinize and expose — but not suppress — speech of this nature. Our belief is that the best way to defuse the harmful potential of lies, hate-mongering, groundless conspiracy theories and the like, is to lay it bare for all to see.

    There is a brand of antigovernment rhetoric that carries the danger of provoking destructive acts. The belief, for example, that government is secretly preparing to round up and confine law-abiding citizens can stir in some a willingness to violently resist police or federal agents. Sovereign-citizen theories that government and the Fed possess secret funds that can be “liberated” through “paperwork terrorism” can clog up bureaucracies, at extreme cost to taxpayers. There are myriad examples of how creating wild and false allegations of government excesses can not only provoke destructive responses, but also drown out the legitimate, informed debate over the roles of government. SPLC is not seeking to “win” the debate for either side, but to sift out the rhetorical impurities, such as lies, so that only a healthy, vigorous debate remains.

    Robert Steinback
    Deputy Editor, Hatewatch blog

  • Deep Ecology

    For Jonas,

    Not equating but comparing the various movements that seek to limit the role, authority, and power of government. Anarchism, as I understand it, is broadly divided between individual and social anarchists. Libertarians have minianarcho libertarianism and anarcho libertarians, or left and right leaning libertarians. Nullification movements seek to re-establish the states as sovereign and free to interpret federal law as constitutional or unconstitutional, and under no requirement to abide by or implement those directives or laws they oppose. I was curious as to SPLC’s position on these movements and their goal of minimizing or even eliminating federal authority, and further, do these political ideologies represent what could be construed as “hate” groups?

    For skinnyminny: Full disclosure, not a libertarian, anarchist or nullification advocate. I don’t vote or engage in partisan activity, but as an academic love ideas and discussion. My only “advocacy” is Deep Ecology and Campus Free Speech. Deep Ecologists discuss alternatives to our current government, social, and economic structures but that is another topic:)

  • Jonas Rand

    I am a libertarian, but a libertarian socialist. Don’t believe in social darwinist theory at all.

    All states are ruled by force – a state ruled under “commonly agreed-upon law” and a state built on force are not mutually exclusive. The definition of a state is the party with a monopoly on violence, and thus, those who have the power in a given area.

    Do you consider anarchism, which is undoubtedly anti-government (but almost always left-wing), a “tool of the wolves”?

  • CM

    Deep Ecology “would love to hear from SPLC moderators of the organizations position on Federal versus State authority/responsibility, the difference in their opinion, between Individual/Social Anarchist position on governmental authority limits and the nullification movements emphasis on deconstructing the modern centralization of power at the Federal level and returning it the individual States and Local Communities” but questions whether it’s “appropriate to include political and social theory in a blog dedicated to anti-social hate and racist groups.” So you’re inviting SPLC to engage in the very thing you suspect might be inappropriate?

    Obviously, I can’t speak for the SPLC, but it does seem to me that it would be perfectly legitimate for anyone dedicated to exposing and eradicating prejudice and hatred to examine closely the ideologies or enabling mindsets that contribute to those problems. In my opinion, contemporary libertarianism and its kin do just that, having been poisoned by a predatory, social-Darwinist way of thinking. That’s what enables a Rand Paul, for example, to argue that businesses must be allowed to practice racial discrimination because prohibiting it is an infringement of the owners’ rights and an undue restriction on the free market. Pointing out the false values and irrationalities in these ideological complexes is a way of empowering individuals to make better-reasoned choices.

    Jonas, I didn’t quote Rousseau just because he’s Rousseau but because I wanted people to think about what he said. A civil state is one in which citizens agree to give up their right to impose their will on others by force in return for the right not to be so ruled by others; in other words, it’s a state ruled by commonly agreed-upon law, not force.

    I have no idea whether you’re a libertarian yourself, I was just proposing one possible answer to the question you raised about “what is wrong with being against government in general.” Government, in general, is what we ordinary people create to protect ourselves from all the would-be political and economic warlords and bandits in the world. As I suggested above, anti-government ideologies strike me as a tool of the wolves to dupe us sheep into giving them control of the fold.

  • Jonas Rand

    Deep Ecology: This might not have been made clear in my above post, but anarchists don’t support “states’ rights” or any type of hierarchical, authoritarian system whatsoever. This is not to say that anarchism is the rejection of all institutions, just that all institutions that are compatible with anarchist philosophy and ideology are governed through direct, participatory democracy. “States’ rights” is minarchism (not anarchism) and if not used in that sense, is almost always a “lost cause” defense of the Confederacy (though a historically-revisionist one).

  • Deep Ecology

    Where in my seeking SPLC’s position on nullification and its closely related libertarian and anarchist schools of thought can you ascertain my own position on these movements? It seems perfectly reasonable that a person who is a powerful advocate of social justice in society can also question the just and reasonable limits of power of the state.

    Second, this is a blog that focuses on hate, intolerance and organizations and individuals that foster them. A discussion of states rights versus centralization of state power, or for that matter economic theory (since politics and economics are linked) seems to be out of place.

  • Jonas Rand

    @Deep Ecology: Anarchists don’t support “state” (i.e. subdivision of federal government) authority any more so than federal or military (or militia/thug) authority.

    The so-called Libertarians in the USA support hyper-individualism and excessive competition, which is unhealthy. I don’t support that. @CM, do you think that I hold the beliefs of the so-called US “Libertarians”, and that by quoting Rousseau as saying “what man acquires in the civil state [is] moral liberty, which alone makes him truly master of himself”, that you would appeal to this sentiment? I don’t have less respect for him as a philosopher, but I’m certainly not convinced to support statism/authority just because Rousseau stated that it guarantees collective liberty. Also, what is a “civil state”? Does this include police states, or dictatorships (like Napoleon’s France)?

    @Skinnyminny – In response to your question about the wild west – if they’re anything like Posse Comitatus (who wants to delegate the highest authority in the country to…wait for it…the county sheriff), then they certainly do. I think that all such ideas are idiotic. Everyone has the right to hold such opinions, but if they are using constitutionality as the pretext for proposing “nullification”, then they don’t know what they are talking about. As this article notes, such “nullification” is not legal nor “constitutional” (the term that “small government”, militia types like to bandy about).

    By the way, I’m not expressing support for “nullification” – state government is just as pernicious as federal government if not more so (the anti-union bills, anti-immigrant bills etc were not implemented from Washington). I’m just saying, what is the problem with being anti-government? Many people (myself included) dislike the federal and state government. I don’t “get” your example about the minority and the police officer – police racism is endorsed by government and the powers that be. That’s one of my problems – the nature of the system is racist.

    As for Orange County, I don’t know about Cali politics much, even though I live next door in Nevada.

    Skinnyminny, your thoughts and your posts are always interesting, even though we disagree on some things. I’m only in 9th grade, so I might get confused sometimes :)

  • skinnyminny

    Wow! I can’t believe some of the comments here. Oh well, what the hell, I can’t believe the comments by Jonas Rand and Deep Ecology. So let’s make a deal, what happens if a minority refuses to follow instructions from a street cop? Say, no I.D. or questioning a cop as to why the cops stopped him/her? Let’s go even further, the minority resists arrest – do you honestly think the cops would be at a standoff with said minority for hours on end?

    Another question, are they suggesting that we return to the ‘wild wild west?’ But, this is what I have a hard time understanding, why do they stay here in the U.S.? No one is making them stay here! I mean they have the money to start over anywhere they want – have they even thought of returning to Easter Island!

    Meanwhile, we’ll be waiting for them to visit in L.A., by greeting them with flowers. Nah, just kidding. We need the tax revenues – they’ll find that sales tax, gas… is much higher in L.A. than their usual meeting place of Orange County.

  • Deep Ecology

    Like Jonas, would love to hear from SPLC moderators of the organizations position on Federal versus State authority/responsibility, the difference in their opinion, between Individual/Social Anarchist position on governmental authority limits and the nullification movements emphasis on deconstructing the modern centralization of power at the Federal level and returning it the individual States and Local Communities. As an aside, is it appropriate to include political and social theory in a blog dedicated to anti-social hate and racist groups? Modern libertarian parties and anarchist groups would probably be a little surprised by this inclusion and association.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Here’s another opinion on the subject, regarding liberty: When someone speaks of freedom, ask for whom, and to do what?

  • CM

    “… can someone explain what is wrong with being against government in general?”

    Here’s one opinion:

    “What man loses by the social contract is his natural liberty and an unlimited right to everything he tries to get and succeeds in getting; what he gains is civil liberty and the proprietorship of all he possesses. If we are to avoid mistake in weighing one against the other, we must clearly distinguish natural liberty, which is bounded only by the strength of the individual, from civil liberty, which is limited by the general will; and possession, which is merely the effect of force or the right of the first occupier, from property, which can be founded only on a positive title.”

    “We might, over and above all this, add, to what man acquires in the civil state, moral liberty, which alone makes him truly master of himself; for the mere impulse of appetite is slavery, while obedience to a law which we prescribe to ourselves is liberty.”

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book I, chapter 8, “The Civil State.”
    Translated by G. D. H. Cole; online at http://www.constitution.org/jjr/socon.htm

  • Jonas Rand

    I’m not so stupid as to believe that racism and militias are somehow benevolent or benign, but can someone explain what is wrong with being against government in general? I’ve always been rather confused by the seemingly close alliance between the cops/federal authorities and SPLC (or at least the SPLC’s positive attitude about police). By the way, if you support the authority of states (or militias) rather than federal government, then you aren’t totally against government. It is still hierarchical and thus a form of top-down governance.