States across the country are legalizing acts that are in direct opposition to the Federal Government. Individuals discover ways around onerous regulations. Jurors rebuke laws that are against popular opinion; even secession is openly considered.

Yet, all these remedies have but one similar trait – non-compliance. The intentional defiance of such laws, regulations, or orders that people feel are unfair, immoral or unconstitutional.

Civil disobedience, as it is sometimes called, is nothing more than people choosing not to participate with the demands placed upon them. While terms such as civil disobedience bring about thoughts of the Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, and Martin Luther King Jr, the French political philosopher, Étienne de La Boétie identified this over 500 years ago.

In his sonnet Discours de la servitude volontaire (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude), La Boétie artfully explained that the power of governments to intrude in our lives is only possible by our consent.  By our passive awareness, subtle grumblings, or enthusiastic tolerance, we allow ever infringement of our rights to go ignored; this is where its true power resides.

Government is nothing more than a collection of individuals. These select individuals only derive the power to plunder, kidnap and murder by the consent of other individuals.  It’s only by their compliance and willingness to obey orders that their given instruments to perpetrate such cruelties.  As La Boétie writes;

He has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you?

Yet, with this discovery, we know all we need to in our fight for sovereignty – non-compliance.  Nothing could be simpler, yet more difficult; all we must do is not permit such actions to take hold. Once we realize where the power of the Federal Government (or State/Local Governments, for that matter) derive, we hold the key to disarming their influence.

While we live in a world of quick solutions, and fix-it-all Presidents, we need only look at ourselves for resolutions.  That we must withdraw our docile obedience and all the shackles binding our freedom will fall to the way side. La Boétie summarizes this sentiment most effectively;

You can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces?

From Jefferson and Madison, to Ron Paul and the Tenth Amendment Center, individuals have recognized the power in State nullification and interposition.  The ability to limit Federal overreach by rendering such laws, not enumerated in the Constitution, as “void, and of no force.”


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