Tuesday, June 26, 2018
America Needs a Militia
This interview of Edwin Vieira is instructive. His discussion is based on his book The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the Several States.” Vieira holds four degrees from Harvard, including a Ph.D. and law degree, and as an attorney he has argued landmark labor cases. I have had a couple of small interactions with him. As well, Mark Mix, the head of the National Right to Work Committee, has spoken to my classes, and Vieira has worked directly with him.
Some of Viera's points are:
-All competent Americans belong to the Constitutional militia. The chief exceptions involve physical and mental incapacity. The males-only limitation, which was prevalent in the 18th century, no longer applies, so all able-bodied and psychologically fit Americans are members of the militia. That is true legally because the state-based militia codes are still in effect.
-John Trenchard, in the 1690s, made the case that a standing army is incompatible with liberty. Whoever holds the sword, the ultimate force in society, exercises sovereignty. Since the US is a self-governing republic, the people need to hold the sword. Delegating this authority to the federal government is equivalent to delegating sovereignty to an elite special interest or tyrant.
-Current approaches to homeland security are incompatible with freedom, self-governance, and the Second Amendment. A true Constitutional militia is the basis for true homeland security. The Second Amendment says that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of the a state. In other words, only when the people hold military power can the state be secure and free.
- The average person is the object of control of the current homeland security institutions; he is not a participant in them. Hence, America has adopted police state tactics: surveillance, propaganda, lies, indefinite detention, and ultimately assassinations committed by the executive branch without judicial review. These practices are unconstitutional and incompatible with freedom.
-The current homeland security system directly contradicts the vision of the founding fathers.
-The National Guard is Constitutional, but it is not a militia. A militia conforms to the historical patterns of militias that existed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Vieira says that there are 17 principles associated with a well-regulated militia. These include universal service and all militia members' owning their own firearms.
-The militia, although it still exists on paper, withered in importance because of the Dick Act, also called the Militia Act of 1903 (32 Stat. 775), and The Efficiency in Militia Act of 1903.” The Act separated organized and unorganized militias. This distinction is unconstitutional.
-Vieira argues that the pro-freedom and pro-Second Amendment movements have erred in emphasizing the individual right to bear arms, which Vieira says is certainly part of the Second Amendment, but only a small part. The main purpose of the Second Amendment is to insist that well-regulated militias are necessary to the defense of a free state; in diminishing the importance of the militia itself, the debate has centered on individual rights rather than a full understanding of the founding fathers' vision of freedom.
-Vieira argues for a renewal of legitimate militias that are similar to the current Swiss militia system. To adhere to the Constitution, the states would need to establish universal militia service requirements and training, and the current federal control of homeland security would need to end. The people should be trained to protect homeland security, which is not a federal function.
Vieira's view is radical, more radical than any left-oriented aim of further centralizing the state and putting more police power in state hands. Institution of universal militia service might lessen the obsession with higher education, which could be in part replaced by militia training requirements for 17-year-olds.