Thursday, November 3, 2011

Refreshing the Tree of Liberty

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
- Thomas Jefferson

It's a powerful quote that speaks truth but has been used dangerously over the last few years. In the case of Greece and the decisions being made by the European Union without the explicit consent of the governed, I fear that that the people are about to take to arms and remind people about the inherit messiness of democracy.

Update: To clarify, i'm not advocating revolution. I just don't understand how the EU can continue to dictate terms to its member states - each ostensibly with their own sovereignty! - without going to the people for accountability. The collapse of the Greek Referendum today shows that it's not going to happen anytime soon, which, as Andrew Sullivan writes:

"...there are also profound long-term risks in pushing for the deeper European integration required of this crisis without popular, democratic consent. ... We're already seeing the paradox of accelerating the loss of sovereignty past the popular national will: you actually increase nationalism and division, rather than ameliorating them. In other words, the EU begins to defeat its own reason for existing."

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