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L. Neil Smith's
Number 541, October 18, 2009

"There is no genuinly forward-looking
science fiction left in mainstream America."

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"Personal Declaration of Independence" or the Covenant of Unanimous Consent?
by Dennis Lee Wilson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise*

In last week's Libertarian Enterprise, C. Jeffery Small, at the end of his article titled "Mandatory National Service", urged readers to embrace a "Personal Declaration of Independence" which, judging by its title, is well intended[1], but actually contains a mixture of Galt's Oath and a mistaken understanding of the U.S. Constitution.

As Lysander Spooner pointed out in his 1870 essay titled "No Treason"[4]: The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it does not deserve to exist. Including it with Galt's Oath is at best a misplaced reverence and at worst, an unpalatable and toxic brew.

NO WHERE in the U.S. Constitution is there any "guarantee" to protect an individual's right to life, liberty and property, nor is the government "charged with defending" such individual rights!! Instead, the power and "authority" to tax contradicts all three! If anyone reading this can point out such a passage, please post that information at Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project[4].

And before someone claims that the first 10 Amendments (the Bill of Rights) provides such a guarantee, I would remind them that a quick reading will easily show the alleged Bill of Rights is, in actuality, merely a list of restrictions on Federal government action, and that time has proven the "restrictions" to be ineffective and unenforceable because the Federal government is the sole judge of the limits placed upon itself.

Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence asserted that governments SHOULD protect such rights (the right to property was removed from the final version but still remains in Virginia documents) but, as excellently demonstrated by Kenneth Royce's Hologram of Liberty[2], the U.S. Constitution is a spectacular repudiation of Jefferson's Declaration. For those interested in an Objectivist perspective of how to actually implement the promise found in Jefferson's Declaration, please see my Libertarian Enterprise article[3] from 2006-August titled " Institute new Government, laying its foundation..." and additional articles at this link:

Being an Objectivist morally and philosophically, I am understandably interested in Ayn Rand's view of government. But Ayn Rand only expressed some of her undeveloped views! There is NO "official" Objectivist Politics.[4] After defining the moral principles underlying a proper political system, she really had very little to say about the specific form that such a political system might take, other than her fictional account of Galt's Gulch which she viewed as an elite club.

Galt's Oath and the libertarian Non Aggression Principle (NAP/ZAP) are moral/ethical principles. The Covenant of Unanimous Consent is an explicit political statement of interpersonal relationships based on those moral principles. Unlike the U.S. Constitution—which was created by a committee of Lawyers to replace the (much better) Articles of Confederation, while Jefferson was in Europe—L. Neil Smith's Covenant actually FULFILLS the promise of individual freedom in Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. The Covenant is simple, rational, personal, easy to understand and even short enough to memorize.

The Covenant also satisfies the objections noted by Lysander Spooner. Instead of being a document that describes how the government shall act, and a document YOU did not sign, the Covenant is a document that describes how YOU will act and is a document that YOU voluntarily sign, if you agree. Those who do not sign (the "dissenters" mentioned by Ayn Rand in 1964) are not punished, they are simply and clearly warned what to expect if they violate the rights of Signatories.

It is indeed the political foundation, the "legal framework needed to establish and maintain a free society open to all, including dissenters" as was suggested by Ayn Rand. Recently Hans-Hermann Hoppe addressed this same issue in his essay The Idea of a Private Law Society at and does an excellent job of showing how such a society could and would function. It is remarkably similar (without giving credit) to that described by L. Neil Smith in The Probability Broach.

The five fundamental Precepts of the Covenant are very explicit and avoid the problem of vague, fuzzy and conflicting political principles. And for those who agree with the five Precepts, the Supersedure clause of the Covenant (which long predates the various Free State efforts) provides an incremental way to create and expand free zones—even where you currently live, even if only one room in your house or apartment.[5] Of course Supersedure alone won't guarantee you complete freedom from the police state that surrounds us. But it, along with the assertive attitude change it engenders, is a start.

* * *

Re-read Galt's Gulch with the Covenant's five Precepts fresh in your mind. I think you will be amazed at how well the Supersedure clause describes the "political" structure of Galt's Gulch. And then, instead of pledging to the "Personal Declaration of Independence", which mistakenly embraces the faulty U.S. Constitution, consider becoming a Signatory to the Covenant of Unanimous Consent and conducting your interpersonal (i.e. political) relationships accordingly.

Dennis Lee Wilson
Objectivist & Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent[6]

* This article first appeared on the "blog"/discussion board at and may continue to be expanded there. Thoughtful comments are welcome and solicited.

[1] NOTE: It is NOT my intention to belittle the author nor question his motives, but rather to correct what I see as errors of knowledge—errors which I, myself, have committed in the past. My intention is best expressed in the following quotes from Ayn Rand:

"Intellectual honesty {involves} knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one's knowledge, and NEVER evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an ACTIVE mind as a permanent attribute."

"An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it. But a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, as suspension of sight and of thought... that which you refuse to know is an account of infamy growing in your soul."

[2] See my review of Hologram of Liberty at

[3] Also see my TLE article from 2005-08-07 titled "An Alternate Form of "Social Contract""

[4] See Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project at: It also contains a complete copy of Lysander Spooner's 1870 essay titled "No Treason"

[5] I have developed a "Notice of Supersedure" (see the wording of which may be used as-is or modified by any other Signatory without recompense, licensing or any other Statist permissions.

[6] I have a (free) 2.25" badge from my CafePress site for any other Signatory who sends me an email with his/her postal address or P.O. Box. I fully appreciate that many do not want to reveal a physical address in an email, even an encrypted one. I am reluctant to do so myself, which is why I have a P.O. Box. For those individuals, I intend to always have additional badges with me at freedom events, so keep a watch for people wearing badges and introduce yourself to anyone with a badge that says "Covenant of Unanimous Consent". Sample is at:

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