No Consent, No Legitimacy

According to Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” This concept is the whole basis of liberal democracy, as reiterated in its foundation documents over several centuries. This concept is usually referred to as “consent of the governed,” and there is no such thing as democracy without it. Here in the United States, our own government claims to derive its legitimacy directly from our consent:

“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” – from the Declaration of Independence

Not everyone in the resistance movement values the foundation myths of liberal democracy. Consent of the governed is never unanimous, as this quote from the Declaration of Independence illustrates – the author of the Declaration was a slave owner, and the slaves on his plantation obviously did not consent to be governed. To the anarchists in the resistance movement, “consent of the governed” is a convenient fiction that only benefits the State.

For those people who do believe in liberal democracy as an ideal, the question of whether to resist and how far to take your resistance still depends on this concept. If the will of the people is the basis of the authority of government, then a government that does not represent the will of the people has no legitimate authority. Its laws are meaningless from a moral standpoint – they can be enforced through naked violence, but no one has any moral obligation to obey them or those who seek to impose them.

I’m not talking about whether the current regime was elected legally or whether the rules were followed. I’m only talking about the moral legitimacy of the regime and whether anyone should feel obligated to let it govern them. The numbers speak for themselves.

This regime came into power with the support of a minority of the voters, it is still supported by a minority of the voters and it is unlikely ever to be supported by a majority. The fact that it was possible to elect a government without any popular support is an indictment of our claim to be a democratic society. The government has no democratic legitimacy, because there is no “consent of the governed.”

This regime is not legitimate, and all the tear gas and pepperspray in the world cannot make it legitimate. Our duty as a resistance movement is to refuse to obey or consent, to refuse to be governed.

If enough of us do that, the regime must fall.