On September 12, 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an address on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, in which he began by declaring that, "If our nation had done nothing more in its whole history than to create just two documents, then its contribution to civilization would be imperishable."
The two documents to which he referred were the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation, as he states in the next sentence -- after which he proclaims: "All tyrants, past, present, and future, are powerless to bury the truths in these declarations, no matter how extensive their legions, how vast their power and how malignant their evil."
The Declaration of Independence of July 4th, 1776 proclaims the inherent equality of all humanity -- declaring as Dr. King says: "that the dignity of the human personality was inherent in man as a living being."
It simultaneously declares that governments are instituted in order to secure these rights: that the sole purpose of governments is to protect the inherent, inalienable rights of the men and women from whom that government derives its just powers.
The Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862 proclaims that "persons held as slaves" shall be "then, henceforth, and forever free" and that the government will recognize and maintain their freedom.
Dr. King of course was well aware of the historical imperfection of application in this country of the ideals proclaimed in both documents (to put it mildly).
In one of his early versions of his famous "I have a dream" speech, delivered in mid-1963, he stirringly declared:
I have a dream this evening that one day we will recognize the words of Jefferson that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I have a dream this afternoon.
In the most famous version of that same speech, he echoed this theme -- that the realization of the actual meaning of the words in the nation's founding documents are still elusive -- when he says:
I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." [page 4 of the linked transcript of the speech].
In his speech entitled Beyond Vietnam, delivered on April 4th, 1967, acknowledging the "sad fact" that the nation founded upon those declarations had become "arch anti-revolutionaries" and aligned its energies on the side of "governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support," Dr. King expressed a similar sentiment when he said of his country that "Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism."
Sadly, while today it is more widely acknowledged that the application of the ideals expressed in those historical documents has not been realized, this realization has led some to the conclusion that those documents were thus so hypocritical and flawed that the values expressed in them are not worthy of study, consideration, and (as Dr. King said) working towards the dream that they will one day be lived out.
Indeed, many of those who are waking up to the "Westworld"-like or "Truman Show"-like aspects of the current political and social and intellectual landscape have turned against the concept of "government" altogether -- moving towards various forms of libertarianism and anarchism.
In doing so, they are failing to grasp the truth of the Declaration of Independence that governments properly derive their just powers from the people -- and that governments are a tool of the people to secure their inalienable rights. Indeed, the sentiment of the Declaration of Independence (regardless of how well this creed has actually been lived out in history) could not be more clear: the people are the government.
The document explicitly states that governments are instituted in order to secure the rights of the people, and that governments have no inherent rights of their own but derive their powers from the consent of the governed: from the people.
Libertarianism and anarchism explicitly reject this proposition in that they reject the idea of "government" altogether (to a greater or lesser degree) -- which is why those who dislike the power of a truly representative government to properly restrain tyranny and protect the inalienable rights of the people are not threatened in the least by the writings and speeches of libertarians and anarchists: in fact, they agree with them and with anyone else who doesn't want the government to do what the Declaration of Independence declares to be the sole purpose of the government ("to secure these Rights").
Indeed, in an excellent definition of "libertarianism" given by Professor Michael Hudson in his indispensable book J is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception, which I have quoted previously (see here and here), Professor Hudson explains that there are some forces within a society which are so powerful that the only thing powerful enough to oppose them is the government (Wall Street is one example which should be readily understandable by just about everyone, but there are many others) -- and that opposing government has the effect of blocking the only thing capable of restraining such forces.
"Libertarianism thus serves as a handmaiden to oligarchy as opposed to democracy," Professor Hudson concludes (142).
Recently, Darren and Graham of the Grimerica Show prevailed upon me to discuss this subject in an interview entitled "Is libertarianism a trap?" which you can listen to (and download) by becoming a supporter of their show in any dollar amount and receiving a link from them to their "black budget feed" which contains that interview and others.
Dr. Martin Luther King did not want us to reject the Declaration of Independence or the Emancipation Proclamation, just because they have (obviously) not been properly acted out in history thus far. He encouraged us to "rise up and live out the true meaning" of what those history-making and anti-tyrannical documents proclaim -- and to rediscover their truths which no tyrant of the past present or future can ever bury.
In that same speech delivered in preparation for the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1962, Dr. King concluded by declaring that:
There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real; to reach back to the origins of our nation when our message of equality electrified an unfree world, and reaffirm democracy by deeds as bold and daring as the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Today, on the day when the Declaration of Independence is commemorated, this moving message from Dr. King is equally true:
There is but one way to commemorate it and the truths it proclaims to an unfree world, and that is to make real its declarations of freedom, equality, and the proper role of government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed, and established for the sole purpose of securing the inalienable rights proper to each and every man, woman and child by virtue of his or her inherent dignity and divine gift of life.