The Protest and Revolt Against Tyranny and Authoritarian Government

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Introduction

A true leader makes good followers. Both a leader and a follower come hand in hand. A leader cannot be called as one if no one obeys him while a follower needs the other for guidance. A government, usually composed of executive, legislative, and judiciary governs a state to achieve peace and prosperity. It has its own sets of rules and laws that every citizen should follow. A citizen, born as a part of a state has the responsibility to follow the rules and laws mandated by the government. Also, he has the knowledge whether the laws could be beneficial for people. The government and a citizen have their own beliefs and views of what is morally right or wrong. If both agreed to achieve a certain goal and worked as a group with harmony, then it will result to success.

However, life can never be perfect. As situation, makes the supposed perfect to imperfect. A leader can be selfish and will try to manipulate and abuse his power over its group. On the other hand, a follower can also be selfish, thinking that his idea is greater than the other. In addition, he may be aware that the laws they used to follow have its flaws and do not prioritize the welfare of the people. At the end, he will not obey any order and will go against his superior. This study aims to discuss whether one can revolt against a tyrannical government administration and the relationship of one’s right to the natural law stated by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Review of Related Literature

This section presents all the possible ideas on the relationship of tyrannical government administration and the revolution to which are gathered from sources like books, internet, and any other reading materials.

Tyrannical Government Administration

Past histories on revolution against the tyranny of a government had been controversial to whether they are accepted or illegal in the sense of human morality. As such, the following statements incorporates tyrannical administration and its connection to the Natural Law believed by St. Thomas Aquinas.

A tyrannical ruler wields absolute power and authority, and often wields that power unjustly, cruelly, or oppressively. First used in the 1530s, the adjective tyrannical stems from the late-14th-century word tyranny, meaning ‘cruel or unjust use of power,’ which has origins in the Greek work tyrannos, meaning ‘master.’ Tyrannical rule is the opposite of democratic rule, which places the power in the people, the majority of whom makes the decisions. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin are three examples of the 20th century’s most tyrannical dictators.

Tyranny is usually thought of as cruel and oppressive, and it often is, but the original definition of the term was rule by persons who lack legitimacy, whether they be malign or benevolent. Historically, benign tyrannies have tended to be insecure, and to try to maintain their power by becoming increasingly oppressive. Therefore, rule that initially seems benign is inherently dangerous, and the only security is to maintain legitimacy — an unbroken accountability to the people through the framework of a written constitution that provides for election of key officials and the division of powers among branches and officials in a way that avoids concentration of powers in the hands of a few persons who might then abuse those powers.

The Methodology of Tyranny

The methods used to overthrow a constitutional order and establish a tyranny are well-known. However, despite this awareness, it is surprising how those who have no intention of perpetrating a tyranny can slip into these methods and bring about a tyranny despite their best intentions. Tyranny does not have to be deliberate. Tyrants can fool themselves as thoroughly as they fool everyone else.

First, control of public information and opinion where it begins with withholding information and leads to putting out false or misleading information. A government can develop ministries of propaganda under many guises. They typically call it ‘public information’ or ‘marketing’. Another matter is to vote fraud used to prevent the election of reformers. It doesn’t matter which of the two major party candidates are elected if no real reformer can get nominated, and when news services start knowing the outcomes of elections before it is possible for them to know, then the votes are not being honestly counted.

Moreover, it is to undue official influence on trials and juries wherein there is a nonrandom selection of jury panels, exclusion of those opposed to the law, exclusion of the jury from hearing argument on the law, exclusion of private prosecutors from access to the grand jury, and prevention of parties and their counsels from making effective arguments or challenging the government.

Thus, that is also to seeking a government monopoly on the capability and use of armed force whereas the first signs are efforts to register or restrict the possession and use of firearms, initially under the guise of ‘protecting’ the public, which, when it results in increased crime, provides a basis for further disarmament efforts affecting more people and more weapons.

Another thing with regards to tyrannical methods is the Militarization of law enforcement. Declaring a ‘war on crime’ that becomes a war on civil liberties. Preparation of military forces for internal policing duties. Same thing goes by the infiltration and subversion of citizen groups that could be forces for reform. Internal spying and surveillance are the beginning. A sign is false prosecutions of their leaders.

Suppression of investigators and whistleblowers was attained When people who try to uncover high level wrongdoing are threatened, that is a sign the system is not only riddled with corruption, but that the corruption has passed the threshold into active tyranny. Use of the law for competition suppression begins with the dominant faction winning support by paying off their supporters and suppressing their supporters’ competitors but leads to public officials themselves engaging in illegal activities and using the law to suppress independent competitors. A good example of this is narcotics trafficking.

Subversion of internal checks and balances involves the appointment to key positions of persons who can be controlled by their sponsors, and who are then induced to do illegal things. The worst way in which this occurs is in the appointment of judges that will go along with unconstitutional acts by the other branches.

More so, creation of a class of officials who are above the law is indicated by dismissal of charges for wrongdoing against persons who are ‘following orders’ and increasing dependency of the people on government gives classic approach to domination of the people is to first take everything they have away from them, then make them compliant with the demands of the rulers to get anything back again.

On the same vein, there is an increase in public ignorance of their civic duties and reluctance to perform them. When the people avoid doing things like voting and serving in militias and juries, tyranny is not far behind. The use of staged events to produce popular support renders the acts of terrorism, blamed on political opponents, followed immediately with well-prepared proposals for increased powers and budgets for suppressive agencies. Sometimes called a Reichstag plot.

Conversion of rights into privileges requires licenses and permits for doing things that the government does not have the delegated power to restrict, except by due process in which the burden of proof is on the petitioner. Lastly, Political correctness provides many if not most people who are susceptible to being recruited to engage in repressive actions against disfavored views or behaviors and led to pave the way for the dominance of tyrannical government.

Revolt/Revolution on Tyrannical Government Administration

According to vocabulary.com, revolt means to rise up against an authority in an act of rebellion. You might see an opposition group revolt against a government, or you might revolt against your oppressive 10:00 curfew. Revolt has a noun form as well to describe that kind of rebellious uprising. On the other hand, according to dictionary.com, revolt is to break away from or rise against constituted authority, as by open rebellion; cast off allegiance or subjection to those in authority; rebel; mutiny.

Revolt on Moral View

In 1267, Thomas Aquinas completed a work on government inspired by Aristotle’s Politics. Aquinas asserted, ‘Yet it is natural for man, more than any other animal, to be a social and political animal, to live in a group.’ He presented logical proofs of this such as the self-evident fact of human speech to allow individuals to reason with one another.

Aquinas further observed that people tend to look only after their own self-interest. ‘Therefore,’ he concluded, ‘in every multitude there must be some governing power’ to direct people toward the ‘common good.’ Thus, Aquinas did not agree with St. Augustine that the main purpose of government was simply to keep the sinful in line. Aquinas saw government as also helping to work for the ‘common good’ that benefits all. The common good included such things as protecting life, preserving the state, and promoting the peace. Aristotle would have called this ‘the good life.’

Aquinas addressed the problem of unjust rulers who might be a king, the few rich, or the many poor. Aquinas noted that when rulers make laws that violate natural law, they become ‘tyrants.’ Aquinas went on to conclude, ‘A tyrannical government is not just, because it is directed not to the common good, but to the private good of the ruler, as the Philosopher [Aristotle] says.’

What should the people do about a tyranny? Aquinas agreed with St. Augustine that the subjects of unjust rule are not obliged to obey the laws since they are not legitimate. But Aquinas went far beyond St. Augustine and virtually all other medieval thinkers on this matter. Aquinas argued that the subjects of a tyranny, acting as a ‘public authority,’ might rebel and depose it. Aquinas cautioned that the people should not do this hastily, but only when the damage done by the tyranny exceeds what may occur in a rebellion. This was one of the first justifications for revolution in Western thought.

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Aquinas further developed the meaning of ‘just war’ that had been discussed by the Roman statesman Cicero and by St. Augustine. For a war to be just, there must be these three conditions:

  1. A declaration by the ruler to defend the ‘common good’ against enemies.
  2. A ‘just cause’ for an attack on an enemy ‘because they deserve it on account of some fault’ such as avenging wrongs they have committed.
  3. A ‘rightful intention’ to advance good or avoid evil such as punishing evil-doers and not simply grabbing land or goods.

These conditions for a ‘just war’ later influenced the development of international laws of war. Aquinas wrote thoughtfully about the best form of government. He, like Aristotle, preferred a mixture of government forms. Aquinas recognized the value of a king, ‘a shepherd seeking the common good of the multitude.’ But he opposed an absolute monarch.

The nobility, Aquinas argued, should advise the king and limit his power. Furthermore, the king’s laws must result from the ‘deliberation of reason’ and have the consent of both the nobility and the common people. These were radical ideas for a time when kings claimed no one but God could hold them accountable.

Revolt on Non-Moral View

SEC. 4. Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code stated that there is punishment on revolting against a government. This act is hereby amended to read as follows:

“Article 135. Penalty for rebellion, insurrection or coup d’état. Any person who promotes, maintains or heads a rebellion or insurrection shall suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua.

“Any person merely participating or executing the commands of others in a rebellion or insurrection shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal.

“Any person who leads or in any manner directs or commands others to undertake a coup d’état shall suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua.

“Any person in the government service who participates or executes directions or commands of others in undertaking a coup d’état shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period.

“Any person not in the government service who participates, or in any manner supports, finances, abets or aids in undertaking a coup d’état shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period.

“When the rebellion, insurrection, or coup d’état shall be under the command of unknown leaders, any person who in fact directed the others, spoke for them, signed receipts and other documents issued in their name, or performed similar acts, on behalf of the rebels shall be deemed a leader of such rebellion, insurrection, or coup d’état. “

Revolt on Philippine Scenarios

A series of bloody revolts were seen in the Philippines during the 19th century. After the discovery of the Katipunan, Spanish authorities made several arrests to identify their members. Bonifacio and his fellows were planning a nationwide revolt. This led to an event called the ‘Cry of Pugad Lawin’, where revolutionaries took part in a mass tearing of cedulas (community tax certificates), symbolizing their fight against Spain. According to historical accounts, Bonifacio continued with his plan despite the failure in his first attempt. The revolt flared up in the surrounding provinces, including Central Luzon, San Juan del Monte and Southern Tagalog (which is why this is also known as the Tagalog War).

After several unsuccessful revolts, rebels in Cavite finally had a taste of victory. Under Emilio Aguinaldo (mayor of Cavite El Viejo) and Mariano Alvarez (Bonifacio’s uncle), the Philippine Revolution was in full swing. The revolution dragged down the name of Rizal. He was accused of being associated with the secret militant society. Charged with sedition, conspiracy and rebellion, Rizal was sentenced to death by firing squad.

The second revolt was during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos by which many people and able to join the EDSA People Power Revolution. The onset of the Marcos administration would witness a more dynamic philosophy to protests; these demonstrations would continue to evolve as the Marcos presidency transformed into a dictatorship.

We rouse, we march, we rally. The same streets that we cross to go to our schools and offices and malls are the streets that hold us when we craft papier mâché facsimiles of public figures, unfurl canvas sheets emblazoned with slogans, and chant battle cries; it is these streets that hold us as we stand vigil. We stand upon the very streets we lament on the day-to-day—via debates, consciously made or otherwise, pitting inconvenience against development—when we need the Republic to listen; the volume of people we scorn in our daily tribulations become brothers- and sisters-in-arms when a goal must be won for the citizenry. The commonplace, the purely pragmatic—at its most fundamental: A line, be it straight or weaving, that conveys us from one point to another—becomes a stage upon which revolutions spark. For on and along roads—first cleared paths through foliage and terra, and then lined dirt and then gravel, and then asphalt and steel and concrete—shooting through our archipelago, Filipinos gather—collective movements within all these centuries creating a true cartography of Philippine democracy.

These set of revolts are indeed two highlights of the Philippine context. The act, though in non-moral view or perspective may be wrong to revolt, St. Thomas Aquinas’s Natural Law would explain that it is still moral and acceptable that a revolt had happened. In the end, it is for the betterment of the country and those revolts lead to both democracy and the freedom we always aim.

Case Presentation and Discussion

Tyrannical government administrations have been constantly appearing through the past years and have been shaping the political perspectives and political concepts. It creates issue whether it is for the common good or whether it is not. There are several issues floated regarding tyrannical governments and its repeating history and today, it is debatable whether this will cause a new era of rebellion and limited freedom for people.

When it is necessary to revolt against the government and what good will it do to the person or group of people to go against the government? Whether it is beyond the line, a citizenry can only hold its government accountable if it knows when the government oversteps its bounds.

Unfortunately, the governmental scheme is sliding ever closer towards a pervasive authoritarianism precisely because people are clueless about their rights, because people have been brainwashed into believing that their only duty as citizens is to vote, because the citizenry has failed to hold government officials accountable to abiding by the Constitution, and because young people are no longer being taught the fundamentals of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, resulting in citizens who don’t even know they have rights.

This steady slide towards tyranny, meted out by militarized local and federal police and legalistic bureaucrats, has been carried forward by each successive leader over the years regardless of their political affiliation. Tyrannical administrations are taking advantage of more than what its people can offer, constantly oppressing their rights and abusive government.

Conclusion

History leaves no room to doubt that grave harm follows tyranny like a shadow. This study shows that by following the natural justice against oppression, it is right to revolt against tyrannical government administration to attain the order the citizens’ deserved including the good life for each and every one. To prevent that great harm of despotism from being inflicted upon society, the people have every right to decide against any regime that cannot or will not justify their authority with proofs of consent. Unless and until proofs of consent are furnished, it is a legitimate use of authority for a people to take revolutionary action to dismantle the state.

Thomas Aquinas’ s notion on law, tyranny and resistance served as a limitation on governmental powers. In general, as time went on, the people is supposed to rely less on constitutional arguments and more on natural law arguments; over the years, their goals should grow from the relatively modest desire of reinstating the ancient constitution as they understood it to completely remodeling their government according to natural law of justice.

Whether fruitful or catastrophic, revolution has always split and sculpted the branches of human civilization and — right or wrong — the decision to revolt or not to revolt will continue to shape the future of our history.

References:

  1. Costly, A. (2019). BRI A 22 4 c St. Thomas Aquinas Natural Law and the Common Good -Constitutional Rights Foundation. [online] Cr f-usa.org. Available at: https://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-22-4-c-st-thomas-aquinas-naturallaw-and-thecommon-good [Accessed 24 Jun. 2019].
  2. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. (2019). A History of the Philippine Political Protest | GO VPH. [online] Available at: https://www.officialgaz ette.gov.ph/edsa/the-ph-protest/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2019].
  3. Newadvent.org. (2019). CATHOLIC ENCY CLOPEDIA: Civil Authority. [online] Available at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02137c.h tm [Accessed 24 Jun. 2019].
  4. Plato.stanford.edu. (2019). Aquinas’ Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). [online] Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas-mor al-political/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2019].
  5. Files.libertyfund.org. (2019). St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the three conditions for a just war (1265-74) | The Portable Library of Liberty. [online] Available at: http://files.libertyfund.org/pll/quotes/130.html [Accessed 24 Jun. 2019]. 
  6. Valdeavilla, R. (2019). The History of The Philippine Revolution. [online] Culture Trip. Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/philippines/articles/the-history-of-the-Philippine revolution/ [Accessed 24 Jun. 2019].
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