Shades of Anarchy: The Concept of Lawful Rebellion in America Introduction

  • Ivan JankovicEmail author


This chapter demonstrates that the concepts of resistance in America drew from much older traditions than the Lockean right to revolution. Although colonists were familiar with Locke and used his philosophy as a justification of their actions, the most conspicuous concept of resistance came from the ancient and medieval concepts of law as standing above all political authorities, and “private persons” having right to uphold it if necessary by violent means. Just as medieval feuds, the American colonial and revolutionary resistance were codified and restricted by the notions of upholding law and restoring a proper order in society. Both Regulator movements of 1760 and 1770s and revolutionary violence have a strong family resemblance to the medieval concepts of “law enforcement” in their common assumption that social actors and civil society have a right and a duty to protect the lawful order, if necessary against the proper legal authorities. A right to bear arms, which has survived to this day as a part of the Constitution, is an anachronistic medieval remnant, and the most direct, symbolic challenge to the logic of the state as a coercive monopoly of force.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MaryBismarckUSA

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