WHEN IS A GOVERNMENT LEGITIMATE? It is clearly and openly supported by a majority of its subjects and subject to repeated endorsement. It is democratic in nature. It respects and protects all unalienable, universal and NATURAL rights--freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. It protects minorities from the tyranny of the majority and treats them as equals. A legitimate government does have mechanisms of violence (the military and police) but uses them sole to protect people's God-given and natural rights. Factional militias have no right to existence because they have no no raison d'etre and because their sole effect is to foment induce internal strife, including atrocities against segments of the population. WHEN IS A GOVERNMENT ILLEGITIMATE? Instead of protecting universal, natural and unalienable rights, illegitimate governments trample them. Instead of using the police and military to protect rights, it uses them for oppression. It may also employ vigilantes and death squads for this purpose. WHEN ARE PEOPLE OBLIGATED TO OBEY A GOVERNMENT? They must obey provided any government that acts legitimately. No legitimacy = no obligation. Even then, the people must seek peaceful redress of grievances in lieu of revolution. Where such efforts are repeatedly spurned and petitioners brutalized, the people have the right of rebellion. The government loses its "right" to demand a monopoly over violence. IS KHAMENEI'S ISLAMIC REPUBLIC LEGITIMATE? No. It closely resembles those in Zimbawe, North Korea and Burma. In all four, the word "freedom" is a dirty word and to seek it can get you arrested or worse. THOMAS JEFFERSON STATED IT BETTER THAN ANYONE: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created EQUAL, that they are endowed by their Creator (NOTE: not Khamenei or Mesbah Yadzi) with certain unalienable Rights (meaning no one can take them away), that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... "...to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED (not Khamenei or hardline clerics) "...whenever any Form of Government (the Islamic Republic) becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it (the right to revolt), and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes (minor disagreements won't suffice); and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations (as under Khamenei), pursuing invariably the same Object (money and power) evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism (as in Iran today), it is their right, it is their DUTY (get it?), to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. ...The history of the present King of...(substitute Iran's Supreme Leader) is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over (substitute Iran)... SOURCE: American Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776, paragraph two. NOTE: Anything in parentheses is from Yours Truely. Jefferson is very clear that the "enlightment" ideas he describes apply to all men at all times, not just Americans in specfic conditions on 1776.