Monday, March 29, 2010

Chaocracy and Our Malorderous B.O.

Let's continue with our discussion of the order of the polity, except let's stop calling it that. Sounds too remote and theoretical. Let's just call it government.

Using Wilber's nomenclature, the government would refer to the exterior-social, whereas culture is the interior-social, i.e., the We. The closer the government can come to expressing the will of the We, the better -- assuming, of course, that we are dealing with a virtuous populace. With a citizenry that lacks virtue, a virtuous autocrat would actually be preferable (in the short term, of course, until his inbred, syphilitic son takes the throne).

Obviously, the Founders never foresaw an unvirtuous populace. Well, actually they did, which is why they rejected democracy for a representative republic. This is also what led to our first factions -- let's just call them political parties -- i.e., the Federalists and the Regular Guys. The Federalists were extremely skeptical of the ability of grubby Regular Guys to govern themselves, and envisioned more of an aristocracy of virtuous Men of Slack (for Slack was required in order to cultivate virtue, e.g., manners, classical learning, disinterestedness, and the occasional bath).

The Federalists lasted only 12 years, until Jefferson, who pretended to speak for the Regular Guys, became president. The Democrat party can be traced back to him, in that it still consists of an intemperate rabble of utopian schemers, impractical dreamers, and condescending monied elites who presume to speak for the Regular Guys who just laugh at them behind their backs.

Today, these self-styled elites mostly prop each other up in a nationwide televised intellectual jerk circle, so that, say, a Thomas Friedman and a David Gergen (to pick two clowns at random) can convince each other and themselves that they are not vacuous mediocrities with nothing important to say. Their real job is not to convey useful ideas to people who need them, but to manufacture and maintain self-importance in each other through the propagation of conventional wisdom.

For example, if you are one of those many people who think that Obama is "brilliant," it is very likely that you are a member in good standing (no pun intended) of the elite jerk circle. In affirming your belief that B.O. is something more than a failed community organizer and affirmative action political hire, other members of the jerk circle will confirm your brilliance, sophistication, and discrimination, and elevate you above those tea-bagging talk radio listeners and sexy leather-clad biker chicks -- you know, the millions of Regular Guys & Gals you presume to speak for.

Anyway, enough history. More sexy leather-clad biker chicks!

There can be no government in the absence of force, i.e., violence (potential or actual). But this violence is only legitimate if 1) it is rooted in ordered reason, and 2) it expresses the will of the people, i.e., the interior social. But again, when we speak of the "people," it is the individual who is the ultimate source of order, for a nation of disordered souls cannot produce an ordered government. To put it another way, people who cannot even master their own domain have no business trying to master mine.

But one of the shell games the left plays with virtue is to conflate it with politically correct stances on social issues. For example, you can be the most hateful, mean-spirited, and disordered person -- say, Sean Penn, or Alec Baldwin -- but so long as you support "gay marriage" or believe in "global warming," then the left considers you a Good Person. Dennis Prager was talking about this the other day, i.e., the replacement of the classical virtues with mere political correctness.

For the left, to become "socially conscious" is analogous to baptism, which washes away one's sins. But becoming socially conscious never involves seeing through the intoxicating and destructive lies of the left, much less ordering of one's own disordered soul. That would be too difficult. Much easier to just wish rectal cancer on one's critics. After all, didn't Thomas Jefferson say that the Tree of Marxism must occasionally be refreshed with the blood of Fox viewers?

Now, man is not perfect, so inevitably we must have a government that has the power to crack the occasional head and lock up the disordered people who threaten the general order. But what if the very forces of disorder take control of the government?

As a matter of fact, we have been on this downward trend for the past 75 or so years, and Obama represents the apex -- or nadir -- of this baleful ascent of the chaocracy. For example, we all know what happened when the judical chaocrats took control in the 1960s, and crime -- the very definition of disorder -- skyrocketed. But their solution was to define deviancy even further down, so that abnormality became the new normal.

For the chaocrats are fundamentally naive about the source of order, generally because they don't believe in the soul, much less an ordered one. Rather, as someone put it (Eliot?), they dream of top-down systems so perfect that no one will need to be good. For example, that's what the government takeover of healthcare is all about. Just like Medicare, this vast system will be so effective that it will eliminate fraud, waste, and increased demand for "free" services. Thus, it will not just cure men, but finally cure Man. And they call themselves reality-based.

But socialists perversely punish responsibility (i.e., order) in the effort to eliminate irresponsibility (disorder). For example, I would like to be responsible for my own health and retirement, and suffer the consequences if I don't plan for the future. Is that a bad thing? Yes, it is -- so bad that the left would like to outlaw the selfish pursuit of my own health. (Step one: make it too expensive.)

As I have mentioned on a number of occasions, if one's political philosophy is not rooted in an accurate anthropology, then it will not just be wrong, but actually engender oppression, for you will be like a deranged zookeeper who puts the penguins with the toucans or feeds grass to the lions. To take just one obvious example, if you do not believe that man was created to be free, then you will have no problem with a political philosophy that devalues or even eliminates man's freedom.

Or, as Schall puts it, "Politics presupposes our understanding of the internal order or disorder of human beings." Without this understanding, we will create a political order that is literally appropriate for some other nonexistent species. For example, let's say that your anthropology doesn't go beyond a literal-minded, fundamentalist Darwinism, with no recognition whatsoever of the transcendent order that is man's true ground and destiny. What would your resultant ideal political order look like? I won't even get into the possibilities, because I don't want to violate Godwin's law this early in the morning.

To be continued. Probably no post tomorrow, as I have a very early day.


(Yoinked from Lucianne)

57 Comments:

Anonymous njcommuter said...

Bob, your post-Obamanym articles would make a good book. And you should include the run-up to this evil age as well. I would like to say I'd buy it, but I have to qualify that by saying that if this keeps going I may not be able to buy anything!

3/29/2010 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Their real job is not in conveying ideas, but to manufacture and maintain self-importance in each other through the propagation of conventional wisdom."

Ooh... nailed it!

3/29/2010 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"... But again, when we speak of the "people," it is the individual who is the ultimate source of order, for a nation of disordered souls cannot produce an ordered government. To put it another way, people who cannot even master their own domain have no business trying to master mine."

They have no business trying, and yet they are doing a booming business in trying to. I had a go at what makes comments like these ones possible, which I watched our state senators making last week:

"Sen. Bray: "A sick person is not free! If you can choose to take away their healthcare then I don't know what freedom means anymore!"
Sen. Justus: "If you can't afford something you have no freedom. and All children under the age 18 should be cared for by the state!"
Sen. Days: "What option do people have who don't have health insurance!? That's not freedom! I want the freedom to purchase whatever I want to choose! Having to pay for healthcare insurance, that is not *freedom*, that's oppression!"
Sen. Shoemyer "This is a freeloader amendment, I'm opposed to freeloading, all rural healthcare should be funded by the govt to give them all they might ever need."
Sen. Green: "What is the use of so called 'Sovereignty', didn't we deal with that in the Civil War?"

And last but not least worst,

Sen. Callahan: "The value of the constitution is that it can be changed... it's a living document... we need to call another constitutional convention so we can change it."


I suppose supreme ignorance helps protect one from the embarrassment of such blatant stupidity. Must be an evolutionary adaptation to enable the continuance of the stupid species.

3/29/2010 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Democracy must beput on hold until our elites cure global warming.

3/29/2010 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Elections in '10 and '12 can apply pressure to the wound and slow the bleeding but the problem is cultural.

3/29/2010 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Spiritual, really -- or, Spirit and its negation.

3/29/2010 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Godot the Russian said...

Bob, this is good stuff and worthy. But I will say it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in your writing because of the tendency to hyperbole and prejudice.

Your piece is spinning so vigorously its hard to grasp its significance. Why don't you slow down, concentrate on a few salient facts at a time and build a good solid case?

Not as fun perhaps, but the results could be a book instead of a racier blog piece.

Anyhoo, somthing to consider.

3/29/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

goDoh! said "But I will say it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in your writing because of the tendency to hyperbole and prejudice."

Perhaps if tried thinking about what you're reading, that might be helpful... shouldn't be that hard to clean the rust off of the ol' power tools...?

3/29/2010 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

G.--

Bob wants me to let you know -- I think I got this right -- that his writing is addressed to those capable of understanding it, not to those who aren't, no matter how long they wait.

3/29/2010 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Spiritual, really -- or, Spirit and its negation."

Yep. Philosophy is essential to a culture, it'll never get off the ground without it, and once soaring, you can't expect to keep altitude if you chuck it out the window as we have... but without the Spirit... the plane that runs out of gas mid flight, doesn't land well.

3/29/2010 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or, philosophy properly understood. As Schuon said, if Kant was a philosopher then Plotinus wasn't, and vice versa....

3/29/2010 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

The closer the government can come to expressing the will of the We, the better -- assuming, of course, that we are dealing with a virtuous populace.

The 2010 elections will reveal how virtuous a populace we have, or not.

Can we call Islamist terrorists "Islamist militia groups" now and round them up as well? Sigh.

3/29/2010 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

I would post something erudite but am afraid Norman Laboon might read it. What are the chances Norman was one of our trolls?

3/29/2010 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

Still with the 'virtuous populace' in forethought, I remembered this quote I copied a few years ago:

Of what value then are paper constitutions and oaths binding officers to their preservation, if there is not intelligence enough in the people to discern the violations and virtue enough to resist the violators?

~ Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America

3/29/2010 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Stained Satin Sheets said...

Well I wouldn't call B.O. brilliant, but how about adequate?

Does he not show up for work each morning?

It is, after all is said and done, a government job, somewhat high profile among the multiple thousands of other government jobs.

Does he suck at it that bad? What could be done differently/better?

3/29/2010 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Doing my best to vaguely imitate the great Roy Orbison, I say, "Mercy!"

3/29/2010 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

I was rubbernecking at Salon.com. This is one of the milder leftist sites, yet some of the letters re the Russian terrorist attack today are so thoroughly depraved that I am once again truly amazed that America avoids civil war. People don't come any more evil than this, save for the terrorists themselves. One guy in particular is practically salivating at the prospect of another attack on American civilians. The same guy who tells us that "Christians" threw Jews into the ovens in Germany, but that Jews are no better since they "kill their own children at Masada".

I don't have a violent bone in my body but I'll sleep better tonight knowing that there are millions of armed citizens out there to counter these demons straight outta Hell.

3/29/2010 08:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Comedy gold: MSNBC liberal screamer in battle of wits with conservative. I think Ed "I Know Nothing" Schultz might be moonlighting as our anonymous troll....

3/29/2010 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if Kant was a philosopher then Plotinus wasn't, and vice versa.

That sounds like the sort of stupid, narrow thing you would say. I took the trouble to Google for the source, which might be of interest. After looking at that, I can see where you cribbed most of your style. The absolutism, the flat statements about Capitalized Entities, the geometric metaphors, the steadfast opposition to science, rationalism, and modernity, and the absurd self-confidence. This, for instance, sounds exactly like you: "The absurdity of scientism is the contradiction between the finite and the Infinite, that is to say, the impossibility of reducing the latter to the former..."

Oh well, you seem a lot less interesting now that I see where you steal your stuff from. I can read the original where at least it isn't mixed up with the latest idiot burblings from the contemporar wingnut right.

This passage caught my eye.

if men were stupid enough to belive for millenia in the divine, the supernatural, immortality -- assuming these are illusions -- it is impossible that one fine day they became intelligent, no one knowing why, and without any decisive moral acquisition to corroborate this miracle.

In other words, Schuon can't even acknowledge the possibility of learning or progress.

3/30/2010 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Anonymouse

Norman, is that you?

3/30/2010 03:26:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

Silly anon at 12:54:
you dont need Bob, just study your Schuon, augmented by Unknown Friend, get the Maharushie goin' in the background, and when he goes to obscene profit breaks, DJ yourself up some Van, or Miles, or Scott Walker---voila! you would approximate the OC experience Boblessly, and we'd be spared your la-hoozer whines! Gracias....

3/30/2010 03:52:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

"The Democrat party can be traced back to him, in that it still consists of an intemperate rabble of utopian schemers, impractical dreamers, and condescending monied elites who presume to speak for the Regular Guys who just laugh at them behind their backs."

Brilliant!!!!

3/30/2010 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse dismissed "if Kant was a philosopher then Plotinus wasn't, and vice versa."

I on the other hand, like it!

"Oh well, you seem a lot less interesting now that I see where you steal your stuff from."

It may be a rough go, but somehow I think Gagdad is going to survive the heartbreak of that. I'm sure Dupree will console him.

3/30/2010 06:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

"Oh well, you seem a lot less interesting now that I see where you steal your stuff from."

I tell you, nothing gets past this guy. The very first time Bob references Schuon, and he picks up on it!

3/30/2010 06:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Comparing Bob's style to Schuon's is like comparing Moses to Jackie Mason.

3/30/2010 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And on a serious note -- just so no confusion is propagated -- readers who are even more alert than Anonymous will be well aware of my sharp differences with Schuon over a number of fundamental areas, including the value of science, the meaning of modernity, the actual conditions in which most premodern men lived (e.g., illiteracy, famine, plague, oppression, et al), the relative utility of psychoanalysis, the placement of metaphysics over revelation, the contributions of Teilhard and Aurobindo, and the use of comedy to make a point.

3/30/2010 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And of course the providential role of the United States. Oh, and I'm not so crazy about American Indian culture (or "primordial culture" in general), based upon what academically correct anthropologists say about its psychotic levels of violence.

3/30/2010 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

I think that most of the left and some of the right in this country have the impression that gov't is a kind of higher self. Only when the gov't acts are "we" truly acting to tackle the problems and handle the limitations. (Perhaps this is why they are never satisfied with a single vote. It is definitely why they think all immigrants and felons should vote.)

The only "we" in government that refers to the people as a whole is the recognition of the government, which is prior to all laws.

The US constitution seems to work with this theory, when it uses "we the people" to legitimize the government in the preamble, but doesn't speak of any "we" passing laws, executing laws, judging laws.

3/30/2010 07:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Maimonides said...

Speaking of Moses, today is my birthday.

3/30/2010 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dennis Prager is just like Navy SEALs!

3/30/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"I think that most of the left and some of the right in this country have the impression that gov't is a kind of higher self."

Yes, this.

Oddly, what they commend in government, they would condemn as an individual act. I find it particularly puzzling in my Christian friends. What part of the Golden Rule do they not understand? Channeling the same action through the government does not confer any virtue on it.

3/30/2010 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government is not a "higher self", whatever that means, but it is:

- by definition, the structures and institutions by which societies regulate themselves. So yes, it is how "we" perform actions.

- empowered to do things that individual citizens cannot, such as deploy violence for defense and law enforcement.

This is all just very basic political theory, nothing to do with left or right.

The odd thing about the present day US right is that they are so caught up in their anti-government rhetoric that they are little better than anarchists, from Reagan's "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem" to Grover Nordquist's desire to "drown government in the bathtub". While I can understand hostility to government, I do not understand how such a rabidly alienated position can in any way be considered conservative.

3/30/2010 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "The odd thing about the present day US right is that th..."

The odd thing about the present day left, is that they are just like the 1860's Left - they do not recognize Rights as derived from the nature of Man, Natural Rights, they see rights as bestowed, or withheld, by Govt as a result of legislation, to benefit the favored group... they see some people as worthy of treated like property - theirs.

As I recently noted, the modern left operates just as the confederacy, who sought to mask their denial of actual Individual Rights under the cover of 'States Rights' & 'Property Rights', but the fact was that,

"States Rights and Property Rights, were also not the issue, though pro-slavery apologists eagerly sought to clothe their arguments in them, but what they actually meant were not Property Rights, those rights fundamental to all Individual Rights, and stemming from the Natural Rights of the individual, no, what men such as Justice Taney (see not only his opinion in Dred Scott, but in the issue of 'mere property rights' such as in the Charles River Bridge case (which I noted in a previous post), which Daniel Webster lamented as being the "death of Property Rights", and which made Taney's judgment' in Dred Scott possible) had in mind was a mockery of 'Property Rights', dressing up the mere possession of something as conveying a right to that thing, be it land, bricks or people, and the 'right' to retain that property rested soleyupon the legislation of the government which not only allowed you to retain possession of them, and was competent to, and had the authority to, determine how much control you could have over your property, and when it was ok for the 'greater good' to take that property, or some benefit of it, from you (unless of course the legislation had something to do with the Constitution of the United States asserting that all individuals were born with inalienable rights, in that case those 'laws' (Natural 'Rights'! Pshaw!) were regarded by them as being merely tools of northern aggression and suitable for disregarding.

The key point here is that the southern slaveholding aristocracy, much like the modern leftist bureaucratic aristocracy, derided 'Natural Rights', and any claim to inalienable rights and the importance of property rights rooted in them, and instead claimed that 'rights' were bestowed, and withdrawn or diluted by, government legislation - or in other words "Might Makes Right". As I said above,
"What it is that actually defines and separates Left from Right - is that if you believe in inalienable rights derived from your nature as man, you are on the Right (and that leaves enough latitude of interpretation to accomodate views as diverse as those of Madison from Hamilton), if, on the other hand, you feel rights are instead a creation of the society and government, you are on the left. No matter your apparent agreements, they are incidental at best, politically speaking - no matter your religious beliefs, economic stances, or party affiliations, This is what defines and separates Left from Right. "
In short, Callahan, Green, Bray, Justice and Days share a deep affinity with their Democrat forebears who asserted the propriety of Slavery."

, and our aninnymice have much more in common with ideas of the slavery promoting confederacy, than with the classical understanding of Liberalism.

3/30/2010 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

"While I can understand hostility to government, I do not understand how such a rabidly alienated position can in any way be considered conservative."

Its really quite simple, Conservatives conserve the Constitution as written. A contract is a contract, or it isn't one. The left attempts to redefine it through dishonest means (e,g,, populist demands for things not enumerated, penumbras, judicial commands, and new "ivy league" definitions of simple well known terms). The Conservative understands a simple contract, while a leftist sees it as an obstacle (see Obama's Mau Mau of Supreme Court during State of the Union). Basically, like Roosevelt, Obama sees the Constitution as something that needs to be corrupted so that he may succeed. Currently, leftist see a "positive right" to health insurance in a document that clearly only defines the limited reach of the Federal Government with all others rights reserved to the States and Individuals.

What is predictable about the left, is they are free to implement any of their utopias in any of the States and cities that they control. The sad fact is once enacted they are faced with the ultimate failure of their design. Instead of learning from failure and changing course they childishly blame republicans for their failures and seek a nationalized solution based on the same failed local design. I guess bigger is better when failing.

Do you not find it funny to watch dems in places like San Fran, Detroit, and DC blame republicans for any assorted sins while campaigning for local offices? There hasn't been an active republican party in these precincts for decades, much less any republican control of local or State government. How dysfunctional do you think a population has to be to react to mere fantasies in the direction of their municipal life? Interestingly, it works year in and year out. Amazing.

So from my point of view, I find the left dishonest with regard to my contract with my government and I also find their followers to be dangerously unbalanced. So yea, when the dishonest lead to the unbalanced to loot my contractual human rights, I get annoyed.

The odd thing is the left is so 19th century in their purported modernity. Socialism and unionism? Come on. Lets grow up, hell the Chinese have.

3/30/2010 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tigtog: The Constitution is not a contract. Not even metaphorically. Think about it for three seconds -- how could a contract signed by a few dozen people over two hundred years ago be binding on 300 million people today?

Thank you for illustrating my point -- an actual conservative would have some knowledge about the thing they claimed to be conserving.

Van: first the left is responsible for Hitler, now we're responsible for the Confederate slaveowners? Man, we sure get around.

3/30/2010 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous The Ministry of Linguistics said...

Attention all poets: Anonymous is the unacknowledged legislator of the world. He'll let you know what is and isn't a metaphor.

3/30/2010 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Anonymouse re No Contract for You.. Soup Nazi

Quote Ivy League Prof you cited:

"Sorry for not taking seriously the idea that the Constitution is literally a contract.

So let me see if I get it. Just over two hundred years ago, a few thousand people created a "contract" that was binding not only upon the majority of the people at the time who did not consent to the terms of the contract, but upon all future generations as well--many hundreds of millions of people, for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. In addition, this intrepid group made it extremely difficult (and later nigh impossible) to alter the terms of the contract. And forever after, their shared views about the meaning of the terms of the contract controls all decisions, no matter how much change takes place in society, the economy, the political system, the population, technology, culture, and everything else.

Is that an attractive (or sensible) way to understand the foundational terms of our society and government?"

Two questions genius,

1. If the Constitution is not a contract because an ivy leaguer thinks not all living people were afforded the opportunity to agree to the original contract, then why do I have to participate in a Progressive Income Taxation, Social Security and Medicare? I was never allowed the opportunity to choose these schemes? Why would I be required to fund Obamacare, I didn't agree to it personally?

2. Why do public servants swear an oath to a null and void document when taking office?

Your ivy leaguer seems all tore up about "how much change takes place in society, the economy, the political system, the population, technology, culture, and everything else" and how hard it is to amend the Constitution. Because there is change the Constitution is not valid? Strange reasoning. Because its hard to amend, according to him, therefore its not a valid contract? This is the dishonesty I spoke about regarding the left, particularly the bigoted ivy league left. My son will often tell me a thousand things that prohibited him from doing his chores and homework. Your ivy leaguer's argument is on par with my sons. A contract by definition should be hard to change, it is after all a contract? The document outlines transcendent and universal truths regarding our agreed upon construct. It is because of this that we swear an oath to uphold and defend it.

Its a contract between the States and the Federal Government. Remember, the States created the Federal Government to do only those things that made sense for a Federal Government to do; national defense, common currency, foreign diplomacy. Everything else was reserved for the States and Individuals. You want state run healthcare, move to MA. You want near free college education move to CA or FL. All the ideas you seek are available at the State level and are Constitutional. These are State functions not Federal functions.

Finally, the Constitution is a contract written by common men for common men. The language used was precise and clear. It was intended to be read and understood by tradesmen and farmers. There were no law schools when it was written, and no fancy professors of law available to play word games and imagine reasons not to follow its agreed upon precepts. It was and is an honest document between freemen. It has been defended by honest freemen for greater than two centuries. I am not impressed that some asshat from the ivies thinks it an antiquated and difficult thing to deal with. A mans freedom should be difficult to deal with.

I thought you could do better than that. Shoosh.

3/30/2010 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"What is predictable about the left, is they are free to implement any of their utopias in any of the States and cities that they control. The sad fact is once enacted they are faced with the ultimate failure of their design. Instead of learning from failure and changing course they childishly blame republicans for their failures and seek a nationalized solution based on the same failed local design. I guess bigger is better when failing."

Well, this pretty much expresses what was on my mind this afternoon, and what I was coming back to say. Thanks!

3/30/2010 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Anonymous, my comment was referring to a few my Christian friends, who take Jesus' admonitions to his followers out of context, and try to realize them through government in the most coercive, un-Christ-like manner possible.

3/30/2010 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That article was written by Brian Tamanaha who is at St. John's University, not part of the Ivy League last time I checked. But so what? What's with the use of "ivy leaguer" as a term of opporbrium? Are you people really so disconnected from normality that you automatically discredit something because it's author is at Yale? Where do you get your information, Pat Robertson's Regent U?

If the Constitution is not a contract because an ivy leaguer thinks not all living people were afforded the opportunity to agree to the original contract, then why do I have to participate in a Progressive Income Taxation, Social Security and Medicare? I was never allowed the opportunity to choose these schemes? Why would I be required to fund Obamacare, I didn't agree to it personally?

Because it's the law. Contracts and laws are not the same thing. A contract is has very specific requirements such as mutual consideration and explicit consent.

The document outlines transcendent and universal truths regarding our agreed upon construct.

That is also something not generally found in contracts, because there is no need to have formal consent to "transcendent and universal truths". I'm also a little dubious about that as a description of the Constitution. Since the drafters put in provisions for amending it, they recognized that it did not encode timeless universal truths.

Finally, the Constitution is a contract written by common men for common men.

Most of them were lawyers and it's a good bet they knew what a contract was.

3/30/2010 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

Anon,

The people do not act as a whole in any act of government, except in terms of obedience or acquiescence. This is common sense. The various constitutions delineate who has what authority. The people who assume this authority take an oath to the constitutions, not the will of the people, which is unknowable in any case.

What you quoted from me I meant as a way of addressing the limits of gov't power. I believe somewhat more firmly in the legitimacy of governments than of societies. I believe in freedom of association in other words. Society and culture are topics of conversation, not political actors.

To be blunt, I only have two thoughts about gov't. You quoted the first. The second is that gov't precedes our theories and attempts to understand them. They seem to me as natural and inevitable as families. We can only decide how best to govern, not whether or not to. But I think my two ideas have a nice tension.

But from your last post, regarding the difference between contracts and laws, we may agree.

3/30/2010 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

ha! "we can only decide how best to govern." Take the we as an indefinite article, kindly.

3/30/2010 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "...first the left is responsible for Hitler, now we're responsible for the Confederate slaveowners? Man, we sure get around."

Yep, leftists from Rousseau on, have mistaken changing names and surface appearances for meaningful change.

Stupid is as stupid does.

3/30/2010 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "... how could a contract signed by a few dozen people over two hundred years ago be binding on 300 million people today?"

First, while a few dozen people wrote the constitution, it was 13 states representing a few million people who ratified it. And it was created with this nifty innovative feature providing for constitutional amendments, that allows it to keep up with the times and be self repairing, hence the first 10 (ratified) amendments before it was even a few years old, and others such as the 13th & 14th amendments, ad even quick change and recovery with the 18th amendment and repealing it with the 21st amendment - those are examples of real change, and change done properly and lawfully. Hell, even the 16th & 17th amendments, stupid and destructive as they were, were at least real changes made according to the rule of law, unlike your ObamaoCare abomination.

But more importantly, we're not talking about simple covenants, codes and restrictions for a subdivision here, but principles of law, and the core principles such as Property Rights, Free Speech, Freedom of Assembly are concepts which, like murder and thievery, don't change over time, and they don't become 'ok' just because enough ignorant fools at the ballot box think that amounts to change they can believe in, vote for it.

We're a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy.

ObamaoCare is against the law, constitutional law, from which all other law flows, and whether such things are attempted by Justice Taney or Resident Obamao, it's still unconstitutional, no matter how many 'laws' you pass saying otherwise. The repeal will come.

First draft scheduled for delivery Nov 2010.

3/30/2010 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "Are you people really so disconnected from normality that you automatically discredit something because it's author is at Yale?"

Nah, the fact that what they have to say is stupid is quite sufficient.

3/30/2010 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

leftists from Rousseau on [are] responsible for the Confederate slaveowners...

I confess I can't even imagine what it's like to be stupid enough to believe something like that. How do you manage to tie your shoes in the morning?

3/30/2010 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Aninnymouse said "How do you manage to tie your shoes in the morning?"

Easy, if you tie them well once, you can just slip 'em on and off for weeks without having to tie or untie them. Might drive your wife nuts, but hey, live dangerously.

"'leftists from Rousseau on [are] responsible for the Confederate slaveowners...' I confess I can't even imagine what it's like to be stupid enough to believe something like that. "

So. I assume if you can type, you can read. Have you actually read Rousseau yourself? Or were you foolish enough to swallow his praises from a textbook, without having actually read what he had to say?

If you have actually read him, then how can you be so dense as to not see the similarities? Perhaps you could offer us up your own summation of RueSo's notions of what Rights are (particularly his notions of property rights, that should be rich), where those rights came from and his view of what respect a Legislator owed to the Individual Rights of the common man?

If you haven't actually read Rousseau before squeaking off, allow me to offer up a summary of Rousseau & Hobbes with some handy dandy links to the relevant source materials for each.

Go on... read him... I'm sure he would have loved you like one of his own children.

(yikes)

3/30/2010 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Anonymouse re:

"What's with the use of "ivy leaguer" as a term of opporbrium? Are you people really so disconnected from normality that you automatically discredit something because it's author is at Yale? "

It simple, the ivies and their clones, practice one thing: deconstruction. They mask their petty wants in grand theories of social justice to achieve one consistent end: the elevation of themselves over their fellow citizen. Unfortunately, they are only able to elevate themselves by minimizing and reducing others. There is no genius associated with the pursuit but rather the distorted miserliness of a small man attempting to find some meaning to himself by identifying a flaw within greatness. If you wish to know this personality, look no further than the next mirror.

Why do you find a professor of law who recommends the avoidance of legal process as preferred path in achieving his "unintelligible" ends? Would any sane man hire him to prepare their taxes or defend them in court? Nothing like a law professor who has contempt for the law. To chastise me for having contempt for the contemptible, seems, well silly.

It is clear by reading a few of your professor's paragraphs that he is disconnected and bored. He may want to find a real way to achieve greatness within his life, but that would probably mean accepting the equality of his fellow citizens. My guess is this a bridge too far.

3/31/2010 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Anon. said "tie your shoes," etc.

And this from a fellow who just "pegged" Reagan as "little better than an anarchist." Riiight.

Think it possible Reagan was referring to this bloat--not our Constitutional Republic as such?

3/31/2010 06:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear boy, African slavery in the Americas dates back to the 1500s (with antecedents that run back to antiquity), so it's a little difficult to pin it on Rousseau who wouldn't be born until 200 years later. I suppose, it being Passover, we can blame him for the bondage of the Jews in Egypt as well.

The right is by definition the party of tradition, authority, and aristocracy -- particularly in the 1700s. The Southern slavemaster class was the closest thing we had here to an aristocracy, or pretensions to one, it was a feature of the old world that the US revolution did not succeed in eliminating. That would have to wait until Lincoln, whose exertion and extension of federal authority was opposed by exactly your type using exactly the same constitutional arguments you are using now. Whatever the legal merits of such arguments, it is pretty clear which side was for liberty and which side was for slavery.

3/31/2010 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "Dear boy, African slavery in the Americas dates back to the 1..."
Dear doofus, Slavery, african or otherwise, has been with us since the before history began to be recorded, and is absolutely irrelevant to the issue.

What is relevant, is how slavery was being philosophically justified, and it wasn't being justified simply on 'We got 'em, and we're keeping them' - the time time when that was sufficient, or even using snippets of the Bible would be sufficient, had passed - and slavery as in institution was expected to peter out and exterminate itself some time after the constitutional ban against importing slaves took affect, because the Founders knew that slavery flew in the face of Natural Rights, which were the entire basis for the Revolution and the the conceptual framework from which the Constitution was created and ratified.

What Taney, Calhoun, etc, tried to justify their defense of slavery upon, was from Rights being rooted in the society, in the collective (ala the varying tact's of Rousseau, Hobbes, and others), that the Individual did not have Rights derived from Natural Law, from the nature of Man, the individual had no inherent and recognizable Right to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness' himself, no, the individual had only those rights which fostered and promoted the smooth operation of society, such as recognized by society as a whole, and particularly by those in charge of ordering it - whether that be King, Legislator or Congress was of no real significance to their ideas.

That was the only way open for them to argue for owning their fellow man, and through that route, they could also give the appearance of an argument for property rights and states rights, but the core principles which their argument rested upon, was the direct opposite of the Founders understanding of Individual Rights, Property Rights and Natural Law.

"The right is by definition the party of tradition, authority, and aristocr..."

Your definition of 'right' or even of 'definition' is worthless. Your party, the democrat party, was the party of slavery in the 1860's, because it held the philosophical positions advanced by Rousseau, Hobbes, etc, rather than that of Blackstone, Locke, Cicero, etc.

I am a Liberal in the Classical sense, as was Coolidge, Lincoln, Madison, Adams, Burke (who did an excellent job of foretelling the disastrous future in store for France, by its taking seriously the ideas of Rousseau - something we'd better learn from as well, pretty damn quick), Locke, Cicero... etc.

BTW, I note that you offer no statement or summary of Rousseau's or your own conception of rights, and so I accept your concession of defeat.

3/31/2010 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is relevant, is how slavery was being philosophically justified

Rousseau was pretty clearly opposed to slavery. If some supporters of slavery chose to misuse his writings, that is not really his fault, and less still the fault of the left in general, which is what you claimed.

Your definition of 'right' or even of 'definition' is worthless.

On the contrary, it is worth a lot because it is the one that almost every intelligent person uses. You can make up private definitions all you like, but they will only be of use in talking to similarly-minded idiots. Just like dollars are worth something because everybody uses them, whereas scrip that you print up in your basement is probably not.

I accept your concession of defeat.

If it makes you feel better to believe that, be my guest.

3/31/2010 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "Rousseau was pretty clearly opposed to slavery."

Yeah... in the same way Obamao is for transparency and the free market. I'm sure your textbook had his deep passion for 'liberty' on display with "“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”, ", however, it's unlikely that it also printed the portion, just a little further down in his essay, where he said "This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free ".

If rather than being satisfied with what you were forced to read in school, you want to actually learn what it meant, and means, you can find the links to Rousseau's actual words, in his full context, in the link I provided above. Don't worry your aninnyself too much, Rousseau wasn't nearly as longwinded as I am, they're relatively short essays, and if you can manage to read beyond the marketing phrases to the actual meat of his ideas, you might just learn something.

Unlikely, I grant you, but possible.

Rousseau was a sick, disgusting person (read his 'Confessions'), had horribly destructive ideas in education, which still form the DNA of modern education (read 'Emile') and the results of that are clearly on display in any public school system today; add to that the fact that each of his new born children, and remember he 'so loves the children', he had taken from their mother's breast shortly after birth, and sent to certain death at a foundling hospital - yeah, he sooo loved the children, and humanity!. He was also quite likely psychotic, read about poor David Hume's nightmare when he invited Rousseau to come visit him in Britain - he accused Hume, and nearly everyone else of plotting against him, and even of trying to poison him.

In short, Rousseau perfectly embodied everything the progressive left has ever felt, thought and stood for.

"Just like dollars are worth something because everybody uses them, whereas scrip that you print up in your basement is probably not."

Thank you mister Keynes! However the present state of the dollar shows how wrong he was. An ounce of gold around 1900 was worth about $20, you could buy a nice suit for it. An ounce of gold today is worth about $1,000... and you can still just about buy a nice suit for it... the difference is that the progressive Keynesians have been at their basement printing press of dreams, cranking out the paper dollars, but there's still only so much value to be represented by the currency. Hazlitt demolished Keyenes(The Failure of the 'New Economics'), but the left keeps coming back to their power enabler.

"If it makes you feel better to believe that, be my guest."

Ah, you're right, defeat is the wrong word... inability, incompetence and ignorance are much closer to the mark, and you do demonstrate them so well, you might as well just leave it at that. Unless of course you want to come back with another well supported assertion about Rousseau... I do enjoy a good laugh.

4/01/2010 06:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, from whatever aspect we regard the question, the right of slavery is null and void, not only as being illegitimate, but also because it is absurd and meaningless. The words slave and right contradict each other, and are mutually exclusive.

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.

There is but one law which, from its nature, needs unanimous consent. This is the social compact; for civil association is the most voluntary of all acts. Every man being born free and his own master, no one, under any pretext whatsoever, can make any man subject without his consent. To decide that the son of a slave is born a slave is to decide that he is not born a man.

-- Rousseau, The Social Contract

I don't see what Rousseau's personal life has to do with anything. You seem to get most of your ideas from Ayn Rand (although you don't mention her explicitly I see the signs of infection). Check into her personal life some time.

I see you entirely missed the point about currency. Big surprise there. Hopefully some of the less dense readers got it.

4/01/2010 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(Gagdad, hope you'll pardon a few extended comments)
As I said, you've got to get past the marketing material and into the fundamentals. You begin with Book IV and the chapter on Voting, you really need to start at the beginning and see what all of that rests upon. At the moment I've got to mow the lawn and then go out to an appointment, but it's an intersting topic for me, I'll be back. In the meantime, from Book 1, Chapter 1, or The Social Contact

"CHAPTER I
subject of the first book
Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer.

If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: “As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away.” But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions. Before coming to that, I have to prove what I have just asserted.
"

That rights do not come from Nature, but from conventions, is exactly what I mentioned above about Calhoun and your other democrat forebears. Individual Rights become what the society feels are useful, not something which society has no right to deprive them of.

(cont)

4/01/2010 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)
A little further down, you quoted from the end of the chapter on slavery, but you missed it's opening,
"CHAPTER IV
slavery
Since no man has a natural authority over his fellow, and force creates no right, we must conclude that conventions form the basis of all legitimate authority among men.
"

Rousseau did not say that a man has a right not to be enslaved, he said there is no Right to enslave a man, it is merely another one, of many, conventions which society chooses to establish. That really shouldn't put you in a happy comfy place. Rousseau was opposed to Kings, but that does not mean he was for true liberty - he was a radical democrat, egalitarian, and nothing but tyranny of the many can, or ever will, result from that.

And a wee bit further,
"CHAPTER VII
the sovereign
"...But the body politic or the Sovereign, drawing its being wholly from the sanctity of the contract, can never bind itself, even to an outsider, to do anything derogatory to the original act, for instance, to alienate any part of itself, or to submit to another Sovereign. Violation of the act by which it exists would be self-annihilation; and that which is itself nothing can create nothing.

As soon as this multitude is so united in one body, it is impossible to offend against one of the members without attacking the body, and still more to offend against the body without the members resenting it. Duty and interest therefore equally oblige the two contracting parties to give each other help; and the same men should seek to combine, in their double capacity, all the advantages dependent upon that capacity.

Again, the Sovereign, being formed wholly of the individuals who compose it, neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs; and consequently the sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible for the body to wish to hurt all its members. We shall also see later on that it cannot hurt any in particular. The Sovereign, merely by virtue of what it is, is always what it should be.

This, however, is not the case with the relation of the subjects to the Sovereign, which, despite the common interest, would have no security that they would fulfil their undertakings, unless it found means to assure itself of their fidelity.

In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary or dissimilar to the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest may speak to him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding the moral person which constitutes the State as a persona ficta, because not a man, he may wish to enjoy the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic.

In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.
"
(cont)

4/01/2010 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

And a bit further you begin to see the pieces coming together,

"CHAPTER IV
the limits of the sovereign power
If the State is a moral person whose life is in the union of its members, and if the most important of its cares is the care for its own preservation, it must have a universal and compelling force, in order to move and dispose each part as may be most advantageous to the whole. As nature gives each man absolute power over all his members, the social compact gives the body politic absolute power over all its members also; and it is this power which, under the direction of the general will, bears, as I have said, the name of Sovereignty.

But, besides the public person, we have to consider the private persons composing it, whose life and liberty are naturally independent of it. We are bound then to distinguish clearly between the respective rights of the citizens and the Sovereign,1 and between the duties the former have to fulfil as subjects, and the natural rights they should enjoy as men.

Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign is sole judge of what is important.

Every service a citizen can render the State he ought to render as soon as the Sovereign demands it; but the Sovereign, for its part, cannot impose upon its subjects any fetters that are useless to the community, nor can it even wish to do so; for no more by the law of reason than by the law of nature can anything occur without a cause.
"

It is very easy to take Rousseau to appear as you might want to read him, he, like Kant, has many fine sounding things to say - taken in isolation. But when you look to his fundamentals (and you need to read his first celebrated essay against civilization, to begin getting the full picture), you begin to see what has no choice but to follow.

Robesspierre slept with Rousseau's works under his pillow, he faithfully employed his ideas in the way they were meant and intended, and the Terror was no accident of the times, but a direct result of the fundamentals which the French Revolution was begun upon.

Btw, yes, began with Ayn Rand, but soon moved on as I got into history and found many of her observations incorrect or completely misinterpreted - her ideas on concept formation are excellent, her application of those are often... flawed.

And her locating Kant as THE root of evil, way off, For modernity, I'd pick Rousseau as the one who actually knew what he was doing.

Sooo late, gotta go.

4/01/2010 09:53:00 AM  

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