Political freedom is a concentrator of government power

August 12, 2014 § 216 Comments

We are frequently presented with the false dichotomy of either making freedom a political priority or supporting limitless concentrated government power.  In fact this false dichotomy has things exactly backwards: making freedom a political priority (that is, liberalism) inherently concentrates government power.

In a healthy, functional society characterized by organic subsidiarity there are many constraints on individual choice coming from disparate authorities. There are also many constraints on various authorities themselves: constraints which arise from the fact that no one authority has monopolistic power over all spheres of life. Modern people immediately think of a king as a kind of all-powerful dictator, and that was probably even true of some of the late-stage Protestant ‘divine right’ monarchs; but in practice most pre-modern kings just happened to be the highest ranking individual aristocrat, and had less power qua individual than any two or three other high ranking aristocrats in coalition.

This isn’t an apologia for monarchy as much as it is a warning against the mind viruses that modernity uses to short circuit your thinking. By presenting you with a false alternative between liberalism and tyranny, liberalism always wins.

But the presumption in favor of individual freedom against the disparate authorities of organic subsidiarity creates an imperative for an ever more centralized government to override those authorities, in order to reduce constraints on individual freedom. Fire must be fought with fire: authority with a more concentrated authority.

A simple concrete example is the increasing intervention of government in marriage, since the traditional authority of a husband does in fact constrain the equal freedom of wives. That the wife may have entered the marriage voluntarily doesn’t fix the problem, when freedom is a prior commitment.  Once you start to see how freedom concentrates government power in one domain, you see it happening everywhere.

So it is important not to permit liberals to distort your perceptions with this false dichotomy. Making freedom a political priority isn’t a tool against the concentration of government power. It is itself the engine driving concentration of government power.

§ 216 Responses to Political freedom is a concentrator of government power

  • All modern political theory is a mere footnote of Hobbes, that includes the supposedly benign liberalism of America. The American constitution was essentially Hobbesian and probably the first political expression of Hobbesianism in Western history.

    It was Hobbes who inaugurated the ideas of the individual’s natural rights and as you note, we’ve been stuck in this Hobbesian dichotomy ever since.

    Still I can’t be too hard on Hobbes, he was trying to rescue state authority in a post-Reformation world, but he in effect created a system that fundamentally undermined itself.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    A sterling analysis of the false dichotomy of liberty and tyranny.

    I think we again come back to the question of legitimate authorities. Libertarians and Constitutional Conservatives make the mistake of thinking that having powerful governmental figures is wrong in all circumstances because it infringes on liberty. In their analysis of modern society, they are correct. The government of the United States, and by extension, the governments of all Western societies, has seized control of education and healthcare, passed a labyrinth of laws that criminalize every citizen, and now have the power and mind to seize children from their parents if they believe that liberal values are not being correctly instilled.

    What they get wrong is that the problem does not necessarily come from government power itself, but from the illegitimate people at the levers.

    If you allow anyone to seize possession of great power simply because they are voted for by large, ignorant masses – society will fail

    If you allow the government to think it is the sole arbiter in the affairs of men with no other influences considered – society will fail

    If you allow for the secularization of government, to where it is purged of the Almighty – society will fail

    And if you allow liberty to control the people as a tool of those liberal faux elites who ironically advance tyranny – society will fail

    If your government is in the hands of legitimate authorities, those being individuals of a reactionary strain, whose commitment to their folk and religious devotion makes them the natural organic rulers of the state, then you are not under any tyranny. Tyranny is the rule of illegitimate authorities who by virtue of their illegitimacy, will be tyrannical.

  • Tyranny is the rule of illegitimate authorities who by virtue of their illegitimacy, will be tyrannical.

    What would you call the rule of legitimate authorities which commit unjust acts upon the populace – for an extreme example, a King who goes around picking random women from the populace to join his harem?

    And this is a legitimate authority, mind you, a King who came into power as part of the direct line of succession from his Father, the previous King, and who was his rightfully designated heir.

  • Mike T says:

    What would you call …. for an extreme example, a King who goes around picking random women from the populace to join his harem?

    Henry VIII….

  • King Richard says:

    “Modern people immediately think of a king as a kind of all-powerful dictator”
    And may I add “…despite all evidence to the contrary”.
    My brief foray into the comments at What’s Wrong with the World were just the most recent example for this sort of ‘Kings are bad because kings are bad, facts and history be damned’ attitude.
    I routinely point out that in the rankings of ‘best’ European/North American nations on income, freedom, low taxes, privacy, – virtually whatever metric a newsroom has decided must be spoken of this week – at least 50% of the top 10 countries are the remaining monarchies where the monarch has actual power.
    One would assume that this is Real World evidence that monarchies are not tyrannical, nor ‘inefficient’, nor ‘backwards’, etc. but rather very successful nations with happy, healthy, safe, secure, rich citizens. After all, that is what the facts demonstrate.
    But the actual response is so predictable that the princes can recite it in unison – ‘But those aren’t *real* kings’. If you press them for an answer it always boils down to some version of ‘they can’t be *real* kings because *real* kings are bad’.

  • Mike T says:

    But the actual response is so predictable that the princes can recite it in unison – ‘But those aren’t *real* kings’. If you press them for an answer it always boils down to some version of ‘they can’t be *real* kings because *real* kings are bad’.

    Well, one of your best examples according to Wikipedia has most of his powers existing only on paper (King of Norway) and the power is really exercised by parliamentary process and some of the others are monarchs of populations too small to easily abet tyranny so they really don’t make your argument that well. As I pointed out to you there, the mayor of NYC has more police than Liechtenstein has population. Luxembourg is smaller in population and influence than many metropolitan counties in the US. And lastly, all of them are formally constitutional monarchs whose legitimate authority is strictly defined. None of them are in fact the sort of king that Zippy is referencing above from a pre-constitutional era in which a king’s power was limited mainly by custom, political alliances and technology.

    That is why I said, the interesting question is not what would Prince Hans-Adam would do today, but what a pre-modern King of France would do if given the modern French state or if a lesser example of the tsars suddenly had Putin’s state behind him.

    You aren’t doing yourself any services by conflating opposition to pre-modern monarchies with opposition to constitutional monarchies because neither I nor probably anyone at W4 has any opposition to hereditary monarchy whose authority is constitutionally defined.

  • Mike T says:

    So it is important not to permit liberals to distort your perceptions with this false dichotomy. Making freedom a political priority isn’t a tool against the concentration of government power. It is itself the engine driving concentration of government power.

    I would think that the pre-14th amendment Bill of Rights is an example of how this is not necessarily true. It limited its coverage to the federal government and prohibited the feds from taking a whole host of actions, most of which are things decent men shouldn’t oppose being outlawed. The problem came in during Reconstruction when the southern states refused to allow freed slaves to own firearms so it was decided to bring state firearm regulation and due process rights under federal purview.

    Whether that was a good decision in the moment, I’ll leave to our resident mistress of racial justice issues The Unreal Woman.

    To me, the real issue here is making freedom the good rather than understanding freedom as a subordinate good. I’ve seen no proof that our founding fathers wanted a libertarian free for all state rather than home rule and a limited federation which placed the locus of authority more in the community and state level.

  • Mike T says:

    By not necessarily true, I mean that one can make freedom a priority of different levels of importance at different levels of government. At the community level, it may be far less important as the community has a much more common vision of how to live than the national government, or in ISE’s case, a global government. Saying that freedom is a priority at the federal level makes sense because the federal government is not the proper authority to even define a community standard for what is good speech except in those edge cases where the speech is of a nature that no reasonable person would support its legality.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    You are amusingly predicable.
    May I point out that the first paragraph of your reply can be summarized as;
    ‘All the actual reigning monarchs of Europe, regardless of their individual powers and authority, aren’t REAL kings’.
    Yes, I know you think that, which is why it was the lead in for my comment.
    I am fully aware of your (admittedly common) abysmal ignorance of pre-modern monarchies. I am also fully ware of your (admittedly shared) likewise-abysmal ignorance of contemporary Monarchist thought. I know very well that these two ideas combine to make you believe that pre-modern kings were all horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad men with nigh-limitless power, no morals, and a taste for harems, history be damned!
    I am also fully aware that you also think that, no matter how well-educated, how diverse, and how knowledgeable a particular Monarchist may be, they all want to re-instate these mythical all-powerful, amoral skirtchasers – no mater what the Monarchists actually say, write, or do!
    But despite being aware of those things I must admit that I am very amused to learn that when theorizing about the possible behavior of a contemporary Christian reigning monarch you are so quick to dismiss the actual behavior of contemporary Christian reigning monarchs.
    It is almost as if your mind is made up and facts don’t matter.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    the real issue here is making freedom the good rather than understanding freedom as a subordinate good

    I’ve said many times now that the problem is making freedom a political priority, also using the related terms prior and a priori. That’s why I insisted that you quote my actual words: it is much more difficult to argue with what I am actually saying than with sloppy paraphrases of what I am saying.

    Freedom cannot be coherently treated as a political priority for several reasons that I have discussed, most notably (1) because every right implies an order of magnitude more constraints than empowerments; (2) because if freedom is a priori, the unfree freedom implied by attempting to keep it in pandora’s locke box is inherently unstable, and the boundaries will always be pushed away; and (3) because politics is inherently about controverted cases, so every political assertion of ‘freedom’ constrains all subjects who potentially or actually would prefer a different set of constraints.

    So if we all agree that freedom can never, ever be made a political priority within any scope coherently, my work is done. If we can’t agree to that, then someone who disagrees might consider addressing some of my actual arguments.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “What would you call the rule of legitimate authorities which commit unjust acts upon the populace”

    A good question, and you present a good example of a king who would take members of his population for a harem, as is done in Islamic societies.

    My answer to this may not be to your liking, but here it is. An authority’s legitimacy is not merely dictated by how he came to power. I do not favor a hereditary monarchy as a solution for the position of executive, but even in such a situation, his legitimacy also rests upon his duties as the executive.

    In a theoretical reactionary society, there is a state ideology with the state religion at its base. This supersedes ANY human authorities, and all must live by it, in their correct position within the hierarchy of society. If an authority figure (and it need not be the executive) were to breach this very simple contract, it would be immediately obvious, and he would lose his legitimacy, likely to be eliminated internally, so not through revolution but rather through assassination by other governmental figures. The executive is also not immune from being hauled before an ecclesiastic court.

    I advocate a form of ‘Collective Zealotry’ as the ultimate defense against abuses of the reactionary state’s system of government. That is that every citizen learns from birth that to disobey the ideology of the state, to stray from the hierarchical structure outlines therein, or to harm his fellow citizen through the abuse of any position with regard to the ideology, means certain destruction and death. This is not only taught to the laborer in the field, the cleric on the streets, or the employer in the office, but its a teaching that permeates the highest levels of power, including the executive.

    I would want this fear to be as tangible to citizens as the fear of placing their hand on a burning stove, reinforced by the fact that all are diligent and vigilant in rooting our societal heresy.

    It is not the violation of people’s ‘rights’ that determines a heresy, it is the violation of the state ideology. So if a harem is forbidden for the executive, it is not because the female slaves in this harem have a right not to be in a harem, it is because the state ideology expressly abhors and denounces all acts of sexual immorality including adultery.

  • Zippy says:

    Richard the Lionheart died of an infection from a crossbow bolt wound. The most powerful monarch in all of Europe died while personally doing the equivalent of police work at a minor castle – more of a fortified farmhouse, really – garrisoned with just a few men.

    Feel the power.

  • King Richard says:

    Malcolm,
    “What would you call the rule of legitimate authorities which commit unjust acts upon the populace – for an extreme example, a King who goes around picking random women from the populace to join his harem?”
    My reply is – are you an American? If yes, then my next is – you tell me!
    Within your own lifetime (unless you are much younger than I believe) America had a president who was a philanderer, adulterer, and confirmed perjurer *while in office as president*. What do you call that? What did that do the the legitimacy of either that president or the office of president?

  • Zippy says:

    I guess Richard the Lionheart wasn’t a real king either though.

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    On his deathbed Conrad, King of Germany, pleaded that Duke Henry be elected as the next king.
    Unchecked tyranny!
    Of course, that was in 918 A.D. so it may be too recent to count as ‘pre-modern’.

  • Mike T says:

    May I point out that the first paragraph of your reply can be summarized as;
    ‘All the actual reigning monarchs of Europe, regardless of their individual powers and authority, aren’t REAL kings’.

    You can make the observation, but I leave it to others whether your characterization of my comments is correct.

    For my part, I would remind you that I actually agreed with you that some of them had real powers. That was not the matter I disagreed with. Rather, the two points in disagreement were on the particulars of some of your examples being relevant to your point which I said “according to Wikipedia, they are not as powerful as you say” and that a real monarch over 35,000 subjects has far fewer avenues for tyranny than a monarch over 50,000,000 subjects with a powerful army, surveillance state and world power level economy.

    The only person asserting that these monarchs with more modest realms are not real monarchs is you. I acknowledged that they have strong formal powers and for all I know actually use them actively to govern. What you seem to think means “a REAL king” is someone with real power and all of the temptations that go with it. That the mayor of NYC has more men at arms than Hans-Adams has subjects is nothing more than a statement to the effect that you cannot judge what a king over 35k subjects would be like if he suddenly found his realm increased well over two orders of magnitude and his international power increased about the same.

  • Mike T says:

    a real monarch over 35,000 subjects has far fewer avenues for tyranny than a monarch over 50,000,000 subjects with a powerful army

    Does a mayor of a town of 5,000 people in Appalachia not have fewer real opportunities to be a tyrant than the President with a constituency of over 300,000,000, the 4th largest military on Earth and an economy that if it sneezes causes the global economy to seek medical attention from regulators?

  • Zippy says:

    It is true enough that no large modern technological State has been governed under any political philosophy other than liberalism or one of its close cousins. I am sure that some folks prefer the Devil they know over the Devil they don’t, despite (among other things) body counts in the hundreds of millions.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    When you say,
    “What you seem to think means “a REAL king” is someone with real power and all of the temptations that go with it. ”
    You are getting the actual point completely backwards.
    My point all along is that – the kings of Sweden Norway, and Denmark – the reigning sovereigns of Monaco, Liechtenstein, etc. are real kings! I am pointing out the error of you and people like you who dismiss reigning monarchs as not being ‘real kings’ because you *mistakenly* think only people with vast amounts of wealth and power without checks on their desire are “real”.
    You are dismissing real world evidence of what reigning monarchs in the real world actually do by invoking the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy and no matter how many times it is pointed out to you you can’t seem to grasp that point.

  • CJ says:

    Zippy –

    I’ve said many times now that the problem is making freedom a political priority, also using the related terms prior and a priori.

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “as a priority.” When you qualify it that way, it sounds as if there’s some proper sphere within which freedom is ok. But given your definition of freedom as “a state of affairs wherein what people wish to choose corresponds to what they are actually able to choose” isn’t it always going to be a problem?

    Richard the Lionheart died of an infection from a crossbow bolt wound.

    Fired by (as the story goes) a guy whom Richard had mocked for using a frying pan as a shield. I love that story.

  • Paul J Cella says:

    This argument on the whole is persuasive to me. In fact, the older and sounder school of libertarian thought (i.e., Wilhelm Ropke, not the libertine potheads at Reason mag) could agree with most of it as well, having many of them observed at close hand how the advance of political freedom as a slogan accompanied the reduction of the healthy and organic order of institutions and mores. Tocqueville, likewise, laid great emphasis the health of organic civil society, eschewing the more formalized appeal to freedom as a political priority that characterized so many of his countrymen.

    Ita propounds the view that “The American constitution was essentially Hobbesian and probably the first political expression of Hobbesianism in Western history.” Now, in some sense this is true, simply because Hobbes looms so large in modern statecraft, especially as it descends from the British Isles. But if we are talking about the formal document, the Philadelphia Constitution, Ita’s statement is severe oversimplification. For one thing, we have the Preamble, with its deep resonances to premodern forms. For another, we have the federalist structure, partially an accident of history and partially a theory of statecraft arising from precisely from the experience of organic, lived subsidiarity. The federalist structure of American constitutionalism may have been a new thing upon the earth, but whatever it was, Hobbes was not its author or preceptor.

    Finally, when Zippy says, “So if we all agree that freedom can never, ever be made a political priority within any scope coherently, my work is done,” my immediate (perhaps somewhat mischievous) thought was, “Who says it has to be coherent?” The range of liberty for incoherent human behavior is enormous, and can hardly be neglected by men of virtue and wisdom. Indeed, adapting Zippy’s own words we can probably say that “no large modern technological State has been governed under any political philosophy other than” incoherent ones. So far incoherence has been little more than a minor hindrance. All of which is to state (if I may be so bold) that, strictly speaking, once “we all agree that freedom can never, ever be made a political priority within any scope coherently,” our work has only begun.

  • Mike T says:

    My point all along is that – the kings of Sweden Norway, and Denmark – the reigning sovereigns of Monaco, Liechtenstein, etc. are real kings! I am pointing out the error of you and people like you who dismiss reigning monarchs as not being ‘real kings’ because you *mistakenly* think only people with vast amounts of wealth and power without checks on their desire are “real”.

    The topic that Lydia was addressing was sovereigns with “real power” in various capacities. She was mainly talking about technology enabling a rather creepy level of power over the subjects. I added as it is part of the larger issue of power and temptation that the temptation that a monarch of 35k would face are likely rather different than a monarch over one of the most powerful countries in the world.

    How you arrive at the notion that they are real or not real is your matter. I think you are the only one actually judging whether a monarch is a king or a mayor in disguise.

    You are dismissing real world evidence of what reigning monarchs in the real world actually do by invoking the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy and no matter how many times it is pointed out to you you can’t seem to grasp that point.

    King Richard, you are the one missing the point. I explicitly acknowledged that those monarchs have real power, have sufficient qualities to their office to merit being called kings in a real sense and that their countries (except Sweden) are well-run with good results. The point that Lydia was making, and that I was riffing on, is that a monarch of a much, much more powerful country is in a different position than one of a smaller country. This is for the same exact reason that mayors of small towns in the US are less prone to bad behavior than state level executives like governors and attorneys general, let alone say the President. If you want a simpler example, the spindly loser who can’t get a woman to save his life is going to have far fewer opportunities to actualize his sinful desire to fornicate than a George Clooney. That is not to say any of those monarchs are losers, but that a prince over a country smaller than two divisions of the Russian Army is going to face far fewer opportunities to be a rat bastard than Putin, let alone a Tsar with absolutist ambitions beyond even Putin’s.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    You are contradicting not only what you claim from post to post but you are now contradicting yourself within the same post.To wit,
    “The topic that Lydia was addressing was sovereigns with “real power” in various capacities”
    and
    ” I explicitly acknowledged that those monarchs have real power…”

    Yet you still insist the behavior of these real kings with real power can tell you nothing about how a real king with real power would act.

    Mike, I have been ignoring your repeated arguments about how the king of a smaller nation has ‘less opportunities” than the king of a large nation because of the sheer absurdity. If I were to take your argument at face value would would appear to argue that a high school teacher could *NEVER* tyrannize his students – he’s just a teacher! In a little school! If your “logic” were accurate there couldn’t be a corrupt small-town sheriff –
    “After all,”
    Mike cries out,
    “it is a tiny little town with only 2 deputies! Where, oh where, are the opportunities for graft and malfeasance in a place like that?!’

    The bosses of small, family run companies would never be thugs and a lieutenant in a large navy could never be a tyro in this world, if it existed.

    I suggest you familiarize yourself with Sayre’s Law.

    I also doubt that you have a great deal of familiarity with leadership and mentoring leaders. As any senior military officer can tell you, you spot generals in the way a man handles a squad, not the way he handles a division.

  • Zippy says:

    Paul:

    [M]y immediate (perhaps somewhat mischievous) thought was, “Who says [our political philosophy] has to be coherent?”

    And I am tempted to reply that if I’ve made a convincing case that making freedom a political priority is always rationally incoherent, my job is done.

    I’ve talked about the further implications before. The alternative to coherent political philosophy is incoherent political philosophy, and incoherent political philosophy means whatever anyone wants it to mean at a given moment. So incoherent political philosophy implies the triumph of the will.

  • Mike T says:

    King Richard,

    If I were to take your argument at face value would would appear to argue that a high school teacher could *NEVER* tyrannize his students – he’s just a teacher! In a little school! If your “logic” were accurate there couldn’t be a corrupt small-town sheriff –

    To borrow from Zippy here, this is where you show that I asserted that a lower authority is not capable of being a tyrant. I in fact said that lower and weaker authorities are less capable of tyranny precisely because there is less power and authority to abuse in the first place. At no point did I say that authority is actually incapable of turning into tyranny.

  • Mike T says:

    King Richard,

    Do you dispute that a king with an army of 10m soldiers and a 1984-level surveillance state with mind reading equipment has far greater avenues for being a tyrant than a king with no standing army and his chief form of intelligence being walking the streets of his small capitol talking to his subjects and advisers?

  • Paul J Cella says:

    The alternative to coherent political philosophy is incoherent political philosophy, and incoherent political philosophy means whatever anyone wants it to mean at a given moment. So incoherent political philosophy implies the triumph of the will.

    These statements are all true.

    A further question is whether a third alternative may be no political philosophy at all. All is prudence and no principles of binding political priority may be set out before us? That seems at least plausibly coherent.

    There’s a famous Churchill quote about the statesman at the helm of the ship of state, now heaving this way, no that, now trimming sail now letting loose, appearing to abandon coherence or consistency at whim, but in actuality never deviating from the course laid out for him: the common good of his people and patria.

    Piety is the root of patriotism. Our Lord never promised that we would live in countries with coherent political philosophies; He Himself wept over the city of infinite contradictions.

    And indeed it is with the New Jerusalem where our final, fully consistent and beatific, patriotism, our love for the patria, will rest; on that day of glory when all Our Lord’s enemies, broken and defeated, will bow their knees and confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord.

  • Zippy says:

    Paul:

    A further question is whether a third alternative may be no political philosophy at all. All is prudence and no principles of binding political priority may be set out before us? That seems at least plausibly coherent.

    It naturally resonates with me, since I am fond of making the point that no theory at all is better than a bad theory; but that resonance has two caveats.

    First, politics is the art of resolving controverted cases, so even mere prudence tends to be distilled into an ideological form in the crucible of conflict. Nobody ever gives up his life just because doing so was the more prudent choice.

    Second, metaphysical neutrality is impossible so there will be a de-facto political philosophy in any case: the only thing we can really change is our degree of self-awareness. So in the end we might just as well – with appropriate modesty about our own faculties to perceive them – explicitly make the good, the true, and the beautiful our guiding stars. That doesn’t solve all problems, of course, but at least it rejects the modern disease of faux neutrality.

    I think a governing political philosophy is probably inevitable. A polity always has one, it is just matter of how explicit it is and how self-aware those in authority happen to be. And if that political philosophy is diseased, it needs correction — because ideas have consequences.

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:

    When you qualify it that way, it sounds as if there’s some proper sphere within which freedom is ok.

    Freedom is OK as the natural outcome of a good people living under a good sovereign. In such a state of affairs most people prefer to do what they ought to do, and that is definitely a good thing.

    But notice what it also means: if everyone prefers to do what they ought to do, politics – the art of resolving controverted cases – has disappeared. So this ‘freedom’ is like (and indeed is basically the abstraction of) Marx’s concrete vision of the State withering away: the infamous immanentized eschaton. The limit case of unconstrained self government is no government. Somebody queue up John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

    We should all aim for Heaven, and the telos of politics is indeed to help everyone get there. But attempting to, via politics, force Heaven to come reside on earth — that never works. Making freedom a political priority (prior, a priori) is — no matter what pandora’s locke box is proposed to confine freedom within unfree limits — is an attempt to supply nutrition to the polity through the wrong orifice, if you will pardon the image.

  • Mike T says:

    But notice what it also means: if everyone prefers to do what they ought to do, politics – the art of resolving controverted cases – has disappeared.

    I don’t think that follows because even if everyone were a pious, almost flawlessly good person who put the common good first, you’d still have men arguing about what is the right thing to do in this or that case. The difference is, most conflict would likely be resolved swiftly and rarely with negative side effects as all parties would seek the maximal good and least possible injustice in all decisions.

    It would be almost as boring as Star Trek TNG politics, but not quite.

  • Mike T says:

    Even then “what they ought to do” would only be meaningful in the sense of “they strive consistently and generally do make morally licit choices.” You’d still likely have plenty of problems with people disagreeing on what actions others should take and trying to impose their tastes on others in the name of the common good. Like you might even find that some would still support effectively outlawing homeschooling because they feel “it is not good for children” even though everyone acting on their own accord seeks the good and usually achieves it in this hypothetical quasi-perfect world.

    In short, men won’t become libertarians who are totally content to live and let live.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I don’t know why these things sail over your head the way they do.

    Freedom – the actual capacity to choose what folks wish to choose without interference from others – is a function of what is and is not controverted. Maximizing freedom means minimizing controverted cases down to zero, which means the disappearance of politics. Prioritizing freedom (in any scope) is an attempt to play deontological David Copperfield and make all controversy (within that scope) disappear.

    Sure, contra Marx and every other liberal numbskull, that will never happen or even be approached in reality. But that is exactly the point. Freedom and politics are logically incompatible, and politics is here to stay.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy, precisely where did my last two comments contradict what you posted? All I said was that even “if everyone prefers to do what they ought to do” that wouldn’t be enough to end the existence of political controversies. At best, it would expedite their resolution.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    All I said was that even “if everyone [always and in every case] prefers to do what they [objectively] ought to do” that wouldn’t be enough to end the existence of political controversies.

    I’m not sure you know what the words “ought to do” actually mean. If everyone always had perfect knowledge and a perfect will, and therefore preferred to do what they objectively ought to do in every case, then nothing whatsoever would be controverted.

    The alternative is to assert that the good contradicts itself.

    Again, the situation described is not a real achievable situation in this world; and again, that is (a small part of) the point.

  • For my part, I have no clue what is controversial about the point that somebody with less power has less opportunity to be a tyrant than somebody with more power. How is this not self-evident?

  • Zippy says:

    Malcolm:
    Has anyone argued against that? More power inherently means more power to do harm. The power concentrated in liberalism and its close modernist cousins has murdered literally hundreds of millions.

    The fallacy is in thinking that freedom as a political priority disperses power: in reality it concentrates power. That is inherent to making will prior to the good.

  • KR, to answer your long ago question –

    When did President Clinton (if that’s who you’re referring to) grab random women against their will and force them to have sex with him?

    Maybe i should have made it clearer that “against their will” is a big part of this.

    Also an important part of this is that such a ruler claims that he is allowed to do it *because* as King he has control over his subjects, something that as far as I’m aware Clinton did not do.

    But forget “You tell me”. Do you have an answer?

    Don’t think I’m squeamish about calling Presidents tyrants. I haven’t done a ton of research on the terms of the modern Presidents, but if one strikes me as a tyrant you can rest assured I’ll say so – including Clinton.

  • Has anyone argued against that?

    KR tried to say, based on near-identical comments from Mike, that if we followed the logic to its final conclusion we’d have to say that small town sheriffs can’t be tyrants.

    So as to cover all of my bases.

    Mike: The point that Lydia was making, and that I was riffing on, is that a monarch of a much, much more powerful country is in a different position than one of a smaller country. This is for the same exact reason that mayors of small towns in the US are less prone to bad behavior than state level executives like governors and attorneys general, let alone say the President.

    I agree with this. Here is KR:

    Mike, I have been ignoring your repeated arguments about how the king of a smaller nation has ‘less opportunities” than the king of a large nation because of the sheer absurdity. If I were to take your argument at face value would would appear to argue that a high school teacher could *NEVER* tyrannize his students – he’s just a teacher! In a little school! If your “logic” were accurate there couldn’t be a corrupt small-town sheriff –

    But this doesn’t value, for what seem to me obvious reasons.

  • (“Value” should be “follow”.)

  • Zippy says:

    I suppose one pertinent question is, when comparing polities of comparable size and scope, which ones are more tyrannical: the monarchies with kings who have some real authority or the non-monarchies and those with merely ‘symbolic’ authority.

    But it isn’t clear to me whether a reasonable set of real world apples to apples comparables is even available, at any scale.

  • Mike T says:

    How is this not self-evident?

    How is my explicitly saying to King Richard that some of his examples are “real monarchs” with real political power not self-evidently agreeing with him that those people are “real kings?” Let’s start there 🙂

  • Mike T says:

    I’m not sure you know what the words “ought to do” actually mean. If everyone always had perfect knowledge and a perfect will, and therefore preferred to do what they objectively ought to do in every case, then nothing whatsoever would be controverted.

    Zippy, you know perfectly well that you used a phrase with a very common vernacular meaning and then added your own extra content to it. Even then, going with your definition it doesn’t logically follow that if everyone had perfect knowledge of all things that they’d arrive at the same conclusions. Perfect knowledge is insufficient by itself because even if they possessed perfect knowledge of God’s intentions on all things, they would need perfect wisdom and synchronized taste to apply the knowledge the same.

  • Mike T says:

    malcolm,

    When did President Clinton (if that’s who you’re referring to) grab random women against their will and force them to have sex with him?

    He didn’t have to because he was the President. The series Tudors may be made for TV, but the ease with which King Henry got women into bed is probably about historically accurate, in no small part because the women of royal courts were known to be as ruthlessly ambitious as the men. That combined with hypergamy means that a leader at that level who wants to chase skirts can do so with all of the speed and vigor of an old hound dog and still have at least one order of magnitude more conquests than ordinary men.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Zippy, you know perfectly well that you used a phrase with a very common vernacular meaning and then added your own extra content to it.

    Bullshit. I used words to mean what they mean, was very explicit about exactly what I meant, was explicit in my response to CJ that I was merely acknowledging an abstracted conceptual limit case in which freedom is a good outcome (though still not a coherent political prior); gave context for why I was doing so, and explained in sufficient detail for anyone half-charitably trying to understand to grasp the concepts. Yet you continue to niggle that in reality the abstracted conceptual limit case doesn’t occur (as if anyone had said it does) by postulating something abstractly short of the limit case and saying “so there”, followed in your latest comment by whining that abstracted limit cases are not “common vernacular meaning”.

    Well, no kidding. In any “common vernacular” case – in any real world case at all or even one that begins to resemble reality – it is incoherent to make freedom a political prior, and attempting to limit its scope (as Jefferson does with “by the equal rights of others”) doesn’t work, for reasons explained repeatedly, none of which you have addressed.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    You are starting to act like King Richard in asserting that I am saying things which I am not saying. My last comments to you did not address freedom. They contradicted your assertion about when and how politics could cease. I pointed out that politics can simply never cease–ever–because 100% of men will never agree on everything even when perfect knowledge and will are present because there will always be some issue where two or more options are equally valid and the decision comes down to personal preference.

    There is no perfect choice for everything. Accept it. My reference to homeschooling was not an argument for freedom but to show that even in a perfect world, there would be people opposed to it on certain utility/common good/think of the children grounds and that at best, that perfectish state would lead to a streamlining of conflict resolution.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    I pointed out that politics can simply never cease–ever–because 100% of men will never agree on everything even when perfect knowledge and will are present because there will always be some issue where two or more options are equally valid and the decision comes down to personal preference.

    Again you address an abstract limit case as if it were a real case. When you say that politics can never cease in reality you are just agreeing with me.

    If everyone’s knowledge and will were perfect, there would be no political conflict to resolve disparate preferences, because everyone would just do as they ought which would correspond to what they prefer. Even if we postulate mutually exclusive matters of taste (which assumes probably counterfactually that beauty is arbitrary), those would not give rise to political conflict: politics disappears in the presence of perfect knowledge and will. Good men aren’t going to go to court over vanilla versus chocolate. There won’t be a police force and jail to insure equal vanilla representation.

    Now here is a thought: how about you actually address one of my actual arguments?

  • Mike T says:

    Good men aren’t going to go to court over vanilla versus chocolate. There won’t be a police force and jail to insure equal vanilla representation.

    No, but they may passionately argue about what is the best place to put a road. Or whether it is prudent to spend 3% of the GDP on scientific research versus 4% based on competing conceptions of what should be prioritized. Unless you take perfect knowledge to mean omniscience, then there will always be actual public policies which they’ll disagree about.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Unless you take perfect knowledge to mean omniscience …

    As I suspected, you simply don’t know what words mean.

    Perfect knowledge may or may not mean omniscience in general, but it manifestly means perfect knowledge with respect to any actual matter at hand.

  • Mike T says:

    That was a rather poor choice on my part to add it as it added nothing to my point. Perfect knowledge and will alone don’t imply that “what they ought to do” will mean only one choice in any given situation. Controversies will always arise and they won’t be superficial controversies.

    But as to your larger point about the concentration of government power via prioritizing freedom as an a priori good, I see your point and am not here to argue with you about it anymore. While we don’t agree on all of the nuts and bolts (I think some of the concentration of state power is not necessarily bad for society or unjust to regulated authorities), in general I think you are correct. Our own constitution’s history proves the point.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    You are presenting a false dichotomy and then demanding to know why I won’t acknowledge it. The reigning sovereign of Liechtenstein has as much power over his citizens as the US has over you. It wouldn’t take an armored division to throw you into a cell, after all. And when you have complete legal control over internet if you wish to surveil those who use it this is a trivial manner as any small business can tell you.
    A classroom teacher may be a tyrant and a bully – the fact he can’t execute you doesn’t change this. The king of a nation of 1 million can be as great a tyrant as the king of a nation of 100 million. Oh, he might not threaten global trade, but to the people he’s oppressing that really doesn’t matter so much.

    “A king of a small nation has less venues of being a tyrant” is patent foolishness – as I tried to point out yet seems to elude your grasp you are confusing quantity with quality: the USSR of the 1970’s was a huge tyrannical regime with a vast military and multiple layers of secret police, surveillance, etc.Ceausescu’s Romania was 1/10th the size of the USSR with a much smaller military with fewer police, less surveillance technology, etc. and was demonstrably a worse tyranny. Khmer Rouge Cambodia was less than 1/30 the size, poor, and had virtually no technology for surveillance – and got rid of what they could! – and demonstrably *MUCH* worse!

    Do you disagree that Pol Pot had “less venues for being a tyrant”? Do you realize that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a worse tyrant than his contemporaries?

    In short, I reject the contention that matters of scale change the nature of a man or of a regime.

    And let’s not forget the original point way back when somewhere else – do we have any idea what a traditional monarchy would look like in the modern world?
    Of course we do! After all, they exist.They look like other countries but richer, safer, and with more protections for their citizens.

  • King Richard says:

    Malcolm,
    Clinton was accused of sexual assault more than once and did attempt to claim that at least one of these allegations could not go to trial because he was president. So – yes, at least one American president has attempted to stave of sexual assault allegations by reason f his position. A very close example of your query.

    And I thought the answer to your question was obvious – “a criminal”

  • And I thought the answer to your question was obvious – “a criminal”

    So you’d advocate the arrest of this King, complete with his forceable removal from the throne, but the fact that he was abusing the citizens by virtue of his position separates him from a tyrant?

    Accusations and actual rapes are not the same, but whatever. That’s actually not the point.

    So sure, Clinton was a tyrant, though you notice that he DID go to trial to be impeached, though he won. And he is no longer President.

  • Zippy says:

    Liberalism has found a way to very effectively make its tyranny carry on and grow despite the death and destruction of individual tyrants who are merely its tools, to be cast aside and trodden underfoot once their usefulness has expired.

  • Zippy says:

    This is another one of the ironies of liberalism: Jefferson believed that there should be a revolution every generation. That is more or less what happens naturally in hereditary monarchies. But by divorcing political hegemony from the fate of particular men, liberalism has positioned its own tyranny to last indefinitely.

  • Mike T says:

    A classroom teacher may be a tyrant and a bully – the fact he can’t execute you doesn’t change this.

    The fact that the teacher has only limited powers does however change the degree by which he can be a tyrant. He cannot lawfully do many things that those in the law enforcement apparatus may.

    The reigning sovereign of Liechtenstein has as much power over his citizens as the US has over you.

    He has as much power on paper over his citizens, but not the same degree of capacity to carry out that power as the US does. For example, if the US were to go off the deep end it has a significantly more powerful intelligence apparatus than Liechtenstein and it has global reach.

    Do you disagree that Pol Pot had “less venues for being a tyrant”? Do you realize that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a worse tyrant than his contemporaries?

    Who is a worse tyrant is inherently subjective. By absolute numbers, none of your “worse than the USSR” tyrants beat even just Stalin. Stalin’s policies alone killed a percentage of the USSR’s population roughly equal to the entire population of modern Romania. That is not even counting the fact that Soviet tyranny extended via its hegemony to a considerable number of European states. So yes, as a matter of fact the USSR by virtue of having military and economic hegemony over much of Asia and Europe had a considerably worse effect in absolute numbers than Pol Pot.

    Pol Pot was arguably more psychotic within his domain, but didn’t last very long when Vietnam intervened. If a Soviet leader had decided to kill 1/3 of the entire population of Ukraine, Romania or Poland, no one would stop them. To intervene would mean risking a nuclear world war. The Vietnamese by comparison faced nothing even remotely as dire from Cambodia.

    And let’s not forget the original point way back when somewhere else – do we have any idea what a traditional monarchy would look like in the modern world?

    And as your critics at W4 rightly pointed out, all of your examples are modern monarchs bound by formal constitutions in countries whose cultures accept and demand those constitutions be honored. In fact, as was pointed out, no one even said monarchies must be bad, but rather pointed at the danger of having a monarchy that is not bound by constitutional law and custom.

  • Zippy says:

    And again, while it is true that no polities with vast concentrated comprehensive power are monarchies – which some might find suggestive in itself – it is still perfectly fair to make apples-to-apples comparisons of polities and institutions of comparable size and scope.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Also, the constant harping on constitutions and other positive law demonstrates that you aren’t connecting with KR’s argument at all. Understanding the limitations of positive law isn’t the same thing as being against the existence of positive law.

  • Zippy,

    The flip side is that KR has been repeatedly missing Mike’s point that a King with more power has more options to be a tyrant than a King with less power. I’ve even quoted him directly doing this. KR has been absolutely wrong on that point.

    You, at least, are responding to Mike’s point with a counterargument. KR just misses it entirely.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    KR has, among many things, repeatedly asserted that we refuse to address the fact that his examples are “real kings.” This is despite the fact that I, several W4 commenters and Malcolm agree with him openly that they are “real kings.” What King Richard simply cannot grasp is that the constitutional monarch of Norway, whose powers are formally defined and enforced by competing branches of state and a culture unwilling to tolerate a king who operates outside the law is simply not the same type of ruler as, say, a Tsar. They are both kings, but comparing them as though they are fungible is simply wrong.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    What King Richard simply cannot grasp is that the constitutional monarch of Norway, whose powers are formally defined and enforced by competing branches of state and a culture unwilling to tolerate a king who operates outside the law is simply not the same type of ruler as, say, a Tsar.

    I haven’t followed that thread of the discussion as closely as the actual participants, but I’m not sure where that is coming from. I expect he understands that fully.

    What I don’t see the other side grokking at all is that he is making an “all other things equal” argument in favor of monarchy: take two otherwise identical situations, add monarchy to one of them, and it becomes better than the other. He uses real world examples to illustrate his point; and whatever one may think of his point, an apples-to-apples analysis of comparables is a perfectly reasonable way to make it.

  • Mike T says:

    The flip side is that KR has been repeatedly missing Mike’s point that a King with more power has more options to be a tyrant than a King with less power.

    Just as he’s been missing the argument that power is measured both in formal law and in actual ability to execute. The President may in fact be more formally restrained from assassinating dissidents than some of those “real kings” of his. Guess what? The US President actually has a significantly more powerful war machine behind him than they do. If the President orders and they obey, the President has much more actual power and reach irrespective of what’s on paper.

  • Zippy says:

    My impression of those points is that they are red herrings. People do that to my arguments all the time – bring up unrelated points that suck all the oxygen out of the room – so I’m naturally sympathetic when I think it is happening to someone else’s argument.

    The central issue is whether monarchy itself tends to improve the political situation. KR further points out that there are actual monarchies available to test the issue. All the other sound and fury is just a distraction that doesn’t address the central question.

  • Mike T says:

    I haven’t followed that thread of the discussion as closely as the actual participants, but I’m not sure where that is coming from. I expect he understands that fully.

    Well, he may or may not. I know that several W4 commenters and I have been drawing that distinction and his response is some variation of “see, they say they’re not real kings.” So it seems to me that he cannot stand the “yes, but” that leads to a meaningful distinction between a king like Harald V and a Tsar legally and socially unencumbered by formal restrictions on power and authority. I suspect the real issue is that he doesn’t wish to admit that his examples would make excellent monarchs of a renewed French of German kingdom, but pre-modern kings suddenly finding themselves with that level of power would be unprepared for that temptation even if they had good character.

  • Mike T says:

    My impression of those points are that they are red herrings. People do that to my arguments all the time – bring up unrelated points that suck all the oxygen out of the room – so I’m naturally sympathetic when I think it is happening to someone else’s argument.

    Lydia was discussing rulers with few limits on their power and even with technology providing them new, creepy levels of power. King Richard jumped in with those citations and when told that they were not relevant to the specific discussion followed up with a snarky comment about how his son was perspicacious for having said that we called his examples fake kings.

    It seems to me that his real contention is that we can use those examples to make sweeping judgments about how monarchs would behave generally, which in itself ignores the fact that much of the remnants of Christendom have vastly different customs and legal structures. I disagree with anything like that because you cannot divorce the the good ruler from the culture that helped create him in those examples.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    It seems to me that his real contention is that we can use those examples to make sweeping judgments about how monarchs would behave generally, …

    My thought is that his empirical argument has some value, and that (however he may have carried himself in this discussion or that) folks should actually address his central claim rather than launching a constant barrage of red herrings.

    Beyond the empirical argument I think it is quite clear that there is inherently more accountability in monarchy than in polities based on more ‘pure’ ideology, procedure, or formalism. In monarchy we know who is in charge, and who is therefore responsible.

    Polities which attempt to abstract power away from men and into procedures and texts[*] don’t actually succeed in doing so. At the end of the line there is always an actual person making and enforcing an actual authoritative decision. What they succeed in doing is hiding that fact, thereby making politics unaccountable and sociopathic.

    [*] This of course is not an argument against positive law generally, any more than an argument against positivism is an argument against the use of language generally.

  • Zippy says:

    For example, if the US were a monarchy we would know exactly who was accountable for the mass murder of tens of millions of infants by their own mothers with the permission and backing of the State. As it is, things proceed apace with no accountability.

  • Mike T says:

    We do know who is likely responsible for that. He’s our Vice President.

  • Mike T says:

    I think the larger problem with accountability is the spirit of nonjudgmentalism and corruption in authority. People generally know who is and isn’t responsible and can handle a situation justly. The failure is one of will and virtue, not knowledge in the overwhelming majority of cases.

  • Zippy says:

    I have nothing further to add to that.

  • Zippy says:

    The real world is waiting, when you are ready.

  • Mike T says:

    When a cop kills an innocent person in a way that is illegal, no one suffers from a deficit of knowledge on how to proceed. No one can look at Roe and say that sitting Supreme Court wasn’t responsible. All of the hand-waiving from moral relativists and their fellow travelers is just aimed at avoiding the obvious question of why the Congress didn’t mass impeach that Supreme Court and why the district attorney isn’t filing felony charges because those are questions they don’t want answered.

  • Mike T says:

    The real world is waiting, when you are ready.

    I live and work in DC. I haven’t experienced the real world in 8.5 years.

  • Zippy says:

    You are making my point about obfuscated and diffused responsibility.

  • CJ says:

    In monarchy we know who is in charge, and who is therefore responsible.

    But then what? Without delving into their respective merits, getting rid of Jimmy Carter was pretty painless compared to ousting the Romanovs.

    Years ago, an Iranian-American lawyer ran for judge here. His commercial went something like “In the aftermath of Watergate, when it became apparent that Nixon had done wrong, the people called for his removal and he resigned. No shots fired. That is when I knew that I wanted to be a citizen of this country. What happened in my country a few years later only confirmed this.”

  • Mike T says:

    You are making my point about obfuscated and diffused responsibility.

    Glad to be of service.

    Back to his point about Pol Pot, it just occurred to me that if we delve into the subjective to such an extent that we conclude that Pol Pot was worse than Stalin because he murdered a higher percentage of his people, we must conclude that a father of three who kills all of his children in a fit of rage is worse than Pol Pot.

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:
    If someone believes that democratic elections fundamentally change things, that is a good argument. As long as making liberalism accountable means more liberalism, it is all good.

  • Zippy,

    My impression of those points is that they are red herrings. People do that to my arguments all the time – bring up unrelated points that suck all the oxygen out of the room – so I’m naturally sympathetic when I think it is happening to someone else’s argument.

    Look, I don’t want to derail the discussion into “let’s talk about how KR is missing the point and is a bad person” (partiallly because I don’t really think he’s a bad person), so I promise this will be my last comment on the subject. But when somebody tries to respond to points and repeatedly and consistently interprets them wrong, and this is shown to him, and I know him to have done this more than once, I’m not going to be too sympathetic. I’m sure you feel similarly about other commenters, maybe even me or maybe not.

    I started out with sympathy for his position for his position. As it is I still have it, but he’s not doing a good job here.

  • CJ says:

    Zippy, my comment was directed to the utility of “knowing who’s accountable.” Jimmy Carter was a feckless, incompetent president. The people were dissatisfied with him and he was turned out of office after a single term. Edward II was a feckless, incompetent king and people had to wait 20 years for a foreign invasion to do him in. Knowing he was accountable didn’t count for much.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Mike T, the problem with modern infanticide is not confusion as to who is accountable. If that were the case, then the obvious targets would come to the fore, and more abortion doctors would justly be executed as George Tiller was.

    The problem is we live in a society where most will excuse murder for personal reasons of gain. Men will excuse abortion because it allows them to have no consequences sex. Women will excuse abortion because it allows them to have no consequences sex. It is also an impersonal act as compared with the killing of a nuisance neighbor, since it is done through an intermediary.
    The other problem is that the growing number of people who do define themselves as pro-life, still do not view this as an obligation on par with defending the lives of people who are more tangible. If you see a mass murderer going about his business, you typically do not join a march.

    I applaud the sentiment of the modern pro life movement, but while they achieve demonstrable victories at state level, the fact is that aborting babies has already been enshrined by a Supreme Court as a right, and it is highly unlikely to ever be overturned. The reason for this is obvious. Democrats will appoint very liberal justices in the years to come, while even if Republicans got another shot at the White House, they would appoint only slightly less liberal judges.

    This is all just about degrees of liberalism. If we lived in a reactionary society such as that which I have argued for, NO secular body would have ever decided anything of the sort. Ecclesiastic courts would be ‘supreme’ and murdering a child (whatever the age) would carry the death penalty.

    At the core, is the problem not that our religion has been ‘separated’ from the state? If the order of things rests on the whims of man, evil will always manifest. If the order of things rests on the Word of God, evil will shrink into the shadows like hunted beast.

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:

    my comment was directed to the utility of “knowing who’s accountable.”

    Yes, I understand that. But Jimmy Carter wasn’t the problem. If he was, then getting rid of him would have made some sort of profound difference, which it didn’t.

    Liberal democracy doesn’t accomplish real accountability. It creates the illusion of accountability, to distract us from the central problem, which is liberalism itself. Actual politicians are themselves just pawns of liberalism.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    CJ – the example you gave of the Romanovs represents a highly unusual situation, since it was really WWI that delegitimized his authority and led to his destruction. That’s not to say he did not make huge mistakes prior, but the war finished the Romanovs.In the event of such a cataclysm, its fair to say all bets are off.

    I think your critique of hereditary monarchies is fair however. Weak rulers can doom dynasties, and they are inevitable. But I would much like to hear your opinion on non-hereditary designation autocracy.
    That is to say that the executive would choose his successor of no blood relation from a noble selection. His choice would be informed by his zealotry for the ideology of the state including its religion, and his desire to see his successor carry on his work, and serve in the executive position with integrity.

  • Mike T says:

    If we lived in a reactionary society such as that which I have argued for, NO secular body would have ever decided anything of the sort. Ecclesiastic courts would be ‘supreme’ and murdering a child (whatever the age) would carry the death penalty.

    And this is where you lose me. Not because I believe in “separation of church and state” but because the abolition of secular courts has no precedent in Western history of which I am aware.

  • Mike T says:

    Knowing he was accountable didn’t count for much.

    Indeed. The people knew who was in charge, but then what? Regicide? Civil war? It took a long time in English history for Parliament to reach the point where it could lawfully depose a truly useless king without bloodshed. Of course the pendulum swung too far and now the monarchy itself is useless except for symbolism.

  • Zippy says:

    Kings have a limited life span. Liberalism doesn’t.

  • Zippy says:

    Furthermore, in a society with functional subsidiarity the king depends upon a large array of subsidiary authorities in order for things to function. Most of the criticisms of monarchy are directed at dictatorship. That’s how liberalism works: it uses the childish desire not to be ruled to cement its own comprehensive rule.

  • Zippy says:

    Liberalism is a tyrant with comprehensive power over all of society. Show me how its throne can be taken from it peacefully at all, let alone in less than a generation or two.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “because the abolition of secular courts has no precedent in Western history of which I am aware.”

    Whether or not there is precedent in western history is irrelevant. Reactionaries may see traditions or practices in non-western societies that they believe are better than things that the west ever devised. And none can completely rule out ideas that have little precedent, for a liberal meme may predate the Enlightenment. Though it was the cause of many problems, there were issues before that.

    Secular judiciaries have a funny habit of both legislating from the bench at the higher level, and handing down rulings at the lower level based on the ‘feelings’ of judges. I have argued this is because there is no locus upon which they judge right from wrong. You can use the law or constitution as an example, but do judges have any reverence for such things? Not really. Secular judges are largely just life-appointed courtroom tyrants. You only need look at the federal judge who recently struck down a state’s ban on sodomite marriage and got the constitution and declaration mixed up. These people rule how they WANT to, not how they SHOULD.

    I see no problem with having the judiciary (except for perhaps military tribunals) turned over to an ecclesiastic body, and have devout clerics be arbiters. Judging crimes based on what God says is right, rather than what some black cape thinks is right, would seem to me to be a far more attractive proposition.

    Besides, in European history, we at least see ecclesiastic courts with huge amounts of power over certain affairs. I merely propose that this power should be extended to all matters in which a wrong has supposedly been committed. It might seem like a radical idea today, but this is simply because of the ‘separation’ lie, a vile attempt to amass authority under a secular, liberal tyranny.

  • Zippy says:

    In my view worrying about formal structures is whistling past the graveyard, like a stage four cancer patient deciding to start taking vitamins. That said, Anglo law is a mess in part because the legislative and judicial functions are conflated though common law and precedent, and in part because of legal positivism. I’ve written about this before.

  • Mike T says:

    I see no problem with having the judiciary (except for perhaps military tribunals) turned over to an ecclesiastic body, and have devout clerics be arbiters. Judging crimes based on what God says is right, rather than what some black cape thinks is right, would seem to me to be a far more attractive proposition.

    Or rather what this particular group of Bishops thinks God means through their interpretation of Catholicism. So we trade a universal legal standard set by the King or republican offices for one in which each ecclesiastic court will be free to interpret the matter however they please without direct legal accountability to the political authority. So what does the King or President do when the ecclestiastic authorities consistently mess up? Under the traditional system, it’s clear. The King either orders them to resign or the President goes to Congress to file articles of impeachment. So now you’d put the political and religious authorities in a seriously problematic situation. If the political authorities must shut down or censure a bad ecclesiastic court either they have to beg the religious authorities to do it or must assume overriding authority over the church.

    I see no way for anyone to win here. Your argument is based more or less on extending the uniquely American judicial problems to Western history general. Even most of the problems with Common Law really only exist where you have judicial review. Much of that could be stopped by prohibiting judicial review of legislation, abolishing the 14th amendment and providing the states with parliamentary power over federal decisions. Will that happen? Not likely, but it’s more likely that establishing comprehensive ecclesiastic courts, let alone them turning out well.

  • CJ says:

    Mark Citadel –

    I’m fine with non-hereditary succession. Honestly, I’m not opposed to hereditary succession in principle. What I think is necessary is some established process to remove bad rulers, other than violent revolution or “wait for him to die.”

    Zippy says that Jimmy Carter (or Warren G. Harding or Millard Filmore, etc.) aren’t the problem, liberalism is. However, I would argue 2 things: 1) They are part of the problem, inasmuch as there have been better presidents under our system; and 2) I would say that a society where a ruler’s evil is only checked by his own will and lifespan (or perhaps the readiness of the people to revolt) is also broken.

  • RT says:

    2) I would say that a society where a ruler’s evil is only checked by his own will and lifespan (or perhaps the readiness of the people to revolt) is also broken.

    Why? If God is the real sovereign the proper question then is how can He allow his earhtly princes to behave the way they do? And if we have a check on our king or president then they are not sovereigns but we are. Who will check us? Our will or lifespan? Who will revolt against us?

  • Why? If God is the real sovereign the proper question then is how can He allow his earhtly princes to behave the way they do?

    I’m not sure what you’re actually trying to say, but the answer is “I have no idea”. I am not God, and we have no guarantee that ANY government will or won’t be tyrannical.

  • Mike T says:

    Why? If God is the real sovereign the proper question then is how can He allow his earhtly princes to behave the way they do?

    God’s sovereignty would be far less mysterious if you would stop interpreting it through the lens of Calvinism.

  • CJ says:

    And if we have a check on our king or president then they are not sovereigns but we are. Who will check us? Our will or lifespan? Who will revolt against us?

    As Zippy has repeatedly pointed out, it’s impossible to create a moral obligation to do evil. So if the putative sovereign orders you to (say) throw a baby into a woodchipper to make his father talk, you MUST disobey the sovereign. Enough behavior of that sort may give rise to the right or even the duty to rebel. None of that detracts from the nature of sovereignty.

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:

    I would say that a society where a ruler’s evil is only checked by his own will and lifespan (or perhaps the readiness of the people to revolt) is also broken.

    In practice the constraints on any leader are innumerable, and his commands are followed only when (and to the extent) those commanded understand them to be binding. A leader’s power is like a woman’s power. It doesn’t arise from his own capacities, as if he were some sort of superhero: it arises from the willingness of others to do his bidding. This is always the case, and moreso the larger the organization which he leads.

    It is also, of course, a terrific mistake to lump all followers together as if they were a monolith — as if followers were equals in any significant way, which they never are in fact.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “Or rather what this particular group of Bishops thinks God means through their interpretation of Catholicism. So we trade a universal legal standard set by the King or republican offices for one in which each ecclesiastic court will be free to interpret the matter however they please without direct legal accountability to the political authority.”

    Not entirely sure how liberal judges with their own prejudices re-interpreting a secular document they refuse to recognize the context of is in any way superior. Catholicism is not necessary for this system. It would be valid in Orthodoxy as well.
    And no, the ecclesiastic court is not ‘free to interpret’ the Bible however they please. It is interpreted one way by the state church, and this is the way it is interpreted ad infinitum. It’s not as if a cleric could suddenly interpret theft not to be a crime, and that would be that. He would be hounded out by the ecclesiastic church heirarchy and likely put on trial himself! Trust me, I am not positing a society that believes in a “living and breathing” Bible, so to speak.Ginsburg will not be on the bench.

    Your point about direct legal accountability to the ‘political authority’ misses the point entirely. On this system, the church IS a political authority, and its scope of responsibility and powers is unique to it. Why do you necessarily view the heteronomic forces of the central government as the locus of all power over the individual? This is very much a modernist view.

    It is recognized in reactionary society that different forms of authority exist and there is absolutely no reason to have one intrude upon another, into territory where it simply has no jurisdiction. If a father disciplines his son for insolence, neither the church nor the central government have any authority to go into the home and reprimand the father if he is acting within his legitimate authority. It is nonsensical to do so, since the discipline of sons is a father’s duty.

    You seem to want a judicial body that is accountable to the central government, but why is this necessary? What gives that government primacy in such matters that the church must bend its knee?

    I discard this argument out of hand because it runs on the liberal framework of having all forms of authority ultimately accountable to the executive (elected or unelected). This is not the case in reactionary societies of the past, nor would it be healthy for such a society in the future. The ‘king’ has his role and responsibility, and he feels no need to interfere in matters where he is really irrelevant.

    Your main concern lies in the fear of a corrupt judiciary that is hard to displace, but as Zippy has pointed out, liberalism as an ideology renders even the removal of a judge by the people pointless, as he is to be replaced by another liberal.
    The law is to be Biblically grounded and thus its executors are expected to act in accordance with Holy Scripture. If they become corrupt, it is up to their colleagues and both judicial & non-judicial ecclesiastic superiors to remove them. If you are the head of the church or a member of its high council, you are concerned with maintaining your image as the honorable rock of society. You will necessarily guard against attacks on the faithful by corrupt officials. This is that ‘Collective Zealotry’ coming into play. The idea being that even though bad apples are inevitable even in the most rigorously regulated organizations, there would always be enough moralist fanatics to drive them out.

  • Mike T says:

    Mark,

    Not entirely sure how liberal judges with their own prejudices re-interpreting a secular document they refuse to recognize the context of is in any way superior.

    As I said, the problem arises from judicial review, not judicial interpretation of positive law and precedent. Everything you cite about the alleged unique evils of secular courts only exists insofar as secular courts have the authority to judge the laws themselves against the constitution.

    The rest of your response is simply riffing on failing to understand that criticism. Secular courts actually don’t have a bad track record at all of enforcing the law. There is simply nothing whatsoever about ecclesiastic courts that gives them greater competence on basic law enforcement than secular courts.

    You seem to want a judicial body that is accountable to the central government, but why is this necessary? What gives that government primacy in such matters that the church must bend its knee?

    Because scripture and tradition make it quite clear that the church is not God’s ministerial body for these matters. For the church to take power is an usurpation of the government’s natural, divinely-ordained authority on secular matters. In practice, it will end up much like Imperial Russia where the church was reduced to the effective status of a government ministry, not an independent body.

  • Mike T says:

    One thing that is becoming increasingly clear to me is that in practice, most right authoritarians and libertarians are both about equally utopian in their vision for society.

  • Zippy says:

    The Church itself disclaims any specifically political mission, so convincing it to take over administration of a branch of government would be self-undermining. Ecclesial courts are for canon law.

    Judicial review is just stare decisis applied to constitutional law. The Anglo view of judge-as-de-facto-legislator has always been problematic. It may be of interest that ecclesial courts follow the Roman model not the Anglo model.

  • Zippy says:

    One thing that is becoming increasingly clear to me is that in practice, most right authoritarians and libertarians are both about equally utopian in their vision for society.

    There are so few right authoritarians uncorrupted by liberalism that it is probably impossible to say what they are like as a group. Libertarianism though is as commonplace as teenage angst.

  • Zippy says:

    Part of what makes common law, stare decisis, judicial review etc such a bad idea is that turning every case into a sweeping generalization puts competing pressures on a judge. His natural role is to dispense justice in particular cases, and turning particular cases into legislative generalizations undermines this natural role.

  • Mike T says:

    I know you’ve mentioned the problems with judicial positivism of various flavors, but how do you resolve the problems Anglo common law tries to solve without getting into the same traps? From what I can tell, the problem in America is not common law per se, but judicial review.

    From my perspective, the problem with judicial review is that it is essentially a purely political process that operates disguised as a purely legal process (I know there is some intrinsic overlap there). I think federal constitutionality could be better handled by moving it back into the political realm by creating a constitutional amendment that would permit the removal of a federal statute or official if a simple majority of state legislatures issued a vote of no confidence or some sort of motion to overturn in the case of law.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    As far as I can tell, judicial review just is common law applied to the constitution. When a judge decides that the constitution trumps local law in a particular case, that is generalized and the local law is struck down for all cases.

    Crafting general rules and judging particular cases are each tricky enough on their own, and common law – the practice of turning particular judicial decisions into general legislation applicable to some abstractly generalized case – inherently conflates them. Even if they are done by the same person they are better kept intellectually distinct.

    Modern ‘conservatives’ are always criticizing judges for imposing their ‘personal view of what is just’, as if there were a rational alternative. Part
    of the reason ‘conservatives’ have become irrational positivists is because the decisions judges make are automatically converted, in the Anglo system, into general rules which apply beyond the particular case in question. It is a recipe for tyranny, because the choice is between every mistake (willful or otherwise) becoming written in stone and applying to everyone versus a raving madman’s irrational positivism.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “For the church to take power is an usurpation of the government’s natural, divinely-ordained authority on secular matters”

    I do not consider the discipline of citizens who comit moral outrages to be a ‘secular matter’. All law is at base a judgement of what people should or should not do. These ‘should’ questions entail morality, and in a society that has cast of the shackles of these childish notions of ‘human rights’, morality comes directly from God. What is the advantage of ecclesiastic courts over secular ones? Most evident is that they recognize God as the prime author of right and wrong, rather than secular notions such as ‘for the good of the people’ or ‘self-evident truth’.

    In history, courts of the religious nature have punished those who practiced witchcraft, sexual debauchery, blasphemy, among other things. I am not sure how extending this to cover other acts of immorality is in any way an amazingly radical or authoritarian departure from history.

    It is incorrect to say the church becomes a ‘ministry of the government’, as if it were to become the equivalent of the FBI, IRS, or even our whole judicial system. We are talking about a total, recognized separation of authority. The church remains independent, it simply takes some executory power from the central government. Why must the federal government follow this power and entangle itself? If I told you that I wished to give fathers of households much more power that the state currently holds, would you say that this reduces fathers to a government ministry?

    I have stated before, one the largest problems with modernity and liberalism is the secular aspect, the idea that we can truly divorce topics from our purpose and the divinity above. This has directly lead to the decline of cultural transmission between generations, and a moral decay that is somewhat without precedent.
    You may be imagining that such a society would turn the church into some kind of huge law enforcement bureaucracy, but this is not the case, as there wouldn’t even be 1/10th of the laws on the books that we currently have in Western societies. Much like the ‘Dark Ages’, the laws would be few and very simple. You would have much less chance of being hauled before a religious court than we do today before a secular one.

    Utopianism doesn’t really come into it. I readily admit life in a reactionary society in many ways will be grim compared to the modern world with all its distractions.

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:
    Both the sovereign and the Church have their own positive law, and thus need their own courts. The Church has no special competence in interpreting the sovereign’s legislative decrees.

    The decisions of the sovereign’s courts are not somehow more authoritative than the decisions of ecclesial courts, however; and the sovereign has an obligation to respect and even assist in the enforcement of the decisions of ecclesial courts.

    One of the more (or less) subtle errors of modernity I’ve discussed before is the assumption of monolithic authority, which inherently undermines subsidiarity. “One court to rule them all” is the presumption of monolithic authority applied to the judiciary.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Bruce Charlton had a very good, if short post on secular politics vs. religious politics.

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-asymmetry-of-religious-and-secular.html

  • Mike T says:

    In history, courts of the religious nature have punished those who practiced witchcraft, sexual debauchery, blasphemy, among other things.

    Courts have traditionally had a religious aspect because religion was never divorced from the state. However, I can think of no example of any functional state in Western history which actually turned over ordinary criminal case adjudication to a court formally under the authority of the religious authorities. For you to imply that there is anything liberal about maintaining this is as asinine as calling the Mosaic Law feminist because it modestly raised the legal status of women in the Middle East where it applied.

    I am not sure how extending this to cover other acts of immorality is in any way an amazingly radical or authoritarian departure from history.

    Then you haven’t thought through it clearly enough if you believe that there can exist a state in which the political authority has to defer to religious authorities to try ordinary criminals. Waving your hands and declaring the religious authorities political authorities doesn’t change the fact that you are setting the stage for a show down between the sovereign and the church. Nor does it change what Zippy has mentioned that the Church itself disclaims the very authority and competence you would foist upon it.

    It is incorrect to say the church becomes a ‘ministry of the government’, as if it were to become the equivalent of the FBI, IRS, or even our whole judicial system. We are talking about a total, recognized separation of authority. The church remains independent, it simply takes some executory power from the central government. Why must the federal government follow this power and entangle itself? If I told you that I wished to give fathers of households much more power that the state currently holds, would you say that this reduces fathers to a government ministry?

    I know in your ideal society, that’s how it would play out. The example of Imperial Russia is how it will actually play out. That is the sovereign will not give up one of the two most important manifestations of his power which is to judge and sentence criminals. No sovereign will accept the position of being what amounts to a royal bounty hunter/dog catcher for church courts.

  • Mike T says:

    No sovereign will accept the position of being what amounts to a royal bounty hunter/dog catcher for church courts.

    As Zippy mentioned, there is a valid role for the sovereign in ecclesiastic court decision enforcement. However, that fact and the fact that ecclesiastic courts have valid authority does not in any way support your contention that ecclesiastic courts have special competence in matters ordinarily reserved for the political authorities. Murder is a moral matter. Murder even has a basic essence. What is one particular class of murder and how to punish it on Earth is not a moral decision, but a political decision. No religious authority has special competence to say precisely how murder should be punished when you get to a level of specificity like manslaughter vs second degree vs first degree murder. Really, all you are doing is appealing to a belief that ecclesiastic courts would handle these ordinary decisions better because they’re churchmen who interpret morality via a universal standard. That however, does them only so much good when judging the particular facts of a complicated criminal trial in which the details are many and you arrive at a question of “yes, he’s guilty of unjust homicide, but precisely how unjust?”

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:

    Bruce Charlton had a very good, if short post on secular politics vs. religious politics.

    All politics is inherently religious, sure, and politics which adopts a pose of neutrality is really just adopting nihilism as the official State religion.

    But wherever the sovereign and ecclesial authorities are distinct, which should be pretty much everywhere outside of the official Papal state, they will each need their own distinct courts. The sovereign doesn’t have any special competence to interpret canon law, and the Church doesn’t have any special competence to interpret the sovereign’s law. Every authority has both legislative and judicial functions, whether formal or informal.

    As Mike T suggests, to deny an authority the capacity to interpret and apply its own positive law within its own rightful domains is to turn it into something less than an authority.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    So you would have no religious authority involved in law enforcement in any regard other than within its own hierarchy?

  • Mark Citadel says:

    It would be helpful with understanding, Mike T, if you would outline how secular you would like society to be. How would the power of religious authorities change in relation to what they look like now, or do you find the current role of religion in society to be adequate?

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:

    So you would have no religious authority involved in law enforcement in any regard other than within its own hierarchy?

    “Involved” is a pretty vague term. Since I am not a positivist and most modern people are positivists, it is possible that what is proposed is some sort of positive demarcation that, I would suggest, is ultimately incoherent.

    I haven’t suggested any particular demarcations or interfaces. I’ve just suggested that as authorities promulgating positive law in their own right both the Church and the sovereign require their own judiciary – their own mechanisms for judging particular cases under the positive law that they promulgate. I’ve further suggested that every legitimate lawmaking authority includes some capacity to judge particular cases, so denying the sovereign his courts is tantamount to denying him authority.

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:

    How would the power of religious authorities change in relation to what they look like now, or do you find the current role of religion in society to be adequate?

    It may be worth pointing out that ‘the power of religious authorities’ and ‘the role of religion in society’ are distinct.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    I understand this. Would it perhaps be more workable to have a singular clerical judicial body that took instruction from the sovereign on pertinent matters, and the church heads when it came to other things. Or would it be that each had its distinct legal bodies. I had originally thought of this, but it seemed like overkill to have both ecclesiastic and central-government-loyal legal bodies, but it is not paramount that they be married.

    Is the difference perhaps like the stark dividing line between civil court and military courts. We separate these two bodies and they judge crimes in a different way.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “It may be worth pointing out that ‘the power of religious authorities’ and ‘the role of religion in society’ are distinct.”

    The political power of religion is I feel integral to its role. Today, religion does maintain some political power of course, but it is severely curtailed. For instance the ‘tax exempt’ feature of tax law can actually ban churches from discussing political topics. If you increase the political power of religion, eventually you will get to a point where its role becomes legal as well. People not only view the church as the center of religious instruction, but also the center of religious legal enforcement.

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:
    I don’t have a grand structural design worked out, and I’m skeptical of such things in general. The very idea of a singular authority, or of a monolithic ‘tower of ascending authorities’ – the infamous ‘monopoly on the use of force’ – is both counterfactual (that isn’t how things really work even now) and destructive. Creating a ‘top down design’ – any top down design, but especially ones that perceive the purpose of the emperor as providing for the ‘freedom’ of individuals or patchwork units – requires a monolithic authority and is inherently hostile to organic subsidiarity. Designing civilizations is an inherently modern conceit, and it never happens in reality.

    What is needed is a fundamental re-working of how people think about authority, enforcement, and politics. Right now it is liberalism all the way down. I don’t see wholesale repentance happening any time soon, unfortunately. But any attempt by traditionalists to burn the field and technocratically design the future will backfire.

    Nurturing a civilization into life requires preparing little patches of ground, planting tiny seeds among but at least somewhat protected from the choking weeds, infinite patience, and trust in Providence. How it will look all grown up, or even if the seeds we plant will survive at all, isn’t really up to us. Most probably will not survive.

    And most of us aren’t even in the ‘preparing the ground’ phase yet. The ground of our own minds is still poisoned and salted.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    The way I see it perhaps recognizes more urgency. I see the world falling apart. How long can society continue this way? How much more debased can it become before the entire thing descends into anarchy?

    Anarchy is the ultimate transition phase for political philosophy. All fundamentally new societies are born from anarchy. Should we see the West fall in such a way, I’m sure you know there will be competing ideas within this anarchy from fascism to Marxism to trying to revive ‘liberal democracy’. There will also undoubtedly be external threats. It feels necessary for those of an illiberal mind to be ready to plant a flag somewhere and say “this is ours”. We may still be in the early germination period, but how much time left before opportunity arises can there conceivably be? The field appears to be ‘burning itself’ as it were. Is there any action other than proselytizing that is productive to achieving the desired organic system?

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:
    I agree with Bonald that the liberal empire could continue to go on for centuries. The ground is filled with the decayed bones of people who thought collapse was imminent.

    I don’t completely rule out the possibility of a short-term or even catastrophic collapse – though I think either is unlikely. But even so it is impossible to plan for that kind of contingency, and anything you do to plan for it is as likely to be the thing that gets you killed as it is to be the thing that saves you. Planning requires a capacity to make reasonable baseline assumptions about what will and will not happen, and in ‘collapse’ scenarios all bets are off.

    In short, if the decline is fast there is no way to plan for specific tactical contingencies. And if it is long then strategic planning is pointless.

    It is kind of like people who try to pick stock market tops. Someone is always ‘right’ about the top, but that isn’t because he was smarter than everyone else or knew something they didn’t. Someone always wins the lottery too.

  • Mike T says:

    The way I see it perhaps recognizes more urgency. I see the world falling apart. How long can society continue this way? How much more debased can it become before the entire thing descends into anarchy?

    It is falling apart, but liberalism alone isn’t the reason. Most of the developed world is in the final stages of imperial decline, having their empires collapsed and being reduced to something of a rump state compared to their former glory. Historically, irrespective of the understanding of authority and politics this stage of a society’s very existence is one of its worst. Now I do think liberalism has exacerbated the situation, but societies in our position seem to invariably find themselves in systemic moral decay.

    It would be helpful with understanding, Mike T, if you would outline how secular you would like society to be.

    I would prefer a society and state the put basic nicene creedal Christianity as its formal doctrine. As a Protestant, I think that would make room for all denominations to live in peace while establishing the understanding that the state’s formal doctrine is reasonably defined.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    This view is a reasonable one. So, Mike T, you would be happy with the US Constitution if it specifically outlined Christianity as the central doctrine of society, and if it immunized itself from ‘re-interpretation’ by a judicial body later. You have voiced your displeasure at the idea of monarchy, so you are fine with elected legislatures and an executive. Correct?

  • Mike T says:

    Something like that.

    I am not so much opposed to monarchy as biased strongly in favor of traditional republican government. I would limit the right to vote to the upper-middle to upper classes and military veterans. The result would probably be about 5-10% of adults would be qualified to vote.

  • CJ says:

    Judicial review is just stare decisis applied to constitutional law. The Anglo view of judge-as-de-facto-legislator has always been problematic.

    It’s worth noting that judges in continental/civil law countries have a much lower social status compared to judges in our society. My International Law professor said that judges in those countries were likely to be C students who couldn’t get real jobs.

  • King Richard says:

    Take a few days to call citizens and see what happens?
    Mike, you are missing a critical few things that are demonstrably obvious to others.
    1) The actual statement that replied directly to at W4 was (paraphrase) ‘we have no idea what a modern Christian monarchy would do or look like’ – I simply pointed out that this is a ridiculous (and frankly ignorant) thing to say. There are plenty of existing contemporary Christian monarchs of a variety of powers in a variety of nations of a variety of sizes. They are consistently good leaders and their nations are consistently better off than their Republican neighbors. It is a simple argument that since since contemporary Christian monarchs do well at these various levels we can assume that even with more power and in larger enclaves they would continue to do well.
    And my comment was far from “snarky”, it was just that I have encountered this line of discussion before. It always boils down to a tired variation of-
    A:”Democracy is better than monarchy”
    B:”These contemporary monarchies [provide list] wealthier, more free, etc. than their neighboring Republics. The sheer variety in the size of the nations and power of the rulers indicates that Monarchy is at least as viable as a Democracy”
    A: “Well, those real world examples don’t count because of [insert something irrelevant to the point, such as a fictional character, an appeal to a historical system that never existed, or mere appeals to incredulity]”
    In the 20 years I have been discussing Monarchy I have encountered some variation of this virtually every month.
    2) Your repeated contention ‘well, none of them are unconstrained absolute rulers’ is meaningless. Historically there were very, very few unconstrained absolute rulers, few of them can be considered monarchs in the traditional sense (they were often conquerors) and even among those few they were, overall, pretty good rulers.
    The facts are:
    -there are a large number of monarchies extant all around the world
    -these monarchies, despite being in a variety of locations with a wide range of population levels, relative power available to the monarch, presence of natural resources, etc., all tend to outperform comparable nations that are not monarchies
    -there appears to be a correlation that indicates that the more individual power a particular monarch has the better off the citizens of that monarchy are in comparison to similar Democratic nations in areas as wide-ranging as income, taxation, inheritance, personal security, and personal privacy

    Vague appeals such as ‘well, if they had absolute power they might be tyrants’ are meaningless in this context as the argument ‘well, if they had absolute power they would have built a moonbase by now’.
    Maybe. Both are mere speculation and *unsupported by the facts*.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    I find it fascinating that you are still emotional enough about a conversation we had months ago (and which I had forgotten) to rehash it over at W4. Oddly enough, you seem to still be wrong about what I said, even while quoting it over and over. I am more than willing to discuss that, in depth, directly via email or chat if you like.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    King Richard – with regards to monarchy, it probably is fair to say we don’t know how a Christian monarchy with similar powers to the Saudi kings would look like, but we can make some assumptions based on what kind of society the king would be ruling over.
    It is a lot easier for the king to retain his prestige for instance, in a hermit kingdom like Bhutan than it is in a country like Noway that is wired into the global economy. If he is a Christian monarch, is he ruling over a society in which the vast majority are Christians? That would of course be the ideal situation.
    The examples we have of Christian monarchs today are almost all castrated figureheads who must sign whatever their parliaments send to them. In this sense they actually have less authority than the presidents of most republics, who represent executive heads of state with political muscle. Exceptions include the Vatican (both an ecclesiocracy and a monarchy at the same time), and Liechtenstein which recently expanded the power of its monarch.
    It is a misfortune of history that we do not really see any large states with Christian autocrats as akin to Brunei and Oman. I am holding out some long distance hope for Hungary though after its declaration of ‘illiberalism’. I’m sure the current president likes the sound of ‘King Orban’.

    As you say, few monarchies in history have been truly absolute. There are always councils and de facto independent church authorities. The real question is not democracy vs autocracy, but the degree to which either is present. Personally I favor half the legislative body being elected by qualifying citizens in hyper-regional districts, this body specifically handling local problems and disputes as well as co-regional projects. Its stupid to bother the sovereign with that stuff, and elected bodies do best when they are small in scale, scope, and authority, where they operate in a somewhat efficient manner.

  • Mike T says:

    King Richard,

    Actually I don’t really care that much. I posted some of that there to give them some context. One thing I’ve struggled with for a while is that my tendency toward sarcasm and dry humor often comes off rather differently online than it does in person. Most of your assertions about my temperament and tone wouldn’t last very long in person, but that’s sort of beside the point.

    But as regards some of your other points…

    “Well, those real world examples don’t count because of [insert something irrelevant to the point, such as a fictional character, an appeal to a historical system that never existed, or mere appeals to incredulity]”

    As was repeatedly pointed out to you, they were not situationally appropriate examples. Lydia was referring to examples which were neither formally nor culturally restrained by constitutional structures. All of your examples are.

    -there are a large number of monarchies extant all around the world

    There are two major ones in the Middle East, a few in Africa, a handful in Asia and none in Latin American I know of (Aruba, Bermuda, etc. don’t count as they are not part of “Latin America”). I wouldn’t call the number “large” but the number isn’t relevant to the fact that your particular examples are in fact good examples of well-run monarchies.

    -there appears to be a correlation that indicates that the more individual power a particular monarch has the better off the citizens of that monarchy are in comparison to similar Democratic nations in areas as wide-ranging as income, taxation, inheritance, personal security, and personal privacy

    To a point, that’s true. All of the examples you cited are ones in which the monarch has a real, powerful, but well-defined role within a larger system of government. One could easily observe that much of what makes them so effective is that they know their role and their role is generally fixed. That is not true of many or most historic monarchies.

    Once you get beyond that point, you run into the usual danger of concentrating too much power into the hands of one institution. Be that formal power or actual facts on the ground power. The latter as exemplified by the fact that the Prince of Liechtenstein may have the same level of formal power as the US Presidency, but the US President has significantly more resources to realize that power however he sees fit.

    Vague appeals such as ‘well, if they had absolute power they might be tyrants’ are meaningless in this context as the argument ‘well, if they had absolute power they would have built a moonbase by now’.

    No one ever said they would automatically become tyrants. They said that the temptation would be there because any increase in any type of power brings new avenues to sin.

  • CJ says:

    I don’t have a dog in this fight over how monarchical behavior. However, I think King Richard and Mike T are talking past each other.

    There are currently six countries that Wikipedia (I know, I know) lists as “absolute monarchies.” They are:

    Brunei
    Oman
    Qatar
    Saudi Arabia
    Swaziland
    Vatican City

    Perhaps it would be useful to compare and contrast these countries and their rulers with those listed by KR. Swaziland, at least, is a disaster and Mswati III is corrupt.

  • RT says:

    I did not have much time to be more specific so I try now.

    I am not God, and we have no guarantee that ANY government will or won’t be tyrannical.

    We don’t but it’s hard to imagine that God would punish His faithful with a bad ruler if they really were faithful. I meant something along this line.

    …So if the putative sovereign orders you to (say) throw a baby into a woodchipper to make his father talk, you MUST disobey the sovereign. Enough behavior of that sort may give rise to the right or even the duty to rebel. None of that detracts from the nature of sovereignty.

    I agree but I don’t think from this follows that we need some special mechanism to check or replace the sovereign. I would even say (as I tried before) that would mean the power is transferred elsewhere. Sovereign should rule in the first place. If he really do that he will always experience strong opposition. But his position should be relatively independent otherwise he’s not a sovereign.
    Perhaps I am biased because I live in a country (Czech Republic) with parliamentary system that I would call unfortunate. It often results in a weak coalition that tends to break down. The executive is restraint and usually spends its term trying to keep the coalition together. President is mere figure with little real power. It seems almost like someone took pretty good care not to allow the government actually rule. Perhaps the intention was good but what do I know? Corruption is inevitable result, people are outraged and media like to play on this string whenever they need to get rid of someone uncomfortable.
    This is rather poor picture of “government” but as “the system” it really works fine.

  • RT,

    We don’t but it’s hard to imagine that God would punish His faithful with a bad ruler if they really were faithful. I meant something along this line.

    I don’t really know what to tell you except that you don’t have much of an imagination. God puts the faithful through unspeakable horrors quite often.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “Swaziland, at least, is a disaster and Mswati III is corrupt.”

    Undoubtedly, but I might be tempted to put this down to more the general political climate in post-colonial Africa. You find that all forms of government across Africa are endemically corrupt, with the new pretend democracy/military junta in Egypt being a potential exception, though if they follow Mubarak’s example, they will be corrupt also.

    As an aside, I thought Morocco’s king was absolute, but I guess he must have been limited in some way. Also, Jordan’s king seems to have a rubber stamp legislative body,

  • Mike T says:

    I don’t have a dog in this fight over how monarchical behavior. However, I think King Richard and Mike T are talking past each other.

    I think that more or less sums it up. I think it doesn’t help that King Richard seems to assume a level of disagreement that isn’t there.

  • Mike T says:

    with the new pretend democracy/military junta in Egypt being a potential exception, though if they follow Mubarak’s example, they will be corrupt also

    Mubarak was probably one of the best leaders the Arab world has had in a very long time.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    True, but not for reasons of his virtue. Mubarak was a stabilizing force in a region that was a hotbed of Islamic militancy. It is incontrovertible however, that he was a corrupt ruler. Sane, but corrupt. I would hope that SiSi will be an improvement especially in the economic sphere.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    I would limit the right to vote to the upper-middle to upper classes

    Seeing as how many rich people vote liberal (or libertine) I’d say such a law would result in a system similar to the one we have today in its worst aspects (like abortion, gay marriage ect). Maybe taxes would be lower- maybe. Such a system would spark massive and continuous civil unrest and agitation. We would sooner have a return of monarchy than have such a proposal implemented.

    Needless to say It is hard to take Right-liberal proposals such as this seriously.

  • Mike T says:

    Needless to say It is hard to take Right-liberal proposals such as this seriously.

    It’s hard to take you seriously when you ignore the fact that I included military veterans and they outnumber the upperclass probably 20:1 and tend to vote conservative.

  • Mike T says:

    * Not to mention the fact that the military would become a gateway for lower class and middle class conservatives to political influence which would increase their willingness to join the military substantially, resulting in a more conservative military and ultimately, electorate.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Just to throw in ten cents here, any election I would foresee would automatically exclude women from voting, so you’ve cut off a lot of liberalism right there. Women would be expected to get married and husbands would be presumed to be voting in the interests of their entire family.

  • Zippy says:

    We can’t renounce liberalism without renouncing its rituals. If we can’t or refuse to imagine life without democratic elections, we are still in the grip of the delusion. And thinking that liberalism can be tamed by limiting the franchise is naive.

    44 Then [the demon] saith: I will return into my house from whence I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
    45 Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation. — Matthew 12:44-45

  • Mike T says:

    If we can’t or refuse to imagine life without democratic elections, we are still in the grip of the delusion.

    So you are in effect saying that elections by anyone other than a titled aristocracy are inextricably liberal? Because your comment essentially puts even the Roman Republic in the “liberal” category.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    First, we can’t ignore the implications of scale. I’ve written about this before.

    Second, we can’t ignore our particular history. Whether liberalism and democracy are intrinsically connected is one question, but it isn’t a particularly relevant question and is mostly just a distraction. In our actual society they are in fact deeply and inextricably connected. It is one thing to acknowledge the possibility in principle of drinking alcohol (or shooting heroine) in moderation, and another entirely to suggest that Bob in particular, with his history of alcoholism, should drink a glass of wine every day.

    Life starts from where we are, not from an abstract castle in the clouds. And where we are, democracy and liberalism are bound up with each other. Quibbling over whether or not this is ‘intrinsic’ and whether it was true in other radically different times and polities is counting angels dancing on the head of a pin.

    Is deconvoluting liberalism and democracy possible in principle? Maybe. Maybe several centuries of unified public repudiation of liberalism and unequivocally non-democratic rule could make mass elections of some sort ‘safe’. But why would such a society even be interested, at that point?

    The individual is not a fundamental political unit, and seeing the individual as a fundamental political unit is a foundational mistake. One man’s political freedom is another man’s constraint, always. The franchise is limited now. Making it ‘more limited’ would not change anything fundamental, because it still treats the individual and his will as a fundamental political unit.

    Should various authorities (e.g. heads of households) have ways of petitioning other authorities, and should the authority of the smallest communities be respected? Sure. Does democracy – or any treatment of the individual as the ‘primal’ unit of politics – actually accomplish this? No. Quite the opposite, actually.

  • Mike T says:

    You speak of unequivocal repudiation of liberalism as though it is even possible. Repudiating it would also effectively mean repudiating most of its actual positive accomplishments. Because in actual practice, most people are incapable of thinking abstractly enough to separate out what is independently good there and what is not. Hence, most people would throw the baby out with the bathwater because most people are just stupid like that.

  • Zippy says:

    So repentance isn’t possible? “He went away sad.”

  • Mike T says:

    It would help if what you are asking them to do were actually the sort of repentance demanded of people by God. As you once said, we’re all material heretics on something. If that mattered to God, the blood of Christ would be powerless.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    It would help if what you are asking them to do were actually the sort of repentance demanded of people by God.

    You mean like abandoning lies and embracing the truth?

  • Mike T says:

    Not everything about liberalism is a lie. The reason liberalism has staying power is that it has enough truth that it can work.

  • CJ says:

    The individual is not a fundamental political unit, and seeing the individual as a fundamental political unit is a foundational mistake.

    If you’re taking requests, this would be an interesting subject for a new post.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Not everything about liberalism is a lie. The reason liberalism has staying power is that it has enough truth that it can work.

    False.

    I’ve devoted many posts and comments here and elsewhere showing precisely how liberalism is a lie at its very core, and explaining how liberalism’s incoherence actually makes it more adaptable and resilient. You can’t just dismiss all that without actually addressing it.

  • Mike T says:

    There are many political actions that arose only under liberalism that may not be intrinsically liberal, but would likely never arise under another system. The US Bill of Rights is one example. There’s no evidence based upon the overwhelming primacy of authority over the individual that “authoritarians” would have conceived of the need to procedurally limit many activities of the state that are limited by the US Bill of Rights.

    Just as you admonish me that I cannot separate democratic processes from liberalism in actual American culture, I’ll admonish you now that you cannot throw out liberalism without throwing out virtually everything it’s done right because the only existing political tradition that covers those things is liberalism. Authoritarians would have to reinvent everything liberalism got right as well as create some philosophical route justifying them otherwise they’d just be alien to the new society.

  • Mike T says:

    This is much like the oft cited relationship between Judao-Christian civilization and modern science. It’s theoretically possible to create modern science in another civilization. It’s just never actually happened. There’s no record of another civilization, unaware of Judao-Christian science that independently produced something comparable. That other societies without that foundation may be able to continue it without Judao-Christian culture doesn’t change the fact that it only came into existence in Judao-Christian civilization.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Without getting into specific examples – I’m not a big fan of the whole philosophy underlying the bill of rights – it is always the case that no society gets everything wrong all the time. This is as true of (say) Islamic societies as it is of liberal societies.

    But so what? Liberalism itself is a lie from the pit of Hell and should be repudiated utterly, unequivocally, unreservedly, and eternally.

  • […] modernity values freedom – personal autonomy – above all else, which is actually why our politics becomes so tyrannical; and the idea of grown human beings placed under the authority of other flawed human beings is […]

  • Mark Citadel says:

    I can’t really think of a ‘right’ thing that I would associate with liberalism. I’m not a fan of the racial-based captive slavery that existed America, but even if its abolition was a product of liberalism, it should not be overlooked that the practice had the trappings of liberalism to begin with, as it was justified using ‘science’ of inferior and superior humans.
    (As an aside, I do not have a problem with debt slavery should it be needed for upward mobility)

    I don’t like abortion or birth control, I don’t like women’s emancipation, I don’t like scientism, I don’t like sexual liberation, I don’t like secularism, I don’t like humanism, I don’t like modern democracy, I don’t like public education or healthcare, I don’t like multiculturalism or diversity, I don’t like the obsessive worship of economics as the center of all existent in both socialism and capitalism.

    Really struggling to think of a great thing that I could attribute to liberalism. Sure, there are great technologies I would not want to give up such as aviation, but its not likely these would have remained undiscovered but for liberalism.

  • It’s hard to take you seriously when you ignore the fact that I included military veterans and they outnumber the upperclass probably 20:1 and tend to vote conservative.

    I have the utmost respect for veterans but practically every member of the “greatest generation” (a I term I think they’ve more than earned) I have met, or read about idolized FDR, so be careful what you wish for. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if we had something of a “Freikorps” state, but then I somehow doubt that they would be all that respectful of such quaint abstractions like the Bill of Rights. I do believe you are wrong, however, on the numbers. There are far greater numbers of rich, coastal professionals who are hardened liberals in some form or another. These would presumably be making up your voting elite. Their rule would not only not fail to stop liberalism but would they likely accentuate it.

    Have you thought through your idea of simultaneous disenfranchising large numbers of people and then leaving the only avenue of advancement through military service? A recipe for revolt.

    Regarding republics ancient in modern, on the whole I support a mixed polity, but I would say that of all the elements that I would try to mitigate it would have to be aristocrats/oligarchs, For some reason republicanism has proven itself more easy to co-option by liberal ideologies (Parliament in the 17th century, America, France, ect). All republics (modern and ancient) also seem to be dominated by the most the loathsome elements, usually the merchants. Given me an inbred king before a council of merchant parasites.

  • Mike T says:

    When I wrote that I had to be a bit PC given the circumstances. Suffice it to say, I’d add Mark’s recommendation on how to limit the franchise and by the time most professionals got through various property requirements and limits on how much government money they can take and still be qualified to vote a lot of those professionals would not be allowed to vote.

    Most of the veterans I know younger than the WWII generation tend to have stronger than average respect for the rule of law and that includes the various constitutions they live under. In fact, I’d trust them to police the streets long before I’d trust most police officers today among other things.

    I would say that of all the elements that I would try to mitigate it would have to be aristocrats/oligarchs, For some reason republicanism has proven itself more easy to co-option by liberal ideologies (Parliament in the 17th century, America, France, ect). All republics (modern and ancient) also seem to be dominated by the most the loathsome elements, usually the merchants. Given me an inbred king before a council of merchant parasites.

    If by an aristocratic government you mean one in the traditional sense, I see that as likely dead on arrival. Educated professionals, to say nothing of captains of industry will never tolerate having to subject themselves to the whims of titled men and women who couldn’t even make it in a profession, much less become a member of the top 0.1% via their own initiative. Something like China which is a fusion of aristocracy and meritocracy could work, but only because it provides a mechanism to regularly renew the aristocracy with new blood from the public.

  • Zippy says:

    Educated professionals, to say nothing of captains of industry will never tolerate having to subject themselves to the whims of titled men and women who couldn’t even make it in a profession, much less become a member of the top 0.1% via their own initiative.

    Non-serviam, mixed in with optimized material ‘merit’ocracy über alles.

    And they went away sad.

  • Zippy says:

    Ita:

    Regarding republics ancient in modern, on the whole I support a mixed polity, but I would say that of all the elements that I would try to mitigate it would have to be aristocrats/oligarchs …

    But that would mean that we can’t use a technological trick – formal structure – to create the illusion that we are preventing tyranny. The visible check on tyranny would be other actual men with actual authority. If that were the case we wouldn’t be able to sooth the fragile modern ego with the illusion that he isn’t being ruled; and the most important thing is to rule without appearing to rule.

  • Mike T says:

    But that would mean that we can’t use a technological trick – formal structure – to create the illusion that we are preventing tyranny. The visible check on tyranny would be other actual men with actual authority.

    You say this as though you think most people believe the US Constitution is going to walk into a branch of government and tell them what for, when in reality most appeals to the US Constitutions are appeals to the authorities to obey the damn law or enforce it on other authorities.

  • Mike T says:

    Non-serviam, mixed in with optimized material ‘merit’ocracy über alles.

    This isn’t Twitter. A less than 140 character line of snark doesn’t count as a meaningful statement to address a meaningful issue. The West outgrew the old system. A hereditary aristocracy that has neither proven military nor economic prowess, but just a certain genteel je ne sais quoi has no business running a modern state.

  • Zippy says:

    The beauty of centering the authority in words rather than men is that, in addition to salving the modern ego by ruling while pretending not to rule, the larger and ever more monolithic authority can claim that it is just a disagreement over interpretation. If you violate authority centered in a text it can’t protest or clarify itself.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    You are the poster child for how liberalism uses ‘conservatives’ to preserve itself.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    ” has no business running a modern state.”

    This may be the crux of the issue, for the reactionary goal is the absolute DESTRUCTION of the modern state. I’m not saying I favor a random aristocracy arising for no apparent reason, but the defense that modern states should not be ruled over in such a way is somewhat of a misnomer. When we talk about ‘modern states’, what we really mean is liberal states. The dividing line between liberalism and illiberalism is damn near close to the dividing line between modernity and pre-modernity, or as Evola called it, ‘Tradition’.

    Modern liberal states are justified in their existence through concepts such as ‘the will of the people’, which means ‘rule of the lowest common denominators, and those smart enough to manipulate them’. In this sense, even the dictatorial North Korea is liberal in the sense that its rulers have simply found the ultimate way to manipulate people in a kind of Orwellian hell in the name of ‘the people’.
    Often any idea that is supposed to be for the good of the people, ends up being coercive and destructive. You need only look at the expansion of the US welfare state since the 1930s. Those who reject these premises turn to other methods of ordering society and purposes around which policy is built.
    For instance, what is the difference between a society that’s central purpose is to be pleasing to God and a society that’s central purpose is to furnish the whims of masses? What is the difference between an organic hierarchy of Tradition with little movement between orders of power, and a blanket electoral mess that can elect both brilliant minds from the highest levels of society and at the same time a congressman who thinks entire islands can capsize if too many soldiers are stationed there?

    The modern state is illogical. It has led to more conflict and confusion and disintegration than pre-modern states every could have dreamed, and that isn’t simply down to technology. They have forced us to be ‘citizens of the world’, and since we are not wired to be as such in the spheres of religion, customs, ideals, and though it may pain us to say it, ethnic kin, this has delivered similar results to the misguided Marxist ideal that humans can behave like robots with no problems.

  • But that would mean that we can’t use a technological trick – formal structure – to create the illusion that we are preventing tyranny. The visible check on tyranny would be other actual men with actual authority. If that were the case we wouldn’t be able to sooth the fragile modern ego with the illusion that he isn’t being ruled; and the most important thing is to rule without appearing to rule.

    I heartily concur, rereading what I wrote I didn’t mean to say that we needed a mechanistic system to “check” the power aristocrats, though I see now how it comes off that way.

  • If by an aristocratic government you mean one in the traditional sense, I see that as likely dead on arrival. Educated professionals, to say nothing of captains of industry will never tolerate having to subject themselves to the whims of titled men and women who couldn’t even make it in a profession, much less become a member of the top 0.1% via their own initiative. Something like China which is a fusion of aristocracy and meritocracy could work, but only because it provides a mechanism to regularly renew the aristocracy with new blood from the public.

    I never cease to be amazed by all the conservatives/traditionalist/liberty lovers who purpose we adopt the worst aspects of modernity, in order to overcome modernity.

  • Mike T says:

    Mark,

    I think I didn’t convey quite what I meant by modern state. I was simply referring to states governing a technologically advanced society like modern first world nations. I was not referring to a particular governing philosophy.

  • Mike T says:

    I never cease to be amazed by all the conservatives/traditionalist/liberty lovers who purpose we adopt the worst aspects of modernity, in order to overcome modernity.

    China is what a reactionary state without Christianity would look like. It’s thoroughly undemocratic, rejects individualism, puts the community first, is ruled under a very weak constitution by a part hereditary, part meritocratic elite and is very forward seeking in its goals.

  • Zippy says:

    Who really cares what political systems without Catholic Christianity look like? If you take the most important thing away, of course it is a disaster.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Not really, Mike, since China is totally divorced from its Traditions. The Chinese people and culture at large are almost wholly materialistic, and where once the merchant class were deemed the lowest of social grades, commerce now reigns supreme. Reactionary societies are not just about the governmental systems, but the culture of the people as well, and the ideals within that society.

    Interestingly though, China is where the largest growth in Christian worship is occurring, so I am very interested to see what China may look like in 50 years.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “I was simply referring to states governing a technologically advanced society like modern first world nations. I was not referring to a particular governing philosophy.”

    Technology is largely irrelevant, I find. It is only problematic to the degree in which it allows communication ‘interculturally’, and so presents the opportunity for ideological impurities to arise from cross-cultural contamination between laymen.

    Other issues may seem to arise as challenges to a potential reactionary state, such as the mechanization of labor leading to urbanization, or the emancipation of women being inextricably linked to technology that made homemaking easier. But these are hardly conflicts without solution.

    A modern state in terms of technology could be ruled over by many different forms of government conceivably. It is an accident of history that the ones we see today are with few exceptions, liberal democracies.

  • Mike T says:

    Technology presents a host of issues to rulers today that didn’t exist centuries ago. For example, should GM crops be allowed? A typical monarch, democrat or republican probably doesn’t know the answer to that question. Many technologies offer security services insight into people’s behavior that was all but impossible to know just a few decades ago. Regulating technology in the name of the common good is a daunting task and a society that doesn’t draw into government people of a diverse background will probably find itself not up for the task.

    It is an accident of history that the ones we see today are with few exceptions, liberal democracies.

    As I said above, it’s also an “accident of history” that science was developed in Judao-Christian civilization. Hypothetically, there was nothing stopping it from developing in various pagan civilizations or in Islamic lands. However, the fact is that it only developed in Judao-Christian cultures. For better or for worse, the only civilizations that have developed advanced technology and mass mobilized workforces to produce the requisite level of wealth needed to give us everything we enjoy are liberal societies or based partly on liberalism.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “As I said above, it’s also an “accident of history” that science was developed in Judeo-Christian civilization.”

    Not so, in my estimation. Judeo-Christian civilization has presented humankind with an understanding of the world that had fundamental differences from particularly Eastern, but also animist-level religions. The view that the world was ordered and understandable through cause and effect because it was the product of a personal, rational Creator. Many apologists have pointed this out when in argument with secular scientists

    “For example, should GM crops be allowed”

    Kind of a niche example of a political issue. I would say it just isn’t important enough to warrant drawn out discussion at this stage. The question doesn’t have any obvious moral quandaries attached to it, as man has dominion over such things. It really is just a pure science question of whether genetic tampering carries risks to people if they eat fruit and vegetables that have been modified. If so, then we shrug and let the technology go by the wayside. If not, then it presents a good maximizer for food productivity in the agriculture sector.

    When it comes to spying and communications technology, you have a tougher problem, but this is relative to whatever situation a society is in. If you posit a kind of dystopic reactionary society, the chances are that the internet no longer exists and you don’t have anything to monitor. At this stage, I would say that dystopic societies are all we can think about, as a reactionary revolution against a sitting Western government and subsequent adaptation of the trappings of modern states at this point is untenable and ridiculous.

    When the Kali Yuga ends, we have ashes. Our concern is not molding what is already burning, but what to do once we have the ashes.

  • Mike T says:

    Kind of a niche example of a political issue.

    Until Monsanto has managed to get all of your farmers to use their one-time-only seeds and you suddenly find your nation’s agriculture wholly owned by Monsanto until you can find an alternative. There are other issues as well such as how safe these products are for the ecosystem of the nation.

    Technology doesn’t necessarily present uniquely vexing problems, but it has caused an explosion of potential controversies, especially ones in which a degree of real education and experience is necessary to wisely rule. This is why much law is now formally handled by regulatory agencies, not the legislature and that’s fine. However, the legislature (or king) needs access to independent experts and even some degree of education (at least in a broad fashion) of the various subjects so they can act as a real authority over the specialist-regulators.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Not necessarily, for instance if half the legislature is appointed by the sovereign, then experts could actually be IN the legislature, rather than simply being accessible. For instance, along with a smorgasboard of military officials, you might also have the foremost authority on water, or the guildmaster of agriculture or cartography. A massive bureaucracy with multiple layers and complex administrative procedures is an invitation for corruption and inefficiency.

    A lot of decisions pertaining to things like agricultural planning remain at the local level, but if a larger issue emerges, it may be decided in the central authority, and there should be very visible figures in that authority who are responsible for the outcomes, so that they are easily dismissed by the sovereign should they be wrong.

  • Mike T says:

    Not necessarily, for instance if half the legislature is appointed by the sovereign, then experts could actually be IN the legislature, rather than simply being accessible.

    An interesting idea, but one problem with this is that it means the legislature could easily become dominated by “yes men.” I think it would be more practical to have a bicameral legislature like the UK Parliament divided between the aristocracy and commons, but with two councils: a council of experts and a constitutional council. The sovereign would nominate to both, the upper house would approve and the function of the former would be to take requests from Parliament to draft legislation and rules for regulatory agencies to execute. The latter would serve as an arbitration panel in which lower authorities and the sovereign could appeal the constitutionality of legislation.

    FWIW, if I were in charge I would do the following to the US (at a minimum):

    1. Replace the President with a consul responsible for diplomacy and military action, a consul in charge of all federal law enforcement and a consul responsible for managing all other civilian functions.
    2. Make the Attorney General a separate constitutional office responsible for all federal prosecutions and civil suits.
    3. Establish Nicene Christianity as the state religion with formal tolerance for Judaism, but all other religious practices to be subject to federal regulation.
    4. Give the states parliamentary control over federal legislation, the power to issue votes of no confidence in any federal officer (a simple majority of states resulting in removal of a law or office holder).
    5. Restore the state appointment of the Senate.
    6. Abolish the federal government’s authority to regulate the raising and training of state military forces except to control their deployment outside of a state’s borders without the request of an adjacent state’s government.
    7. Eliminate the 14th amendment and restore the definition of a US citizen to its original definition which was an established lawful citizen of a member state.

  • CJ says:

    Mike T –

    Few questions about your proposal. No “gotchas” intended; I just find these discussions fascinating.

    1. How would the consuls be chosen?
    2. Which one(s) would be in charge of intelligence services?
    3. I’m not LDS and I think their beliefs are patently ridiculous, but they’re also an American original with a strong regional presence. They should probably be in the front of the line for a religious accommodation.
    4. What about the supreme court and judicial review?

    I would limit federal court terms to 10 years, and judges would have to move up or out. I would also limit judicial review of federal laws to requests from a majority of legislators who voted no (if the bill passed with less than 2/3 of both houses). For state laws, it would be limited to laws that imposed criminal or civil penalties above a certain threshold. Your state “no confidence” votes would probably obviate those changes.

  • Mike T says:

    1) Many options possible without going into direct election. One possible way would be to invert the role of Senate for this one by making the House responsible for nominating the consuls and placing them for a mandatory vote of confidence. Refusal of a state legislature to convene to vote yea or nay would be a felony.

    2) Two possible routes. First you could have the IC split back along its old domestic-external lines. The other that comes to mind is to make the DNI a constitutional office nominally subordinate to the two consuls with security service jurisdiction.

    3) Good point.

    4) I would remove judicial review from the judiciary and replace it with a House nominated, state approved judicial council that could hear complaints from the consuls, state governments and private citizens who could prove standing by a demonstrated material harm inflicted by a possibly unconstitutional law.

  • King Richard says:

    “Educated professionals, to say nothing of captains of industry will never tolerate having to subject themselves to the whims of titled men and women who couldn’t even make it in a profession, much less become a member of the top 0.1% via their own initiative.”

    Humorous statements such as this are why I continue to read Mike’s posts.

  • King Richard says:

    “A hereditary aristocracy that has neither proven military nor economic prowess, but just a certain genteel je ne sais quoi has no business running a modern state.”

    contra

    “Although monarchies make up less than a quarter of the world’s states, they represent half the top 30 countries in the United Nations index of global well-being. They hold no fewer than seven of the top 10 places in the International Monetary Fund’s ranking of countries with the wealthiest populations.
    All but three of the 10 leading countries in the annual democracy ratings produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit are monarchies. They also take up 12 of the top 20 spots among least corrupt countries in Transparency International’s corruption perception index as well as four out of the leading five in a UN happy country ranking released in 2011.”

  • Mike T says:

    contra

    The two don’t relate the way you think they do.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike,
    there is a pattern to the way you write, speak, and think that leads you to repeat the same errors over and over again. This most recent comment is a wonderful example.
    Keeping in mind I very purposefully didn’t mention my own opinions about what I posted, how do you know how I think those two things relate?

  • Mike T says:

    Because I assume you understand that the word “contra” in that context is a relational term between two statements.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Mike T – your ideas on political structure are interesting, and I think at base, they would be a dramatic improvement upon the current setup that America toils under today.

    But I must say that such musings, while intellectually stimulating, appear to be impractical, even with some pretty wild speculation.

    None of those things would ever occur within the political theater that we observe today. I’m sure you know this, which is why I recommend focusing any potential political planning on realistic goals. There is absolutely no way in hell a reactionary or even ‘extremely conservative’ government is going to come to power in the United States.
    In Greece, possible.
    In Hungary, probable.
    In the USA, no.

    Either we will have a liberal United States, or we will have a dissolved United States. Our thoughts should be with regard to the second outcome. What would happen if the USA was dissolved and fell into an anarchist state? Well, then I can definitely see reactionaries taking control of a city and making a new city state. That is a humble and realistic goal. With this in mind, theories should probably be geared towards how city states should be run, which thankfully is much simpler than dealing with somewhere the size of the United States.

    But with regard to your individual ideas, working within the framework of a realistic, reactionary city state.

    1. Replace the President with a consul responsible for diplomacy and military action, a consul in charge of all federal law enforcement and a consul responsible for managing all other civilian functions.

    I don’t see immediate problems with this. I might not call it a consul, but it seems sound

    2. Make the Attorney General a separate constitutional office responsible for all federal prosecutions and civil suits.

    Some thinking on my part has taken place in regard to ecclesiastic bodies and the judiciary. Still not entirely sure how I would like it to work

    3. Establish Nicene Christianity as the state religion with formal tolerance for Judaism, but all other religious practices to be subject to federal regulation.

    You see, here is a difference between the practical governance of the United States, and a future reactionary state that might be feasible. I would say one form of Christianity would be mandated in the state and that would be it. It’s not to say there would be forced ‘conversions’ or a persecuted underclass, but participation in society would be elective, and it would require adhering to Christian doctrine. I would LOVE Jews to have their own reactionary state where they obeyed their laws and had a true Jewish state. I want nothing but the same for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc. This view may seem exclusionary, but I do not see it as totalitarian since it is simply the case that if you want to be a political participant (which ever citizen truly is) you must be one with the code of ethics that is followed and its root that is religion. If you do not wish to do this, you are absolutely free to leave.I don’t want to imprison anybody in this regard.

    4. Give the states parliamentary control over federal legislation, the power to issue votes of no confidence in any federal officer (a simple majority of states resulting in removal of a law or office holder).

    In a city state, you don’t have ‘states’, but you would have necessary geographical divisions. I guess my answer is that I see a separation between local and central that in principle is well defined. Most decisions happen locally, especially those that directly affect people. Legislation at the central level mainly concerns military practice, moral/legal behavioral expectations, general civic structure, and other things that would be trivial to local citizens. I don’t want the central government making any decisions on local environments for example. Thats up to local authorities.

    5. Restore the state appointment of the Senate.

    Wouldn’t have a senate in a city state. It would be an appointed body combining a military meritocracy with experts in various fields and guilds. I don’t think these would be ‘yes men’, as their goal really is to guide the sovereign faithfully in matters he has no time to study in depth. The local governments would not really need representation, as their realm of authority will be clearly defined and inviolable. Nobody will infringe on their legitimate scope of authority.

    6. Abolish the federal government’s authority to regulate the raising and training of state military forces except to control their deployment outside of a state’s borders without the request of an adjacent state’s government.

    This is a murky area, but I would say the central authority should maintain the command of a standing army that takes orders from the sovereign through the military representation at his side. Now, they can only be deployed internally through a series of checks, but that can be done by the central authority. In addition, I should frame this by saying that I also favor an armed, ecclesiastic law enforcement body (not dissimilar to a religious version of the ‘clerics’ in the movie ‘Equilibrium’). How they relate to church vs. state is still a gray area. District militias? Not opposed to the idea of local government having them, but I would want them to be non-standing, so they can be called upon in the event of emergency. This is practical, as it would also be required for every male over 18 to own a firearm and to receive basic military training.

    7. Eliminate the 14th amendment and restore the definition of a US citizen to its original definition which was an established lawful citizen of a member state.

    No qualms here. A citizen and the civil rights he gains from that are only to be afforded to established, lawful members of the state. Mexicans sneaking into the society for example, do not automatically get court dates etc.

  • Mike T yet again makes Zippy’s point. How does shifting around the structure of the government and changing procedural norms going to do anything for a society that is already so thoroughly wicked? If anything, the best option is to basically have one man rule, hope for rule by the best man so that direct and necessary action can be made. Under your system, if by some miracle, 4 good men get into office in various branches of government, one bad man can effectively check their decision. Your ” religious establishment provision” while better than what the framer’s bequeathed to us is both simultaneously too arbitrary and too nebulous to be of much help.

    This is what I mean when I say that right-liberals are some of the most Hobbesian of all- in their hyper-rational notion of government they depersonalize the state and instead erect a giant machine with complex components and subsystems meant to ensure “smooth operation.” To people like Mike T running the government like a tech-firm is “reactionary.” He apparently can’t see the irony (and really how small the intellectual leap is and historically was) for the state to want to get into “the philanthropic business” after promoting the “arts and useful sciences.” That is the essence of political liberalism (Leviathan).

  • Zippy says:

    ISE:

    To people like Mike T running the government like a tech-firm is “reactionary.”

    That’s pretty ironic, because getting just the right formal structure has almost nothing to do with a tech firm’s success. Aggressive leadership of the culture by particular visible leaders with real authority (or as real as modernity allows) is everything. Who reports to whom and whether things are organized by product line or market or function or whatever is almost irrelevant. Although shuffling structure around is something leaders sometimes use to break dysfunction, the formal particulars are at best a tertiary consideration.

  • Mike T says:

    It’s also true that in most small tech firms, they can be run entirely without formal policies on just about anything except those things likely to cause a SJW to raise a stink. So what? Large tech firms most certainly place a lot of value on formal structure because it’s part and parcel of how the strong leaders on top actually ensure things get done.

    I don’t see this as a formal structure versus rule by particular men issue. Much of what is wrong with the federal government today is very much an issue of formal structure. The executive has too much power, the bureaucracy is not easily held accountable by political appointees and the other branches acquiesced to have their power turned over to the executive in various ways. For example, the Lois Lerner issue would not be still happening (most likely, anyway) if the Marshals still reported to the federal judiciary. Congress could sue, the federal judge issues an order and a dozen armed marshals show up with a small army of local cops deputized as federal marshals and a warrant demanding the backup tapes/hard drives. What’s the IRS going to do? Send its special agents into a shoot out with the Marshals? But in reality, Congress handed over the Marshals to the President a while ago so there are no security services outside of the President’s control now.

    One area where formal structure and rule by strong particular men has helped is the DNI. By bringing federal intelligence under a single leader with the power to force them to collaborate, the IC is slowly lurching toward actually working together as a meaningful body. Now there is accountability when the NSA doesn’t want to share with DIA or the CIA with the FBI. The DNI can order their directors to play ball and even start clamping down on their autonomy and budgets.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Large tech firms most certainly place a lot of value on formal structure because it’s part and parcel of how the strong leaders on top actually ensure things get done.

    Baloney. Organizational structure isn’t even on the list of criteria that investors review in deciding whether or not a company is a good investment, in the sense that only companies with some particular structures or other make the cut. Organizational structures vary all over the place, and constantly shift within firms. You are blowing smoke here. The idea that specific formal structures are central to successful leadership of a tech company is something only people in the grip of ideology could possibly believe.

  • Mike T says:

    I never said that there was one particular formal structure that was better than the others, but if there were no real formal structure of some kind in place at a large organization it couldn’t function. The investors don’t care what type it is or even how often it’s changed to meet new needs. However, I doubt that most investors would want to invest in a large company that has regular employees doing all of their own IT functions, has a notoriously broken chain of command and things of that nature because those are structural issues that lead to failure.

    But what investors look for in a large tech firm is not what most people look for in a government. So all of the back slapping about that is just a red herring.

  • Mike T says:

    If anything, the best option is to basically have one man rule, hope for rule by the best man so that direct and necessary action can be made. Under your system, if by some miracle, 4 good men get into office in various branches of government, one bad man can effectively check their decision.

    You, like the rest of the reactionaries here believe that virtue is normal in the sort of men that rise to the top. It has never been normal. At the best of times, the elites were dominated by men with ordinary virtue, but more often the sociopolitical elite of a country have been highly ambitious and ruthless men and women.

    As a matter of fact, many states do use a form of the system I described and it works. By splitting the prosecution and police functions between two executives, what they’ve created is a system wherein one actually can check the other whereas at the federal level (which implements the one-man-to-rule-them-all approach you advocate) there is no check within the executive.

  • Mike T says:

    In states like Virginia, which has an independent, elected Attorney General, if the Governor pulled a Fast and Furious kind of crime on the public, the Attorney General could independently act against the Governor. He could prosecute the Governor in state court whereas the US Attorney General has no such authority. Formal structure very much does matter in checking abuses of power. It’s just not fool proof.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    …but if there were no real formal structure of some kind in place at a large organization it couldn’t function. The investors don’t care what type it is or even how often it’s changed to meet new needs.

    You understand the point then: yes, there needs to be some structure or other in order for governance to occur, but haggling over structure in the face of disastrously bad culture and leadership – liberalism, in the political sphere – is whistling past the graveyard. Shuffling the structure of a disastrously bad organization and culture won’t turn it into a good organization and culture: at best it will enable it to destroy even more capital as it carries on its zombified existence. What matters is the actual men with actual authority and the culture of the organization. Structural specifics are trivial: it is like making what kinds of pants they wear on casual friday into a make-or-break investment criteria.

  • Zippy says:

    Formal structure can matter, though not nearly as much as people think, in a successful organization. Structure cannot make a bad organization into a good organization. The notion that we can fix a bad organization if only we can get the structure right is just tomfool naivete. Moldbug’s whole neo-cameralist thing (just as an example) is a video game bearing only the most superficial resemblance to reality. Formalists have lost all touch with reality.

  • Mike T says:

    Formal structure can matter, though not nearly as much as people think, in a successful organization.

    I think the defining line with understanding the problem is that if you believe formal structure can actually stop an organization dominated at the top by evil men, you’re kidding yourself. However, formal structure can stymie evil men, it can even ensure that they don’t quickly aggregate enough power that they can bring the situation into a real crisis before being stopped.

    The problem I have with some comments here is exemplified by some of what ISE said above. Putting all of the eggs in one basket and then hoping for the best because you cannot stomach political quarrels between competing institutions is naive, to say the least. I get the feeling that a lot of “reactionaries” are quite willing to throw out hard lessons learned on how to structure organizations because they’re so zealous to throw out liberalism. Invariably, if they got their way it would fail and then of course liberalism would be blamed even though it was they who threw out valuable historic lessons.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    However, formal structure can stymie evil men, …

    How is that working out so far?

  • Mike T says:

    Well, Congress and the Supreme Court have handed several major blows to Barack Obama’s agenda so I’d say that while the system is showing signs of long-term failure it’s at least functioning with some reasonable degree of effectiveness. It also helps that the federal courts have lately started slashing and burning local and state firearm regulations which will have a major benefit in the long run toward slowing the advancement of Leviathan.

    I have to say that it often seems like you deliberately exclude imperial decline as having any sort of influence on American politics and culture, despite the fact that the imperial decline phase of great civilizations has pretty much always been a period of decadence, perversion and evil.

  • Zippy says:

    Two things:

    First, it seems to me that structure has served mainly as a distraction to prevent people from seeing liberalism’s atrocities and ascribing them correctly.

    Second, the comment on “imperial decline” is related. It treats degeneracy as some sort of inevitable force of nature as opposed to something with particular causes in particular cases. Again, this basically defends liberalism from criticism – not by actually addressing criticisms, but as a tu quoque smokescreen.

  • First, it seems to me that structure has served mainly as a distraction to prevent people from seeing liberalism’s atrocities and ascribing them correctly.

    I was about to say the same thing.

    I will say that right liberals seem almost content to be impeded by “checks and balances” when it comes to substantive moral issues like abortion or gay marriage. After all, the constitution and the founder’s intent is all that matters we can’t have a “constitutional crisis” over abortion.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    I agree with Zippy to an extent. While structure is important, the virtue of the men within it is infinitely more important. It would help to focus less on how we can limit evil men when they get into political office, and think more about how we can decrease the chance of evil men getting into office.

    I present the Collective Zealotry principle as a method of decreasing the likelihood of corrupt individuals taking power by simply thinning out the ranks of corrupt people from society through a formalized belief system that exiles those not in coherence with the state religion. When you have multiple worldviews floating around, ethics becomes a fog and it is hard to see the wood from the trees. When all people on instinct expect their fellow citizens to have the same worldview they do, then cultural heresy in the form of corruption is easily identifiable. If you have an immensely pious society, the corrupt have to be far more muted in their actions, and consider their actions in a far more meaningful way.

  • Mike T says:

    Second, the comment on “imperial decline” is related. It treats degeneracy as some sort of inevitable force of nature as opposed to something with particular causes in particular cases.

    Man’s natural state is degenerate and the circumstances that accompany a great civilization’s decline phase are usually of the sort that exacerbate his natural tendencies.

  • Mike T says:

    If you have an immensely pious society, the corrupt have to be far more muted in their actions, and consider their actions in a far more meaningful way.

    I see no proof that an actual immensely pious society has ever existed. Just as I see no proof that except for particular generations, a society has ever been able to create an elite that had more than at best ordinary virtue at any given time. What historic examples are you drawing on, if any? I’m genuinely curious.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Man’s natural state is degenerate and the circumstances that accompany a great civilization’s decline phase are usually of the sort that exacerbate his natural tendencies.

    Does your inevitability principle let murderers off the hook? Does it mean that criticisms of Islam are off base too?

  • Mike T says:

    How could the fact that man’s nature always trends toward the base and evil let them off the hook?

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    That man’s nature tends toward the base and evil should definitely not let liberalism specifically off the hook.

  • Mike T says:

    In order to categorically blame liberalism for our woes you have to first give it credit for getting us high enough to fall that far.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    In order to categorically blame liberalism for our woes you have to first give it credit for getting us high enough to fall that far.

    Think of all the good that has been accomplished through lies and murder. In order to criticize them you have to also give them credit.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    …categorically blame liberalism for our woes…

    I’ve explained time and time again precisely how and why liberalism is an incoherent lie. You never actually address my arguments and explanations. Instead you throw up smokescreen after smokescreen, diversion after diversion, straw man after straw man.

    Whether liberalism is or is not an incoherent lie is independent of what it is and isn’t ‘responsible for’. Liberalism (precisely because it is an incoherent lie) makes the human will the political standard, as opposed to what is good and true. I’ve explained how this works many times, and you’ve never disputed it.

    Sometimes people will good things; sometimes they will wicked things. So what? That doesn’t make liberalism any more coherent or any less a lie. Liberalism is a lie from the pit of Hell, it has slaughtered unprecedented numbers of innocents and has brought forth unprecedented variety and depth of wickedness. But even if it hadn’t done those things it would still be an incoherent lie. We’ve established what it is, and are just haggling over the price.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    There have been no pious societies? Surely you jest. I’d point to periods of Ancient Israeli history when society has been very pious. That’s not to say it didn’t degrade, because obviously it did in the end.
    I would tentatively throw in Ancient Hindu society in which the caste system was enforced with zeal. The few generations of Islamic society following the prophet Muhammad.
    We can look to Knightly orders in Europe that controlled regions, as well as even in modern times, the small towns in Romania that were under the control of the Legion of the Archangel Michael before the war and subsequent pogroms.

    Piousness may not be common in terms of grand history, but to say it is unachievable is folly. If the liberal state can make people into deviant, degenerate, irreligious peons, then the reverse is likely true as well.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    “it has slaughtered unprecedented numbers of innocents”

    Have to say, absolutely true. Look at pretty much all of the modern day great evils and massacres with a few exceptions, they are the product of liberal secular regimes and societies.
    In the last century alone, you’re talking about one hundred million people and more, all murdered by post-Enlightenment ideals.

  • Mike T says:

    Piousness may not be common in terms of grand history, but to say it is unachievable is folly.

    Piety is achievable for a period of time, but no civilization has been able to actually maintain it.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    You could say this about anything. No civilization has managed to maintain sound economy or territorial integrity either. No civilization has managed to maintain itself. If you condemn yourself to the failings that make up the vast funeral pyre of nations then you might as well give up because nothing lasts forever.

  • […] power in the hands of the SJW’s, who exercise that power to tar and feather loyalists, “freedom“.  And we always have, since the founding of the […]

  • […] of the Frankfurt School.  But nearly every one of them would agree that the government should protect everyone’s freedoms and make sure that everyone’s equal rights are […]

  • […] Political liberty crushes subsidiarity beneath a monolithic bureaucratic authority which rules while pretending not to rule: which makes sure, good and hard, that nobody is allowed to tell anyone else what to do. Political freedom insures that everyone is subjected to anonymous monolithic all-encompassing authority which hides unaccountably behind a wall of structural bureaucracy. That way nobody ever feels compelled, by social pressure or a misguided and really rather pathetic respect for authority, to doff his cap to the king. But if you don’t cast a substantively meaningless symbolic vote personally affirming the legitimacy of the political liberalism under which you are a tiny and insignificant subject, you are a traitor. Voting should probably be made mandatory; in the very least, people who refuse to vote have no right to complain.  And it is a moral travesty that this political freedom is not comprehensively imposed on everyone, everywhere. Freedom should be imposed, by force of arms when necessary. […]

  • […] who make freedom the goal of politics, in so doing, craft a monolithic all-encompassing tyranny.  Those who make virtue the goal of […]

  • […] doctrine: a basic understanding or view about the right exercise of authority. Liberalism makes freedom into a purpose, final cause, or telos of political action, that is, of the exercise of authority. […]

  • […] exercise of authority. It is true that once empowered liberalism cannot be contained and ‘leaks’ into everything else. But characterizing liberalism as a grand overall religious or anti-religious worldview rather than […]

  • […] found this path most clearly articulated in Zippy’s post entitled “Political freedom is a concentrator of government power,” wherein […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Political freedom is a concentrator of government power at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: