On doffing your hat to the king and concrete shoes

December 15, 2015 § 190 Comments

I made a comment, which frankly I thought to be unexceptional, almost routine, that I would rather die than doff my cap to a king, since I am a Virginian.

[…]

This issue is not one open to debate, for debate is the province of free men. Free men by rights must kill those who attempt to enslave them. We do not attempt to persuade the slaveowners to let us be free, as a gift from the royal hand.

I see no need to answer such questions, as well-meant as they might be, because if they are meant frivolously, there is no need; and if they are meant seriously, the only proper answer comes from the muzzle of a gun.

John C Wright

I haven’t followed all of the discussion of the Wright affair, to which I was first introduced by my commenters (see Malcolm’s posts here, here, here, and here).

If you’ve been following along with what I write here, and have recognized Mr. Wright’s commitment to classical liberalism, then none of this should be surprising. Mr. Wright’s insults and contempt directed at his own commenters, at people who like and appreciate him, people who are fans of his work and view him as a decent man, are an inevitable product of his liberalism. It is a necessary concomitant of liberalism – all varieties of liberalism – that anyone who stands in liberalism’s way, or who questions liberalism itself, is the Low Man. The Low Man is contemptible, slave by nature or by choice, less than fully human, an impediment to the political liberty of the free and equal emancipated new man: a superman self created by reason and will, subject to no earthly authority other than his own will.

Liberals, including the classical variety, carry with their commitment to liberalism an insufferable sense of entitlement. Scratch a classical liberal and you’ll find an SJW.  Perhaps this latest kerfuffle has demonstrated all of this concretely for a few folks who might have previously though it only abstract and theoretical.

Most of the interesting aspects of the incident have already been discussed elsewhere, but I wanted to focus on one which has not been discussed. After all of his incontinent grandstanding, refusal to engage, insulting of his own fans and readers, and, some would argue, blasphemy, Wright apparently backpedaled to the following position:

I hate to say it, but a king who kills those who do not bow to him was what the original statement was about, and the only thing it was about.

That was the only kind of king ever under discussion, a tyrant: the oxbow in the discussion of King Arthur was to say that the only danger there was that there was no legal restraint on his becoming a king of like type.

I already answered to this in another place, in reference to the king of Liechtenstein: A king who merely imposed a light fine for my not doffing my cap places me in no danger whatsoever, nor does my defiance of him mean anything.

All defiance of authority can end in death, if the person engaging in the defiance persists. Suppose the classical liberal does not doff his cap, and is fined. He refuses to pay the fine, and the king’s men come to collect it. He meets the king’s men with resistance, and violence ensues. One of the king’s men is killed. The classical liberal is tried for murder and hanged, all because of his petulant refusal to doff his cap to the rightful king and his persistence in this defiance.

All liberals – including the classical variety – have, concomitant to their liberalism (and to the extent of their commitment to liberalism), an insufferable sense of entitlement and a view of authority as tyranny. Part and parcel to that sense of entitlement is begging the question in favor of their own preferences and refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions; in this case vitriolic defiance of rightful authority.

§ 190 Responses to On doffing your hat to the king and concrete shoes

  • GJ says:

    Perhaps this latest kerfuffle has demonstrated all of this concretely for a few folks who might have previously though it only abstract and theoretical.

    My eyes, for one, have been opened. By theory I would have predicted a strong response but not something of the magnitude and quality observed.

  • Mike T says:

    All defiance of authority can end in death, if the person engaging in the defiance persists. Suppose the classical liberal does not doff his cap, and is fined. He refuses to pay the fine, and the king’s men come to collect it. He meets the king’s men with resistance, and violence ensues. One of the king’s men is killed. The classical liberal is tried for murder and hanged, all because of his petulant refusal to doff his cap to the rightful king and his persistence in this defiance.

    Indeed. One of the things you bitched at me about WRT liberalism and authority was when I said that liberals usually forget this sequence of events. As they cheerfully add to the government’s duties, they forget that literally every stupid, petty, meddlesome thing they do ends with “may result in a hail of bullets from the police” if the person puts their foot down and really, really means it.

    Quite a few liberals were shocked when a man was killed by the police in a choke hold over selling a few loose cigarettes and when he didn’t immediately capitulate. Yet what would any rational person expect to happen when you task the police to enforce a tax? You add a tax on something banal, be prepared that someone may say “this is bullshit” and the cop says “bullshit or not, it’s the law.”

    They want government to be kind and gentle when political power is backstopped by death at the final point. At least it’s not turtles all the way down. At some point you find the grim reaper holding up a turtle.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    One of the things you bitched at me about WRT liberalism and authority was when I said that liberals usually forget this sequence of events.

    Citation or it didn’t happen.

  • Mike T says:

    Adding to that cited comment, one of the things that drives that trend even harder is that in the name of enforced equal outcomes, liberals have stripped the police of the discretion they once had to simply ignore the law in the name of the common good. That practice lead to disparate outcomes, but also lead to the police being able to do things like rough up a kid caught with drugs, toss the drugs down the drain and send him home.

    In fact, one police veteran noted that the obsession with stripping police of their own authority to pick and choose when to enforce the law necessarily lead to the guy being killed over the loosies. On top of that, he pointed out that really low level crooks like him used to be critical to the police on serious crimes. There used to be a quiet quid pro quo: the police ignored the petty crap foisted on them by the crusading politicians most of the time and the really low level guys acted as an informal informant network on more serious crime.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    You are just pretending not to understand the criticism. So I’ll reiterate it yet again.

    When it comes to discussion of matters of authority, your behavior is identical to the behavior of feminist trolls on Dalrock and other manosphere blogs.

    The contention isn’t that no husbands ever abuse their wives. The contention is that feminist trolls cannot stand discussion of male headship without bringing up the subject of bad men. The subject of bad men simply must be included in every discussion of a husband’s authority.

    Your behavior is identical, in the face of discussion of political authority, to the behavior of a feminist troll in the face of discussion of a husband’s authority.

  • Silly Interloper says:

    This issue is not one open to debate, for debate is the province of free men.

    Heh. We are free to debate, but if you are not one of us, you are not free to debate. Can’t believe I missed that.

  • Mike T says:

    I can understand why you might feel that way in other threads. What I maintain is that when you seem me fixing that particularly on liberalism, that criticism is not really relevant. Indeed, I think I have done a decent job of focusing my criticism there so as to not come off trollish in that respect.

    There are a lot of ways in which liberalism produces abuse of authority regularly, and I think they should be mentioned for the simple fact that repeatedly remind people of such things helps break their mental barriers.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    You may note, however that again — yet again — it is you who have introduced bad authority into the discussion. You are the first and only (so far) person to talk about abuse of authority in this discussion.

    In the OP I discuss how the classical liberal’s escalating defiance of authority is something for which he should take responsibility, but his sense of entitlement and defiance leads him to blame the consequences of his own faults on others.

    Your first instinct was to wade in here and introduce situations where tyranny makes rebellion more sympathetic: to muddy the waters and the message with your personal obsessions about bad, bad authority.

  • Is Mr Wright wrong to call monarchy inherently immoral? Is his argument that proposing monarchy involves self-contradiction or paradox wrong? Any links to answers to these questions would be appreciates.

  • Zippy says:

    kenelmkenulfson:

    Mr Wright is not consistent himself on those questions. Compare his initial statement (cited in the OP) to his backpedal (also cited in the OP).

    If all he ever meant to say is “tyrannical monarchy is bad”, well, so what? Tyranny is bad by definition – whether monarchy, republic, democracy, or rule by ten random people chosen from the phone book.

    His rhetoric is an example of what I have called weaponized nihilism. It may be worth noting that, as an intrinsically self-contradictory political doctrine, liberalism (and thus liberals, to the extent of their commitments to liberalism) cannot avoid equivocation.

  • Mike T says:

    Your first instinct was to wade in here and introduce situations where tyranny makes rebellion more sympathetic

    I think a fairer reading of my comment is that liberals tend to be idiotically naive about the nature of political authority and enforcement. That tends to lead them to never ask if the thing they want to do is worth the possible outcome if the police have to use serious force to make it happen. Then they turn around and blame the poor cop who was merely doing as they forced him. Even more than that, they tend to crucify the cop who they not long ago stripped of the discretionary power to walk away when he saw clearly that it could be handled less disruptively. They mandate force and then are shocked when force is used. Their sense of entitlement is not just in the direction you describe, but also in demanding that their enforcers bear the blame for every unintended consequence of their policies. It is Noblese Oblige in reverse.

    You see this all over the place with liberal leaders, from tax enforcement, to war. The highest authorities expect the lowest authorities to bear full responsibility for what rolls down hill. This is how we get ludicrous outcomes like a few CIA interrogators getting crucified, while the man who intentionally set the ball rolling on torture is considered untouchable. It would be like declaring that we should mass liquidate the men who cleaned the ovens and gas chambers while letting Himmler claim sovereign immunity.

  • Mike T says:

    Also, part of what I was trying to say in that link was that the concurrent need they have to “perfect society” also invariably leads to a plethora of bad judgments, assaults on other spheres of authority and unnecessary violence. The belief that society can be better if only we forced people to do X is intrinsically dangerous. It is also rarely true. In practice, the belief in progress and the perfectability of man and society, combined with liberals’ tendency to avoid any understanding of what political authority is leads to a force multiplier on the sociopathy.

  • Mike T says:

    The liberal entitlement mentality seems to be this:

    1. I am entitled to resist any authority that displeases me.

    2. I am entitled to enforce any authority that pleases me.

    3. I am entitled to a clear conscience when people suffer as a result of my decision to be a bad follower or leader, which is applicable at that time.

  • Well, immediately after that, Mr. Wright said that he thought monarchy was inherently immoral. Then when asked how monarchs could become saints, he said that it was the same way rich men entered heaven. Then when I asked him if he then did not consider monarchy inherently immoral he said that he did not change his mind.

    I trust the contradiction is obvious.

  • Peter Blood says:

    The devil, too, would rather die than doff his hat to The King.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    I think a fairer reading of my comment …

    However one reads your comment more generally, or whatever your intentions, it remains the case that every time there is a discussion of authority you consistently and immediately start talking about bad authority or abuse of authority.

  • Also, he will now ban anybody who brings God into the argument.

  • Zippy says:

    He is exercising his God given right to exclude God from the discussion.

  • GJ says:

    Also, he will now ban anybody who brings God into the argument.

    This after calling on God to curse his interlocutor.

    On another note, he also claims that “[to] question the price of freedom, logically, places the questioner outside the class of free men, therefore outside the group of people who can discuss the matter as jurors, as a predicate to some real action following.”

    Zippy: I have no more doubts about the Low Man phenomenon.

  • King Richard says:

    The ever ebullient Mr. Wright. I recall engaging him in his comments about 18 months ago. I found him to be a rather stereotypical example of a Liberal Catholic in full embrace of Americanism. Anyone who is shocked at his comments and attitudes must not be very familiar with his words and actions.

  • King Richard says:

    I ask you all to join me as I plan to pray a decade for the soul of Mr. Wright in hopes that he will reject heresy.

  • KR,

    Mr. Wright has said and done much good. I have worked with the man professionally, edited his work, communicated with him on a one on one basis, and have great respect for his writing to boot, some of which rises to the level of the transcendent.

    Given all of that, I find his nasty, vicious comments to me and others, who are taking as great pains as can be said reasonable to be polite and are regular commenters, disappointing at best.

    I intend to chalk this up to the subject matter and move on, but it is entirely up to him if he wants to do the same.

    I will say this: Zippy, you are correct. Where I might have been only half-convinced by your words, Mr. Wright has convinced me.

  • Zippy says:

    I am not unsympathetic toward Mr. Wright. The reason this is an interesting concrete case is that it shows what commitment to liberalism – including classical liberalism – does to good men.

  • To give you an idea of why this was shocking to me – though you are right in that it is perfectly logically consistent – consider this: Mr. Wright has actually put up posts dedicated specifically to things I have written in the comments, such as the one from about a week ago where he quoted me quoting a story by Stephen Lawhead.

    He also did a series of post, prompted by me, about whether or not it was logically consistent for an atheist to hold to objective morality. If you read through the comments of those posts, it is night and day. He is polite and well-reasoned, arguing his subject matter well and cordially. So, yes, the vitriol here did indeed shock me.

    And that he later tries the say that his insults are really, truly, not-insults when any idiot can see they’re insults, is just more insulting. So yes, it’s a little disheartening to me.

  • King Richard says:

    Malcolm,
    As Zippy has said well and I perhaps not so well:
    Liberalism is a form of sin.
    Americanism is a type of heresy.
    Mr. Wright is gripped by sin and heresy – this always bears bitter fruit. We must pray for him.

  • Zippy says:

    Folks:

    I realize that I opened Pandora’s box here: that talking about the Wright affair would necessarily entail talking about Wright. In fact I had an internal debate with myself about whether to post on this at all. Obviously the side which saw value in the concrete, real, contemporary example brought to me by commenters won out.

    That said, I’d still like to maintain my editorial bias toward what was said and why it was said, and why this perhaps surprising unfolding of discussion was the result of liberal commitments. And while it is certainly good for us to pray for each other, in this context this can easily come across as “I’ll pray for you and the horse you rode in on”. Though I am sure that is not the intent.

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    Thank you. No, that was not my intent. Indeed, please pray for me – it is a difficult time for myself and for Edan and I am as prone to sin as any other man, perhaps moreso.

  • Mike T says:

    This muddies the waters WRT Vox Day and Wright even more. Particularly in Wright’s case.

    My guess is that Wright may have been talking out his backside the first round and then had to do an about face when he realized how he sounded.

  • Zippy says:

    I suppose it is good when people who have a propensity to be wrong about politics start to realize that they have a propensity to be wrong about politics.

  • King Richard says:

    A side note that seems applicable.
    As a head of state I must make decisions about propriety. When I am acting in an official capacity things change:
    – I use the pluralis majestatis
    – Citizens (only) are asked to offer a cursory bow of the head as I enter of leave
    – Petitioners (citizens only) are asked to bow deeply as they approach
    – Citizens are asked to address me with the honorific Your Majesty when first addressing me, then sir or sire after
    Now, I have never held court in person so no person has ever been asked to follow this other than the use of pluralis majestatis in official communications. I am careful to inform everyone, especially citizens, that they need not refer to me as anything but ‘Richard’.
    This is the interesting part.
    My citizens insist, *strongly*, on calling me Majesty and Sire. They insist, *strongly*, on bowing, even kneeling, when meeting me.
    Non-citizens who know me and of Edan frequently use ‘your majesty’, ‘sire’, and ‘sir’ when speaking to me, even after I tell them is it not needed. This includes at least one judge and at least one elected official.
    These men and women are not slaves, nor do they have a ‘slave mentality’.
    I suggest that they understand sovereignty on an instinctive level.
    But it leads me to wonder; I understand that Mr. Wright was once a lawyer in America: does he understand why people are requested to stand when a judge enters or leaves court and, more critically, did he do so?

  • If you are curious, here is Mr. Wright’s direct response to this post:

    Until this, I would never have guessed that so many monarchists still existed on the planet. It is frankly a better system of government than Athenian democracy, oriental despotism, or modern socialist tyranny, if the king is hedged in by strong barons, a house of commons, a universal Church, or all of them.

    But still…to see so many people do vehement about their own subjection. It is astonishing.

  • Zippy says:

    Malcolm:

    Link?

    FWIW I am not a monarchist, at least not in the sense of thinking that it is the only legitimate structure of government or even the best structure for all situations and polities.

    However, I have no sympathy for the liberal’s hatred of monarchy, and I view a person’s attitude toward monarchy as a good litmus test of political sanity.

  • Zippy says:

    I’ll just make note that he still frames himself as the emancipated superman, anyone who even in theory might see loyalty to a king as a good thing as beneath him; all while deluding himself with the conceit that he is not, himself, just as much a subject as anyone else.

  • King Richard says:

    There is a phrase I have used before, including in the documentary about Edan:
    Everyone is ruled by someone. Are you sure you know who rules you?

  • Zippy says:

    Wright is of course a subject. The king to which he bends his knee is liberalism; and he has less say over where that king leads him and what commands it gives him than any subject of a human monarch.

  • Chad says:

    Zippy
    A question.

    With regard to state and church, where does a man’s moral ability to act against one and in service to the other begin?

    I ask specifically in reference to the coming desecration of Our Lady in OKC, a situation where the satanists have permission from civil authorities. Do you think men have a moral ability to protest against such? To block their access to the statue of Our Lady?

    I, as well as other men of my parish men’s group that read your blog, would gain from some discussion and insight.

  • Zippy says:

    Chad:
    Here are my offhand thoughts.

    The case you describe is not one of conflicting authority, because neither authority, neither the Church or the local secular government, is telling you that you have to do something. What is happening is that you are aware that some men are planning to do something wicked, that they have gotten the approval of the local secular government to do it, and are planning to do it under cover of the protection of the local secular government.

    An analogous case might be the state-protected operation of an abortion clinic; or the plan to kill Terri Schiavo by dehydration behind a wall of State Troopers making sure that nobody could give her any water, even by mouth.

    There is a positive obligation to actively oppose abortion and euthanasia within the bounds of the positive law, as affirmed for example by Evangelium Vitae:

    Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.

    It seems reasonable to assume a similar positive obligation of at least some degree of gravity here as well. As with all positive moral precepts, what precisely to do or not do in a particular case is a question of prudence. This does not mean that there is de-facto no obligation, of course: positive precepts are every bit as important as negative precepts. But the particular case would fall under a prudential analysis, similar to what I described recently here.

  • Mike T says:

    There is a positive obligation to actively oppose abortion and euthanasia within the bounds of the positive law, as affirmed for example by Evangelium Vitae:

    How do you see this playing out if a married man knew that his wife was planning to abort his child? How would his authority as a husband and father of that child interact with that principle?

  • Chad says:

    Thanks Zippy, that’s good food for thought.

    In the specific case, the Archbishop has come out with no statement yet (that I can find). If he issues a “Do not protest” type statement, as I believe he did with the Black Mass recently, does he have authority to stop me from doing so, a man in a neighboring diocese willing to do the travel? I ask as my knowledge of the hierarchy’s authority in such situations is unclear – I have a feeling that if I was a part of his diocese I would have to obey, but outside of it I am unsure; especially as the men’s group has the blessing of our own priest and a neighboring Abbot.

    It seems a tangled mess, and I’m doing what I can to prudently sort through it as quickly as possible, that I may not drag people into material disobedience through ignorance.

  • Zippy says:

    Chad:
    Yeah, I have no idea. The local ordinary has authority within his jurisdiction, but I doubt that he has the authority to forbid you to protest.

  • Chad says:

    Thanks Zippy. When no one, even in the hierarchy, wants to talk about authority than it makes it difficult to know what authority they have and how to parse through such events.

    As a side note on the ordeal – I just had a response from the random internet person that told me the Archbishop had said something. Their response was to go to some closed facebook group for the old black mass where they claim he said not to go.

    I will follow authority, but as far as I can tell from your posts one must first actually have the authority, and then actually use it. A non-publicly accessible comment is not a ‘public statement’ to his diocese to fulfill the second part. Where as (if he has the authority) he could exert his authority in due process if he made a public statement.

  • Zippy says:

    I’m quite certain that a rumor that the local ordinary forbade protest does not forbid protest.

  • biplob1958 says:

    It is easy to encourage a person to do crime and give guns but it is very difficult to get it back and make them good.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    I share Mr Wright’s perplexity regarding monarchists. It is one thing to restore a particular monarchy i.e Hapsburg or Romanov-that I understand but I do not understand a man would prefer to be a subject to an unspecified monarchy. It is too much like “Give us a king to rule over us”–what Prophet Samuel replied applies.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Defining “liberty” as exclusively meaning individual freedom is also liberalism. There is another meaning of liberty as the self-governing of a community-the communitarian meaning of liberty. This self-governing is essentially what liberalism misses. For the left-liberals would have a world state–no particular self-governing communties. And the right liberal hates any community ruling over him.

  • Mike T says:

    It is too much like “Give us a king to rule over us”–what Prophet Samuel replied applies.

    I don’t think most modern monarchists would want those sorts of governments either. The sort of monarch they have in mind is one that is checked by other spheres of authority and law within a system, not an eastern despot.

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:

    I share Mr Wright’s perplexity regarding monarchists.

    As I understand it, most of the people he has been heaping contempt upon are not monarchists, though a few are. Most of the people he has been heaping contempt upon are people who objected to his rant to the effect that he would rather die than doff his cap to a king, and his doubling and tripling down on the sentiment.

    …the communitarian meaning of liberty

    The ‘communitarian meaning of liberty’ just is subsidiarity. Sometimes people use the label ‘liberty’ to refer to political subsidiarity. Far more often they use it to refer to individual freedom which, when made a political priority, destroys subsidiarity.

  • King Richard says:

    I finally read the thread that Malcolm linked to. Reading Mr. Wright filled me with fremdscham. While the puerile insults were perhaps most cringe-worthy, this sentence,
    “The difference between a citizen, who owns his own life, showing respect to his laws and a subject showing subjection to his sovereign, who owns his life for him: It is the difference between a wife and harem slave.”
    Leapt out at me. Astonishing. The sheer ignorance of history, political science, and theology contained in that sentence is breathtaking. I wonder what he believes his relationship with God to be like when he celebrates the feast of Christ the King!
    Saxon kings were deposed for not giving their people a strong leader or even for being stingy with gifts; the kings of Poland (elected by the szlachta) were constrained by tradition, etc. Indeed, he seems to be completely unaware that the Catholic kings of Europe were bound by the Church and God, facing excommunication or anathema for arbitrary usage of their power in immoral ways. One need think only of the walk to Canossa.
    All of this without even considering the existing laws of the kingdom. Nor the impact such actions would have on the people – is he aware of the Jacquerie Uprising where peasants revolted in part because the nobility couldn’t keep *bandits* from killing commoners? What of the Stellinga, a revolt at the loss of privileges? The various peasant uprisings that led to the fall of Chinese dynasties? From Shogunate Japan to Saxon England the common man not only had traditional and legal rights that protected him from being a slave, these rights were protected from bad kings by nobles, the Church and, in the end, the people themselves.
    It is as if he imagines all kings were some odd cross of the British view of Louis XIV, the rebels’ view of George III, the Communists’ view of the Tsar, and the Japan of the Shogun mini-series.
    Of course, Luis XIV, the paragon of “absolute monarchy” to Liberals, said,
    “We must place the interests of the nation first. When the welfare of the people and the nation are your priority you labor for your own good and improvements to the people redound to your own glory.”
    What a monster.
    No, Mr. Wright’s outlook is that of Jefferson and Robespierre, which is no surprise, even if his grasp of that against which he rails is surprisingly poor.

    This post could have been summed up with my earlier statement that ‘Mr. Wright is a rather stereotypical example of a Liberal Catholic in full embrace of Americanism’, I suppose, so I hope you will all forgive the verbosity.

  • Zippy says:

    KR:
    The “difference between a wife and a harem slave” comparison is at least mildly interesting, given the way modern feminists tend to view lifelong marriage as rape. There is an at least similar dynamic here.

    Most classical liberals gripe to no end about our actual government, which is liberal through-and-through. It is the very same government they married a few centuries ago, still here after the passage of time, looking different from the young thing they married to be sure but the same nonetheless.

    And now they feel like they are being raped, because they are sleeping in the very bed they themselves made.

  • King Richard says:

    Vishmehr24,
    You wrote,
    ” It is one thing to restore a particular monarchy … …I do not understand a man would prefer to be a subject to an unspecified monarchy”.
    In my experience the type of monarchist that focuses on, for example, the Legitimist Cause, are not truly political but more… wistful. And I say this as someone who has great personal affection and admiration for Louis XX.
    Monarchists who support monarchy politically (this is, again, in my experience) do not desire ‘an unspecified monarchy’ – an unspecified *monarch*, perhaps, but they generally wish to implement a rather particular form of monarchy and its trappings: a constitutional Catholic monarchy with a strong aristocracy; an elected monarchy with a non-universal yet still broad base of suffrage; etc.
    This latter group generally desires monarchy because, as we argue, it is more stable and less corrosive to virtue than other forms of government, including the current fad of Democracy.
    You wrote,
    “It is too much like “Give us a king to rule over us”–what Prophet Samuel replied applies”
    I am not a Jew, nor are most monarchists, nor do we live in the Promised Land under the rule of the Priests of the Temple. I am a Christian living in the West under the rule of a lawyer turned politician who was elected by 50.2% of votes cast.

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    As an aside, Mr, Wright not only says a king *would* execute you for failing to doff your hat, he *must*. I believe he said something along the lines of ‘history shows us this’, although I am paraphrasing.
    I am raising 5 sons as princes, the oldest to be king. I am using as much as possible what was used to teach the children of aristocrats, etc., on this very topic.
    About 3 years ago I asked the Crown Prince,
    “What would you do if a citizen of Edan, a commoner, were to refuse to bow to you when you were not sitting in your official capacity [i.e., in the street]? Indeed, he began to insult you!”
    His reply was,
    “Probably toss him some money.”
    I asked,
    “Nothing else?”
    He said,
    “Noblesse oblige trumps lese majeste”

    Merely an anecdote, but apropos, I think.

  • KR,

    Thank you for improving my life by making me look up the word fremdschasm!

  • King Richard says:

    Malcolm,
    The requirement to be at least vaguely familiar with German to be a Catholic Theologian had some wonderful benefits.
    You are welcome.

  • Mike T says:

    “What would you do if a citizen of Edan, a commoner, were to refuse to bow to you when you were not sitting in your official capacity [i.e., in the street]? Indeed, he began to insult you!”

    Wright should consider that if any illiberal Tsar had tried to murder 10-15% of his own subjects out of paranoia, his own aristocracy would have deposed him and hung him from the nearest tree.

  • Mike T,

    To be fair to Mr. Wright, one of his contentions for the reason a republic is superior is that you can change an unpopular regime without bloodshed.

  • Zippy says:

    The advantages of a republic have not managed to prevent our own from slaughtering many times more innocents than the Nazis, under color and protection of the supreme positive law and the checks and balances established by the founders. And there is no plausible nonviolent way to bring that ongoing slaughter to an end — at least, no nonviolent way which would not be equally effective under a monarchy, to wit, mass repentance.

    One of the darkly ironic aspects of assigning such grave moral import to the structure of governance is that this keeps people distracted from the things which really actually do matter. Elections are bread and circuses.

  • GJ says:

    malcolm:

    To be fair to Mr. Wright, one of his contentions for the reason a republic is superior is that you can change an unpopular regime without bloodshed.

    That alone doesn’t weigh either way: in general it would be easier to change for good, and also easier to change for evil.

  • Zippy says:

    Actually, I think the idea that the character of governance (whether bad or good) is more easily changed under liberal republics or democracies than under monarchies is just plain false. I talked about why in this post.

  • GJ says:

    Zippy:

    Actually I don’t have a firm belief about the matter, not having studied monarchies slowly.

    My comment should have been clearer: ‘That alone doesn’t weigh either way: it would only follow that in general it would be easier…’

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    I touched on the difficulties of changing democratic regimes, and the fruitlessness of it, a few years ago, as well. If I may;
    “Because, in the end, Democracy is a comforting illusion. The spectacle of ‘the electoral process’ catches the eye; the platitudes of politicians and pundits engage the ear; the ritual of voting lulls the mind; the continual, meaningless bickering between interchangeable empty suits numbs the spirit. The flashy pomp and weightless rhetoric of ‘politics’ is so ubiquitous that people become sick of ‘hearing about politics’ and tune it out without realizing that is the goal – apathy. Yet even those who want to change, want to make an impact stick to the same pattern, use the same formulas, try to ‘engage voters’ and ‘frame the narrative’ and ‘create a grassroots movement’ and on, and on, and on… just like the people they wish to replace for being ineffectual (at best) or corrosive (as usual). They don’t realize that they are just slapping a new coat of paint on the same Potemkin village.
    The question that strikes at the core of modern Democracies isn’t ‘which party should I vote for?’ it is ‘why is it that, no matter who is in power, things never get better?’” – See more at: http://kingdomofedan.com/choosing-illusions/#sthash.eyWhXEkD.dpuf

  • King Richard says:

    Hmmm. Our web master has added tags.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    KR,

    Isn’t the desire for “a constitutional Catholic monarchy with a strong aristocracy” no less wistful than the desire of the Legitimists?
    For instance, where will you find the required aristocracy?

    “it is more stable and less corrosive to virtue than other forms of government”
    To be true, the monarchy (and aristocracy) must be organic and in harmony with the genius of the country, at the very least.
    Meanwhile, there is historical evidence that longlasting Christian republics e.g. Venice and Florence were no more corrosive to virtue than Christian monarchies. Or perhaps one could built up the case that usury entered Christendom through republics?

  • Logan says:

    Exactly. Liberals don’t seem to understand that exceptions are not categorical differences.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    AR,
    Do nice kings stay kings for long?
    Dante gives us an idea of what it was to be a king in 13c. To be executed for not doffing one’s hat seems very much par for the course of being a king then.
    And kings really were kings then. Dante has a German Emperor who had traitors dropped in molten lead or encased in lead somehow.

  • King Richard says:

    Vishmehr24,
    Less wistful and more delusional, I would say.
    In seriousness, however, what we have been doing for 16+ years is growing slowly, allowing a culture to develop naturally, and learning.
    Venice was a republic, but it was not a democracy. At various time the Doge was everything from a near autocrat to a near figurehead for the aristocracy. Venice was actually an autocracy, monarchym r oligarchy, depending on the year.
    Florence was closer to a modern democracy: after decades of scheming, conflict, duels, and poisonings the merchants secured the vote for the heads of guilds. But was infamous for plotting, assassinations, and coups to the point it has been described as ‘in a state of ‘permanent turmoil’ and was actually an oligarchy (and very unstable).

  • King Richard says:

    Vishmehr24,
    Louis IX, Saint and Confessor, is often held as the ideal of the good Christian king. He ruled for 34 years (after the regency of his mother ended). Alfred the Great reigned for 28 years. St. Stephen I reign 36+ years. There are also great chains of rulers, including the Capetians (who ruled France for a millennium) where there were long periods of varying between good kings.
    “Kings really were kings then” is such an interesting phrase.
    Dante also describes meeting Mordred who was being punished for betraying King Arthur….

  • Mike T says:

    To be fair to Mr. Wright, one of his contentions for the reason a republic is superior is that you can change an unpopular regime without bloodshed.

    That’s mainly true if you look at republics that are administered by the sorts of nations that are capable of building a stable, advanced society. However, compare the US and Liberia, France and her colonies or many other republics in less stable countries.

    What you find is that the sort of men who can’t stand the concept of bowing out of power and/or obeying the new head of state in a republic are the same sort of men who are constantly scheming for regicide in a monarchy so they can their chance at power. As Zippy said, at the end of the day the formal structure of a state is primarily just a set of rituals executed by a people in the exercise of authority.

    Some forms of government are better for different people. For example, presidential republics are notorious for devolving into dictatorships in most developing countries accustomed to governance by a strongman. The very nature of the system lends itself to that; the sturdier systems tend to be parliamentary systems because the executive is weaker. That’s even similar to the Roman experience which created two equal executives limited to only 1 year in office.

  • […] of JC Wright from reasonable, devout, good-hearted, intelligent, erudite human being into an insult-flinging mouth-frothing SJW when the subject of monarchy was broached as an actually serious subject for discussion). It is […]

  • AntiDem says:

    Harold Lee over at The Future Primaeval knocked it out of the park with this one – very relevant: http://thefutureprimaeval.net/servants-without-masters/

    That is the odd thing about modern liberalism – the mismatch between its stated idea and its effective idea – it isn’t that it hates authority, or even that it objects to being enslaved. It just objects to *personal* authority. One of the central themes in liberalism is “the rule of law”; in other words, putting power in the hands of automatic systems – constitutions, statutes, bureaucracies, etc. – instead of in identifiable human beings exercising judgment. That the republican form of government that he so passionately defends has done more to destroy everything that Wright claims to value or care about than any monarch in human history ever has or would is not an argument that he even considers. What offends him is the idea that he should have to show deference to any one, identifiable person, not because it makes him unfree, but merely because it *reminds* him that he isn’t free. Putting power in the hands of 51% of a huge impersonal mass of people, a fraction of a percent of whom any of us have ever actually met, or in the hands of a faceless bureaucracy or other automatic system, lets us rationalize our way into believing that we’re free when we really aren’t. It makes us feel better, which, much more than delivering rational, just, honorable, moral, or pious government, is really the point of liberalism. (This, by the way, explains why Wright’s response is so hysterically emotional.)

    But of course, this is both vanity and evasion. Is monarchy immoral? Of course it is. But here I must concede a point to the anarchists – so is *every* form of government. By what right does any man, or any group of men, exercise power over any other? What gives them any moral right to tell others what they may or may not do? Are they gods? No! They are no more than fellow human beings; and the act of limiting my behavior by the use of coercive force is in *all* cases slavery, whether this is done by one man, by a cabal of oligarchs, or by 51% of “the people” (whatever the hell *that* may be). Government is not moral, it is only necessary; the reason that anarchists are wrong is not philosophical, but practical. Anarchy can never really exist, because *something* – whether it calls itself a private protection agency, a “Committee of Public Safety”, or any other name, will always come along very quickly and fill the power vacuum left by not having a formal government. If it’s not a man in a palace or a parliament in a capitol building, then it will likely be something more resembling OCP Corporation, the Corleone family, or Lord Humongous.

    (Similar things can be said about atheism – if we do not have faith in a god or gods, *something* will come along and fill that void in our lives. See: communism, liberalism).

    The idea that living in a republic makes us free is a pretty-sounding lie, but systems built on lies have predictable, unfortunate outcomes. Like, for example, people defending to the death political systems that continually destroy everything that a person claims to value or care about. We cannot afford any more pretty-sounding lies.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    I was mostly with you up until this point:

    But of course, this is both vanity and evasion. Is monarchy immoral? Of course it is. But here I must concede a point to the anarchists – so is *every* form of government.

    I do disagree here though. Everyone believes in authority (a particular capacity which particular men have to morally oblige other men to do or not do particular things); it is just that some authoritarians are sociopathic.

    By what right does any man, or any group of men, exercise power over any other? What gives them any moral right to tell others what they may or may not do?

    I suspect that you may view authority as immoral rather than perfectly natural because your perspective is still to some extent rooted in modernity’s self-deceptions.

    If it’s not a man in a palace or a parliament in a capitol building, then it will likely be something more resembling OCP Corporation, the Corleone family, or Lord Humongous.

    And here our perspectives come back together, for the most part. The main difference between our perspectives seems to be that you are conceding to liberalism that authority is inherently illegitimate, even though (unlike liberalism) you acknowledge that it is inevitable. I do not make that concession to liberalism.

  • AntiDem says:

    Zippy;

    The authority of a god is inherently legitimate, because gods are by definition superior beings. For example, if I accept that Yahweh is indeed infinitely old, omniscient, omnipotent, and has an immeasurably high IQ (which I do), then *of course* I’m going to take His word for it when He gives me moral instructions (even if I don’t understand them), and *of course* I’m going to follow the rules that He gives me (even if I don’t agree with them). To do otherwise would be the sort of irrationality that can have no justification other than rank hubris.

    The authority of a fellow man, not so much. As Fred Reed put it, “he ain’t no gooder than me”. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, as they say. His claims to authority over me aren’t particularly legitimate, nor even particularly persuasive. So why do I support monarchy?

    One of the logical flaws of liberalism is that it tries to artificially separate the ideas of process and product. It tries to say: “Here is an inherently good process; and it must be judged so on an abstract philosophical basis completely independent of the quality of the end product that it produces.” This is what leads to Wright and others like him defending a system that has destroyed everything he holds dear, and shows no signs of slowing down in that process.

    But that is, of course, nonsense. The *definition* of a good process is one that produces a good product. If it consistently (every system is allowed to have a few downsides and failures, but I’m talking big picture here) produces a bad product, then by definition it’s a bad process.

    Wright’s – and liberalism’s – mistake is in seeing government as a product instead of a process; as an end instead of a means. As a citizen, what I want from the government is good laws that are consistently enforced. On an abstract level, I don’t care what process makes that happen – democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, Marxism, whatever – it’s only on a practical level that a preference becomes clear. Which process has the best track record of delivering the kind of product that I want to see? Looking at history, the answer is monarchy, so that’s what I support.

    Anything else – all talk of divine right or the majesty of kings – is guff, fantasy, foolishness, delusion, boob bait for bubbas. I accept earthly authority because the way of the world is that there will be some, and I’ll support the least worst form of a necessary evil because history tells me that all the other forms of it are so much worse as to be positively terrifying. Sorry if all of that sounds terribly Modern and cynical, but I’m a big believer in the idea that it’s a fatal mistake to believe too much in one’s own P.R.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    I’m afraid the gulf between our views is just getting wider. Subjection to authority is an inescapably moral question: either you are morally obligated to obey a particular command, law, etc or you are not.

    For example, if I accept that Yahweh is indeed infinitely old, omniscient, omnipotent, and has an immeasurably high IQ (which I do), then *of course* I’m going to take His word for it when He gives me moral instructions (even if I don’t understand them), and *of course* I’m going to follow the rules that He gives me (even if I don’t agree with them). To do otherwise would be the sort of irrationality that can have no justification other than rank hubris.

    Do you accept that there could in principle be other beings vastly superior to you along those dimensions, e.g. the fallen angel Lucifer as an example?

    If by ‘gods’ you mean simply beings with vastly superior powers (including intelligence in the inventory of powers, of course), no amount of superior power translates into a moral obligation to obey. A very powerful being commanding me to do evil does not, by his superior power, create an actual moral obligation for me to do evil (the very concept of a moral obligation to do evil is self-contradictory).

    Furthermore, the legitimate commands of a powerless authority remain obligatory despite his powerlessness. A father’s sons are often more powerful than him; but that does not take away their moral obligation of filial obedience. (Other things might take that obligation away, of course; but the relative power of father and son does not). Similarly, a wife’s obligation to obey her husband is not dependent upon the husband having actual power to enforce his commands, or on him being objectively superior to her in any particular way. If he is sick in bed or terminally ill or even just stupid, her obligation to obey remains in full force as a moral matter (understanding ‘full force’ in the context that all human authorities have inherent limits).

  • Zippy says:

    Or, to use an example perhaps more amenable to moderns, an owner’s legitimate authority over potential trespassers on his property does not flit in and out of existence as his power to enforce that authority becomes greater or lesser.

    Everyone believes that particular men have the capacity to create moral obligations for other men. Everyone believes in authority.

    It is just that some folks believe in authority while pretending not to. There are authoritarians and sociopathic authoritarians; but there is no such thing as a non-authoritarian with political opinions.

  • Harold Lee doesn’t knock anything out of the park, because he seems to think the Singapore system is more feudal and relational (i.e., less sociopathic) than it actually is.

  • AntiDem says:

    “Do you accept that there could in principle be other beings vastly superior to you along those dimensions, e.g. the fallen angel Lucifer as an example?”

    Sure. But I also accept Yahweh as superior to Lucifer in all these dimensions, so if their instructions conflict (which they do), I go with Yahweh.

    The rest of your post is self-contradictory. When Lucifer is used as the example, you say that neither superior physical qualities nor a superior position obligates you to obey his commands, but then you turn right around and say that there is an obligation to obey the commands of another human being if that person calls himself a king. You could say that Lucifer’s commands are immoral, and you’d be right – but are you such a dreamer as to suggest that kings never issue immoral commands?

    Look, either legitimacy (and you still have not told me from whence this derives) obligates a person to follow the orders of a leader, or it doesn’t. If there’s any point at which it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. Remember that God’s test for Abraham to see whether he was suitable to be chosen to be the “father of many nations” (there’s a reason why they call them “Abrahamic religions”), was to order him to do something horrifyingly evil. And if Abraham had said no, that would have shown that he saw limits to God’s legitimacy, which would have proven him the wrong man for the job that God had in mind. Abraham’s willingness to do it proved that he was worthy of a task that would require exceptional loyalty, and the fact that God stayed Abraham’s hand proved that He was a deity who deserved that level of loyalty.

    But the king is not God, and there’s a reason why Christ made the difference between God and Caesar absolutely clear (at a time when the Romans were declaring these two things to be one and the same). At what point, then, would you declare “Non Serviam” to a “legitimate” king? After he ordered a rise in taxes that you disagreed with? After he started a war you knew was wrong? After he legalized abortion? After he banned Christianity and started sacrificing people to Ba’al? I believe that this question places you in a bind that you can’t really escape from within your own frame. If you say that there is no such point, and that you would serve your king no matter what, then you admit that you’d let another man draw you into unspeakable sin and evil because you believe him to have the “legitimacy” to do so. However, if you acknowledge that there is such a point, then you admit that legitimacy is subjective and limited; that is, if the king can take any action that causes him to lose legitimacy, then we can’t say that legitimacy derives from anything that inheres to the person of the king, and we’re right back to process vs. product (in which case, our only disagreement is on just how bad the product has to get before we’ll be willing to introduce His Majesty to a lamppost).

    In other words, I’m not going to knife-murder my firstborn son just because some jackhole in a purple bathrobe and a shiny metal hat told me to. Would you?

  • AntiDem says:

    “Or, to use an example perhaps more amenable to moderns, an owner’s legitimate authority over potential trespassers on his property does not flit in and out of existence as his power to enforce that authority becomes greater or lesser.”

    Well, effectively it actually does. Mao was not wrong when he said that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. We may not like that, but reality doesn’t hinge on whether we like it or not. The key is to give the gun to someone who will use it as morally and responsibly as can be expected.

    Anyhow, you’re going in circles. If we say that legitimacy derives from ownership, then from what does ownership derive? And specifically, from what in the case of a king? We can’t just say “He’s legitimate because he’s the king, and he’s the king because he’s legitimate”, or “He’s the boss because everyone obeys him, and everyone obeys him because he’s the boss”. There has to be a first principle behind this somewhere. I’ve got one – product over process – and it’s practical, maybe even cynical, but it makes sense. I’m really not seeing one from you so far.

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem,
    You wrote,
    “Mao was not wrong when he said that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
    Do you also want to know how many regiments the Pope commands?

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    The rest of your post is self-contradictory. When Lucifer is used as the example, you say that neither superior physical qualities nor a superior position obligates you to obey his commands, but then you turn right around and say that there is an obligation to obey the commands of another human being if that person calls himself a king.

    I realize you are new around here and probably haven’t followed all of the many, many discussions we’ve had on these subjects. So it is understandable that you would make newbie mistakes, like attributing all sorts of your own thoughts to me.

    I have never asserted that someone calling himself a king, in itself, confers upon him legitimate authority.

    In fact I have not (much to the consternation of many a positivist passer-by) advanced any comprehensive theory of where authority arises at all.

    I have simply observed that people who deny the existence of authority are manifestly wrong. And they are not merely wrong but sociopathically so, because they deny the existence of authority while at the same time advancing their own theories of why we should obey the authorities they attempt to justify, much as you did upthread.

    Showing that someone is wrong about a specific point is not the same thing as advancing a comprehensive theory on the subject about which he is wrong.

    You could say that Lucifer’s commands are immoral, and you’d be right – but are you such a dreamer as to suggest that kings never issue immoral commands?

    Not at all, as anyone remotely familiar with my writing already knows. All human authority has due limits. Authority is a capacity to create specific moral obligations on the part of subjects (people subject to that authority). For example, an owner has authority to say who is and is not permitted on his property: non-owners are subject to his specific authority in that specific respect.

    Mao was not wrong when he said that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

    You are still talking about power not authority, and are basically avoiding the distinction. But even so this is manifestly incorrect, even with respect to political power. Brandishing a gun may give you some power, but not really very much. Try going on a shooting rampage to see what I mean (hypothetically, of course).

    Political power arises when other people – including other people with guns – are willing to do what that power demands. They generally do that when, for whatever reason, they see those demands as authoritative — as morally binding.

  • Mike T says:

    From time to time, I see articles talking about how some chief of police or sheriff has announced his intention to not only ignore the law, but allow his officers to do so in such a way that will lead them to violently confront people who are factually obeying the law. It’s not like the law in question is a bad one either, usually it’s something like an open carry law and the man announces that he’s going to effective disregard the law’s existence.

    Now what is interesting about that is that it’s a great example of the bad follower and bad leader thing can quite easily follow at the same time under your argument that every man is both a follower and leader (even absolute kings follow God technically). It’s kinda morbidly funny to watch such a man demand that you respect his authority as he announces that he intends to violently disobey a higher authority over him’s positive law to let the people do something.

    Fortunately, case law is still pretty well settled against such men in much of the country. Announcing your intention as a lower enforcer to say “[expletive caused moderation] the law” strips you of your enforcement powers and makes you just a criminal with a government title.

  • King Richard says:

    A common mistake I encounter with Catholics, especially some self-described Traditionalists, is to misunderstand what the Catechism is; it is really a high-level summary and uses a fair amount of technical language.
    That being said, it is a very good high level summary. Since I see from AntiDem’s linked page he refers to himself as a Traditional Catholic, please let me excerpt:
    “Catechism of the Catholic Church
    PART THREE
    LIFE IN CHRIST

    SECTION ONE
    MAN’S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

    CHAPTER TWO
    THE HUMAN COMMUNION

    ARTICLE 2
    PARTICIPATION IN SOCIAL LIFE

    I. AUTHORITY

    1897 “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all.”15

    By “authority” one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and expect obedience from them.

    1898 Every human community needs an authority to govern it.16 The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society.

    1899 The authority required by the moral order derives from God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”17

    1900 The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will.

    Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church’s most ancient prayer for political authorities:18 “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”19
    1901 If authority belongs to the order established by God, “the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.”20

    The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them. Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.

    1902 Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a “moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility”:21

    A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.22
    1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”23

    1904 “It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the ‘rule of law,’ in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men.”24”

  • King Richard says:

    And another quote:
    “Romans 13Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

    13 Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.
    2 Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.
    3 For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same.
    4 For he is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.
    5 Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
    6 For therefore also you pay tribute. For they are the ministers of God, serving unto this purpose.
    7 Render therefore to all men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honour, to whom honour.”

  • Mike T says:

    Mao was not wrong when he said that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

    An authority without power is more likely to survive than a man with power and no authority. People tend to regard the latter more as a rabid dog that must be appeased until it can be contained and put down than as a leader whose commands must be followed.

  • AntiDem says:

    @Zippy

    I must admit that I’m having trouble finding counterarguments against what you’ve said, but I don’t think the problem here is my logical skills. The thing is, your arguments are so vague that they’re really giving me nothing to grab on to in terms of countering them. You assert that this thing called legitimate authority exists, but by your own admission you can’t even really tell me what it is, because you can’t tell me how or why it works. You tell me that there are limits to legitimate authority, but you can’t tell me what they are, or why the limit is *here* instead of *there*. That means that your assertions are not yet fully-formed enough to really be arguments; at the moment, they’re just claims. I can’t counterargue something that isn’t actually an argument.

    Also, you didn’t really prove my argument about the existence of authority wrong. Again, there can be moral/philosophical reasons for something, and there can be practical reasons for something. At no time did I make a claim that I had a moral/philosophical argument in favor of authority – in fact, my entire point is that no such argument really exists. I do, however, have a practical argument in favor of it, which I detailed above. There is nothing contradictory (much less sociopathic) about saying: “There is no moral/philosophical justification for doing this, but there are strong practical reasons why we should, so let’s go ahead and do it.”

    You also seem to have misunderstood my point about Mao. The point was not to deny the distinction between power and authority, but instead merely to say that the ideal is to place power with someone who will use it wisely and responsibly. I should hope that you find nothing to disagree with in that statement.

    @King Richard

    That’s a big wall of text that boils down to an assertion that God commands us to obey earthly authorities. But of course, if we take that seriously enough, we must accept that St. Paul burns in Hell for defying Roman law, that St. Thomas More burns in Hell for defying Henry VIII, that St. Maximilian Kolbe burns in Hell for defying the Nazis, and that Pope St. John Paul II burns in Hell for encouraging Solidarity to defy the Communists. Presuming that you don’t agree with this proposition, then you accept the fact that there are limits to how much we should obey those earthly authorities, or to precisely which earthly authorities we should or shouldn’t obey. Which brings us back to what I asked Zippy: Where is that line? Why *here* instead of *there*?

    @Mike T

    Which died of natural causes: Mao, or Nicholas II?

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:
    I’ve given you several concrete examples of actually existing authority: owners, fathers, husbands. What I haven’t given you is a positivist theory of authority, or a complete account of its origins. Like all positivists you conclude from lack of a complete theory that no definite statements can be made (despite making several yourself). You have discovered the positivist-postmodern dilemma by entrapping yourself in it.

    You are like the man who refuses to believe in cats even though he has been shown several kinds of actual cats, on the basis that a complete theory of the origins of cats is not on offer. All while offering his own (also very incomplete) theory of cats.

  • GJ says:

    AntiDem:

    There is nothing contradictory (much less sociopathic) about saying: “There is no moral/philosophical justification for doing this, but there are strong practical reasons why we should, so let’s go ahead and do it.”

    Which sounds good until someone asks “Why?”, whereupon it is rapidly discovered that ‘strong practical reasons’ involves some kind of valuation (especially regarding ends/consequences), and any obligation to act according to that valuation (“Why should we do what is ‘practical’?”) belongs to morality.

  • GJ says:

    In other words, in the face of postmodernism ‘practical reasoning’ (of which market morality is one example) attempts to return to a modernist approach to morality through a guise of neutrality (‘markets aren’t judging ‘).

  • AntiDem says:

    @Zippy;

    An example of something is not an explanation of it, and even less is it a justification of it. For example: the fact that Auschwitz exists does not explain why genocide happens, nor provide justification for why it is either right or wrong in either a moral or a practical sense.

    Also, I needn’t remind you that there are people who see every single example you’ve given as oppressive power instead of legitimate authority. Marxists, for example, see property ownership as artificial, illegitimate, and maintained only through unjust force. You can say that they’re wrong, and I agree. But unless you have a *reason* why they’re wrong, then once again, you just have a claim, not an argument. The point is that you’re trying to simply wave away the requirement to justify many of your base assumptions, and that’s not an reasonable response.

    If you want to say that we should support monarchy because history is a sort of testing-ground for social technology, and that the traditions passed down to us through history by our ancestors (including monarchy) represent thousands of years of the refinement of social technology through trial and error, then fine. That’s valid. But that still brings us back to believing that we should implement that social technology – that process – because we know that it’s been proven to deliver a certain product.

    Look, *you’re* the one claiming an abstract moral/philosophical basis for this “legitimate authority” stuff. But if you keep not telling me what that basis actually is – and again, giving me examples of it doesn’t do that – then I have to conclude that it’s because you don’t actually have one. Which is fine. Maybe you’re still working on one, and will have it eventually. I’ll look forward to reading it. But you don’t seem to have one now.

    Believe it or not, I *am* on your side here – I’m a TradCath too – and I’m not just busting your hump to be a jerk. My dad’s best friend did two tours with the Marines in Vietnam. He hated his drill sergeant when he was in boot camp, but when he came home after his first tour, he found the man and thanked him. Because by that time he understood that Gunnery Sergeant Miller had been tough on his men because he knew that the Viet Cong were going to be even tougher on them than he was. The VC weren’t going to cut them any slack, and if they were going to be ready to face that, he couldn’t cut them any slack, either. If you can’t sell your justification for monarchy to a fellow monarchist, you’d better believe that liberals are going to tear through it like a chainsaw going through a cardboard box.

  • AntiDem says:

    @GJ

    Sure – you can deconstruct anything until you get to a “why” that essentially can’t be answered. That’s one reason why religion is necessary; because it allows us to say: “God said so, that’s why”.

    Look, why did a bunch of deists or outright atheists like Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin pepper their Declaration of Independence and Constitution with references to a God that they didn’t believe in in any effective sense? Because if the “self-evident” (an evasion if ever I heard one) rights that they claim exist don’t come from God, then they come from men, and if men can grant them, then men can take them away.

    So, why do I support things like order and decent laws? Because I don’t want to be surrounded by disorder and indecency. Yup, I suppose that it’s possible to deconstruct that sentiment until it’s stripped like a Lamborghini that someone parked in a bad neighborhood and left the keys in. But that seems like an exercise in pointless logic-chopping, and I don’t get why you’d bother.

  • GJ says:

    Antidem:

    deconstruct

    Perhaps adding scare quotes could make your disqualification effective.

    So, why do I support things like order and decent laws? Because I don’t want to be surrounded by disorder and indecency.

    The faux-neutral modern stance, once exposed, turns to postmodernism (“strong practical reasons” becomes ‘wants’). How original.

    I don’t get why you’d bother.

    Because my deconstruction is true.

    Like JC Wright, you do not want to admit any obligation to submit to another man. You brush aside Scripture clearly speaking of legitimate human authorities and of necessary submission to them. Repent.

  • Mike T says:

    Which died of natural causes: Mao, or Nicholas II?

    Who dies more often by a hail of gun fire? Gang leaders or politicians?

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    An example of something is not an explanation of it.

    Correct. It merely shows that the person claiming that it does not exist is wrong.

    Also, I needn’t remind you that there are people who see every single example you’ve given as oppressive power instead of legitimate authority.

    So what? People disbelieve in reality all the time. It is one of the defining features of modernity for people to disbelieve in manifest parts of reality that they don’t like.

    Kind of like you and real authority.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:
    It is all very well that you prefer order to chaos and like it when people are nice to each other. That and five bucks will buy you a latte; but it won’t get you – it won’t get a whole army of you’s – to charge into the breach and die in defense of king and country. Denying the existence of authority and then attempting to resurrect it on utilitarian grounds is one of neoreaction’s most manifestly stupid ideas; though it does have a few competitors.

    … you can deconstruct anything until you get to a “why” that essentially can’t be answered.

    As long as you don’t mind living inside padded walls.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    If you can’t sell your justification for monarchy to a fellow monarchist, you’d better believe that liberals are going to tear through it like a chainsaw going through a cardboard box.

    First, I’m actually not a monarchist; though, unlike liberals, I am monarchy-friendly.

    Second, this isn’t the sales department. What I do here isn’t sales. What I do here is put stupid ideas out of their misery.

    And your denial of the existence of authority, combined with an attempt to resurrect the zombie authority you just killed under a utilitarian rubric, is a really, really stupid idea.

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem;
    You wrote,
    “That’s a big wall of text”
    I find this is often shorthand for ‘I didn’t read it, couldn’t understand it, or a little of both’.
    You wrote,
    “if we take that seriously enough, we must accept that St. Paul burns in Hell for defying Roman law, that St. Thomas More burns in Hell for defying Henry VIII, that St. Maximilian Kolbe burns in Hell for defying the Nazis, and that Pope St. John Paul II burns in Hell for encouraging Solidarity to defy the Communists. ”
    Ah. I was correct. While I understand that the excerpt from the Catechism was over 600 words I expected para.s 1902 and 1903, which clearly describe how to determine when authority is illegitimate and thus it is your duty to oppose those who rule without God’s authority, to leap out a bit.

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem,
    You wrote,
    “At no time did I make a claim that I had a moral/philosophical argument in favor of authority – in fact, my entire point is that no such argument really exists.”
    I find this interesting for a number of reasons. First, it was posted after I posted the précis of the Church’s philosophy of authority. Also, the page to which your profile links has an About page that contains this sentence,
    “Here philosophy, social technology, arts, literature, culture, and government will be discussed from an alternative right, traditional Catholic perspective.”
    This is because between the Fathers of the Church, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Hincmar, Rabanus Maurus, Giles of Rome, John of Paris, St. Bonaventure, encyclicals,and canon law the Church has a rather thoroughly discussed theory of authority.

  • Zippy says:

    KR:

    When AntiDem wrote:

    “At no time did I make a claim that I had a moral/philosophical argument in favor of authority – in fact, my entire point is that no such argument really exists.”

    Obviously by ‘argument’ he doesn’t mean argument, because there are plenty of arguments in favor of various kinds of authority.

    But I will make note of the anti-realism here, because it is an error which other commenters have made in the past, at least one going so far as to claim that the existence of authority comes from or is generated by arguments in its favor.

    It does not matter, ontologically, whether an argument in favor of rabbits exists. Rabbits actually do exist. Rabbits are not generated by arguments in favor of their existence.

    It does not matter, deontologically, whether an argument in favor of an owner’s authority over other people with respect to his property exists. An owner’s authority is not brought into existence by arguments in favor of its existence.

    Modern people are convinced that they are God: that ontological and deontological objects, things which have an irreducibly objective aspect, (e.g. economic value), are brought into existence ex nihilo in human acts of will or in projection of purely subjective human perceptions.

    But the legitimacy of the authority of a father over his household or an owner over his property is not dependent upon AntiDem or anyone else being subjectively in possession of an argument he accepts in favor of that legitimacy; nor (as already observed) does the morally binding character of this authority depend upon powers of enforcement.

    The fact that AntiDem’s views as expressed in this thread are falsified does not give us arguments or theories describing precisely how various kinds of authority come into existence. It just shows that the theories he has expressed must be wrong.

    But again, we don’t require a comprehensive theory of how something comes into existence in order to know that it exists, to discover and say true things about it, etc..

    Theory choice may be underdetermined by what we actually do know, but because we are not positivists we don’t have to jump from that to a postmodern conclusion. We can definitely say that there is something wrong with AntiDem’s eliminative approach to authority, even if we cannot completely specify in a formal theory or metaphysically neutral argument where every kind of authority actually comes from, in a manner which would satisfy positivist demands.

  • Zippy says:

    Shorter version: “There is no argument in favor of the existence of rabbits” does not call into question the existence of rabbits. It calls into question the reasoning of the person making the statement.

    (Autocorrect fun: my phone attempted to correct “rabbits” to “abbots”.)

  • King Richard says:

    Zippy,
    I was taking a slightly different path to a very similar destination.
    You were just more efficient!

  • Guard says:

    Why the hell wouldn’t I resent someone being given absolute authority over me. And I loved beating the shit out of little Saudi Princes in a parking lot. They were used to being able to berate any commoner in their own kingdom, so when my buddy ogled their hot coke whore they thought nothing of getting in our faces and being abusive. And we kicked the sh## out of them.
    They couldn’t fight and I wondered why they were so aggressive with strange men who didn’t look like push-overs.
    It was because they were little princes of the monarchy they came from. And if we had reacted to their temper tantrum in Saudi Arabia we would have been chained in a basement and tortured. And they were so spoiled they assumed they could pull that here.
    I guess you, Zippy, with your love of authority would have got a big masochistic thrill if an actual monarch came over to humiliate you for staring at his Kafir slave girl. God forbid you react with violence to authority or have a problem with it. And if you think America is bad, I think you need a good vacation to some of the third world hell holes with monarchs. As a local.

  • Zippy says:

    Guard:
    Maybe someone is interested in taking the time to enumerate the strawmen and other fallacies in your comment.

  • CJ says:

    Cool story, bro.

  • […] 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 […]

  • nickbsteves says:

    Anyone foolish enough to die before doffing his hat to the king had better set about to doing just that, so that the gene pool might be cleansed.

  • Mike T says:

    And ironically the only leaders I can think of with a reputation for killing people for the smallest perceived slight were a branch of liberalism: Communists.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    The liberal equivalent of doffing your cap to the king is voting.

    It is already the case that people who decline to vote are looked upon as having a bad attitude. And suggestions that voting should be made mandatory, failure to do so punishable by fine (with the escalation behind it that goes along with making any law), is met with chin stroking.

    Even those who disagree are not generally outraged by the suggestion, and the sentiment that those who refrain from voting have no basis for any complaint is nearly universal. At the very least if you refuse to doff your hat to the king you have no standing to complain about anything he does. Liberals pretend not to believe this, but they clearly do believe it themselves.

  • Guard says:

    Why would someone not fight to keep the doctrine of natural rights to enjoy and defend life and liberty and acquiring, possessing and protecting property. As opposed to the doctrine of monarchy where the monarch is subject to no earthly authority, and the monarch is not subject to the will of the people.or the aristocracy. And that any attempt to depose the king or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and is a sacrilegious act.
    And how does being ready for that fight make you a SJW exactly?
    Yeah, I get that nothing is perfect. And the penalty for having a Bible in the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia isn’t getting your hand cut off. Now it’s having your hand sliced off in 40 or 50 razor thin slices. One at a time.
    Don’t complain if you are a subject. You have no right. And the Monarch has the mandate of heaven. Try not doffing your hat to him.
    You say Wright feels that anyone who will doff their hat to a Prince is contemptible, slave by nature or choice, etc. And I think that observation of yours is exactly correct. And I don’t see how that makes Wright a SJw.
    You wrote above that you believe “we” slaughter many times more innocents than the Nazi’s, but your resistance is limited to making the odd blog comment about it. (I don’t think you believe that. I would bet that if you could go back in time you would agree to a suicide mission to kill Hitler. But your resistance to abortion, as far as I know, is far less that that.)

  • AntiDem says:

    @Zippy

    “It does not matter, ontologically, whether an argument in favor of rabbits exists. Rabbits actually do exist. Rabbits are not generated by arguments in favor of their existence.”

    Apples and oranges. Rabbits are physical objects. Legitimate authority is an idea. One can prove that a physical object exists by finding an example of it. One cannot prove that an idea is valid or true by finding examples of people practicing it. For example: Islam/Sharia law is an idea. There are many people who practice this idea (and who even think that it works well). Does that make it valid or true?

    “And your denial of the existence of authority, combined with an attempt to resurrect the zombie authority you just killed under a utilitarian rubric, is a really, really stupid idea.”

    Repeating your claim is not the same thing as proving your claim.

    “That and five bucks will buy you a latte; but it won’t get you – it won’t get a whole army of you’s – to charge into the breach and die in defense of king and country.”

    Sure it will, presuming that my family, community, and everything I’ve built over a lifetime is in that country and needs defending from invading barbarians. No, that might not get me to show up for some hobbyist war started for no particular reason by a king who wanted to prove his manhood to the world by sacrificing other people’s sons in battle, but you’ll pardon me if I view that as a feature, not a bug.

    “Obviously by ‘argument’ he doesn’t mean argument, because there are plenty of arguments in favor of various kinds of authority.”

    You got me on a technicality. What I meant was that there’s no valid moral argument in favor of it. I’ve already presented a practical one, which you seem to not like very much.

    @GJ

    “Because my deconstruction is true.”

    Repeating your claim is not the same thing as proving your claim.

    “Like JC Wright, you do not want to admit any obligation to submit to another man.”

    Sure I do. My justifications are just different from yours, and you find mine to be too unromantic for your tastes.

    @MikeT

    “Who dies more often by a hail of gun fire? Gang leaders or politicians?”

    Depends which country we’re in, to be honest.

    @King Richard

    “Ah. I was correct. While I understand that the excerpt from the Catechism was over 600 words I expected para.s 1902 and 1903, which clearly describe how to determine when authority is illegitimate and thus it is your duty to oppose those who rule without God’s authority, to leap out a bit.”

    Then you should have cut to the chase instead of burying your point in a wall of copypasta, but I’m still listening if you’d like to actually make it.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:
    To point out just one of your many fallacies – although GJ has already pointed this out to you – it is impossible to make a practical judgment about how to pursue a particular good or goods without first making a moral judgment about what is a good worth pursuing.

    In short, you simply lack enough self awareness about your own priors to even engage the discussion.

  • AntiDem says:

    “To point out just one of your many fallacies – although GJ has already pointed this out to you – it is impossible to make a practical judgment about how to pursue a particular good or goods without first making a moral judgment about what is a good worth pursuing.”

    Well, if you’d like to deconstruct my wanting order and decent laws, I’m willing to do that. Lack of order and decent laws does have objective, measurable negative effects on all kinds of practical outcomes. For example: I can point out practical things like not wanting to die in violent chaos (which seems pretty practical to me, because if I die, I can’t get a whole lot else done), not wanting chaos to disrupt trade (which really does a number on GDP), not wanting negative effects of indecent laws like the increase of bastardy (with its attendant increase in crime rates and dependence on the government) which comes of laws like no-fault divorce and the welfare state, and so on.

    Secular ethicists like Stefan Molyneux have been over this territory extensively, and if you’d like more information on it, feel free to have a look at their work.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:
    It isn’t “deconstruction” to point out that authority is a moral subject; and that all politics is necessarily rooted in morality, i.e. the common good, and authority, the capacity of some men (those with authority) to morally oblige others (those subject to that authority).

    It is deconstruction — or some other form of raving irrationality — to deny it.

  • Zippy says:

    Guard:

    As opposed to the doctrine of monarchy where the monarch is subject to no earthly authority, and the monarch is not subject to the will of the people.or the aristocracy. And that any attempt to depose the king or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and is a sacrilegious act.

    You are attacking a straw man. Especially with the ‘or the aristocracy’ comment. There has never been a king who was not dependent upon the good will of the aristocracy. And absolute ‘divine right’ monarchy is not the only kind — you won’t find any defenders of it around here.

    In fact in liberal republics rulers are dependent upon the good will of the aristocracy too. It is just that under liberalism, everyone tries to deny that there is an aristocracy. There are people who believe in aristocracy and people who do not; but the latter do not actually make aristocracy disappear they just drive it underground, make it sociopathic, and make actual aristocrats unaccountable.

    One way to look at liberalism is to see that it appeals to everyman’s vanity by assuring him that he, too, is formally a member of the ruling class (though de-facto a worker-drone is still just a worker-drone).

    And how does being ready for that fight make you a SJW exactly?

    Raving about strawmen, making wildly hyperbolic gestures of defiance (“I’d rather die than doff my cap!”), treating calm discussion of taboo-to-liberals political subjects as equivalent to public religious impiety, and suggesting that the people talking about that subject are morally beneath you, etc are all SJW-type behaviors.

    SJW-type behavior is not new: it is something that liberalism inspires in fervent devotees to all of its forms, including classical liberalism.

  • GJ says:

    Antidem:

    Repeating your claim is not the same thing as proving your claim.

    Very well:

    For example: I can point out practical things like …

    Secular ethicists like Stefan Molyneux have been over this territory extensively, and if you’d like more information on it, feel free to have a look at their work.

    So we should refer to the work of ethicists to understand your position?

    As I was saying, under “practical reasons” you mask philosophical and moral judgments. So you are being contradictory (and also sociopathic) when you say “There is no moral/philosophical justification for doing this, but there are strong practical reasons why we should, so let’s go ahead and do it.”

    QED.

  • I would like to note for the record that I don’t think Wright is an SJW. He has a blind spot here (so I think, and others here), but he does more good work than not, and he is a relatively late convert to Catholicism besides; all men are different stages on the spiritual journey.

    KR is right that we should pray for him, but he is an ally more than he is an enemy. His fiction alone is probably better at converting souls than the “Summa Theologica”.

  • Zippy says:

    malcolm:
    As usual, I am reluctant to characterize individuals as opposed to ideas and behaviors. It seems to me that doing the former tends to feed the fallacy of making our flaws the principle of our identity.

  • King Richard says:

    If I may repeat a personal anecdote:
    Not too long ago I was at a conference and had someone pointed out to me as a ‘prominent atheist blogger’, one who had written extensively on “The Problem of Evil”. Interested, I made my way to him, introduced myself, and the following exchange occurred [lightly paraphrased]

    Me: “I would love to discuss theodicy with you”
    Him: “I’m afraid I’ve never read it”
    Me: “Excuse me? You are the writer of [blog name]?”
    Him: “Yes. I am.”
    Me: “Well, that is why I want to discuss theodicy with you.”
    Him: “But I’ve only seen ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’; I’ve never read the Odyssey.”
    Me: “Not ‘the Odyssey’, ‘theodicy’ – ‘t-h-e-o-d-i-c-y'”
    Him: “Oh. I’ve never heard of it.”

    I soon found out that he had never ‘bothered’ to read Plantinga, Flew, Aquinas, etc. because the books were ‘too dense’.
    Despite his stated level of interest and passion, he was actually unserious about the topic.

    AntiDem,
    Based upon the combination of the profile on your page, your statements in this thread, and your admitted inability to read all the way to the end of a ~625 word comment I fear that you may be unserious about this topic.
    The nature of authority, its source, how to recognize illegitimate laws, when it is proper to resist leaders, etc. are all very well defined within the Catholic faith and have been for quite some time. I frankly expect any person who claims to be a traditional Catholic who writes publicly on politics to be familiar with *at least* what the CCC has to say on the topic of political authority!

  • CJ says:

    Him: “But I’ve only seen ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’; I’ve never read the Odyssey.”
    Me: “Not ‘the Odyssey’, ‘theodicy’ – ‘t-h-e-o-d-i-c-y’”

    Thanks for the legitimate belly laugh, KR.

  • AntiDem says:

    @Zippy and @GJ

    I made the distinction between the moral and the practical because doing so serves a purpose. If you’re going to muddy the waters by erasing the line between the practical and the moral, I suppose you could do that and maybe even be technically correct in some heady, abstract sense; but by doing so, now you’ve saddled us with a whole big box of other problems. This seems extremely dangerous to me – remember that once you open a door, it now stays open in both directions; if morality is laying a claim on practicality, then by necessity practicality lays a counterclaim on morality. Now we must defend every moral principle by showing that it makes practical sense; we strip ourselves of the ability to say: “That idea may indeed be a practical solution to an objective, measurable problem, but we shouldn’t do it, because it’s immoral”. The issue there is that there are plenty of things that we must admit would make practical sense, but that we oppose on moral grounds. For example, the Catholic opposition to condom use is pretty hard to sell on any sort of practical grounds. Or death-related issues like euthanasia or assisted suicide: what is the practical case for continuing to pour expensive resources into lost causes (like Terri Schiavo, for example), and what’s the practical case for keeping those with Down’s Syndrome around instead of burning them on Tuesday? And why not solve homelessness the way that Vlad the Impaler did? Why create art? Why have an aesthetic instead of making everything cheaply out of glass, steel, and concrete?

    Fred Reed touches on this subject here. It’s very worth reading: http://www.fredoneverything.net/No.shtml

    Erase the line between practicality and morality, and you leave yourself at the mercy of every slick logic-chopper and spreadsheet-armed autist who can prove that we can raise GDP by .0002% if we start sacrificing three-year-olds to Ba’al. If practicality and morality are one and the same, then how can you prove empirically (which you have now obligated yourself to do) that your practicality/morality is superior to his practicality/morality? You’ve just erased any reason *not* to fall into soulless Mr. Spock/Jeremy Bentham utilitarianism.

    Morality has its place. Practicality has its place. Some decisions should be made on a moral basis. Other decisions should be made on a practical basis. Which laws I support is a choice I make on a largely moral basis. What the best path to getting them implemented might be is a choice I make on a largely practical basis. History tells me that monarchy is the practical process that has the best record of delivering the laws that my moral judgment has told me are best. Therefore I support it.

    The romanticizing of process over the far more important matter of product is what’s gotten us into this mess in the first place. As long as we remain in that frame, we can never win.

  • AntiDem says:

    @GJ

    There’s a reason for the copypasta meme. If you’ve got a point, get to it. If you bury it in a heap of other stuff, people will get bored and start scrolling past.

  • GJ says:

    AntiDem:

    If you’re going to muddy the waters by erasing the line between the practical and the moral, I suppose you could do that and maybe even be technically correct in some heady, abstract sense; but by doing so, now you’ve saddled us with a whole big box of other problems.

    Whether it is true that the ‘practical’ is ultimately founded morally and philosophically does not depend on any ‘box of problems’ that may result. But in fact the problems you describe do not exist:

    This seems extremely dangerous to me – remember that once you open a door, it now stays open in both directions; if morality is laying a claim on practicality, then by necessity practicality lays a counterclaim on morality. Now we must defend every moral principle by showing that it makes practical sense…

    If practicality and morality are one and the same…

    That’s where you go wrong: they are not the same. Practical reasoning is a subset of moral reasoning; to be precise it is a proper subset. So practicality and morality are not equivalent.

    But we can go further: there exist different types of moral reasoning and they are arranged in a hierarchy, the higher outweighing the lower. One example of such a hierarchy is God’s direct commands at the top, followed by natural law, then reasoning from the virtues, then practical reasoning.

    Now the above is not meant to be a exhaustive or completely accurate description of the true hierarchy*; all that I intend to show is that some form of hierarchy exists. And this is trivially true for Christians: God’s commands outweigh ‘practical reasoning’ but not vice versa. Similarly all reasonings are always checked and subject to any and all higher ones, but not higher ones to lower ones.

    And once the existence of such a hierarchy is noted, the “problems” you assert from the assumption that every moral principle/decision must be justified in terms of the practical** simply disappear.

    *We can, for example, subdivide God’s commands into the categories of negative commands and positive commands..

    **Always keeping in mind that ‘practical reasoning’ is always grounded in some [subjective] human valuation of goods.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    King Richard has your number. You are like a New Atheist, boldly proclaiming your interest and opinions about a subject you obviously have not explored in enough depth to give you the humility to actually engage in something other than monologue.

    I’d just add two things to GJ’s latest comment.

    When the achievement of proximate goods (what AntiDem is referring to as ‘practical reason’) is severed from the good in general, this results in attempting to optimize for the achievement of those goods: to do evil in order that good may come of it.

    And when AntiDem says “Now we must defend every moral principle by showing that …” he is at least flirting with the mistake of thinking that what is good must be justified or defended by argument in order for it to be actually good. This is the ‘rabbit’ fallacy I discussed upthread. Butchering children is wickedness no matter who argues what about it, for example.

    As is disobedience of real authority (e.g. theft, as an example easy even for most rebellious moderns to see).

  • Zippy says:

    It may be worth further noting that ‘you owe me an explanation of why X is good, else I do not have to treat it as good’ is related to the ‘consent of the governed’ shibboleth.

    The ‘sure monarchy is evil, and nobody has the right to tell anyone else what to do, but monarchy is the most pareto-efficient structure for achieving my own utilitarian goals’ schtick is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. It makes the mistake – quite ironically, given AntiDem’s first comment upthread – of seeing the problem as one of choosing the right bureaucratic structure in order to achieve some desired utilitarian outcome.

    In other words it is really just more of the same old liberalism, packaged up to appear hipster, which is so typical of Moldbuggian neoreaction. Democracy is ‘the Man’, so supporting some monarchical-like structure (even though, wink wink, in truth nobody has the right to rule over anyone else) is a way of giving the finger to The Man (a.k.a. The Cathedral).

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem,
    You wrote,
    “I made the distinction between the moral and the practical because doing so serves a purpose.” etc.
    This confirms you are unfamiliar with at least;
    [deep breath]
    Gorgias, the Nicomachean Ethics, The Eudemian Ethics, Magna Moralia, Politics, De Civitate Dei, Summa Contra Gentiles, De Regno, the Summa, Quaestiones Disputatae De Malo, A Treatise of Human Nature, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Meditation of First Philosophy, Expositio in Librum Praedicamentorum Aristotelis, the Republic, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, De Fuga Saeculi, the Ccatechism of the Catholic Church, and the Bible.
    Further, your linked essay does not seem to support your false dichotomy between ‘moral’ and ‘practical’; the author states clearl,
    “It happens because, instead of deriving law from morality, we now derive morality from law. In a healthy society, laws enforce morality; they do not dictate it.”
    In context the author appears to be saying replacing morality with practicality is a failure.
    You wrote,
    “Morality has its place. Practicality has its place. Some decisions should be made on a moral basis. Other decisions should be made on a practical basis.”
    As others have pointed out in this thread already, you seem blithely unaware of the problem with this assertion – what are the criteria for what is “practical”?
    I suspect that you are mislabeling Utilitarianism as “practicality” unaware that you are simply advocating moral relativism.

    While I do appreciate your support of Monarchism, and I wish you no ill will, I do encourage you to seek out the Church’s teachings on morality and engage with your confessor on the same topic.

  • Mike T says:

    if morality is laying a claim on practicality, then by necessity practicality lays a counterclaim on morality

    I don’t know if you are a Christian, but that is demonstrably not true from scripture. God lays out the order of morality as follows:

    1. Love the Lord with all of your heart (and it is written, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments”)
    2. Then love your neighbor as yourself.

    To the extent that #2 seems to situationally conflict with #1, God expects us to choose Him over our fellow man. If saving the entire human race required you to do a grave evil, God would expect you to choose obedience to Him over saving the human race.

    Too often people fail to realize that practicality is often synonymous with “I don’t want to make a hard choice so I choose evil.”

  • Hrodgar says:

    Re: MikeT

    I’m with you on this one. “I don’t want to make a hard choice so I choose evil,” is a depressingly common theme in modern fiction, generally framed as a WILLINGNESS to make hard choices or “get your hands dirty.” Just another opposite day, I suppose.

  • AntiDem says:

    @GJ and Zippy

    Again, proving that an idea exists and is practiced by some group of humans does not prove that it is valid. Communism is an idea that exists. Don’t believe me? Take a vacation to North Korea. That doesn’t prove that communism is a valid or true idea.

    So no, sorry, your “rabbit” analogy is invalid.

    @GJ

    Repeating a claim in different words is not the same as proving it.

    @Mike T

    What does what you said have to do with what’s being discussed?

    @King Richard

    Your interpretation of the Fred Reed article would only be true if you believed that what he was asserting is that Supreme Court rulings and practicality were the same thing, which I find rather bizarre and can see no support for in the article.

    @Zippy

    “Butchering children is wickedness no matter who argues what about it, for example.”

    Read I Samuel 15:1-3 and Psalm 137:8-9.

    “It makes the mistake – quite ironically, given AntiDem’s first comment upthread – of seeing the problem as one of choosing the right bureaucratic structure in order to achieve some desired utilitarian outcome.”

    First, no, it’s not a utilitarian outcome, it’s a moral outcome. Second, you can’t act like history doesn’t exist or that there’s no proven track record of different systems of government delivering outcomes in terms of what kind of laws we get. Plato told us about this 2500 years ago, and twenty-five centuries of history have only confirmed what he said.

    Anyhow, “Because God said so” is, of course, an argument that, as a Christian, I’ll ultimately accept. But you seem to be using this to dodge to necessity to make arguments of your own. If that’s going to be how you operate, then why run this blog at all – the purpose of which seems to be making arguments in favor of your beliefs? Why not just replace the whole thing with a reading list, and call it a day? Which brings us to…

    @All of you

    A reading list is not an argument. If you have read the sources that you claim to have read, then you should be able to articulate their basic ideas here as part of your own arguments. If you can’t be bothered, then I can’t be bothered in responding to your non-arguments.

    Also, appeal to authority is a fallacy, not an argument. Frankly, everyone here seems to be doing everything they can to avoid having to make an argument instead of actually making one. Either make an argument, or admit that you’re incapable of making one, but continuing to hand me fallacies and evasions isn’t going to cut it.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    Again, proving that an idea exists …

    Authority is not an idea. It is a capacity that some people (e.g. owners) have to create specific moral obligations on the part of subjects.

    This confusion of ideas about things with the things themselves is just one of a great many confusions you assert.

    Read I Samuel 15:1-3 and Psalm 137:8-9.

    We had that discussion here already, some months ago.

    Because God said so” is, of course, an argument that, as a Christian, I’ll ultimately accept.

    Are you saying that you are a theological voluntarist? (Go ahead, Google the term).

    But you seem to be using this to dodge to necessity to make arguments of your own.

    It isn’t necessary for anyone to make an argument that rabbits exist in order for rabbits to exist.

  • Patrick says:

    This trick of changing reality into an idea, then proving, refuting, or nullifying the idea, then changing it back into reality, sounds like a magical method of making reality whatever one wants it to be. You can make it so rabbits don’t exist or don’t matter, but you can also make it so anti-rabbits and unicorns exist by proving in the realm of ideas that anti-rabbits are actually one and the same thing as rabbits. Then delivering them both back to reality.

  • Zippy says:

    Patrick:
    I think it was one of Mortimer Adler’s books, written back before he became a Christian, which I read when I was a newly assembled engineer fresh out of the engineer factory, which taught me to be careful about confusing ideas about things with the things themselves. It is a pervasive trick of willful anti-realists everywhere to conflate the two.

  • Mike T says:

    What does what you said have to do with what’s being discussed?

    I don’t know your background, so if you are not a Christian then it won’t hold authority with you (and neither would much of what King Richard said either). However, if you are, then your statement about practicality making demands on morality is absolutely incorrect. Practical considerations, from a Christian POV, simply cannot make demands on morality because morality is derived from the eternal, unchanging perspective of God.

    Even outside of that, if practical considerations can actually hold down morality, then morality has no authority because it is defined by circumstances rather than a defining aspect of circumstances.

  • AntiDem says:

    @Zippy

    I’ve already shown why the rabbit analogy is invalid. Repeating a disproven claim doesn’t make it proven.

    “Authority is not an idea. It is a capacity that some people (e.g. owners) have to create specific moral obligations on the part of subjects.”

    You keep jumping back and forth across the is/ought line to try to find solid ground, but I’ve seen that old trick enough to be wise to it.

    Long story short, if this obligation objectively exists in the same way that the laws of physics exist, then you should be able to prove it mathematically or through experimentation and observation, the way that you can with the laws of physics. If you can’t, then it’s not objectively true; it’s an “ought”, not an “is”. Claiming that an idea is objectively true opens it up to being tested in the ways that objective claims *must* be tested. For example: What is your falsification hypothesis for the claim that legitimate authority is a true and valid idea? Don’t have one? Then you don’t have an idea that can be objectively shown to be true or false.

    (Keep in mind, I don’t see “subjective” as a dirty word. “Subjective” is not the same as “unknowable”, and I don’t see the need to prove every idea to be true and valid in an objective, mathematical, scientific sense before I accept it and agree to act on it.)

    Looked at another way, if your claim is an “is” instead of an “ought”, meaning that this obligation objectively exists, then nobody could refuse it. But of course, that state of affairs exists nowhere in the world – name me any authority or obligation anywhere, ever, that somebody has not denied, refused, or defied. Nobody has ever defied the laws of physics, because these objectively exist. But people defy kings, parliaments, presidents, husbands, parents, Popes, and God Himself all the time. If nobody ever defied God, confession wouldn’t exist.

    Look, the entire point of the Garden of Eden story is that God gave us the capacity to defy authority – even His. Do you think that God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden by mistake? That He didn’t know what was going to happen next? Of course God knew that Adam and Eve were going to eat of the forbidden fruit, and yet He still put it there anyway. (In fact, the only reason to put it there at all was so that Adam and Eve could eat it.) Actually tasting of it, though, still had to be their choice. God could have created a race of beings that were unquestioningly obedient to authority, but He didn’t. Did you ever ask yourself why?

    And if your claim is an “ought” instead of an “is”, then I’ve already gone over the problems with it.

    “Are you saying that you are a theological voluntarist? (Go ahead, Google the term).”

    Your continued habit of refusing to make your own arguments in favor of referring me to outside sources shows either an inability to articulate your own points or a laziness that suggests you just can’t be bothered to. It’s *your* job to make your points, and I’m not going to agree to be put in the position of making them for you by doing research on them and trying to piece them together on my own. If you can’t be bothered to articulate your arguments, then I can’t be bothered to respond to them.

    “We had that discussion here already, some months ago.”

    Which again implies that you can’t be bothered to make your point here, but would rather send me off on a search through your archives. My response remains the same.

  • AntiDem says:

    @Patrick

    That’s a bunch of gobbledygook, the bottom line of which is that you’re denying that physical objects and abstract ideas are fundamentally different things. This suggests a poor grasp on reality.

    @Mike T

    “Practical considerations, from a Christian POV, simply cannot make demands on morality because morality is derived from the eternal, unchanging perspective of God.”

    Hey, I was the one making a case for the separation of the moral and the practical – it was Zippy who claimed that they were one and the same. My point exactly was that if we break down the barrier between the two, we start running into serious problems, one of which is exactly the situation that you’re describing.

    That said, if we claim no place in the Christian life for the practical, then we make ourselves a religion of navel-gazers. For example, you and I could both agree that abortion is wrong. So what do we do about it? The instant that we take any concrete step to try to get it banned – voting, collecting signatures, donating to National Right To Life, etc. – we’ve entered the realm of the practical. We could both agree that charity is a good thing, and required of us by Christ. Go volunteer at your church’s charity office for a while, and you’ll see people doing all sorts of practical things – inventorying food donations, entering numbers in spreadsheets to keep track of monetary donations, filling in forms to get innumerable government permits, and so on. The point is that as soon as we do anything to translate our moral judgments into tangible outcomes in the real world, we do – we must – enter the realm of practical action.

    I’m not a navel-gazer, so practicality is not a dirty word to me.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:
    Your editorial advice on what you think my blog should be all about is noted. But in fact what my blog is about is posting my thoughts about and discussing things that actually interest me. Each time you’ve commented it has become increasingly clear that you don’t have even the most basic knowledge necessary to engage the discussion substantively. For example, if you don’t already know what theological voluntarism is, then there is significant background you’ve got to do before even discussing the morality of killing children and the pertinent OT passages from a Christian perspective. There is a whole long – and tedious, for those of us already passingly familiar with the subject – discussion on the mistakes in your background assumptions with respect to that one sentence of yours.

    At the same time you wax authoritative on elementary subjects (e.g. the putative is-ought gap), begging the question in various ways of which you appear completely unaware.

    I find all of that profoundly uninteresting. This isn’t kindergarten here. You are not entitled to have your manifest ignorance dispersed through lots of personal handholding. Heck, you aren’t even entitled to the kindness of references provided by helpful commenters. I think folks have been rather patient and polite, actually, given the combination of your manifest ignorance and lecturing tone.

    And if the editorial focus and commentariat here isn’t to your taste, there are countless other ways to spend your time.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    denying that physical objects and abstract ideas are fundamentally different things.

    You again are projecting your own naive metaphysics on others. It is you who are making an unexamined assumption: specifically, that physical objects and abstract ideas are, exhaustively, all that exist.

  • Zippy says:

    As for the word “practical”, people are obviously using it to mean different things. Traditionally, “practical reason” just meant “reasoning about morality”. In this discussion it has become a token in a battle over whether authority is genuinely real or is, not just a lie, but a lie which nevertheless must be adopted with a wink in order to get the outcomes ‘we’ (for values of ‘we’) want.

  • AntiDem says:

    @Zippy

    Insults aren’t an argument either. Telling me *that* I’m wrong is not a substitute for telling me *where* or *how* I’m wrong.

    As for my metaphysics: You say that this thing called “legitimate authority” exists. So we can all get on the same page, what category of thing are you claiming that it is, exactly? Are you claiming that it is:

    1) A physical object, like a rabbit?

    2) A physical force, like gravity or magnetism?

    3) An abstract idea, like Islam or Communism?

    4) A commandment from God, like “Thou shalt not commit adultery”?

    5) Some combination of these? (If so, what combination, in what proportion?)

    or

    6) Some unknown category of thing, like dark matter?

    Once we determine what this thing is and isn’t, then we can go on to determine whether or not it actually exists.

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem,
    While you complain that ‘no one here is making an argument’ I must point out that when I *did* post an argument you complained it was a ‘wall of text’, obviously failed to read the ~600 words, and then lost track of the question you had asked in the first place.
    Forgive me if this dissuades me from sending you something of more substance.
    You wrote,
    “Also, appeal to authority is a fallacy, not an argument.”
    This is both inapplicable and false. You are probably referring to the common misconception of the informal fallacy argumentum ad verecundiam which can generally be described as ‘an appeal to a false authority’. My reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church is properly an invocation of proper authority, considering your page states that you claim to be Catholic. Further, stating that you are ignorant is neither an argumentum ad verecundiam nor an argumentum ad hominem – it is merely an observation.

    You wrote variously,
    “That’s one reason why religion is necessary; because it allows us to say: “God said so, that’s why”.”
    And,
    “Anyhow, “Because God said so” is, of course, an argument that, as a Christian, I’ll ultimately accept.”
    As a Catholic this answer is only acceptable to something dogmatically defined as a Mystery of the Faith and, even then, Mysteries are beyond unaided human reasoning but not contrary to reason. Indeed, depending on how you meant these statements you might very well be in a state of heresy.
    Yes, really.
    Be that as it may, none of the mysteries of faith are involved in this discussion.

    You wrote,
    “As for my metaphysics: You say that this thing called “legitimate authority” exists. So we can all get on the same page, what category of thing are you claiming that it is, exactly?”
    *sigh*
    I actually told you in a cut and paste, earlier, and you complained it was too long to read. The C&P was from the Catechism, which is a summary of things that Catholics are required to either believe or obey.

    Since I wrote earlier that I was in fear that you unserious you have done such things as asking a question and when being told the topic was already covered refusing to read the discussion; repeating questions that have already been answered; demonstrating that you have no idea what the “is/ought problem” really means while attempting to invoke it; making freshman-level errors concerning logical fallacies; you have revealed a relatively tight grasp on scientism; and you fail to understand simple things repeated multiple times in various ways.
    With no animosity towards you I must conclude that you are unserious about this topic.
    I must also caution you that you are treading dangerous ground and are endangering your immortal soul. I implore you to read this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Catechism-Catholic-Church-Simplified-Version/dp/094337491X
    And when you feel comfortable that you understand it, continue on to the full version. Also, seek out adult education at your parish, speak with your pastor, and also read the Imitation of Christ.
    If you are interested I can prove my status as a Catholic theologian with a mandatum and am more than willing to correspond with you directly about this matter.

  • AntiDem says:

    @King Richard

    A reading list still isn’t an argument. Oh, and pitching smarmy attitude at me isn’t an argument, either.

    You’ve told me that an actual argument exists somewhere in the wall of copypasta you dumped on me. In the time it took you to haughtily tell me what a bad Catholic and general ignoramus I am, you could have just told me where your actual argument was. But since you can’t be bothered to point it out, I can’t be bothered to dig for it. Again, it’s *your* job to make your argument, not mine.

    “As a Catholic this answer is only acceptable to something dogmatically defined as a Mystery of the Faith and, even then, Mysteries are beyond unaided human reasoning but not contrary to reason. Indeed, depending on how you meant these statements you might very well be in a state of heresy.”

    Okay, so that means it’s #4, right?

    “I actually told you in a cut and paste, earlier, and you complained it was too long to read. The C&P was from the Catechism, which is a summary of things that Catholics are required to either believe or obey.”

    Okay, so that means it’s #4, right?

    What I’ve been getting in this thread is evasions, insults, linkspamming, copypasta, arrogant lecturing, and lots – LOTS – of anger. Everything but straight answers to plain questions. When people do that, I have to conclude it’s because they don’t have any straight answers to give.

  • brucecharlton says:

    @Zippy – I don’t know how well you know John C Wright but he is a fine Christian gentleman with a warm heart. Definitely one of the Good Guys and a man I like and would trust – which is why I asked him to write the blurb for my book on the mass media – Addicted to Distraction. He also loved my book Thought Prison which is very close to your own views. If he is only 90 percent in agreement with you, then so what? We all began as Liberals and are on a learning curve. Don’t pick fights with honourable allies.

  • AntiDem says:

    You know what? I give up. Seriously, it’s obvious that nobody here is interested in an honest debate or in answering serious questions, and I’m tired of being spun in circles.

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem,
    I have replied to you directly via email.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce:
    Agreed about John Wright. That is what made his intemperance in this particular case particularly illustrative of several points, as well as catalyst of discussion which isn’t really about him– just the commitments which are driving him. It wouldn’t have been very interesting if an intemperate man’s commitments to liberalism had led him to publicly slander his own fans, for example.

    As I said upthread, I debated with myself about whether to post this at all because of the inevitable focus on the man. The counterpoint is that he chose to make a public example of himself and that concrete examples can be very helpful to many readers. I think the resulting discussion has been valuable, and in any case this post was not an attack but a defense, against Wright’s vicious attack on his own fans and readers who failed to light the incense and profess liberal pieties.

    So the fact that Mr. Wright is generally speaking a good, erudite, temperate, well read etc writer is actually rather central here. This discussion would not have been as significant if that were not the case.

  • King Richard says:

    AntiDem,
    I must admit, your comment of December 24, 2015 at 4:06 am did make me laugh.
    You wrote,
    “You’ve told me that an actual argument exists somewhere in the wall of copypasta you dumped on me.””
    Yes. I have pointed that out more than once. Each time I have pointed to it, you have refused to read it because ~625 words is a ‘wall of text’. Similarly, when Zippy pointed you to an entire essay on a topic you mentioned you refused to read it. As I mentioned before, why would I repeat an argument to you that I already made and that you repeated refused to read?
    You wrote,
    “In the time it took you to haughtily tell me what a bad Catholic and general ignoramus I am, you could have just told me where your actual argument was.”
    And in the amount of time it took you to complain you could have scrolled back and started reading my argument. After all, you know exactly where to find it.
    ” But since you can’t be bothered to point it out….”
    No, no – we all keep pointing you to arguments, many of them in this very thread.
    “Again, it’s *your* job to make your argument, not mine.”
    But is is your job to actually at least try to read the arguments, isn’t it?
    I have sent you a direct email. I assure you it is only about the length of 5-51/2 tweets! Let us see if you can claim no one is giving you a position when it is in your inbox.

  • Zippy says:

    AntiDem:

    As for my metaphysics: You say that this thing called “legitimate authority” exists. So we can all get on the same page, what category of thing are you claiming that it is, exactly?

    I haven’t insisted that you adopt a particular metaphysics. I’ve given you actual examples of actual real authority (property owner, father, husband), which you reject as being real because of your metaphysical commitments. As Patrick said above, it is as if I had shown you a real rabbit and you claimed that in your world of ideas it was a unicorn, that further you refused to believe in rabbits, and then you ranted on and on about how nobody will prove to you — within the bounds of your own metaphysical assumptions — that rabbits exist.

  • Zippy says:

    When someone rejects, on the basis of his own metaphysical assumptions, the reality of some examples he is given of real things, this implies that his metaphysics is falsified. That his metaphysics is falsified does not affirm some particular alternative metaphysics. That isn’t how falsification works. The falsification of a particular theory is just a falsification of that theory, not an affirmation of a specific alternative.

    As a non-positivist I am perfectly comfortable concluding that a particular theory is definitely wrong as something entirely different from affirming that some other theory is right.

    AntiDem’s theory of the nonexistence of authority is false, on the basis that actual instances of actual authority actually exist. Children really are morally obligated to do the dishes when their father tells them to, for example.

    When confronted with concrete counterexamples our options are to disagree that children really are ever morally obligated (within limits, as always) to do what their parents tell them to do, or to concede that theories which claim that authority does not exist are false. Further speculation about what alternative theories might or might not be true are irrelevant to the definite conclusion that theories entailing the nonexistence of authority are false.

  • Mike T says:

    Hey, I was the one making a case for the separation of the moral and the practical – it was Zippy who claimed that they were one and the same. My point exactly was that if we break down the barrier between the two, we start running into serious problems, one of which is exactly the situation that you’re describing.

    If the moral thing to do is one thing and the practical thing is another, then what you are really saying is that the practical thing is evil. We often find a range of moral choices. Some are more practical than others. It is morally licit for anti-abortion activists to make concessions in the name of pragmatism that concretely gain ground on limiting abortion. It is not moral to adopt a standard libertarian view that “even if it is murder, it’s not for me to stop them.”

    Most of what people can “the practical” is really that easy set of choices that are anything from mildly evil to gravely evil that “get the job done.” Think of it like this. It’s much easier to win many conflicts if you are willing to slaughter civilians. We broke the Japanese, one of the most bellicose advanced civilizations in human history, by proving we had the technology and hardened hearts to kill their people in blocks of 100,000/bombing run. Was that the moral thing to do? Absolutely not, but it was very practical. If you value pragmatism, which is really just valuing the most efficient path to effectively obtain your objective, you are going to get a lot of stuff done.

  • King Richard says:

    “If the moral thing to do is one thing and the practical thing is another, then what you are really saying is that the practical thing is evil.”
    Isn’t it amazing that this needs to be explained?

  • Mike T says:

    Indeed. One of the things I pointed out in Zippy’s threads about efficiency is that efficiency and optimization are themselves relative to the perspective of the people engaged in them. For instance, torture is efficient for many interrogators, but not efficient for war planners who need to preserve the reputation of their forces which enables them to engage in good faith negotiations. That’s one of the reasons why “practicality” needs to be always held up to scrutiny. Your practical decision could actually be one that screws someone else over.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Totally not on topic, but an interesting perspective on SJWs and how liberalism has torn down society’s attachment to truth.

  • GJ says:

    For any who are interested JC Wright has a post reviewing Star Wars that contains a hilarious aside approving Leia as an authoritative Princess character and describing how the first film was ‘conservative’ and American.

  • GJ,

    Yeah. It’s a good review.

  • GJ says:

    It’s quite enlightening as to the conservative worldview (remembering that the four aspects of worldview are Narrative, Questions, Symbol and Praxis):

    1) The answer to the two Questions “Who are we?” and “What’s the problem?”: a Manichean division between the evil Untermensch oppressors and the righteous but currently oppressed Ubermensch/Sons of Liberty/”The Good Guys”, which arises from

    2) The Narrative: the righteous Rebellion in the olden days against the British Empire. This story is retold in another form in Star Wars, (“The Galaxy Far, Far Away was the USA…STAR WARS was us.”) which leads to the elevation of the first two movies as

    3) Symbol: the Star Wars movies as “pure [conservative] Americana”, “immediately part of our American cult and culture”, “special…cyclopean…Brobdingnagian…larger than life”.

    And all the above, coupled with the reading of recent progressivism as another oppressive Evil Empire demands a reenactment of the Narrative in the present day, ie. through

    4) Praxis: a current day Rebellion is called for. As Wright writes in another post, “As gesture, I would like everyone who reads these words to go onto Wikipedia, and find ten articles which use the insulting term ‘B.C.E.’ for ‘B.C.’ and the insulting term ‘C.E.’ for ‘A.D.’ and change them. And if he anonymous editors change them back, change it again.”

    As to the latest movie I had no intention of watching it and the reviews I have read convinced me that was the right decision.

  • Zippy says:

    Some folks might be interested that Nick Steves (of the Reactivity Place), who has disagreed with me about Game and about whether it is acceptable for neoreaction to be explicitiy anti-explicitly-Christian, posted – when asked by a commenter – more thoughts on (part of) this discussion here. I’m not sure his comment actually addresses any of the actual subject matter, but I’ll leave it up to readers to judge pertinence and factual claims for themselves.

    Full citation:

    Thoughts on the Zippy/Antidem argument in the comment thread here? https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/on-doffing-your-hat-to-the-king-and-concrete-shoes

    I saw that. Zippy was his usual arrogant self, talmudically twisting other people’s words to make them look like fools, to make them say things they aren’t saying (but it’s always evil and certain sign of mortal theological error when others do it to him).

    There is no internet record (AFAIK) of Zippy ever having admitted to being wrong or even unfair. He has, I think, a genuine psychological problem. When he’s right he’s very, very right and certainly worth reading; but when he’s wrong he is absolutely uncorrectable. But fortunately for him, he’s never wrong. So there is that.

  • Marissa says:

    You’ve said you were wrong about the Iraq war, so there’s that. Not that the Dork Enlightenment matters much anyway.

  • Zippy says:

    Marissa:

    Another thing I’ve been wrong about is when, in a number of places, I have said that money ‘has no real value’. It is true enough that the paper or computer entries have no/negligible value in themselves, but equating money to paper or computer entries indicates an erroneous truncated understanding of ‘money’ at work. Money is actually a kind of financial security, and derives its value the same way all financial securities derive value: from the claims it represents against underlying assets (or faux assets, as the case may be).

    I’ve said all sorts of things which are wrong and/or ambiguous and/or correct but stated in a way bound to mislead. My understanding of things is developing all the time.

    We could enumerate things I’ve been wrong about all day, actually, if getting that over with would permit discussion to move on to the actual substantive matters we are attempting to address. I get the sense though that the focus on my flaws, real or imagined, is supposed to distract people from the substantive matters we are attempting to address.

    Because once we actually focus on what is substantively in dispute here, we might be unable to avoid addressing what it would mean for there to be no such thing as authority – e.g. that children would literally never, under any circumstances, be morally obligated to do what they are told to do by their parents. Most of us will conclude from concrete examples that, whatever else may obtain, there must actually be such a thing as real authority; because we accept that (e.g.) children are sometimes, in at least some cases out of all possible conceivable cases, morally obligated to do what they are told. That is, there exist cases where someone in authority can truly command subjects in a way which morally obligates those subjects to obey. By concrete counterexample the assertion that there is no such thing as authority is falsified.

    That falsification leaves my anti-realist interlocutors with nowhere to go without revising their metaphysical understanding in a basic way. We can’t have that, so the focus changes to trying to disqualify what they presume to be my positivist theory of authority, by projecting all sorts of their own assumptions onto what they assume my views must be. (The fact that I might not even have a positivist theory of authority – or of rabbits, for that matter – never even occurs as a possibility, despite the fact that most of humanity functions most of the time just fine in actual reality without having comprehensive positivist theories about everything).

    Whatever may be the case about possible alternative theories of authority has no bearing on the fact that their anti-realist view has been decisively refuted. Their theory disagrees with reality, as most of us – as all of us who retain any connection to it – understand reality. But if we can change the subject to Zippy’s presumed views (that is, views projected onto Zippy), maybe nobody will notice that, on the central point in dispute, the anti-realist view has been falsified in a manner which ought to be conclusive to anyone who retains even a slight degree of contact with reality.

  • GJ says:

    Zippy:

    It may be worth further noting that ‘you owe me an explanation of why X is good, else I do not have to treat it as good’ is related to the ‘consent of the governed’ shibboleth…

    In other words it is really just more of the same old liberalism, packaged up to appear hipster

    AntiDem’s stance of ‘the only authorities I yield to are the ones I accept due to “practical” reasoning’ is just ‘consent of the governed’ rephrased.

  • Mike T says:

    When you watch the prequels and see what the republic was actually like, the empire seems surprisingly less evil. I’ve never read any of the books in the expanded universe, but according to summaries I read, the republic itself is guilty of genocide on at least one occasion. Why are there no Sith (they started as a race, not organization) left? Because after the republic’s war with them, its forces slaughtered every population center.

  • GJ says:

    Mike T:

    When you watch the prequels and see what the republic was actually like, the empire seems surprisingly less evil.

    The evil is just more bureaucratic and less personalised, which is of course a more accurate reflection of our world (eg. the UN’s inaction in the face of genocide) and therefore such a story is much less popular amongst those who want a Manichean division between the Goodies and the Baddies which the first trilogy offered.

  • Mike T says:

    This is a really interesting take on how if Lucas were a better director and writer, the prequels could have been significantly better than the original trilogy and made Darth Vader into a fascinating character with a lot of depth.

  • GJ says:

    Yes, that would be a great story.

    Nitpick: the bit about Palpatine and other Sith being libertarians is just downright weird.

  • You’re all right. Part of the reason the prequels were terrible.

  • Mike T says:

    Maybe not most (small-l) libertarians, but it takes no imagination to see most of Ayn Rand’s heroes training to become a Sith.

  • GJ says:

    Did we watch the same movies? The Sith apprentice during training is supposed to be subordinated to the “Master” like Vader to Palpatine. And there’s also the ruling the galaxy under an iron fist bit.

    At first I was going to file this under ‘liberals don’t have any good category to classify such a system so they just pick the superficially closest one’, then I suddenly realised: just as much of feminism stems from the apex fallacy and resultant envy, so does much of the Liberté-mongering from envy of the monarch’s supposed unlimited or near-unlimited freedom.

    So dictatorial Emperor Palpatine (and the archetypal Sith) is considered not only libertarian but something that libertarians would want to be because the type of freedom* he possesses is something that the libertarians all crave.

    *Where freedom is not merely the ability to do as one wishes – which is only one side of the coin – but also necessarily comes along with the power to prevent interference.

  • GJ says:

    Such a libertarian is at least more consistent in the sense that he recognises that for him to be ‘free’ there must exist power to prevent interference, and the power must reside with him to ensure that such freedom will persist. In contrast the average libertarian also holds to some sort of equality dogma which insists that no person or group should have that power, so they are left with an incoherent mess.

    Ultimately, only God is truly Free, and in the mad modern grasping there is more than an echo of the original sin: rebellion so as to become like God.

  • RT says:

    @MikeT

    I agree the suggestions at Gamesradar would make the prequel more adult but the narrative even more liberal. At least there would be something to discuss about. For example the idea that the light and dark side of Force are just two extremes one should avoid. That the Jedis are no better than the Siths because both of them wield too much power. That the rigorous training is in fact an indoctrination while living “normal” life prevents it etc.

    I suggest the story would be even better if it went as described in the post at Gamesradar but in the end the audience was somehow forced to realize that the Skywalker’s attempt to balance the two great forces (for example to make Jedi rules softer) is sure way to evil and that the Jedis had it more right i.e. their so called extremism was not an error.

  • Mike T says:

    One of the things that’s never explained in Star Wars is what precisely **is** the dividing line between the Dark and Light sides. They seem like they differ primarily in one sense: Dark is offensive, Light is defensive. I don’t recall the Force ever being used to heal a mortal wound, for instance, just to push back an assailant or alter a mind by a Jedi.

    What would have been interesting, and taken it even further is if Vader finally realizes that there is no distinction between the “dark and light sides.” It’s actually a myth based upon how people choose of their own free will to use it. The so-called “dark side” is only “evil” because evil people want the awesome power of the dark side so they can do evil things.

    And if one includes the expanded universe, the Jedi themselves are known to use the “light side” for evil purposes such as when they slaughtered most of the Sith civilians.

  • Mike T says:

    * We are to assume the Dark Side is evil because it is “Dark” and because it is correlated with dark emotions. However, there is no exploration of the essential differences between the Dark and Light side, why one side can do things in set A and the other things in set B and those sets don’t overlap in the canonical stories.

    There’s no exploration of why Palpatine can use force lightning, but Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi cannot use it. It feels more like the liberal view of guns “of course they’re evil because evil guys use guns on people.”

  • CJ says:

    Are we sure that Yoda et. al can’t use Force lightning, or that they won’t. As you said above, the Dark Side is correlated with negative emotions. In the movies, both sides can use Force Push, Jump, and Mind Tricks. The only Force power that’s restricted to one side is Force Lightning. So my fan-wank has always been that Force Lightning requires hate and or cruelty.

    So the Dark Side is dark because its specific difference is that using its unique powers requires evil feelings and intentions.

  • […] be human simply is to be subject to no authority, is to be self-created through reason and will, subject to no man.  Islam appeals to effeminate moderns for the same reason that dark triad bad boys appeal to […]

  • King Richard says:

    I was able to correspond with Mr. Wright on this topic via email.
    Malcolm, please email me if you have the time.
    the public google mail address for my contacts is royaledan@

  • King Richard says:

    I hope no one minds if I link to my own post on this topic.
    http://kingdomofedan.com/on-doffing-your-hat-to-the-king/

  • Mike T says:

    Some good points, King Richard.

    Over at W4, they highlighted a case in Norway about taking kids away and your post made me think how much of these cases could be avoided if the police and social workers had a deep respect for the authority of parents. In fact, it’s actually odd to most people today to even think of state employees showing deference to other authorities as though those authorities by morality and custom had authority over them as well.

  • King Richard says:

    Mike T,
    I blame the concept of ‘consent of the governed’ as the source of authority and/or legitimacy of authority. If your conceptualization of authority is based on consent of the governed then all elected politicians have authority and all bureaucrats have authority but in the end no one else can have authority, most especially the governed.
    This is before we even get to the inherent contradictions involved in the concept itself.
    In the end, the scene in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail involving Denis is a satire of modern politics, not Medieval politics.

  • GJ says:

    As a coda to my earlier comment noting that those who venerate Liberty envy the kings and desire to be like them, John C. Wright has confirmed that he views himself as a sovereign.

    To wit: just as many feminists desire to be like the apex male, so does the libertarian the absolute monarch (and so did Eve God).

  • GJ,

    This is not new. It was a core part of his argument, in fact.

  • GJ says:

    malcolmthecynic:

    I know, but to my recollection he had not explicitly admitted it. But maybe I had just not followed the entire debate very closely.

  • King Richard says:

    But this begs the question – whence comes his authority? He claims to govern no one, so far as I know, so who is there granted him authoority though their consent?

  • GJ says:

    King Richard:

    Seems like it’s some kind of contract where if everyone rules and is ruled by everyone else through the ballot box things become….I don’t know what, really, it’s such an incoherent mess.

  • […] in its own right, on its own terms.  In order to have politically quiddity at all one must first doff his cap to the king and then light a pinch of incense to Caesar, to the incoherent and immortal doctrine […]

  • […] politics is a fractal of daycare. This facelessness of rule is supposed to be a good thing, because doffing your cap to a king makes you less than […]

  • […] to rule over other men. If another man has a genuine right to rule over us that makes us less than fully human. The justification of political power is that legitimate exercise of political power makes sure […]

  • […] Voting is perfectly rational as ritual act of doffing your hat to the king. […]

  • […] delude themselves into thinking is) personal possession of WMDs.  In free societies every man is king, and reality is whatever you want it to […]

  • […] component in a vast impersonal rule-executing machine rather than a subject expected to doff his cap to the king. This necessarily results in unjust and sociopathic exercise of […]

  • […] The distinction between recourse contracts and nonrecourse contracts as central to understanding usury – the conclusion that personal loans charging any profit whatsoever are usurious, whereas corporate bonds are not usurious – is obviously something I just pulled out of that wacky traditionalist hat I was insanely doffing to the King. […]

  • […] so if we can hide the ‘problem’ of politics behind them maybe we can escape from the debasing horror of accepting human authority as an inescapable feature of the world which never fades away, no […]

  • […] means that every aristocrat, commoner, criminal, slave, proprietor, trespasser, invader, disrespecter of royalty, savage, apostate, and heretic gets what he has coming to […]

  • […] law – subjects who did not choose their own state in life – what they must consent to, or else.  If J always trumps C then C cannot be the moral justification of […]

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