The butcher’s bill of rights

March 8, 2017 § 71 Comments

As we’ve discussed many times before, what modern people call “rights” are instances of discriminating authority.  A property owner has the authority to eject trespassers without everyone insisting that he has to give good reasons for why he is doing so.

A property owner’s discriminating authority is labeled “property rights” as a way of short circuiting any further thought on the matter. By labeling this a “right” we don’t have to acknowledge that the law discriminates between the property owner and everyone else, empowering the property owner to, himself, discriminate and bind people to do or not do certain actions within the domain of his authority.

The magic word “rights” acts as a kind of wrongthought circuit breaker, allowing us to notice the empowerment involved in “rights” while studiously ignoring the multitude of constraints which are concomitant to every right.  “Rights” give us mental cover for thinking of ourselves as empowered while at the same time avoiding the terrible crime of discrimination.  Because rights are empowering, more of them means more freedom to our short-circuited modern minds.  The more expansive our “rights” are interpreted to be by the ruling class, the more of this “freedom” we have.

At least for certain values of “we”.

§ 71 Responses to The butcher’s bill of rights

  • donnie says:

    The atheists/rationalists have a term for this: Semantic stopsign.

    Of course, they also believe that the concept of God is a semantic stopsign, so your mileage may vary.

  • Terry Morris says:

    This discussion (including the other thread) brings to mind the anti-gravity hill phenomenon. The surrounding landscape gives the appearance that the ball is rolling uphill, when in fact (and of course) it is not.

    I wonder how much of the confusion over discriminating authority passed off as “property rights” has to do in reality with the fact that the actual property owner (as opposed to the mere tenant or lessee who pays an annual fee for the right to occupy the property in question) is conferring limited authority on his tenants, thus they are denominated “rights” as respecting the tenant?

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    That’s a good term.

    FWIW, to the extent someone thinks of any of the transcendentals or other great mysteries as a reason to stop thinking (keeping in mind that stopping and temporarily deferring for other priorities aren’t the same thing), they are treating it as a semantic stop sign.

    But mystery (including the greatest of mysteries) isn’t an invitation to stop thinking. It is an invitation to start thinking, with the full realization of one’s own finitude.

  • Mike T says:

    In pre-modern times, “rights” were at least understood to be limits on authority, statements of natural authority or delegating of authority from a higher authority. This issue seems to be like a lot of modern problems where an important concept is seriously twisted and manipulated into something evil.

    If you go back about 300 years, there was a lot of discussion in the colonies and UK about the “Rights of Englishmen,” but they were understood in the context I described. So some form of memetic warfare on liberalism to retake the old vernacular words and straighten out their definition will be necessary.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    were at least understood to be limits on authority

    Limits imposed and enforced by whom?

    At the end of the day political rights-talk is a semantic weapon used by supporters of one putative authority to beg the question against a competing putative authority. It is question begging “all the way down”.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    But mystery (including the greatest of mysteries) isn’t an invitation to stop thinking. It is an invitation to start thinking, with the full realization of one’s own finitude.

    Atheists are guilty of placing their own “semantic stopsigns” on the question of God and His nature. It’s not like hundreds of thinkers over the course of millennia have pondered that sort of thing via inquiry and contemplation.

    (And of course, sometimes Jesus steps in and removes all doubt)

  • Gunner Q says:

    “were at least understood to be limits on authority

    “Limits imposed and enforced by whom?”

    By agreements between rulers and the ruled.

  • Zippy says:

    Gunner Q:
    Agreement between parties is not (and cannot be) a source of authority. This can easily be seen by noting that, for an agreement to be morally binding, each party must already possess the authority in question.

  • “Because rights are empowering, more of them means more freedom to our short-circuited modern minds.”

    Yes, precisely. It begins with the illusion of empowerment but arrives at tyranny.

    It can be confusing because “rights” are usually perceived as “good” things. You have the “right” to health insurance…you can’t afford to buy. Women have the right to choose…to kill their children.

  • halt94 says:

    Rights are like credit cards. It’s easy to use them without thinking about what it really means to use them, but the reality will always hit us.

    https://notalwaysright.com/this-is-why-were-in-a-recession-part-40/42863

  • Mike T says:

    Agreement between parties is not (and cannot be) a source of authority. This can easily be seen by noting that, for an agreement to be morally binding, each party must already possess the authority in question.

    You have noted that state authority is not monolithic. The relationship between authorities is not monolithic and set in stone either. In the modern UK, the Parliament actually does have the real authority to check the king or queen.

    Limits imposed and enforced by whom?

    Limits on authority don’t need a natural enforcer to be real.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    You really don’t see that that is irrelevant? Should I spell it out (again)?

  • Zippy says:

    Maybe a metaphor will help.

    Bilbo in the deep past used the One Ring to do good: to wit, to defeat the spiders in Mirkwood and save his friends’ lives.

    Boromir just wants to do the same sort of thing: to reclaim the use of the One Ring to do good, not evil. What could possibly be wrong with that? It has been done before, so why mustn’t we do it now?

    Rights are not “limits on authority” in some manner which is distinct from the fact that the existence of any legitimate authority or moral principle places, by its very existence, limits on other authorities.

    So yes, even the “rights of Englishmen” is just question-begging: a circuit breaker for the mind.

  • TomD says:

    Randomly, behold!

  • Zippy says:

    TomD:

    Now you can see how the wires connect in my brain.

  • Zippy says:

    TomD:
    I think you just ably demonstrated the old adage: if you want to waste a narcissist’s time, hand him a mirror.

  • Mike T says:

    A property owner has the authority to eject trespassers without everyone insisting that he has to give good reasons for why he is doing so.

    And that authority is based on what? Where did that authority originate?

  • Zippy says:

    Me:
    The X conception of the nature of rabbits and their origins is wrong, as can be seen from this long litany of facts and arguments.

    Objection:
    But where do rabbits come from?

    Me:
    No answer to that question can take away or cast a single iota of doubt upon a single one of the problems I have pointed out with the X conception of the nature of rabbits and their origins.

  • Mike T says:

    It wasn’t an objection. It was a simple question. Is that authority from the king, from nature or a combination?

    You have yourself said that you have no real unified, concrete theory of authority. So I am asking you a simple question. You have called it authority. I am asking what is the source of that authority as that very much does actually define the nature of the authority. If it is from the king, then the king cannot ever injure the property owner in that respect because the authority always belonged to the king.

  • Mike T says:

    Not define it in its entirety, but is a crucial aspect of the definition anyway.

  • Mike T says:

    (Sorry for the triple post)

    My answer would be a combination of nature and the king.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T;

    Very generally speaking, authority comes from the same origins and has the same (de)ontological grounds as rabbits: nature and nature’s God.

    But this post isn’t about the proximate origins of authority or its deontological grounds. It is about the semantic question-begging involved in using the term “rights” to refer to instances of discriminating authority and moral principle which particular liberals (including “rights of Englishmen” paleoliberals) prefer. It is about the lie involved in semantically short-circuiting our capacity to recognize that (putative and/or legitimate) assertions of discriminating authority by liberals – which they label “rights” – are in fact (legitimate or illegitimate) assertions of discriminating authority.

    Whether the rights of an owner of land derive strictly from and through the sovereign or, like fatherhood, have their own at least partially independent origins, is an interesting question. As is, for that matter, the question of how a world filled with just prokaryotes became a world with rabbits in it as a matter of causal chains.

    But those aren’t questions I am trying to answer here.

  • Mike T says:

    Let me try to explain what is confusing me here about your position on the limits of authority. You answered above “limited and imposed by whom?” In combination with the question about where the authority to keep trespassers off the land comes from, that raises some significant questions about the state’s authority. If the ruler decides he can use anyone’s property whenever and however he pleases, either that is an infringement upon the owner’s authority or it is not. Then if it is, how and how much of one.

    If the property owner’s authority flows downward from the state, then the state cannot ever injure him with respect to his property because the state has merely delegated every claim of authority over the property to him. If the owner has his own authority arising from nature and regulated by law and custom, then the question is how does one delineate boundaries on the various rights (I am referring to legal rights ex. mineral rights, right of sale, etc.) and authority claims?

    It is not question begging, but how do you actually approach this to draw a more concrete understanding to define proper limits?

  • Mike T says:

    Hah. You must have posted right after I refreshed…

    Whether the rights of an owner of land derive strictly from and through the sovereign or, like fatherhood, have their own at least partially independent origins, is an interesting question. As is, for that matter, the question of how a world filled with just prokaryotes became a world with rabbits in it as a matter of causal chains.

    But those aren’t questions I am trying to answer here.

    How liberals mean it is certainly problematic, but I think you have to answer that “interesting question” to really get at the problem of “rights” in a way that liberalism can be deconstructed. They are asserting a discriminating authority, but some of the things liberalism most strongly clings to are related to some important questions on the limits of authority and who has what authority. So taking that on and having a framework to deconstruct their rights-talk and address the issues within a better framework is necessary to answering rights-talk.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Resolving competing authority claims is generically what politics is all about. As far as I can tell you are basically insisting that we have to have and present some alternative political theory before it is possible to show that liberalism is incoherent (with all that that incoherence implies).

    But it isn’t just false that we have to have an alternative theory to liberalism before we can show that liberalism is not just incoherent but murderously so and on unprecedented scales; though it is that.

    It is also bad tactics to basically concede the point as a practical matter by advancing some specific theory for liberals to attack — especially when I don’t have one. I don’t know the details of how rabbits came to be, but I know that the neodarwinian mythology — that if you breed enough generations of bacteria in the presence of cosmic rays you’ll get rabbits and the whole ecosystem which supports them — is empirically falsified nonsense supported by fideistic scientism.

  • Not intending to interrupt here, but this is one thing that makes liberalism incoherent,

    “They are asserting a discriminating authority, but some of the things liberalism most strongly clings to are related to some important questions on the limits of authority and who has what authority”

    The government has authority which then must establish rights to protect you from their authority, and should your discriminating authority be violated in some way, you will need to make an appeal to the authoritarian entity that caused you to need protection from the authoritarian entity in the first place.

  • halt94 says:

    The problem with using rights in our discussion of discriminating authority is that it hides the fact that it is an authority. The reason they say “rights” instead of “discriminating authority” is that that they are trying to avoid the fact that authority exists and they have obligations with respect to it. They do not think they are asserting a discriminating authority. While liberals frequently refer to “discriminating authority” as “rights, talk of “rights” isn’t inherently a liberalism problem, any justification of authority that speaks of itself in terms of rights will have to deal with the fact that using that word detracts and distracts from the idea of authority. So the point isn’t to try to deconstruct liberalism by getting rid of the verbiage; the verbiage is just a symptom that can be treated by refusing to frame the discussion in terms of “rights.”

  • TomD says:

    When an authority abuses you, the only appeal is to a higher authority. Even the founders saw that clearly through their haze of liberalism.

    And if the higher authority responds not, you suffer, and count it joy to suffer as Christ suffered; for the salvation of others.

    This podcast was quite informative; fit right in with understanding what the job of a follower is.

  • Mike T says:

    IB,

    I never said anything about appealing to the state for protection against the state.

  • Mike T says:

    And if the higher authority responds not, you suffer, and count it joy to suffer as Christ suffered; for the salvation of others.

    Depending on the context, this reminds me of a question I once asked a Christian pacifist who said the same thing about an armed robber. What about the little old widow who lives next door? Once he/his gang are done with you, what is to stop them from preying on her? Being a martyr for one’s faith is a different matter than being a victim of ordinary crime or tyranny. Pol Pot probably liquidated more than a few Christians, but I doubt he really cared about their religion. There are ways to stand up to an abusive authority that still show God’s love.

  • “I never said anything about appealing to the state for protection against the state.”

    Sorry. But you did say, “some of the things liberalism most strongly clings to are related to some important questions on the limits of authority and who has what authority.”

    The state has that authority. Always. Myself, I prefer the idea of being “endowed by your Creator” much better, which is how I would respond to your other point,

    “There are ways to stand up to an abusive authority that still show God’s love.”

    You make sure you are operating under God’s authority because there simply is no polite and loving way to confront a thug in that context. You either fight or you surrender.

  • Mike T says:

    The state has that authority. Always. Myself, I prefer the idea of being “endowed by your Creator” much better, which is how I would respond to your other point,

    No, the state does not by the very nature of the question. Take “freedom of speech” as an example. Freedom of speech does still refer to questions on precisely when it is legitimate for a state authority to stop speech or punish speakers. The state cannot set its own natural boundaries on that because that is completely circular reasoning. So it is a question of precisely what rules, principles, etc. might be there for ascertaining the relationship between private speech and public authority.

    Take Germany for instance. Merkel wants to ban criticism of her and her pet migrants, even going so far as to criminally prosecute her own police for stating two obvious facts: yes, the migrants are responsible for a wave of serious crime and yes, we are being ordered to lie to you about that.

    Given what that situation is, I would not agree at all that she has any authority to stop people from speaking the truth, and her every act aimed at censorship is morally criminally given what it is doing and what it is aiming to abet.

    You make sure you are operating under God’s authority because there simply is no polite and loving way to confront a thug in that context.

    I disagree. A coworker once told me a story about his confrontation between him and a very young thug. He saw the thug strutting over to him and knew the teen was trouble. The thug was too obvious in his hostility and reaching for his gun, so my coworker got the drop on him with his own concealed handgun and held him at gun point. I can’t remember the details on precisely how it ended (been at least 10 years now), but the bottom line was he gave the thug a choice between attempting violence and walking away from it. The thug chose wisely and whether he was arrested or walked away, he gave the thug precisely the same choice that God gives us: “choose life that you might live, choose death and you will die.”

  • Zippy says:

    The problem in Germany isn’t Merkel attacking “free speech”; the problem is her liberalism.

  • “The state cannot set its own natural boundaries on that because that is completely circular reasoning.”

    Wouldn’t circular reasoning be another way of describing something incoherent? I never said it made sense or that it was just and moral, it just is what it is. The state gives free speech rights and the state takes them away.

    “Given what that situation is, I would not agree at all that she has any authority to stop people from speaking the truth..”

    Ah, I see what you are doing. You’re applying a moral judgment, so authority must be valid, just, or it doesn’t have the authority. I tend to look at authority more as good or bad, who holds the power and legal authority. In my opinion, natural rights, God given rights, trump all earthly authority.

    “….but the bottom line was he gave the thug a choice between attempting violence and walking away from it.”

    I am certainly all about non violence, mercy, kindness, but your story doesn’t change the truth of what I said. Had your young thug not received grace, there would have been no “polite and loving” way to shoot him. God’s authority, natural law, grants you the right to self preservation, or NOT, depending on the situation. There are martyrs and also pacifists, perhaps civil disobedience too.

  • Zippy says:

    As long as the “defense” against liberalism is framed as more (but authentic, of course) liberalism (e.g. “free speech”), you are just willingly dancing the Hegelian Mambo. Or, as the kids say these days (often ironically, from my POV), embracing your inner cuck.

  • Zippy says:

    This is how and why conservatism always fails. Look at the barren wreckage of Christendom, at the utter triumph of liberalism as Rex Mundi over all of the earth, and understand that this defeat was self inflicted.

    Rather than resisting liberalism directly and unequivocally, conservatives are always trying to invoke liberalism to resist specific policies which they don’t like or which are harmful. (“We need free speech to resist SJW’s and globalists!”)

    Because liberalism is the one thing upon which almost all modern people agree, deploying liberal arguments sometimes has the temporary effect of gaining short term, local, phyrric victories for conservatives on specific matters of policy. If short term, local, mostly symbolic victories were impossible then there would be no temptation to grasp at the One Ring. It seems to be the only “practical” option.

    But of course all of this just reinforces and strengthens liberalism itself. Meet the new cuck, same as the old cuck, selling out his legacy for table scraps.

  • Zippy says:

    I do understand the excitement that younger people feel about the “Trump revolution”. The cycle of things is long enough in terms of human lifetimes that it easy to be head-faked by a “new conservatism”.

    But those of us who lived through the “Reagan revolution” as young adults, at least those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear, have seen this play before. There is no “practical”, liberalism-lite, bring-back-the-80’s option. There is only the choice to resist liberalism directly and unequivocally or prostrate yourself before it. There is only repentance or damnation, and damnation is always the easier and wider road.

    Some kids were watching the movie Back to the Future the other day, and I realized that to those kids the 80’s – when the movie came out – were further in the past for them than the 50’s (the sock hop past into which Marty McFly goes in the time machine) were for me when I watched that movie in the 80’s. The Reagan revolution invoked a kind of false nostalgia in us for the 1950’s — for a time before we were even born. I think the Trump revolution invokes a similar false nostalgia for the 80’s in many folks.

    But trust me, you don’t want to go back to the 80’s. How do you think we got here in the first place?

  • Zippy says:

    If you search for “anti-gravity hill” you get some fun youtube videos of the effect Terry Morris mentions upthread.

  • “Meet the new cuck, same as the old cuck, selling out his legacy for table scraps.”

    Or as the old song goes, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss….we won’t get fooled again?”

    Trump appealed to many people’s desire for visible authority, don’t you think? In some ways he is a rejection of liberalism and conservative liberalism. Regan brought us the good news, “it’s morning in America,” but Trump, he brought us deplorables and we don’t care anymore, we just want the biggest, baddest we can find, to protect us from what has been happening. That strikes me as somewhat hopeful, at least in terms of many people starting to see some flaws in liberal ideology, starting to question it.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Trump appealed to many people’s desire for visible authority, don’t you think?

    Modern men love bad boys, because people have a natural need for authority but liberalism makes authority sociopathic.

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/why-are-men-in-love-with-bad-boys/

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/yes-modern-men-really-do-love-bad-boys/

  • donnie says:

    Modern men love bad boys, because people have a natural need for authority but liberalism makes authority sociopathic.

    Leftists on the other hand can’t tolerate bad boy behavior. However, they are much more receptive when the same bad behavior comes from a woman.

    (P.S. Do read the linked article in its entirety, it is truly fascinating)

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Thanks, I’ve seen that going around. Leftists actually believe that men are held to a lower standard than women in public life and can get away with more qua men — as patently ridiculous as that is, viewed objectively. Just another opposite day on the holodeck.

    Some have the honesty to be disquieted by the experiment, to their personal credit.

  • GJ says:

    donnie:

    Leftists on the other hand can’t tolerate bad boy behavior.

    Wrong.

  • Interesting links, Zippy. I agree with your assessment, men love bad boys, but than things grow complex, because a whole lot of men seem to believe they are all good guys. So much for total depravity, apparently there are a whole lot of worthy and sin free men in the world.

    So what’s the difference between a good guy and a bad guy? Bad guys are not deceived into believing they are good? That lack of self deception can be very appealing to women. So Trump rode in on a wave of, “I know I am, what of it?” But does that truly make him a “bad” guy in a moral sense? Are we grading on a curve here of men in general? Why is Bill Clinton perceived as “good” in many circles, while Trump is “bad?”

    I honestly don’t have the answers and I apologize for sharing my confusion. It’s somewhat amusing, I went out and married the baddest boy I could find and he turned out to be a rare gem, a real treasure. I let those same instincts work with Trump, voting for him in the hopes of getting a similar result.

    “…liberalism makes authority sociopathic.”

    Completely agree. But doesn’t liberalism also often label our good guys “bad” and our bad guys “good?”

  • Zippy says:

    GJ raises a good counterpoint. Murder millions of people under right liberalism, and you are a demon. Murder millions under left liberalism and you are either a hero or No True Leftist.

    Profanity warning:

  • Zippy says:

    In other words, what leftists cannot stand is not ‘bad boys.’ They loved themselves some Bill Clinton, and Che Guevara t-shirts are everywhere. Contrast wearing a pro-Hitler shirt to Starbucks, to wearing the ubiquitous Che shirt.

    What leftists cannot stand is anything which they perceive to be non-leftist – including the right liberalism which cleans up after their drunken orgies and lionizes the very political philosophy which gives rise to them, to make sure that they can continue forever and ever into the end of history, in saecula saeculorum, amen.

    What leftists cannot stand is the oppressor-untermench, for which there can only be some sort of Final Solution, because until the Final Solution is complete the less than human Low Man tyrants will block the achievement of freedom and equality of rights for the New Man, self created through reason and will, emancipated from the chains of history, tradition, patriarchy, so-called ‘nature’ (which more often than not is just the question-begging will of tyrants), “organized” religion (invented to oppress and enslave), and the benighted prejudice that any human being is ever better than any other or ever has the authority to tell anyone else what to do.

    What leftists cannot stand is a non-leftist reality, which is to say, reality.

  • donnie says:

    What leftists cannot stand is a non-leftist reality, which is to say, reality.

    This reminds me of something Malachi Martin once said regarding demons and exorcisms. He said that in Hell demons experience the true absence of God, and thus in Hell there is no ground of being. Without God’s presence there is no logic, no order – only pure, unadulterated madness and chaos. The demons in Hell are tortured by this, and simultaneously both desire and despise any semblance of reality and order. They desire it as a means to relieve their sufferings, but they despise it because it requires God’s presence, whom they despise.

    Food for thought.

  • What you both say about the end result is scary, but I reached a similar conclusion. It all becomes this dystopian sci/fi nightmare were we first destroy marriage, redefine gender, then start splicing 3 way dna for designer babies, and end up merging people with machines, recreating ourselves not in the image of God, but in an image we find more appealing and powerful. Our biology must first be conquered, improved in our will to power. Unfortunately our biology is also our design, what gives us our humanity, what makes us human.

    As Zippy said, “the New Man, self created through reason and will, emancipated from the chains of history, tradition, patriarchy, so-called ‘nature.’” Yes. But the New Man has a built in self destruct feature. To create the New Man, we must erase our old selves in the process. That’s the nature of unrestrained human will, it doesn’t stop until it has destroyed everything in it’s path, including our own selves. It eats itself from the tail up.

    I do not believe things ever go that far,I believe God has intellectual property rights to us, if you will, and intervenes. But that really is my dystopian nightmare,the Final Solution that Zippy speaks of.

  • Mike T says:

    The problem in Germany isn’t Merkel attacking “free speech”; the problem is her liberalism.

    The bigger problem is her liberalism, but a very specific problem that is inexcusable with her actions is her attempts to forcefully suppress criticism of her liberal policies which are killing Germany. Particularly when she is jailing her own people for revealing that she and her people are outright lying and manipulating the public toward an end destructive toward the future of Germany. No leader has the authority to do such a thing to their people.

  • Zippy says:

    I understand. In order to fight liberalism, we need our own liberalism. We have no choice but to use the One Ring.

  • Alex says:

    Mike T, I dunno if this helps with your question, but in the Summa Theologiae, Saint Thomas Aquinas stated in the Secunda Secundae, Question 66, Article 2 (link) that ownership is part of positive law, and therefore subject (or at least that is how I understand it) to the will of the state.

    Which is not, I believe, to say that the state should be able to toy with other people’s property without worries. The authority the state has belongs to it only in order for it (again, as I understand it) to act as a minister of the common good.

    For instance, ruining a person’s life for petty reasons is clearly against that good. However, we aren’t given any kind of tool to enforce this. If a disgruntled sovereign desired to ruin you by confiscating almost all of your possessions, you wouldn’t really have any tools to validly resist him except what positive law might grant you.

    On the other hand, you might be able to argue that resisting this move would be necessary because it would put you in jeopardy according to natural law, instead of just positive law. For instance, if the move would truly leave you without the means to survive, you would have the right by natural law to resist how you can in order to at least survive.

    Another example might be that, while natural law might not really give you the right to “free speech”, any positive law that prevents people from learning about Christianity would be against positive law, and therefore could be validly resisted.

  • TomD says:

    No! We will choose Zippy to carry it into the fires of Okham where it was forged and throw it in!

  • Mike T says:

    I understand. In order to fight liberalism, we need our own liberalism. We have no choice but to use the One Ring.

    So you are saying that Merkel does have the authority to spread official lies and demand people be obedient to them under penalty of imprisonment or worse.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Obviously what I am saying is that we should torture kittens and drink turpentine.

  • Patrick says:

    Zippy is more of an Elrond figure: “You have only one choice: the ring must be destroyed.” The other people at the council shouting at each other represent various groups opposed to Liberalism (or to whoever it is that wields liberalism like the One Ring). The ring bearer will have to be someone no one expects and who generally gets along with all the factions. I thinking it’ll be a congenial eastern rite Catholic from a poor country.

  • TomD says:

    Well, you have my axe.

    (Not saying I’m opposed to drinking kittens and torturing turpentine, btw.)

  • halt94 says:

    You can’t leave pippin out! You need people of intelligence in the party.

  • Mike T says:

    Agreement between parties is not (and cannot be) a source of authority. This can easily be seen by noting that, for an agreement to be morally binding, each party must already possess the authority in question.

    If treated as an oath, I don’t think that’s a problem in principle. An oath made between two people in the presence of God is morally binding on both of them with the punishment for breaking the oath in bad faith being facing God’s justice.

    I wouldn’t apply that to the social contract theory, but it would be applicable in cases like the unionization of the Soviet states, the Act of Union of 1707 and the ratification of the US Constitution where the parties involved actually were competent authorities in their territories and agreed by mutual understanding to undertake a merger of sorts.

  • Mike T says:

    ** Ex. when the the states ratified the US Constitution, it required no consent from “the people” as the states were competent authorities able to bind their people to obedience to the US Constitution’s structure and outcome. However, the states themselves are bound to obedience to federal law in an inter-authority sense not as subordinates, but as parties to an oath. You as a citizen are bound to federal law through the hierarchy of authority that goes up through your state to the US Government. However, your state is not corporately under the same authority, even if its authorities in their personal capacities are.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    The contention wasn’t that agreements are impossible. The contention was that agreement is not the source of authority. In order to be a morally binding agreement the parties must already possess the authority in question. Bob and Fred agreeing that they own Ted’s car doesn’t legitimize stealing the car.

  • Zippy says:

    And of course agreements subject to “no fault divorce” are no agreement at all.

  • […] same goes for liberalism and – depending on where you feel the lines should be drawn – its close modernist […]

  • […] on the part of the trader and the obligations demanded of ownership. The focus is rather on his rights to do as he pleases with his property rather than the obligations and duties he has for that […]

  • Mike T says:

    Alex,

    I think it depends entirely on the nature of the particular sovereign when and how much resistance to injustice is justified. Most unjust sovereigns in Western history have been generally content with more petty tyranny that provides avenues for avoidance or escape. Though more modern ones can require nothing less than to fight like a cornered animal for what is at stake. A quote that sums it up…

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

    It’s easy to say one should have suffered like Christ here, but Solzhenitsyn certainly had a point about Stalin, and it is not as though Stalin was squeamish about mass murdering families as well.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Back to my last point, I am actually curious now if it is possible for a “sovereign merger” to have authority over the constituent members and their subjects without it coming as one or more submitting to one in particular. So like our own union or the Soviet Union coming together by a treaty that established a federal superstate over the soviet republics.

    In those cases, it’s not one submitting to another, but several states “mutually submitting” by consent to a new super state. Any thoughts on that?

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Any thoughts on that?

    Offhand it strikes me as having some similarities to getting married, or more specifically to a widower with kids marrying a widow with kids Brady Bunch style.

    Not an impossibility, in other words, but a momentous and likely irreversible step not to be taken lightly.

  • […] in a political context are in fact simply particular, concrete, actual exercises of authority which bind subjects – all those subject to that authority – to cooperation and obedience. “Freedoms” or […]

  • […] It is of course common to equivocate here: to suggest that liberalism merely says (tautologically) that people ought to have the available choices that they ought to have, and sets one purpose of authority to be insuring that subjects are really able to choose what they ought to be really able to choose.  These “things subjects really ought to be able to choose” – with the support of those in authority – we label “rights”. […]

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