How to titrate a Final Solution

July 29, 2017 § 70 Comments

First assume that any theory is better than no theory at all; even when the theory in question is manifestly and demonstrably destructive, evil, deceptive, and just plain wrong.  The important thing is that in the hierarchy of answers we accept, admitting ignorance and expressing a willingness to accept reality as it is, is at the bottom of the list.

The magic question of modernity is “what alternative do we have?”  Failure to answer this in a way that the questioner finds satisfactory is disqualifying.

Once we have an answer it is time to fire up war machines, ovens, and murder factories to deal with the discrepancies between theory and reality.

§ 70 Responses to How to titrate a Final Solution

  • LarryDickson says:

    I would say the magic question of modernity is “How do we solve the problem?” But that leads to the same conclusions Zippy reached. A concomitant is the instant news media, which magnifies each problem hundreds of millions of times in so many minds, when by nature it should have only a local effect.

    The key problem is that such a question carries the assumption that there is a complete solution, which can be enforced by law. This is the old legalist error (think Pharisees) – dates back to the Renaissance for our purposes (read Regine Pernoud). The ultimate expression of it will be Artificial Intelligence, which scares even some secular figures like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, and rightly so.

    Once you accept the question and its underlying assumption, you are trapped in dystopian hell, as Zippy correctly points out. Our counter-proposal should be to restore to the people the power to solve each problem as it comes along. If you follow that out logically, you have to ask what “the people” are, since what you offer has to be adapted to each little cluster of them. And that leads back to human nature and God.

    Here’s a suggestion on how to get started: ask how does Afghanistan work? Vast amounts of invincible ignorance, wars, terrific problems, massive corrupt foreign interference – but look up a chart of their population! They brought down the Soviet empire and have shaken ours, and two layers of countries in the old Soviet Union bear their imprint, like cracks spreading from a hammer blow. And if you meet them (as we and several friends of ours have been privileged to do), they are fine people, always ready to share a cup of tea with you.

  • Bingo. When I tried to argue how consent of the governed was a nonsensical basis of authority, the talk switched to “What is your alternative?”

    I said “Philosophically? Not sure how to work it out, I’m sure Aquinas said something. But practically it’s not hard.”

    The response was “Well we need an alternative so I guess consent of the governed until then.”

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson:

    Be careful, you are so close to the “power to the people, authentic freedom is subsidiarity” pit that you are waving your arms to keep from falling in.

    Relevant:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/subsidiarity-and-freedom-are-unrelated/

  • Titrate is an excellent word choice. In nursing it means to adjust one’s meds,like how we might prescribe blood thinners, but we don’t want you to cut yourself shaving and bleed to death,so we titrate the dose. If you are about to have a stroke, we don’t just scrap the whole idea of meds however,concluding that meds can be dangerous. We weigh risks and benefits, make adjustments.

    Larry said, “How do we solve the problem?” One symptom of the problem with modern people is that everything in life is perceived as a problem to be solved. As a result of that mindset,we often remove personal responsibility and consequences. For example,having children alone without fathers tends to create poverty,so we perceive poverty as something we must now fix,the world being brutal and full of malice to have inflicted such unjust harm on us.

    We are like extremists seeking quick fixes and easy answers,linear thinkers, as if there are only two options available,death and starvation for single moms or mandated socialism and forced charity. The personal really has become political,so we tend to be very reactionary.

  • LarryDickson says:

    In the post he referenced, Zippy said, “Subsidiarity is messy hierarchical organic authority.” I totally agree, and therefore subsidiarity is identical with political freedom, exercised morally. There is no freedom without authority (e.g. “A man’s house is his castle”) because, as human beings, we take up space, have needs and timelines, and must defend against predators.

    The liberal’s rejection of authority is always a rejection of morality. Therefore the real issue is acceptance of moral authority, whether in the form of natural law or of God’s commandments.

    But a key point (with respect of subsidiarity) is that almost all the secular authority we need is provided within the normal family home, and almost all of the rest can be arranged by a meeting of neighbors. (Read Toward a Truly Free Market by John Medaille.) The gigantism of modern authority is a result of immoralism acted upon by runaway legalism (e.g. these modern magic questions) combined with instant communication.

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson:

    In the post he referenced, Zippy said, “Subsidiarity is messy hierarchical organic authority.” I totally agree, and therefore subsidiarity is identical with political freedom, exercised morally.

    And back down the rabbit hole we go.

  • “I totally agree, and therefore subsidiarity is identical with political freedom, exercised morally.”

    I think part of the conundrum is, can freedom really be exercised morally? Not so much, IMO. In the paradox of faith, I often speak of “freedom in Christ,” but that really just means, being bound to Him, claimed, owned, the opposite of our perceptions of “freedom” really. We’ve been “set free” from chaos,confusion, a lack of authority,no standards, etc.

  • Wood says:

    I totally agree, and therefore subsidiarity is identical with political freedom, exercised morally.

    It’s interesting how closely this tracks to Ayn Rand’s position that in a “properly rational” society there are no conflicts of interest. But there are obviously good faith disputes (conflicts of interest) among moral people and appeals to “morality” or “rationality” are incapable of resolving. And what tends to happen in this frame is that each disputant claims the other isn’t moral enough (or rational enough in Rand’s terminology).

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson wrote:

    … almost all the secular authority we need is provided within the normal family home, and almost all of the rest can be arranged by a meeting of neighbors.

    I am going to put that in a frame on the wall at my unicorn ranch.

  • John says:

    I totally agree, and therefore subsidiarity is identical with political freedom, exercised morally. There is no freedom without authority

    One of the things that I've been ruminating about is the huge difference between authority as it is in principle and authority as it is in practice.

    Now authority means that a sovereign can limit a list of potential goods so that the subjects are morally obligated to be obedient to him and chose one specific good or have their list of goods be limited. In principle, an authority can severely limit the amount of options the subjects can chose from, but in practice, this is exceptionally rare.

    The pope could in principle bind the believers to do certain arbitrary things or to pray this or that specific prayer for whatever reason in whatever fashion, but this is almost never the case.

    Rather, the Church choses to exercise it's authority rather sparingly and mostly rules with a light-hand.

    Now of course, a sovereign can in some cases morally oblige a subject to do a completely arbitrary exercise for the simple sake of demonstrating obedience, but this is always done sparingly with only a very small amount of commands that need to be fulfilled, and there is in most cases a reward for such obedience as well; and the next time the sovereign issues arbitrary commands in order to demonstrate obedience happens either very far into the future, or doesn't even happen at all.

    It seems to be a big reason why modern people are so afraid of certain aspects or forms of authority is because of a huge lack of trust.

    They don't trust the sovereign enough in order to be obedient; they have this strange fantasy in their head that the sovereign will demand of them a large amount of arbitrary exercises and will constantly interfere and restrict their freedom and happiness.

    The fact is that this is almost never the case; the sovereign always does things within reasonable limits and even when he wants the loyalty of the subject demonstrated through following arbitrary commands, this is also done within reasonable limits and the subject is even informed that this is the case; plus the sovereign in many cases explicitly promises a reward as well.

    The main idea that the subject should have is this: Get over it. It's not so bad. I'm not even asking much. And you will even be rewarded.

    But moderns have this weird trust issue with authority; always imagining the worst and never being optimistic about the results.

    They believe that obeying authority will end up with them being restricted in the future in an annoying fashion, thus demonstrating a lack of trust in authority.

  • [ In reply to this comment.

    Comments aren’t nested here, although some views of WordPress in the App and administrative interface will still display them as nested. This is a WordPress bug. So it is better to quote the actual words of the person to whom you are responding, unless you want your replies to have no context in the desktop and mobile web views. –Z ]

    Kind of like trying to repeal Obamacare without having a replacement.

  • No, not like that at all. Obamacare at the very least is a coherent idea; we know this because people use it.

    Consent of the governed is a big old nonsensical lie that people say they believe but can’t in practice.

  • Republics and Democracies do not operate with the consent of the governed? How do you figure?

  • Zippy says:

    I’d bet good money that most of the commenters here could play the part
    of winstonscrooge in any discussion erupting from this troll, accurately producing just the sort of thing he would say. But could winstonscrooge play the other part?

    Maybe he’d like to give it a try, and compose both sides of the dialogue accurately.

    I’ll start it off.

    ws: “Consent of the governed in a democracy means that representatives are elected by the citizens. Republics and Democracies therefore operate under consent of the governed, since representatives are elected. Monarchies and North Korea don’t operate under consent of the governed.”

    So, winstonscrooge, what do you think Malcolm or I would reply to this?

  • donnie says:

    Ah, fantastic! I love a good ideological Turing test!

    Out of fairness to Winston, though, I’m pretty sure he’s not a troll. He could easily be me from a few years ago. I remember stumbling across this blog ages ago and thinking, “what the hell is this quack talking about?” but I didn’t care enough to comment back then. Understanding how warped liberalism takes a long time, something I think most folks here know from experience.

  • What does consent of the governed have to do with criticizing liberalism without suggesting a better way to replace it (in the same way that the Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare without having anything to replace it).

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    What does …

    No, no. You don’t get to drop your own trolls like that and start a new one, just because your last one took a turn you find inconvenient or difficult.

    Answer the ideological Turing test in good faith or no more comments get through.

  • donnie says:

    Winston,

    Liberalism is a vicious doctrine that infects and warps the thinking of everyday people in a way that has disastrous ramifications on a large scale. It’s something that people need to recognize and repent of. Our very philosophy of governance needs to be altered. Good needs to be understood as the end of politics, rather than Freedom.

    It’s not a piece of legislation like Obamacare or, even, the Constitution.

  • TomD says:

    @John – we should be much more afraid of what authority will permit us to do than what it will prohibit or force us to do.

  • Consent of the governed is very obviously not the basis of government. The concept makes no sense, and nobody acts like it does either.

    I was born in the U.S. I did not consent to that. It just happened. Yet I am obligated to obey the law of the United States. If I don’t consent to it I will be – rightfully – arrested.

    This on its own torpedoes the concept. Every other justification for it falls flat on its face after that simple detail is acknowledged.

  • What does consent of the governed have to do with criticizing liberalism without suggesting a better way to replace it (in the same way that the Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare without having anything to replace it).

    Let’s rephrase this with something that makes just as much sense:

    What do the colorless green ideas sleeping furiously have to do with criticizing liberalism without suggesting a better way to replace it (in the same way that the Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare without having anything to replace it).

    Now do you get it?

  • Rhetocrates says:

    If consent of the governed were the true basis of any form of government, that government would very quickly collapse. The whole essence of government is being able to force people to do things they’d rather not.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Re: consent of the governed: From the Declaration:

    …that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    Consent of the governed means that I – the governed – tacitly acquiesce to government powers and authority I consider unjust to keep my *ss out of prison.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Donnie:

    Good needs to be understood as the end of politics, rather than Freedom.

    Absolutely! Mr. Webster would agree with you. See here:

    http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Politics

    Note that the word “freedom” is nowhere to be found in that definition.

  • Consent does not mean individual consent but rather the consent of the governed as a whole. Revolutions actually happen therefore the governed are capable of removing a government if it collectively desires. (Hopefully Zippy will allow this comment to go through).

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    Consent does not mean individual consent but rather the consent of the governed as a whole. Revolutions actually happen therefore the governed are capable of removing a government if it collectively desires. (Hopefully Zippy will allow this comment to go through).

    You have to finish the thought:

    … and therefore the governments of North Korea, Nazi Germany, every monarchy, and any government which governs at all, operates under consent of the governed while governing in this tautological sense. This tautological concept of “consent of the governed” in operation is incapable of distinguishing any society from any other, and in particular does not distinguish liberal societies from illiberal societies.

  • It’s not meant to do that. It simply acknowledges the truth that in order for any government to function there must be some buy in by the governed.

  • Zippy says:

    John:

    But moderns have this weird trust issue with authority; always imagining the worst and never being optimistic about the results.

    Moderns want a guarantee that authority will never be abused. It is an understandable desire I think, like a desire for guaranteed health or a guaranteed secure investment or a guarantee that a spouse will never cheat or fall away from the faith.

    These utopian desires are in themselves understandable precisely because reality doesn’t work that way: because the fears which give rise to these desires are rooted in reality, where there are no guarantees even from one moment to the next. Entropy is always doing its thing to our property and our bodies, other human beings (including those with authority) are painfully dysfunctional, and the breakdown of health ending in death gets closer with every minute and could happen in an instant.

    The irony is that in pursuing these utopianisms via political liberalism, modernity creates the opposite of what it promises. Even the free and equal superman ultimately has to die and face his Maker, has to account for all the blood spilt into the mortar mix for the Tower of Babel.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    [The consent of the governed principle] is not meant to [distinguish any society from any other]. It simply acknowledges the truth that in order for any government to function there must be some buy in by the governed.

    You agree, then, that North Korea currently operates (and Nazi Germany operated) under government by consent of the governed?

  • Yes. And when their current regime is toppled it will demonstrate that enough of the governed was no longer willing to consent to their current form of government.

  • Zippy says:

    So “consent of the governed” is something that is true by definition of all governments in all situations, whether that government governs justly or unjustly, liberally or illiberally

    So what is that word “just” doing in the phrase “the just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed”, if the principle doesn’t say anything about the justness of governance?

    And why is your tautological use of the term different from the way the term is used in political philosophy, where it is not an observation of something true of all functioning governments all the time but rather acts as a discriminating attribute of just government? Could it be that there is an equivocation going on: that the tautological form of the concept is one to which liberals retreat when the incoherence of the principle as the putative justification of liberal rule in particular is exposed?

  • I’m not claiming to speak on behalf of all liberals. This is just how I have always thought about it. However, I think this take fits with the language you quoted. Because government is fundamentally based upon the consent of the governed it makes sense that the “buy in” of the governed is made formal through elections and other democratic practice.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    Because government is fundamentally based upon the consent of the governed it makes sense that the “buy in” of the governed is made formal through elections and other democratic practice.

    So contrary to what you said before (in your July 30, 2017 at 9:09 am comment), your understanding of the principle is not merely descriptive but is also prescriptive.

  • The fatal flaw in the concept of “consent of the governed” is the bizarre idea that the governing party (or parties) can’t or don’t tell the governed what they should or shouldn’t consent to in the first place. Walter Lippmann conclusively debunked that idea roughly a century ago.

    Go ahead, demand freedom from authority. (whatever that means) Just like authority taught you to.

  • donnie says:

    It simply acknowledges the truth that in order for any government to function there must be some buy in by the governed.

    How is this any different from the idea that “might makes right”? If any state not currently in the midst of a civil war has consent of the governed, doesn’t this reduce the idea of “just powers” to “whoever has the most power gets to decide what is just”?

  • King Richard says:

    CCC Ch 2 Art 2, etc.
    “…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.”

  • Ah yes, that’s generally the first redirect I see, along with “But you can move if you really really want to so you do consent to the government!”

    Tell you what. If all “consent of the governed” really means is that just enough people don’t hate the government badly enough to rebel, yes, technically every single society that hasn’t overthrown their government has consent of the governed as the basis of its government.

    Of course, if consent of the governed is the basis of government, then that means that almost all rebellions against the government are, in fact, justified. I wonder if winstonscrooge would be willing to concede that point?

  • I’m not sure I understand the nature of the contradiction you feel exists in what I have written. I would say that the descriptive and prescriptive aspects are complimentary not contradictory.

  • Zippy says:

    Malcolm:

    Of course, if consent of the governed is the basis of government, then that means that almost all rebellions against the government are, in fact, justified.

    Like, for example, the democratic elections that put the Nazis into power in Weimar Germany.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    I would say that the descriptive and prescriptive aspects are complimentary not contradictory.

    You claimed that there was no discriminatory prescriptive aspect: that the “consent of the governed” principle was merely an observation which “simply acknowledges” – your words – something which you admit holds true of all functioning governments. You made that claim when the prescriptive, discriminatory aspect came under criticism as obviously false and self contradictory. Instead of actually addressing substantive criticism of the prescriptive and discriminating aspect of the doctrine you retreated into the rhetorical motte of a merely descriptive-of-all-governments tautology.

  • John says:

    @Zippy

    Moderns want a guarantee that authority will never be abused. It is an understandable desire I think, like a desire for guaranteed health or a guaranteed secure investment or a guarantee that a spouse will never cheat or fall away from the faith.

    In my opinion, the fear that many moderns have of authority is as justified as the fear of having a cheating spouse or that your parents will betray you.

    Because once one entrusts himself to the authority, one realises that the authority doesn't bite, is kind to you, and rarely, if at all, issues arbitrary commands, and even allows you a lot of what you could call ''freedom''.

    It reminds me of what Garrigou Lagrange said:

    ''The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes, and is tolerant in practice because she loves. Enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they don't believe, and intolerant in practice because they do not love.''

  • Zippy says:

    John:

    An administrative request:

    Please stop doing that thing you are doing with greater-than and lesser-than characters. It plays havoc with WordPress and I have to fix up the comments to make them readable.

    To set apart citations of other peoples’ words, use <blockquote> tags. As you type it in it would look like the following:

    ——

    This is me writing my own words.

    <blockquote>This is some text that I am citing/quoting.</blockquote>

    This is me writing my own words again.

  • I don’t see a contradiction. Maybe if you could clearly explain your issue I could address it without guessing what you are trying to say.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    I don’t see a contradiction. Maybe if you could clearly explain your issue I could address it without guessing what you are trying to say.

    Your contradictory assertions aren’t my issue, they are your issue.

    The phrase “the just powers of government derive from the consent of the governed” either does or does not assert some prescriptive discrimination which distinguishes liberal governance from illiberal governance. It cannot simultaneously both assert and not assert a prescriptive distinction.

    You claimed that this phrase doesn’t assert any such discriminatory principle here on July 30, 2017 at 9:09 am , confirmed that here on July 30, 2017 at 9:26 am, and then averred that it does assert such a discriminatory principle here on July 30, 2017 at 9:43 am.

    That you can’t keep your various contentions consistent with each other isn’t my issue. It is your issue, and it follows from the fundamental incoherence of the doctrine you are attempting to defend.

  • The fact that successful revolutions and rebellions exist demonstrate that government requires the consent of the governed. Obviously, not all the governed need to consent but some significant portion does. Democratic forms of government create a system whereby this consent can be demonstrated on a regular basis.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Malcolm:

    Of course, if consent of the governed is the basis of government, then that means that almost all rebellions against the government are, in fact, justified.

    Zippy:

    Like, for example, the democratic elections that put the Nazis into power in Weimar Germany.

    Right. And especially those rebellions in which western nations take a straw poll of the subjects of non-western, non-democratic governments, declare them ripe for revolution, and assist them in overthrowing the reigning regime. Them’s the best kind!

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    Democratic forms of government create a system whereby this consent can be demonstrated on a regular basis.

    … therefore democratic forms of government are preferable.

    We (I and I am sure many commenters) knew that you thought this all along: that the consent principle prescriptively distinguishes between liberal and illiberal governance, contra your attempts to walk it back to mere description or to state the principle in the mildest and most ambiguous possible form to protect it from criticism.

    Back to the ideological Turing test as a gateway to further comments. Predict the substance of how I would respond to this. Accuracy is required to keep moderation open.

    [ winstonscrooge objected that he has not said that the consent principle distinguishes in any way between liberal and illiberal polities. However, his comment did not meet the criteria to pass through moderation. — Z ]

  • John says:

    @Zippy,

    Understood. Thanks for the advice.

  • King Richard says:

    What are we to conclude when the people in a Democracy who are in power received only 40% of the votes and the successful revolution against them was waged by the people who only received 20% of the votes?

  • Step2 says:

    Zippy
    Predict the substance of how I would respond to this.

    Based on your previous comment I guess you would restate that Nazis were democratically elected into power. Of course if the underlying problem for liberals is abuse of authority then it matters if the abuse can be addressed and possibly fixed by maintaining a regular measure of majority consent.

    Also from the CCC:
    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

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    Based on your previous comment I guess you would restate that Nazis were democratically elected into power.

    Not at all. I’d revisit the incoherence of consent-of-the-governed construed as anything other than true-by-definition.

  • Wood says:

    Step2,

    The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them.

    Aren’t you just equivocating on “the good” here and leaving the definition of the good ultimately to consent? But surely that doesn’t work for any meaningful definition of good. So shouldn’t the good be defined by an authority (the Good) and disputes decided by the arbiter of the Good as much as political disputes?

  • Zippy says:

    Wood,

    Whether the good is a given reality we must accept as given, or is something constructed by the human will (consent), is certainly a core issue. But a “consent of the governed” loyalist could make an epistemic move and claim that consent doesn’t imply the nonexistence of an objective Good, it merely suggests that getting the consent of the governed represents our most reliable way of accessing it.[*]

    This of course ignores the inherent contradiction in the attempt construct a just governance (which by definition overrides consent when the two conflict: that’s what jails are for) which is just because putatively consensual.

    ——

    [*] This ignores the problem of Arrow’s Theorem and the like which tell us that even if ranked preferences do represent our best guess at the objective good, no formal procedure is capable of producing the rational ranked preferences of a populace except under arbitrarily constrained circumstances which bear no resemblance to real life.

  • TomD says:

    I wonder if there’s a slight of hand somewhere in the “how does a government start” and a “how does it continue” distinction; a government can certainly start when a group decides (consents?) to have a leader; but the continued consent is not needed to continue that government. Something something conception is a moment; fatherhood is forever, something something.

  • John says:

    @Zippy,

    Just a question: Did you ever study law?

    Because it seems that, if one wants to criticise liberalism, it would be necessary to know how the law functions in a liberalistic country;how liberalism deals with a coup d’etat, how it deals with successful revolutions by a minority that overthrows the majority, how it deals with arbitrary sounding laws and regulations within the liberalist framework etc.

    I already know that you have a lot of experience when it comes to economics, but do you have experience with the actual law as prescribed in the US or broadly enough to include International Law?

    After all, a great many things can be learned if one were to see the substance of what law one is currently under, and how the legal perspective for all sorts of issues works out under liberalism.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Zippy:

    But a “consent of the governed” loyalist could make an epistemic move and claim that consent doesn’t imply the nonexistence of an objective Good, it merely suggests that getting the consent of the governed represents our most reliable way of accessing it.

    And he might be right if we were all angels.

  • Zippy says:

    John:

    I am not a lawyer. I considered getting a JD before I got my MBA (it was so long ago that I can’t remember if I took the LSAT, though I remember getting the books and studying for it). The latter did include some basic legal background (conlaw, business law, statutory continental law vs anglo common law, tort vs criminal, that sort of thing, again IIRC). I’ve produced lots of billable hours for lawyers.

    But I don’t really agree that a legal background is necessary to grasp what is wrong with liberalism. (I suppose a counterpoint is that the person who “red pilled” me on liberalism in the early 1990’s is in fact a lawyer who focused on legal history.)

    Liberal countries deal with coups and the like the same way any other country deals with them, as far as I can tell: the losers are convicted as traitors (usually rather perfunctorily) and executed.

    I actually don’t have a lot of experience with (macro)economics, a discipline I consider to be, roughly, the weather forecasting of property. I have a lot of experience with finance, that is, the contracts and capital structures involved in actual businesses.

    But enough about me. I think just about anyone can grasp what is wrong with liberalism, and that credentials of various kinds are often overrated and even more often tend to produce tunnel vision. A guy who actually is an expert in one narrow and focused thing tends to develop the conceit that he is an expert at everything.

  • Zippy says:

    Terry Morris:

    And he might be right if we were all angels.

    His retort would likely be that democracy is the worst way of getting at the objective good politically, except for all the others.

    (You can see how someone in the grip of this mindset could become obsessed with structures).

  • Mike T says:

    The magic question of modernity is “what alternative do we have?”

    This reminds me of an argument with a younger colleague a few years ago about Obamacare. He argued essentially that, saying “well at least they’re doing something.” To that I pointed out that he’s a SWE and knows damn well that in all times and places in engineering “just doing something” is intrinsically worse than “only doing something if your something actually makes sense as a reasonable solution to an actually existing problem.” He shrugged and conceded the point because professionally, his argument would be considered utterly boneheaded if made in a job-related discussion.

    Modern minds are conditioned increasingly to see any problem as having a happy path that involves sufficient elbow grease and/or chanting “si se puede!!11!” Hard problems often don’t have a happy path. Very often the alternatives are “pay the toll to get the best outcome reality accepts” and “deny reality and pay the price.”

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Zippy:

    I actually don’t have a lot of experience with (macro)economics, a discipline I consider to be, roughly, the weather forecasting of property.

    That’s entirely unfair. Weather forecasting is based off real, testable models that are constantly refined by real experience and testing.

    Macroeconomics is voodoo. Often incoherent, self-contradictory voodoo.

  • Mike T says:

    What are we to conclude when the people in a Democracy who are in power received only 40% of the votes and the successful revolution against them was waged by the people who only received 20% of the votes?

    It proves that “representative democracy” is actually weaker than real democracy and substantially weaker than proper republicanism. It has neither the ability to blame the majority of voters for political outcomes that democracy has nor the ability to demand very high accountability that a purer republic has.

  • “And he might be right if we were all angels.”

    Isn’t it true that in the US consent of the governed has been tempered by the electoral college, by our 3 branches of government, by our system of checks and balances,making us not really a democracy at all, but a republic?

    My definition of liberalism is when we start sliding into this attitude where we deny the need for the existence of authority and perceive people as good,as angels who have progressed. Now of course liberalism is anything but,it often becomes very authoritarian and all the right people are labeled bad,but the underlying thinking before we get to that point is a rejection of the existence of authority and a claim that people are good. I don’t presume to understand it all,but I feel much safer when there is less liberalism in our Gov, because we acknowledge Gov is authority and we don’t presume people are angels.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Isn’t it true that in the US consent of the governed has been tempered by the electoral college, by our 3 branches of government, by our system of checks and balances,making us not really a democracy at all, but a republic?

    I think you are mixing together two very distinct things.

    Thing1 is the particular structure of a particular regime. You can think of this as being like the organization chart of a company or other institution. It describes who presently reports to whom, how decisions are made institutionally, what policies and procedures are normative in various ordinary scenarios; that sort of thing.

    Thing2 is the moral foundation of the justice (binding moral correctness) of government powers.

    These are very different things, very different kinds of things even, and the phrase “the just powers of government derive from the consent of the governed” (and similar) mix them together into an equivocal mess of nonsense.

    Like all equivocal liberal balderdash the phrase has a poetically truthy-sounding-but-not-actually-true-at-all quality which appeals to modern sensibilities, while simultaneously permitting listeners to hear just whatever it is that they want to hear when the phrase is uttered.

    This is how every day ends up being opposite day, and is why you don’t see the Predator until the knife enters your flesh.

  • Zippy says:

    This is also (at least one reason) why Moldbug’s neocameralism is just another insane form of liberalism.

    The idea that the basic problem of authority and governance in modernity is that we don’t have the right constitution and political structure is like thinking that the basic problem with Planned Parenthood or the Nazi party or the Communist party is how they are organized.

  • King Richard says:

    Drawing a difference between direct democracy or representative democracy v. Republicanism is akin to saying,
    ‘That isn’t a mustang, it is a Ford’

  • Mike T says:

    Drawing a difference between direct democracy or representative democracy v. Republicanism is akin to saying,
    ‘That isn’t a mustang, it is a Ford’

    There are notable differences between them and you should have noted that Ford is the parent category of Ford Mustang while there is not parent-child logical relationship between Direct and Representative Democracy.

  • […] really means at all (at least not to you): it really means one of the other things that it means. Pay no attention to the body bags, mass graves, and fetal organ marketplaces: that kind of thing can happen […]

  • Mike T says:

    BTW, good to see you’re still around King Richard. You often keep things interesting.

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