On Jeffersonian Democracy. Slavery or Freedom of Conquest?

jeffersonantifederalistWhen the founding fathers set up that government which derived its powers “from the consent of the governed,” they knew exactly what they’d been missing.  As colonists they’d had their taxes and their foreign and domestic policies determined for them by a distant government in which they’d had no representation whatsoever.  People who lived thousands of miles away made decisions for them without their input and without recourse to anything but eventual revolution and separation.

When the founding fathers conceived of the “consent of the governed,” they thought of the people as a whole, realizing that not every individual would or could approve of every act of government.  Indeed, it is inconceivable to think of a government acting in such a way that each person in the nation agrees with each decision arrived at by their government.  The reality is that even in a government wonderfully representative of its people, some decisions are made that some people will disagree with.

Was “consent of the governed” created with this problem in mind?  Must government keep every citizen completely happy and in agreement with each law and regulation it promulgates?

Not according to Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson envisioned the “consent of the governed” he wrote about not as individual consent, but as the consent of the people coming together to make their political decisions.  Jefferson wrote “It must be acknowledged that the term ‘republic’ is of vague application in every language…Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say purely and simply it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally according to rules established by the majority; and that every other government is more or less republican in proportion as it has its composition more or less of this ingredient of direct action of the citizens.” (To J. Taylor, 1816)

In another letter to F. von Humboldt in 1817, Jefferson called the first principle of republicanism the “majority law,” and considered a majority of one to be as binding upon the whole as an unanimous vote.  “This law disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism.”

For Jefferson this was a simple equation.  A government of minority interests supports its own self-interest and inevitably oppresses the majority.  No government at all–anarchy–leads inevitably to evil forces organizing oppressive regimes.  Only a government by and of the majority has the capability of preserving the individual’s rights.

The sacredness of a one-vote majority for Jefferson was based on his understanding of the contentious nature of humanity.  “An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing that never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.” (Letter to J. Taylor, 1798)

What then, of the rights of the minority?  Jefferson was well aware that a majority rule could be oppressive if the equal rights of minorities were violated.  In his first inaugural address, he said, “Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” (1801)

But Jefferson relied on a polticially active, fair-minded majority to insist that individual rights of those they disagreed with be respected, if for nothing else, through their own self-interest.  No other mechanism, no government or piece of paper can protect those rights.  Power inevitably leads to corruption, so the power to protect the people’s rights must be invested in the people themselves.  It thus becomes each citizen’s responsibility to look after his or her own rights and the rights of his neighbors.

But what about an apathetic or ignorant citizenry?  How do we overcome the people not acting in their interests, or acting in a way we think foolish?  Jefferson had an answer to this, too:  “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.  This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” (Letter to W. Jarvis, 1820)

Perhaps nothing is more important to an understanding of individual self-determination than the phrase, “consent of the governed.” Individuals continually confront others with different experiences or prejudices at odd with their own.  In such an environment, a community must make its political decisions according to the will of the majority.  It is that majority which, fairly instituted, constitutes the guarantor of individuals rights and the consent of the governed.

Does God allow crimes of passion. For example, blasphemy. From the book, Blasphemy. David Lawton, Author. Published in 1993.

Blasphemy has been a force in producing many forms of Western cultural identity. Blasphemy continues to influence our relations with other cultures, yet it is not so much an idea as a shifting rhetorical figure. It stands for whatever we deplore: we define the truths we uphold in terms of the blasphemies we attack. “Blasphemy is an orthodoxy’s way of demonizing difference,” writes Lawton. Blasphemy has been a force in producing many forms of Western cultural identity. Blasphemy continues to influence our relations with other cultures, yet it is not so much an idea as a shifting rhetorical figure. It stands for whatever we deplore: we define the truths we uphold in terms of the blasphemies we attack.
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Why is it that moral forgiveness can only come from God and not people?

dispensejusticeGod is Author of moral agents, therefore, 

I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. (Is 61.8) ‘Dispense true justice, and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother.’

 

Shawan gagane ghora ghanaghata. In the season of thunder, the clouds cry out. Lyrics, Kobi, Poet, Rabindranath Tagore, Vocalist, Srimati Lata Mangeshkar.

Shawan gagane ghora ghanaghata. In the season of thunder, the clouds cry out in force. Nishitha yamini re, being alone and helpless, Kunja pathe sakhi kayse jaoba. Abala kamani re where friends that will guide me through these troubled times. Unmad pabane yamuna tarjita. The crazy wind makes the river sway. Ghan Ghana garjita meha as if it was an accompaniment of the dark clouds. Damakatha bidyutha patha tharu lunthita, The lightning threatens the path of escape, making me sure of my defeat. Thara thara kampitha deha, and I shiver at this sight.  Ghana ghan rim jhim rim jhim rim jhim, the pitter patter of rainfall collecting around the dark cloud  Barakhata nirada punja will make for an eventful journey, darkness. Sal piyale Thala thamale, where you will drink only evil. Nibiro thimiro moyo punja. Thus, beloved, tread cautiously.  Kahare sajani e duryoge, Tell me companion, why has such misfortune befallen me?  Kunje niradaya kana, as if help is a step away, Dhaaruna bansi kaha bjayatha, thus why sing of the wonderful flute?  Sakaruna radha naam that praises the name of Radha, companion of Lord Krishna.  Mothi mahare besh bana dhe, Sithi laga de bhale Dress me in pearls and my forehead with paint. Purahi bilunthito Lolachi kura momo, help me with my locks that still reach the ground  Badhaho chompoko malae and tie them to the flower known as Champa.  Gohono noyonmae na jao bala  Gahe kisharak pasha. In this frosty night, my lady, do not venture out
says the night.  Garaje ghana ghan bahu dar pawab, you will be scared, kahe bhanu thobo daas, says Tagore, poet and your servant.

Miya ki malhar from Jalsaghar, the Music Room, Oscar Director Satyajit Ray, India. Salamat Ali Khan, vocalist.

Harijan, fasting and the dismantling of Empire. Gandhi and the movement against untouchability. “Harijan meant people of God.”

harijanfastIndividual Satyagraha (August 1933).  Harijan upliftment becomeharijangandhi Gandhi’s main concern. Harijan God’s people–was the name given by Gandhi to the untouchables. He started an All-India Anti-untouchability League in September 1932 and the weekly Harijan in January 1933 even before his release. January 8 1933 was observed as the “Temple Entry Day”. Not satisfied with the progress, Gandhi suddenly decided to fast for 21 days, starting from May 8, 1933 for self-purification. The fast, however, induced the Government to release Gandhi who in turn decided to suspend the Civil Disobedience movement for six weeks. In July 1933 when Willingdon rejected his peace offer, Gandhi launched an individual Civil Disobedience movement on August 1. He was arrested and confined in jail. The spark of individual satyagraha enlivened the political life of the country. As Gandhi was refused facilities in prison for promoting the cause of Harijan, he began a fast unto death on August 16, 1933. He was released unconditionally on August 23. He decided to abstain from political activity and to devote himself to Harijan work. In November 1933 Gandhi set out on a long tour, covering 12,500 miles, to promote the Harijan cause. He pleaded for the opening of temples to Harijan “temples are for sinners, not for saints.”  In his triumphal progress, Gandhi attacked age-long tyranny and roused the Harijans to the consciousness of their rights. Rajagopalachari summed up the significance of the Harijan campaign by observing “Untouchability is not yet gone. But the revolution is really over and what remains is but the removal of the debris.”

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Harijan means untouchables such as sweepers who were uplifted during the great Satyagraha movement in British India.

Empire and Truth. It is not what you think it is.

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THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. By Peter Heather.

ON THE BACK OF THE BOOK

The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution – centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an empire that had dominated their lives for so long. A leading author on the late Roman empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe’s barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the Empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome’s European frontiers to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarians coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman West to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378 and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the western empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandal’s defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada, the west’s last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse.What brought it to an end were the barbarians. FROM PETER HEATHER’S BOOK PAGES 443/444.  IN PRESENTING my own take on the reasons for the collapse of the west Roman Empire, I find myself lined up against one of the oldest historical traditions of all – in English writing, certainly. Famously, Edward Gibbon emphasized internal factors: The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. Gibbon’s analysis picked up from where the Greek writer Polybius left off. Polybius, like most ancient historians, saw individual moral virtue or vice as the main moving force behind historical causation. The Roman Republic rose to greatness
because of the self-discipline of its leaders, went his argument, and started to fall from grace when the excesses produced by success fed through to corrupt their descendants. Polybius was writing in the second century BC, long before the Empire reached its full extent, let alone started to shed territories. Picking up his general line of argument, Gibbon, addressing the subject of Christianity, saw it as contributing massively to the tale of woe. For him, the new religion sowed internal division within the Empire through its doctrinal disputes, encouraged social leaders to drop out of political participation by becoming monks, and, by advocating a ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ policy, helped undermine the Roman war machine. There may be something to be said for this way of thinking but there is one counter-argument that relegates it to no more than a footnote in the debate. Any account of the fall of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century must take full stock of the fact that the eastern Empire not only survived, but actually prospered in the sixth.  All the evils identified in the western system applied equally, if not more, to the eastern. If anything,
the Roman east was more Christian, and more given to doctrinal argument. Also, it operated the same kind of governmental system over the same kind of economy. Yet the east survived, when the west fell. This alone makes it difficult to argue that there was something so inherently wrong with the late imperial system that it was bound to collapse under its own weight. And if you start looking for differences between east and west that might explain their different fates, accidents of geography are what come most immediately to mind. The richest provinces of the east, the band stretching from Asia Minor to Egypt, were well protected by Constantinople against invaders from the north and east, whereas the western Empire had most of the Rhine and Danube frontier line to protect, and we have seen what hazards that threw up. Both of these points were made by two earlier commentators, N. H. Baynes and A. H. M. Jones; but since Jones was writing -forty years ago – it has become more necessary, I would argue, in any account of the collapse of the Roman west, to shine the spotlight on the barbarian-immigrant issue. This is for two reasons. First, the only factor that Jones saw as playing any real role in the different fates of east and west was their relative prosperity. In his view, overtaxation crippled the late Roman economy. Peasants were not being left with a large enough share of their yearly produce to feed themselves and their families, so that both population and output saw steady, if unspectacular, decline. This, he believed, was especially true in the west. Jones’s view of the late Roman economy was entirely based, however, on written, above all legal, sources. As he
wrote, the French archaeologist George Tchalenko was publishing the account of his revolutionary trove of prosperous late Roman villages in the limestone hills behind Antioch (see pp. 112-13); and since Jones wrote, rural surveys, as we saw in Chapter 3, have completely recast our view of the late Roman economy. We know that in the fourth century, taxes were certainly not high enough to undermine peasant subsistence. In the west as well as the east, the late Empire was a period of agricultural boom, with no sign of an overall population decline. The east may still have been richer, of course, but there was no major internal economic crisis at play in the Roman world before the fifth century.  Equally important, understanding that both moments of frontier crisis, 376-80 and 405-8, had the same non-Roman cause, and reconstructing the detailed narrative of subsequent imperial collapse from 405 to 476, underline the central role played by outside immigrants in the story of western collapse.

On the Existence of Man. The Philosophy of History by G.W. F. Hegel.

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The human will is emancipated only abstractly-not in its concrete reality–for the whole sequel of History is occupied with the realization of the concrete Freedom. Up to this point, finite Freedom has been only annulled, to make way for infinite Freedom. The latter has not yet penetrated secular existence with its rays.  Subjective Freedom has not yet attained validity as such: Insight (speculative conviction) does not yet rest on a basis of its own, but is content to inhere in the spirit of an extrinsic authority. That Spiritual kingdom has, therefore, assumed the shape of an Ecclesiastical one, as the relation of the substantial being and essence of Spirit to human Freedom. Besides the interior organization already mentioned we find the Christian community assuming also a definite external position and becoming the possessor of property of its own. As property belonging to the spiritual world, it is presumed to enjoy special protection.

Why war never produces anyone’s law of value. Incorporating territory is the foundation of empire jus in bello as war.

Justiciability is determined by moral not a rhetorical paradigm.  Laws of war” can also be considered to refer to jus in bello, which concerns whether a war is conducted justly (regardless of whether the initiation of hostilities was just.)  Satyagraha remained the one law of value during the first and the second world wars of the 20th century. It did so by resisting imperial might and not advocating war for peace and liberty.

 

The essence of moral guardianship. The Illuminative Way of Proficients.

wayoftheproficientsThe gift of knowledge renders us docile to inspirations superior to human knowledge and even to reasoned theology. We are here concerned with a supernatural feeling that makes us judge rightly of human things, either as symbols of divine things, or in their opposition to the latter. It shows us vividly the vanity of all passing things, of honors, titles, the praises of men; it makes us see especially the infinite gravity of mortal sin as an offense against God and a disease of the soul. It throws light particularly on what in the world does not come from God, but from defectible and deficient second causes; in this it differs from the gift of wisdom. By showing the infinite gravity of mortal sin, it produces not only fear but horror of sin and a great sorrow for having offended God.