Wednesday, January 11, 2006

And the headline read....Mannning cowardly backs out!

To vent and editorialize a bit, I must say this.

Why is it that some people expect others to follow implied rules of conduct that they have no intentions of following themselves. If I may be allowed to borrow an anecdote from Daniel Dennett...If you insist on playing tennis with the net lowered, why do you expect me to raise the net back up before returning your volleys. If you really wish to proclaim all is fair in as socially Darwinian stance then have to salt to stand by your convictions as a man, Mr Farrar. Have I somehow been unfair to you.....any more so than you were gratious enough to serve me?

It is not so much that I blame you for retreat. I would back out as well if my argument was found to be as weak as yours, but then, you didn't have to accept the challenge in the first place. I have never promised to be unreasonably polite for any reason. Any person who wishes may read back to the beginning of this argument to find the terms I agreed to abide by and I have not renigged on any point thus far. Have I censured anyone for dissent? Have I not argued my points in an intellectual, and objective manner wherever, whenever possible? The mere fact that I have a subjective opinion makes me human, not a tyrant.

So let us review where your unrefutable proof stands so far that Rousseau was indeed one of those subversive Socialist types. Oh wait, you have as yet to produce anything other than you just didn't care for the man and the lifestyle choices he made in his lifetime. I believe the only other constructive criticism of the Social Contract as an historical document is that you, once again personally opinionated, felt that this work was entirely too utopian to ever succeed to overthrow Capitalism which you didn't necessarily care for unless I was arguing against the wonderful benefits of man in competition with his fellow man for resources that would not be scarce if we were to work cooperatively to begin with.

Of course, Capitalism and the Protestant work ethic that fostered it in all its glory and shamefullness, is the crux of the great chasm that has divided our cooperation in any sort of meaningful debate. This is the one thing that has reduced us both to kicking and clawing in the end. It has been my experience in life that everyone, no matter how cnetered they feel about themselves, no matter how objective they think they are, has ideologies and a picture of a world perfected. Mess with that worldview and you are certainly stirring up a recipe for conflict, but should we avoid conflict or meet it head-on; or are there other viable alternatives that I am overlooking? This is the question of the hour indeed. This is indeed the question of the age from an American perspective as well. How far is too far to encroach upon our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights in the name of national security? What should we be expected to willfully give up in return for a promise to our personal safety? To what lengths sould the average citizen practice civil disobedience to a system that is broken? And who decides when this system is broken and by whom? How do we confront the things that we fear? Or do we? Why or why not?

Surely I sit here and propose these questions rhetorically, not hoping in vain for some kind of answer. At the end of the day we are only men and our small stature means exactly dick to those who control the real world. Or perhaps I see things in a different light after all. Perhaps utopian dreams are the light that guide us on the dark landscapes that tire our legs and cut our feet along the way. Just because I speak a question in the form of rhetoric does not relegate the question to the unanswerable realm, it means we seriously need to discuss all discernable pros and cons and make a best choice decision based on all the facts.

But alas, my friend, my chief interlocutor has found my opinion offensive and no longer wishes to engage in our little shouting matches any longer.

Oh well.........NEXT???!!

Chapter VI Law

BY the social compact we have given the body politic existence and life; we have now by legislation to give it movement and will. For the original act by which the body is formed and united still in no respect determines what it ought to do for its preservation.

What is well and in conformity with order is so by the nature of things and independently of human conventions. All justice comes from God, who is its sole source; but if we knew how to receive so high an inspiration, we should need neither government nor laws. Doubtless, there is a universal justice emanating from reason alone; but this justice, to be admitted among us, must be mutual. Humanly speaking, in default of natural sanctions, the laws of justice are ineffective among men: they merely make for the good of the wicked and the undoing of the just, when the just man observes them towards everybody and nobody observes them towards him. Conventions and laws are therefore needed to join rights to duties and refer justice to its object. In the state of nature, where everything is common, I owe nothing to him whom I have promised nothing; I recognise as belonging to others only what is of no use to me. In the state of society all rights are fixed by law, and the case becomes different.

But what, after all, is a law? As long as we remain satisfied with attaching purely metaphysical ideas to the word, we shall go on arguing without arriving at an understanding; and when we have defined a law of nature, we shall be no nearer the definition of a law of the State.

I have already said that there can be no general will directed to a particular object. Such an object must be either within or outside the State. If outside, a will which is alien to it cannot be, in relation to it, general; if within, it is part of the State, and in that case there arises a relation between whole and part which makes them two separate beings, of which the part is one, and the whole minus the part the other. But the whole minus a part cannot be the whole; and while this relation persists, there can be no whole, but only two unequal parts; and it follows that the will of one is no longer in any respect general in relation to the other.

But when the whole people decrees for the whole people, it is considering only itself; and if a relation is then formed, it is between two aspects of the entire object, without there being any division of the whole. In that case the matter about which the decree is made is, like the decreeing will, general. This act is what I call a law.

When I say that the object of laws is always general, I mean that law considers subjects en masse and actions in the abstract, and never a particular person or action. Thus the law may indeed decree that there shall be privileges, but cannot confer them on anybody by name. It may set up several classes of citizens, and even lay down the qualifications for membership of these classes, but it cannot nominate such and such persons as belonging to them; it may establish a monarchical government and hereditary succession, but it cannot choose a king, or nominate a royal family. In a word, no function which has a particular object belongs to the legislative power.

On this view, we at once see that it can no longer be asked whose business it is to make laws, since they are acts of the general will; nor whether the prince is above the law, since he is a member of the State; nor whether the law can be unjust, since no one is unjust to himself; nor how we can be both free and subject to the laws, since they are but registers of our wills.

We see further that, as the law unites universality of will with universality of object, what a man, whoever he be, commands of his own motion cannot be a law; and even what the Sovereign commands with regard to a particular matter is no nearer being a law, but is a decree, an act, not of sovereignty, but of magistracy.

I therefore give the name "Republic" to every State that is governed by laws, no matter what the form of its administration may be: for only in such a case does the public interest govern, and the res publica rank as a reality. Every legitimate government is republican; what government is I will explain later on.

Laws are, properly speaking, only the conditions of civil association. The people, being subject to the laws, ought to be their author: the conditions of the society ought to be regulated solely by those who come together to form it. But how are they to regulate them? Is it to be by common agreement, by a sudden inspiration? Has the body politic an organ to declare its will? Who can give it the foresight to formulate and announce its acts in advance? Or how is it to announce them in the hour of need? How can a blind multitude, which often does not know what it wills, because it rarely knows what is good for it, carry out for itself so great and difficult an enterprise as a system of legislation? Of itself the people wills always the good, but of itself it by no means always sees it. The general will is always in the right, but the judgment which guides it is not always enlightened. It must be got to see objects as they are, and sometimes as they ought to appear to it; it must be shown the good road it is in search of, secured from the seductive influences of individual wills, taught to see times and spaces as a series, and made to weigh the attractions of present and sensible advantages against the danger of distant and hidden evils. The individuals see the good they reject; the public wills the good it does not see. All stand equally in need of guidance. The former must be compelled to bring their wills into conformity with their reason; the latter must be taught to know what it wills. If that is done, public enlightenment leads to the union of understanding and will in the social body: the parts are made to work exactly together, and the whole is raised to its highest power. This makes a legislator necessary.


THE question is often asked how individuals, having no right to dispose of their own lives, can transfer to the Sovereign a right which they do not possess. The difficulty of answering this question seems to me to lie in its being wrongly stated. Every man has a right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out of the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide? Has such a crime ever been laid to the charge of him who perishes in a storm because, when he went on board, he knew of the danger?

The social treaty has for its end the preservation of the contracting parties. He who wills the end wills the means also, and the means must involve some risks, and even some losses. He who wishes to preserve his life at others' expense should also, when it is necessary, be ready to give it up for their sake. Furthermore, the citizen is no longer the judge of the dangers to which the law-desires him to expose himself; and when the prince says to him: "It is expedient for the State that you should die," he ought to die, because it is only on that condition that he has been living in security up to the present, and because his life is no longer a mere bounty of nature, but a gift made conditionally by the State.

The death-penalty inflicted upon criminals may be looked on in much the same light: it is in order that we may not fall victims to an assassin that we consent to die if we ourselves turn assassins. In this treaty, so far from disposing of our own lives, we think only of securing them, and it is not to be assumed that any of the parties then expects to get hanged.

Again, every malefactor, by attacking social rights, becomes on forfeit a rebel and a traitor to his country; by violating its laws be ceases to be a member of it; he even makes war upon it. In such a case the preservation of the State is inconsistent with his own, and one or the other must perish; in putting the guilty to death, we slay not so much the citizen as an enemy. The trial and the judgment are the proofs that he has broken the social treaty, and is in consequence no longer a member of the State. Since, then, he has recognised himself to be such by living there, he must be removed by exile as a violator of the compact, or by death as a public enemy; for such an enemy is not a moral person, but merely a man; and in such a case the right of war is to kill the vanquished.

But, it will be said, the condemnation of a criminal is a particular act. I admit it: but such condemnation is not a function of the Sovereign; it is a right the Sovereign can confer without being able itself to exert it. All my ideas are consistent, but I cannot expound them all at once.

We may add that frequent punishments are always a sign of weakness or remissness on the part of the government. There is not a single ill-doer who could not be turned to some good. The State has no right to put to death, even for the sake of making an example, any one whom it can leave alive without danger.

The right of pardoning or exempting the guilty from a penalty imposed by the law and pronounced by the judge belongs only to the authority which is superior to both judge and law, i.e., the Sovereign; each its right in this matter is far from clear, and the cases for exercising it are extremely rare. In a well-governed State, there are few punishments, not because there are many pardons, but because criminals are rare; it is when a State is in decay that the multitude of crimes is a guarantee of impunity. Under the Roman Republic, neither the Senate nor the Consuls ever attempted to pardon; even the people never did so, though it sometimes revoked its own decision. Frequent pardons mean that crime will soon need them no longer, and no one can help seeing whither that leads. But I feel my heart protesting and restraining my pen; let us leave these questions to the just man who has never offended, and would himself stand in no need of pardon.