There is no such thing as the consent of the governed, unless you count "not blowing up Capitol Hill" as "consent". Government is about force. The talk about "the consent of the governed" is rhetoric intended to make the subjects of a democracy feel as if they are not sheep being shorn until time for the barbecue. Time for adherents of elected government to come up with a better argument.previous
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Five score and half a dozen years ago today, Bertrand de Jouvenel was born.
Where is liberty?And:
For two centuries now this European society of ours has been seeking it; what it has found has been the widest, the most cumbersome, and the most burdensome state authority ever yet experienced by our civilization.
The mistake is one which was exposed in advance by Montesquieu: "As it is a feature of democracies that to all appearance the people does almost exactly as it wishes, men have supposed that democratic governments were the abiding-place of liberty: they confused the power of the people with the liberty of the people." This confusion of thought is at the root of modern despotism.Further:
When at a given moment of historical development we find Power making laws with the assent either of the people as a whole or of an assembly, and being unable to make them except with this assent, we are apt to interpret these rights of the people or assembly as a limitation on Power, as a decline from its primitive state of absolutism. But this primitive absolutism is pure myth. It is not true that mankind has emerged from a former state in which magistrates and monarchs dictated out of their own heads the rules of behaviour. They had not in truth such a right, or, more accurately perhaps, of such power.Moreover:
It is possible, with the help of prudently balanced institutions, to provide everyone with effective safeguards against Power. But there are no institutions on earth which enable each separate person to have a hand in the exercise of Power, for Power is command, and everyone cannot command. Sovereignty of the people is, therefore, nothing but a fiction, and one which must in the long run prove destructive of individual liberties.Also:
[Authoritarianism] could, no doubt, have been avoided if there had been a stable, vigorous, and unified executive to which the legislature acted merely as limitary principle. But in fact, as we have seen, the contrary happened: the legislature made itself the ruling sovereign.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Who were the Young Turks? A bunch of pro-British militarist-nationalists in WWI Turkey, engaged in helping overthrow the Ottoman Empire, and setting up a military dictatorship, which exists (slightly disguised) to this day. The Young Turks also committed genocide against the Armenians, and ethnically cleansed the Greeks. The Brits (and the French), for their part, wanted to open up former Ottoman provinces like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, etc. to colonialization. The whole area, as David Fromkin shows in his magisterial A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, has been in turmoil since the Treaty of Versailles. The Ottoman Empire was sort of an Islamic Austro-Hungarian Empire, multinational and therefore anti-nationalism, pretty tolerant of ethnic and religious minorities, decentralzed and against religious extemism, since the Sultan, himself a religious figure, wanted no competition. But war criminals like Winston Churchill wanted chaos in the Middle East, the better to expand British imperialism and enrich the special interests that profited from oppressing and ripping off foreign peoples. This is just more evidence, of course, for thinking that WWI was the worst political and humanitarian disaster in the history of the West. After all, WWI also led to Leninism and Hitlerism.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
State Treaty (with annexes and maps) for the re-establishment of an independent and democratic Austria.One of the provisions read:
Austria further undertakes to maintain the law of 3rd April, 1919, concerning the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine.
A score dozen and two years ago today, Benjamin Constant was born. To quote:
In a word, despotism [i.e., absolute monarchy] rules through silence and leaves man the right to remain silent; usurpation [i.e., dictatorship] condemns him to speak, it extends this persecution to the private sanctuary of his thought, and by forcing him to lie to his conscience it robs him of the last consolation which is still left the oppressed.And:
In certain historical periods one has to make the full circle of follies in order to return to reason.Both quotes can be found in Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's Liberty or Equality.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Seven dozen and a year ago today, François-Anatole Thibault, also known as Anatole France, passed on.
For every monarchy overthrown the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star. A republic is ugliness set free.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Two centuries and a long dozen years ago today, Thomas Konow was born. A dozen decades and eight years ago today, he passed on.
Thomas Konow was the last survivor of the Norwegian constitutional fathers. He lived to see the beginning of the “constitutional crisis” that would ultimately wreck the regime established by the constitutional fathers.