Once again, I present these in the spirit of Martin Luther’s theses: As starting points for reasonable discussion among learned men.
Part I discussed those of our social assumptions that are so wrong they’re backwards. This one discusses Things that are (Merely) Wrong. As that’s a loooooong list, let’s start with:
Governments of laws, not men. We’re told that this is what the “social contract” gives us. It’s the goal, we learn, of Classical Liberalism. But — as you might expect from a philosophy that rests on a glaring falsity (“all men are created equal”) — Classical Liberalism is wrong. All governments are governments of men. The very best you can do is to arrange the laws and institutions such that they incentivize bad men to do good, or at least less harmful, things.
The Founders understood this. Alas, they assumed a proposition at least as wrong as “all men are created equal.” To wit: History stops. It’s not their fault — it’s pointless to warn against teleology, or decry “Whig history,” because all history is Whig history. The realization that things were different in the past carries with it the implication that the present is inevitable. Whether you see now as a product of degeneration from a golden age (all history up to the 18th century), or the past as nothing but darkness (the technical definition of “Whig history”), the notion that things could not have been different than they are right now rides with it, like a birth defect. We should be able to see beyond this, but we can’t. Therefore, the institutions that worked for a rough frontier society in 1783 were creaky by 1823, moribund by 1853, and dead by 1863 – a single human lifetime.
In truth, sovereignty is what Carl Schmitt says: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” This, in turn, rests on Hobbes’s insight that “the power of the mighty hath no foundation, but the belief and opinion of the people” (Schmitt was a profound Hobbes scholar). Witness the exception-deciders of our own age: Hawaiian Judges and the Media. The same people who say walls don’t work have massive walls of their own, plus armed guards, because they understand that they’re sovereign. They also understand the “opinion and belief of the people” part….
… at least, they did. But see above: That situation is not inevitable. Present trends never continue. Institutions change as men change. The men who realize the changes first are the ones who find themselves in power.Loading Likes...