Wikipedia and Absolutism

Wikipedia, whilst being a dubious source of information if approached on the premise of neutrality , provides great summaries and is sometimes exceptionally insightful. On the topic of property, it is especially so. There are two wikipedia pages on the the topic in particular which are quite fascinating.

The first is the Wikipedia page on land tenure in England in which Wikipedia informs us that:

In order to legitimise the notion of the Crown’s paramount lordship, a legal fiction – that all land titles were held by the King’s subjects as a result of a royal grant – was adopted.

I am curious as to how you define a legal fiction, actually, no I am not. I know exactly how you define it.

So here you see that at one point, all was under the lordship of the crown (can this not be reduced to ownership?) and then it was deemed a legal fiction at some point.

The second Wikipedia page is the one on private property itself. Here it is on John Locke:”John Locke, in arguing against supporters of absolute monarchy, conceptualized property as a “natural right” that God had not bestowed exclusively on the monarchy. Influenced by the rise of mercantilism, Locke argued that private property was antecedent to, and thus independent of, government.

In case you didn’t catch that, absolutism entails that property is posterior to society. The state in the form of the crown has total lordship and then allows usage (but not alienation) of the property by subordinates and subjects. This makes sense. Locke and Hobbes et al then produce a natural rights theory using the labor theory of property to place property as antecedent and not reliant on the state. Following from this the question then arises – why do we even need a state then? and of course this has been the political and economic discussion of the western world ever since. After this we get Smith following this tradition, and then we finally get to Marx who then (still following this tradition) asks the question which in hindsight is obvious – if you don’t work, then why do you have property.

This whole process is then a group of people from the same tradition arguing over collectively agreed premises. Liberals, Marxists, libertarians, anarchist, socialist – they all have the same conception of property. See the Wikipedia page yourself.

But lets back up a second. What if this conception is wrong? I would argue it is drastically wrong, and that would explain why economics is basically nonsense. The whole edifice is built on 16th century mysticism.

You have primary property maintained by defense capability, and all subsequent ownership within this perimeter is secondary. Property is therefore posterior to the state.

 

 

 

Rule of Law and Aristotle

A reader of the blog has asked me to flesh out my issue with the claim the rule of law is not a central pillar of Western civilization, which is a fair point (Luckily I have some really intelligent readers.)

My understanding of rule of law is that it is a recent concept, specifically an Enlightenment era concept which is utterly incoherent in relation to political structures prior to the collapse of monarchies. Referring to Wikipedia which is always a reliable advocate of the mainstream opinion on such matters is an interesting exercise, here is the opening paragraph:

The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behaviour, including behaviour of government officials.[2] The phrase can be traced back to 16th century Britain, and in the following century the Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford used the phrase in his argument against the divine right of kings.[3] The rule of law was further popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept, if not the phrase, was familiar to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who wrote “Law should govern”

This gives away clearly that it is a modern concept as I thought from my previous reading around the Milner group and Lionel Curtis, in which Dicey played a major influence.

The reference to Aristotle got me curious, as it did not ring a bell, so I followed the link to the wiki translation of The Politics, book three, chapter sixteen here. The translation is really poor, but does appear to support wiki’s contention that Aristotle supported rule of law:

As for an absolute monarchy as it is called, that is to say, when the whole state is wholly subject to the will of one person, namely the king, it seems to many that it is unnatural that one man should have the entire rule over his fellow-citizens when the state consists of equals: for nature requires that the same right and the same rank should necessarily take place amongst all those who are equal by nature: for as it would be hurtful to the body for those who are of different constitutions to observe the same regimen, either of diet or clothing, so is it with respect to the honours of the state as hurtful, that those who are equal in merit should be unequal in rank; for which reason it is as much a man’s duty to submit to command as to assume it, and this also by rotation; for this is law, for order is law; and it is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws, for the supreme power must be placed somewhere; but they say, that it is unjust that where all are equal one person should continually enjoy it. But it seems unlikely that man should be able to adjust that which the law cannot determine; it may be replied, that the law having laid down the best rules possible, leaves the adjustment and application of particulars to the discretion of the magistrate; besides, it allows anything to be altered which experience proves may be better established. Moreover, he who would place the supreme power in mind, would place it in God and the laws; but he who entrusts man with it, gives it to a wild beast, for such his appetites sometimes make him; for passion influences those who are in power, even the very best of men: for which reason law is reason without desire.

But compare this to the same section in the MIT translation:

Now, absolute monarchy, or the arbitrary rule of a sovereign over an the citizens, in a city which consists of equals, is thought by some to be quite contrary to nature; it is argued that those who are by nature equals must have the same natural right and worth, and that for unequals to have an equal share, or for equals to have an uneven share, in the offices of state, is as bad as for different bodily constitutions to have the same food and clothing. Wherefore it is thought to be just that among equals every one be ruled as well as rule, and therefore that an should have their turn. We thus arrive at law; for an order of succession implies law. And the rule of the law, it is argued, is preferable to that of any individual. On the same principle, even if it be better for certain individuals to govern, they should be made only guardians and ministers of the law. For magistrates there must be- this is admitted; but then men say that to give authority to any one man when all are equal is unjust. Nay, there may indeed be cases which the law seems unable to determine, but in such cases can a man? Nay, it will be replied, the law trains officers for this express purpose, and appoints them to determine matters which are left undecided by it, to the best of their judgment. Further, it permits them to make any amendment of the existing laws which experience suggests. Therefore he who bids the law rule may be deemed to bid God and Reason alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. The law is reason unaffected by desire. We are told that a patient should call in a physician; he will not get better if he is doctored out of a book. But the parallel of the arts is clearly not in point; for the physician does nothing contrary to rule from motives of friendship; he only cures a patient and takes a fee; whereas magistrates do many things from spite and partiality. And, indeed, if a man suspected the physician of being in league with his enemies to destroy him for a bribe, he would rather have recourse to the book. But certainly physicians, when they are sick, call in other physicians, and training-masters, when they are in training, other training-masters, as if they could not judge judge truly about their own case and might be influenced by their feelings. Hence it is evident that in seeking for justice men seek for the mean or neutral, for the law is the mean. Again, customary laws have more weight, and relate to more important matters, than written laws, and a man may be a safer ruler than the written law, but not safer than the customary law.

The second translation does not support wiki. In fact, if you read the section in context, Aristotle is recounting arguments in relation to absolute monarchy and the claim of law being sufficient for rule. If he supported rule of law in the modern sense, then it follows he would have mentioned that in the final part of The Politics, but he didn’t because that particular brand of crazy is again, a modern core aspect of the Cathedral, and if he did, wiki would not have to resort to confusing translations taken out of context.

The rest of the page is largely incoherent, with claims of the Magna Carta being rule of law being comical. I would hazard an educated guess that this whole concept of rule of law is the work of the Milner group et al, and the actions of American foundations pushing their super protestantism. It is not intellectually robust at all, and has been backfilled with bizarre historical manipulation.

Rule of law as commonly understood is difficult to argue against. The first problem is that it is so devoid of sense that it requires approaching it in the same manner as trying to approach answering a small child as to why they cannot eat ice cream all day, every day. The key point is this- law cannot govern because only men can govern. The law is decided by a man (or men) and then acted upon by other men. The law is not an autonomous entity which can act by itself, and even if it was then you still haven’t resolved the fact that then the programmers that create the code are effectively in control. If the law code is sufficiently advanced to be effectively an AI, then you have just carted off control to an AI which will need to be encoded with the capability of judgement to function, because the alternative is to create a system that can account for all eventualities automatically. This is logically impossible.

Rule of law at present translates as rule by those who write the law, and those that interpret the law. We have a name for that – the Cathedral. The Civil Service makes laws in line with their imperatives, and the Supreme Court interpret law according to their ideological imperatives. To fall for rule of law is truly a stupid thing to do, but you can see why it is so appealing. The utopian claim that no one has to be in control if we follow the laws is something that an electorate being of the same intellectual capacity as the toddler wanting ice cream all day will lap it up. That this puts a certain group of people in control who deny being in control – because law is, is the problem which needs to be addressed.

Voluntarism and Modernity

Liberal theory can be seen as the offshoot of Protestantism and the secularisation of protestant theology. I am finding more and more that MacIntyre’s critique of this is proving to be exceptionally valid, but seems to only be fully visible when approached from a position which is radically outside of the current acceptable discourse, this position being that society comes before the individual, and one which in effect aligns with the medieval theological position (and also the Aristotlean position) of the primacy of the Intellect over Will, in which goods, desires and wants are a result of the Intellect.

Here are some excerpts from an extremely useful essay on the issue in MacIntyre’s After Virtue:

After Virtue begins with ‘A Disquieting Suggestion’: “Imagine that the natural sciences were to suffer the effects of a catastrophe. A series of environmental disasters are blamed by the general public on the scientists. Widespread riots occur, laboratories are burnt down, physicists are lynched, books and instruments are destroyed. Finally a Know-Nothing political movement takes power and successfully abolishes science teaching in schools and universities, imprisoning and executing the remaining scientists. (MacIntye 1985, 1)

[…]

This is an interesting story, it is fascinating to imagine what might pass for science in such a culture, but the real ‘Disquieting Suggestion’ itself soon follows: “The hypothesis which I wish to advance is that in the actual world which we inhabit the language of morality is in the same state of grave disorder as the language of natural science in the imaginary world which I described. What we possess, if this view is true, are the fragments of a conceptual scheme, parts which now lack those contexts from which their significance derived.

[…]

To find the catastrophe in the text, we must begin by returning to chapter one to find out what kind of thing we are looking for. Professor MacIntyre writes:

“We shall have to look not for a few brief striking events whose character is incontestably clear, but for a much longer, more complex and less easily identified process and one which by its very nature is open to rival interpretation.” (3)

The catastrophe is not any singular event; it is a series of events stretched out over several centuries; and it is not recorded as a catastrophe because it is not typically interpreted as such. In all likelihood it is familiar to us, but is ordinarily seen as a great achievement, or at least as a positive development. Where, then, do we see such a process described in After Virtue? There are four places where Professor MacIntyre indicates most clearly what he takes the catastrophe of the ‘Disquieting Suggestion’ to be. The first place is in chapter four. After describing the incoherence of moral language in our postcatastrophe culture of emotivism in chapters two and three, MacIntyre turns in chapter four to a discussion of the predecessor to the culture of emotivism, namely the culture of the enlightenment. But here MacIntyre begins by drawing a very peculiar picture of the enlightenment. It is not the French enlightenment of Rousseau and Voltaire, but a specifically Anglo-Scottish-German enlightenment of Hume, Smith, and Kant; and MacIntyre gives very specific reasons for drawing this peculiar picture:

“What the French lacked was threefold: a secularized Protestant background, an educated class which linked the servants of government, the clergy, and the lay thinkers in a single reading public, and a newly alive type of university exemplified in Königsburg in the east and in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the west. [. . . ] Hence what we are dealing with is a culture that is primarily Northern European. Spaniards, Italians, and the Gaelic and Slavonicspeaking peoples do not belong to it.” (37)

In short, what gives birth to the culture of emotivism in After Virtue is the enlightenment as it played out in the Protestant countries of northern Europe. This might be taken—mistakenly—to identify the catastrophe with the Protestant Reformation, but it certainly does indicate that the Protestant Reformation is an episode in the process that constitutes the catastrophe. MacIntyre clarifies the identity of the catastrophe in a second place, in chapter five:

“Suppose that the arguments of Kierkegaard, Kant, Diderot, Hume, Smith and the like fail because of certain shared characteristics deriving from their highly specific shared historical background. [. . . ] Whence did they inherit these shared beliefs? Obviously from their shared Christian past compared with which the divergences between Kant’s and Kierkegaard’s Lutheran, Hume’s Presbyterian, and Diderot’s Jansenist-influenced Catholic background are relatively unimportant.” (51)

The focus here is on the peculiarities of the theologies of Luther, Calvin, and Jansen; all three were theological voluntarists, that is, all three posited the divine will as the primary principle of existence. Where Thomas Aquinas, in his synthesis of Christian Neo-Platonism and Aristotelian hylomorphism, always maintained the priority of the intellect in creation,1 theological voluntarists asserted the priority of the divine will, and this had far reaching consequences for philosophy and theology. So after summarizing some points of agreement among medieval Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers who shared an Aristotelian view of nature and reason MacIntyre writes:

“This large area of agreement does not however survive when Protestantism and Jansenist Catholicism—and their immediate late medieval predecessors—appear on the scene. For they embody a new conception of reason.” (53)

MacIntyre’s catastrophe is not the Protestant Reformation, nor is it Protestantism combined with Jansenism, rather it is the whole process of that turn from natural teleology to theological voluntarism and nominalism—the foundation of which is typically attributed to William of Ockham—that lead to the voluntarist theologies of Luther, Calvin, and Jansen.

Of course, from this secularised voluntarism we get Smith, Hobbes, Marx, Nietzsche, materialism, spontaneous order from the ground up, republicanism in which laws rule, the entire world as being a meeting places of wills that are merely capable of negotiation, determinism of all stripes, scientism galore.

The loading of voluntarism onto everything is seeming to me to be more and more the very definition of Conquest 2nd law.  It works like this – any organisation directed toward virtue – definable roughly as the pursuit of excellence in a given endeavour qua the greater good of an order (thereby the pursuit of internal excellence), is miss-directed by the inclusion of advocates of the goods of effective co-operation, which is premised on voluntarism. The goods of co-operation being definable as the effective co-operation of the organisation with the greater order in pursuit of external rewards. A superb example is provided by the Catholic Church’s current corruption – it no longer pursues the internal goods provide by pursuing excellence in being good Catholics, but instead pursues the external goods of co-operation – “relevance”, “acceptance”, “inclusion” with the International Community”, not being attacked and vilified by the liberal media. This is how liberal/ voluntarism corruption works. Once you start dancing like a cheap whore to the external rewards provided by Havard, you are owned for good.

The really interesting aspect of this corruption is that the advocates of voluntarism act with complete lack of understanding of what they are doing. We see it as the progressive assumption that everything rightly understood is progressivism. The concept of virtue is completely invisible to voluntarism advocates as they perceive all good as a matter of formulating the correct rules and regulations. The world of virtue just doesn’t compute at all – nothing matters until it hits the law courts and becomes subject to a law.

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon by Karl Marx

I have been trying to get a better understanding of Marxism and class conflict, and to this end I have been reading less trafficked Marxist literature, and the one that has struck me is Marx analysis of the 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, which has it all. This details Marx’s theory in real time analysis of the events of the coup by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, laying out his materialist conception of society and making some interesting observations. It is unfortunately completely wrong, but wrong in ways that are just plausible enough to be convincing.

Marxist class based theory requires some very odd application of agency to classes which is not there. He calls it class consciousness, but this make no sense as a body of people cannot have a consciousness, a person can, an amalgamation of people can’t. So from this point it is nonsense of the type that has been carted out by all and sundry since The Enlightenment.

The second major error made by Marx is he appears to consider leaders as nothing but dupes and agents of their class, as evidenced by his bile against Louis Bonaparte. De Jouvenel is superior by orders of magnitude here, and the evidence is supplied by merely taking into account all the circumstances in which Marxist class analysis fails miserably. But this is to be expected, because despite the squeals and squirms of liberals, libertarians and the like, Marx was cooking with the same ingredients as they, this being the concept of society being built from the ground up from material conditions (think spontaneous order.) He was basically libertarian as well anyway, and championed anarchism. This essay is also extra interesting in that he breaks the left right spectrum down as follows:

“During the June days all classes and parties had united in the party of Order against the proletarian class as the party of anarchy, of socialism, of communism”

Marx was pretty much anti-state and anti-governance, that Marxism broke/ breaks down to obscene levels of governance is not due to this being its overall goal despite the miss-information provided by American and liberal propaganda, but due to the goal being absurd. There is no fundamental difference between the goals of Marxism and the goals of Americanism A.K.A liberalism A.K.A anarchism. They are all absurd and all reducible to the same childishness.

The failure of Marxism can be seen quite clearly in the heaving mess it has become, and the bizarre contraptions devised to try to retain class analysis in the face of the developments since (which vindicate de Jouvenel, not Marx.) It is wrong, and it provides no insight whatsoever. orders form from the top down, not the bottom up. The form of governance is key, and what Marx observed was nothing more than the chaos created by divided governance creating various power centres which then promoted equality against each other. He even notes this process in the action of Louis Bonaparte in the creation of the December Society:

This society dates from the year 1849. On the pretext of founding a benevolent society, the lumpen proletariat of Paris had been organized into secret sections, each section led by Bonapartist agents, with a Bonapartist general at the head of the whole. Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni,[105] pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux [pimps], brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither, which the French call la bohème; from this kindred element Bonaparte formed the core of the Society of December 10. A “benevolent society” – insofar as, like Bonaparte, all its members felt the need of benefiting themselves at the expense of the laboring nation. This Bonaparte, who constitutes himself chief of the lumpenproletariat, who here alone rediscovers in mass form the interests which he personally pursues, who recognizes in this scum, offal, refuse of all classes the only class upon which he can base himself unconditionally, is the real Bonaparte, the Bonaparte sans phrase.

Marx even champions the usage of indirect pressure on other power centers to achieve goals, again vindicating de Jouvenel:

“It sufficed for the Minister of the Interior, a certain Vaisse, to declare that the tranquillity was only apparent, that in secret great agitation prevailed, that in secret ubiquitous societies were being organized, the democratic papers were preparing to come out again, the reports from the departments were unfavorable, the Geneva refugees were directing a conspiracy spreading by way of Lyon all over the South of France, France was on the verge of an industrial and commercial crisis, the manufacturers of Roubaix had reduced working hours, the prisoners of Belle Isle[110] were in revolt — it sufficed for even a mere Vaisse to conjure up the red specter and the party of Order rejected without discussion a motion that would certainly have won the National Assembly immense popularity and thrown Bonaparte back into its arms. Instead of letting itself be intimidated by the executive power with the prospect of fresh disturbances, it ought rather to have allowed the class struggle a little elbow room, so as to keep the executive power dependent on it. But it did not feel equal to the task of playing with fire.”

Bonaparte was an amateur compared to those parties of anarchy. We have had centuries of the lumpenproletariat being used as shocktroopers in the social revolutions, or “playing with fire” as Marx put it – especially the black population, and now any and all “scum, offal, refuse” that can be imported from anywhere. It’s become the go to form of governance, and will continue to be so until governance is undivided.