Skeltonic verse? Really? 15th Century? Really? England? REALLY?
"It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar" – Henry David Thoreau
In British comedy, especially satire as practised by the late Peter Cook and co., the judge is commonly portrayed as a senile old fool out of touch with modern times and quite often reality itself, but it is not just the judges that are being held up for mockery this week, it is the whole British legal system.
A Court of Appeal judge allowed an injunction sought by PJS and although the couple’s identities were revealed on Wednesday by an American newspaper British media outlets remain banned from publishing the names.
But the British court’s ruling has been mocked, with critics saying it has made “an ass out of the law” as the celebrities’ names were revealed scores of times on Twitter and social media.
On Friday, the man who had the threesome with the top entertainer’s partner told The Sun: “The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.
“We have been threatened with perjury, contempt of court and prison – all for telling the truth about this threesome.
“We have had endless calls and emails from the star’s lawyers, and even had a threatening letter hand-delivered letter through our door.
“The famous couple don’t deny that it happened. But they have used the courts to cover up what the partner has done in a way they should not be used.
As a UK resident, I could be fined and possibly even jailed for contempt of court if I were to reveal who this “celebrity couple” are, SO I WILL NOT DO SO, but our American readers simply have to go to their local news-stand, pick-up a copy of the most scurrilous weekly tabloid and the scandal is there for all to see.
Having had my curiosity piqued by the injunction itself (as the “Streisand effect” could have predicted would happen), I went directly to Google and within a few minutes was looking at the headline that was being otherwise denied to British residents, my reaction at the scandal itself could best be described as “meh“.
If the allegations were both damaging and untrue, then perhaps an injunction would be understandable, but it appears that the allegations are substantially true. The reason that the injunction is being upheld is allegedly to “protect the couples young children” (aged 5 and 3 respectively).
I have no problem with the “celebrity couple” having sexual intercourse with any number of consenting adults of either sex, but I do object to this abuse of the British legal establishment to shield what is essentially the dirty laundry of their private lives from public view.
Throughout this blog posting, I have avoided mentioning the couple concerned so that I am not in contempt of court*, but I have nothing but contempt for any court that supports this sort of draconian 19th century bullshit.
* - as well as the fact that to reveal their names would be an abuse of Cats hospitality, which I respect.
PLEASE DO NOT NAME THE “CELEBRITY COUPLE” IN QUESTION, ANY COMMENTS DOING SO WILL BE REDACTED OR DELETED (AS APPROPRIATE)
From which today’s QOTD was taken. Debunks the trumped-up statistical survey on which one of the current campus-rape scandal-stories is based. (I assume that Miss LeFauve’s story eviscerating the reported “study,” which Mr. Morrissey cites and which is NOT TO BE MISSED, as it covers quite a bit more ground than Mr. Morrissey’s précis, is accurate. –Nowadays I feel obliged to include that as a standard caveat, since so much on all sides of various aisles turns out to be full of mouldy Swiss cheese or worse.)
posted at 2:41 pm on July 30, 2015 by Ed Morrissey
Let’s start this topic with the latest in a long series of debunked claims resulting from studies that are later discovered to be either incompetently conducted or flat-out fraud. Reason’s Linda LeFauve dismantles one of the key bases for the supposed epidemic of “rape culture” on college campuses, a study published in 2002 by University of Massachusetts-Boston professor David Lisak. This study, LeFauve notes, has informed current White House policies on Title IX enforcement [pdf] as well as documentaries and books on the subject of college rape. It had at least an indirect impact on Rolling Stone’s debunked UVA campus rape hoax from last December.
It’s also based on shoddy research and deception [pdf, Lisak, "Statement to U.S. Civil Rights Commission...] , as LeFauve discovered when researching the study. Despite claiming to have conducted the research himself, Lisak actually derived it from student theses on another topic entirely — adult survivors of child abuse, using non-random samples mainly consisting of UMB employees and non-resident students:….
“Read the Whole Thing.” Oh, and here are the first two paragraphs of Miss LeFauve’s article “Campus Rape Expert Can’t Answer Basic Questions About His Sources”:
David Lisak’s serial predator theory of campus rape has made him a celebrity. Once a virtually unknown associate professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, his work is now cited by White House officials and reporters for major newspapers.
His influence is evident in the recent documentary The Hunting Ground, and the producers continue to promote his work along with their film. In Jon Krakauer’s new book, Missoula, about sexual assault at the University of Montana, Lisak’s name appears more than 100 times.
This day of evil is finally drawing to a close. The leftists in Paris may well have (as they do every year) slaughtered a pig – as part of their celebration of the treacherous betrayal (“come out – we promise you and your men safe conduct”) and savage murder of the Governor of an old fortress in Paris – a fortress in which there were seven (7) prisoners, none of whom were there for their political opinions.
Thus the left celebrate the principles of the left. Treachery, robbery (for the real goal of the operation was to steal weapons and other goods) and murder.
Soon all of France was to be convulsed in mass robbery (of the Church – and of many ordinary people who were far from “aristocratic”) and the murder of hundreds of thousands of people (see the works of William Doyle and others). And Europe was to be convulsed by the designs of the French Revolutionaries to bring the collectivist doctrines of Rousseau to power everywhere. His idea that the Law Giver knows the “General Will”, better than the individual persons themselves, so (in Marxist fashion) people have to be “forced to be free” against their false consciousness. If need be robbed and slaughtered – for their own good. And with their own consent – as their cries of protest (and screams of pain) are but mental confusion, not what they “really” believe.
The French Revolution does not show the danger of taking liberty too far – because it was not about liberty, it was about power. The Revolutionaries talked of liberty – but they lied, as followers of Rousseau tend to do (using their words as a mist to blind the unwary).
Paper money (forced on people on the pain of death), theft of property, the murder of the innocent (of all levels of society) – these were and are the principles of the French Revolution. Its criminal lust for unlimited power (not just in France – but over the world) under the mask of “liberty”, which destroyed the rule-of-law and the security of persons and possessions.
People who cried for religious tolerance (in fact granted by Louis XVI years before), and practiced religious persecution – of the most savage kind.
People who cried for the end of serfdom (largely unknown in France for centuries), and an end to torture (“putting the question” had actually already been abolished in French Roman Law), but actually introduced serfdom to the state, and reintroduced torture (in all its forms).
These were the French Revolutionaries – if one judges them by their deeds, or even looks carefully at the meaning of their words (rather than the nice sound the words make).
But let us leave the Rousseau evil of the Revolutionaries aside – and turn to more hopeful things, dark green jackets and black buttons…….
Sir William Stewart (Colonel Stewart) in 1799 (some ten years after the Revolution started – and after its forces had overwhelmed most of Europe with vast slaughter) published his thoughts on “light infantry”.
People who fought as individuals and in small groups – but could (if worked with correctly) help defeat vast enemy forces.
Colonel Stewart studied the Croats who had resisted (for the Hapsburgs) the invasions of the Ottomans – for centuries. Helping hold back the forces of despotism (that recognised no rule-of-law, no protection of property rights from the state) that might otherwise have destroyed Europe.
He also studied the mountain people of the Tyrol – famous for both their individualism and their loyal service (there is no contradiction – the people of Eastern Tennessee are much the same in these aspects, Southerners who supported human freedom over tribalism in the 1860s and have supported the elephant over the donkey ever since ).
The great revolt of Andreas Hofer – the innkeeper turned leader of the “Reactionary” forces of the Tyrol was yet to come (but the spirit had been known for centuries).
Hofer opposed the takeover of the Tyrol by Bavaria – not the relatively conservative place we know today, but then an ally of Revolutionary France and ruled by the bureaucrat (and rumoured ally of the illuminated ones) M. Von Montegelas – a man who made a great show of “abolishing serfdom” (actually just a few old rituals by this time in Bavaria) whilst actually introducing serfdom – both for children (via his system of compulsory state brainwashing of the young) and adults (via mass conscription). Nothing (not Church property, or even other countries, if they were small and weak – he was not a man of great courage ) was safe from Montegelas, a sort of “mini me” Napoleon. And Bavaria was backed by the vast forces of France.
Andreas Hofer eventually lost and was killed – famously giving the order to fire at his own execution. But the idea of light infantry is sound – it just can not win major wars on its own.
Nor should the experience of the North American wars, against the French and some Indian tribes, and against the American colonists, be forgotten. The “King’s Rifles” had already been born – although still in red jackets….
Sir William Stewart was supported by Colonel Manningham (Equerry to the King) and in 1800 the Rifle Corps (the 95 regiment of foot) was born.
It was the first British infantry regiment since the Civil War to have green uniforms – I recently went to a Civil War re enactment, and whilst everybody raves over the red uniforms of the New Model Army (red because the dye was cheap), but there is something about dark green uniforms against the green fields and woods (and not just of England). Yes it is camouflage – but it is more than that, but I lack the gift of words to explain what I mean.
People will be familiar with the exploits of “the Rifles” from such things as the “Sharpe” novels – but the basic message is historically accurate and simple to state.
By out fighting French skirmishers (not so well trained, or so well TRUSTED, and armed with muskets not Baker rifles) British skirmishers – fighting as individuals and in small groups, were able to help change battles (and thereby help change wars). Negate some of the advantage of the enemy in numbers – and cause confusion and chaos among French (and other) armies that were organised as vast masses of conscripts.
The forces “equality and fraternity” could be defeated by the forces of liberty. Skill, creative thought, and voluntary service.
Those men in dark green jackets with black buttons have (under various names of regiment) fought in many wars since then – surprising people who assume that the British army is a force of robots who do not fight as individuals and in small groups, and who can not think without detailed orders.
Their story is little known – and the reader should look it up for themselves.
Commenter TacitusX observes Sowell’s chicanery:
I’ve decided that Thomas Sowell’s columns are just based on a trick. If you use reason, logic, empirical evidence, and common sense, of course your arguments are going to sound stronger than your opponent’s.
In this fight to retain our freedom, which is the root of the Garland flap, Shari’ah Law and Islamicisation of the West are the adversary. But the principles for which we fight are just as much if not more at risk in the project to Fundamentally Transform the Whole World into some Marxist-Leninist-Progressivist nightmare, and the means by which we fight Islamicisation are to be applied also in this other, all-encompassing fight.
As for the present instance: If we held such events as “Draw Mohammed” every month (but responsibly, as the Garland event was held); if we met every attempt at intimidation by being unimpressed, for instance if our own papers had published the Danish cartoons; such actions would show our enemies that we mean what we say, we will stick by it, we will stand by our principles and defend them in word and deed. If the enemy then wants to impose his will on us by force, by terrorism and war, he will have at least some evidence that we will not run from the fight, fearfully and virtuously clucking our disapproval of it.
With luck he might conjecture that while we would prefer not to meet force with force, we certainly will do so if it is necessary in order for us to live our lives as free men and women and not as serfs or slaves who are at the disposal of other human beings and who are allowed to exist only at their pleasure; and that if we are forced to war in self-defense, we have more than enough strength of will to prevail.
In the ’30′s, Britain and France telegraphed their reluctance to face the facts and to defend themselves against force with force. The guy with the moustache picked up the message and calculated that he could get away with it…and almost did.
How many times must we repeat the same mistake!
The following points have been made by the Prosecution against Pamela Geller (hereinafter, “P.G.”). Each point is followed by rebuttal from the Defense.
1. P.G. held the event specifically to provoke Muslims.
She did not. The underlying point of the event was to EXERCISE freedom of speech in a way that would show that Americans are serious about protecting it. I point out that this is true regardless of whether that freedom is under attack by Islam, the PC crowd, or anybody else … and there are lots of “anybody else’s,” as I hope the various video clips have shown.
But in particular, we in the West are being undermined by capitulating to various strictures of Shari’ah, in this case that one must not even draw the Prophet, let alone criticize, let alone mock him. P.G.’s direct and immediate point in the event was to show that we are determined NOT to “submit” to that stricture.
There is a second point to the event that is equally important, and that is to bring the situation of “creeping Shari’ah,” in this case Shari’ah against Freedom of Speech, into broad public awareness, so that “we” will become not just a few hundred thousand or a few million resisters, but the bulk of the American people: hundreds of millions of resisters.
2. The event predictably invited and incited violence against AFDI, the attendees, and the American public generally. P.G. should, must, have known this, and therefore should not have put others at risk by holding it.
P.G. was well aware that there might be a violent response. That is why she provided additional security forces to the tune of some $37,000 – $ 50,000, according to different published claims.
But in fact no Muslims were forced to respond violently. They chose to do so of their own free will. Miss Geller responds, “This is the same argument as the one claiming that the rape victim is responsible for her being raped because she wore a short skirt.”
(This argument has actually been made often enough against those who claim to have been raped, but the fact is that is both illegal and morally wrong to rape anybody for any reason, even if the victim did intentionally wear a short skirt in a dangerous neighbourhood. We rightly hold the rapist accountable just the same.)
3a. P.G. has the right, specifically the legal, First-Amendment right, to hold the event and say what she wants, but she should not have done it [this may be express or only implied, by the question "…but should she have?"].
This amounts to devaluing all previous statements of defense. It’s like “damning by faint praise.”
(Look for a posting about this line of thought at some point, because there is a good impulse behind it as well as the cowardly refusal to give a fully-committed defense in public.)
3b. Besides, this type of speech, this type of event, “even if it’s allowed, it shouldn’t be done, because it has no value, this type of discussion at this type of event.” Megyn Kelly asks Eugene Volokh to comment on this claim, at 7:09 in their video in Part 5.
Prof. Volokh replies [boldface mine]:
“Well, surely this kind of discussion does have value, it has value in debate about Islam and about the role of Islam and about the action of some Muslims, fortunately only a small portion of Muslims to these kinds of things.
But beyond that, it has value as a re-affirmation of our free-speech rights, it has value as an act of defiance, it has value as people saying “look, we are not going to be shut up. When you tell us that we cannot draw pictures of Mohammed, when you tell us that we cannot say these things or else you’ll kill us, that just means we’re gonna [sic] do it again and again to show that you can not threaten Americans into submission. …. The whole point of this was to say, “You cannot tell Americans, you cannot tell a free people what [they] can and cannot say.” And that’s a very important message to say, especially in times like these.”
I have heard people saying … it’s too provocative. Well, look, there are times when First Amendment rights have to be defended. And they have to be defended by saying [we're] going to say these things even though we realize there’s a risk of violence, even though we realize there’s a risk of attack. The only way we can protect our free-speech rights is by re-asserting our free-speech rights.
By “re-asserting,” Prof. Volokh means showing the existence of the right by using it.
I note that it is up to the Courts through their rulings, and up to us as American (and Western) individuals through our words and actions, to confirm publically the existence of the right and our insistence on not being intimidated into being silenced, on this or any other issue.
4. The event shows that P.G. is “racist,” an Islamophobe, and hates all Muslims.
Horsefeathers. It shows that Miss Geller is aware of the threat from jihadists of both the violent sort and the lawfare/public-condemnation-public-opinion sort, and is fully committed to resisting both.
5. Cartoons at the event clearly are obscene and mock the Prophet.
I haven’t seen any of the cartoons from the contest except Bosch Fawstin’s winning one, which is certainly not obscene in any way. It does call attention to the fact that Mohammed lacks the power to enforce obedience to his command, and I suppose that might be a form of “mockery” in that shows him as “full of sound and fury,” but powerless.
The Republic of Venice, like some other Italian States, was in contact with the Greek (Byzantine) Empire to the east, where Ancient Greek learning was preserved, from the most early days – contact was never lost in the Dark Ages. And the other states of Europe were in close contact with the Republic of Venice and the other Italian states. Yet the education system teaches that Greek learning came only from Islamic Spain. Is this theory really true?
Did, for example, thinkers in the British Isles such as the Irish thinkers from the 5th (indeed reaching back to Patrick and Pelagius [yes Pelagius, that free will scholar of Greek and possibly Hebrew, - of course I would drag him into it] of Roman Britain) century to the 9th century (before old Ireland was destroyed by the Vikings), or the English thinkers of the 12th century and so on (not just Roger Bacon there were other great Greek scholars and scientific thinkers also), really get their knowledge of Greek from Islamic Spain? Of course both the Greek Orthodox Church and the old Irish Celtic Church are not known for the delight in the predestination of Augustine – even if philosopher theologians do strange twisted gymnastics to try and reconcile predestination and moral responsibility (the reality of choice – of the existence of the human agent). Just as Judaism has always rejected predestination (unlike mainstream Islam) and stood for individual moral responsibility – the reality of choice, of the human person.
In almost every case the Reformation of the 16th century led to a Church that was committed to Predestination and was a department of State – after all Predestination was the central doctrine of Martin Luther and John Calvin (they both HATED freedom and reason), and Luther taught that the State should control the State and Calvin taught that the Church should control the State – the autonomy of Church and State was utterly alien to both these thinkers. In England it led, by the 18th century, to a Church that was far MORE in favour of moral responsibility, free will, (hostile to Predestination and so on) than the Roman Catholic Church was, and to a Church that was largely part of the landed interest (backed by local patrons and so on as well as being a, largely, independent landowner itself) rather than being a department of state – an “Established Church” rather than a “State Church”. A Church that was theologically and socially radically different from the rest of Protestant Europe. Why?
Even in the 16th century someone like Richard Hooker (the three legged stool – scripture, tradition, and REASON) seems distinctly English – distinctly “Anglican” (a possible misuse of language – but I hope you get my point), by the 17th century philosopher theologians such as Henry Moore and Ralph Cudworth, perhaps the greatest Greek and Hebrew scholar of his age, are quite acceptable in England, but would have seemed radially alien in the Protestant nations of Europe (and in the centralised Counter Reformation Catholic world) – with the possible exception of the minority tradition in Holland, the Arminian tradition (and remember it was the MINORITY tradition in Holland).
Why was England so weird in its Church development? Unlike both Catholic Europe and Protestant Europe.
I have asked these questions before – but just received utterly irrelevant answers such as “Ralph Cudworth believed in witchcraft”, yes he did (so did the great Common Law thinkers Hales and Selden), but why did the Church in England (both Anglican such as Granville Sharpe and William Wilberforce and Dissenting such as Richard Price [but also his Anglican political opponent Edmund Burke] – or a bit of both such as John Wesley) contain so many people, such as Cudworth and Moore and….., who believed in religious toleration and moral responsibility, free will – hostile to predestination. Why did the English Church turn out, in the main, so differently from the rest of Europe?
So was there no movement of Greek learning from the Byzantine Empire directly to the states of Italy? Was it all via Islamic Spain? Even though Venice was technically part of the Eastern Empire itself? The “Islamic Spain is what matters” idea seems like a unlikely theory. But I am willing to be corrected.
And why did the Church in England, certainly by the 18th century, turn out so different from both Protestant and Catholic Europe? I suspect that the answer to this question is the key to the different POLITICAL development of this land in the late 17th century and the 18th century, compared to the rest of Europe.
The often attacked British press is, in reality, one of the glories of this country. In the United States the normal pattern is for there to be a single dominate newspaper in a town or city and for it to reflect the “liberal” left ideology of the education system (the “Schools of Journalism” and so on) – with, by and large, the only choices being to read the leftist line, presented as “objective, scientific, journalism” or read no newspaper. There is the New York Post, which gives an alternative view of New York and other matters, and the financial and business newspaper the Wall Street Journal (both owned by Rupert Murdoch – which is why the totalitarian left hate him, as he is basically all that stands in their way of gaining a leftist monopoly in the press), but there is little other dissent. Just as on television basically the only dissent from the leftist line is “Fox News” (also owned by Mr Murdoch) with all other television stations reflecting the leftist line.
In the United Kingdom things are very different. There are many newspapers on the left – such as the “I” and the “Independent” and the “Guardian” and the “Daily Mirror” and the “Financial Times” (anyone who thinks a financial and business newspaper can not be on the left has never met the “FT”), but there are also many newspapers on the “right” (in the conservative or old style liberal sense – not the socialist Fascist sense) – such as the “Daily Telegraph”, the “Express”, the “Daily Mail” and the “Sun”. However, annoying the press may be at times this diversity in the press is one of the glories of this country and people who hate it are like people who hate the Queen or Winston Churchill – they really hate Britain.
The left, at least the totalitarian left, seek constantly to destroy the free press in the United Kingdom. For example with the financial backing of, son of Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, Max Mosley (who won a libel case against being accused of being involved in a Nazi themed prostitute event – although he was involved in a Nazi themed prostitute event, work-that-one-out), the left ran a campaign against the newspapers. The left also used a claim in the Guardian newspaper that employees of the Sun newspaper had deleted messages on a murdered girl’s mobile telephone (a claim that turned out to be FALSE – they did “hack” the telephone, in the hope of getting information that would help them crack the case, but they did NOT delete any messages) to get Prime Minister Cameron’s government to impose some censorship on the press. “Hacking” mobile telephones was already illegal (and was done at least as much by Daily Mirror people as by Sun people – but the left does not care about that), and the new censorship rules will not make “hacking” any more illegal – but the left’s objective is censorship, the case of the murdered little girl was just a means-to-an-end to the totalitarian left. And Mr Cameron went along with some of what they wanted (partly because he was embarrassed at employing a person who had once been involved in telephone “hacking” himself) – and he should be ashamed of that.
It should be pointed out that the “Sun” and the, now closed down,”News of the World” are-were Rupert Murdoch newspapers. The leftist campaign against them was nothing to do with them “hacking” telephones more than the leftist “Daily Mirror” people did (they did not “hack” more than Daily Mirror people did) – it was a way of attacking Mr Murdoch, whom (as I have already pointed out) the left see as the main barrier in their way of creating a leftist monopoly in the media of the United States – yes the campaign in Britain was really, in part, about the United States.
However, evil never sleeps and the left have moved on. Far left activist groups have now pushed the management of Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets to physically cover up newspapers.
What exactly has the Tesco chain of supermarkets agreed to do? They have agreed to cover up all but the titles of newspapers that are on sale. The totalitarian leftist activist groups have claimed this will “protect” children (it is always “the children”) from seeing bare breasts. However, women with no tops on are a tradition of page THREE of the Sun newspaper – not the front page, there are no bare breasts on the front page (although there are bare breasts on show in art galleries – no doubt the totalitarian left will now try and get paintings and statues banned, at least if “the children” are their real concern……..).
The cat is let out of the bag by the boasts from the totalitarian left of getting “offensive” headlines covered up – not “just” photographs, HEADLINES.
This makes it clear what this campaign is really about – it is about suppressing, literally “covering up”, any OPINION the left does not like. It is the same sort of thing as the Frankfurt School of Marxism “Political Correctness” or “Critical Theory” that now dominates the education system – turning students into brainwashed zombies who will not tolerate any non “Progressive” opinions.
The evil groups behind the censorship of the press campaign are tiny – organisations such as “Child’s Eyes” and “Stop Page Three” have few members, they could not win any elections. But they do not have to enforce their totalitarian desires by winning elections – not when they are dealing with spineless cowards.
Tesco supermarkets, like so many corporations, is a bureaucracy without any real powerful individual share owners any more. The hired managers are responsible to other hired managers (at Pension Funds and so on – institutional share owners) and they basically want a “quiet life” – they have no passion for what they do, and they have no courage, no principles for which they will risk their jobs. Besides they are mostly ex university students – with all the leftist indoctrination (brainwashing) that a modern school and university “education” implies.
These hired managers at Tesco face ruthless leftist fanatics – who are prepared to do anything, anything at all, to enforce their desire for censorship, so the easy thing to do is to SUBMIT. And, besides, with their “educated” background a lot of the managers half agree with the leftist fanatics – with the totalitarian bullyboy (and bullygirl) censors.
It is difficult not to despair.
However, good an 18th century university administrator and judge Sir William Blackstone may have been, and however personally well disposed he may have been to liberty and property, the rights of the latter being the essential foundation for the former, his doctrine of the Sovereignty of Parliament was radically subversive of the principles of liberty – leading, in the short term, to war with the American colonies, and, in the longer term, the undermining of liberty in Britain and elsewhere.
The central “Whig” principle is that there are some things that the ruler or rulers, Kings or Parliaments, may not do – that natural law – natural justice to-each-their-own-liberty, expressed in the Common Law and other traditions, forbids fundamental attacks on liberty and property, either by private criminals or by the government.
This was the position of Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke in “Dr Bonham’s case”, it was the position of Ralph Cudworth and others against the unlimited government doctrine of Thomas Hobbes (whose mentor was that servant of unlimited government “The New Atlantis” Francis Bacon – the great enemy of Sir Edward Coke) who held that humans were not moral agents, and it was the position of Chief Justice Sir John Holt and the other “Old Whigs” of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Sir William Blackstone’s doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty destroys this Whig foundation stone of liberty – destroys it utterly. Blackstone might pay lip service to the principles of natural law, the legal principles of Cicero and the view of humans as moral agents of Aristotle, but his doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty negates them. If the “legislature” can do anything it likes – then liberty is naught, and natural law is just an empty term. Things are reduced to the level of the Roman Empire – where no legal thinker denied, in theory, that liberty and natural law, natural justice – to each his own liberty, existed, but held that positive law, the will of the Emperor, trumped them – which was the same, in practice, as denying that the rights of liberty and property existed at all.
Blackstone may be held up as one of the great Common Law thinkers – but his fundamental conception of law was essentially Roman, and that of the Roman Empire, just with a Parliament in place of an Emperor.
Many Americans, holding to old Whig principles, were profoundly shocked and rejected the principle of Blackstone, and those who held the same view, – but in Britain it carried all before it.
The principle of Blackstone simplified law by holding that, at a fundamental level, law is whatever Parliament and Francis Bacon “lions UNDER the throne” style judges say it is – with no appeal to natural law, natural justice (to each his own – liberty) principles against them.
It also flattered Parliament (Thomas Hobbes had always said that the supreme unlimited ruler could be one person or a group of people – thus hedging his bets in terms of the Civil War by trying to flatter both sides, like Francis Bacon before him, he would be a lickspittle apologist for whoever was in power) – it gave them delusions of grandeur, indeed of infallibility, and made them unwilling to compromise with the American colonists. After all the law was whatever they, Parliament, said it was – they were Gods upon this Earth who could do no wrong. At least that is how his doctrine was, inevitably, interpreted. So war was made inevitable – and with war the division of the English speaking peoples, a division that continues to this day.
The tradition of the Bill of Rights, American or British, runs directly counter to this doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty – which is why the British Bill of Rights, oh yes it once existed, is not much talked about any more. What is the point of talking about the right to keep and bear arms – if Parliament can take away this right with a statute? It means that the right, for all practical purposes, is negated. Ditto freedom of speech or anything else. If Parliament wishes to, for example, “redistribute” the property of the Duke of Portland this may be sad – but he has no rights against the “legislature”. As Mark Twain was later to say, but not as PRAISE, that “no man’s life or property is safe when the legislature is in secession” the legislature being the only true “criminal class” in United States – the fact that British opinion would have been shocked by a statement like this in the 19th century shows how much damage the doctrine of Sir William Blackstone and others had done – spread by Victorian legal writers such as Maitland, who pretended (with breath taking dishonesty) that not a single Act of Parliament in history had ever been fundamentally unjust or irrational.
By the 19th century more and more people were starting to use the words “the State” in the same awe struck way that German philosophers had in the time of Frederick the Great and before. The State seen as some sort of God on Earth, with, in this case Parliament, being seen as at least semi divine – infallible.
Sir William Blackstone may not have shared some of the “new”, there are actually ancient precedents for its errors, philosophy that was bubbling up like a witch’s brew in his time – but he opened the door for it. David Hume had made his name by being “sceptical” about everything (whether he really was, or whether it was a performance, to wake people from their dogmatic slumbers, is something I will not try to answer here), even the most obvious self evident things such as the existence of the self (the “I”) as a moral agent. If nothing was secure, if there were no principles that one could “prove”, if even the existence of oneself, as a moral agent free to choose to do otherwise than we do was in doubt, what would step into the chaos? Why the state of course – “the euthanasia of the Constitution” the end of “Whig”, Old Whig, principles. This philosophy horrified some Tories – such as Dr Johnson, who expressed his horror when someone said to him that both he and David Hume were Tories. Dr Johnson believed in the principles of Church and King because he believed they were true, objectively true, not because he believed that nothing was objectively true – that is why the Tory Dr Johnson was more of a friend of the Old Whig Edmund Burke than he was of political “allies” such as David Hume.
Jeremy Bentham, and the rest of the “Bowood Circle” of Lord Shelborne (Lord Shelborne, Sir William Petty kinsman of that other Sir William Petty – the friend of Thomas Hobbes, who wanted to mathematically “plan” Ireland in totalitarian fashion) had nothing but contempt for the principles of the Old Whigs – which were “nonsense on stilts”.
13 departments of State should control most aspects of life, according to Bentham – in this way the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” would be achieved, and pleasure and pain (not traditional right and wrong) should be the only guides to policy. If wickedness produced more “pleasure” than “pain” then it was not evil it was good – so if, according to Bentham, control of most aspects of life via 13 departments of State produced more pleasure than pain then it was to be done – and no silly “old rights” allowed to stand against it. The interests of “the people” trumped the silly (indeed “nonsense on stilts”) old rights of individual persons. The fact that this is a “category mistake” that, for example, one does not work out whether rape or gang rape is morally wrong by sitting down with a “calculator of pleasure and pain” to try and work out if the pleasure of the rapist or rapists was greater or lesser than the pain of the victim, escaped Jeremy Bentham. He made the elementary mistake, which would be shameful even in a young child, of mistaking “good” as in pleasure, with “good” as in moral (as they are the same word they must mean the same thing – NO THEY DO NOT). Just because it may be pleasant to torture someone to death it does not mean that it is morally good to torture someone to death – and this has nothing to do with the pain of the victim being greater than the pleasure of the murderer.
This is the principle of the French Revolution, of Rousseau – not of the Old Whig American Revolution. It is why the French Revolutionaries did not believe that their murdering, plundering, rape and other crimes were crimes at all – as the “welfare of the people” trumped, negated, everything else.
And the belief of Bentham and others in intellectual government administrators taking control of various aspects of Civil Society harks back to Sir William Petty and Francis “The New Atlantis” Bacon, and may even have been foreshadowed by Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII – although his schemes, on education and so on, came to naught.
The “liberals” who followed Bentham, there were other factions of liberals of course, included people such as James and John Stuart Mill who endorsed the views on land of David Ricardo, which led to people attacking the rights of property – down with the Duke of Portland and other “Old Whigs” I bet he did not “justly acquire” his property, and he expects rent and rent is evil. This view was refuted by Frank Fetter a century ago, but one still hears it – just as one still hears demands that the state expand the money supply to maintain a “stable price level” as if Frank Fetter had never refuted Irving Fisher (let alone the absurd Lord Keynes).
And there was the Labour Theory of Value, also an interpretation of Ricardo, that holds that factory workers and so on are “exploited” – if private landed estates are, somehow, wrong and large scale non-landed property (factories and so on) are also, somehow, wrong – then the old Whig principles have been utterly destroyed there is nothing left, apart from empty chanting of the words “freedom” and “liberty” (as “liberals” still do today) based on no foundations, philosophical or other.
Of course there is a good side to both James Mill and to John Stewart Mill – but there is also a bad side, a very bad side. And it must not be hidden away – because it did great damage.
A liberal of the 19th century “Westminster Review” type (not other types) may have hoped if nothing is objectively true then there is no justification for state attacks on liberty, and may have held that denying everything, including selfhood, is the ultimate freedom – but, in reality, someone who believes that nothing is objectively true is likely to seek the STATE to fill the void (the “myth” of William James, Sorel or Mussolini). Besides the state NATURALLY expands (those who have power seek to use it – the “Dark Side” tempts them) – and if there are no principles to oppose them with……….
And Sir William Blackstone, whatever his intentions were, has in practice helped get rid of the principles limiting the state – by getting rid of all principles limiting Parliament.
“Ah but Paul – Blackstone trusted Parliament to limit the state” – then he was profoundly foolish and also ignorant, not understanding the typical nature of such statutes as the one that Sir Edward Coke struck down in “Dr Bonham’s Case” – where it was held that someone practicing a trade without a piece of paper called a “license” could not be a crime, because it was not aggression against anyone. The fact that the “Royal College” had both King and Parliament backing it, being irrelevant. If this is a crime whose person or possessions has Mr Bonham attacked? He has attacked no one – so him not buying a “license” CAN NOT be a crime.
Ditto the “Stature of Labourers”, seeking to enforce serfdom, and a thousand other wicked, and unlawful, statutes of Parliament.
But it is more than this – the decline of the respect for Parliament, and there has been such a decline, has not led to the restoration of the principles of the Old Whigs – far from it.
The worship, and “worship” is the right word, has been transferred from Parliament and Congress, Prime Ministers and Presidents – to an ideal state, the public power, “the people” which will impose “Social Justice” (the opposite of real justice – to each their own). Modern “political philosophers” say that they DO believe in liberty, in freedom against elected politicians – but, it turns out, that their “rights” are like the “rights” of the French Revolution, under the mask of “freedom” terrible tyranny, plundering and murder. The words “freedom” and “liberty” chanted endlessly – but divorced from their foundations.
When American judges, and the university class generally- the Harvard Law School, the Imperial German loving Johns Hopkins, the Frankfurt School of Marxism Columbia and on and on, first started to turn against the Old Whig principles of the Founding Fathers they first held that rights and natural law were nonsense (perhaps nonsense “on stilts”) – beasts such as “Justice” O.W. Holmes jr were open friends of Harold Laski and other totalitarians, they held (Buck V Bell) that a screaming woman, who had committed no crime, could be held down and cut up by the servants of the state – because they judged her to be “inferior”. But at least such beasts did not pretend to serve “freedom” “liberty” – they were open followers of Thomas Hobbes and other such creatures.
This sort of “judge” did not, for example, in the gold confiscation and voiding of contracts cases of 1935, hold that they were serving “liberty” and “freedom” when they tore up the Constitution of the United States.
Today Blackstone may be discredited – few would pretend that Parliament, or any other institution of government can do anything it likes. But the Old Whig principles that he helped to undermine have not returned – instead the forces of evil (for that is what they are) have taken the words “freedom” and “liberty” for themselves, and use them to force politicians to expand statism (tyranny) even when they do not wish to do so.
The book shelves groan with books on legal thought that seek to twist the concept of liberty 180 degrees – using it as a justification to destroy liberty, to expand the size and scope of government. The “intellectuals” can get away with this because the old principles have been forgotten – even the very word “right” is no longer understood to be a limitation on government power (under the natural law principle of to each their own – as the late Ayn Rand put it “hands off”), rather a “right” is now seen as an invitation for government to intervene – to enforce “anti discrimination” doctrine (that to “discriminate” is another way of describing freedom of choice, the right to associate or refuse association, is forgotten) and to give people their “rights” to goods and services at the FORCED expense of others.
This is because the old principles are out of sight and forgotten – and, however good his intentions may have been, Sir William Blackstone was one of the people who started to bury them.
The years 2015 and 2016 , and onward, will see something of a perfect storm – a perfect Barack Obama storm, not just for the United States but for the whole Western World.
“Oh Paul is going to go on one of his Chicken Little “the sky is falling” credit-bubble-is-about-bust things”.
O.K. let us ignore the credit bubble – although it must burst one day, and when it does burst the world economy will come crashing down. Hint – do not be near any city dependent on banking and so on, such as New York, when this happens.
There are many other things that are going to happen, on clear dates.
For example more and more of “Obamacare” is coming into effect, based on the lies of Johnathan Gruber and other Obama employees. These costs will massively undermine American industry in 2015 and 2016 and when the United States catches a cold the rest of the West comes down with influenza.
Also Mr Obama, and co, is pushing increased State and Federal minimum wage edicts. Which, whatever phony “empirical studies” say, greatly increase unemployment – even if it is hidden by people no longer looking for work. The work participation rate is already at a low level in the United States, but this does show up in the official unemployment rate, in fact it masks it.
Mr Obama is also going to, illegally and unconstitutionally, “legalise” millions of illegal SOCIAL JUSTICE immigrants to act as part of his private army to “fundamentally transform” America. Sorry “free migration” fans – but it is not an automatically good thing to let people into the gates or stay within the gates, not if they want to help “transform” the city by burning it to the ground in the name of “Social Justice”.
Mr Obama is also going to use the unconstitutional powers of the EPA to continue to attack American industry – he has agreed with the Chinese regime to cut American C02 production by 28%. Not by deregulating nuclear power, which is massively overregulated by endless red tape that does NOT improve safety, but by crucifying American industry with high energy costs, destroying the relatively low energy costs that have maintained some American industries thus far.
And China has agreed to? China has agreed to NOTHING – this deal with China is nothing to do with reducing world C02 emissions. It is an illegal and unconstitutional agreement motivated by a deep hatred of the United States and the West generally – not just a hatred from the People’s Republic of China regime, but a hatred from Mr Barack Obama himself.
President Barack Obama is also continuing to destroy the United States armed forces – basically doing to the American military what Wilson and Healey did to the British armed forces in the 1960s. Soon the U.S. Navy, and so on, will be at 1930s levels.
This is at a time when the Chinese armed forces are vastly improving and the PRC regime is making endless new claims on lands and seas in Asia and the Pacific – places that have nothing to do with China are being declared “always part of China”.
The nations of Asia and the Pacific can not stand against the increasing military might of the PRC regime – especially as it is allied to Mr Putin’s Russia and the soon to be nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran regime.
And neither can anywhere else stand up to the alliance of China and Russia – with the Iranian regime tagging along behind, in its own vicious way.
The only force on the planet that might have deterred the alliance between Putin’s Russia and the PRC is the United States Armed Forces – the very force that is being undermined by President Barack Obama.
The same President Barack Obama who is going to destroy the American economy in 2015 and 2016 – for example in the ways described above, but, no doubt, in other ways also.
What can be done?
Do not talk to me about “impeachment” – it is impossible to get two thirds of the U.S. Senate to vote guilty in relation to Mr Obama – regardless of how obvious his treason is. At least a third of the Senate will support Barack Obama – regardless.
So what can be done?
I DO NOT KNOW – that is why I am asking you.
Anti big government people often make the assumption that life gets worse as government gets bigger. It is true that if government grows, in size and scope, things will not be as good as they could have been – but life can still, for a while anyway, get better for most people.
Take my home town of Kettering, Northamptonshire. Government started to grow here in 1875 (in other towns it was after 1870 – but we did not vote for an Education Board here), with the rise in national taxation and the increase in functions pushed on local government by the Disraeli Act of 1875. Yet life still got better here till at least 1960 – and government was big indeed by then.
I am not just talking about real wages – but general life also. For example Wicksteed Park (the first amusement park in the country) did not exist in the 19th century – but it was a national institution by 1960, although it has sadly declined in recent years. Also ordinary people were better dressed in 1960 than they were in the 19th century (when some children did not even have boots or shoes – even in a town famous for making them) – although, again, one could hardly call people in 2014 well dressed, or well behaved.
And the buildings were fine (or at least O.K.) – the destruction of so much of the “town that Gotch built” did not really begin till 1960. And the town was not too big with endless housing estates eating the fields and the bluebell woods. It was still the Northamptonshire of the writer H.E. Bates and others.
In 1964 there was full employment and historically high wages, no welfare class (of any size) unlike today. But people were also mostly well behaved, polite, well dressed and so on.
“That is trivial stuff Paul” – perhaps. although I do not think so, but there is rather a lot more.
I have already mentioned the lack of a welfare class in 1964 – there were people who could not take care of themselves, but there were not millions of healthy working age people who had never worked and never would. Is this not important?
Also non state institutions were vastly less unhealthy in 1964 than they are now. “Oh Paul is going to obsess about the Churches again” – actually I was thinking of the family.
In 1964 most people still lived in stable families – now we do not. Is this not an important change – and not for the better.
In 1964 the fertility rate was positive, we could replace ourselves as a nation – now it is negative, we can not. We have vast immigration instead of our own children.
In 1964 most shares were still owned by individuals (there was no Capital Gains Tax) and the City of London was matter of self employed stock brokers and stock “jobbers” (wholesalers). The brokers worked for individual clients who still owned most shares (the “Aunt Agathas”) and stock jobbers worked selling shares for the companies.
Now most shares are owned by institutions (hired manages in control of other hired managers – with real owners a thing of the past) and private investors are taken to the cleaners by faceless organisations in a post “Big Bang” GOVERNMENT DOMINATED City of London.
Even Ulster (Northern Ireland) was quiet before 1964 – the main news stories there were about lost cows and the latest attractions at Port Rush. Not how the IRA (Sinn Fein) was running the government and destroying education.
Indeed education was much better in England and Wales also – Grammar Schools were common, intelligent children could get a good education (at the expense of taxpayers). Qualifications meant something – not like now. And the universities were only just starting to over expand.
And the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was an independent nation in 1964 – not a slave of the European Union, we were are own masters.
Also the British armed forces were still a real force in 1964 – the Wilson-Healey gutting of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (reducing Britain to a token power dependent on others) had not yet happened. Britain was not a joke – we still mattered. Yes in spite of Suez, and in spite of the pathetic “Super Mac” we still mattered. And there was no conscription – getting rid of conscription was about the only good thing that “Super Mac” ever did.
And there was still freedom of speech and freedom of association – the 1965 (and all the later Acts) had not yet been passed.
“We get it Paul – in 1964 everything was wonderful – everything now is awful”.
No I am NOT saying that.
The advance of technology in the last 50 years has been a good thing (yes I find the internet time consuming – but the advance of technology has been a good thing) – and that has enabled higher living standards, for most people.
And government in 1964, although much smaller than now (the Welfare State has exploded since 1964), was still vastly too big – unsustainable big in the long term, all the seeds of our present and future societal crises were already long planted before 1964. Government dominated health care and education and old age provision (at least for the poor) and none of these things is good – although the old traditions of the pre government dominated schools and hospitals (the grammar schools and hospitals were still private in the 1930s) still dominated the government services of 1964, teachers, nurses and doctors still acted like dedicated professionals (not dominated by endless government rules and union practices).
However, it was a good country in 1964 – it was a better place to live than Britain had been in (say) 1874, when government was vastly smaller.
I am not saying that if government had been kept to the level, size and scope, it had been in 1870 or 1874 that Britain in 1964 would not have been an even better place – of course it would have.
But Britain in 1964 was an O.K. ish place in 1964 – in ways we are not now, and this should not be forgotten.
All most people know of Warren Harding is that he was corrupt – and all that most people know is wrong.
Although certainly no saint (he was a drinker, and a poker player, and a lover of women) Warren Harding was not personally corrupt – and his Administration was actually less corrupt than most. For example vastly less corrupt than the Administrations of Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman – and Hollywood and the rest of the media (and academia) do not present those Administrations as corrupt.
That is all the space I am going to waste on the so called “Ohio Gang” or “Tea Pot Dome” – people who are interested in such stuff can read a good biography of Harding (clue to what a good biography is – the author will not pretend Harding’s papers were destroyed, which is the standard “Progressive” excuse for not reading the documents and writing “history” based on nonsense instead). 0r they can just look at the chapter on Harding in the “Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents” by Steven F. Haywood (a good historian).
I am interested in other matters………
Today it is a common place among Republican politicians to talk of rolling-back-government – reducing the size of government, cutting taxes, getting rid of regulations, and reducing government spending.
Some (alas not enough) of these Republicans actually mean what they say – but WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Republicans have not always promised smaller government – Republican Presidents (and Governors, and Senators and Congressmen and …..) did not use to make a big thing of this. One does not hear this in the speeches of Lincoln, or in Chester Allan Arthur. or Harrison, or Taft…….
These were not the big (peacetime) government fiends of Rothbardian fantasies – but they were not roll-back-the-state types either.
So where does it come from? This modern identification of the Republicans (sometimes correctly – sometimes NOT correctly) as the make-government-smaller party?
Basically it comes from one man.
Essentially Warren Harding created this role for the Republican Party – he invented the approach, he created the modern Republican Party (or the good bit of it anyway).
In his campaign against the Administration of Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding created all the themes we know today.
When you hear (for example) Senator Rand Paul speak (on civil liberties, on government spending, on ANYTHING) you are really hearing WARREN HARDING – Republicans did not tend to speak in this way before him (he, basically, invented it).
And Harding lived the dream – he made it real. And he was faithfully followed (in his policies) by his Vice President Calvin Coolidge (President Calvin Coolidge) and his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon (anther viciously libelled man).
As the British historian Paul Johnson (in “Modern Times” – long before Ron Radash’s work on Harding) pointed out – Warren Harding actually did the things he said he was going to do.
He sincerely believed in Civil Liberties.
Warren Harding utterly opposed the politics of the Socialists and Communal Anarchists (the Red Flaggers and the Black Flaggers) – but (ironically) they were physically safer under Warren Harding than they were under the Progressive Woodrow Wilson.
President Harding would not tolerate people (even Reds) being sent to prison on trumped up charges – and if he found them already in prison, he would pardon them to get them of prison.
“The bastard must have done something. so what does it matter what we got him for – after all he would murder millions if he had the chance ” may appeal to nasty people (nasty people including, perhaps, ME), but it horrified Harding.
Harding was also horrified by censorship – or any other aspect of the Police State.
He was denounced as Pro German (totally false) for defending German Americans from persecution – German thinkers (as far back as the 1700s) may have worked on aspects of a “Police State” (see Hayek – “The Constitution of Liberty” and “Law, Legislation and Liberty”), but this did not mean that German Americans deserved to be persecuted by an American Police State.
And Warren Harding defended black people also.
He was born in 1865 the year of defeat for the Slave Power – and Warren Harding did not have the “benefit” of a Rothbardian education (based on the writings of Woodrow Wilson – oh yes that was the source Rothbard based his stuff on) that the Civil War was not “really” about slavery. The old men that Warren Harding knew in Marion Ohio had fought in the Civil War – but what did they know, they were not academics…..
The continued persecution of blacks (above all lynching) disgusted Warren Harding to the core of his being – and he denounced the persecution.
The Democrats (and some Republican Progressives, for racism was a Progressive doctrine then, indeed it still is – accept now Progressives stir up blacks against whites, rather than whites against blacks, the switch came in the 1960s and was quite sudden, but as the Dems control the media they got away with it ) replied by spreading rumours that Warren Harding was part black himself (a lie) – but he carried on.
Unlike Woodrow Wilson (a German style trained intellectual [see my first comment] – and “scientific” racist), Warren Harding (a man with little formal education) held that prices and wages should be set by supply and demand – not government orders.
This is why the crash of the post World War One Credit Bubble in 1920-1921 was not like the crash of 1929.
The crash was just as bad (although the Progressive academics have put it down the “Memory Hole”) but Warren Harding was not Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover (a man who became conservative after he left office – having never been so before). Harding did not prevent wages and other prices (a wage is a price) adjusting to the crash – instead he got government out of the way (so mass unemployment was not a feature of year-after-year – as was under Hoover-Roosevelt, for most of Roosevelt’s policies were started by Hoover).
So what did Warren Harding do?
He cut the Federal government in half – from about six billion Dollars spending in 1920 (a peacetime total) to about three billion Dollars only a couple of years later.
Yes prices were falling – but you try and do that. Cut government spending – dramatically.
No “fool” or “lazy man” could do what Warren Harding did - roll back the government on civil liberties, on taxation, or regulation, and on government spending itself.
That is what “normalcy” (and, contrary to ignorant leftists, “normalcy” was the correct American English in Webster’s dictionary when Harding was young) meant to Warren Harding.
Civil Society – where individuals and private associations (commercial companies, churches, clubs, fraternities……) could exist and thrive – and not have every day of their lives spent looking over their shoulder for the commands of the state. A government limited by the Constitution of the United States - in which Warren Harding believed (unlike Woodrow Wilson who despised it) and even physically saved (the physical document was falling apart when he became President – Warren Harding had preserved).
This (his belief in liberty, in property rights, in limited government) is why the collectivists hated Warren Harding (and still do) – and that is why they (the academic-media-cultural elite) have spent more than 90 years spitting on his name.
The American Founding Father John Jay was fond of reading Plato in his youth (often not a good sign), and even named one of his slaves Plato (I am not attacking Mr Jay over slavery – I know he did more than anyone else to end slavery in New York State, even losing an election over it).
It is not likely that John Jay was fond of the economic collectivism of Plato (after all John Jay was the man famous for making “those who own the land should govern it” his maxim – although it was actually G. Morris who supported a strictly limited franchise, as long you owned a little land, say your own home, you should have the vote according to Jay), so what was he getting from Plato?
Not the idea of the importance of virtue – that was a commonplace of republican (small “r”) thought, that only a moral people could remain free (that a people addicted to vice and waste would either not notice government getting more powerful – or would actively welcome a despotic government, if it promised them lots of benefits “bread and games”).
Nor was John Jay some sort of “Puritan” in the Hollywood sense – he did not believe that such things as drink and dancing should be banned, he liked a drink and he employed tutors to teach his children to dance (and the only reason he did not go to the theatre was that he believed there was so much suffering and humiliation in real life that he did not want to see it on the stage as well). Again “virtue” was a much broader concept than the Hollywood mockery of po faced Puritans.
What Plato would have given John Jay is that idea that people can (and should) be made virtuous by THE STATE.
We today are used to prisons and government schools (especially in New York) being dens of vice – and that is not funny (rape and so on should not be a matter for nudge-nudge, wink-wink jokes). Places where vast amounts of taxpayers money are spent – and people come out vastly worse than they went in. Indeed the only thing that government schools in America appear to be good at teaching people is that government should control everything and that business (especially “big business”) is evil (needing to be controlled by noble government), and the churches are evil too, and…… (well any alternative to the state in any area of life) is evil – how odd that government schools should teach that government should control everything (well actually not odd at all).
However, dens of vice was not the Platonic vision (although what American schools and colleges actually teach would have pleased Plato).
In the vision of John Jay the government prisons he established (to replace the old policy of either hanging or flogging criminals) were meant to “reform” criminals.
And the government school system he longed for (it was not really established till after his time) would take children and turn them into virtuous citizens of the new republic .
What if someone from the state had come to Mr Jay’s farm (the house he had built shows his reputation as an aristocrat is false – it is a rather ordinary house with a front pouch where someone can sit on a rocking chair and chat to passers by – the house that “Common Man” Jefferson had built is vastly grander, but then Jefferson did not mind borrowing money, John Jay hated the idea of borrowing for luxury, he would only spend money he actually had) and started to order him about in farming matters?
I think such a government official would have got a cold stare from the man who attacked price controls and other such nonsense (John Adams would have lost his temper and set the dogs on such an official). But why should government be better at forming human character?
If would not trust the government to be in charge of your carrots, why would you trust them to be in charge of your children?
Governments are often better than private individuals and associations for destructive things – killing people, burning cities and so on (as a man who had lived through war – Mr Jay knew that), but for constructive things such as reforming human character? That does not seem very likely.
Evil (force and fear) has its place in human affairs – remember the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk is divided between good and evil. His good side has many things (for example a sincere love of knowledge for its own sake) – even his courage (the evil Kirk is a coward – terrified of losing his own skin), but the good Kirk is also useless as a Star Ship commander (he will not take risks with other people’s lives – and he is horrified even by the suffering and death of enemies). It is the evil Kirk who has the “power of command” and the delight in torment and destruction that gives him the incentive to think up clever ways of destroying foes (the pleasure a cat has). And these-things-are-necessary at times.
The state (force and fear – the Sword of State) is the negative (destructive) energy of human life – you can burn a city with such a force, but you can not make people better (not really) you can not create new and good things. Force and fear has its place in human life (the good Kirk can not command the Enterprise – although the evil Kirk can not be trusted to do so) – but it can not turn a child into a good adult, or turn criminals into honest people (it can just turn them into hypocrites like Mr Heap – pretending to be “ever so humble” as they plot fresh crimes).
If one tries to use the state for positive (for constructive) purposes the negative energy feeds back on itself – the tormented child becomes a vile adult, the criminal leaves the prison worse than when he went in (and so on). The state can punish crime – but it can reform people (and the effort to use state power to “make people better” leads to the most terrible tyranny, as C.S. Lewis pointed out).
Those people (such as John Jay) who supported setting up state prison systems and school systems sincerely believing that they would promote virtue were making an error – a terrible, fundamental, error (an error for which the world is still suffering – and will suffer more).