jump to navigation

Governance March 26, 2013

Posted by Sobek in News.
trackback

Today I heard the quote from Gen. Charles de Gaulle: “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”  Eh, vaguely amusing, but Winston Churchill he is not.

The question bugs me, though, because he’s suggesting a diverse population cannot be governed.  This assumes that governance means making everyone think and act the same.  That notion is an outrage, up with which I will not put.  You govern the people of France, as you govern any other people, by giving them as much freedom as possible consistent with the social contract.  It reminds me of how liberals complain, when they’re in charge of the government but Republicans won’t give them carte blanche to implement every socialistic fantasy, that the country has become ungovernable.  We are governable – give us a strong military, competent police, and effective foreign policy, and then get out of our way.  The fact that we might behave differently with our freedoms does not suggest we’ve degenerated into anarchy.

Contrast de Gaulle’s lame attempt at a quip with Joseph Smith; when he was asked how he governed the Mormons, he responded “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.”  Eh, not as funny as anything Churchill said, but at least he recognizes the importance of freedom.

Comments»

1. red sweater - March 27, 2013

I’m a Mormon, and I’ve had internal debates about how any other Mormon could have “liberal”, big-government proclivities. (I’ve met a handful.) I’ve thought of our doctrines on agency and what we believe about Lucifer’s fall. But I can’t believe I haven’t connected that quote from Joseph Smith to government before, even though the word “govern” is in it. Thanks a bunch. This seals it for me.

2. Michael - March 27, 2013

You govern the people of France, as you govern any other people, by giving them as much freedom as possible consistent with the social contract.

As many have pointed out, the concept of a social contract (most famously associated with Jean Jacque Rousseau) is a fallacy. The bottom line — you are born into a deal you never accepted.

Thus the (failed) attempt to develop the notion of utilitarianism, beginning with Jeremy Bentham and leading to the more modern Rawlesian jurisprudence. You can’t satisfactorily explain why people sacrifice their own utility to a higher good, with reference to a genetic herd instinct or otherwise.

Regardless, you always end up with a legal system that supports an hierachical social structure involving gross inequities, and systemic breaches of any concept of what is “fair.” The entire concept of “justice” is inexplicable without reference to religion and a divinely imposed standard.

E.g., the Bible, and Jesus in particular, is peculiarly concerned about the welfare of widows and orphans. Why should anyone give a shit about them?

P.S. “Freedom” as defined by the Bible is slavery to God’s will, as opposed to slavery to sin. Doing your own thing is not an option, because you weren’t made that way, i.e., you’re not the god of your own life.

3. Michael - March 27, 2013

In other words, freedom is not autonomy. It’s submission to God’s calling and plan for you. The monotheistic religions (Judaism first, Christianity, Islam) are all in agreement about this.

4. Michael - March 27, 2013

I aced my Jurisprudence exam, by the way. Please send me $20 for the synopsis.

5. wiserbud - March 27, 2013

Please send me $20 for the synopsis.

you got change for a $50?

6. Michael - March 27, 2013

Wiser, I still have the Jackson I took from you in St. Louis right here in my back pocket.

*Michael pats his right rear ass cheek*

I cannot in good conscience accept another one. You get the lecture for free.

7. wiserbud - March 27, 2013

Wiser, I still have the Jackson I took from you in St. Louis right here in my back pocket.

Strange that you cherish that bill so deeply, considering what you did to earn it. One would think that that would be a moment in time that you would prefer to forget

8. sobek - March 27, 2013

“…you are born into a deal you never accepted.”

But you accept the deal through Ratification, as you act out your life consistently with the terms of that contract. Have you ever voted? Written or called your Rep? Driven on public roads where other people were (more or less) obeying the traffic laws? Called the police?

I also submit that the social contract is more than just the written Constitution and statutes, but also the unwritten social mores people are expected to follow. It’s not a deal that can’t be changed – it has and will do so – but it changes with the consent of the society.

9. Michael - March 27, 2013

But you accept the deal through Ratification . . .

You don’t have a choice, and your own submission doesn’t make a difference.

It’s not a deal that can’t be changed – it has and will do so – but it changes with the consent of the society.

“Society” is not an actor with free will that can consent to anything. It is a construct of the legal, cultural, political and economic forces that compel the actions of individuals.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: