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Friday, January 05, 2018

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We can't seriously consider this question without examining our commitment to democracy itself.

"Democracy" is now believed, with almost zero dissent anywhere in the West, to be the only morally defensible form of government. Even to suggest that it is only one form of government among many, and that the choice is properly an empirical one, is to tread on thin ice. Mencius Moldbug said, ten years ago, that "Disbelieving in democracy in 2008 is a lot like disbelieving in God in 1758.". He is quite right to identify the religious quality of this belief in the modern era.

It is difficult, though, seriously to embrace democracy if you aren't prepared to go wherever the mob (or, to use the Rousseauian euphemism, the "general will") leads.

Yes, you can be bound by a constitution, but there you have two choices: either your constitution is immutable, or it contains mechanisms by which it can be changed. As the mob (excuse me, the "general will") evolves, and strains against the constitution, either it will change it, or it will ignore or discard it.

The American Founders knew very well that democracy was unsustainable, and so gave us a Republic that was very clearly not a democracy -- but that ideal, planted so firmly in the original Constitution, has mostly withered away by now in America, amendment by amendment, toward raw democracy and centralized Federal power. (Can a battle to eliminate the Electoral College be far off?) Meanwhile, to the extent that the Constitution has proven resistant to change, it has simply been ignored by the administrative state -- and to the extent that it is still it is honored, it simply means whatever Anthony Kennedy says it means.

So: can one propose a consistent, democratic system of government in which "subversive" political parties are banned?

Consider: if such a party has the support of only a tiny minority, why be afraid of it? And if it represents the will of a great mass of the people, how can you deny it a voice, and still call yourself a "democracy"?

There is, then, a fundamental tension between the sacred and unquestionable status of democracy in the modern West, and the need to protect democratic systems from subversion by "entryists" such as, say, Hitler, or Turkey's Erdogan, who famously said that "democracy is like a train; you get off once you have reached your destination." Can this tension be resolved?

I'll give you my answer: I don't believe it can. The founders believed that republics tend to become more democratic over time, and that democracies always tend toward tyranny. As for the first step, our own political experiment has already given ample confirmation. As for the second: well, keep your powder dry.

To me, the proper aim of a people who would be governed is simply to be governed well, in harmony with that people's nature. This implies and entails many things, but universally enfranchised democracy, I am by now quite certain, is not one of them.

You don't seem to understand what I am saying. Where above do I advocate a pure democracy? I didn't use the word 'democracy' once. You also shouldn't write as if a republic excludes all democratic elements. Ours doesn't.

You seem to be making the common mistake of thinking that if X is distinct from Y, then X and Y have nothing to do with each other.

Forgive me, Bill, if my prefatory sentence wasn't clear enough. Just to make sure we are "on the same page", let me make sure I am in fact understanding you correctly.

If I've read you as intended, you are making the very sensible points that both of these (closely related) things are suicidal folly:

a) Tolerance to the point of tolerating in your midst those who are malevolently intolerant of you;

b) Political tolerance of parties whose aim is to subvert and "fundamentally transform" (or simply destroy and replace) the very system that grants them a seat at the table.

Is this correct? If so, I should make clear that I couldn't agree more. (I suppose I should have said all this up front.)

I felt, though, given this, it was important to think about whether democracy itself is particularly liable to these problems, and if so, what that means in an era of near-religious faith in democracy.

I should say also that I agree completely with your Canadian reader that the subversion has already happened, and has been underway for more than a century, in the form of Constitutional amendments, Supreme Court activism, expansions of the franchise, and demographic change, all of which have tilted the nation ever further in the direction of direct democracy -- which, if I am right about the liabilities of democracy itself, only serves to accelerate the slide.

Thus I thought that to get at the core of the problem under discussion, we ought to examine our own commitment to democracy.

I hope you now feel that I've understood you, and can see why I made this digression.

Meanwhile, this:

The psychiatrist who briefed Congress on Trump’s mental state: this is “an emergency”

Malcolm,

I apologize for my curt reply in my first comment. Thank you for remaining your usual very civil self.

We agree that both (a) and (b) are suicidal. We also agree that the word 'democracy' is almost always used in an uncritical and highly laudatory way. G. W. Bush was a prime offender in this regard. 'Democracy' is the opposite of 'fascism' and 'racism' which are almost always used as smear words. 'Populism' is somewhere in the middle.

I am sure we also agree that pure democracy is pure disaster. Correct me if I am wrong, but are you saying that a republic cannot have democratic elements? For example, Roy Moore was defeated by the vote of the people in Alabama. That is what I mean by a democratic element.

Weather is not the same as climate, but you can't have climate without weather. Pure democracy is not the same as a republic but you can't have a republic, or at least the American form of a republic, without popular input (elections) and popular representation as in the House of Reps.

Perhaps you have a different understanding of what a republic is.

My understanding of American Republicanism is captured by this Wikipedia quotation: "Republicanism is a type of democracy, but if protected by a Bill of Rights, may be distinguished from other forms of democracy as a Bill of Rights asserts that each individual has unalienable rights that cannot be voted away by a majority of voters . . . "

Our Bill of Rights comprise the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and are part of the Constitution. They are not up for democratic grabs, despite the fact that the Constitution can be amended and has been.

Of course, there is lot more to be said because there are those who will say that Constitution means whatever SCOTUS says it means -- which is crazy, wouldn't you say?

Thanks, Bill.

I think we have the same view of what a republic is. My view, though,is that democratic republics are inherently unstable, just as the Founders knew and feared. They strove, to the full measure of their genius, to devise a republican system that would be immune to this process, but its success would depend on several things -- foremost among them civic virtue and broadly shared culture and values -- that no longer exist, and in fact have been willfully destroyed.

In short, the democratic republic that existed at the Founding has succumbed to the ineradicable liabilities of democracy itself -- which had its "nose under the tent" right from the beginning. I think the Founders did the very best they possibly could have to prevent this, and limited the democratic aspects of the new republic as best they could, yet failed anyway -- which I think is dispositive evidence of the insuperable defects of democracy.

And yes, that the Constitution means whatever Anthony Kennedy says it means is crazy, but it's an inherent and unavoidable part of the problem.

Not to be too depressing about it, but I think the problem of stably governing a vast, irreligious, and diverse polity with low cohesion, descending average IQ, and dissipated civic virtues is simply insoluble, and tends toward either disaggregation or tyranny.

Malcolm,

It is not clear what you are proposing. Do you want to deny the franchise to women? To blacks? I will oppose you on those two.

Where we can agree is on immigration both legal and illegal. The USA can continue to exist for a while, until you and U are dead, let us say, if Trump prevails and we get immigration under control.

By the way, if you think a republic need not have any democratic input, then how do you distinguish a republic from a monarchy? I don't reckon you are a throne and altar conservative.

Do you want to restrict the franchise to adult white male citizens? But a lot of those people are pretty stupid and nasty. So we need a further cut . . . And what about Asian citizens? They are pretty smart and decent. Want to exclude them? Do you consider Jews to be white? Or are they also to be excluded?

Finally, what was the point you were trying to make with the Vox hyperlink?

Malcolm,

Don't you think every political system is unstable? I can't think of one that isn't. Can you?

>>civic virtue and broadly shared culture and values<< I agree that this is what we no longer have, and this is what we need.

You don't give enough emphasis to the importance of a democratic check on the power of the rulers who will simply entrench themselves in their swamp (mixed metaphor?) unless rude and obnoxious non-politicians with stinky deplorables behind them rise up to contest their power.

>> insuperable defects of democracy.<< What do you mean? Pure democracy or every democratic republic? If the latter, what are you, a monarchist?

Don't you want to have a say in how society is ordered? I want you to have a say despite your being wrong on some points. But I don't want Ta-nehisi Coates to have a say. But I have to tolerate his having a say, a vote, so that you and I can have a say.

The problem in a nutshell: The people have to be allowed their say, but there is a need for constraints that are not up for democratic grabs. Unfortunately, we don't agree on what those constraints are. We don't agree on the principles and values that are even deeper than the Constitution and that the Constitution is supposed to enshrine and protect.

For example, you and I disagree about "All men are created equal" (from the Declaration). You misread it as a false empirical claim. I read it as a true normative claim grounded in Christian/personalist metaphysics. But you won't accept that metaphysics.

I may be even more pessimistic than you are since I locate the problem at a deeper level. For me, all philosophical problems are insoluble. The political problems we are discussing are a proper subset thereof. Ergo, etc.

>>either disaggregation or tyranny.<<

Which would you prefer? And isn't there a third option, civil war?

Hi Bill,

So much there to answer to! I must take it a little at a time, if you don't mind too much.

It is not clear what you are proposing.

Right, I haven't proposed anything. My aim here is more diagnostic than prescriptive.

...if you think a republic need not have any democratic input...

I didn't say that! I agree with you that republics by definition involve some sort of distribution of sovereignty to some proper subset of the people.

So: in your own words, "pure democracy is pure disaster". This is a critical point, and one with which I (and the Founders) are in full agreement.

But what does that mean for a republic? It seems to me that "pure democracy is pure disaster" means that republics are vulnerable to the liabilities of democracy in proportion both to a) the extent to which their sovereignty grants power to democratic processes, and b) the universality of the franchise.

Of course there are other powerful factors as well, in particular the quality, the virtue, and the cohesiveness and commonality of the people. (If all men were angels, democracy wouldn't be present any problem at all.) But right now I'm just looking for a general, real-world understanding of the relation between republics and democracy.

Sorting through all this is a very finicky business, for me at least, and I want very much to be thorough and careful -- so I hesitate to continue until I secure your agreement on the above. What do you say?

Bill,

In the meanwhile, as I await your reply:

For example, you and I disagree about "All men are created equal" (from the Declaration). You misread it as a false empirical claim. I read it as a true normative claim grounded in Christian/personalist metaphysics. But you won't accept that metaphysics.

I'm not sure where you have me misreading this. Obviously it's false empirically, as I'm sure you'd agree. But I've always understood it as saying, in the context of the Declaration (and of the natural-law philosophy that animated so many of the Founders), that all men ought to stand as equals in their possession of inalienable rights.

I want to add also that I don't mean to belabor all this interminably here in this comment-thread. You asked me a lot of questions there -- and given the forum, and my respect for your rigor, I just want to be careful. We often seem to talk past each other, and I hope to avoid that.

Good discussion, Malcolm.

I agree with what you say at 3:37. But more needs to be said about universality of franchise.

I know you will agree that universality cannot be taken 'wide open.' You will agree that children, whether citizens or not, cannot be allowed to vote either directly or by parental proxy, e.g. a parent with two young children gets three votes while the childless cat lady gets only one vote.

You will agree that animals of the nonhuman sort get no (proxy) votes even though as living things they are affected by political decisions.

You will agree that illegal aliens and 'the dead' don't get the vote even though this is quite the thing in Chicagoland.

Ditto for felons. (Jesse Jackson wants felons to have the vote.)

Here is my view. All and only adult non-felon citizens have the right to vote regardless of sex or race or religion. No illegal aliens may be permitted to vote no matter how economically productive and upstanding they are.

But Islam is not a religion in the relevant sense, being an inimical political ideology, and so no Sharia-supporting Muslim should get the vote, or any Communist.

Agree? If not, why not?

"All men are created equal" in the Declaration means what you mean by "all men ought to stand as equals in their possession of inalienable rights."

So it looks like we are not disagreeing on this point after all.

You are quite right that we should proceed slowly bit by bit.

And of course we agree that 'men' covers both sexes.

Now the political judgment of women as a group is not as good as that of men as a group. But that is not a reason to deny the franchise to women. Agree?

Hi Bill,
Thanks for taking the time to reply in such detail. You ask me to "support and nuance" my "claim that both of the major parties are subversive". I think you might not accept my evidence because we have different ideas about what counts as subversion. But here is one point that matters to me: For many decades both parties, along with pretty much every authority in the US, have been doing everything they can to replace the historic American people. They have lied to the public, and never given the public any real chance to express their preferences. (Would the American people at any time in the last century have agreed to be outnumbered in their own country by Third World immigrants and their descendants?) Although there have been some individual people in positions of power who tried to stop the process--Buchanan, for example--the establishment as a whole, including both parties, have been hellbent. So I consider this treason. At the very least it's a profoundly _subversive_ plan. And this is just one example.

I do agree that the Trump phenomenon represents some kind of attempt to fight back, on behalf of the American people. (I don't mean to imply that Trump himself is sincere, or even that he understands what is at stake. Who knows?) But I don't accept the 'Flight 93' metaphor. Even with Trump in office, the 'cockpit' is still controlled by pretty much the same elite factions as before. I see very little evidence that Trump is doing anything (or can do anything) to remove the most treasonous elements from their positions of power. At most, his election is a kind of protest. But very quickly after entering office any possibly populist or right-wing people were removed and replaced by System operatives. At least that's how it seems. And he's doing almost nothing on the issues that got him elected. His foreign policy so far is just the same old interventionist, neo-conservative/Zionist thing. There is no Wall, and it seems there won't ever be one. Maybe the travel ban has some symbolic value.

"I hope you are not saying that the Dems are in power."

Well, it depends on what it means to be "in power". I'd say that the treasonous anti-American ideas of the Dems are 99% hegemonic throughout the whole of the American establishment. Again, consider Marco Rubio--a Republican and "conservative" enemy of the Dems, supposedly--saying that anyone who supports the alt-right or identitarian movement deserves violence simply because of their beliefs. This is a major Republican figure spouting essentially Leninist or Trotskyite ideology. And, just as importantly, the mainstream media and academia and other "conservatives" generally have no reaction to this whatsoever. (No one is saying "This guy is a Far Left lunatic who should be sent back to Cuba".) Or Mitt Romney, that disgusting liar, angrily denouncing Trump for even suggesting any kind of "moral equivalence" between violent Antifa and their alt-right victims--clearly the violent Leftists are morally _superior_ because their ideology is about "equality" and "tolerance", etc. Again, this is a mainstream "conservative" and Republican whose ideas would have been considered _far_ left even 20 years ago.

To me it seems obvious that the Republican party and the mainstream conservative "movement" and pretty much the whole of mainstream America has long been mentally colonized by the far (far, far, far) left for a long time now. What is supposed to be the real difference? That Romney wants lower taxes for corporations? (And, of course, a serious right-winger shouldn't want that anyway since the corporations are also hellbent on destroying the west.)

But, as I say, we probably have different ideas about what would count as subversion.

One more thing :)

You say that you have to tolerate Ta-Genius Coates having a say in how society is ordered so that people like you and Malcolm can also have say. I want to question this. Why is letting the Genius have a say necessary? A better idea might be this: Let the Genius go live among other similarly enlightened people who find "whiteness" to be toxic and unbearable. Let them go create their transgendered, feminist, communist Person of Color utopia. In fact, let the rest of us give them all some huge sum of money to get started, on the condition that we never ever have to hear from them again. And then, when the millions of low IQ refugees from their utopia start washing up on our shores demanding that we support them and "tolerate" them all over again, this time we just say NO.

In short, let people who are so profoundly different and who just don't like each other very much live separately. Let's have a DIVORCE from leftists, aggrieved and incompetent racial minorities, primitives and jihadists, feminists and people who want to force their weird sexual delusions on everyone else. Let them go do their own thing. (Why don't they want that? Why do they never seem to want to get away from their "oppressors" when the "oppressors" just want to be left alone?)

I don't see why any society should have to include people like you and me along with Ta-Genius. More generally, are you just assuming as an axiom that any society (or America in particular) must be "diverse"? I think it's already far too "diverse" to even constitute a real society. A society where you and Ta-Genius both have a say is just a society where nothing important can _ever_ be settled in a way that will seem reasonable and tolerable for most people. It's a society that _must_ ultimately be a tyranny of some kind.

And, of course, there's a different issue here that deserves consideration: Ta-Genius is, in fact, deeply stupid and uninformed, incurious and only semi-literate; in addition, he is obviously a traitor and a parasite in relation to the American nation. I see no reason why such people should have any "say" in governance. We don't let them decide how to do brain surgery or even just teach a philosophy course. Why on earth should they have a "say" in foreign policy or economics or whatever? If we're going to have voting, there is no justification for such an absurdly broad franchise. Only a very small class of people should be allowed to vote. Why are you assuming that an unintelligent, ignorant and immoral person such as Ta-Genius should be allowed to vote, or that _he_ has to be allowed if _anyone_ is allowed?

(Sorry if I'm misunderstanding you on this point.)

Hi Bill,

Yes, a good discussion, and I'm glad to be able to triangulate these issues with the two of you.

I want to be thorough, so I'll scroll up to your comment of 12:10. Leaving aside the questions about the franchise for the moment, the point of that hyperlink was only to not that while we're over here talking about how to exclude political participants we don't approve of, the other guys are actually trying to do something about it.

In your comment of 12:57, you said:

Don't you think every political system is unstable? I can't think of one that isn't. Can you?

Well, even stars and planets die, and thinkers like Spengler and Lothrop Stoddard have described very convincingly a mechanism that slowly kills high civilizations, too. But some political systems can last a very long time: the Pharaonic dynasties of Egypt had a pretty long run, for example, as did, say the kingdom of France. The Holy See has hung in there for a very long time, and if one reads Chinese history, one can skip around in centuries-long hops without much of anything changing at all. Japan also ran on the same system for a very long time indeed. Note that none of these are republics, let alone democracies. At the time of the Founding, democracy had such an abysmal track-record that everyone thought we were nuts. The only way the Founders made it work at all -- and with great trepidation -- was to concede only one-half of one branch of government (the House) to direct election, and even then they did so with a severely restricted franchise, and an immigration policy that admitted only "free white men" as citizens.

What are you? A monarchist?

Heresy! (As Moldbug said: "Disbelieving in democracy in 2008 is a lot like disbelieving in God in 1758.") What's so terrible about monarchy? It has many advantages over democracy, and the whole world ran this way until very recently. Democracy, as we've agreed, is vulnerable to entryism à la Hitler, and even at its best it creates constant political turmoil and factional strife. It forces politicians to think in very short time-frames, and so they compete to make the most appealing promises to voters: promises that, as they well know, somebody else will have to keep.

Don't you want to have a say in how society is ordered? I want you to have a say despite your being wrong on some points. But I don't want Ta-nehisi Coates to have a say. But I have to tolerate his having a say, a vote, so that you and I can have a say.

As I said above, I care much more about being governed well than about who does the governing, or who gets a say. I want my liberty and my rights to be secured. I want public order. I want my borders defended. Etc.

It's an engineering problem. I see no reason to accept as an axiom that a universal, or even a broad, democratic franchise is the best solution to this problem, and frankly, I think there are some very good reasons to think it isn't. If we must live in a democratic republic, we can fuss about the franchise. The Founders, for example didn't extend it to women. Admittedly, they weren't as "progressive" as we like to imagine ourselves to be, but maybe they were smarter than we think. (As you say, "the political judgment of women as a group is not as good as that of men as a group", and I'd say there's good reason to believe that. Do you suppose that Europe would be overrun with rapey young male Muslim and African "refugees" if women had no vote?)

So: as for Tennessee Coates, I'd gladly give up my "say" to make sure he doesn't get one. If we had kept the franchise as restricted as it was in 1790, we might still be living in the constitutional Republic that the Founders tried so hard to bequeath us.

This comment is already too long, but I'll close with a quote from long ago. The source is truly "deplorable" -- Senator Benjamin H. Hill of Georgia, writing in 1867 -- but the analysis is, at least, worth considering.

In all society or government are rights to be enjoyed, burdens to be borne, and trusts to be discharged.

Among the rights are the right of property; the right of locomotion; the right to appropriate and dispose of the proceeds of our own labor; the right to worship according to conscience; and the right to protection from from society in the enjoyment of all these rights, and the right to have all the legal processes and remedies provided to make this protection effectual. These are called civil rights, and when we speak of civil equality we mean that these rights belong alike and equally to all citizens, to all classes, to all colors, to all sexes, to all ages, and to all grades of intellect, society, and worth. [...]

Among the burdens of society and governments I may mention: working the public highways; providing public buildings; paying the public taxes; defending the public safety, etc, etc. These burdens ought to be borne by all according to fitness and capacity, for these burdens constitute the consideration we pay for the protection we get. Women and children, lunatics and idiots do not work the highways or defend the society with arms, because their positions or capacity forbid; but they are all citizens - or members of the society - and pay taxes. These are called burdens because they are borne, not for ourselves only, but for others - for the public.

Lastly, in every society or government there are trusts to be discharged. Offices are to be filled; laws are to be made, executed and administered, else there could be no rules or process for protection; and agents are to be selected for all these purposes. The whole business of selecting agents to discharge duties, as well as the discharge of the duties themselves, comes under the head of trusts. They are called trusts because they are powers exercised not for one's own good but for the good of others - for the public. The authority to vote is, therefore, a trust reposed, and the exercise of the authority is the exercise of a trust - the trust of selecting agents to provide and execute the laws by which rights are to be protected. All men are born to rights - which are personal - affecting each person only; but no man is born to a trust - to a power which affects all other members of society. You had as well say a man is born to an office as to say he is born to a vote for that office. So, again, all trusts imply capacity and integrity. No man has a right to be intrusted to discharge a duty affecting others who does not understand that duty, or has not integrity to be trusted with its faithful exercise.

How can the rights of the members of society be safe if the protection for those rights is to be provided or applied by ignorant or vicious agents? And how can ignorant and vicious agents be avoided if ignorant and vicious persons are born to the right to select them?

Rights are personal - born with persons - belong to the person, and affect the person; but trusts are relative - and born with society - belong to society - and are for the good and under control of society. How is any man born with a right to take my rights, or to select another to take my rights?

Suffrage, then, is not a right - it is not a privilege - it is a trust, and a most solemn and sacred trust. It is the trust of preserving society, of securing rights, of protecting persons.

Would you select an ignorant, or vicious, or untrustworthy man as your trustee, or the trustee for your wife or your child in the smallest concerns of life? How, then, would you make a trustee of an ignorant or vicious man to discharge these great duties, on the wise and faithful discharge of which all rights, and all protection, and all things depend?

As Franklin said, when asked what the Constitutional Convention had produced: "A Republic, Sir, if you can keep it!" I think he might be a bit chopfallen to see how we've done.

I forgot about this:

But Islam is not a religion in the relevant sense, being an inimical political ideology, and so no Sharia-supporting Muslim should get the vote, or any Communist.

Agree? If not, why not?

Well, you can't really say Islam isn't a religion. It's also a totalizing political and cultural ideology, but it's certainly a religion, too. ("It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!")

So now I'll ask you: How will you enforce the denial of franchise to orthodox Muslims that you propose? I'll say it is a total political impossibility in the democracy we're living in, for the simple reason that it requires us to discriminate -- which is, as we all know very well, our new religion's Unforgivable Sin.

>>I see no reason to accept as an axiom that a universal, or even a broad, democratic franchise is the best solution to this problem, <<

It's not an axiom but a teaching of experience. The Founders understood the need for checks and balances. I don't know if they would say 'at every level,' but I will. People are corruptible if not already corrupt and power easily corrupts people in government and out. That is a fact of experience. Give all the power to one man or a few men and things will get done, no doubt. The trains will run on time and the people (Volk) will get their Volkswagens, but things might not turn out so well. I'm alluding of course to der Fuehrerprinzip.

>>So: as for Tennessee Coates, I'd gladly give up my "say" to make sure he doesn't get one.<< Really? What if Obama or Hillary are substituted for Coates?

You want your rights protected. What if the monarch decides for the common good to remove certain rights you think you have such as gun rights or free speech rights or if you are woman the 'right' to an abortion at any stage of fetal development. No abortion under Franco.

Your view seems as extreme as that of such destructive leftists as Governor Moonbeam (Jerry Brown) of California or Bozo de Blasio of NYC. So 'reactionary' is perhaps exactly the right label.

I would prefer a restoration of the American Republic, not that I am sanguine about that happening. It would have to involve, first of all, a stoppage of illegal immigration and a reform of legal immigration policy. I agree with you when you say that there is no net benefit to Muslim immigration.

You misrepresented my view of Islam. I have said a hundred times that it is a hybrid ideology: religion-cum-political ideology.

I have other things to do, so let's end this round. No doubt it will come up again in the future.

Hi Bill,

You misrepresented my view of Islam.

Please forgive me. (You did, after all, say "not a religion in the relevant sense".) I'm sorry I misunderstood that.

Sure, we can end this round, but I would like just to respond briefly to your comment of 12:05, if you don't mind.

I too, would like, best of all, a restoration of the original American republic, but as you say, it's too far gone. (However did that happen, I wonder...)

You said my view seems "extreme". But all I've done has been to question some almost completely unquestioned orthodoxy. Is doing so, on a philosophy blog, really "extreme"? I must say also that your own view -- that we should exclude certain people and parties from the franchise (such as orthodox Muslims), on account of their views -- would strike a lot of people as "extreme" too, I fear. Is "extreme" really a helpful term in this discussion?

The trains will run on time and the people (Volk) will get their Volkswagens, but things might not turn out so well. I'm alluding of course to der Fuehrerprinzip.

Right. And how did Hitler come to power again? There's a "teaching of experience" there too, I think.

You want your rights protected. What if the monarch decides for the common good to remove certain rights you think you have such as gun rights or free speech rights or if you are woman the 'right' to an abortion at any stage of fetal development.

I can't see how what we have is obviously better, when all of these rights hang upon the whim of a single Supreme Court justice.

Really, my points here have only been a) that the superiority of democracy over other systems is not obvious, and b) that republics seem to drift toward the "pure disaster" of pure democracy (whence it is a short hop to tyranny). Monarchies have their problems too, of course, and there's no perfect system. But I see no good reason not to subject the results of our experiment in democratic republicanism to skeptical and impartial analysis, and to think again about neglected alternatives. That's all I've tried to do.

I'd like to close on a note of comity, so I'll say that where we agree, I think, is this: that the American project was a truly glorious experiment, perhaps the high-water mark of Anglo-European civilization's unique political and philosophical genius; and that the great collapse of shared culture, civic virtue, personal responsibility, and gratitude for our heritage, together with our inability to enforce a rational immigration policy, have been disastrous for a magnificent system and culture that had a very good run for quite a long while. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that crepuscular years of our lives are poignantly affected by our deep awareness of this tragedy, and by our ruminations about how it might have been avoided -- even if our analysis may lead us toward somewhat different conclusions.

Thanks very much for a stimulating conversation.

P.S. I do realize that "How did Hitler come to power again?" returns us, full circle, to the whole point of your original post.

Thanks again.

Malcolm,

I said your view is extreme if you are contemplating a return to something like monarchy.

>>I can't see how what we have is obviously better, when all of these rights hang upon the whim of a single Supreme Court justice.<<

But that that is so is not built into the system but is a contingent fact, one contingent upon the composition of the court. Suppose a couple lefties die and are replaced by two conservatives. This is quite possible assuming that Trump does not die, get assassinated or start WWIII. Then you'd have six cons and things would look different

>>That's all I've tried to do.<< If that's all, no problem. I thought you were advocating a non-Republican system.

I do agree with your eloquent statement in your penultimate paragraph. Pessimism is warranted. It is not clear that America as she was founded to be can continue much longer. But to really understand what is going on is difficult because so much is going on. For example, there is what I call the technology of enstupidation: FB, Twitter, and the rest. I am not clear what this is doing to kids but experts are getting very worried. And then we have the new phenomenon that behemoth corporations such as Google are controlled by hard leftists. This is exacerbated by legal dope, the mainstreaming of deviant sexual behavior, the breakdown of families (clearly at the root of black-on-black ghetto savagery), and on and on.

Add to the list that we no longer control technology; it controls us and sucks us in. I don't have a smart phone and I have never sent a text message in my life. But I am afraid I am going to have to get a smart phone to do things that before I could do without one. The young are helpless in the face of this crap.

Thanks for the discussion, Malcolm. Sorry if I get a little peevish from time to time.

Canadian,

Thanks for the fascinating responses.

I too think that what we need is the political equivalent of divorce. But how implement it? There's the practical rub.

>>More generally, are you just assuming as an axiom that any society (or America in particular) must be "diverse"? I think it's already far too "diverse" to even constitute a real society. A society where you and Ta-Genius both have a say is just a society where nothing important can _ever_ be settled in a way that will seem reasonable and tolerable for most people. It's a society that _must_ ultimately be a tyranny of some kind.<<

First of all, some diversity is inevitable. Men and women are very different, children and adults, not to mention the diversity of psychological types. No society without at least this much diversity. These differences percolate upwards into political differences. Not only that, but some diversity is enriching. For example you and I differ on some issues, but out interaction is useful even if it only helps us clarify our respective positions.

Trudeau said that "diversity is our strength." Now that is false if not absurd. Diversity is deadly unless controlled by and subordinated to principles of unity that all or most agree on.

I don't know about Canada, but the USA is probably too diverse to last much longer in a healthy form.

We agree that there can be no peace with Coates and his ilk. Practically, though, what can you do about it?

Would you agree that the following is the main issue that divides us?

You think that the unity we need to control diversity and make for comity can only be race-based. So your view would be that our two countries should only allow the immigration of Caucasians which for you (I take it) would exclude Jews, Asians, Hispanics and blacks.

My view is proposition-based (gasp!). So as an American I would say that anyone who grasps and accepts the values and principles of the American founding can be allowed to immigrate (perhaps we would have to add: and is not criminal).

Now clearly Asians and Jews (I am speaking generically) can grasp these principles and some will accept them. This is enough, from my POV, to refute your position.

And surely some blacks and Hispanics can understand and accept them as well.

Of course my view, which I consider eminently sane, will get me called a racist by leftist scum. For my view entails the exclusion of Sharia-supporting Muslims as well as white commies who want to subvert our system.

I will also be called a racist because I think whites should be given preference over blacks and Hispanics.

We are both race realists but you accord much more significance to race than I do.

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