Saturday, April 14, 2012

Confucian Federalism

Begun on April 10, 11:19 AM.

There is the claim that the Constitution deliberately provides for easy mobility of Americans, so that they can check  leave a state that has become tyrannical. From the Analects:

This is what I've learned: leaders of countries and noble houses don't worry about having too few people, they worry about equitable rule; and they don't worry about the living in poverty, they worry about the people living in peace. If rule is equitable, there's no poverty. If there's harmony, there's no lack of people. And if there's peace, there's no rebellion. If a ruler's like this, and people in far-off lands still don't turn to him, he cultivates his Integrity to attract them. And after they're attracted, he brings them peace.
(I'm not going to look for a better translation or the Chinese original at this time. This translation does not offer the traditional? numbering of passages.)

Is it assumed by Confucians that whole clans would be moving, or would individual men (and their families) migrate as well? (How would that be morally permissible, given the importance of filial piety?) And what do clans do about the remains of their ancestors? Would these have to be transferred as well? What, then, of rootedness? (Were differences in culture and language among the Han slight at that time?)

Confucians were not republicans, but this does not mean that those who are made to be subject to the rule of others do not themselves seek the common good and judge rulers accordingly. I think Confucius truly believed that the virtuous ruler would attract people from all over to his state, and that this is not just exaggerated rhetoric used for the purpose of getting patrons among the ruling class.

Back to the Constitution and the Anglo-American states -- one would think that in polities claiming to be republics that the impulse to republicanism, and hence a jealous regard for self-rule against tyranny, would be stronger. Why flee to another state if those around you share your beliefs and judgments? Wouldn't it be easier to organize resistance to a bad state government? Did anyone in the early period write about this possibility, in distinction to the tyranny of the federal government? What remedies were touted? Where is the evidence that the post-Revolution Americans advocated migration as a political response to bad state government? (Moving for economic gain was prominent even before the Revolution.)

If a successful resistance is impossible to mount because it lacks popular support (or sufficient numbers to sacrifice), then escape into another state may be an option. But it shouldn't be the first response to a tyrannical government? But is it really possible for a democracy to develop without many, if not the majority, of the citizens becoming vicious first?

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