Thursday, December 13, 2012

Self-Government

Some thoughts from Mr. Peters in response to the Abbeville Institute video on the size of the United States. It does repeat points that he's made before at FPR and on other websites.

To be a republic in the classical Aristotelian one has to have self-government in what ever form that may be; the rule of law and a demographic and territorial scale in which common traditions, customs and habits can determine the common good as far as culture or social order is concerned.

Self-government does not mean even representative government in the sense that representatives are elected by any popular means and certainly not democracy. It means that the polity expresses the traditions, customs and habits lived out by real people in a real place, whatever the mechanism of that expression. To govern against the lived out customs and habits in a real place is to be a tyrant, whether one is a dictator or a democratic majority.

The rule of law does not mean a strict adherence to some “due process” and the statutory laws from which it springs; it rather means that statutory law, however, it is made is in harmony with the prevailing traditions, customs and habits of the social order. Thus, Creon is a tyrant when he refuses to allow Antigone the tradition duty of burying, in her case, Polynices. Anglo-Saxon jury nullification is predicated on an awareness of traditions, customs and habits, embedded and lived out in the people, with which even the king’s law can be nullified.

There is little chance of there being commonly held traditions, customs and habits which define the common good, the expectations of polity and the rule of law if a given territory is too large or if the population is too large.

Now, one can can an aardvark an ant; or one can call an abstract corporation with a monopoly on coercion, with the ability to define the limits of its own power and with the impetus of a power will, be that one of a dictator or a democratic majority, ruling a massive territory with millions of people a republic; however, but an ant “ain’t” an aardvark; and a Hobbesian state “ain’t” a republic. At least the old Soviet Union was less disingenuous than Mao’s China. The Soviets at least made a pretense in that they named their Hobbesian state the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics whereas Mao’ named his The People Republic of China.

We were once, before Lincoln and the Republicans “these United States,” a union of constitutionally federated republics. Today, we are a Hobbesian state, consolidated and centralized. Our President, in a post-election speech spoke of “this colony,” in the singular, gaining its independence from Great Britain. Once there were thirteen colonies and King George, in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, named each of them. He did not make peace with the American people in the aggregate, with the Continental Congress, with the so-called “Founding Fathers” or with some overarching government. He made peace with thirteen unique and sovereign republics.

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