Volatility

December 31, 2015

The 2015 Blogging Year, and An American Revolution Reprise

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Each year WordPress sends me a “Your year in blogging” report, which includes several stats such as which posts got the most hits.
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No surprise that three perennial workhorses were #s 2, 3, and 4. These are my “Nietzsche and Scientism” from 2009 (which I recently reblogged, because its themes are relevant to the things I write about these days), and from 2011 “American Revolutionary Principles” parts One and Three, respectively on representation and sovereignty. (Part Two is on constitutionalism and rights.) These three posts get a steady trickle of hits almost every week, and are always at the top of the yearly list. #1 this year was 2015’s demolition of the fraudulent pro-GM propagandists, “By Their Own Standard Credentialist Pro-GMO Activists Are Ignorant Yahoos”. This got so many hits because it was featured by GMWatch and from there reblogged at several other prominent sites. #5 was another important 2015 anti-poison piece, “There Is No Science of Genetic Engineering.
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The three anti-scientism pieces are part of this site’s ongoing project to bring about the abolition of corporate agriculture, so there’s no special need to summarize them here. Click the links to read the word.
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But since it’s been some years since I delved into the political philosophy of the American Revolution, I thought I’d briefly quote from those two pieces.
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These paragraphs contain the basic argument of the piece on representation.
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“So what does [the American] revolutionary logic say about representative government? Summary: “Virtual representation” has no authority, and nominal representation in Parliament doesn’t necessarily have authority. So there’s no necessary reason any representative form would be authoritative and legitimate. By the American ideology, representative government has no compelling principled logic. It stands or falls according to empirical observation, how well it works in practice…
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“[A]ccording to the American Revolution, not only is virtual representation unacceptable, but nominal voting rights and representation also isn’t sufficient to legitimize government. If there’s anything which renders representative government legitimate, it’s not the act of voting. (BTW, let’s remember that the 1788 Constitution doesn’t guarantee any right to vote at all. It only says that to the extent states grant the privilege of voting, they can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, and a few other categories.)
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In fact, the Americans had no principle of representation, but a purely practical view: Does it protect freedom against the encroachments of power or not. They asked practical questions like, Is there an identity of interests between representatives and people?”
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I add at one point, as a thought to be further developed later on: “As a creature, a representative is an artificial, contingent thing just like a corporation. The responsibility (not right), accountability (not independence) of each is the same and must be enforced, or else the artificial program must be discontinued…”
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“Through all this the American Revolution arrived at a new theory of consent. Locke had said consent only needed to be given on election day (Rousseau scoffed at this), and at the supreme crisis moments of rebellion. But the Americans were working toward a more direct, participatory democracy on a permanent basis. The implicit principle is that direct consent is needed at all times, not just special times. This dovetails well with the power/liberty tension, since the necessary citizen vigilance against power can be maintained only through everyday democratic participation.
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“The first phase of the Revolution didn’t follow through on these implications, but settled on a concept of representation somewhat more accountable than the British concept, but still maintaining it as a “substitute for legislation by direct action of the people”. This implicitly admitted that direct democracy is the ideal, and merely claimed that accountable representation could function better in practice. Therefore representative government is legitimate only if it truly and effectively provides such a substitute. If it is unable or unwilling to do this, it dissolves itself, and we must move on to true, direct council democracy.
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“Representation was never anything more than democracy’s regent, meant to nurture ever-expanding democracy until this could fully flourish on its own. Today we the people are ready to take the full democratic responsibility upon ourselves, while the regent has abdicated and degenerated into a usurper. For both these reasons, we have and want no other choice but to walk the path of positive freedom and democracy.”
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The US governmental system, especially from 1788 onward, never lived up to these ideals and goals, on the contrary it has generally sought to subvert and destroy them. That’s led us to the seemingly terminal political and economic bottleneck now crushing us. It will be terminal unless we the people embrace, live and fight for new ideas, including a renaissance of the classical ideas of freedom expressed as the song of the American Revolution, yet so neglected and suppressed in historical practice since those classic days.
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This also means a rediscovery of the idea and practice of we the people’s political, economic, and spiritual sovereignty.
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“The basic idea of sovereignty is that there’s an essential authority in the polity which is above and beyond temporal authority and law and is the source of these, the yardstick by which they are measured. Otherwise these would be purely arbitrary and autocratic…
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“1. Sovereignty is mutable through history. Concrete institutions don’t embody it, but are only representative of it.
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“2. The American Revolution accelerated an ideological evolution of the concept, and the view of where sovereignty reposes, going back to the 16th century in Europe. The final recognition was that sovereignty reposes neither in King or Parliament, or necessarily in any governmental institution, but only in the people.
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“3. So today’s governments are to be tolerated or rejected at the people’s will, as they are nothing but servants of the people’s sovereignty. (Meanwhile, corporations and globalization cadres are non-sovereign in principle, and must be eradicated as they are invariably anti-sovereign in practice.)”
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I think the subject matter here is especially interesting in the way it traces the critical importance of the evolution of ideas and political consciousness in mustering the forces which ignited the American Revolution. If we the people want to break free of corporate rule and the assaults on our prosperity and well-being by the literal poisoners of our food, water, and air, we must similarly do the work of developing the necessary ideas for this pivotal age.
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