Monday, January 26, 2009

What is Justice: Two mis-States of Nature

What is Justice? Socrates had it right when he began to answer that question, not by answering it, but by examining literally from the ground up, the structure of the society which would be administering the Justice the questioner sought to have answered.

You cannot answer what Justice is, without first examining what structures, ideas and processes are in place to mete it out.

Of course I could answer the question flat out, it is easily done, just pull up Wiki, it’ll give you a bunch of answers:

"Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought." from John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (truly an assault upon all that is Just)


"Justice can be thought of as distinct from and more fundamental than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity or compassion. Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are "wired" into the brain and that, "Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats... This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need". Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, involving Capuchin Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that "inequality aversion may not be uniquely human."[4] indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature."

Yeah… that’s it, alright, it’s just an algorithmically triggered fairness loop which the machinery of the brain processes like the good gene machine it is... oh, and all that angst and deliberation you experience when trying to figure out what would be the most Just response? Fuhgedaboudit... probably just bio-gene-exhaust.

Or maybe it would be good to look at the different types of Justice, Distributive and Redistributive, etc. Would that help? Or maybe if I gave my initial answer,

A process for identifying the issues in question and rendering a decision based upon them; never forgetting that what can be done, must be a key consideration in any Just decision regarding what shall be done, in order to render Justice...?

But given the first two examples above... did they really tell you anything? Personally I'd say that that didn't convey any information whatsoever; I don’t think that any of the answers given, including mine, have enough info underneath them, to infuse the answers with, or diffuse them into, any true knowledge. They are empty sounds, absent of meaning.

And that's pretty much how they're used everyday, aren't they? "We demand Justice!"... right? What do they mean by that? Do they know? Do you?

Even to give answers such as Socrates’ view of Justice, that of a harmonizing of opposing views, or that of Thrasymachus, that Justice is what those in power say it is, or that Justice is the result of applying principles of Natural Law, or the Rawls type view that Justice is a matter of making nature fairer… these really tell you nothing at all, at least not outside of the systems that are in place and which are designed to administer whichever political system it is that will be implementing it.

Ultimately, as Socrates first realized for us, Justice is what results from the society in place and the systems it gives rise to. Sooo… to get an answer to ‘what is justice’, maybe we first need to ask what is, and what should be, the society which will give rise to it? And that means, for us perched upon the structures built up on this side of history, that instead of starting from the ground up, like Socrates did, we need to work from the top down first, examining and often demolishing the existing philosophical structures as we go... then once back on solid ground, we can again begin from the bottom up.

Back to the future of Justice
Of course this will require a stroll back in time, a stroll through political philosophy and the history it has written, in order to look at the key thinkers and thoughts that have done the most to give us the unjust systems of justice we are flirting with so much today. Doing so however, will bring us almost immediately up against that pesky enlightenment era notion of 'Man in a state of nature', the supposed natural state of man which existed prior to his becoming civilized, and of what they determined that Man must have been like in his original pre-state state of a ‘state of nature’ (while fervently hoping their readers wouldn't take notice of the assumptions that hid); and the various resulting ‘social compacts (or contracts)’ which supposedly (in fact or fiction) led men to choose to enter into a state of civilization and which shaped the shape that that civilization should have taken.

We need to pause and look at this mythical state, and those who imagined it (primarily Hobbes & Rousseau… Locke (who used the idea differently) we’ll pick up on the way back forward in time towards what once bore better fruit), before we can pass further back into our investigation of the roots of Justice.

The mis-State of Nature
The state of nature was essentially a thought experiment used to try to imagine (without much, if any, benefit of supporting evidence for the surmises) what must life have been like before there was any such thing as a state, what Man is really like, what must life have been like for those men, and what should that tell us about how the ideal state should be constructed today (that’s a lot of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ to be found in the roots of the predominently materialist philosophies which later denies that any IS can imply an OUGHT… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves, and into a separate fight).

As you can probably guess, IMHO, what Hobbes, Rousseau and those who have followed after them meant when using the words ‘Rights and ‘Liberty and ‘Justice’, bear little resemblance to that meaning which the Founding Fathers understood, intended and drew from them; beyond the proper pronunciation of the words, they have very little in common with them - and the societies built from the ideas of those such as Rousseau and Hobbes, are unalterably opposed to the society which the U.S. Constitution was designed for.

What Hobbes and Rousseau had in mind for Liberty and Rights, were, and are, vastly different from what the typical American thinks of them as meaning today, though they are very much in line with the meaning and intent which those such as Stephen Breyer, most leftists and even many republicans, equate with them today.

The first stop on the Past-Bound Express, is the icky sicky world of Rousseau. By the way, two things you should probably keep in mind when considering Rousseau.

First, when he speaks of his love of mankind and his desire to uplift mans spirit and spread Liberty... you should keep in mind that he had 5 children, all of whom he had removed from their mothers breast and sent to a 'foundling hospital', whose conditions, well known at the time to him, and over the opposition of their mother, meant near certain death for each of those children 'yearning to be free'. Keep that in mind also, when you consider that nearly all of our modern educational theories find their origin in Rousseau's Emile.

Second, prior to making a splash with the fashionable swells of the day through his anti-civilization screed (A discourse on a question proposed by the academy:"Has the restoration of the arts and sciences had a purifying effect upon morals?" - his answer was No. (modern Earth First'ers agree)), Rousseau was working as a musical copyist, and had determinedly devised a new system of musical notation; he felt his new system was needed by the world because he disliked the form and function of the system of music which already existed, he had philosohical differences with what music should consist of, what it should sound like, and what people should hear. He submitted his intellectual gift of the ages to the Academe des Sciences, with the expectation of, as he put it,

"not doubting that on presenting my project to the Academy, it would be adopted with rapture"

but they didn’t quite see it that way. They noted that although his system was ‘very clever’… his system of notation made it difficult to present complex harmonies (a later evaluation said "A problem exists and it is that Rousseau and any other musician who attempts to temper a scale must face; it is impossible to have justly tuned fifths and justly tuned major thirds in the same system.") - but Rousseau generally opposed complex harmonies being given a significant place in music, for philosophical reasons - and his system sought to exalt melody (because he felt it better expressed emotion) at the expense of harmonies (farrr too reliant upon Reason!)… he disliked string quartets for the same reasons, as Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia notes

"…In developing a theory of language, Rousseau generally confined music to a role of expressing feelings, something melody could do especially well; this relegated harmony and counterpoint to a place of insignificance since rationality lay beyond the reach of music. "

…this is, mind you, from the same age that was experiencing the genius of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven , who were creating the most complex harmonies and beautiful music ever conceived of in history.


So. Backwards and downwards in time and mind we go for a look at Rousseau.

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a strange, emotionally unbalanced character, straying into paranoia in later years (read Hume’s account of offering shelter to Rousseau, and soon being accused of trying to destroy his reputation and even of poisoning of him – all the while he was taking advantage of his hospitality). He was born in Geneva, and his mother died shortly after his birth. His father was a watchmaker and supposedly being as emotionaly unstable as Jean Jacques would later prove to be, became involved in a brawl and fled Geneva. Rousseau was left to be raised by an uncle, and later was apprenticed out to an engraver. He received an uneven education, and basically endured an unenviable childhood.

It is of course a simple matter to discover the views of Man which Rousseau held - just read him, you'll soon see what he saw the purposes of society to be, and what the very different meanings which he held for such words as “Rights”, “Liberty” and “Justice” to have, from what we casually take them to be – easy to discover, that is, as long as you focus on the principles which he emphasises. You do need to, however, keep in mind that he will make a liberal usage of half-truths and equivocations, together with some very stylish language, in order to put across ideas which are opposed to the meaning they are initially perceived to convey.

For instance, his most famous statement that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”, does not mean what we commonly take it to mean, as I hope you’ll see by the end of this section, and which is why I say that such statements cannot be understood without understanding what his views of Man, Freedom, Liberty, Rights and Civilization really were and are.

From “A Dissertation on the origin and foundation of the inequality of mankind”

“…O man, of whatever country you are, and whatever your opinions may be, behold your history, such as I have thought to read it, not in books written by your fellow-creatures, who are liars, but in nature, which never lies. All that comes from her will be true; nor will you meet with anything false, unless I have involuntarily put in something of my own.”

[Yep, only Rousseau knows best, and HE would never mislead you, nosiree Bob.]

The times of which I am going to speak are very remote: how much are you changed from what you once were! It is, so to speak, the life of your species which I am going to write, after the qualities which you have received, which your education and habits may have depraved, but cannot have entirely destroyed.”
Rousseau seeks after that earlier Man, that True Man, man as he was, and should be, with

“Throwing aside, therefore, all those scientific books, which teach us only to see men such as they have made themselves, and contemplating the first and most simple operations of the human soul, I think I can perceive in it two principles prior to reason,…
Hold that thought. ‘…two principles prior to reason…” with this, Rousseau lays out his primary purpose and message, that Reason is unnatural, that it is responsible for all evils, and that since it is artificial, any ideal conceptions of man should remove Reason from influencing it. Of course, how such things as ‘principles’ or ‘should’s’ could be imagined apart from Reason… well, enough for the moment. Continuing from there:

“…prior to reason, one of them deeply interesting us in our own welfare and preservation, and the other exciting a natural repugnance at seeing any other sensible being, and particularly any of our own species, suffer pain or death. It is from the agreement and combination which the understanding is in a position to establish between these two principles, without its being necessary to introduce that of sociability, that all the rules of natural right appear to me to be derived—rules which our reason is afterwards obliged to establish on other foundations, when by its successive developments it has been led to suppress nature itself.”
What he intends with “to establish between these two principles… that all the rules of natural right appear to me to be derived—rules which our reason is afterwards obliged to establish on other foundations” is that there is a principle which can be grasped by elites such as Rousseau, without the need for, or examination of reason (or the need to answer questions about), Rules which he asserts exist prior to Man's understanding, and which reason can only corrupt, but not understand.

This is very important to grasp, that in Rousseau's view 'Rights' fundamentally have no need of being established through Reason, they simply are, and without establishing them through reasoning they can only be what … someone… Rousseau perhaps… says they are. Somewhere, Thracymachus is smiling at the systems which this thought will spin.

I’ve described Reason elsewhere, as the sustained focus of attention directed by wonder, across a span of time to accomplish a goal; the process and effectiveness of which is enhanced through developing the systematic use of memory and recalled steps and questions - and while those systems and questions can be shaped and enhanced through society (Greco-Roman) or attrophied (Islambies), I do not believe that at anytime in mans history, or at least from the point where some creature can be said to have become Man, that Man has been without Reason (or social society, for that matter) - do you? That is a very important question you need to ask yourself. Afterall, if once upon a time man didn't reason, then there is no reason to resort to reason now - accepting the first, concedes the second.

Rousseau says that,

“The subject of the present discourse, therefore, is more precisely this. To mark, in the progress of things, the moment at which right took the place of violence and nature became subject to law, and to explain by what sequence of miracles the strong came to submit to serve the weak, and the people to purchase imaginary repose at the expense of real felicity.

[this smuggles in the notion that the strong must serve the weak, and that that which you prefer is unworthy]

The philosophers, who have inquired into the foundations of society, have all felt the necessity of going back to a state of nature; but not one of them has got there.”

Yep, only Rousseau, by reaching beyond the limits of Reason to our True Selves, - somehow - is able to endarken us as to our true nature. Ok, continuing about Man,

“...if we consider him, in a word, just as he must have come from the hands of nature, we behold in him an animal weaker than some, and less agile than others; but, taking him all round, the most advantageously organised of any.”

[Not to belabor the point, but how was he ‘organized’ without the benefit of “Reason”?]

“I see him satisfying his hunger at the first oak, and slaking his thirst at the first brook; finding his bed at the foot of the tree which afforded him a repast; and, with that, all his wants supplied.

While the earth was left to its natural fertility and covered with immense forests, whose trees were never mutilated by the axe, it would present on every side both sustenance and shelter for every species of animal. Men, dispersed up and down among the rest, would observe and imitate their industry, and thus attain even to the instinct of the beasts, with the advantage that, whereas every species of brutes was confined to one particular instinct, man, who perhaps has not any one peculiar to himself, would appropriate them all, and live upon most of those different foods, which other animals shared among themselves; and thus would find his subsistence much more easily than any of the rest."

So in the garden of Eden of Rousseau's alternate Genesis, the earth afforded pre-reasoning man everything he needed and desired simply by his literally aping the cute and furry forrest critters all about him, leaving nature pristine and oh so much finer than crude little man. If you don’t hear the environmentalist whackos here, you’re tone deaf.

Accustomed from their infancy to the inclemencies of the weather and the rigour of the seasons, inured to fatigue, and forced, naked and unarmed, to defend themselves and their prey from other ferocious animals, or to escape them by flight, men would acquire a robust and almost unalterable constitution. The children, bringing with them into the world the excellent constitution of their parents, and fortifying it by the very exercises which first produced it, would thus acquire all the vigour of which the human frame is capable. Nature in this case treats them exactly as Sparta treated the children of her citizens: those who come well formed into the world she renders strong and robust, and all the rest she destroys; differing in this respect from our modern communities, in which the State, by making children a burden to their parents, kills them indiscriminately before they are born.”

Another fond perspective favored by elites ever since, as it was by his, and their ideal state, Sparta, we (meaning others) are better off dead. Look up the politics of Sparta, if you'd like to know the direction leftists would like to steer society to ape.

And here we come to another key point,

”… Hitherto I have considered merely the physical man; let us now take a view of him on his metaphysical and moral side.
I see nothing in any animal but an ingenious machine, to which nature hath given senses to wind itself up, and to guard itself, to a certain degree, against anything that might tend to disorder or destroy it. I perceive exactly the same things in the human machine, with this difference, that in the operations of the brute, nature is the sole agent, whereas man has some share in his own operations, in his character as a free agent."

(Warning: the real message here, is that man is a machine like any other animal, and while Rousseau does make some noises about ‘free-agency', 'free will' being the products of our spiritual nature, his later theories make it clear that free-will isn’t really so free, and is instead only the necessary result of environmental factors, which Godwin expounded upon with Necessitarianism (later aka determinism))

"Every animal has ideas, since it has senses; it even combines those ideas in a certain degree; and it is only in degree that man differs, in this respect, from the brute…. Man receives the same impulsion, but at the same time knows himself at liberty to acquiesce or resist: and it is particularly in his consciousness of this liberty that the spirituality of his soul is displayed… “

Notice that this notion of ‘Liberty’, is something which exists prior to Reason, it stems from his passions, from his emotions, urges and whims which lack intelligence. And with that in mind, look what is used to improve and deepen Reason:

"… Whatever moralists may hold, the human understanding is greatly indebted to the passions, which, it is universally allowed, are also much indebted to the understanding. It is by the activity of the passions that our reason is improved; for we desire knowledge only because we wish to enjoy; and it is impossible to conceive any reason why a person who has neither fears nor desires should give himself the trouble of reasoning. The passions, again, originate in our wants, and their progress depends on that of our knowledge; for we cannot desire or fear anything, except from the idea we have of it, or from the simple impulse of nature. Now savage man, being destitute of every species of intelligence, can have no passions save those of the latter kind: his desires never go beyond his physical wants. The only goods he recognises in the universe are food, a female, and sleep: the only evils he fears are pain and hunger. I say pain, and not death: for no animal can know what it is to die; the knowledge of death and its terrors being one of the first acquisitions made by man in departing from an animal state.”

Ok, so... we've got two principles which operate in man prior to reason... but “The passions, again, originate in our wants, and their progress depends on that of our knowledge”, the passions, exist prior to Reason, they originate our wants, and they, which come prior to Reason, have their progress dependent upon our knowledge… but... knowledge is a product of Reason... so ... what is the root of knowledge then? The original, pre-reasoning, animal passions – that makes for one heck of an epistemology - I can’t help but notice why his philosophy might have had such a problem with making ‘harmonies’ in music... it seems more likely to harmonize well with a game of Three Card Monty.

So pure passions, pure passions, having no relation to the later artificial and corrupting after market add-on of 'Reason', rule and guide us; guide us to the later state where… bad ol’ reason enters upon the stage.

The shape and possible successes of a society are going to be very much affected by how well, or ill, that society’s structure reflects and enables the true nature of Man to be expressed, and that is dependent upon what its view of Man's nature itself is. To get a better picture of just how upended a Rousseauian picture of, not just society, but of the family, of man, and even of language would be, take a gander at this:

“I might affirm, with many others, that languages arose in the domestic intercourse between parents and their children. But this expedient would not obviate the difficulty, and would besides involve the blunder made by those who, in reasoning on the state of nature, always import into it ideas gathered in a state of society. Thus they constantly consider families as living together under one roof, and the individuals of each as observing among themselves a union as intimate and permanent as that which exists among us, where so many common interests unite them: whereas, in this primitive state, men had neither houses, nor huts, nor any kind of property whatever; every one lived where he could, seldom for more than a single night; the sexes united without design, as accident, opportunity or inclination brought them together, nor had they any great need of words to communicate their designs to each other; and they parted with the same indifference. The mother gave suck to her children at first for her own sake; and afterwards, when habit had made them dear, for theirs: but as soon as they were strong enough to go in search of their own food, they forsook her of their own accord; and, as they had hardly any other method of not losing one another than that of remaining continually within sight, they soon became quite incapable of recognising one another when they happened to meet again….”

Make no mistake, this is the ideal and true nature of man, which Rousseau reverres, and which he believes civilization corrupted and fell away from. In Rousseau’s merry little mind, he concluded that prior to having such thoughts, men were better off and blissfully free of all responsibility (always his ideal and primary concern - read his confessions),

" In the state of nature, where everything is common, I owe nothing to him whom I have promised nothing; I recognise as belonging to others only what is of no use to me."
In such a state, men were in fact ‘Noble Savages’ engaged in constant guilt free sex, plucking fruit from the vine as needed without any further thought and everybody shared...well, not 'shared', that would imply reasoning, 'took' maybe... took everything they wanted without strife, until that is… women affected the lone men to gather together,

“... Everything now begins to change its aspect. Men, who have up to now been roving in the woods, by taking to a more settled manner of life, come gradually together, form separate bodies, and at length in every country arises a distinct nation, united in character and manners, not by regulations or laws, but by uniformity of life and food, and the common influence of climate.

[How did men 'unite'? Not by anything to do with choices or customs, but by natural physical forces, like raindrops gathering in a puddle]

Permanent neighbourhood could not fail to produce, in time, some connection between different families. Among young people of opposite sexes, living in neighbouring huts, the transient commerce required by nature soon led, through mutual intercourse, to another kind not less agreeable, and more permanent.

['transient commerce' = one night stands]

Men began now to take the difference between objects into account, and to make comparisons; they acquired imperceptibly the ideas of beauty and merit, which soon gave rise to feelings of preference.

[ideas are 'acquired'... lsomehow... I guess ike thorns and thistles you might brush up against, ideas, the products of Reason, and from this corrupting source, Reason, comes the lessor feelings of 'preference', to be associated with other ideas like 'selfishness', etc,]

In consequence of seeing each other often, they could not do without seeing each other constantly. A tender and pleasant feeling insinuated itself into their souls, and the least opposition turned it into an impetuous fury: with love arose jealousy; discord triumphed, and human blood was sacrificed to the gentlest of all passions.”

Don't make the mistake of thinking 'he couldn't really have meant that', he did! 'Love', as well as 'tender and pleasant feeling's are considered by Rousseau to be unnatural thoughts, consequences of bad habits acquired accidentaly in the past which led us out of our natural 'state of nature', and the 'nobler' the person is, the less they will admit such thoughts into their heads. These and other bad thoughts and things, were insinuated into mens hearts by women, and women convinced men to be monogamous and that which monogamy (or at least affinity) requires, Property. In Rousseau's garden, Eve subverts man with an apple again, this time in the form of ‘Property’, and what followed was,

“... The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.””

… But to please woman, man built a house for his mate, private property was born and gave birth to evil and strife, and it’s been downhill ever since. For Rousseau, property, and such ideas as property rights, are the source of all that is evil and destructive, they are not one of the things for which 'governments are instituted among men' in order to protect. Continuing from the last quote,

"...But there is great probability that things had then already come to such a pitch, that they could no longer continue as they were; for the idea of property depends on many prior ideas, which could only be acquired successively, and cannot have been formed all at once in the human mind. Mankind must have made very considerable progress, and acquired considerable knowledge and industry which they must also have transmitted and increased from age to age, before they arrived at this last point of the state of nature. "
When reading this, you should disregard the positive sounding wording of "...made very considerable progress...", what he means, is that we have sunk too far to be retrieved. For Rousseau, all of the developments of Art, Culture, Science and worse, Property, are not only not natural, but errors and profoundly bad ones at that. In short, Civilization and its fruits, even and especially the family, were evils that have only corrupted mans blissful true nature, and with each innovation of civilization, he has been separated further and further from his authentic natural self. For him, the only proper consideration of property, was none at all, all must be considered as property of all, not of the individual,

"…the right which each individual has to his own estate is always subordinate to the right which the community has over all: without this, there would be neither stability in the social tie, nor real force in the exercise of Sovereignty"
Rousseau believes that higher 'state of nature' is lost to us, and while we can't give up society, or reason, striving for the good means at least seeking to come as close to that lost primitive ideal as possible. With Rousseau’s conception of society, of Man, and what is the best excuse for 'the good' possible to man in a civilized state, man will need to be pushed back towards their true nature, certain rights and liberties must be imposed upon him in order to help him to be free, and he must accept being pushed and imposed upon by those who are able to declare what should be, even though there can be no reasons for it.

Ask yourself if you feel you typically think of "Rights" and "Liberties" as things which must be imposed upon you, forced upon you?

You should keep that in mind. So in Rousseau's scheme, for society to become freer, a quasi divine man, must come along to whom (from the social compact):

"Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole."
, all men are put under the “supreme direction” of the 'general will', not for the purposes of defending your rights, but of imposing them upon you, and he who supremely interprets what the 'general will' is, or should be, and directs what you must do, is “The Legislator”, who will set forth the laws to order the citizens life as their lives should be, Man must be forced into a true state of liberty; and so now we can take another look at his famous statement

“Men are born free, and everywhere are in chains”

… and begin to see that it does not have the nice sounding ring of freedom which we commonly and thoughtlessly attribute to it today. Rousseau says that,

"In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses."
This is key to what Rousseau has to say, because it is the very core principle of his political philosophy, what he meant, was that men must be Forced to be free, must be forced to accept the rules and responsibilities which the Legislator determines should be the lot of every man. Here are his thoughts upon the Legislator,

“He who dares to undertake the making of a people’s institutions ought to feel himself capable, so to speak, of changing human nature, of transforming each individual, who is by himself a complete and solitary whole, into part of a greater whole from which he in a manner receives his life and being; of altering man’s constitution for the purpose of strengthening it; and of substituting a partial and moral existence for the physical and independent existence nature has conferred on us all. He must, in a word, take away from man his own resources and give him instead new ones alien to him, and incapable of being made use of without the help of other men...
[The individual is nothing, the collective is all, the end justifies the means, or as Hitler put the same understanding, "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer! — "One People, One Empire, One Leader!" Rousseau continues,]

"...The more completely these natural resources are annihilated, the greater and the more lasting are those which he acquires, and the more stable and perfect the new institutions; so that if each citizen is nothing and can do nothing without the rest, and the resources acquired by the whole are equal or superior to the aggregate of the resources of all the individuals, it may be said that legislation is at the highest possible point of perfection
It is so important to pay close attention to what Rousseau actually means, not just the language he uses to say it,

" substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations….
He is saying, that morality, what is Right and what is Wrong, are artificial labels, which only have meaning in, and because of, The State, and consequently, when you follow him to his ends, what the State says is ‘good’ or ‘Just’, IS, and only because the representative of the “General Will” said it!

… Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man...."
For Rousseau, morality has no foundation in truth, in his scheme, Truth itself is a product of unnatural Reason, which is itself a product of society, and what society says is 'good', what the general will determines is most desirable, is what the 'highest good' is, and it must be either accepted or imposed upon the individual. For Rousseau, the State is NOT a means of preserving rights and defending justice, but instead it's purpose is to create and define those artificial goodies, and the necessary responsibilities of creating them, which 'Justice' requires of the citizens to see, accept and support as necessary liberties. Without the State, Man would have no way of knowing either 'rights', 'justice' or 'liberty' - and he should be thankful for it.

“We might, over and above all this, add, to what man acquires in the civil state, moral liberty, which alone makes him truly master of himself; for the mere impulse of appetite is slavery, while obedience to a law which we prescribe to ourselves is liberty...”
But remember, that “impulse of appetite”, is the source of Rousseau’s idealized, pre-reasoning state and state of mind, from which Reason, especially Moral Reason, are a corruption, a step downwards, not an improvement, a refinement of badness, not a state of goodness, the 'impulse of appetite' is merely an echo of that garden of eden which we can no longer return to, because we have entered into and accepted society and property and 'reason', and since we cannot return, we must be forced to do and support that which we can no longer do without, the State.

For Rousseau, and every leftist who has followed in his wake, Robespierre, Marat, Marx, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc, without the state, man is not merely defenseless, HE… IS… NOTHING!, and he must be forced to be ‘free’, forced to take ‘morality’ and forced to bow to a state imposed ‘liberty’.

Rousseau gives an entirely new meaning to “Liberty and Justice for all!”, for he was practiced in the art of doublespeak, centuries before Orwell put it on paper, and rest assured, those who have studied and have promoted Rousseau's ideas, understand exactly what he said, and meant, and they have done their best to practice what he preached. The totalitarian slaughter of the 20th century is Rousseau's love child.

Rue so...
For Rousseau, the study of Man, of society, of ‘Rights’ and ‘Liberty’ or the processes of justice to be put in place to practice them, the views of man held, are part and parcel of a view from which he first achieved fame through, that Civilization, Arts, Sciences have produced no beneficial effects upon the temper and morality of Man, but in fact have only corrupted him. He asserted that Man was in fact corrupted by such things as the Good, the Beautiful and the True, by virtue of degrading himself into the state of mind that would recognize them, via Reason, as being so.

“So long as government and law provide for the security and well-being of men in their common life, the arts, literature and the sciences, less despotic though perhaps more powerful, fling garlands of flowers over the chains which weigh them down. They stifle in men’s breasts that sense of original liberty, for which they seem to have been born; cause them to love their own slavery, and so make of them what is called a civilised people…

Marx’s “Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” is but a very small step from here.

…Before art had moulded our behaviour, and taught our passions to speak an artificial language, our morals were rude but natural; and the different ways in which we behaved proclaimed at the first glance the difference of our dispositions. Human nature was not at bottom better then than now; but men found their security in the ease with which they could see through one another, and this advantage, of which we no longer feel the value, prevented their having many vices.”

Through a mass of half truths and equivocations, Beauty is reviled, Goodness is artificialized and Truth is relativised, and through this Rousseau puts across the idea, which we have in large part brought into practice today, that “F*ing move outta da way!” is more authentic and superior to, and should be just as acceptable, if not more so, than “Pardon me, may I pass through?

Whenever you hear grotesque and vile forms of Rap exalted over Shakespeare, or of graffiti artists praised over or equated with artists such as Michelangelo, you are hearing the inevitable dis-harmonies of Rousseau.

What are the thoughts, what are the systems that must be put in place to impose them, that must follow from such thoughts as Rousseaus? What, I ask you, could possibly follow from such tenets than what already has? Namely the French Revolution, Marx, or our public educational system, Nazi Germany, the USSR, etc. I am not exaggerating, I’m not, and by the end of this series of posts, I think you’ll find it difficult to disagree.

Now, now that that nasty little artificial reason has finally shoved its way upon the stage of humanity, and all things good and natural have been pushed to the back, here follows dut dum dah… its evil step child, Property. From the THE SECOND PART of “What Is the Origin of Inequality Among Men, and Is It Authorised By Natural Law, the first paragraph we've already seen, but note the others which follow from it, that of making the error of continuing an association with a women and her child:

“The simplicity and solitude of man’s life in this new condition, the paucity of his wants, and the implements he had invented to satisfy them, left him a great deal of leisure, which he employed to furnish himself with many conveniences unknown to his fathers: and this was the first yoke he inadvertently imposed on himself, and the first source of the evils he prepared for his descendants. For, besides continuing thus to enervate both body and mind, these conveniences lost with use almost all their power to please, and even degenerated into real needs, till the want of them became far more disagreeable than the possession of them had been pleasant. Men would have been unhappy at the loss of them, though the possession did not make them happy.”

Rousseau continues on in this way, building up the idea that 'rights' and 'liberty' are and must be, restraints, used to ensure that man's use of such degrading corruptions as minor conveniences, clothing, shelter, fire, the fellowship of his fellow man, personal preferences, money, towns, culture, arts and sciences, that all will be regulated by governments and those laws they deem necessary, in order to force you to desire and do what best serves the general will, as determined by the Legislator, and that this state you are forced to accept, is in fact, freedom.

For all the errors and evils, purposefully and mistakenly made, which were made by or followed from the likes of Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Hegel and Marx… none of them could have come to have pass - as they have - without Rousseau and his “Discourses”, his Confessions, and that which served to teach us to accept them both, Emile. It was Rousseau who proposed that all that is the Good, the Beautiful and the True, should be thought of not just as artificialities (see Hobbes), but corruptions and to be blamed for every imposition and discomfort of civilized man, and that to enjoy 'rights', 'liberty' and 'justice', we must seek to be forced to be told how to live, and to live our lives for the state.

If anyone is to be reviled on down through the ages, Rousseau should be chief among them, even above those such as Hitler, because it was he who made him, possible. However, instrumental as Rousseau has been, he couldn’t have gotten away with this on his own, without substantial support already having been put in place for him to build upon… where did that support come from? As he himself said :

“Above all, let us not conclude, with Hobbes, that because man has no idea of goodness, he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious because he does not know virtue; that he always refuses to do his fellow-creatures services which he does not think they have a right to demand; or that by virtue of the right he truly claims to everything he needs, he foolishly imagines himself the sole proprietor of the whole universe. Hobbes had seen clearly the defects of all the modern definitions of natural right: but the consequences which he deduces from his own show that he understands it in an equally false sense. In reasoning on the principles he lays down, he ought to have said that the state of nature, being that in which the care for our own preservation is the least prejudicial to that of others, was consequently the best calculated to promote peace, and the most suitable for mankind.”

If Rousseau’s conceptions of a state of Nature were "best calculated to promote peace, and the most suitable for mankind"… what was the bad stuff that Hobes envisaged? Well, we'll take a look at what Hobbes tee’d up for Jean-Jaques, next.

Thomas Hobbes, like Rousseau, had a less than enviable childhood. His father, a vicar, like Rousseau's, got involved in a fight, with another man of the cloth, and fled london, abandoning Hobbes and his three brothers to be raised by their uncle. He mostly earned his living as a tutor in the humanities and tavelled as such. With one of his charges, he took the 'Grand Tour' of Europe, a fashion of the time, and hobnobbed with the likes of Galileo, among others. He was well versed in the classics, and later in life produced highly admired translatons of Thucydides' "Peloponesian War", and of Homer's "The Illiad".

Hobbes knew, and even clerked for a time, with Sir Francis Bacon, and was absorbed in the intellectual fashion of the time, largely brought about by Bacon, of anti-scholasticism and anti-Aristotleianism. The times he was living through saw the Thirty Years War, and the English Civil War, and he was in fact born on the day in Queen Elizabeth's reign, when the Spanish Armada attacked England, and to which he once referred "my mother gave birth to twins: myself and fear"... and truly, that seems to be not far from being so.

Hobbes was a materialist, and in the new style heralded by Francis Bacon, criticized the Scholastics, lumping them all in with those who made airy-faerie comments, upon comments, about Aristotle's works, and sought to throw the Aristotelian Bath out with the Scholastic's bath water.

As with Rousseau, there is a thing or two which you ought to keep in mind when considering the thought of Thomas Hobbes. Somewhere around the age of 40, he casually came across a geometrical proof, was absorbed by it, and became an enthusiastic convert to geometry, and though having no deep grounding in the ideas and history of geometry, he developed some very strong feelings about geometry, it's celebrated puzzles of the day... and what should and shouldn't be taught or believed. Hobbes went on to denounce mathematicians, particularly ridiculed Algebra and those who taught it, and from the position of his many days of studying the science, he declared that geometry was ridden with ‘collosal mistakes’ including the Pythagorean theorem, which he declared to be bogus, and in his profound opinion, Euclid was wrong all over the place (is any of this reminding you of Rousseau's "improved" musical notation and its difficulties with harmonies?).

One of the more fundamental and telling criticism's, was his attempt to redefine what a point and line should be thought of as being,

“Hobbes was troubled by the Euclidean definitions of point (that which has no parts) and line (breadthless length), and substituted his own ideas that a point is a body without magnitude while a line is the path by which a point travels, ideas that were sarcastically attacked by Wallis.”
, and he proposed what were soon seen as embarrassing solutions for popular quests of the time, now considered impossible, squaring the circle, doubling the cube and more. Hobbes’s pretences towards mathematics were quickly and roundly denounced, exposed and ridiculed, and one of his most vocal opponents, a mathematical luminary of the time, John Wallis. Wallis went on to shred Hobbes' geometrical ideas and was one of those most responsible for discrediting his theories, his De Corpore, which he referred to as a “shitten piece”.

Gotta love that.

Most people, however, didn't see in Hobbes' ideas, what Wallis did, or respond as urgently to them as Wallis did, and he didn't do so because of his mathematical theories alone; afterall there were many others who sought to square the circle, who's proposals were merely examined, found to be faulty, and that was that, but Wallis saw something more in Hobbes ideas which no one else seemed to.

Christiaan Huygens, shaking his head over Hobbes's silly mathematical ideas, wrote a letter in 1656 to Wallis:

I was amazed that you judged [Hobbes] worthy of such a lengthy refutation,
although I read your learned and rather sharp Elenchus with some pleasure

What Wallis noted, and what most others seemed to have missed, was that

… whoever stumbles so horribly in geometry, where demonstrative proofs have
a place, can hardly be thought to walk more securely in other matters.

Wallis’, taking note of the fact that Hobbes didn’t become an ‘expert’ mathematician until age 40, suspected that there was something else behind his theories, and that something which was so obvious in his ideas mathematical, was also there in his ideas political. Wallis gave a clue in his response to Huygens (this paper offers a good overview, by Doug Jesseph) ,

“…But this was provoked by our Leviathan (as can be easily gathered fro his other writings, principally those in English), when he attacks with all his might and destroys our universities (and not only ours, but all, both old and new), and especially the clergy and all institutions and all religion. As if the Christian world knew nothing sound or nothing that was not ridiculous in philosophy or religion; and as if it has not understood religion because it does not understand philosophy, nor philosophy because it does not understand mathematics. And so it seemed necessary that now some mathematician, proceeding in the opposite direction, should show how little he understand this mathematics (from which he takes his courage). Nor should we be deterred from this by his arrogance, which we know will vomit poison and filth against us.
(Wallis to Huygens, 11 January, 1659; Huygens 1888-1950, 2: 296-7)”
However, though Wallis was able to destroy Hobbes’ mathematical theories, his political theories still took hold, even though, just as Wallis saw, and Hobbes himself adamantly asserted, his geometrical theories and his philosophical ideals were intimately and inextricably linked.

As with Bacon, Hobbes was one of the first to push for the idea that all humanities could and should be reduced to principles of physics, and what could not be expressed in a theorem, should not be considered legitimatly proved. Despite Hobbes own understanding, it has been overlooked that Hobbes was seeking a mathematical method for treating political philosophy – and that alone should give one pause, when considering his political theories.

Hobbes was an ardent materialist (he was in fact one of the first of the “New Atheists”), and mathematics appealed to him as a way to express those thoughts. As his idea on the line demonstrates, he revered quantities over qualities, in every way, shape and form, even to the point of reductionistically denying the existence of a Line! He couldn't bear the thought of something as conceptual as a line might exist as a whole quality, he was determined that it must be thought of as a succession, a quantity, of points instead.

His reductionistic materialists’ opposition to Aristotle wasn’t merely anti-scholasticism, it was an opposition to any ideas of Principles, of Qualities, of Truth, of Morality, of Right and Wrong – and he advocated a state of nature devoid of moral absolutes and defined religion as

“Feare of power invisible, feigned by the mind, or imagined from tales publiquely allowed”
– to which he sought to substitute a very tangible fear of a state power that was visible, directly felt upon the mind and publicly imposed by force of law.

The expressed target of “scholasticism” was but a convenient pretext for attacking their real target – morality, the human soul and the existence of Truth most commonly associated with God (often as a strawman argument). And contrary to later leftist pretences of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”, materialism and materialists have always led to endorsements of, and even reverence for, all powerful governments led by absolute rulers who will be able to ‘make new men’ and remake the world as they can mechanistically demonstrate it should be – see their idealized state of Sparta, and other thinkers such as Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and their political progeny (and their pre-pariah praise in the press and by ‘intellectuals’) of Mussolini, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.

In his The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, He described his mechanistic approach to perception:

Chapter 2, “10. And from thence also it followeth, that whatsoever accidents or qualities our senses make us think there be in the world, they are not there, but are seemings and apparitions only. The things that really are in the world without us, are those motions by which these seemings are caused. And this is the great deception of sense, which also is by sense to be corrected. For as sense telleth me, when I see directly, that the colour seemeth to be in the object; so also sense telleth me, when I see by reflection, that colour is not in the object..”
This then, just as he couldn't think of a line as being a whole, but only a succession of points, this is the same perspective with which Hobbes used to look at man, and to consider what man in a state of nature must have been, he could only imagine him immersed by his perceptual wants and desires and urges and outbursts, which must push him into a complete state of war. In chapter 13 of Leviathan, can be found most of what Hobbes considered Man to be, at heart, where each man sought to do just what he wanted because he wanted it, using anything and anyone for his own satisfaction and only for as long as they pleased him.

“Againe, men have no pleasure, (but on the contrary a great deale of griefe) in keeping company, where there is no power able to over-awe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him, at the same rate he sets upon himselfe: And upon all signes of contempt, or undervaluing, naturally endeavours, as far as he dares (which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet, is far enough to make them destroy each other,) to extort a greater value from his contemners, by dommage; and from others, by the example.

So that in the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarrell. First, Competition; Secondly, Diffidence; Thirdly, Glory.

The first, maketh men invade for Gain; the second, for Safety; and the third, for Reputation. The first use Violence, to make themselves Masters of other mens persons, wives, children, and cattell; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other signe of undervalue, either direct in their Persons, or by reflexion in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name.”
And these are the passions which, in Hobbes view, and perhaps his personal experience, lead men into the perilous state of War (or as worded here, ‘Warre’):

"Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. For Warre, consisteth not in Battell onely, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to contend by Battell is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of Time, is to be considered in the nature of Warre; as it is in the nature of Weather. For as the nature of Foule weather, lyeth not in a showre or two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many dayes together; So the nature of War, consisteth not in actuall fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is Peace.

The Incommodities of such a War. Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."

This state of nature he called complete liberty, but the downside (!) was that it pitted every man against every man, and in which life famously must have been “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Hobbes calls us all to examine whether or not you find that your own thoughts and actions, and human nature itself, don’t confirm this for you, and in fact ensure that such a state of War would continue, were you to have your way:

“…what opinion he has of his fellow subjects, when he rides armed; of his fellow Citizens, when he locks his dores; and of his children, and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not there as much accuse mankind by his actions, as I do by my words? But neither of us accuse mans nature in it. The Desires, and other Passions of man, are in themselves no Sin. No more are the Actions, that proceed from those Passions, till they know a Law that forbids them: which till Lawes be made they cannot know: nor can any Law be made, till they have agreed upon the Person that shall make it.”
That last is Key to Hobbes view of men, his statement “The Desires, and other Passions of man, are in themselves no Sin. No more are the Actions, that proceed from those Passions, till they know a Law that forbids them”, keep that closely in mind. He goes on,

“To this warre of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be Unjust. The notions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice have there no place. Where there is no common Power, there is no Law: where no Law, no Injustice. Force, and Fraud, are in warre the two Cardinall vertues. Justice, and Injustice are none of the Faculties neither of the Body, nor Mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his Senses, and Passions. They are Qualities, that relate to men in Society, not in Solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition, that there be no Propriety, no Dominion, no Mine and Thine distinct; but onely that to be every mans, that he can get; and for so long, as he can keep it. And thus much for the ill condition, which man by meer Nature is actually placed in; though with a possibility to come out of it, consisting partly in the Passions, partly in his Reason.”
The next chapter describes why to escape this state of nature, , what he considers the First Law of Nature

“TheRightOfNature, which Writers commonly call.Jus Naturale, is the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himselfe, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own Judgement, and Reason, hee shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto.”
which Hobbes takes for granted that everyman secretly longs for, to be true Liberty,

“By Liberty, is understood, according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of externall Impediments: which Impediments, may oft take away part of a mans power to do what hee would; but cannot hinder him from using the power left him, according as his judgement, and reason shall dictate to him.”
Hobbes believes that liberty, true liberty, brings Men into that nasty condition of nature, of War,

“…in which case every one is governed by his own Reason; and there is nothing he can make use of, that may not be a help unto him, in preserving his life against his enemyes; It followeth, that in such a condition, every man has a Right to every thing; even to one anothers body. And therefore, as long as this naturall Right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, (how strong or wise soever he be,) of living out the time, which Nature ordinarily alloweth men to live.”
and man needs the state to save him from himself and his neighbor, and so all men give all rights to everything, even their life, to a sovereign who has right to their rights,

“From this Fundamentall Law of Nature, by which men are commanded to endeavour Peace, is derived this second Law; That a man be willing, when others are so too, as farre-forth, as for Peace, and defence of himselfe he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himselfe. For as long as every man holdeth this Right, of doing any thing he liketh; so long are all men in the condition of Warre.”
This was his “Second Law of Nature”, and from that, look at what he, and those following from him, consider to be the meaning of Rights and Liberty,

“To lay downe a mans Right to any thing, is to devest himselfe of the Liberty, of hindring another of the benefit of his own Right to the same. For he that renounceth, or passeth away his Right, giveth not to any other man a Right which he had not before; because there is nothing to which every man had not Right by Nature: but onely standeth out of his way, that he may enjoy his own originall Right, without hindrance from him; not without hindrance from another.”
To Hobbes, Rights and Liberty are nothing more than that which your muscle and cunning enable you to seize, and make use of. No questions of Right and Wrong, Good and Evil involved, only what you can do, because you can (and surely you must want to! Right?! Why so serious?!) do it.

Keep in mind, that Hobbes, born on the day of the Spanish Armada’s attempt to invade England, and living through the decades of the Thirty Years War and the build up to the English Civil War... of seeing men at their very worst; he came to materialism the easy way, and to say that he was world weary, or cynical, is far too light a treatment. To him, liberty not only meant, but was the ability to take whatever the hell you wanted – because to his deductive, rationalistic thinking, there was nothing else that could possibly make you desire or believe to the contrary!, as with:

“The finall Cause, End, or Designe of men, (who naturally love Liberty, and Dominion over others,)...

["naturally love Liberty and Dominion over others" in Hobbess' mind, Liberty means asserting your dominion over others!]

... in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, (in which wee see them live in Common-wealths,) is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of Warre, which is necessarily consequent (as hath been shewn) to the naturall Passions of men, when there is no visible Power to keep them in awe, and tye them by feare of punishment to the performance of their Covenants, and observation of those Lawes of Nature set down in the fourteenth and fifteenth Chapters.”

... and agreements, laws, governments were just a device to keep others animal nature from depriving him of his own. that all who will allow them such rights as he deems necessary for the smooth functioning of the state – and of course he will also retract any and all rights and privileges he deems necessary for the smooth functioning of the state, which is called Leviathan, which he describes in chapter 17:

“The only way to erect such a Common Power, as be able to defend them from the invasion of Forraigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort, as that by their owne industrie, and by the fruites of the Earth, they may nourish themselves and live contentedly; is, to conferre all their power and strength upon one Man, or upon one Assembly of men, that may reduce all their Wills, by plurality of voices, unto one Will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one Man, or Assembly of men, to beare their Person; and every one to owne, and acknowledge himselfe to be Author of whatsoever he that so beareth their Person, shall Act, or cause to be Acted, in those things which concerne the Common Peace and Safetie; and therein to submit their Wills, every one to his Will, and their Judgements, to his Judgment. This is more than Consent, or Concord; it is a reall Unitie of them all, in one and the same Person, made by Covenant of every man with every man, in such manner, as if every man should say to every man, I Authorise and give up my Right of Governing my selfe, to this Man, or to this Assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy Right to him, and Authorise all his Actions in like manner. This done, the Multitude so united in one Person, is called a Common-wealth, in latine Civitas. This is the Generation of that great Leviathan” (emphasis mine)
For Hobbes, government, and such Rights as it saw fit to temporarily confer, and such dangerous liberties it felt safe to allow, was a necessary purveyor of fear, fear of violence and bloody ends, if any were to act counter to what it, meaning the united will of all, determined was necessary for its preservation. The individual was to be feared, and to compensate for that proper fear, the State was to be even more fearful.

Wrapping up and dismissing the State of Nature
In a careful reading of Rousseau and Hobbes, their ideas of "Rights", "Liberty" and the function of Government bear no relation to what most Americans casually think of when they hear those words. For both of them, Rights are a means of controlling and forcing the citizens to serve the state. For both of them, Liberty is a primitive and dangerous set of desires, motivated by primitive primal urges, and must be carefully doled out and restricted. For both of them, Government's proper function is to control and force the individual to serve the collective, to limit their 'rights' and 'liberty' in ways that make the state stronger, and is best directed by a single, wise, ruler.

We are in danger when we are not aware that our current ideas of the Left and the Right, are largely based upon the ideas of Rousseau and of Hobbes, as if they were in some fundamental way, on opposite sides of the political fence. They were not and are not. They advocate the same fundamental model of the collective over the individual, of might over right, and of particularized 'facts' over higher concepts of Truth.

While it is important to remember that Hobbes' views of Rights, Liberty & Government, his views of Man, though thoroughly wrong in their fundamentals, they shouldn’t make the mistake of discarding them completely. Hobbes'ideas do illustrate what the thoughts, beliefs and practices of men will be, when they are educated to discard the fundamental ideas of Truth, of Goodness, of Beauty and the principles which convey them, becoming not educated but rather dis-educated, to believe (not understand, but believe) Man to be a mere mechanical animal. A people filled with these notions are a people who must be expected to carryout episodes such as the French Revolution and bloodbaths such as nearly the entire bloody history of the 20th century attest to; with those beliefs being the beliefs men hold of themselves, Hobbes' conceptions of how they must think and act, and of how they must then be controlled, are not going to be far from the mark.

What we need to be so very aware of, is that all of our modern educational theories embody these very ideas and practices, because all of our modern educational theories are but footnotes to Rousseau - see especially Emile and his Confessions.

We imperil ourselves in praising every degree, B.A., B.S. or otherwise, received through the machinery of such a system of ‘education’, any education which doesn’t teach a person the full and proper meaning and importance, of a proper conception of Rights, Liberty and Government, as the Founders of our form of government understood them, and expected them, to be understood. The vital task of self-governance, requires an understanding of these concepts, that is consistent with an understanding of the Founding Fathers beliefs, and not the materialistic ideals, as held by Rousseau and Hobbes, which have, do and most certainly will, bring us only Hell on earth.

Man simply cannot properly be examined in isolation. Man is a political animal, and we can deduce his essential requirements without having to resort to imagining him unnaturaly, solitarily, roaming the primeval forest in some political isolation chamber. I do not believe that at any time, ever, men have in any significant or defining numbers, lived separately (in their minds) from others, and no archeological evidence from pre-history indicates that that ever occurred.

Man cannot be considered apart from society. Period. Men are individuals. Individuals living in society with other individuals, and that is the way in which they must be met in order to engage any ideas of society, liberty, rights, laws and the consideration of Justice.

The attempts of Hobbes and Rousseau to consider a 'state of nature' were dreamed up in order to stand up a false conception of man in order to support their own solutions to their imagined problems... and to the degree we have accepted their ideas, we have lost our own Rights, Liberties and constitutional form of Government.

More in pursuit of a clearer understanding of the subject…. soon.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

“I never thought I’d see the day that a black man would be President of the United States.” - Why the hell not?

Ok, another pause in the pursuit of Justice. Over and over again I heard it this week… “I never thought I’d see the day that a black man would be President of the United States.”

Why the hell not? Sure it’s a milestone, but it is, or should be, little more than a scenic stop, certainly worthy of crowding around and taking a few smiling pictures before continuing on down the road, but seriously questioning that we’d ever get there? Gawking at in astonishment?

I never questioned it. And I haven’t, and don’t, question that a women (or a Jew or a person from Boise Idaho, etc, etc, etc) would or could or will be elected President of the United States. Why would you consider skin color or gender to be of any significance, for or against, being elected President? I unhumbly submit that if you thought or think that those are legitimate issues, then the fear is probably more a reflection of your own failings, than they are of America’s.

Please, please, at this moment, please re-examine the other stupid positions you may hold about the United States of America. You know the ones, Americans are… ‘Unintelligent people’, ‘spoiled brats’, ‘ignorant people’, ‘greedy materialists’, ‘racist, sexist homophobes’, ‘no longer a great power’, ‘imperialists’, ‘warmongers’, etc, etc, etc. The first step is to admit that you were wrong to begin with (and you'll have a very visible reminder of that every day for the next four years). The next step is to shut the hell up and spend some time cleaning your head out, before you spout off again about what America is, or isn't.

While I recognize that electing the first black President is a significant and very cool milestone to be noted and passed, it is so only on the basis of it being the first time, it is of no significance in and of itself, in the sense that the color of ones skin should not have any relevance to electing a president. In fact, the true significance of the occasion is, and can only be made real, through his skin color having no place in the citizenry's decision making process for electing him. A more disturbing thought arises when you look at the shear quantities of "...never thought I'd see the day..." comments, and you begin to wonder just how many people voted for President Obama because of the color of his skin, rather than the content of his character and ideas... with such thoughts, the occasion threatens to lose some of it's legitimacy.

I look forward to the day when a person's color, ancestry, gender, etc, are noted with no more significance than is accorded their favorite meals, sport teams and other pastimes.

The issue for me, is are the policies of this person who is running for, or has been elected to the office of the President of the United States, going to be good for, or bad for, the nation, primarily measured by whether or not his ideas and policies gibe with, or oppose, the UnitedStates Constitution (Btw, I didn't vote for George W. Bush in the 2000 primaries (though I did in the election, due to the Gore being the alternative), because I thought his 'compassionate conservatism' would not gibe with the constitution, and I was proven correct).

Obviously, I think Obama's policies (based upon what little we know of what he has said and thinks, good luck finding them in any substance, or consistency over time), will be bad for the country. But call me not cynical enough if you'd like, but in all of the pictures & clips I've seen of him with his family, such as this one, they lead me to think that on a personal level at least, he's probably a decent guy, husband and father, I don't think we'll have a stained blue dress incident with the current President. And as President, in his ceremonial and generic head of state and leadership positions, I do want him to be respected... not belittled and not reviled, and in that role I want him to be a 'successful' President.

But only that far. As a leader of the democrat party, as a political leader pushing democrat policies, I want him to fail, BIG time. I do hope that he is stopped in his political tracks at every turn in the coming years (though I’m very thankful that Obama is president, and not Joe Biden [shiver])… but there are no grounds for the anti-American “never thought I’d see the day that X would happen in America.” comments; next time you find yourself thinking one of those thoughts, please consider the possibility that the problem you are fretting about is a problem of one of your own failings, not America’s.

I don't hate Obama. I don't need to hate Obama. However I suspect that I will despise and oppose the bulk of his positions and policies, and I will do what I can, little as that may be, to block his every move.

Perhaps those of you leftists out there will now discover a new found appreciation for saying "I support the President, but not his policies".

Jonah Goldberg has similar sentiments, and draws some conclusions from them (Hat tip to WitNit):
"...At a more political level, a black president surely undermines the argument that American racism is so endemic that a system of racial quotas must remain a permanent fixture of the political and legal landscape.

... If Obama lives up to the dreams of his supporters in writing a new, post-racial chapter for America, he will have at once done more for America than any Democratic president in generations. But he also will have cut the knot holding much of the left together. As an American and as a conservative, I certainly hope that’s the case. He’s already made a good start of it just by getting elected
. "

Monday, January 19, 2009

What IS Justice? eh.. what is the question again?

What is Justice?

The question itself, IMHO, is a bit off the mark, sort of like asking what Life is ... or worse, what is the purpose of Life. A better question might be how to arrive at a decision that is Just - does that beg the question? Welll... somewhat, but that response itself does as well, after a fashion, too often it is made while seeking to pretend to complete ignorance of opinion and pretends to purity of intent while re-asking 'What is Justice?', as if that question can erase what you already know it to be, in order to fake a blank slate to begin from.

Like most pretentions of non-prejudice... sorta silly.

The subject of justice is actually one which is going to be more defined by what you already know and understand, than by any answers received from asking what justice is. A person who has a certain philosophy already in place in their mind, will already have an image of what they will recognize as being just - or unjust - stubbornly in mind, and any pretense to the contrary, is probably just that. A pretense.

Thracymachus didn't have to open his yap to Socrates, for his ideas on what Justice was, to be known. And as Socrates's long build up to answering his own question showed, his philosophy had already determined what he considered Justice to be, long before he admitted as much. Ditto for Machiavelli, Rousseau, Kant, and that judicial purveyor of pretentious vapidness (who set me off this time, and has set me off before), Stephen Breyer.

Justice itself is a dynamic process, much more of a result, or a report upon results received from particular processes, rather than a root and guiding principle for shaping a determination of Justice; your guiding philosophy is what defines and determines what justice will seem and be.

Justice depends upon, and displays, what your prior and more fundamental ideas of the nature of Man and the Universe are, and any attempt to change what you suddenly realize 'Justice' should be defined as, and how to 'practice it', are, and unavoidably will be, shallow pretenses, not to be taken too seriously, unlikely to play out in practice, and even less likely to last much longer than the standard new years fitness resolution will last.

If you want to really understand what Justice is, let alone practice it, you need be sure that your first concern involves seeking out, practicing and examining what Reality is and how to respond to it; what Truth is and how you determine it, and what (if any) Oughts are implied by the various IS's which life brings your way.

If you are looking for an answer to 'what is justice', with the expectation that the answer is going to clear things up and enable you to go around pronouncing various situations just or unjust - you're probably fooling yourself, and possibly doing so consciously. But if you do want to understand what can reasonably be called a just, or unjust, decision or situation, you need to understand the process which produces what reasonable people can say with a straight face, was a just decision, and a simple 'answer', isn't going to found, nor would it do the trick if it was found.

That being said, I've been reading or re-reading materials ranging from Hammurabi to the big three (Socrates, Plato & Aristotle), to Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Blackstone, Burke, Adam Smith and the Founders, and even into the black pits of Rousseau, Kant & Hegel, on up to the recent misfires of Murray Rothbard and the libertarians - hey, gotta do something while unemployed - so prepare to dive in to the nature and requirements of Law, Gov't, Rights and the Justice they do, or don't, bring to light.

Coming soon.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Point of Order

"Not Guilty is not the same as innocent."
"Regardless of the outcome of the trial... we know he's a traitor."

I'm still drinking long and hard at the well, re-examining what others have examined, still seeking... this isn't a full post, just a pause.

What we know to be true and false, what we know to be true, is not the same as Justice. Justice is not the same as what we know to be true, but what we can publicly agree to have been demonstrated as a reasonable conclusion.

Justice is more important than what we know to be true, Justice is the result of the intersection of what we know, and the method by which we come to know it by determining it to be so, and by extension what we can publicly, communally see what we can be known to all... not to each, but to all, that what we can publicly demonstrate, according to methods determined to be proper and just, that is all that we as members of the public have a right to act upon.

That is the method we use ourselves according to what we know in our inner recesses to be true, what we know, yet cannot bring out as evidence to share with others, what we cannot demonstrate but know - in matters of public justice, it is what we can demonstrate to know, what everyone can share as having access to, and through methods of reasoning most proper and correct, a supportable decision is made, and expresses Justice.

It does not masquerade as truth... that is for us to know ourselves... justice is what we can all know to be a reasonable conclusion. By the same methods we use internally to reach what we know to be true, justice is using what we each can know to be true, externally.

This is not in any way relativism, or cynicism, or the discarding of humanity which is skepticism; this is a recognition of what makes us who we are, Reason. No society of any worth, no civilization of any lasting relevance had or has ever emerged, which did not recognize this, and no civilization has ever known it, practiced it, become it, like Western Civilization.

To preach skepticism, or its cowering masked twin, the flat literalist absolutism of Kantian categorical imperatives - whether seeking or believing that some statement is somehow 'true' no matter the context of reality or the reality of your own knowledge and understanding, is to assault not only the west, but to attack that real Truth which dwells within you.

Those who wish for a truth that is beyond doubt, really mean that they want an understanding which absolves them of judgment, which they can claim to know as true without having to be responsible for their own conclusions. Not surprisingly they seek the company and approval of those who unquestioningly seem to believe the same as they do, without reason, without judgment, without responsibility, as 'true' beyond doubt, to avoid questioning... and seeing. That is the true soul of the skeptic and the Kantian both, and it is doubly the heart of the leftist.

The understanding, of the agreement to publicly reason based upon agreed upon methods, and supportable evidence, based upon what we can know to be true, in order to arrive at what we can all reasonably conclude to be proper, Just... it is the heart of our civilization. It is the heart of our Laws. It is the heart of us.

And we risk all we know, and all we can know, when we allow what we ourselves claim to know and believe to override what we can all know and agree upon. That is injustice.

A nation of laws, or a nation of men. Should we fully choose to become a nation of 'men' regardless of law, we will cease to be men at all.

We must have law, based upon what we know to be true in order to arrive at what we can agree upon to do.

Without that, there will exist no place where we can each learn and do what we know to be true.