Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some ruminations

First, I want to say that I have hit on a new project, which I am calling "An Introduction to Government." Note well that this is not and should be distinguished from an introduction to politics. Aristotle wrote a book which is called "The Politics" and, of course, it is about politics. No surprise there. But what might surprise us is that it is not about government. A book about government will be much different than a book about politics because, to put it simply, government was created as a replacement for politics. That is, it was the hope of those who invented government, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke [among others] that this new institution, "government," would render politics unnecessary.

For example, one of the biggest topics of Aristotle's Politics is justice, what constitutes justice and, more especially, the different conceptions of justice that animate human beings and political conflict. There are different conceptions, e.g., the democratic version and the oligarchic version, which for Aristotle were the two most common forms of justice that human beings argue and even fight about. Now, it seems to me, that the the creators of "government" were animated by what is in one sense a very simple idea: What if we could get human beings to stop arguing and fighting over "justice?" Wouldn't that make human life much more peaceful and orderly, much more prosperous and much more free than it had been up to that point? You know, this is something like the argument made on behalf of religious toleration: If we could just get human beings to stop arguing and fighting over religions, if we could just get them to say and think that each religion is legitimate, then the world would be a much more peaceful and orderly place, a much more commodious place to live. "Justice" is one of those concepts that human beings seem to take seriously, so seriously that they even go to war, even civil war, over it. So if we could just redirect the attention of human beings away from justice to something else, like institutions, well, that would certainly promote peace. And then the world would be a better place to live.

So that is a new project which I will work on every so often. We will see what, if anything, comes of it.

The second thing, which might be related to the above but might not be also, is to suggest that we have come to the end of our "run." That is, the project that we Americans have been working on for over two hundred years has reached the end of the line and we need to seek an alternative or alternatives. I mean such a judgment is not necessarily insane because, after all, the project that constituted the Soviet Union came to an end and they, the Russians and others, had to find a different way or ways to be in the world. And the Soviet Union "broke up."

So, perhaps, this is what needs to happen here. Perhaps it is time to break up the American union, to create several unions, each smaller but more manageable than the current United States of America. And perhaps this was a result that was in the cards since the founding of the United States of America. Perhaps it was, this union was from the very outset headed toward dissolution because it could not maintain itself and at the same time be satisfying, be able to maintain itself while at the same time securing the rights and liberties of its inhabitants.

Well, just a couple of ruminations for you to think about, if anyone is actually reading this blog and willing to think. This is not a judgment at all; rather, it is just a recognition of the limitations of this blog and of our situation in general. But we always seem to be looking for alternatives to our current way of being in the world and maybe we need to consider some possibilities that are rarely considered.

Peace and fun.

1 comment:

  1. Before I reconnected with you Dr. Schultz, I was wondering if anybody else out there is considering the break-up of the United States. It seems kind of sacreligous to think about, like a devout Catholic wondering if there really is a God, but I think such a dissolution has to be considered as a possibility. It won't happen soon, perhaps not in the lifetimes of the middle-aged folks reading this, but the way things are going...State and local governments are sick of federal inaction on immigration and are taking their own initiatives. Some states were taking initiatives on health care before the overhaul. Efforts to get states to nullify the overhaul don't seem to be working, but the word "nullify" is back in the political vocabulary since when 1832? And I wonder if the debt that future generations are "going to be saddled with" would be a cause of dissolution. If the annual inflation rate is 50%, I could see small groups of states saying, "Let's cut loose from this and start over."