Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mellowing out with Monty

Since Montesquieu has been less contentious, I'll post another smattering of his writings before returning to Paine and almost certain disagreement over his thoughts on 'natural rights'.

From Montesquieu, Book 3: 'Of the principles of the three kinds of government'

This statement needs some context. He is trying to explain what holds up a government (what he calls 'springs'), based on each type of government. Here, he is contrasting democracy with monarchy and despotism by highlighting it's most significant difference:

But in a popular state (republican), one spring more is necessary, namely, virtue.

Other statements:

When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community.

As virtue is necessary in a republic, and in a monarchy honor, so fear is necessary in a despotic government...

Fear must therefore depress their spirits, and extinguish even the least sense of ambition.

Montesquieu's observations about the requirement of 'virtue' (I think what we would now call character) for a successful republic are based on studies of Greek and Roman systems, which both eventually failed. This is very consistent with the thinking of a least some of the Founders:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts (1798-10-11)

If Montesquieu and Adams are correct, then the most fundamental civic duty that anyone has is to both practice and to teach virtue/morals/character. As Christians, this is already part of our core mission, a.k.a. the great comission,; so Christians ought to be the most desirable of all citizens!

On the note of fear, both under Barry and under W, we have been constantly bombarded with messages of fear. Fear the terrorists, fear global warming, fear pandemics, fear economic collapse. It's not difficult to see that this is nothing but power grabbing by the Federal government. As noted by Monty, that type of leadership is a trademark of despotic rulership.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thomas Paine

Finally! My wife found the missing book tonight, so now I can post some of Thomas Paine's quotes from The Rights Of Man... that is, in between the crippling coughs...

Paine wrote this book largely in response to another work, Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke. They are typically published as a single piece. Burke takes an ill view of the Frog's revolution while Paine ardently defends it. My own, very stunted, understanding of the French revolution has left me with the impression that it was a victory of unhalted humanism. It has been a great surprise to find out the details of this and to see it in an entirely new light.

Since this quote is a bit longer, I'll just post this one for the day:

It was not against Louis XVI, but against the despotic principles of the government, that the nation revolted. These principles had not their origin in him, but in the original establishment, many centuries back; and they were become too deeply rooted to be removed, and the Augean stable of parasites and plunderers too abominably filthy to be cleansed, by anything short of a complete and universal revolution.
When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it. That crisis was then arrived, and there remained no choice but to act with determined vigor, or not to act at all.

This one stuck out to me because he's basically saying the government was so broken, it was beyond repair and revolution was the only recourse. That gave me pause to consider our own circumstance! Have the parasites and plunderers so infected Washington that it is ill beyond all healing, or is it simply the most daunting task ever faced by our nation?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bathroom update

Just over a year ago I took some construction shots, so this is an anniversary update.


And here's an extra shot of some of the laborious tile work next to the faucet.