Contra Mozilla

Thursday, February 26, 2015

David Warren on Hobbes and Hobbits

David Warren has posted a rather thoughtful essay on legitimate government. An excerpt:
The idea of the autonomous “prince” is modern. The mediaeval idea of hierarchy precluded it. The man at the top was lynchpin for a regime consisting of persons in various ranks of nobility, but in a curiously invertible pyramid, for though each in his place is servant to a master above him, he is also servant to the servants of those below him in station, pledged to their defence. The idea of “public service” survives today, but with a much different flavour. This is because the individual has ceased to be defined as a soul, a “being,” with duties. He has been redefined as a cypher or “function” with “rights.” Where to the old Christian view, rights followed from duties in the same man, to our post-Christian view the arbitrary rights of one man translate to duties for unaccounted others. (My right to a free lunch translates to your duty to pay for it, &c.) In this sense, all modern political thinking is in its nature totalitarian.
Actually, we would avoid much mischief--and a large part of the culture wars, for that matter--if we adopted a "rights come from responsibilities, privilege from duties" approach to philosophy over the current philosophy of "rights" and "privileges." Marriage exists for the sake of creating families, and so married couple have a duty to each other and to their children first, not the other way around. A marriage which is known to be incapable of producing children from the onset is thus not a true marriage in the fullest sense of the word, regardless of the sexes and sexualities of the spouses. Contraception furthermore becomes an abandonment of the duty of marriage, and thus a violation of the "rights" of married couples, which is true even if the couple in question already has children.

And another:
The Hobbits of the Shire live under a system of Hardly Any Government. Almost everything is decided at the family level, which leaves, on the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, hardly anything else to decide. But it is better than this, owing to qualities in the Hobbits themselves. It appears that they have no understanding whatever of the concept of “fairness,” and no intellectual ability to distinguish redistribution of property from theft and rapine. They see things rather as they are. On the other hand, they have a perfect understanding of self-defence, engaged when they are occupied by liberal do-gooders. The solution to the problems these do-gooders create is thus very simple. Get rid of them. It is a task which everyone can join in. 
Saruman, his Orcs, and their contrivances, provide the metaphor to liberal do-gooders and their obsessions with “process” and technology. They proved their value in resisting evil, arguably, once upon a time, until they became evil themselves. They would not understand Christ’s mysterious instruction, “resist ye not evil,” nor the parables in which He shows that “fairness” is of the Devil. They arrive in power with a do-gooder agenda, and in this are typically modern men. They toggle between damnable efficiency, and damnable inefficiency. They care not which, for over time their project is to create such a cat’s cradle of inter-dependencies that all freedom of action expires, and they may feed on human souls unchallengeably. (Whenupon, God destroys them.)
This is a piercingly accurate description of both the "liberal do-gooders" and their victims.

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