10.12.2007

Prelude: The Social Contract

Most of ya'll knows a series of essays on Islam is comin' to these pages any day now.

Meanwhile, Aunty wonders iffin' we might revisit our ideas on The Social Contract.

Whas' that? Ya know....stuff we learnt in school about how we give over some rights for the sake of the big picture of gettin' along in a society. The political science term is "
social contract".

It jes' means that I ain't akshully free to do ANYthing I want, cause I *freely* gave over some of my personal preferences to ya'll--that is to my fellow citizens--so that we can form an orderly society. I gave up my ideas on how fast I can drive my buggy in order to cooperate with whas' best for the most. Some of ya'll gave up playing music at mach 5 at 4 am , for the sake of the good of the whole. We calls it the "
consent of the governed." We freely live by self control because we believe we profit MORE from living in harmony and order.

Now they's only two thangs that can keep a society glued together: fear or freedom.

Whar' tyrants rule, it is reprisals, gulags and beheading that maintain the order, wif' the aid a lots of goons to spy and bully even assassinate. In this model of social order, fear keeps folks in line. The reason that the tyrant has to rule wif' an iron fist in this manner is that the citizens under his rule would *not*t choose to behave/ live as he demands them to, so the tyrant enforces his personal law with force & fear. Tyrants do not trust the freedom of the people.

Whar' people share a common idea of whas' good for the society, they choose to live by that idea and no major force is necessary. The choice that holds this free society together can be administered by a constitutional monarch or a president in conjunction with parliament (or congress). But the significant feature is that the citizens *voluntarily* conduct their lives in an orderly fashion according to the concept of order that they have chosen. In this model all citizens in good standing are free to participate, regardless of differences. Whar' I choose to be ruled by a set of laws that more or less reflect my understanding of what's good, then ya doan need to beat me into keepin' the law.

Of course thar's exceptions, (slip-ups happen) but we doan need to mention them as it drags us off topic. The major indicator of the global preference for societies ordered on free cooperation is the direction of immigration. The mass numbers of immigration is out of tyranny and into freedom.

Membership in any given society is by largely by kinship, language group, race, territory or religion.

"The West" is an
idea (since non geographically West nations have become "western" such as Japan) . That idea is that people with differing views on the significance of religion or kinship or race can form a high functioning society together.

Why?
The underlying glue for the West is the idea that a multifaceted peoples can be
self-ruled by a political process in which they participate. The people freely bind themselves to that process and live accordingly.

All the rest of the people of the earth is ruled by raw power.

The underlying genius of The West is that religion and state are separate spheres, though each is a support for the other. In religion, we freely
submit ourselves to the teachings we find persuasive. Thus to our religion (if any) we are subjects (we submit voluntarily to precepts) , but in the sphere of the state we are citizens, not subjects.

Why are we citizens in this sphere? Because the participatory political process is
dynamic--it changes according to the needs and developments of the citizens. Where the citizens are dissatisfied, they have the duty and the privilege to change the rules to which they have given their consent.

By contrast, religious belief addresses the "permanent things" and is thus
static. Those who agree with what any given religion teaches, subject themselves to that view of the "permanent things."

This separation of religion from the governing task of the state provides an elastic "space" whar' folks work and live in harmony and social order. The
In the Social contract, freedom and obedience are the same--we freely agreed to obey the precepts we've chosen. Western legal tradition is sustained by this social contact. (Rousseau, Kant). States founded on Social Contract endure because they must respect the rights of the citizens who can deny consent to be governed by its laws. Hence "WE the people..." Minus that "WE" a state would have to dissolve or resort to force (tyranny).

The legitimacy of the law, then is based on the consent of the people to process of enacting that law. Even whar' I disagree wif' certain laws, the process permits me to work to change the law.

This dynamic process makes possible a nation whar' folks from many different languages, cultures and faiths can still cooperate freely to achieve the secure, harmonious society necessary for the "pursuit of happiness." A people freely pursuing their idea of happiness is productive, innovative and typically have healthy economies.

This is what The West has that inspires others to seek citizenship in "western" nations. This model of a free society is a threat to tyrants (religious or political) everywhar'. Some threaten to overthrow " The West" precisely because it offers people another view of how man can live.

It is also why the case is made that the Western model of social organization is the better model. While post-modern theories insist that no society or culture is better than any other model, that premise is purely abstract.

In actual practice, the Western model works best, is the most productive
(far outproduces slave labor), insure the greatest freedom and is the least insecure. This doan mean non-western folks gotta act like the west--again, Japan makes a good example, along wif' South Korea, of Eastern folks who have adopted the Social Contract of Western legal tradition as a political model of organization, but who kept their own cultures.

One of the unstated attitudes in any discussion of Islamic nations vs. Western Civilization is that too many folks fear to admit that the West is better--functions better, is worth defending, worth preserving. Some folks hate the Islamic confrontation because it forces them to reevaluate the entire post-modern premise that all cultures are equal. Some cultures are clearly superior, and that truth is uncomfortable for some.

9 comments:

iamnot said...

Bottom line...
To live in a free society, you must be willing to subjigate your religon to secular law.
Freedom of religon does not extend to the right to, for instance, marry 14 year old girls off to their cousins to be raped.
Freedom of religon does not extend to beating your wife to maintain your suppremacy in the home.
Freedom of religon does not extend to honor killings.
Freedom of religon does not extend to violence or threatened violence for a perceived insult to your religon.

ArtfulSub said...

Deep stuff. From a narrower perspective, a sub-section of the "Social Contract" is this:

The willingness of Citizens (usually upper-income) to pay Taxes to provide a "good" that they themselves do not use and don't directly benefit from.

Moving ever narrower in focus, a sub-section of that sub-section is:

Those same Citizens paying Taxes to provide the "good" of Government-Run Schools that provide basically "free" Public Education. Schools that their children don't intend. And, in States like Florida,they very likely don't HAVE any School-Aged children.

Up until the left's complete take-over of Public Education, one could say that such citizens derived an INDIRECT BENEFIT.

The children of fellow citizens having at least a basic understanding of Math, Science, etc... And to some extent a non-leftist concept of right-and-wrong instilled in some of them. Cheat on a Test, get an F. Steal something, get suspended. Etc...



That indirect benefit just isn't happening today. And I predict THAT part of the "Social Contract" will slowly dissolve. Especially in Florida.

Where the biggest chunk of my Property Taxes go to fund those leftist indocrination centers known as "Public Schools". And where the test results prove we're at a THIRD-WORLD level teaching REAL academic subjects.

Although I'm sure most of the kids can recite their Teacher's favored slogans by rote.

Anonymous said...
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Aunty Belle said...

"Indeed it is the protean ability of Western civilization to be self-critical and self-correcting — not only in producing wealth but over the whole range of human activities — that constitutes its most decisive superiority over any of its rivals. And it is protean not least in its ability to detect what other societies do better, and incorporate such methods into its own armory. All the other systems in the world, notably the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Indian, have learned much from the West in turn, and benefited thereby. The Islamic world has been the least willing to adopt the West's fundamental excellences. That is why it remains poor (despite its wealth of raw materials), unfree, and unhappy. "

~~~~Paul Johnson

Aunty Belle said...

Hey Iamnot,
Amen to that.

What few folks learned or recall is that unique political directive of Christ's: "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, render unto God what is God's". The clear Christian imperative is a division of competencies.

I'se intrigued that St. Augustine was writin' durin' the fall of Rome, an he said a man can become holy in any sort of situation, including the dissolution of an empire. I his book,Confessions, he does some nifty thinkin' on the reality of the condition of yore soul NOT being dependent on what the state does or does not do.

Then in 492 Pope Gelasius formulated the distinction of the two spheres--the task of gubmint and the task of the Church. In an ideal situation, each complements the other.

While "separation of church and state" is not an actual founding principle (rather the gubmint is not to create a state religion--as they had in England), the concept that both church and state have their own spheres of authority is a uniquely Western political development that grew FROM Christianity.

Yes, Artfulsub. yep....it used to be that ya' paid yore taxes fer public schools becasue the whole society is better off whar' the citizens is edooocated---EDUCATEd, not brainwashed, fed revisionist history and nihilistic deconstructionism.

It ain't no accident that our little ones ain't hearin' about George Washington in their elementary school. or is taught Columbus is a bad fella.

Aunty Belle said...

Over at Americanpowerblog.blogspot an Poli-sci prof has a list of good books to understand:

The Political Culture of the Anglosphere

Enemy of the Republic said...

I know about the social contract and I believe it was broken centuries ago in this country--it's hard to date the when; some say when the Federalists under Madison took over the Constitution, some say the drafting of Union soldiers to fight for the North which also meant fighting for a system that promoted low wages and urban poverty--I don't endorse slavery, but the Civil war wasn't about that; it was about two economic systems: agricultural versus industrial--who will win? Marx rooted for the North. And we lost a lot when industry became superior to working the land. Others believe the social contract got broken with the introduction of income tax. When did we lose our natural rights and when did the political exchange fall apart? My answer (but I really don't like government) is the minute you sign on to be a citizen--you will lose.
And we all did that tacitly, and as such, we must fulfill our responsibilities or build an igloo near the Artic Circle and catch fish.

How the social contract relates to Islam is unclear to me because I cannot think of one country ruled under radical Islam (and I make a difference between it as a religion and a political system) ever thought in terms of making any bargin with its citizens. The frequent misinterpretation of the Koran has led to gross mistreatment of women and the rising of the jihad as a sixth pillar of the faith. In the Koran, the greater jihad is similar to the ongoing Christian examination of repentance: we fight our own nature in order to surrender it to God and be more like him. But many accuse Christians of distorting the faith; I hear it ad nauseum. As a Christian, I know I don't always show God, but I don't use him as a way to attack others. People of any faith who do that are not right with God, insert religion here___________


Sorry so long, Auntie Belle.

Aunty Belle said...
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Aunty Belle said...

Enemy, hey Darlin'! yep--youse on the money, directly on it! The moment you sign on to be a citizen, you lose part of yore self determination...but the trade off is as ya note--you'll be on a floe in yore on igloo. Alone.

Shoulda known you'd grasp it right off--not callin' yoreself EOTR fer nuthin', I reckon.

As fer the Civil War, why I could kiss ya! Dern few folks know it was
an economic war--after all, the dang first thang Mr. Lincoln said when he heard Sumter had fired was
"what will happen to my tarrif"...meanin' of course, that the South paid 90 % of all federal taxes at the time. Yes, honey, it WERE fer shure about the agrarian vs the industrialized economic models.

Of course Marx rooted fer the North--after all, Marx was a utilitarian after all...all the better to insure the need of worker drones who would need to be organized for/by the state who would own them in reality if not on paper. Marxists and utilitarians see Mankind as "worth" only what he produces.

The agrarian understandin' is that man is made for more than work--that Eve and her Adam were first placed in a garden (however allegorical we might posit)...that indeed, work is not the measure of man, character is. The reflective life, the examined life is a "worth" unmeasured.

As fer the connection between Islam and the social contract it is to point out that whar' the social contract is the framework (however imperfect) that them folks, the citizens, voluntarily abide by the laws and ordinances. Contrast that to systems, including Islamic systems, that require fear, repression and terror to maintain public order.


Doan ever worry EOTR about length. Brevity is better when lenghth is not needed--but some topics is better respected when adequate context and precision is given.

Ah...I do run on...but by now EOTR, ya' knows that Aunty Belle is in truth, Antebellum.