Man Without Qualities

Friday, July 12, 2002

Dangerous Nonsense

Excerpt from Demosthenes: "democracy shouldn't be defended because it is the only legitimate system... that's nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that."

Excerpt from a "dangerous nonsense ":

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. ... The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

That Thomas Jefferson. He actually seemed to think that the justification for the Revolution and the illegitimacy of British rule over the colonies had something to do with abrogation of electoral democracy! Worse, he says that governments only exist to protect human rights and that elections are a necessary part of that - and that all this was determined by universal principles that applied, well, universally, to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Always being goofy. And dangerous, too. Let's not forget dangerous.


Other excerpts from Demosthenes:

[I]f a state is not a member of the UN and not a signatory to its treaties, then the UN has no authority over it, and it need not pay attention to a single word the UN says.

If Musil's argument were actually correct, the U.N. would have authorized forcible change in South Africa, and it knew that it had no authority to do so. (Nor did it in the informal traditions of the international system... one of the key precepts of that system is that what goes on within a state's own borders is its own business, although other nations are free to disassociate and/or condemn that state if they wish).

Interesting. Neither of the Koreas was a member of the United Nations until 1991, but somehow that doesn't seem to show up as a relevant fact in this excerpt from the Report of The United Nations Commission on Korea, 1950:

[T]he United Nations Temporary Commission ... had been charged by the General Assembly to observe the holding of elections on a democratic basis in the whole of Korea. In the circumstances, it was decided to hold such elections in South Korea alone.

Had internationally supervised elections been allowed to take place in the whole of Korea, and had a unified and independent Korea thereby come into existence, the present conflict could never have arisen.

... It did, however, appear to the Commission, before the aggression took place, that unification through negotiation was unlikely to be achieved if such negotiation involved the holding of internationally-supervised elections on a democratic basis in the whole of Korea. Experience suggested that the North Korean authorities would never agree to such elections.


The necessity to safeguard the stability. and security of the Republic of Korea from the threat from the North gradually became a controlling factor in all the major activities of the administration of the Republic, and absorbed energies and resources which were needed to develop the new form of representative government and to carry out the economic and social reconstruction programme.

The first two years of the new National Assembly reflected clearly the difficulties which it would be normal to expect in a body dealing with a new and unfamiliar political structure. It had become clear, long before the act of aggression occurred, that the Legislature was making good progress in its efforts to exert parliamentary control over all departments of government, and would not rest content until its relations with the Executive had been satisfactorily adjusted. The growing civic responsibility shown by the legislature augured well for the future of representative government in Korea.

At the elections of May 30, 1950, the people showed very considerable enthusiasm, and the electoral machinery functioned 'well. ... Although there appeared to be little justification for interference in some other cases, the results of the elections, in which many candidates critical of the Administration were returned, showed that the voters were in fact able to exercise their democratic freedom of choice among candidates, and had cast their votes accordingly. The results also showed popular support of the Republic, and a determination to improve the Administration by constitutional means.

Now after getting themselves all wound up in that confused dither over all this dangerous nonsense about elections goings-ons in a non-member state that was not a signatory to its treaties, and over which it had no authority, and which didn't even need to pay attention to a single word the UN said, the UN went right ahead and authorized an invasion of Korea, as noted in this excerpt from EVENTS OF THE KOREAN WAR:

From the day when North Koreans attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950 to the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953, the events of the Korean war revealed the mass destruction, pain, and suffering Koreans had to endure. At the end of the war, more than 3 million Koreans died while millions of refugees remained homeless and distraught. About 1 million Chinese died in this battle a nd American casualties numbered 54,246 people. This section will explore and follow the events, strategies, and atrocities of the Korean war.

The Korean war can be divided into three phases.

The first phase began on June 25, 1950 and ended on the day United Nations (U.N) forces thrusted into North Korea's territory.

The second phase of the Korean war was essentially the Southern unit's attack and retreat from North Korea.

The last phase of the war consisted of the "see-saw" f ighting on the thirty-eighth parallel, stalemate, and negotiation talks.

On June 25, 1950 at 4 a.m., 70,000 North Korean troops with Russian T-34 tanks crossed the thirty-eighth parallel. President Truman appealed to the United Nations to take "police action" against the "unwarranted" attack. Hence, under the "name of the United Nations", the United States was able to send troops and forces.

According to Demosthenes, it was all a big mistake! North Korea was just trying to demonstrate that all-important sovereignty over the southern part of the Korean Pennisula - in this case by showing they could slaughter several hundred thousand South Koreans who had dared to participate in those elections. Here we have reached the root of the problem. We already know from Demosthenes that: "Sovereignty does exist. That isn't in question." But under Demosthenes' principles, just how many South Koreans did the North Koreans have to show they could slaughter in order to demonstrate "sovereignty" over the South, and, more importantly, "who gets to decide this, and why?" Well, instead of authorizing the Korean War to stop the murder of hundreds of thousands of people and the cessation of what we now know from Demosthenes was utterly meaningless electoral democracy in South Korea, the Security Council should have spent it's time constructively - and within the principles of international law as adumbrated by Demosthenes - by perhaps setting up a tribunal to adjudicate the all-important "sovereignty" question. That tribunal, in turn, could have articulated meaningful, objective international standards for settling the question. For example, the tribunal might have held that any country that can demonstrate its clear ability to murder at least 1/3 of its total populace in, say, thirty days, has established its "sovereignty" and is therefore entitled to legitimacy and the respect of the international community. Of course, there would still have been the issue of Korea not being a member state of the UN, but maybe that could have been handled by one of those "deals" Demosthenes likes so much.

Demosthenes is entitled to believe and write as he chooses, even if that includes believing and writing that governmental legitimacy does not depend on elections or democracy, and that the UN has no authority over non-member states that are not signatory to its treaties, and that such states don't need to pay attention to a single word the UN says.

But when the ships carrying, say, One Million troops show up on the horizon with the specific intent of thrusting into your territory pursuant to a United Nations Security Council writ, most people would say that it's time to start taking notes.


There is a debate going on about dictators over at InstaPundit and various other sites the links lead to. Oddly, all of the people involved in that debate seem to be assuming that legitimate governments have to be elected. Demosthenes may want to go over there and straighten those people out. Dangerous people. Dangerous.

Other people are also confused [scroll down to "DEMOSTHENES PROVIDES AN ELOQUENT DEFENSE"]. Lots of work to do. Lots.


Another excerpt from Demostenes:

No, Robert, anarchists do not reject "all law"... they reject a state body, but most true Anarchists believe in radical democracy... government by consensus.

Two definitions:

Pronunciation: 'a-n&r-kE, -"när-
Function: noun
Etymology: Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler, from an- + archos ruler -- more at ARCH-

Date: 1539

1 a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

2 a : absence or denial of any authority or established order b : absence of order : DISORDER


Pronunciation: 'a-n&r-kist, -"när-
Function: noun
Date: 1678

1 : one who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power

2 : one who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism or anarchy; especially : one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order - anarchist or an·ar·chis·tic /"a-n&r-'kis-tik, -(")när-/ adjective

Demosthenes is completely correct that lexicography is not an exact science, and a dictionary is not an irrefutable source, and with respect to the nuances of many words (especially for charged terms such as "anarchist"), a dictionary is not a source at all. Of course, for Demosthenes' sweeping argument it doesn't matter what he meant by "anarchists," since they were just straw men to demonstrate that "universal principles" are dubious: "Anarchists don't believe in this kind of principle, so it can't be universal." Demosthenese could as easily have chosen Marxists, Rosacrucians - or true "anarchists" as the the term is normally used (and defined above), or "anarchists" with whatever unexplained specialized meaning he now says he intended but did not write, or anyone else. His argument is just as sweeping and just as specious. Here, I'll try one: "Some people, including the [insert name of favorite primitive tribe], don't believe in gravity, so it can't be universal." Oops. We didn't all float away because I wrote that. Not even Demosthenes.

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