Saturday, April 16, 2005

LRC picks
On the proper role of judges
‘Conservative’ activist ones are as wrong as liberals

I've long believed that many Americans in their hearts don't like democracy. Or, I should say, don't like democracy when the vote doesn't please them.
Which isn’t necessarily bad because as LRC has pointed out literal democracy — mob rule — is wrong and not what America’s founding fathers envisaged. They wanted a peaceful little republic run by landed gentry, which is what a lot of them were. Such activism could be seen as making a mockery of rule of law, whether based on immemorial custom as in English law (including as passed down to the US) or indirectly in the customs of the small monarchies of Catholic Europe.

Of course it is bad in the sense that I think Charley Reese means it here: that people are willing to hand over their freedoms to a government like that of Mr Bush’s handlers as evidenced in a recent survey in which teenagers said it was a good idea for the government to censor newspapers.

The bans against abortion and school prayer are perfect examples.
You’ve got to be careful with the latter because it can easily backfire on you. 19th-century Catholic immigrants to America reacted against what they perceived as teaching a state religion of generic Protestantism in the state schools. (Though I don’t see how reading the King James Bible specifically endorses Protestantism I understand the problem in principle.) A non-Mormon from Utah once told me that he remembered when, in the 1950s, the prayers in the state schools were Mormon!

One can argue, though (not that I am), that the US Constitution only prohibits an established religion nationally (federally) but not on the state level. The Congregational Church had that status in some New England states into the early 1800s, a continuation from colonial times and indeed the reason some colonies were founded.

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.
That’s become a bit of a cliché in American conservative circles but it’s still true. The ‘nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ part of the First Amendment.

Back to the future
An eyewitness account of what will probably be replayed in Baghdad in a couple of years

Two men from Galicia
Which was for a long time a part of the Austro-Hungarian (Holy Roman) Empire*, which explained the ethnic German von Mises, one of the inspirations behind LRC. Part of it is still in Poland. The rest is not only in the Ukraine (since World War II when the USSR stole it) but the centre of ‘Ukrainianness’ politically, linguistically and religiously! Interestingly the Russians historically have called it Малорусь, Little Russia, whilst the Poles name it Małopolska, Little Poland! (The ‘bar l’ has a w sound.)

More importantly:

So it was a Catholic culture, aristocratic, and somewhat non-democratic, that shaped Mises and John Paul into top-rate intellectuals within their realms of the social sciences. Their intellectual formation — reflecting several centuries of Scholastic influence on the Continent — contrasted with the modernizing tendencies of Europe at a time when Hegel was still the most popular philosopher in Germany. Aristotelian ideas were still very strong in Austria as well as in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the decades leading up to World War I.
*I understand the latest issue of Latin Mass has an article on the last emperor, Blessed Charles, and his attempt at making peace during World War I.

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