Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"That's the Way You Do It"

Nothing convinces foreign money men to send more cash like burning down the bank.

It is tempting to dismiss this as juvenile, "If you don't give me more desert I will hold my breath and then you will be really sorry." There are two problems with that. First human beings are being killed. Second these are not children, they are voters. When Europe was a collection of feudal holdings then a warning that "The peasants are revolting" was one of the restraints on the ruling elites. The people could not be held accountable for the costs of their actions since they were deliberately infantilized by both the secular and spiritual Estates. The Reformation, which did not break the hold of caesaro-papism in the Eastern Orthodox regions, and the transformation of 'subjects' into 'citizens' after the French Revolution have made individuals responsible for the consequences of their actions and those of their governments. The expectations of the model of governments based on individual responsibility, personal liberty and popular sovereignty are now universally diffused. This is true even in regions where the real mechanisms of governance and political culture remain elitist and authoritarian.

Seven hundred years ago, in the War of the Roses, a struggle for power consumed only the nobility and left the majority untouched. Five hundred years ago pacification became more brutal, consider the effects of the 30 Years War, but it was still generally accepted that the follies of those who ruled were not the responsibility of the Commons. That is no longer true. People who resort to force to demand the irrational extraction of wealth from distant third parties, without even the poor justification of overwhelming imperial power to back their claim, are simply incapable of assuming the responsibilities of citizenship. It is bad to plunder your own community and drive it into bankruptcy. It is insane to attempt to do that to strangers who have no obligation to fund your profligacy.

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