The General/Popular Will and Liberal Democracy

By Jeremy Daggett on in Finding My Political Philosophy

In this essay we will be examining the concept of the general, or popular, will as understood by French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and American all-around intellectual giant Orestes Brownson.  In explaining the positions of Rousseau and Brownson, we will look at the particular issue of law and authority as it relates to the success of a liberal democracy.

The concept of general will in Rousseau is best explained in his work The Social Contract.  In this essay, Rousseau offers his theory of the way political society evolves from a simple, completely free existence.  This state of natural liberty where man has a right to whatever he can successfully attain is called by Rousseau the state of natureContinue reading →


What is the purpose of law?

By Jeremy Daggett on in Finding My Political Philosophy

(If you have not, please read my first post, Legal Positivism.)

There are, of course, many great books and articles on this topic. I can only hope in such a short space to give a brief answer that will hopefully spark your interest and compel you to further research.   I have written briefly on this before, and I do not mind plagiarizing myself.

NB: This piece intends to answer and is limited to the question posed. While the specific question of a limiting principle is very important and a necessary component to the discussion as a whole, it will not be addressed here.

Is the Purpose of Laws to Make Men Good?

In order to answer the question of whether laws are intended to make men good, it may be helpful first to ask a few questions that should give us a clearer understanding of what we are asking.  This will not only help us give a correct answer to the question, but an answer that has the ring of a common sense truth.  We will first ask what is meant by the terms law and good.  Having ascertained and understood these concepts, we will be in a position to attempt an answer to the question.  Finally, we will discuss this topic as it relates specifically the United States of America. Continue reading →


Legal Positivsm

By Jeremy Daggett on in Finding My Political Philosophy

We have quite a bit to think about in these last three months.  In the post entitled Considerations for the Upcoming Election, I asked several questions of my readers.  Continuing the series of “Finding my Political Philosophy”, let’s look at a question or two, and try to give an answer which will help us clarify what we think about these important, foundational issues.

I had asked a series of questions, not in any particular order of importance, but in general the later questions tended to be the most important.  Let’s consider the question on Legal Positivism.  It is not surprising that many people you talk to may have never heard of this term and have no idea that it describes exactly what they think about the nature of laws.

Let’s think about an example or two.  You are having a conversation with a friend about capital punishment and your friend thinks it is wrong, but since it is legal it can be used.  The conversation turns to another topic, abortion, and your friend gives a similar response.  She is against abortion, but it’s legal, so abortions can be performed.

Two other people are talking about marijuana.  4:20 guy is saying the sweet Mary Jane is good stuff and we should have the right to smoke it, and it’s like totally natural.  His friend, who has both his feet firmly planted on the ground, says that it may be the case that pot is great, but it’s illegal to use and that settles the question for him.
Continue reading →


The Once and Future Batman

By James Griffin on in Entertainment, Literature

Despite the efforts of a domestic terrorist in Aurora, The Dark Knight Rises lived up to its title and climbed to a spectacular success at the box office. The Batman is on everyone’s lips, ensuring his place in American pop culture for generations to come. A few respectable commentators and a legion of hack writers have been swept up in Batmania, publishing their thoughts on the last film’s political implications. Is The Dark Knight Rises a tool of the right-wing propaganda machine to quash the Occupy movement? Is Bane a stand-in for Bain Capital and Mitt Romney? Why even bother asking these questions about another dumb superhero flick?

Those issues have assuredly been talked to death on countless Yahoo! comment boxes and juvenile flame wars by now. I’m more interested in examining what the character of Batman means as a cultural icon. Who is this man whose likeness or logo appears on every other kid’s t-shirt or bedsheets, or on billboards and bus stop posters across America? The thought that prevailed in my mind above all others as I left the theater that opening night was this: that Batman is not quite an American icon at all.

Sure, Bruce Wayne is a natural-born American citizen. Gotham City is geographically somewhere in the United States. But the connections end there. The following thoughts will examine Batman as a character and reveal why he is truly the Dark Knight… and why he is not a classically American hero, but a medieval, aristocratic one. Continue reading →


Audit the Fed?

By Jeremy Daggett on in Federal Reserve, Ron Paul

Ron Paul may be on his way out, but he’s not going away quietly.  His ‘Audit the Fed’ bill went through the House like Ma’s Hot Chili.  The final vote was 327-98, with only one Republican voting against the bill, Robert Turner (New York).  So the bill moves on to the Senate, controlled by Harry Reid.  Of course, we can count on Dirty Harry to stick it to the Fed right?

Go ahead, make our day.


“You Didn’t Do That” — Real “No Spin”

By Jeremy Daggett on in Decision 2012

It is true. No man is an island. No one does anything completely by himself. We can’t even exist of ourselves. We are brought into existence. We build off of the hard work of others. If we are stranded on an island and build a hut and survive, we didn’t put the raw materials there did we? So we must credit nature with supplying those. If I build a shed or remodel my bedroom, Lowe’s provides the wood and nails (afterall, their motto is, Let’s Build Something Together). If I learn the 2nd Mephisto Waltz by Liszt, my piano teachers are there to teach me the necessary technique to get it right, or taught me in the past so I can learn it now.

But all this gets from me is: “Uh, yeah…” What’s the point. It is so obvious it is boringly uninteresting. Was he really making that boring of a point on a campaign stop? It’s like expecting cheers after announcing that we do addition and subtraction in math class. No kidding. I think he was saying more than that, because I think he’s smarter than that.

The President is a Big Government Liberal, and no one doubts or disputes that. He does think the government is very important and that we can’t do anything important without it. What I don’t think he meant was that Bill Gates doesn’t get credit for starting Microsoft, or Steve Jobs for Apple, or Papa John for Papa John’s (yeah… funny, but I’m tired of that already, Mitt). Obama does believe that without the government those guys couldn’t have made it, because he believes in the primacy of the state. So while they are to be credited with a lot of ingenuity and hard work, they also need to give Uncle Sam his due.

So it seems to me that both sides have once again gotten it wrong. The President wasn’t saying that individuals don’t deserve any credit. But he also wasn’t making the innocuously infantile statement that no man is an island.  Where he should be attacked is his statist tendency. But that takes thought, and political attacks are so much easier.


Property Rights

By Jeremy Daggett on in Property

Is the right to property a natural right?  In other words, does the fact that I am a human being with the right to life entail that I also have a right to possess property to help secure my right to life?  And if so, is it OK if I, living in Texas, own a million acres in Montana that I do not use for anything?  Should ownership be connected to use?

I would think those who are still very much connected to the earth in farming and ranching (and, you know, the Farmers and the Cowmen should be friends) would implicitly understand that ownership is closely tied to use, especially the Farmer.  I would think some religious communities, monks and the like, see this since they live it everyday.  But I think most of us don’t really have any idea about use and land, though most of us are utilitarians to one degree or another.  We may have jettisoned the idea of stewardship of the land long ago enough to have no idea how land and use are/should be connected.

I’m still forming my thoughts on this, but I figured I would bring it before you for discussion.


What Kind of World Do We Live In?

By Jeremy Daggett on in Abortion

I just read an article, really a news version of a police report, about a father who murdered his three daughters in cold blood.  You can read about the details (not all the details, thankfully) here.  But one wonders what kind of world we live in where fathers kill their daughters.  Probably the same world where mothers kill their babies by the thousands daily.  The religious among us often look at certain cultures in biblical times that were placed under the judgment of God and we say, “Rightfully so! Look at their immorality.”  Or we gasp with horror at the devilry of a Hitler or Stalin, the concentration camps and genocides of the last 100 years or so.  But are we so different?  We recoil at the stories of infants thrown out onto refuse piles in Roman times.  We are only more sanitary.  And our sanitized barbarism is worse than the full-throated savagery of the ancients.  They had the courage to be evil—openly evil.  The righteous saw it for what it was.  Our modern savages are worse than anything Hitler or Stalin dreamed up.  Their evil is so clean that we fail to recognize just how atrocious they are.

We modern, civilized savages bemoan and bewail the backwards and intolerant haters who cut off the heads of their enemies with less than razor sharp utensils.  Maybe they should evolve to a more advanced way of ridding themselves of the useless tissues called Infidels; for instance, they could just burn them to death in some sort of solution.  Ah, but the primitive folk… will they ever reach our heights of achievement?  9-11?  Ha! We outpace that every day in our clinics!


Is Condi Rice a Good Pick for Romney?

By Jeremy Daggett on in Decision 2012

It seems that some think that Condi would be a good pick for Romney. Not that I think Juan Williams is a deep thinker (I can see Brit Hume’s many manifestations of looks-of-disbelief directed at Juan, then his “Are you serious?” questions that follow), but he is on to something that I think many conservatives and moderates (who are not happy with Obama) would welcome. But wouldn’t an old Bush 43 retread be bad for Romney? You can almost hear the, “You see!  We told you he wanted to go back to the Bush days and here’s Condi Rice to prove it!” That may be the case, but Williams notes that she’s still being attacked by the Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Be that as it may, I am less concerned with her tenure in Bush’s administration being a stumbling block for moderates, conservative democrats and the Black votes she would supposedly attract. I am more concerned with what she believes. What does she believe? She is self-described as “mildly pro-choice” and a Libertarian on the issue. Apparently while she has a personal respect for life, she is wary of the government intruding and forcing a moral position on the people… like when the government forced the moral position on whites who wanted slaves. I guess she would be against that. Since the right to life is more basic than the right to being treated with the dignity due to a human being, it follows that repealing slavery on moral grounds is a government intrusion. I guess she would be “mildly pro-choice” when it comes to slavery. But of course, she isn’t all that, is she. Because she is just as devoid of right reason as the rest of them. Maybe not as devoid… Barney Frank comes to mind. But devoid enough to not earn the vote of those of us who strive to submit to the dictates of Right Reason.


Considerations for the Upcoming Election

By Jeremy Daggett on in Finding My Political Philosophy

The Thinker

There are plenty of questions to consider this election year.  What do we want our country to look like?  What direction should it be going?  Is Obama really a Socialist?  Do I even know what really is Socialism?  Is Romney substantively different from Obama?  Is he just Obama-Lite?  Or is he the true Conservative alternative?  What does it mean to be Conservative?  Is it OK if I am fed up with the whole damn system?  Am I still patriotic if I want to send the whole lot of them (Democrats and Republicans) to hell (with a few notable* exceptions)?

What does it mean to be “Patriotic” anyway?  Why is the Libertarian movement picking up so much steam?  What does it mean to be a Libertarian?  Is that (Libertarianism) really closer to what our Founding Fathers thought?  Should my religious convictions inform my political thought?  What do I think of this quasi-religio-political movement spearheaded by Glenn Beck?

Continue reading →


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