« everybody has their limits... | Main | Juneteenth »

June 12, 2021


That's one heck of a fish story. Talk about the one that "got away".

Deepest condolences for the loss of a friend.

We think we have time, but all we really ever have is now. Whatever is in your mind and heart to do, start now.

Thanks, russell. Sorry about your friend, but glad that her companion has friends like you to help her walk this path. Bittersweet indeed.

My sympathies, Russell.

Now is the new tomorrow.

She sounds like a lovely, essential person, russell. An enormous loss for her wife, friends, and everyone else who knew her.

My condolences.

russell: so truly sorry for you, her partner and all who knew her. She sounds absolutely wonderful.

Loss is always tough.

Been listening to King's X again as I start to realize that my own playing, for as much as I love metal, is more like their off-kilter hard blues groove. Finally listened through Ogre Tones and found that a) I really like it and b) "Mudd" really resonates with my sense of grieving and loss.


thank you for the kind words everyone.

my friend was a remarkable person, but the thing is, we all are, each in different ways.

the meter starts running the minute we're born. some of us get 100 years, some of us get a minute. some of us don't even get that.

let your light shine while you can.

in other news, spent the afternoon dead-heading lilacs, which is probably my favorite outdoor chore. takes just enough attention to make the time go by, but leaves enough attention left over to let your mind go wherever it wants to go. plus it's a good opportunity to get to know a tree in detail, see how it wants to grow. Notice places it's getting in its own way, which becomes information for fall pruning.

my wife is an avid gardener, and every year I am amazed all over again at the vigor and resilience of all of the plants that grow on our tiny little suburban lot. the sheer quantity of biomass that they crank out between, say, the middle of March and the beginning of June is just astounding. and they make it all out of dirt, water, air, and light.

we have a winterberry on the side of the house that is currently covered with amazing tiny flowers. each one looks like a tiny white gear. they don't have anything like the flamboyance of, for instance, the peonies, which are just over-the-top extravagant. but each little winterberry flower is freaking perfect. and the little bees - tiny little workaholics - love them.

the world is a miraculous place, pretty much every day. we get out heads into our own little dramas and we miss it.

it's a nice time of year.

the meter's running. don't let it freak you out, but don't go sleep-walking, either.

Russell, belated condolences. Reading, but getting a chunk of time to write has been tough.

One quick question/observation, you wrote
A bittersweet end to a difficult year.

I wondered if your friend was ill for a year, or the roughly a year of corona. Humankind used to measure a year by the return of longer days, measured so closely in some cultures that whole infrastructures were built around it. My year is from April to March, the Japanese school year, which roughly co-occurred with Corona. Japanese used to make a very big deal of New Year's, but that seems to be disappearing, and with kids grown up, Christmas as a crowning event of the year has pretty much vanished. So your marking of a year had me wondering. Take care and thanks.

Japanese used to make a very big deal of New Year's, but that seems to be disappearing

Among Japanese Americans (or at least among my in-laws) it still is. To the point that a bunch of folks in their eights and nineties made the effort to learn Zoom so the whole family could do a virtual get together on New Years Day.

At (virtually) a great conference all week, so good days. Except it is on European time, i.e. Grave Shift for me, so bad days. Sigh.

I’d wager this is true for most immigrant populations. You leave your homeland, do you want to hold onto the things do you remember at for.

Likely true, lj.

Consider, for example, the Quebecois. Far more fanatical about the French language than even the French are.

I've no idea what I said to make autocorrect write that. I'm pleased wj got my drift...

I'm spending time with people for whom English is maybe a third language. Working out the sense of what is said is something I'm getting good at. (Mostly. ;-)

Autocorrect presents unique challenges, but there is some similarity.

I spent the first 8 months of the covid pandemic locked in a small apartment alone, the very worst of times. Then moved to FL, changed to a wfh job permanently, live with my wife, dog and cat, got some immunity, got a yard to work in, and am able to live my best life. Bad day, good day.

My sympathies russell. It seems we lose people more often these days. An Avett Brothers recent song says "How do I stop this outro that I'm heading for?". A line that comes to mind more often than I would like.

I wondered if your friend was ill for a year, or the roughly a year of corona.

‘Year’ here referred to Covid.

AutoCorrect, trickster god for a modern pantheon.

am able to live my best life. Bad day, good day.

yeah man.

8 months is a damned long time to be isolated. glad you got your life back!!

the meter's running. don't let it freak you out, but don't go sleep-walking, either.

Sound advice. My sincere condolences.

Another absolutely wonderful person going too soon:


But talk about someone making the most of her time, and her life in general!

My wife died at 49. We spent her last year doing whatever we thought of, health permitting. But it's always later than you think.

Pro Bono, I am unable to come up with words, a stark reminder to appreciate each day more.

russel, Pro Bono - I'm very sorry

I remember friends dying before their time in the 90s and what a horrible feeling it was.

I'll second Marty's comment here. Pro Bono, you've mentioned your wife's passing on a few occasions, every time it stops me in my tracks.

So sorry her time was not longer.

I had a rash of deaths a few months ago, but they were all people in my parents' generation. Though they weren't terribly old, they were old enough that "before their time" would be stretching it a bit.

Somehow, I've been lucky enough thus far not to have many people I was close with who were around my age die since I was in my late teens and early twenties. Those were mostly from car accidents and a couple suicides, which I guess are typical ways to go at that age.

I forget what brought this up, but I was talking to one of my friends I've known since high school a couple of St. Patrick's Days ago (well, I guess three, since it was before COVID), and he posed the question about which of us out of our group of friends would be the first to go. I would have thought it was a particularly morbid question if it wasn't something I had been thinking about on occasion, now that we're all in our fifties.

It's not something I look forward to (but I can't be doing stuff like quoting Bertrand Russell on a post about tardigrades if I'm not willing to contemplate the inevitable).

Thank you Marty, novakant, russell. My condolences to you, russell, and even more to your friend's bereft spouse.

I was thinking of saying something uncomplimentary about The Bucket List, but then I found Roger Ebert's review. He knew whereof he wrote.

I don't know how people get through the loss of a spouse (or a child). I'm sorry you had to go through that, Pro Bono. Russell's friend, too.

I never saw The Bucket List. It didn't interest me, but I still enjoyed reading Ebert's take-down. His negative reviews are especially fun.

I don't know how people get through the loss of a spouse...

I am doing it in slow motion as my wife's memory disappears. This is by far the most difficult thing I have ever dealt with.

Michael Cain, that must be so terrible. I had it with my mother, which is different of course. Condolences don't seem exactly appropriate, so I send you much sympathy, and wish you strength.

I don't know how people get through the loss of a spouse

For the sake of our children. How one does it without that I do not know.

Michael Cain, GFTNC speaks for me as well. So sorry, that is a terrible thing.

I saw my father look in my mother's eyes during her long decline, searching for the person she used to be, a person I had already mourned.

My sympathies, there is no easy loss.

Michael Cain -- sympathy from me, too. You've mentioned this before and I've though a lot about it, but not said anything. With my parents it was my dad who started leaving, in his late fifties. Not an easy thing for anyone involved.

And now for something completely different:


But on Wednesday, news broke that Manchin’s position was shifting. He is circulating a compromise voting rights memo that he believes could serve as the basis for a bipartisan bill. It eliminates much of what Democrats wanted, like the more ambitious campaign finance reforms, but it bans partisan gerrymandering, restores key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, makes Election Day a public holiday and implements automatic voter registration. It also includes some Republican priorities, like mandating that voters show certain forms of identification.

But the question Manchin faces isn’t whether there’s a voting rights bill he can support. It’s whether he’s willing to force Republicans to accept it. As the hinge vote, Manchin could offer both sides a choice: A bipartisan bill designed by Manchin (and whatever allies he chooses) or the outcome on voting rights they fear most — for Democrats, that would be nothing, and for Republicans, that would be everything.

If Democrats refuse to support his bill or offer something reasonable in return, Manchin could join with Republicans to kill it. If Republicans refuse to support it or offer something reasonable in return, he could join with Democrats to pass the original For The People Act, or something more like it.

Core to this strategy is Manchin admitting something he often pretends not to see: It is not in the Republican Party’s interest to cooperate with Democrats on major legislation. Republicans would prefer to pass nothing and watch Joe Biden’s presidency fail. This is not my supposition or slander. This is their own testimony.

Given his general intransigence on so much that needs to happen to enable the Dems' agenda, would Manchin's amended voting-rights proposal be better than nothing?

Three (almost identical) posts of mine have now gone into the spam trap, the first for a reason I understood and corrected.

If someone would rescue the final one, I'd be very grateful.

Your wish is my command!

Manchin's proposal is definitely better than nothing.

And there is also the possibility that McConnell and his boys will refuse to countenance even this. In which case, Manchin will be forced, however reluctantly, to admit that no compromise, no bipartisanship, is possible currently. So seeing this proposal is actually a quite hopeful sign.

Thanks for the retrieval, wj.

The biggest plus to Manchin's proposal (and the reason that it likely fails to get the Republican votes it needs to beat the filibuster) is that it converts the whole country to the kind of nonpartisan drawing of legislative districts that we see in much of the West currently. That not only kills GOP hopes of stealing the House in 2022, it likely costs them several state legislatures where gerrymandering is the only way they are staying in power.

A lot of the other stuff is good. But the gerrymandering section is the critical one.

More good news: SCOTUS refused for the third time to declare Obamacare unonstitutional.
And even better: each time the court's decision got an extra vote (5-4, 6-3, now 7-2).
Of course we do not know, whether the results are dependent on each other*, so I would not bet that the next time it will be 8-1 and the fifth time 9 to none.

*given that dealing with SCOTUS has a lot in common with gambling, that question is essential.

Yes, and the SCOTUS also required that city governments give contracts to Satanists that place kids with Satanist foster parents, even if the city otherwise prohibits that practice.

..which is only a *small* extrapolation.

Can Catholic adoption agencies decide that they're against interracial marriage based on scripture and therefore refuse to place children with interracial couples? Maybe they can't because race-discrimination is prohibited by constitutionally settled law. Does that mean discrimination based on sexual orientation is allowed since they're apparently able to discriminate against same-sex couples? (IANAL, so I'm truly asking.)

I'm also not sure I get the argument that they have no choice but to approve of relationships they otherwise object to on religious grounds by placing children with people in those relationships. "We don't approve of your relationship, but that has no bearing on whether you're suitable for child-placement." (Is that so hard?)

Or that they would have to curtail their missions if they decided to forego participating in whatever city-government program so they could continue to discriminate against same-sex couples. If they're mission is to place children in stable homes, aren't they already curtailing their missions by excluding people on a basis having nothing to do with the stability of their homes?

No one is forcing them to place children with same-sex couples. They just can't participate in a program that prohibits that sort of discrimination.

Maybe I should read up on this more before commenting, but I'm really not getting it from what I already know. (Who are these unelected black robe-wearers, anyway, to force their opinions on freedom-loving city governments?)

"black robe-wearers" I guess needs to be "black-robe-wearers." Otherwise, it could mean people of sub-Saharan African descent who wear robes. One of you grammar-and-punctuation mavens can weigh in. I'm still not completely clear on hyphens.

Or you could go with "black-robe wearers" ;-)

freedom of religion is unconstitutional in 3..2..

If they're mission is to place children in stable homes, aren't they already curtailing their missions by excluding people on a basis having nothing to do with the stability of their homes?

Much of how children are adopted is deserving of criticism. For example, there are more than a few black people who spent their childhoods in orphanages and foster homes because the adults in the system wouldn't let them be adopted by anyone other than black families. There're often more important agendas than the welfare of the children.

If they're mission is to place children in stable homes, aren't they already curtailing their missions by excluding people on a basis having nothing to do with the stability of their homes?

Get with the program, hsh. Same-sex couples by definition can't have stable homes. I could send you the testimony before the Maine legislature when the same-sex marriage bill was debated, you would find out all about it. Groups of random humans in households headed by same-sex couples are not "families" -- also by definition.

You caught me at a bad time and I am going to make a big effort of will to just stop ranting.

But as to some of your wondering, freedom of religion is in the constitution (theirs, of course, not my freedom *from* theirs), and the right to couple up with whomever you want is not in there. There's also something about strict scrutiny etc. that McKinney or any other lawyer can explain.

The Catholic agencies argued that they informed the customers beforehand and sent them to other agencies without that specific objection if necessary. If that is true and those other agencies were available indeed, I see no major problem with that. And SCOTUS (or so I read) explicitly did only consider the specific case at hand.
This is not a case like the religious pharmacist refusing to fill out a prescription for contraceptives, refusing to delegate the customer to another pharmacy (with the next one a hundred miles away anyway) or even keeping hold of the prescription to prevent the customer from having it filled elsewhere.
So, if the case does not pose a real burden on the potential customer because alternatives are easily available and the religious refusenik is willing to help to find those, I can not fundamentally object to a decision in favor of the religious personal objector.
If these conditions are not met, I would strongly object. But to my knowledge (much to the chagrin of Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas) the SCOTUS majority was unwilling to grant the latter exception too, i.e. they seem to have made a similar calculation/weighing.

Manchin's proposal is definitely better than nothing.

definitely. but since it is also definitely never going to happen, the magnitude of 'better' is very small.

McConnell has already said it won't happen.

time for another next meaningless statement, Manchin!

Does anybody think there is any possibility that, if the Rs (of the McConnell stripe) keep nixing all attempts at compromise, Manchin might come round to e.g. filibuster reform "more in sorrow than in anger"? I'm guessing not, but as a theoretical strategy it would make sense, that is, if he actually believed in protecting voting rights, and was close to retirement. He's 73, surely he can't be just trying to stay in office? How does he even count as a Dem, anyway? (This is frustration and incomprehension talking.)


I see he's not up for reelection til 2024,by which time he'll be 76 or 77. My incomprehension grows.

Manchin is what a (D) from WV looks like. He’s kind of a throwback, lotta D’s used to be more or less like him.

The solution to Manchin and Sinema is elect more (D)’s.

How does he even count as a Dem, anyway?

Look at what constitutes a Republican politician at the national level. In another era, Manchin might have been a Republican. But today? Today, people like Eisenhower and Bush I and even Reagan couldn't be national Republican politicians. So Manchin is a Democrat, simply because he isn't a rabid reactionary fanatic and he believes in something other than raw power; his ideological views, in the left/right sense, are irrelevant.

I agree with Manchin in principle that voting laws should be agreed by reasonable people from both parties. I hope that Manchin has brought forward his voting rights bill in an attempt to find out how many reasonable Republican senators there are, with a view to adjusting filibuster rules - reducing the threshold - accordingly.

Meanwhile, the alternative to Manchin is not a mainstream Democrat as Senator for West Virginia, it's Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

I can't find the bit in the US Constitution where it says that Philadelphia has to enter a contract with a foster-care agency which refuses to abide by Philadelphia's anti-discrimination policy, but I'm not surprised that a Supreme Court with six or seven Catholic Justices should find in favour of a Catholic agency.

I wonder whether Alito's remarks about circumcision apply equally to FGM.

One of you grammar-and-punctuation mavens can weigh in.

That could be me.

Regarding hyphenation: for the compound noun, "robe wearer", "robe-wearer" and "robewearer" are all possible, albeit the last reads like something out of a role-playing game.

But hyphenation of compound modifiers is compulsory when there's any ambiguity. So it has to be "black-robe" to make clear that "black" qualifies "robe" and not "wearer".

Since using two hyphens does nothing for the clarity of the construction, "black-robe wearer" is the only good choice, unless one prefers to swerve the issue by writing "wearers of black robes".

the alternative to Manchin is not a mainstream Democrat as Senator for West Virginia, it's Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

If Democrats can gain a couple of Senate seats in 2022, which will be hard but not impossible, that changes. But until and unless that happens (or McConnell goes to his just reward), this is the real world.

McTurtle has already pre-emptively rejected Manchin's proposal. Interestingly his reasoning is that Stacey Abrams has stated that she could imagine to vote for it thus making it inacceptable per se.
Reminds me of the statements from GOPsters that the fact that Obamas spoke positively of Romneycare made them rethink their support of that.
Because X is not 100% opposed to Y, we have to oppose Y as an abomination, although it was 100% OUR idea has become a standard GOP go-to.

Interestingly his reasoning is that Stacey Abrams has stated that she could imagine to vote for it thus making it inacceptable per se.

I don't really think that that's his reason for opposing it. He dislikes anything which would make voting easier, for the obvious reason that it would make it harder to win elections. Abrams' support of Manchin's bill is just a handy excuse to cover up his real reason.

I think that was clear from the start. But even McTurtle feels the need to give a veneer of "reason". And Manchin is possibly too popular with other GOPsters to openly reject him personally. Using a supposedly left black woman as the bogeyman is more palatable than the conservative old white guy.

I just came across the quotes below and thought they would make for interesting discussion here at ObWi. But first, I was surprised and saddened to see just how much surviving spouses are over-represented here at ObWi, which I assume most of us just learned about. Thank you for letting us know. It's one of the heaviest loads there is. God bless.

Now, these are two statements President Biden made while overseas in the last couple of weeks:

If our British friends will excuse me quoting the Declaration of Independence, America is unique in all the world in that we are not formed based on geography, or ethnicity, or religion, but on an idea—an idea. The only nation in the world founded on the notion of an idea.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We mean it. No nation can defeat us as long as we stick to our values.


I told him (Putin) that, unlike other countries, including Russia, we’re uniquely a product of an idea. You’ve heard me say this before, again and again, but I’m going to keep saying it. What’s that idea? We don’t derive our rights from the government; we possess them because we’re born—period. And we yield them to a government.

On a scale of 1 (disagree completely) to 10 (agree completely), where do y'all fall out (if you don't mind my asking)?

I could name several other countries that claim to be based on an idea and at least one preceding the US by far that claims it was for liberty against an oppressive government.
The latter would be Iceland that has as core of its national understanding that it was settled by people who left Norway in opposition to Harald Fairhair and his ideas of universal kingship over Norway. The idea of liberty was that every man could follow any leader he wanted to and to freely switch to another (provided it was done openly and not in a moment of crisis for that would be dishonorable). In Iceland the idea was that all laws had to be passed by the assembly of free men.
Of course a lot of that 'idea of liberty' was made up after Iceland fell under the overlordship of the Norwegian king a few centuries later but one can legitimately question a lot of the US founding legend too.
So, in that way the US are not really exceptional

Also, political ideas have little defensive value. Had the Cold War turned really hot (i.e. a MAD scenario), all unity would not have prevented a defeat (unless mutual destruction does not mean deafeat because there is no victor).

Russia may not have started as an idea but it has always been claimed (since at least the late Middle Ages) that Russia was special and on a messianic mission for the whole world. Moscow as the third and final Rome lasting to the ending of the world was core of Russian Tsarist and Orthodox belief. And the Soviet Union took up that banner in a secular version. Modern Russia has a curious mix of both. So Russia can be seen as the 'product of an idea' for it would not be the way it is without it.

In short, what Biden said was just repeating traditional BS and was no different from most other politicians since the founding days. Hallow but hollow platitudes.
But I am inclined to believe that he really wants to believe the stuff to be true (which would be different from quite a lot of others).

But I am inclined to believe that he really wants to believe the stuff to be true

Agreed. And not in all that self-agrandising a way, unlike perhaps other presidents' invocations of American exceptionalism. But there is something innocent and appealing about his wish to believe - he really believes, and wants to believe, in "the better angels of [y]our nature", and in the magical sense that means that he actually (if only temporarily) manifests them.

Yep. Based on that, I'd give the first statement a 1 and the last a 10. Or maybe the other way around...

"Hallow but hollow" is a very nice turn of phrase, Hartmut.

The first statement is word salad - "notion of an idea" - dressed with the hypocrisy about equality in the Declaration of Independence.

The second statement makes a point. No doubt Putin pretended to be interested.

For the record, Biden cribbed that bit about American exceptionalism from Charles Krauthammer.

there are no rights without the actual enforcement of those rights

How true this is, nous, and as well as its application to Juneteenth, it is also worth relating to McKinney's second Biden quotation in the Good day, Bad day thread, (We don’t derive our rights from the government; we possess them because we’re born—period. And we yield them to a government.) which is why I am also copying this in to the comments on that thread. Who will enforce those rights, if not a government?

Because X is not 100% opposed to Y, we have to oppose Y as an abomination, although it was 100% OUR idea has become a standard GOP go-to.

the GOP is The Party Of Idea. and the Idea is "Democrats are wrong".

the GOP is The Party Of Idea. and the Idea is "Democrats are wrong".

If only, if only.

The idea actually is "Democrats are evil. Or, at minimum, intend to do evil."**

Someone who is merely wrong can be reasoned with (if, of course, one is interested in reason). But evil can only be fought.

** In the case of GOP politicians, especially but not only at the national level, "evil" translates to "intend to vote us out of power" -- they having no ideology beyond staying in power.

I think "enforce those rights" is not how I would say it. I would say protect those rights, which we do not actually yield to the government. We empower government to protect them on our behalf.

I think "enforce those rights" is not how I would say it. I would say protect those rights, which we do not actually yield to the government. We empower government to protect them on our behalf.

There are a lot of questions of agency wrapped up in this. How does it relate, for example, to the circumstances of the enslaved people in Texas? It's fine for us to claim that they had a natural right to freedom, but that does not give the enslaved person the power to self-emancipate. Lacking that power, it falls to someone else to emancipate the enslaved person by forcing the enslaver to stop.

What does the enslaved person do to "empower" government to protect them? If the enslaved person has a right to life and liberty, then why is it that they only get to choose between them while enslaved?

When Lincoln mustered militia troops, and suspended habeas corpus, and defied the supreme court's decision that only congress has the right to suspend habeas corpus, was Lincoln protecting rights, or violating rights? What of congress in that case? What of the Confederacy?

Some framework, perhaps, for thinking through this: https://philosophynow.org/issues/10/Natural_Rights

It's a genuine question and a genuine conundrum for me. I find myself sometimes agreeing with Locke and other times feeling that Machiavelli's utilitarian cynicism was entirely warranted.

This history of Juneteeth, from TPM, touches on some of these issues


the notion that rights exist without a government to enforce them is akin to religion.

the leaker was... Tucker Carlson ?

It's a mystery that anyone takes Carlson seriously. Although, given the number of people who take QAnon seriously, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.

In our (US) political tradition, the existence of inherent human rights is asserted as an axiom. The fundamental equality of human beings and their possession of basic rights are held forth as self-evident truths.

The rights are asserted to be a legacy, an endowment, from a divine creator. They are not granted by any government - the purpose of government is to guarantee and safeguard their exercise.

The rights enumerated in the Declaration are basically those identified by Locke - life, liberty, and in place of Locke's right of property, the more general (and vague) pursuit of happiness.

Although the Declaration does not pursue a logical or theological argument for the existence of inherent human rights - their existence is simply asserted as axioms - Locke does. To him, they are rooted in the idea that people inherently own themselves, and therefore are entitled to own and enjoy what they create through their own labor.

All of that is pretty much philosophical speculation, but it is rooted in the basic and common intuition that we are all human, and therefore all deserving of a basic and simple level of respect. We all are bound to treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated.

The fact that all of this is utterly incompatible with slavery was obvious to many of the folks who wrote the founding documents of this country, many if not most of whom owned slaves. The hypocrisy of this position was balanced against the wealth created by the enslavement of other humans.

Juneteenth celebrates the fulfillment - nominally and de jure, at least - of the assertions made in the founding documents.

It only took us 12 years to forget it all again, and then another 80 to try to correct that.

We're still trying, and failing, to get it right. I doubt we'll ever get all the way there, some habits die harder than others.

The rights are held to be "self-evident". Which, to my mind, is not quite the same as axiomatic.

axiom (noun)

a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true.

not really invested in quibbling about the definition of axiom. my point overall is that the existence of inherent rights is something that is not provable through any kind of empirical or logical means. it's something that is asserted and/or generally accepted as so, and then the argument proceeds from there.

the rights the US founding documents claims are aspirational. they're the "core values" the founders included in the new enterprise's mission-statement.

they apparently aren't universally self-evident; and the fact that they aren't so self-evident that they weren't formalized until Locke and Co seems like a problem. maybe the creator should probably have been explicit about them when he wrote the Bible (which isn't gospel to most of the world anyway).

Much of what is cited from Locke comes from the Second Treatise on Government.

There was also a First Treatise, the purpose of which was to refute the idea that kings have a divine right to rule, based on an unbroken line of inheritance from Adam, who of course was given dominion over the entire earth by God.

That idea - that some folks are inherently superior and therefore have a god-given right to rule over others - seems wacky to the point of being bizarre to us, but it was absolutely not an uncommon belief at the time Locke wrote in the late 17th C. "Not uncommon" is an understatement, it was probably the prevailing belief in England and Europe generally, and likely beyond in some form or other.

Locke's arguments didn't really take hold in an effective way until the mid-18th C.

Self-evidence is in the eye of the beholder. We assume these ideas are a given, because we grew up with them.

...it was probably the prevailing belief in England and Europe generally...

Is that right? The Divine Right of Kings was rather decisively rejected by the execution of Charles I in 1649, and then again by the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, which the Two Treasises were published in defence of.

The First Treatise was a response to Patriarcha, by Robert Filmer, published in 1680.

So I’d say it was an open question at the time that Locke wrote.

Yes, an open question because even 40 years after the execution of Charles I, an idea as central to the culture as the Divine Right of Kings takes a long time to lose the status of "how the world works". By the French Revolution the process was probably pretty much unstoppable, though.

An open question, yes, but not in England the prevailing belief.

Filmer's wikipedia entry claims that he was "he was buried in the church, surrounded by descendants of his to the tenth generation." He must have been from Gallifrey.

An open question, yes, but not in England the prevailing belief

I’m happy to amend ‘prevailing belief’ to ‘quite common belief’ as pertains to England of that period.

James, a notably autocratic ruler, was king until 1688. His deposition in favor of William and Mary established the primacy of Parliament in England, but certainly did not extinguish the idea of the right of some folks to rule over others due to their inherent and god-given superiority. In England or anywhere else, for that matter, see also the White Man’s Burden and the various and numerous appeals to ‘natural law’ justifications for slavery in this country.

I’m not speaking specifically or at even primarily of the doctrine of the divine right of kings here, but more broadly of the idea of the basic equality (or inequality) of humans.

He must have been from Gallifrey.


The comments to this entry are closed.