Monday, March 01, 2010

This is either really interesting, or really stupid.

Democracy is not a system of or for the finding of truths, it is a system of formalized and public decision-making. Absolute truth, whatever that may be, is secondary because fundamentally private. In democracy, understanding is inseparable from perception, as communication is the communication of perceptions-as-ideas in common form. The rule of law is not the rule of reason but interpretation, and interpretation is fluid. We describe the past reading words on a page to describe the present and ourselves, and justify this process by the understanding that in fact it's all any society has ever done. Platonists and Churchmen, believers in absolutes, hate democracy, preferring stability and what they consider if they're honest -with themselves- to be noble and necessary lies. Scalia's "Vaffanculo..." is a moment of honesty before the public.

Interesting looking again at the debate over formalism in law. The references are to judging and whether judges are loyal to form or their ideological slants. And this focus I guess has something to do with the supposed moral seriousness of those august men of enlightened wisdom and blah... blah... blah. Or whether other men of superior critical and blah... blah... blah. But judges aren't at the center of our system of justice any more than legal philosophers, that position is held by defense attorneys. And defense attorneys are formalists because it's their job to be formalists. They defend whomever they're paid to defend or if they think of themselves as noble they defend the poor or unpopular, and that is because they defend not individuals but formal principle: equal protection of the motherfuckinglaws.

The lawyers in Guantanamo are at the center of our system of justice and morality not because in some cases they represent a few who might actually be innocent but because they know -recognize even in these extreme cases- that it's not their job to think about that one way or the other. And in defending formal integrity they become models of moral integrity.

All obvious.

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