Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Ghost of Panofsky
Walter Friedlaender, one of Panofsky's teachers and a lifelong friend, related how to Erwin Panofsky's cradle in Hannover there hurried two fairies, Wealth and Intelligence. The third, Good Looks, didn't make it In her stead came a fairy who said, "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need." 
which explains, continuing

My book is a work in political philosophy rather than an intervention in current debates (though it can’t help being that to some extent). Let me just sketch the main argument and then I’ll get on to some further remarks about our current predicament. States are compulsory and coercive bodies. Legitimate states use that coercive force to limit the freedom of people subject to them. But there’s normally a quid pro quo involved: the state limits our freedom but also protects us from the threat that we, as individuals, pose to one another’s freedom. This tradeoff provides us with reasons to comply with the state’s authority. But unlike resident citizens would-be immigrants get all of the coercion with none of the protection. The world is divided into many states, some of which do a much better job for their subjects than others. And mobility is something that human beings have practised since forever. To make the regulation of migration legitimate, states ought to comply with principles that ought to be acceptable to everyone. Insofar as such principles don’t exist, legitimate states need to be working towards creating them (just as they regulate other areas of international life). Unfortunately, far from doing this, states at the moment are actively trying to subvert or evade even the paltry international conventions that currently exist, such as the Refugee Convention. In doing so, they are locking millions into poverty, exposing hundreds of thousands each year to avoidable death, separating families, and exposing others to statuses that make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. States that act like this have lost their moral authority to control their borders.
It is against the background of these experiences that I propose to raise the question of violence in the political realm. This is not easy; what Sorel remarked sixty years ago, 'The problems of violence still remain very obscure," is as true today as it was then. I mentioned the general reluctance to deal with violence as a phenomenon in its own right, and I must now qualify this statement. If we turn to discussions of the phenomenon of power, we soon find that there exists a consensus among political theorists from Left to Right to the effect that violence is nothing more than the most flagrant manifestation of power. "All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence," said C. Wright Mills, echoing, as it were, Max Weber's definition of the state as "the rule of men over men based on the means of legitimate, that is allegedly legitimate, violence." The consensus is very strange; for to equate political power with "the organization of violence" makes sense only if one follows Marx's estimate of the state as an instrument of oppression in the hands of the ruling class. Let at therefore turn to authors who do not believe that the body politic and its laws and institutions are merely coercive superstructures, secondary manifestations of some underlying forces. Let on tun, for instance, to Bertrand de Jouvenel, whose book Power is perhaps the most prestigious and, anyway, the most interesting recent treatise on the subject. "To him," he writes, "who contemplates the unfolding of the ages war presents itself as an activity of States which pertains to their essence." This may prompt us to ask whether the end of warfare, then, would mean the end of states. Would the disappearance of violence in relationships between states spell the end of power?

The answer, it seems, will depend on what we understand by power. And power, it tuns out, is an instrument of rule, while rule, we are told, owes its existence to "the instinct of domination."54 We are immediately reminded of what Sartre said about violence when we read in Jouvenel that "a man feels himself more of a man when he is imposing himself and making others the instruments of his will," which gives him "incomparable pleasure." "Power," said Voltaire, "consists in making others act as I choose"; it is present wherever I have the chance "to assert my own will against the resistance" of others, said Max Weber, reminding on of Clausewitz's definition of war as "an act of violence to compel the opponent to do as we wish." The word, we are told by Strausz-Hupé signifies "the power of man over man."  To go back to Jouvenel: "To command and to be obeyed: without that, there is no Power—with it no other attribute is needed for it to be.... The thing without which it cannot be: that essence is command." If the essence of power is the effectiveness of command, then there is no greater power than that which grows out of the barrel of a gun, and it would be difficult to say in "which way the order given by a policeman is different from that given by a gunman." (I am quoting from the important hook The Notion of the State, by Alexander Passerin d'Entreves, the only author I know who is aware of the importance of distinguishing between violence and power. "We have to decide whether and in what sense 'power' can be distinguished from 'force', to as-certain how the fact of using force according to law changes the quality of force itself and presents on with an entirely different picture of human relations," since "force, by the very fact of being qualified, ceases to be force." But even this distinction, by far the most sophisticated and thoughtful one in the literature, does not go to the roots of the matter...

However, there exists another tradition and another vocabulary no less old and time-honored. When the Athenian city-state called its constitution an isonomy, or the Romans spoke of the civitas as their form of government, they had in mind a concept of power and law whose essence did not rely on the command-obedience relationship and which did not identify power and rule or law and command. It was to these examples that the men of the eighteenth-century revolutions turned when they ransacked the archives of antiquity and constituted a form of government, a republic, where the rule of law, resting on the power of the people, would put an end to the rule of man over man, which they thought was a "government fit for slaves." They too, unhappily, still talked about obedience—obedience to laws instead of men; but what they actually meant was support of the laws to which the citizenry had given in consent.. Such support is never unquestioning, and as far as reliability is concerned it can-not match the indeed "unquestioning obedience" that an act of violence can exact—the obedience every criminal can count on when he snatches my pocketbook with the help of a knife or robs a bank with the help of a gun. It is the people's support that lends power to the institutions of a country, and this support is but the continuation of the consent that brought the laws into existence to begin with Under conditions of representative government the people are supposed to rule those who govern them. All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them. This is what Madison meant when he said "all governments rest on opinion," a word no less true Inc the various forms of monarchy than for democracies. ("To suppose that majority rule functions only in democracy is a fantastic illusion," as Jouvenel points out: "The king, who is but one solitary individual, stands far more in need of the general support of Society than any other form of government." Even the tyrant, the One who rules against all, needs helpers in the business of violence, though their number may be rather restricted.) However, the strength of opinion, that is, the power of the government, depends on numbers; it is "in proportion to the number with which it is associated,". and tyranny, as Montesquieu discovered, is therefore the most violent and least powerful of forms of government. Indeed one of the most obvious distinctions between pence and violence is that power always stands in need of numbers, whereas violence up to a point can manage without them because it relies on implements.
See also.
Beginning in the 1950s and blossoming since 1961, a major scholarly controversy has sucked The Federalist into its gravitational field: What was its role in the great shift from republicanism to liberalism in American political thought? These complex bodies of ideas and practices have almost no direct links to today’s Republican party or modern American liberalism; moreover, these terms have become so vague that many historians have abandoned both words as useless.

Desiring to preserve liberty and to achieve the common good, Americans established republican forms of government—in which the people held ultimate political power, entrusting it to representatives responsible to them. Every previous republic, however, had collapsed into anarchy or tyranny. The precondition for a successful republic, therefore, was to maintain the people's virtue —their willingness to sacrifice special interests in the service of the public interest.

By contrast, those who espoused liberalism favored each person's right to pursue his or her talents and abilities to the fullest extent possible. The strongest case for a republic, they argued, was precisely that it would enable each citizen to develop those talents; a republic should take the greatest possible pains not to restrain that process but to
guide it so that individuals‘ pursuit of their own interests would foster the public interest.

Scholars who identify a great transition from republicanism to liberalism marked by the making of the Constitution and those who insist that the Constitution maintained the American commitment to republicanism find ammunition in The Federalist. That they can read it for such clashing purposes. however. undermines this argument's usefulness for understanding The Federalist or the historical context that produced it. Today, historians and legal scholars such as Jack N. Rakove, Bruce Ackerman, William E. Nelson, and the present writer are moving beyond this debate's stale polarities. Instead. they suggest, American constitutionalism embodies an ever-shifting balance between these two bodies of thought; there was thus no dramatic sea-change from one to the other.
"The sea-change is real, and the victory of liberalism over republicanism connects to the victory of technocracy and scientism. Virtue is an explicit prior. There's no way it could be expected to prevail in the age of objectivity, reason, and "value free" science. But capitalism can thrive. "

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