Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Does Democracy Have A Shelf Life?

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

I received the following in an email being circulated by a family member:

"About the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"'A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.'

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage."
Does democracy indeed have a shelf life? If so, where is the United States on the above scale from 1-8?

The above email brings to mind Benjamin Franklin's words, spoken in response to being asked about the form of government establised by the Constitutional Convention:
"A republic, if you can keep it."


At 3/15/2006 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 3/15/2006 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plato, "Republic"

And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her to dissolution?

What good?

Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of the State--and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of nature deign to dwell.

Yes; the saying is in every body's mouth.

I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect of other things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.

How so?

When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cup-bearers presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oligarchs.

Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.


At 3/15/2006 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Every institution finally perishes by an excess of its own first principle"-- Lord Acton


At 3/15/2006 9:50 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Let's hope not. Of course everybody knows that Athens was a direct democracy and not a representative democracy, it still takes an educated electorate (see Palestine) and fiscally conservative governments (450 billion in Iraq by year's end) to ensure the continuation of the state. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the first President Bush spoke of a "peace dividend", but then we wanted to exert our power worldwide. We can't police the world has the only superpower. We should protect only our vital national interest with our military and only offer humanitarian aid the recipients are going to use the aid for humanitarian purposes. This is a strong country with a lot more than a 200 year shelf life.

At 3/15/2006 9:51 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Damn..I should proofread my posts

At 3/15/2006 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shelf life calculation for a "2nd best" Republic...

A city which is thus constituted can hardly be shaken; but, seeing that everything which has a beginning has also an end, even a constitution such as yours will not last for ever, but will in time be dissolved. And this is the dissolution:--In plants that grow in the earth, as well as in animals that move on the earth's surface, fertility and sterility of soul and body occur when the circumferences of the circles of each are completed, which in short-lived existences pass over a short space, and in long-lived ones over a long space. But to the knowledge of human fecundity and sterility all the wisdom and education of your rulers will not attain; the laws which regulate them will not be discovered by an intelligence which is alloyed with sense, but will escape them, and they will bring children into the world when they ought not. Now that which is of divine birth has a period which is contained in a perfect number (i.e. a cyclical number, such as 6, which is equal to the sum of its divisors 1, 2, 3, so that when the circle or time represented by 6 is completed, the lesser times or rotations represented by 1, 2, 3 are also completed.), but the period of human birth is comprehended in a number in which first increments by involution and evolution (or squared and cubed) obtaining three intervals and four terms of like and unlike, waxing and waning numbers, make all the terms commensurable and agreeable to one another. (Probably the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 of which the three first = the sides of the Pythagorean triangle. The terms will then be 3 cubed, 4 cubed, 5 cubed, which together = 6 cubed = 216.) The base of these (3) with a third added (4) when combined with five (20) and raised to the third power furnishes two harmonies; the first a square which is a hundred times as great (400 = 4 x 100) (Or the first a square which is 100 x 100 = 10,000. The whole number will then be 17,500 = a square of 100, and an oblong of 100 by 75.), and the other a figure having one side equal to the former, but oblong, consisting of a hundred numbers squared upon rational diameters of a square (i.e. omitting fractions), the side of which is five (7 x 7 = 49 x 100 = 4900), each of them being less by one (than the perfect square which includes the fractions, sc. 50) or less by (Or, 'consisting of two numbers squared upon irrational diameters,' etc. = 100. For other explanations of the passage see Introduction.) two perfect squares of irrational diameters (of a square the side of which is five = 50 + 50 = 100); and a hundred cubes of three (27 x 100 = 2700 + 4900 + 400 = 8000). Now this number represents a geometrical figure which has control over the good and evil of births. For when your guardians are ignorant of the law of births, and unite bride and bridegroom (or perhaps bride and bride or groom and groom) out of season, the children will not be goodly or fortunate. And though only the best of them will be appointed by their predecessors, still they will be unworthy to hold their fathers' places, and when they come into power as guardians, they will soon be found to fail in taking care of us, the Muses, first by under-valuing music; which neglect will soon extend to gymnastic; and hence the young men of your State will be less cultivated. In the succeeding generation rulers will be appointed who have lost the guardian power of testing the metal of your different races, which, like Hesiod's, are of gold and silver and brass and iron. And so iron will be mingled with silver, and brass with gold, and hence there will arise dissimilarity and inequality and irregularity, which always and in all places are causes of hatred and war. This the Muses affirm to be the stock from which discord has sprung, wherever arising; and this is their answer to us.


ps - I think the metal testing formally ended around 1970 when they eliminated "tracking" in the primary and secondary classrooms and "diversity" began to become more important than "academic performance" at the university level.

At 3/15/2006 11:43 AM, Blogger Avenging Apostate said...

"This is a strong country with a lot more than a 200 year shelf life."

I believe so too. America isn't perfect but it is better than anything we had in the past.

As for the 200 year shelf-life. Well, considering those 8 points, America's life starts not from 1776 but from 1620 or we can still go 13 years back to 1607, settlement of Virginia Company.

America has a fascinating history, It has always stayed strong; even under bondage it was free. That's something that has no parallel in history--or none that I know of.

Today when it faces the threat of Islam--more and more people in America are becoming aware of it. They show they're united. Left still needs to wake up. I hope it will, pretty soon.

At 3/15/2006 12:31 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

The Roman Republic lasted from 510 B.C. to 44 B.C. when Caesar became emperor. I know there will be historians
(self-anointed) pointing out discrepancies with the dates or if Roman really was a republic, but this is where many of our institutions were founded including the Senate and the House Of Representatives.

The English Parliament dates back to at least 1265, even though England remained a monarchy but even back in this time there were restrictions on the Kings power.

And although most people believe democracy developed in fourth century B.C. Athens, northern India experimented with democracy in the 6th century B.C..

Presently there are approximately 120 democracies in the world's 192 nations. Democracy is growing and so will our countries.

At 3/15/2006 12:32 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

I think an even bigger threat to the US is the proliferation of big government and overtaxation.

I believe the Fed should exsist in a minimalist laize-faire environment, but instead everything under the sun seems to be federally regulated.

Also, we are taxed on everything that isn't nailed down, and quite a few things that are. Our founders threw tea into the Boston harbor for less, and taxation was a big reason for the Revolutionary War. The Founders would spin in their graves if they could see the level of taxation which we must endure.

At 3/15/2006 1:51 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Complacency and apathy have certainly hit hard..the stages are very revealing ...where are we at?

At 3/15/2006 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American "Republic" ended somewhere between 1861-65, when the "Principate" began and Lincoln moved his forces across the Potomac. The American Confederation only lasted from around 1765-1786 (Stamp/Townshend Acts to Constitution)...of which only the last 4-5 years of that actually count under a formal/ ratified AoC.

And so if 200 is some kind of magic number, I suggest we start counting it at 1865, not 1776.


At 3/15/2006 2:09 PM, Blogger Mark said...

What an interesting topic! If a little disturbing. On the scale shown, the UK is in terminal decline! Next stage: Bondage!

I think that figure of 200 years is grossly underestimated. Civilizations generally last much, much longer than that.

At 3/15/2006 2:28 PM, Blogger Cubed © said...

Maybe we can take courage in what Thomas Jefferson said: "Tho' written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, yuet they fuirnish a text to which those wyho are watchful may again rally and recall the people: They fix too, for the people, the principles for their political creed."

It is an understanding of, and adhering to, the principles in our Constitution that can give us the longer "shelf life."


Our Aristotle vs. Plato differences aside, you are 100% correct when you say that education plays a critical role in the maintenance of the shelf life. As my hero Aristotle said, "All who have meditate on the art of governing mandkind have been convinced that the fate of empires (in our case, "representative republics") depends on the education of youth."

Our educational system sucks. Homeschoolers are the only ones who can do an end run around the behemoth - there is no hope for change from within, not even with vouchers.

American Crusader,

I know what you mean by "representative democracy," but please bear with me - it's one of my "buttons"- it's a representative REPUBLIC, and there's a huge and important difference. Walter Williams did a great piece on it not long ago, over at his site. I apologize for not being able to link it here, but I couldn't find it to give it too you right now.


Like American Crusader, I know what you mean about going back to 1613 - but while much of the North American continent was populated then by the English, they were settlers, not citizens of the United States. It really, really wasn't until the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that one can accurately say that the United States began it's "shelf life" - if you want to get picky about it, it wasn't really until the ratification in 1789 (in honor of which George Washington asked Congress to declare the first Thanksgiving.This whole Thanksgiving thing is a sore point with the Daughters of the American Revolution, who have been trying to get the word out about the REAL origin of Thanksgiving for years, but to no avail, thanks to our government-run PC school system).

Ours was the first nation in human history to be DESIGNED FROM SCRATCH, and derived from a specific philosophy. It wasn't until the Constitution, written for all to see and refer to, that we had in place the guiding principles that kick-started our "shelf life."

Sooo. . . Hmmmm. . . 2006 minus 1789 equals 217. Already, our Constitution is in tatters, thanks again to the government-run PC school system, BUT! Maybe, as mentioned above, we can take hope in what Jefferson said about having a Constitution written down for us to refer to when we begin to stray.

You go, Homeschoolers!


"I believe the Fed should exsist in a minimalist laize-faire environment. . ."

Yeaa! That's another thing that the Postmodernists who control our government-run PC school system have caused us to cringe at! Capitalism, profit motive, and laissez-faire have all become dirty words.


The primary weapon used to begin the destruction of our Enlightenment-based representative republic was the nationalization of the school system in the mid-1800s. Horace Mann was a descendant of the Massachussets Bay Colony, one of the few places where, in the 1600s, some small municipalities established school systems that were tax-supported, with compulsory attendance and mandated curricula.

The system that produced the Founders of the United States and the Framers of the Constitution were private, with a rich variety of competing philosophies.

The systems of the Massachussets Bay Colonies resembled those of totalitarian Sparta, while the system that gave rise to the Founders resembled that of Athens - compare legacies, and then consider which we should have today.

It's very hard for the enemy to gain control over a de-centralized system where schools are privately owned, and where ideas can compete and the best can rise to the top.

People, we have to regain control of education, even if it's only by getting our kids out of the present system and thereby letting it dissolve, like the Wicked Witch of the West.

As you can see, this is one of my serious buttons, and it has been pushed.

At 3/15/2006 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Machiavelli, "Discourses on Titus Livy"

And the memory of the Prince and the injuries received from him being yet fresh (and) having destroyed the oligarchic state (of the Few), and not wanting to restore that of the Prince, the (people) turned to the Popular state (Democracy) and they organized that in such a way, that neither the powerful Few nor a Prince should have any authority. And because all States in the beginning receive some reverence, this Popular State maintained itself for a short time, but not for long, especially when that generation that had organized it was extinguished, for they quickly came to that license where neither private men or public men were feared: this was such that every one living in his own way, a thousand injuries were inflicted every day: so that constrained by necessity either through the suggestion of some good man, or to escape from such license, they once again turn to a Principality; and from this step by step they return to that license both in the manner and for the causes mentioned (previously).

And this is the circle in which all the Republics are governed and will eventually be governed; but rarely do they return to the same (original) governments: for almost no Republic can have so long a life as to be able often to pass through these changes and remain on its feet.

We live the lives of the Ixionidae, going round and round in circles, some of small circumference, others, constructed more divinely, of larger circumference. How divinely is our wheel constructed? You'd have to ask the SCOTUS. They're the ones who are supposed to watch it (only I think that being inside it, one doesn't always maintain a proper perspective... especially when hanging by their feet).


methinks our wheel continues to make "revolutions". The only question long until the "next one" starts?

At 3/15/2006 2:29 PM, Blogger Cubed © said...

I've never been a great typist. Sorry.

At 3/15/2006 2:29 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Here's a flash folks ... we haven't had a representative government for a few decades.

We are an oligarchy and the ruling families are corporations. Of course we can thank the activist judges of Santa Clara vs. Union Pacific for laying the foundation of this tragedy but they were far right so they never get attention.

Now, you just take whatever scraps fall off the table and if you are comfortable enough you think you're free.

We have become a sorry people. We listen to a bunch of damn fools call Hillary Clinton (D - Lieberman in drag)a leftist and don't laugh at the shallowness of our collective converstaion and the dismantling of our nedia?

It's over folks unless you want to send the moneylenders out of the temple but you are the victoms of comfort and you are lost.

At 3/15/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Cubed © said...


MAYBE, probably with the help of the internet, we can keep from "bottoming out" this time.

An anonymous comment I cherish says: "At some point our collective heads will come up out of the sand, probably by the force of an explosion; we will stand, mouths agape like so many fish out of water, trying to comprehend a situation we've done our best to ignore."

We'll probably have to learn the hard way, and then we will probably descend even further into the dark. Somewhere, sometime, though, we will have thinkers who, like the Founders, make enormous progress, and correct the few errors that still exist in the Constitution.

With an ever greater understanding of the nature of rights, we will have a better means of safeguarding them. Until then, we will cycle up and down, but with any luck, the trend will be up.

At 3/15/2006 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hands down, the answer is #7.

Apathy - we hate Muslims, now we're dependent on their oil.

But I'm sure I'll get slammed as being "racist" or "hatemonger" by a liberal for saying that. After all, it's their ilk to do so.

At 3/15/2006 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect the American "principate" actually ended in 1965 with a "peaceful revolution" and the beginning of our modern un-civil wars. I guess sometimes its' hard to tell when the fat lady has sung... especially in "modern" warfare in places like Iraq (btw- we won!).


ps - If you want to learn more about the conduct of modern warfare, I suggest you take a "Peace Studies" class at your local university.

Orwell, "1984"...

Down in the street the wind flapped the torn poster to and fro, and the word INGSOC fitfully appeared and vanished. Ingsoc. The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side? And what way of knowing that the dominion of the Party would not endure for ever? Like an answer, the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back to him:




At 3/15/2006 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luckly for the Muslims, the KORAN is written in the "literal" and "immutable" Words of Allah. It's just a shame it's left to men to interpet them.


At 3/15/2006 3:17 PM, Blogger Pim's Ghost said...

I do know some rather brilliant historians and anthropologists (yes, anon, real ones) who I should consult before posting, but with the latest bird flu news, why waste time? I just don't agree with the timeframe, is all. And in fact many civilizations have gone through periods of decay and then renewal. I realize that we're talking of democratic societies here, but still. I'll get Infidel Mojo to weigh in later.

At 3/15/2006 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps - It's too bad for Iran's "Supreme Leader" Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, that the Shi'a religion deams him "unworthy of emulation" and so will have to "emulate" someone "worthier" than himself like a true Marja-e-Taqleed, Iraq's Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani.

That'll teach him of the errors of his interpretation of Velayat-e-Faqih


At 3/15/2006 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is separation of church and state coming to Iran? Guess we'll have to wait and see... what happens in Iraq.


At 3/15/2006 5:49 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

We are in number seven as entitlements have grown out of control. Yet there may be a great reawakening when we get hit again.

At 3/15/2006 6:16 PM, Blogger Toni said...

When 50% of income earning citizens pay no Federal Income Tax there's a problem, and the top 5% of income earners pay 56% of the taxes there's a problem. This disparity will only grow the central government which eventually is the downfall of our democrat republic. Don't you think the "Framers" would be turning over in their graves with the current situation?

At 3/15/2006 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Regarding "Sparta vs Athens" (Plato, "Laws")

ATHENIAN: In the first place, let us speak of the laws about music,--that is to say, such music as then existed--in order that we may trace the growth of the excess of freedom from the beginning. Now music was early divided among us into certain kinds and manners. One sort consisted of prayers to the Gods, which were called hymns; and there was another and opposite sort called lamentations, and another termed paeans, and another, celebrating the birth of Dionysus, called, I believe, 'dithyrambs.' And they used the actual word 'laws,' or nomoi, for another kind of song; and to this they added the term 'citharoedic.' All these and others were duly distinguished, nor were the performers allowed to confuse one style of music with another. And the authority which determined and gave judgment, and punished the disobedient, was not expressed in a hiss, nor in the most unmusical shouts of the multitude, as in our days, nor in applause and clapping of hands. But the directors of public instruction insisted that the spectators should listen in silence to the end; and boys and their tutors, and the multitude in general, were kept quiet by a hint from a stick. Such was the good order which the multitude were willing to observe; they would never have dared to give judgment by noisy cries. And then, as time went on, the poets themselves introduced the reign of vulgar and lawless innovation. They were men of genius, but they had no perception of what is just and lawful in music; raging like Bacchanals and possessed with inordinate delights--mingling lamentations with hymns, and paeans with dithyrambs; imitating the sounds of the flute on the lyre, and making one general confusion; ignorantly affirming that music has no truth, and, whether good or bad, can only be judged of rightly by the pleasure of the hearer (compare Republic). And by composing such licentious works, and adding to them words as licentious, they have inspired the multitude with lawlessness and boldness, and made them fancy that they can judge for themselves about melody and song. And in this way the theatres from being mute have become vocal, as though they had understanding of good and bad in music and poetry; and instead of an aristocracy, an evil sort of theatrocracy has grown up (compare Arist. Pol.). For if the democracy which judged had only consisted of educated persons, no fatal harm would have been done; but in music there first arose the universal conceit of omniscience and general lawlessness;-- freedom came following afterwards, and men, fancying that they knew what they did not know, had no longer any fear, and the absence of fear begets shamelessness. For what is this shamelessness, which is so evil a thing, but the insolent refusal to regard the opinion of the better by reason of an over-daring sort of liberty?

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Consequent upon this freedom comes the other freedom, of disobedience to rulers (compare Republic); and then the attempt to escape the control and exhortation of father, mother, elders, and when near the end, the control of the laws also; and at the very end there is the contempt of oaths and pledges, and no regard at all for the Gods,--herein they exhibit and imitate the old so-called Titanic nature, and come to the same point as the Titans when they rebelled against God, leading a life of endless evils. But why have I said all this? I ask, because the argument ought to be pulled up from time to time, and not be allowed to run away, but held with bit and bridle, and then we shall not, as the proverb says, fall off our ass. Let us then once more ask the question, To what end has all this been said?

MEGILLUS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: This, then, has been said for the sake--

MEGILLUS: Of what?

ATHENIAN: We were maintaining that the lawgiver ought to have three things in view: first, that the city for which he legislates should be free; and secondly, be at unity with herself; and thirdly, should have understanding;--these were our principles, were they not?

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: With a view to this we selected two kinds of government, the one the most despotic, and the other the most free; and now we are considering which of them is the right form: we took a mean in both cases, of despotism in the one, and of liberty in the other, and we saw that in a mean they attained their perfection; but that when they were carried to the extreme of either, slavery or licence, neither party were the gainers.

MEGILLUS: Very true.


Inscription for those who travel to the Oracle at Delphi for knowledge of the future...

Nothing in Excess

At 3/15/2006 11:45 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I'd say we're at 6.3 on the 8 stage sequence.

At 3/16/2006 7:08 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Once a certain phase has been reached, is there any going back to an earlier one?

As I see it, once dependency is reached, moving back to earlier ideals is difficult.

Step 7 results when selfishness overrides other concerns.

Just a few thoughts on the fly.

At 3/16/2006 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moving backwards is difficult, for the forward movement is usually a product born of forgetful "ignorance"... of the maladies which "lead to" and were the causes for the establishment of the constitutional correctives establishing the original "order". Only when those maladies re-emerge do the necessities which lead to the corrective become "remembered"... unless of course some "post-modern idiot" hasn't erased and replaced the "sources" of those older memories with "wishful claptrap". Then it takes a virtual "Renaissance" to recover them and restore a civilization to greatness. As cubed stated before, proper education IS the key.


At 3/16/2006 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say once you reach stage 3.5, the memories start fading, by 5.5 they're gone, and you don't start recovering the memories until about 1.5... after suffering from and recognizing (put back in the brain: re-cog-nize) the actual source of one's malady.


At 3/16/2006 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Athenian spoke above of the laws of music and the importance of not violating them. Here are he laws of dance. Shari'a had nothing on ole Ben...

To help my readers to form some idea of the state of polished society there (Philadelphia Dancing Assemblies), I must subjoin the Rules for regulating their Assemblies, which I copied from the frame hung up in the room: 'Rules of the Philadelphia Assembly, at Oeller's Hotel'.

1. The Managers have the entire direction.

2. The ladies rank in sets, and draw for places as they enter the Room. The Managers have power to place strangers and brides at the head of the Dances.

3. The ladies who lead, call the Dances alternately.

4. No lady to dance out of her set without leave of a Manager.

5. No lady to quit her place in the Dance, or alter the figure.

6. No person to interrupt the view of the Dancers.

7. The Rooms to be opened at six o'clock every Thursday evening during the season; the Dances to commence at seven and end at twelve precisely.

8. Each set having danced a Country Dance, a Cotillion may be called, if at the desire of eight ladies.

9. No stranger admissible without a ticket, signed by one of the Managers previously obtained.

10. No gentleman admissible in boots, coloured stockings or undress.

11. No citizen to be admissible unless he is a Subscriber.

12. The Managers only are to give orders to the Music.

13. If any dispute should unfortunately arise, the Managers are to adjust and finally settle the same; and any gentleman refusing to comply becomes inadmissible to the further Assemblies of that season."


At 3/16/2006 3:01 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Someone tell toni that her numbers don't include payroll taxes. When payroll taxes are included it becomes quite obvious that those who do not control much of the wealth pay as much in taxes as those who control quite a bit and that's probably as large a problem as the right wings inability to express themselves without resorting to tired aphorisms.

Toni, did you get that caca off Rush "Talent On Loan from Synthetic Morphine" Limbaugh's site? He really can work the herd.

At 3/16/2006 3:04 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

So which is it Farmer, despotism?

I suspect that's the way for you since you are clearly, like most of the others here, someone who just doesn't have the energy to handle the hurly-burly of life.

I get the distinct feeling that you'd be more comfortable in a mausoleum.

At 3/16/2006 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why would anyone wish to regulate music and dance?" you ask.

from the translator of Plato's "Laws"...

At the beginning of the second book the subject of pleasure leads to education, which in the early years of life is wholly a discipline imparted by the means of pleasure and pain. The discipline of pleasure is implanted chiefly by the practice of the song and the dance. Of these the forms should be fixed, and not allowed to depend on the fickle breath of the multitude. There will be choruses of boys, girls, and grown-up persons, and all will be heard repeating the same strain, that 'virtue is

or in Plato's own words...

ATHENIAN: Pleasure and pain I maintain to be the first perceptions of children, and I say that they are the forms under which virtue and vice are originally present to them. As to wisdom and true and fixed opinions, happy is the man who acquires them, even when declining in years; and we may say that he who possesses them, and the blessings which are contained in them, is a perfect man. Now I mean by education that training which is given by suitable habits to the first instincts of virtue in children;-- when pleasure, and friendship, and pain, and hatred, are rightly implanted in souls not yet capable of understanding the nature of them, and who find them, after they have attained reason, to be in harmony with her. This harmony of the soul, taken as a whole, is virtue; but the particular training in respect of pleasure and pain, which leads you always to hate what you ought to hate, and love what you ought to love from the beginning of life to the end, may be separated off; and, in my view, will be rightly called education.

CLEINIAS: I think, Stranger, that you are quite right in all that you have said and are saying about education.

ATHENIAN: I am glad to hear that you agree with me; for, indeed, the discipline of pleasure and pain which, when rightly ordered, is a principle of education, has been often relaxed and corrupted in human life. And the Gods, pitying the toils which our race is born to undergo, have appointed holy festivals, wherein men alternate rest with labour; and have given them the Muses and Apollo, the leader of the Muses, and Dionysus, to be companions in their revels, that they may improve their education by taking part in the festivals of the Gods, and with their help. I should like to know whether a common saying is in our opinion true to nature or not. For men say that the young of all creatures cannot be quiet in their bodies or in their voices; they are always wanting to move and cry out; some leaping and skipping, and overflowing with sportiveness and delight at something, others uttering all sorts of cries. But, whereas the animals have no perception of order or disorder in their movements, that is, of rhythm or harmony, as they are called, to us, the Gods, who, as we say, have been appointed to be our companions in the dance, have given the pleasurable sense of harmony and rhythm; and so they stir us into life, and we follow them, joining hands together in dances and songs; and these they call choruses, which is a term naturally expressive of cheerfulness. Shall we begin, then, with the acknowledgment that education is first given through Apollo and the Muses? What do you say?


At 3/16/2006 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I want exactly what the Muslim's want... only without the need to go around with thin canes whacking everybody.

...and I would be comfortable in a mausoleum, as I'm sure you'd be just as comfortable in a San Francisco bath-house without your pope soap-on-a-rope.


At 3/16/2006 3:44 PM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The overall ethical dynamics of the Tyler quote is right even if the time scale is not. The tone is too fatalistic.

We need to return to an ethics of self-reliance instead of demanding entitlements (and yes, that means corporations, too.) We have elevated democracy above individual rights and that hasn’t changed with the Republicans in power. Our schools teach that our nation and its history is shameful, that truth is an illusion or worse a tool of the powerful to oppress the powerless, and you are determined by your environment. Such nonsense zaps the vitality of our culture.

It’s time to fight back!

At 3/16/2006 4:37 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Our schools teach that truth is an illusion? Sorry Jason, that's the pure stinky cheese. They hardly ramp up the curriculum to deal with epistomology.

You know, the thing that bothers me about Sandbox Libertarians is that they never have a good method for dealing with conflicts of interest and completely deny that economics can be zero sum.

At 3/16/2006 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can the "surplus value" of labor generated by the division of labor POSSIBLY result in anything even remotely resembling a zero sum game? G_d, you ten times dumber than Marx, ducky. Even HE recognized the surplus. His was a fight over WHO it belonged to, laborer or capialist. You deny its' very existance. Unbelievable. I guess economies of scale are an illusion as well. Get a freakin' grip and go learn some economic theory from some people who have actually DONE a little business.


At 3/16/2006 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See ducky, your idiotic comments have me frothing at the fingers. I'm so mad, I can't even type.


At 3/16/2006 8:24 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Once a certain phase has been reached, is there any going back to an earlier one?

Nothing stays the same forever and things can always be reversed and changed.

Even HE recognized the surplus.
Problem with Marxists is they spend so much energy on memorizing vast amounts of totally false nformation that in the end they confuse it for reality.
Additionally whatever they say can be only a recount of what they think they understood from this nonsense.

At 3/17/2006 7:55 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the
capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few.
-- John Adams (An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 29 August 1763)
Reference: Original Intent, Barton (338); original The Papers of John Adams, Taylor, ed., vol. 1 (83)

At 3/17/2006 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Plato, "Cratylus"...

Whether there is this eternal nature in things, or whether the truth is what Heracleitus and his followers and many others say, is a question hard to determine; and no man of sense will like to put himself or the education of his mind in the power of names: neither will he so far trust names or the givers of names as to be confident in any knowledge which condemns himself and other existences to an unhealthy state of unreality; he will not believe that all things leak like a pot, or imagine that the world is a man who has a running at the nose. This may be true, Cratylus, but is also very likely to be untrue; and therefore I would not have you be too easily persuaded of it. Reflect well and like a man, and do not easily accept such a doctrine; for you are young and of an age to learn. And when you have found the truth, come and tell me.

methinks the duck has placed the education of his mind in the power of language (names), and closed his eyes and ears to the rest of the world, thereby condemning himself to an unhealthy state of unreality. But I could be wrong.


At 3/17/2006 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The best government is that which teaches us to govern ourselves. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Plato, "Republic" -- Do you know, I said, that governments vary as the dispositions of men vary, and that there must be as many of the one as there are of the other? For we cannot suppose that States are made of 'oak and rock,' and not out of the human natures which are in them, and which in a figure turn the scale and draw other things after them?

Yes, he said, the States are as the men are; they grow out of human characters.

Then if the constitutions of States are five, the dispositions of individual minds will also be five?


At 3/17/2006 9:26 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

John Adams had quite a negative outlook. The result of his religious upbringing? Or, was he a realist and an excellent student of human nature?

[G]overnments vary as the dispositions of men vary could account for part of the reason for the Founders' insistence on checks and balances. But when moral conviction is absent, checks and balances fail, IMO.

At 3/17/2006 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, can a free man, without discipline and limit, also be a good man? And so, is freedom a good "unto itself"?

Compare the dances of the "Philadelphia Assemblies" with today's "mosh pit". Compare "Beethoven" or "Bach" with "Black Sabbath" or "Rob Zombie". The self-discipline (limit) necessary to transform "freedom" into "liberty" has been "lost". Attention to "form" is necessary for its' recovery. That's why I absolutely LOVE your sonnet writers.

It is in self-limitation that a master first shows himself. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

At 3/17/2006 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moral conviction comes by "early training". As the Athenian stated above...

Now I mean by education that training which is given by suitable habits to the first instincts of virtue in children;-- when pleasure, and friendship, and pain, and hatred, are rightly implanted in souls not yet capable of understanding the nature of them, and who find them, after they have attained reason, to be in harmony with her

That's why the liberal Marcusian assault on the "traditional" family has been so "Devastating". Mom hasn't been there, and teacher doesn't get it... or if teacher does... he/she'll likely get fired or become a "home-schooler". ;-)


At 3/17/2006 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teachers that don't "get it" or "How to create a culture of dependents" (no. 7's & 8's).


At 3/17/2006 10:59 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Farmer, "who it belongs to" is precisely the nature of the game. it's zero sum because there is a winner and a loser as it is played by Randbots such as yourself.

At 3/17/2006 11:07 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Farmer, you bring up the situation of "Rob Zombie" vs. Mozart.

It isn't a matter of education. You cannot compete against media saturation and your beloved "free market". Rob Zombie wins that game every time and the market even causes things to degenerate further causing a narrower band of crap in order to maximize profit.

Although you aren't going to do much better with the petrified dinosaurs of the Right wing patrician class. Painting, film, sculpture, music, poetry ....their taste sucks too . I don't trust a class that waits for ancient history to make its judgemnts anymore than I trust a record company ad and payola blitz.

When you can talk about jazz or Hungarian films (they had the first advanced film school) or Mondrian and take your swings rather than falling back on some out of context quote from Plato...let me know. Meanwhile leftists are the culture mavens in this society.

At 3/17/2006 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please ducky, why would I possibly wish to contemplate Mondrian? If I wanted to become a nihilist or a Buddist, I might think about it.

You accuse me of finding myself at home in a mausoleum. At least I'm not the one longing to "lock my mind up" in one permanently.

I might occassionally stomach an impressionist or a surrealist like Dali, but the way you oogle and coo over Dadaist's and degenerate paintings by modernist idiot's like Pollack and Mondrian.... performing your faux-mental "fractal analysis".... and patting yourself on the back because you remember what some "expert" told you about it.

Cultural mavens by _ss! You don't know what inspired a painting until a NY Times critic tells you. Give it up duck. Love of THAT kind of art reflects the emptiness and vacuity of your soul. You're an interpretter of an interpretter... who thinks that somehow, he's also "original".


At 3/17/2006 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but of course, you are right about one thing...

The market is very efficient at supplying and the selling "pleasure" to the masses. It's up to us, however, to figure out ways to make them "desire" the things they really "need" as well, for sometimes what they "need" isn't going to give them "pleasure".


At 3/17/2006 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and ps. As much as I'd LOVE to experience some of the "probably" decadent Hungarian films you mention, they obviously don't give the masses the sufficient "pleasure" to extend the market into "suburbia", where I live. If Blockbuster doesn't carry it... might as well forget it.


At 3/17/2006 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and so your "cultural mavens" are doing a p_ss poor job of extending their culture...

But I suppose NOW you'll blame THAT on the NEA. You gotta make people WANT it. And NOBODY I know wants a "Mondrian" or a "Pollack". Your primary "constituency" is too busy buying at best... "ethnically authentic" paintings or at worst... porno.


At 3/17/2006 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and ducky, for just once in your life try thinking about this. If you sell something ( a film perhaps) to me, have we both lost, has one of lost and the other gained, or have we BOTH gained. Read Plato's "Hipparchus". For "profit" is "gain" and "gain" is "good". It AIN'T no zero-sum. NOBODY was exploited... and the transaction was purely VOLUNTARY, both parties motivated in anticipation of a "gain/profit".


At 3/17/2006 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and yes ducky, as our love of pleasure in the "MARKET" demonstrates, people are usually pretty POOR judges of what will likely "profit" them. But THAT isn't the markets fault. That's an "educational" fault.

Your "mavens" are good at tearing things down and criticizing them. Try building something up for a change. Ooops, but that takes "discipline". That stakes "effort". That takes "REAL" intelligence.


At 3/17/2006 3:55 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Couple things Farmer:

1. Come on get a Netflix account.
Love - Karoly Makk
The Red and the White - Miklas Jancso
The Witness - Peter Bacso (along with The Fireman's Ball and Doctor Strangelove one of the funniest political satires ever)

One of the problems with letting the market handle distribution is that you lose out but get a netflix account and solve the problem.

2. Why so tough on Mondrian? Simple because his vision is utopian and sees the possibility of unity and harmony? Even conservatives such as Jansen consider his paiting among the best of the twentieth century.
If Pollack experesses too much turmoil for you then leave it be but don't get upset that someone challenges your crendentials. Because you do want to be an arbiter of taste yourself (and like any aristocratic you care about taste only) don't expect there won't be opposition.

3. I don't care about selling a film or music to you, Farmer. It becomes a commodity. You don't get it do you. The crap that passes for music in this culture (which you consistently rail against) is nothing but a commodity, like a candy bar or a 3 pack of briefs at Walmart. That's all the crap is when the market is in charge.

4. Education? If you think you can use the Greeks (a culture that couldn't handle picture plane perspective) as the final word on aesthetics then you simply aren't qualified to teahc. Not because of a lack of ability but because of a lack of scope.

At 3/17/2006 5:22 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...


Don't let Ducky make you angry. As soon as you recognize and realize that no leftist in history has ever articulated anything that any reasonable person might confuse with rationality, and that likely no leftist ever will, it's easier to laugh at them.


You've been using the word "aphorism" too much lately. Did you just learn it?

At 3/18/2006 12:59 AM, Blogger MissingLink said...

I liked your quote although I am not a great fan of Plato (or rather of his vision of the reality).

How comes it that a cripple does not offend us, but that a fool does? Because a cripple recognizes that we walk straight, whereas a fool declares that it is we who are silly; if it were not so, we should feel pity and not anger.
Blaise Pascal: Thoughts, Section II

The Misery Of Man Without God (80)

At 3/18/2006 10:45 AM, Blogger Shah Alexander said...

>Does democracy indeed have a shelf life? If so, where is the United States on the above scale from 1-8?<

As far as I know, no opinion leaders say democracy in the United States is in decline.

Rather, foreign policy experts discuss power gaps and perception gaps between America and the rest of the world.

At 3/18/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

As far as I know, no opinion leaders say democracy in the United States is in decline.

Maybe not leaders. But here in the States, some commentators--mostly on the conservative side of the spectrum--think that democracy here has been eroded as political correctness and multiculturalism have gained strength.

At 3/20/2006 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

International competitiveness and global growth driven by an international free market never allows for movement beyond stage number 5. As soon as one reforms internally in a way that restricts capitalism then capital flight ensures that one is no longer "abundant". Democracies with their seperation of powers are the most stable and productive capitalist economies - moves that denigrate freedoms are reflected in withdrawl of funds vastly and quickly.

Unless a despotic state can prove itself to be more profitable, democracy is here to stay.

If not the market then what or do you propose define our arts? Yourself, or perhaps Farmer Joe?

At 3/20/2006 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do the arts serve any "ends"? Should they? And if so, is their a hierarchy of ends that culture and the arts should serve?

...and if you think it is impossible to proceed beyond stage 5, please explain to me what you think a "national debt" is, if not a lien against the future... one that makes one increasingly "dependent", and transformative from owner, to tennant, to "serf".


At 3/20/2006 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feedback and correction in the market before Keynes was almost it's virtually "non-existant"... as the numbers that represent the debt simply "accumulate" and soon loose all significance and meaning.


At 3/20/2006 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do arts serve ends? Here's one man's opinion...

What purpose do museum's serve"


At 3/21/2006 3:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Oh bad, bad choice Farmer John. Don't tempt my best game with some whiner who is all pissed that we judge crap like Gainsborough's "Mr. and Mrs. Andrews" by enlightened standards.

What the hell do I care about a painting showing a couple of prissy dimbulbs letting us all knwo that they own things. Big freakin' whoop, like I didn't know. Hey look at what we own...the bane of most Baroque painting (the true crap of art history).

Ever wonder why the only innovator's of the Baroque period were landscapists? Because they weren't wasting their freaking time time painting boring records of some dickhead's possesions.

At 3/22/2006 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point of the piece was that Museum's need to contain a record of what the people of each historical period "actually valued", and not what some Cooper Union art critic thinks they "should have valued" based upon "current values" or what he thinks "future generations should value". And it is only when museums operate according to this principle that one can justify putting a "Pollock" or a "Mondrian" in a collection... to record our contemporary cultural nihilism.

And when museum's adhere to those principle's, then trends in art actually become "visible" and "meaningful" and the museum serves a valuable societal purpose. Otherwise, it's just a piece of fiction put together in a Hollywood editor's studio or Orwell's Minitru.

In other words, mr. ducky.... shove your "enlightened standards" where the sun don't shine, and keep 'em out of my museums.


At 3/22/2006 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Farmer's museum...

mr. ducky's museum

Gee, I wonder which place is the greater "slave" to the "market"?

Now just where should I "spend" the rest of my afternoon????



The Walter's


I guess it simply depends upon whether my goal is to become "educated" and "improved", or merely "entertained". Edu-tained? Cull-tured?


At 3/22/2006 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Farmer John... firm proponent of REAL (not imagined) "intellectual barriers for entry" to the culture and "high" art... disdainer of all efforts to make art more publically accessible or to make a separate "art for the masses".

May the inventer of "supertitles" for opera be boiled in oil. May those who would translate an opera join them.

May the modern critical proponents of Faux-barriers to art based upon contemporary moral values like mr. ducky "join them" in the pot (You claim to disdain art "sentimentalists", but like Wagner are one of the biggest offenders.)

Viva Jose Ortega y Gassett for exposing their plan.


At 3/22/2006 1:58 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Give me a break, Farmer. That freakin' Bertie Wooster gets all bent out of shape because somebody is trying to teach him that Dahomey tribal masks are superior to the Baroque decorator crap he's used to.

"Your museums". Now there's a topic.

At 3/22/2006 2:17 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Farmer, does this mean you're passing up the Dada retrospective at the National Gellery?

That's a mistake.

I'm waiting till it hits MoMA.

At 3/22/2006 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I will go see it. It's about time someone put Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" to a good use.


At 3/22/2006 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw - It's your turn to bring the scones to the next meeting of the Junior Ganymede Club. You wouldn't want us to review YOUR entry, would 'ya?


At 3/22/2006 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone.

You hear them shouting 'Heil, Spode!' and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer.

What the Voice of the People is saying is: 'Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?'"



At 3/22/2006 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


No wonder the Dahomey unload so many of those tribal masks on the market. They'll don't want to make themselves too tempting a target for the "corporate reparations" crowd... supply and demand being all it is.


At 3/22/2006 7:56 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

From one of your links here:

And besides the glib pacifism, woolly cod-sociological gobbledegook, cultural relativism and political correctness, the texts seemed designed to insult the intelligence of anyone past primary age. This is no accident. Museums are advised by local authorities to couch their labels in language no more complex than can be understood by a child with a standard reading age of twelve.

"I do worry that there's nothing there for those people who have that bit of education, who would like to know more in depth," a Liverpool curator said to me. But as he went on to admit, middle class museum goers are going to keep coming no matter what you do....

And the advertising packages get more and more populist in appeal. I've noticed in recent visits to the NGA that the museum-goers often rush through the exhibits and hit the bookstore.

At 3/22/2006 8:01 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Dada can be entertaining, but for me it's more on the order of Mad Magazine.

I do like SOME of Erik Satie's music, however.

At 3/22/2006 8:05 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Dada was a moral and ethical response to the slaughter of World War I. In grief, rage, and despair, Dada used art to comment on the world, making art an indictment of the hypocrisies that wiped out a generation.


BTW, Paul (whom you and I have discussed before) has little use for Dada. He sneers whenever we discuss the topic.

At 3/23/2006 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Paul has good taste in both art AND music.


At 3/23/2006 4:49 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

That's right Farmer, stick with the Baroque. Capitalists are so much more comfortable with a work if it appears that it was "difficult" to produce.

Has to have an appearence of "work" in order to conform to your protestant work ethic.

Oh well, we move in a cyle between the excessively decorative and the primitive. I just hope Fragonard doesn't come around again any time soon.


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