Generation of a Common-wealth

The finall Cause, End, or Designe of men, (who naturally love Liberty, and Dominion over others,) in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, (in which wee see them live in Common-wealths,) is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of Warre, which is necessarily consequent (as hath been shewn) to the naturall Passions of men, when there is no visible Power to keep them in awe, and tye them by feare of punishment to the performance of their Covenants, and observation of these Lawes of Nature set down in the fourteenth and fifteenth Chapters.

For the Lawes of Nature (as Justice, Equity, Modesty, Mercy, and (in summe) Doing To Others, As Wee Would Be Done To,) if themselves, without the terrour of some Power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our naturall Passions, that carry us to Partiality, Pride, Revenge, and the like. And Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words, and of no strength to secure a man at all. Therefore notwithstanding the Lawes of Nature, (which every one hath then kept, when he has the will to keep them, when he can do it safely,) if there be no Power erected, or not great enough for our security; every man will and may lawfully rely on his own strength and art, for caution against all other men.

And in all places, where men have lived by small Families, to robbe and spoyle one another, has been a Trade, and so farre from being reputed against the Law of Nature, that the greater spoyles they gained, the greater was their honour; and men observed no other Lawes therein, but the Lawes of Honour; that is, to abstain from cruelty, leaving to men their lives, and instruments of husbandry.And as small Familyes did then; so now do Cities and Kingdomes which are but greater Families (for their own security) enlarge their Dominions, upon all pretences of danger, and fear of Invasion, or assistance that may be given to Invaders, endeavour as much as they can, to subdue, or weaken their neighbours, by open force, and secret arts, for want of other Caution, justly; and are rememdbred for it in after ages with honour.

See also

Books

Человек и час

Who could have imagined a television comedian elected in a fit of humour would prove to be a great statesman?  (Although you say the same of Boris Johnson.) Vladimir Zelenskiy has proven to be the hero his country needs in its greatest distress: head and shoulders above any politician.

He seemed an odd choice for the mantle of ‘statesman’: he has been known for prancing about the stage in knock-about sketches on the box, and starring in comedy programmes. Stuck in a political office, one would think him a pushover, and maybe the other Vladimir thought so so. Instead we have a ‘servant of the people’ in amongst the people, shunning offers to help him flee, as any politician in circumstances would, but appearing on the streets, encouraging resistance to the dictator to the north.

There is a bit more to the man than his slapstick television clown persona: this an entrepreneur, creator and mainstay of a media business. It is not like dragging someone from TOWIE and sticking them in the chair. That depth may have been missed by his opponent.

The Black Earth of the Ukraine, the open steppes and the once lawless Zaparozhe lands tug at the hearts of those who live there. It was from here that a Cossack tradition grew which drove east and south to conquer  and settle Russia’s vast empire, and this was inseparably a tradition of freedom from outside control and all the promises of endless frontier lands. This was also a land once filled with little, distinct Jewish villages scattered across the steppe in their own form of independence – they are no more since the SS swept over the land exterminating them, and Zelenskiy will feel that too, as his family were lost to it. The dictator’s boot is unwelcome here.

At the same time, the Ukraine is a part of wider Russian culture. It was in attempts to break it away that Moscow’s wrath was kindled. Here it meets a contradiction in the soul of the Rus’ though: the freedom of the frontier against the autocracy of the ruler. Here too is a paradox that will cause the campaign to fail: if the Ukrainian and the Russian are all one people, then how can one fight the other?

This land at the edge of empire is a threat to the autocracy of the centre because it has shown, with whatever imperfections, that those of Russian culture can have a democracy and freedom to speak and work.  If that is allowed to continue, it gives the lie to the nature of the Muscovite norm of autocracy. Previous Ukrainian presidents have played the same game as their neighbours, crushing opponents, playing an oppressive Sprachpolitik  and allowing corruption to run riot.  In Zelenskiy, a Russian-speaker himself, but an outsider to all sides, it has been possible to imagine another way – people are free to live, to speak and to work. It is work in progress. Local nationalism is nihilistic and artificial, but freedom; that is worth defending.

See also

Books

From Diffidence Warre

And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any man to secure himselfe, so reasonable, as Anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can, so long, till he see no other power great enough to endanger him: And this is no more than his own conservation requireth, and is generally allowed. Also because there be some, that taking pleasure in contemplating their own power in the acts of conquest, which they pursue farther than their security requires; if others, that otherwise would be glad to be at ease within modest bounds, should not by invasion increase their power, they would not be able, long time, by standing only on their defence, to subsist. And by consequence, such augmentation of dominion over men, being necessary to a mans conservation, it ought to be allowed him.

Againe, men have no pleasure, (but on the contrary a great deale of griefe) in keeping company, where there is no power able to over-awe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him, at the same rate he sets upon himselfe: And upon all signes of contempt, or undervaluing, naturally endeavours, as far as he dares (which amongst them that have no common power, to keep them in quiet, is far enough to make them destroy each other,) to extort a greater value from his contemners, by dommage; and from others, by the example.

So that in the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarrel. First, Competition; Secondly, Diffidence; Thirdly, Glory.

The first, maketh men invade for Gain; the second, for Safety; and the third, for Reputation. The first use Violence, to make themselves Masters of other mens persons, wives, children, and cattell; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other signe of undervalue, either direct in their Persons, or by reflexion in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name.

See also

Books

Prey to Kings and Desperate Men

It gets worse. Canada is falling, torn by unwonted divisions stoked  out of malice by Justin Trudeau, demagogue-in-chief. The state at his direction punishes dissent without trial and thugs terrify their neighbours for speaking for the dissenters. How could this be Canada? How can Canada survive it?

It is familiar from the international news, but in the United States, and now we have seen the deliberate importation of American hate-based politics into once innocent ground, without the American systems which moderate it. The certainties of Canadian life which allowed society to thrive and  which encouraged enterprise to take root and trade have vanished.  How can anyone build for their future if the government can seize property and bank accounts at will?

In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building..

I need hardly recite the familiar idiocies of the pseudo-philosophical movements in the United States; Marxism given new flesh in concepts of race theory which promote racial conflict. In a land which had a system of slavery for centuries, followed by a hundred years of legal discrimination that lasted until living memory, and a legacy of ill-treatment long after, there is a well of mistrust to be turned into hatred. Canada though did not have any of this: this is all imported, and it should not be welcomed.  It is as if Trudeau and those he has attracted around him have forgotten which country they are in.

If it were just the government of one man acting tyrannically, directing the Mounties against his opponents, that would be bad enough, but it is far deeper. Society is being destroyed with internal hatred. That is at the rotten heart of politics, as has been written here before, but hitherto it has been resisted in the True North, or so we thought. We heard of a store-owner besieged and terrorised by thugs who called her a terrorist and a Nazi-supporter, who threated violence, even murder against her an her family; just for donating a small sum to keep a trucker from freezing in the Ottawa night.  How would these chilling tormentors have got such an idea about a neighbour? How could anyone with any sense believe the protesting truckers  could be described in such repulsive terms?  The finger points to one man.

It is an evil doctrine which Trudeau has adopted, a foreign interloper, and he nurtured it. In its homeland, the United States, the doctrine is tempered by the endless levels of power across that country which can resist if they are so minded, or in adopting it form a lesson to show others what to avoid, In Canada there is no such dispersed network of power, and no guardian angel to resist the abuse of destructive power.

The truckers are annoying, certainly, but he made insane accusations which others have taken up in a mob, and every threat, every punch, every brick through the window, every nervous breakdown, is his personal responsibility. The collapse of Canada’s settled society falls upon his shoulders too.

Canadians can only look out to be told that a once settled, understood life is no more, as Donne put it in another context:

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell.

The outlook is grim, recession looms as investment teeters, and with three years before the next election, there is a long time yet for society to be destroyed all the more. Canada is facing dark days, and I wish heartily it were not so.

See also

Books

 

The problem of peace

Why is there any civil peace? Starry-eyed reformers ask why crime happens, but the real question is why anyone obeys the law.

Hobbes knew the problem well, from ‘Warre Of Every One Against Every One’ to peaceful society takes more than simply the existence of a common power to keep them in awe: there is not a policeman sitting in your parlour directing you when to rise and whither to go, or perhaps there is in China or Canada but not in the free world. There must be a constant influence for civic virtue, working against the natural love of immediate advantage and of personal power. Hobbes looked at these:

Love Of Contention From Competition

Competition of Riches, Honour, command, or other power, enclineth to Contention, Enmity, and War: because the way of one Competitor, to the attaining of his desire, is to kill, subdue, supplant, or repell the other. Particularly, competition of praise, enclineth to a reverence of Antiquity. For men contend with the living, not with the dead; to these ascribing more than due, that they may obscure the glory of the other.

Civil Obedience From Love Of Ease

Desire of Ease, and sensuall Delight, disposeth men to obey a common Power: because by such Desires, a man doth abandon the protection might be hoped for from his own Industry, and labour.

From Feare Of Death Or Wounds

Fear of Death, and Wounds, disposeth to the same; and for the same reason. On the contrary, needy men, and hardy, not contented with their present condition; as also, all men that are ambitious of Military command, are enclined to continue the causes of warre; and to stirre up trouble and sedition: for there is no honour Military but by warre; nor any such hope to mend an ill game, as by causing a new shuffle.

And From Love Of Arts

Desire of Knowledge, and Arts of Peace, enclineth men to obey a common Power: For such Desire, containeth a desire of leasure; and consequently protection from some other Power than their own.

Love Of Vertue, From Love Of Praise

Desire of Praise, disposeth to laudable actions, such as please them whose judgement they value; for of these men whom we contemn, we contemn also the Praises. Desire of Fame after death does the same. And though after death, there be no sense of the praise given us on Earth, as being joyes, that are either swallowed up in the unspeakable joyes of Heaven, or extinguished in the extreme torments of Hell: yet is not such Fame vain; because men have a present delight therein, from the foresight of it, and of the benefit that may rebound thereby to their posterity: which though they now see not, yet they imagine; and any thing that is pleasure in the sense, the same also is pleasure in the imagination.

See also

Books