Friday, July 20, 2012

Power Trips


Human nature is timeless, and its study brings wisdom 

The Greeks knew it but left the knowledge pasted inside the pages of philosophy.  The founding fathers knew it and crafted a system of government based upon a keen insight into man's fallen nature.

For those of you who love government having all that power, I ask you:  What if Republicans controlled everything?  Would you still grant the federal government carte blanche?

The works of William Shakespeare are a goldmine of human nature on display: Love and hate, lust, greed, anger, abuse of power... it's all there.

Justice and Mercy

In The Bard's play, Measure for Measure, Claudio is condemned to die for knocking up his betrothed before the nuptials.  In act II, Isabella, Claudio's holy and virginal sister, pleads for mercy to Angelo the magistrate.

Angelo rightly reminds her that True Justice lies not in some sappy sentimentality or misguided empathy.  True Justice, God's Justice, Nature's Justice, is blind to emotional appeals and always balances the scales.

Adam Smith, who no doubt was familiar with Shakespeare, summed it up succinctly:
"Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."
Isabella:  Yet show some pity.

Angelo:  I show it most of all when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offense would after gall;
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong, 
Lives not to act another. 
Be satisfied; Your brother dies to-morrow; be content.
That last line sounds callous, but the deeper meaning is that each of us should be satisfied when justice is done, even when it is done against us, for that is the cosmic order, and it protects the rights of others.

Abuse of Power

Counterpoised against a righteous exercise of justice is abuse of power.  Isabella laments how men harshly wield the power lent to them by God:
O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength;
but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant.
Abuse of power is timeless...
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder.
Nothing but thunder!
She reminds us that God loans power and authority to man so that we many model our societies upon His justice.  But "proud man..."
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he 's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep
who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
So it's not just an abuse of power and authority man engages in, but a usurpation of God's gifts that are loaned to us.  We forget we are "dust and to dust we will return."  Flush with pride and earthly arrogance, we forget we are fit for infinity, and we end up as angry apes who make the angels weep.  Were the angels mere earthly creatures like us, they would spare the pity and simply laugh derisively at us.

* - Jove:  King of the Gods in Roman mythology, god of sky and thunder

53 comments:

Ron Russell said...

Progressive sounds much better than communist, don't you think so?

Silverfiddle said...

There's a world of difference between communism and progressivism.

And when I speak of progressives in government, I am including busybody republicans as well.

KP said...

This is one dark play for a comedy. Angelo (a nasty judge left in charge of the city) is the ultimate abuser of power; when he says "I show it most of all (pity) when I show justice" is hollow in this case. He offers to spare Isabella's brother in exchange for her virginity and even lies about that. It would seem that circa 1600politicians had little trust from the people.

EVERYMAN --- Morality Play

Recalling the message from the best known surviving morality play "Everyman" (circa 1485)

"Man can take with him from this world ... nothing that he has received, only what he has given".
Everyman -- 15th Century

Everyman is stripped, one by one, of those apparent goods on which he has relied. First, he is deserted by his patently false friends: his casual companions, his kinsmen, and his wealth. Receiving some comfort from his enfeebled good deeds, he falls back on them and on his other resources -- his strength, his beauty, his intelligence, and his knowledge -- qualities which, when properly used help to make an integrated man. These assist him through the crisis in which he must make up his book of accounts, but in the end, when he must go to the grave, all desert him save his good deeds alone. The play makes it's effectively grim point that man can take with him from this world nothing that he has received, only what he has given.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature

Silver, I am sorry for the mass shooting in Aurora. Crazy.

Ducky's here said...

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Ducky's here said...

She reminds us that God loans power and authority to man so that we many model our societies upon His justice.

---------------

Does that mean we bring back Leviticus?

You talk like American Taliban at times, Silverfiddle.

KP said...

@Ducky, to be clear, are you referring to Paul Rosenberg's definition of right-wing politico-religious actions when you speak of American Taliban?

Ducky's here said...

I am speaking of our brand of religious fundamentalists.

Sam Huntington said...

There's a world of difference between communism and progressivism.

Whether the Communist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America merely use the progressive movement as a convenient lever to move national debate to the left, the fact remains that the progressive movement is a surrogate of the neo-communist movement, including “useful idiots” from both political parties. More than one politician publicly laments the fact that the communist movement has absorbed the Democratic Party. Beyond marketing progressivism to a mostly uninformed society, I do not think there is much difference between communism and progressivism.

FreeThinke said...

You're absolutely right Sam. All the nasty isms that dropped from anus of Marxism stride with varying degrees of militancy toward the same goal -- TOTALITARIANISM.

It doesn't matter what the followers THINK, it's what the RESULT is bound to occur these movements (how appropriate a name!) are left unchecked.

In ESSENCE there is no true difference among the initiatives of the left.

Each is the same old demon cloaked in a different disguise.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

KP: re your first paragraph: Oh so true. It shows the amazing human capacity to recognize an eternal truth and at the same time to violate it. We are amazing creatures.

conservativesonfire said...

@Sam. Well said!

We humans tke ourselves too seriously.

FreeThinke said...

Now that our friend, SilverFiddle appears to have taken in the mantle of a latter-day Savonarola, perhaps you might enjoy an entirely different approach to the subject of what does and does not constitute truly moral behavior over at

http://freethinkesblog.blogspot.com/?zx=da63e836789862c5

Please don't miss the latest article entitled

It's the BELLIGERENCE, Stupid!

You may be offended, but I guarantee that, unless you possess the soul of a mollusk, you will not be bored.

All I can say about Leviticus
Is that surely he was not a witty cuss.
His unwonted display of cruel gravity
Has pushed many towards lives of depravity.
Lest you would lead a life of dejection
I recommend the OT for rejection


~ FreeThinke

Steve said...

"For those of you who love government having all that power, I ask you: What if Republicans controlled everything? Would you still grant the federal government carte blanche?"

Question already answered when we invaded Iraq. A country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Americans couldn't wait to follow the Republicans into the kill zone.

Ducky's here said...

Silverfiddle, you failed to mention that Angelo was a pretty serious hypocrite.

Those without mercy often are.

Hugh Farnham said...

Great post.

Now you know why progressives hate the classics and Shakespeare.

Z said...

"So it's not just an abuse of power and authority man engages in, but a usurpation of God's gifts that are loaned to us."

And one of those is the beauty of sex between committed couples...and as the Western world stops heeding God's Word, we lean toward passing out 150,000 condoms to the Olympian athletes because some are "having sex on the grass in the open near the dorms" and more....
talk about a usurpation of God's gifts... a little off topic, but........
Is there REALLY no individual responsibility or morality left ANYWHERE?

Silverfiddle said...

I'm no Savonarola. I'm discussing eternal themes here, but some of you really get your backs up at the mention of God.

If that offends you, get the hell out. I'm tired of your whiny crap.

This is Shakespeare, and he is addressing human nature. I mention Angelo's comments no to hold him up as a paragon of virtue, clearly he is not, but rather to discuss the issues of justice and power.

But some people must immediately rush to post-modern reductio ad dementis.

This is an adult conversation Ducky. Take your tourettes-riddled brain tics somewhere else if you don't have anything worthy to contribute (and you rarely do).

Silverfiddle said...

@ Steve: Question already answered when we invaded Iraq. A country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Americans couldn't wait to follow the Republicans into the kill zone.

Nice rhetorical riposte, but answer the question. Human beings are bastards. The founders knew it, which is why they set up a limited government.

You may have been wise forever, but I readily admit and confess that I was one of those who cheered it all on when it was "my guys" doing it. But I've woken up, and I wish others would as well.

If "my guys" can do it, "their guys" can too when they're in power. The only answer is to limit government power, and also for us to take things seriously and ask serious questions when a president wants to invade another country.

Yes, a few people were asking serious questions, but too many republicans and democrats fell in line far too quickly.

Ducky's here said...

Nice rhetorical riposte, but answer the question. Human beings are bastards. The founders knew it, which is why they set up a limited government.

--------
Utter nonsense.

Power will be exercised whether it's government or ExxonMobil.

Shakespeare knew that.

Silverfiddle said...

I don't have to do business with Exon Mobile if I don't want to, and presumably, they must obey laws made by governments. (ok, I'll snicker along with you on that one, but surely you see my point?)

Ducky's here said...

... and in this particular play it was the Church in the form of a nun that tried to council mercy.

The classic conflict with the O.T. God?

FreeThinke said...

The money quote above -- as I've heard it -- is

"He who would be merciful to the cruel will be cruel to the merciful"

That puts a very different slant on it -- one we should much prefer, whether it be literally "correct" or not.

There could be no greater sin than being deliberately cruel -- to ANYONE.

Go to my blog and see what Cruelty in the Name of Righteousness produced.

The institutional church learned NOTHING from the Coliseum -- nothing. If anything they may have been even worse, because they had the benefit of having seen and heard "The Word" -- and they deliberately chose to distort it, deny it, completely misrepresent it and BETRAY IT in favor of establishing a Power Bloc predicated on TERRORIZING an ignorant, innocent populace.

If there is any Justice in the Universe, and if such a place as Hell really exists, I believe I know who MOST deserves to be there -- and it AIN'T "heretics," adulterers and homosexuals -- or even thieves depending on the circumstances.

We're not apt to meet Robin of Locksley and his Merry Men in Hell. Instead it will be King John and The Sheriff of Nottingham and all their ilk.

~ FreeThinke

~

FreeThinke said...

Well, Dicky, not that you'd ever stoop to giving me credit for anything, but you affirm what I've been saying for years and years.

Namely that POWER, itself, is The Great Satan -- The Most Virulent.

Few if any can handle Power without becoming deranged -- intoxicated -- and thus corrupted.

It doesn't matter WHO or WHAT has the Power. Sooner or later the Power will pervert and rot all the decency out of them from within -- and it doesn't take long.

This is what Matthew Arnold meant when he wrote of "ignorant armies that clash by night."

Thank you for saying something that needed to be said.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

How to control power. That's a critical issue and I'd never deny it.

I'm just a lot more critical of economic power. Most leftists are.

Steve said...

Since God gave us free will and a brain, and does not appear himself to guide our judgment, God has left it to us to judge our fellow man and use our judgment of mercy, or not, not his.
We failed. We failed the responsibility God gave us. We failed to use the gifts (brains and free will) God gave us, properly. We failed God in our exercise of power over our fellow man. We failed to even recognize that it is our power (he gave us) not his, and then blame (or give credit) God.
So if you failed to be able to see the truth of a matter, don't blame God. In fact, pray for forgiveness to God, that you failed and killed innocent people in our process of failure.
As far as Iraq goes, it was a big mistake. I'm no genius, nor was I enlightened by God. It was not that hard to know invasion was a mistake.
My guess is, God is mad and disappointed, that we couldn't use the gifts he gave us more wisely.
Stop waiting for God to do the right thing. God is waiting for us to do the right thing.

Always On Watch said...

In my view, few people understood human nature better than William Shakespeare: most characters flawed, yet most characters with good qualities, too.

True Justice, God's Justice, Nature's Justice, is blind to emotional appeals and always balances the scales.

God is Absolute. People are incapable of being absolute, yet every single human being strives to be absolute: seeking "the knowledge of good and evil" when the Lord told Adam and Eve not to do so but rather to remain sinless and innocent (Genesis).

One of the traits of humankind: deciding good and evil and forcing what is deemed good by one or some upon the rest. In other words, the seeking of power -- over and over again.

Always On Watch said...

About the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil:

...
It is interesting to note the reaction of God, 'Man has now become like one of us in knowing good and evil’. (Genesis, 3:22). Supporting statement uttered by the serpent. This literally ment that by eating the fruit their eys had been opened to the reality of the universe and how it worked.

What God was indicating is that Adam & Eve now had access to the sacred knowledge that only God and the Angels had access to....


Silverfiddle,
BTW, I lost Internet access very early this morning. I managed to get my cell phone to work and to have someone come over here to see if you were okay. I know only that you live in Colorado and thought that maybe some in your family were at that theater. Thank God you're all okay!

Silverfiddle said...

AOW: Thanks for the thought. That was up in Denver, a place I try to stay away from if at all possible.

And contrary to news reports it was not "near Columbine," any more than Queens is near the NY stock exchange. Littleton is on the southwest edge of Denver, Aurora is to the East.

Finntann said...

@Americans couldn't wait to follow the Republicans into the kill zone.

They were following a significant number of Democrats too, to my recollection. Something along the lines of 60% of Senate Democrats and 50% of House Democrats voted to approve the resolution.

So, nice attempt at revisionist history there Steve. You seem from your writings a fairly intelligent man, you ought rely more on your intelligence than your emotions and maybe you wouldn't say inane things like that and look a fool.

Cheers!

Finntann said...

That should read 40% House Democrats. My bad.

Finntann said...

Human beings are bastards. The founders knew it, which is why they set up a limited government.

@Utter nonsense.

So why did they set up a limited federal government with checks and balances?

Or are you implying that they did not set up or intend a limited federal government?

Power will be exercised... undoubtedly, but what is your point?

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, this post reminds me of an interview on CNN today with Newt Gingrich and Jesse Jackson together. It was hosted by Wolfe Blitzer, so it was kinda funny, but just the same...

Gingrich kept on, as usual, asserting the primacy on the Police State to reduce mass killings and crime in general, while Jackson kept reminding him, for the nth time, of how these sorts of mass killings could be averted by some kind of realistic and constitutional gun regulation, as opposed to what he called "bad law." And he's absolutely right. We have guns shows and such all over the country with people arming to the teeth, including street gangs, townies, drug dealers, international drug dealers, and just plain ol' crazies. This is getting out of hand.

Gingrich argued the negative, as usual, and when you come from that point of view you have no evidence to consider that is to the contrary. You are asserting that something that is not so can't work. Typical easy street-corner Gingrich speak.

And you can't just take the "well-regulated" out of the militia. We can't have screwballs running around out there with rapid anti-personnel fire power. It's as insane as the they who would want to carry that kind of firepower around in the first place!

Anyways... Your post reminds me of this because your logic goes to the same place as Gingrich's: use the Police State after the fact and do nothing in the meantime to prevent it.

As negative as an argument gets.

JMJ

Finntann said...

Or we could pick on the first amendment instead and just ban violent movies, outlaw controversial speech like the Westboro Baptists, the Tea Party, etc.

Or given that the news is reporting that his apartment is wired with enough explosives to take it, and adjacent apartments down, be thankful he just brought the guns.

You can't stop people from killing people.

When I lived in Korea a 56 year old unemployed taxi driver that suffered a stroke walked onto a crowded subway with two quart milk containers of gasoline and a Bic lighter and killed 198 people and wounded 147. Google Daegu Subway Fire.

So Einstein... do we ban gasoline or cigarette lighters?

Know what you can do with a bottle of ammonia and a bottle of bleach in an enclosed space like a theater?

Perhaps we should just put GPS bracelets on everyone and confine them to work and home.

Or... think how it might have turned out differently if there was someone in the theater with a concealed carry permit.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: I don't know who you're arguing with. It isn't me or what I wrote today.

Did you have various windows open and maybe you got confused?

Your post reminds me of this because your logic goes to the same place as Gingrich's: use the Police State after the fact and do nothing in the meantime to prevent it.

I said nothing of the kind.

Have you started celebrating Friday already???

Jersey McJones said...

No, Silver, I found it implicit in what you wrote. Thanks for the derogatory.

Finntann, when I was a kid, I read a lot of William F. Buckley, and I recall he recoiled at the ol' Domino Theory standing in the way of everything and anything under the sun.

Yes, sometimes regulations get out of hand, but when there is an obvious lack of regulation, and the militia is shooting itself to pieces, shouldn't there be some more regulation?

I can't say that cracking down on the manufacture and sale of weapons of mass destruction, as seen in that theater in Colorado last night, will reduce overall crime, or attempts at mass murders...

...but then you can't argue that doing something, any reasonable thing, to keep the sale of those sorts of weaponry off the streets wouldn't reduce the consequences of their use by crazies and terrorists.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Whatever you're on, it must be good.

For those of you who love government having all that power, I ask you: What if Republicans controlled everything? Would you still grant the federal government carte blanche?

How this statement advocates a police state, only a barking moonbat could explain.

For the intellectually stunted, this post is about the dangers of vesting humans with too much power.

Steve said...

Somehow I knew some idiot would blame the invasion of Iraq on Democrats

Finntann said...

@Somehow I knew some idiot would blame the invasion of Iraq on Democrats.

And who did that? All I did was point out that 82 Democratic Congressmen and 29 Democratic Senators voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 114 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq.

It was a bipartisan vote 297-133 in the House and 77-23 in the Senate, and if you're not good at math, that's a super-majority: 77% in the Senate, 68% in the House.

Yeah, it's been heard a million times... honest officer, I didn't steal the car, I just went along for the ride.

My Conservative Thoughts said...

Ann Romney’s ‘You People’ Gaffe Goes Viral
Ann Romney defended her husband’s decision to not release any additional tax records during an interview on Thursday morning, saying that “we’ve given all you people need to know” about her family’s financial records.

The “you people” remark immediately sparked a outpouring of responses on Twitter, eventually leading the "You People hashtag to become a U.S. trending topic.

Twitter users upset with Ann Romney’s comments generally fell into one of two categories: those that believe the Romney family should release tax records because of their extraordinary wealth, and those those took offense to the phrase “you people,” which has historically been used with an air of racism.


This is one reason why I hate liberals. they are suck disgusting animals...they want to be treated with respect and know that even though they are scum most conservatives will treat them that way.
They of course having been raised without manners of even the concept of manners do not have to treat other human beings that way.

It is all part of the liberal zombie agenda.
They are the most vile of humanity. Totally without souls, putrid, evil twisted morons. There simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe slime like this. There is something seriously wrong with them. And as for the the Colorado theater tragedy, Liberals never let a good tragedy or crisis go to waste! Nothing Wrong Obama With Politicizing A Tragedy.. But then again, they'd use anything to change the topic from "you didn’t do it Yourself" speech!

Stanley Kowalski said...

The struggle is eternal!

Donna said...

We shouldn't let this go! The media is going nuts with this election trying to back Obama any way they can even outright lies!
It's the same thing they did (are still doing) to George Zimmerman.
One has to wonder if most voters aren't getting a little sick of the Conservatives and the Tea Party being unfairly blamed for every death. And George Stephanopolis can take some of the blame as well.

This kind of stuff must stop!

Z said...

My rich aunt once said she had to travel in coach with "those people"...that's snobbism,
"you people" is identifying those other than oneself!

mistaanonymous said...

Yes SF you are 100 percent right, The Liberal creed is , Never let a crisis go to waste.
It never fails. The only thing more certain than the pain and suffering caused by this deranged shooter is the deluge of deranged progressive bloggers (and you know who) trying to make political points from it. Doesn't even take a few hours.
Anyone who would exploit the slaughter of innocent children for the purpose of political power
deserves a special place in the lowest part of hell.
These are the same progressives and the same media who played a huge part in getting BO elected. Are they now so disillusioned with their "chosen one" they can't admit they were wrong.

These lefties have been blaming conservatives and Christians for the violent acts of left wingers and non-believers since JFK. Their knee-jerk reaction is predictable and, unfortunately, it won't change.
It's time for us to start calling these people what they are..


.

jez said...

Silver fiddle: "The only answer is to limit government power, and also for us to take things seriously and ask serious questions when a president wants to invade another country.

Yes, a few people were asking serious questions, but too many republicans and democrats fell in line far too quickly."

I loved this remark.
But if it's true that limited government is the only answer, then how can it ever be safe to allow government to invade? If parliament is incapable of supervising government in general, how can it ever supervise invasion decisions?

Silverfiddle said...

The answer is that it can't. Once the hounds of war are unleashed, who knows what can happen?

That is why the people should set a very high bar for military action.

How’s that Hopey-Changey Thing Working Out for Ya? said...

ABC news reporter has already reported that a man named James Holmes is listed on a local Tea Party site. "The national Tea Party organization incorrectly linked to the man charged with the Colorado shootings"
http://www.examiner.com/article/colo...-occupy-member

So once again, the liberal media looks for any way it can to link any horrible event to conservatives, and once again, they are wrong. It sickens me that people who are supposed to report the truth, and verify their statements, again have used their political leanings to besmirch the name of the innocent and implicate Conservatives, right or wrong. Turns out the shooter was a Occupy Wall Streeter instead, and most likely a Liberal. .

(Nothing like the MSM spreading a stupid rumor) but what else is new?

Hmm,
I guess the MSM standard is if it makes the Tea Party look bad, report the rumor, otherwise don't say anything. .

Jersey McJones said...

"Jersey: Whatever you're on, it must be good.

For those of you who love government having all that power, I ask you: What if Republicans controlled everything? Would you still grant the federal government carte blanche?

How this statement advocates a police state, only a barking moonbat could explain.

For the intellectually stunted, this post is about the dangers of vesting humans with too much power."

I wasn't talking about those quotes, Silver.

JMJ

Ducky's here said...

That is why the people should set a very high bar for military action.

--

Iraq sure proved that.

jez said...

Every single conflict since at least 1914 onwards has proved that, Ducky, and yet we still laugh at Chamberlain for taking it seriously.

FreeThinke said...

Chamberlain was an ASSHOLE!

Nothing to laugh at about him.

When you are faced with a monster like Hitler, you either fight to ANNIHILATE him, or just lay down and let him trample you to death.

Indulging in a little leftist revisionist history are we?

PFAUGH!

~ FT

jez said...

FT please note your comment is an example of what I meant by "laugh[ing] at Chamberlain."

What have I revised, in your opinion?

Do you disagree with SF "people should set a very high bar for military action"?

FreeThinke said...

Jez,

If Neville Chamberain is no longer regarded as either hopelessly naive, an out-and-out fool, or a craven appeaser, that would qualify as "revisionist history to one of my generation.

It is not "laughing" at poor old Neville to note that he failed to take decisive action at a time when doing so might have saved many thousands of lives and much destruction of property.

Hitler should never have been treated with the faintest semblance of the "respect" normally accorded the leader of a foreign power. He should have been POISONED, KNIFED, BLUDGEONED, BOMBED or SHOT to DEATH by a Commando Squad as soon as his evil nature and maniacal ambition became apparent.

I've always been a great believer in preventive medicine.

As my late father used to say, "A pint of prevention is worth a carload of cure."

~ FreeThinke

jez said...

So you do disagree that the bar should be set very high. How is your position distinguishable from that of a tyrant?

"as soon as his evil nature and maniacal ambition became apparent."

When was that?