Formal or informal Constitution

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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Jordan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:23 am

Objectivist wrote:
Shikanosuke wrote:I just don't agree anyone has to be held hostage to a conversation going no where.


I really don't believe in holding someone hostage either. I was only acknowledging that dipping out of a debate midway is a form of conceding.


Or maybe they just don't want to argue anymore. Do you also think that the person who says the last word in a debate wins the debate?
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby laojim » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:21 am

Objectivist wrote:
Shikanosuke wrote:I just don't agree anyone has to be held hostage to a conversation going no where.


I really don't believe in holding someone hostage either. I was only acknowledging that dipping out of a debate midway is a form of conceding.


Not a valid inference. One might simply have, as we say, other fish to fry. There are many reasons for bowing out of what may seem an ongoing debate. One might be that it has lost the interest it once had. I find the assumption that one cannot drop an exchange for any reason at all to be very odd. I think you would get more out of it if you abandoned that interleaved format and simply posted an argument to a conclusion and then let the other party have a go at the same material.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:25 am

Objectivist wrote:
I really don't believe in holding someone hostage either. I was only acknowledging that dipping out of a debate midway is a form of conceding.


While I don't necessarily agree with your conclusion, I certainly understand how you get there if you view a debate or conversation under certain parameters. I just don't think the parameters are shared by all.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby Strategist » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:34 am

Since there's a lot of stuff to argue against, doing my reply in stages. I'll start with the Constitutional debate.

Yeah, well, good luck with that.

Cultures (and constitutions) are made by people, and people grow old and die. Cultures (and constitutions) have always had to adapt themselves to successive generations. Cultures do this naturally, if left to their own devices - they have the means of storytelling, mythology, familial succession to ensure that even in new situations their values can be kept sacred. A government which cannot adapt to new situations and shifts in the culture is merely notching boats to find swords.


I'm not saying no adaptation whatsoever- I'm saying that the government is forced to follow it's Constitution properly no matter what the new circumstances (hence the government doesn't drift). This does leave some room for adaptation.

For point 1.), the burden of proof is entirely on you. I have no independent reason to assume such a 'responsible culture' will arise, therefore I am under no logical obligation to give evidence that it won't. You are the one assuming such a 'responsible culture' will arise, without specifying whether or how it can be cultivated in such an environment as you suggest.

For point 2.), that is already a recipe for tyranny. Those with the most money will be able to afford the most firepower, resulting in an even greater imbalance of power in the society. The one with the most firepower, furthermore, will take steps to ensure that he stays the one with the most firepower, which will usually mean disarming weaker and poorer people by force. And in the event that the reigning government is over thrown, you have the makings of an alternate government forming on the basis of superior firepower alone, where the person with the most nukes makes the rules - in short, a tyranny. Arms have to be subject to some form of civic discipline for tyranny to be prevented.

I believe that answers most of your point 3.). But further, America cannot be said to have a 'democratic culture'. Too many Americans are willing to sign off on their beliefs and civic responsibilities to ideologues and fundamentalist preachers. Even if this were not true, too much corporate money and official corruption is present in post-Citizens American politics for a civically-engaged electorate to make any sort of difference in what the government can or will do.


1. In the United States at the moment, in areas where gun ownership is common children tend to be taught how to use guns responsibly and remember the rules as adults. There are various rules and regulations about it- sometimes accidents happen, but they can be minimised. Similiarly, those who owned other dangerous weapons would also encourage acting responsibly.

2. Not true. If a corporation attempts to disarm others by force, the government will fight them as will the people. Corporations are money-focused entities- despite the fact they probably could, none have attempted to take over reigmes in Africa, for example. Attempting to disarm people by force would result in horrible publicity and risk everything (as state or federal governments, depending on the Constitution concerned, could pass laws confiscating their assets in response) and thus not be worth it.

3. I meant democratic in the sense that despite the reality, large numbers of Americans still see themselves as in control and value this. Unlike Africa, the army would never launch a coup in America- if they somehow did, or if an invader were to attack and conquer the U.S somehow, there would be significant gurellia resistance from right-wing gun-owners.

First off, which of these things did Revolutionary France not have? The judges were actually the ones doing most of the early agitation in Revolutionary France, and you can't seriously make the argument that they didn't have a military and civil service ready, willing and more than enthusiastic to enforce those rulings through means of the National Razor, la guillotine.


Eventually Revolutionary France would lose the loyalty of the army- hence why Napoleon was able to recruit them to his side even once he broke every rule of the Revolution by becoming a monarch.

Secondly, it strikes me that you are trying to sneak in extra logical propositions with 'interpreting properly'. 'Properly', according to what or whom? You, by chance?

It is basic in the philosophy of language since Wittgenstein that no message (whether spoken or written) can interpret itself, since the author and the reader are always already there. There is always some kind of hermeneutic at play. This is why tradition is so important, as a trial-and-error means of deciding which interpretations work at any given time, and which ones do not; and thereby assigning authority as fairly as possible to one set of interpretations over another.


So it's not possible to interpret anything properly, then? Then how are we able to have this conversation?

It is absurd to imagine that you can do away with cultural drift. Ain't gonna happen. And why not? Because the citizens of this nation are not the sllaves of some eighteenth century aaristocratic planters who kept slaves and wrote a constitution intended to protect the people of quality from the greed of the masses. There is no rational reason that we should all interpret the constituion as you think is correct. Times can and do change.


The reason to interpret the Constitution PROPERLY, in accordance with both it's literal meaning and the meaning the Founding Fathers assigned to it, is that the government draws its right to govern from the Constitution and thus is as tyrannical as an Absolute Monarch if it doesn't follow it. In addition, there is fending off cultural drift (which I will continue to explain how to do).

Besides, it isn't slavery for the government to interpret the Constitution properly- there is a wide scope of action remaining for it.

Your three points just show that yo do not understand how the US works, or is supposed to work. As a minor point in that regard, the military has no authority to enforce any law, or do much of anything else in the USA within the borders of the nation. This is why there was such a controversy over tha last time troops were sent to impliment a court order when they went to Little Rock, Arkansas to integrate a school. The role of the military in this country is more or less entirely related to other nations and international waters. The Coast Guard is a seperate matter.


If there were a declaration of a coup de'tat in Washington and the civil service were going along with it, wouldn't the army go to stop them? Wouldn't that be enforcing a law? Isn't going in to prevent the President making an unconstitutional law basically the same thing?

Besides, the solution of the Civil Service still remains. If bureaucrats were to refuse to implement any law that Judges had ruled unconstitutional and complied with judicial rulings whatever their masters said, the President would in severe straits. Sacking his entire bureaucracy and getting a new one would lead to massive delays in enforcing his unconstitutional rule, buying the army time to make up their minds.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:48 am

Strategist wrote:1. In the United States at the moment, in areas where gun ownership is common children tend to be taught how to use guns responsibly and remember the rules as adults. There are various rules and regulations about it- sometimes accidents happen, but they can be minimised. Similiarly, those who owned other dangerous weapons would also encourage acting responsibly.


Right. And those rules and regulations are called gun control. They are necessary for the cultivation of a responsible gun ethic, but they need to have teeth. If you behave irresponsibly with your weapon such that it poses a danger to your family or to your community, it should be taken away, full stop.

The problem in the US right now is that the people who oppose these commonsense measures are doing so out of a panglossian worldview and what they would consider a 'strict' interpretation of the second Amendment to the Constitution. This is why you have to have an authoritative tradition of hermeneutics which exists outside and independent of the Constitution. (Thankfully, thanks to English common law, we have inherited the basics of such an authoritative tradition, though it is consistently being undermined by judicial activism from both left and right, but these days mostly from the right.)

Strategist wrote:2. Not true. If a corporation attempts to disarm others by force, the government will fight them as will the people. Corporations are money-focused entities- despite the fact they probably could, none have attempted to take over reigmes in Africa, for example. Attempting to disarm people by force would result in horrible publicity and risk everything (as state or federal governments, depending on the Constitution concerned, could pass laws confiscating their assets in response) and thus not be worth it.


There are two problems with this.

a.) It is a fanciful fabrication. Corporations have excelled at using force to keep workers disarmed, politically quiet and docile, and (if those failed) dead, ever since they were invented, often with government assistance. Perhaps you may have heard of the Sepoy rebellion, its causes and its aftermath? Or are familiar with the rather colourful history of the labour movement in the United States, back when being in a union (or being related to someone in a union) could get you mowed down with a Gatlin? Foxconn in China routinely employs violence against its own workers when they strike.

Corporations only care about PR in functional representative regimes with strong civic traditions and engagement. In a state of anarchy, they would behave as the regime, and write their own histories.

b.) Your answer is a complete non sequitur from what I wrote. An arms race between the government and its populace has historically resulted in tyranny, as we have countless examples. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is a good one: they tried to suppress the Afghans with superior Soviet weaponry, and the Afghans took to the hills, where the mujahedeen with the most funding and the most guns became the de facto government. When we deposed the Taliban in 2001, a similar dynamic could be found amongst the Northern Alliance. Whoever had the most drug money to buy arms with, had all the power. A number of other Cold War proxy fronts have shown exactly the same dynamics: Pinochet, Rios Montt, the Viet Cong.

Strategist wrote:3. I meant democratic in the sense that despite the reality, large numbers of Americans still see themselves as in control and value this. Unlike Africa, the army would never launch a coup in America- if they somehow did, or if an invader were to attack and conquer the U.S somehow, there would be significant gurellia resistance from right-wing gun-owners.


We have had, even this past week, a clear and unequivocal example of executive tyranny from the Obama Administration. The Department of Justice asserted that it has the legal right to kill American citizens anywhere they please, at any time they please, far from any field of battle and without the pretext of an imminent threat (they got around it by redefining 'imminent').

These right-wing gun-owners tend to get their news from one source and one source only, and we all know what that is. Normally, they scream their bloody heads off at every trivial sound bite trying to twist it into an argument that Obama is a tyrant. In the one case that this news source's stopped clock would show the right time, they bent over backwards to justify the DOJ power-grab. Why? Because War on Terror, that's why.

Long story short, I don't trust right-wing gun owners to know how to tie their own shoes without their corporate mouthpieces of choice telling them how to do it at every step. When that corporate mouthpiece is already in the hands of a government which behaves tyrannically, they don't need to be disarmed. The 'guerrilla resistance' simply won't happen, because the gun nuts expect the resistance to be televised.

Strategist wrote:Eventually Revolutionary France would lose the loyalty of the army- hence why Napoleon was able to recruit them to his side even once he broke every rule of the Revolution by becoming a monarch.


Which would seem to indicate that you need added to your model some independent means of keeping the army loyal, rather than just assuming that they will be.

Strategist wrote:So it's not possible to interpret anything properly, then? Then how are we able to have this conversation?


Because a conversation involves more than just words on your screen. You have to read them. Moreover, in reading them, you have to assume that I am performing a speech act with you as the intended audience. You have to interpret what I am writing according to your understanding of the English language. As demonstrated above, that understanding can be fallible and mistaken.

Which is why traditions of interpretation are necessary - you rely on the people who have experienced interpreting the language of the law before you and trust that they knew what they were doing.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby laojim » Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:58 am

Strategist wrote:....The reason to interpret the Constitution PROPERLY, in accordance with both it's literal meaning and the meaning the Founding Fathers assigned to it, is that the government draws its right to govern from the Constitution ......


This is not how Americans see it. We generally regard the constitution as a formative document with the "right to govern" being in some general way derived from the will of the people, a concept that is no more clearly defined than the will of heaven. Indeed, the founders in the declaration of indpendence went to some length to ascribe some general set of rights as derived from the deity and, more directly, to the will of the people. This document preceeds the constitution.

Your primary error, however, is in insisting on what you regard as proper interpretation. When it comes to constitutional interpretation I'll take Obama, who graduated Harvard Law school with honors and who taught constitutional law, much of it contrary to your notionions of correctness.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby Strategist » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:06 am

Lost my last post(though it had all the necessary substance), will do a proper response tommorow.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby Objectivist » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:56 pm

Strategist wrote:....The reason to interpret the Constitution PROPERLY, in accordance with both it's literal meaning and the meaning the Founding Fathers assigned to it, is that the government draws its right to govern from the Constitution ......


laojim wrote:This is not how Americans see it. We generally regard the constitution as a formative document with the "right to govern" being in some general way derived from the will of the people


lajoim, what you have said is true...but it's only true because most Americans are ignorant with regards to the document, and ignorant about the intentions behind it.

laojim wrote:the declaration of indpendence went to some length to ascribe some general set of rights as derived from the deity and, more directly, to the will of the people. This document preceeds the constitution.


The Constitution was written as supreme law of a new country, the declaration of independence was about writing off old laws.

laojim wrote:Your primary error, however, is in insisting on what you regard as proper interpretation. When it comes to constitutional interpretation I'll take Obama, who graduated Harvard Law school with honors and who taught constitutional law, much of it contrary to your notionions of correctness.


Why is it his error and not yours? I think the opinions of the people who wrote the amendments are extremely important. I also believe that the supreme court has been nothing but a political tool for political parties. They rarely care about original intent or the beliefs of the people who wrote the amendments and the Constitution. Obama interprets the Constitution by believing it is in his way. He basically believes that government can do anything they want to do, whenever they want to do it.

Essentially... he believes the document is dead and never really meant anything in the first place.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby dan99990 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:16 am

Objectivist wrote:The Constitution was written as supreme law of a new country, the declaration of independence was about writing off old laws.



The D.O.I. was merely a declaration of war, and if the Constitution had really been intended to establish the federal government as "supreme," than the states would never have ratified it. The states did not want a second monarchy, or any government that had the power of a monarchy.
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Re: Formal or informal Constitution

Unread postby Objectivist » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:45 am

Objectivist wrote:the declaration of independence was about writing off old laws.


dan99990 wrote:The D.O.I. was merely a declaration of war


Not really, in my opinion. More about secession and separation than an attack. Wanting to leave is not the same as wanting to attack.

dan99990 wrote:if the Constitution had really been intended to establish the federal government as "supreme," than the states would never have ratified it. The states did not want a second monarchy, or any government that had the power of a monarchy.


The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. I didn't mean to suggest it gave the federal government "supreme" power. Obama may have misread that... the same way.
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