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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thoughts, July 6th, 2013- Egypt and the popular will.

-with greater consciousness comes the sadness of loss of innocence; with better health comes a different kind of pain.

-let us remove evil, let us get rid of poverty, greed and tyranny. And what do have left? The remainder. And what is the remainder? Another sort of hell- anomie, emptiness, loneliness, a paucity of art, mediocrity. Does anyone consider this? Does anyone even think of the emptiness that lies in the wake of evil?

-how distant was Marx's fishing and farming and philosophy after dinner, how sadly, impossibly distant from the dictatorship of the proletariat. On another planet.

-to experience spirituality as something optional, free, available when desired yet without demands, is not to experience any spirituality at all.

-the most horrible thing about mediocrity is its self-confidence

-in the end, I'm tempted to ask whether there's only one real choice: to live under despotism where the spirit is forced to burn hot; or to live in the emptiness that so often comes with freedom.

In Egypt, the army and much of the opposition have explained the military's removal of former president Morsi- as "the will of the people" and not a coup d'etat. In fact, the idea has old precedents. In Imperial China, the Mandate of Heaven was not inherited by the emperor, but earned. When an emperor was overthrown and replaced by a new emperor and dynasty, he had simply failed to earn the Mandate of Heaven. Thus, the Mandate of Heaven passed to his conqueror. At times of widespread, popular rebellion, the Mandate of Heaven was seem to be expressed as the will of the people.
 
This is completely different from the Divine Right of Kings, associated with European monarchies, in which the dynasty or royal line is entitled  to rule forever, through God's favour, regardless of its performance.

This is not dissimilar to the ridicule so many Egyptians have heaped on the succession of unelected presidents since Nasser, namely Sadat and Mubarak- as "the Pharaohs", each one appointing the next and none of them elected and none, above all, listening to the people .

Mohammed Morsi, though elected, has lost the Mandate of the People by failing to consult them. 

Rousseau's concept of the "General Will" of the people is not so far from Imperial China's Mandate of Heaven. And neither is all that far from the protest of the right-wing Patriot Groups in the United States. None of them, formally speaking, seek, or even require electoral confirmation. They all rest, to some degree on an abstract idea of Virtue in heaven or on earth. Or both.

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All conservatives are utopians and all utopias are conservative.

All utopias, political or personal or both, derive from the past: in history or from a moment in childhood.


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