29 July 2008

The Problem With Our Form of Government

Call it whatever you want: democracy, federal republic, representative democracy- I don't know the correct term, if there is one. I've been thinking about it lately, and I don't like what I've thought about. I'm sure most of you have heard of the University of Minnesota professor who has desecrated the Eucharist, encouraging others to do the same. There is even a stupid boy on YouTube that is claiming to desecrate a Sacred Host every day. This brings up a point in the Mass that I believe should be changed. Hopefully Rome will see this and use it as an opportunity to revoke the indult of receiving Holy Communion in the hand. Please pray for the poor souls that are putting themselves in danger of hell.

While thinking about this terrible turn of events, I became enraged. Certainly these people should not be allowed to do this. Even if you deny that the Host is the Body of Christ, there are the sensitivities of all those Catholics that do believe in the Real Presence. Some have even called this a hate crime. Ah, a hate crime. I don't think any laws are being broken here... no stealing, no secular laws on the books for desecration of the Sacred Species that I know of. So we should get those laws on the books, right? Well, besides the fact that they would probably never be enforced, what about other groups out there? Oh yes, the gays. In Canada there are laws on the books that curtail free speech when it comes to speaking out against homosexuality. Some have been fined or arrested because they have called homosexuality evil.

Since we live in a pluralistic democracy whatever, if we protect Catholic views and affronts against our religion, it follows that somewhere people will demand protection for their 'rights' such as their rights to privacy (result: legal contraception, abortion, homosexuality.) Yikes!

So what is the solution? Well, I can't see one within the current framework. I'll leave that to someone else, maybe we'll get some comments here. My preferred (unrealistic, at least here and now) solution that I've come to is a Catholic monarchy. But wait! How can a super-conservative American like myself advocate a monarchy?? Well, let's think about how the Church works. Our leader is Christ the King! His vicar on Earth is the Pope- who has supreme power. Look at all the saints who were kings or emperors!

St. Robert Bellarmine in De Laicis (Treatise on Civil Government) says that "political power... comes directly from God alone" and "that this power resides, as in its subject, immediately in the whole state." This sounds familiar! He continues, "this power is delegated by the multitude to one or several, for the State cannot of itself exercise this power, therefore, it is held to delegate it to some individual, or to several." So we reject the idea of some, that the state needs to be some huge entity that runs our lives. Power is given to us collectively, but we delegate that to some person or persons. So a democracy is not antithetical, but a monarchy does seem more efficient and serving the better good.

Of course, there have been tyrants in monarchies. But people today say that we are under a tyranny of big business, oil companies, and President Bush. Or the people who say that we are under a tyranny of liberal judicial activism. Consider the IRS, who demands some 30% of our income. Now I'm not saying that good things can't come out of a democracy or a republic or whatever. But is it the best form of government?? Let's just say that I agree with Pope Pius VI.


Blogger Cliff Notes said...

There is no doubt that the evil spirit has his hand on a society when everyone is in the right, except that which holds the fullness of truth, the holy Church. Satan's enemy is the Church, and he will use any treacherous way to attack her.

July 29, 2008 8:53 PM  
Blogger Gerald Lamb said...

I forget off hand which of the ancient philosophers described this, but he made mention of the 6 forms of government, in order from greatest to worst. At the top is a kingship, or monarchy, in which one person holds all the power. Next comes an aristocracy, in which a small number of people hold the power. Third is a polity, in which the people hold the power.

Now this order may not make sense to the modern mind until we take a look at the next three types of government.

Number four is a corrupted form of polity, also known as a democracy. Number five is a corrupted form of aristocracy, know as an oligarchy. And the worst form of government is a corrupted form of monarchy, also know as a dictatorship.

So as we see, the more ideal and beneficial the form of government, the greater the potential for corruption and human rights abuses if power falls into the wrong hands.

What this means, in practice, is that due to our fallen human nature, the best sustainable form of government is the democratic or parliamentary model. Although through the ages we have seen some truly good kings or aristocrats in power, this more beneficial form of government never seems able to be sustained for longer than a generation or two. There has only been one exception to this rule, and that is only because of the promise of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in keeping the Church's hierarchical structure in place.

It's no coincidence that dissenters and others who are bitter about the fact that the Church doesn't celebrate their way of life insist on calling the Church a dictatorship. Unlike a real dictatorship (which, for some unknown reason, these same dissenters never seem interested in denouncing), the Catholic Church does not force its members to remain in the Church. So the next person who whines about being "oppressed" by the Church's "dictatorial" form of government had better a)have the Pope pointing a gun at his head or b)just shut the h**l up and stop making a fool of himself.

July 29, 2008 9:03 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Yes, Satan's hand is definitely on this society and on this world in general. What a blessed day it will be when all are subject to Christ's perfect kingdom.

Gerald, fascinating bit of philosophy there. What is happening in today's democracy where the unborn are slaughtered? What can happen to correct these issues? Should the life of the unborn be put to a vote? For if error has no rights, then how does this fit into the picture?

July 29, 2008 9:41 PM  
Blogger Gerald Lamb said...

Like you, I don't have all the answers. The problem with today's democracy is that those who most clamor for power tend to be the very same who are inclined to move us towards an oligarchical or dictatorial form of government (with themselves at its head, of course). The irony is that they succeed in doing this by pretending to stand for the "purest form of democracy:" namely, one in which everything is up to a vote.

This was not the intention of the Founding Fathers, of course. They laid out in the Constitution (and other foundational documents, such as the Declaration of Independence) the framework that our form of government was to be built upon (as outlined in the preamble, the articles, and the Bill of Rights), and they were quite adamant that without that framework the Constitutional form of government would never succeed. Americans were given one opportunity, for all time, to decide whether this was the form of government they wanted for themselves and their posterity. Since they voted yes, the framework of the Constitution has never been up for a vote...until the present.

If you look at most historical scenarios where the people had the right to vote, they lost their rights gradually as smooth-speaking orators with forked tongues deceived them into voting their rights away in the name of some ill-defined hope; and before you knew it, a new power was in place and the people began to suffer in unprecedented ways.

By conceding that certain inalienable rights are now subject to a vote and by allowing the judiciary to act with impunity (and without our leaders exercising the Constitutionally-mandated ways of holding judges accountable) in rewriting the very laws that our Constitutional framework is built upon, we have essentially dug our own graves. Whether or not we can work our way of the grave is a different matter; but as long as there are those who will not surrender their rights without a fight, there is just cause to continue the work of trying to steer this country back onto the path its founders intended to go.

It would be nice if this country became a Catholic monarchy; but let's make progress where it can be made and trust the rest to God. It's worked for the Church so far.

July 29, 2008 10:33 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

Gerald, Plato speaks all about the ideal form of government in the Republic (one of my absolute favorite books ever AND an early inspiration for Christians like St Augustine).

Most people are resigned and content to accept that democracy is the greatest form of government and that there is no more debate involved. I think this is really an act of deception on the part of those in power, because, as the tradition of Western philosophy has taught us, democracy is BAD and CANNOT function. There MUST always be someone in charge, and like you said it, it may very well be big business and the like. We must decide who is to be in charge. What I can say for certain is that we are moving from an epoch in human history where our politics and, more importantly, the place for religion revolved around inherently spiritual and intangible needs towards a new epoch where the primary occupation is our base bodily and materialistic survival. Where the main questions were once "what is Good? Who is God? What is perfection?", the biggest questions now are undoubtedly "how can I feel good? How can I experience God? How can I be perfect and/or how can I feel perfect?" As our human progress supposedly advances, we edge nearer to bestiality and euphemistically call it 'freedom'.

This is an amazing topic. I feel like writing more later when I'm less tired (it's past midnight in France). Dieu vous garde!

August 02, 2008 6:47 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

An interesting phenomenon in contemporary politics is the radicalization and polarization of the spectrum. This has occurred because the only people who vote are the ones who are devoutedly bent on their agendas (far right evangelical Christians on one hand, for example, and Marxists like Obama on the left...) The people in the middle, aka, most decent Americans and devout Catholics, I may add, don't vote because they see it as futile.

In Switzerland, it is obligatory for all citizens to vote in all elections and referenda are held often (but we American liberals do not like obligatory things). This is also the case in other countries. The people, as Rousseau once wrote, are "forced to be free". Note how several months ago California voters (in liberal hippy California) voted 60% AGAINST gay 'marriage'. THEN, a group of despots known as the California Supreme Court overturned the voice of the people and enacted it. Now that the gays have been given their cake, they will no doubt mobilize to keep it in the November referendum. Rather than nullifying the oligarchic ploy of the Court, the state (and its lukewarm governor) are ignoring the initial referendum and waiting until November. This is American democracy.

I honestly believe that most people want to do the right thing and will vote for it. The questions is: are we really free any longer? I really fear for the future of our country and for Western civilization in general.

August 02, 2008 6:55 PM  
Blogger Jude said...

I believe that the pope should rule the world but that's just me. ;) If anyone has not noticed already that the Vatican is the only country/city/culture that has lasted longer than any of the rest. It has been there through the fall of the Roman empire and the rise and fall of many European countires. My soulution, the Vatican grows bigger city limits and all Catholics move there! :)

No the real solution is to get another JFK in the presidency. He was the best thing that ever happened to America.

August 05, 2008 1:07 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

I'll agree with you on the Pope-as-ruler-of-the-world bit! That would solve a lot of problems. :P

Though I disagree with you about Kennedy. He and his family have checked their Catholicism at the door.

August 05, 2008 1:38 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

When I first heard this passage quoted, I was thrilled because it sums up quite succintly so much that we see in politics, in religion, and life, in general.

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” - CICERO

August 06, 2008 8:34 AM  

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