An English In Kentucky


















Friday September 20th 2019Tim Candler9


     It was John Locke who observed that "consent of the governed confers political legitimacy." Brilliant, a guiding light, you might think, inspired by reasonableness, and at the same time you might also suspect a degree of idealness in the assertion that falls short of reality, far too many brigands and scoundrels out there messing with the way things obviously should be, fifth columnists, secret enemies conspiring from within. Robespierre had an answer, his own country was riven by divisions, war and a hunger for something reflecting a new order of things. "If the basis for popular government in peacetime is virtue," Robespierre argued, "Its basis in revolution is virtue and terror. --- Virtue, without which terror would be barbaric: and terror, without which virtue would be impotent." I mention this because there does seem to be a surfeit of trembling in the halls and cubbyholes of our Congress. Still prefer the word Frightfulness which during the First World War was the preferred alternative to the word terrorism. Guess the Brits, whether we like to admit it or not, had legitimized the word terrorism as a means of governing a colonial empire. 


    During Robespierre's time France had been catapulted head over heels by the failure of the old order and those yearning for something different had fallen to a kind of chaos of meaning. He went on, "How long will the despots fury be called justice, and the peoples justice be called barbarism." Indeed Robespierre in his speech that came to be known as "On Political Morality" was a fine definition of dictatorship, where the idea "consent of the governed" goes out the window and in it's place is "Social protection is due only to peaceful citizens; there are no citizens in the Republic but the republicans." Worth noting the French Revolutionaries called themselves republicans because they wanted to a create a functioning Republic. For Robespierre, his ideal Republic was his understanding of the Roman Republic, which according to Robespierre was about as close to perfect as you could get. On the other hand, disruption, shaking things up, is a recognized Businessman's strategy for securing personal profit and power. The strategy has been defined this way:  "an innovative disruptive business is .... either satisfying the less-demanding customers or creating a market where none existed before."  In action, Disruption is how Amazon came to dominate the market for books and why people pay money for things like Pet Rocks, paper napkins and a new IPod, or whatever, every ten minutes.  Either way, as Locke understood it, 'consent of the governed' is a tricky area that in no way, shape or form, comes naturally.


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