Interesting itinerary of internet linking produced the following associations.
On Facebook, Stephen Paul KIng’s link to the logician, Peter Smith, itself linked to this tweet by David Allen Green:
“Retweet on TwitterPeter Smith Retweeted
David Allen Green56m
Brexiter trashing of independent domestic institutions – judiciary, parliament, civil service – tells against any sincere belief in “taking back control”
Instead, it is populist nationalist authoritarianism
Arbitrary government on the back of “the will of the people”
“Arbitrary government on the back of “the will of the people” Dangerous”; by David Allen Green;
is reminiscent of this, by Jerry Pournelle:
“Read your Rousseau on the subject; his theory of the general will. The general will is the will of all, and thus if you oppose what the government says, you are really opposing your own will, and therefore you may be forced to be free, hm?”.*
David Allen Green reads “the will of the people” as “populist nationalist authoritarianism” of the political right; whilst Jerry Pournelle reads Rousseau’s concept of ‘general will’, ‘the will of all’, as the radical imposition of a possibly dubious communist ‘freedom’, of the political left.
Whether or not the same aggregates of personal voluntarism are operative or being assumed in both characterisations; whether David Allen Green’s, “the will of the people”, equates to Rousseau’s concept of ‘general will’ or ‘the will of all’, as interpreted by Jerry Pournelle, is an interesting theoretical and hermeneutic point requiring discussion.
Of course, homogeneity of the demos and its intent, of democratic assent or voluntarism, is necessarily assumed as a unified and singular, majority decision. It’s the majoritarian structure that both of the opposed political tendencies are implicitly appealing to.
So obviously, the colloquial ‘tyranny of the majority’ in both cases, coalescing around assumptions of unified and singular intent, but such an allegedly singular intent always being the result of conflict and opposition between various, plural voices, who certainly don’t seem to be celebrating any festival of unanimous intent.
* Quote taken from interview with Jerry Pournelle, in Charles Platt’s, “Dream Makers: Science Fiction and fantasy writers at work”, Xanadu Publications Ltd: 1987: pp. 17-18
“”Representative democracy is not the be-all and end-all,” he replies.
“In fact I don’t give a damn if the political system is monarchical or elective, so long as it has large areas in which it leaves me alone. And my suspicion is, by the way, that a king has less power over me than a president. Read your Rousseau on the subject; his theory of the general will. The general will is the will of all, and thus if you oppose what the government says, you are really opposing your own will, and therefore you may be forced to be free, hm? That strikes me as being the ultimate rationale for something even worse than fascism, because fascism at least understood that there are differences between people and said, basically, ‘You are going to compromise your differences and work together.’ I’m talking about Italian fascism, not German national socialism, which is an entirely different matter and was not based on any rational view of anything.
“The communist system is based on Rousseau’s ideas of the general will. The Marxists say that we’ll just eliminate all the classes but one. So I still think that fascists are considerably less enemies to traditional Western civilization than communists, so long as we clearly distinguish between German national socialism and Ibero-Italian fascism. Mussolini not only made the railroads run on time, he built them. Whatever vou want to say. Italy would probably be better off under him than it is under whatever the hell it has now.
“I don’t know, I’m not an Italian, and in many respects I have no right to an opinion on the subject; but I just look at their economic development pattern in the 1920s, starting with a much lower base than they have now. And I find that the Italian anti-fascist writers do not have the verve of the German anti-Nazi writers; they find it harder to find something to hate. I mean, the guy who makes you drink castor oil is certainly not being very nice to you, but that’s entirely different from his putting you in a goddamn camp, or cutting your balls off. or making a lamp shade out of you.
I think it is very possible that Mussolini could have made a different decision and become an ally of the West. He almost was; he kept Austria from being absorbed by Germany for many years. and could to this day be a hero. After all, Stalin is still thought of in some heroic terms. and yet that son of a bitch managed to knock off more people than Hitler ever did, and I’m not talking about during the Second World War, I mean the phony famine in the Ukraine, and all the rest of it. He racked up a score that Genghis Khan would envy.”
I break in here, to object that there can’t be many people who admire Stalin any more.”