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Re: [sl] for Mike

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  • mikebispham@aol.com
    Hi Ambrose ... legitimacy ... Well there s a recipe for disaster if ever I heard one! Luckily, its quite wrong. All governments gain legitimacy - these days
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 25, 2005

      Hi Ambrose


      >Rather than arguing your post point by point, most of which, IMHO would
      >be off topic anyway, I'll simply comment that no government can sustain legitimacy
      > which ignores and / or violates the religious assumptions of its people. 

      Well there's a recipe for disaster if ever I heard one!  Luckily, its quite wrong.  All governments gain legitimacy - these days - through the ballot box and by adherence to international law.  End of story. 

      Embedded in the constitutions of all modern states are guarantees of freedom from persecution on religious grounds; specifically aimed at the fact that all/many multicultural and philosophically pluralistic societies are jam-packed with religious inconsistencies.  There are almost no agreed 'religious assumptions' in most modern western countries to violate.  Of course there are plenty of examples of monotheistic states.  What a fine example to us all they are!

      >No law can be ultimately enforceable …

      Any law that is made by a legitimate government (according the vote and international law) is made by consent and is legitimate - and generally practically (and in legal, philosophical, and ethical terms, 'ultimately') enforceable. 

      >unless the society to which it applies agrees on a more than
      >human "rightness" to that law.

      A society with a secular majority has little interest in any conception of a 'more than human' rightness.  What is rightness here is the course of action that achieves the highest (ultimate) aims of, for instance, protecting the vulnerable, balancing the rights of the individual against those of the majority.   Human rights alone are a perfectly sufficient foundation on which to build a body of law.  Most agree the only legitimate foundation.

      The opposite is true of religious beliefs, which institution's laws tend - naturally - to favour adherents - an appallingly unjust way of running a society. 

      The laws set down by the international agreement of consensus governments within the International Court of Human Rights govern issues of state legitimacy, and specifically provide for freedom of thought and expression - of any kind.  The right to freedom of belief, of worship, and of disbelief, are all protected.  As far as I know the ICHR seeks no mandate from any religious quarter.  Its one of the finest human achievements.

      >I'd argue that history does not show the failure of mixing religion with
      >politics but rather a failure to mix religion with politics ...  :)

      Of course the beliefs of the members of any society play a role in its functioning.  However, both seculars like myself (who are in the firm majority in the lands where some very rich religious history was played out) and - almost without exception, the religious leaders - have developed - from history - a healthy attitude toward the mixture of politics and religion; which can be summed up as; 'keep separate at all costs'.  We'd had our fill of political systems built on religious precepts a thousand years ago, and have worked to reduce their injustices ever since.  (And we're not letting up - the bishops are just now being slung out of the House of Lords along with the inherited gentry they 'legitimised', and the king still can't marry a catholic!  The first is just; the second, most agree, not.)

      The laws of separation of powers are part of the fundamental basis of most western governments; that is what distinguishes us from the religious dictatorships of, for instance, the Middle East.  You won't find many takers for any proposition to unwind that state of affairs outside the fundamentalists who'd have us all shackled to their myriad interpretation of their various Gods' Will. 

      This is the secular sacred landscape of justice.




    • mikebispham@aol.com
      Hi Ambrose ... I was intending us to address those governments that _are_ elected freely and fairly according to criteria _acceptable to us both._ I was
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 29, 2005
        Hi Ambrose

        >Mike wrote:

        >>"How do you argue that governments cleanly elected by free and fair
        >>ballot lack legitimacy?"

        >First of all, the incidents of such "free and fair ballot" election are
        >highly debated.

        I was intending us to address those governments that _are_ elected freely and fairly according to criteria _acceptable to us both._  I was thinking of: NorwaySwedenDenmarkFinlandPolandGermanyFranceEnglandScotlandWalesEireSpainPortugal… for example.  Lets just say Democratic Europe - and that will fit nicely with the origins of this thread. 

        All of those countries are determinedly secular in their constitutions.  It is the Will of the People that forms the basis of the laws under which The People live; and none of them (as far as I know) invoke the Will of God in any form.  They are pluralistic societies, functionally agnostic and atheistic in all matters of government - including justice.  (History has taught them that religion and politics don't mix.  If it hadn't, we'd probably never have swarmed over to that fair land of your ancestors…at last not in quite the same numbers or manner)

        These governments, lets remind ourselves, maintain determined, ongoing, expensive programes to create and maintain humane societies; in which all are treated equally, strong efforts made equalize opportunities, generous protections provided to the vulnerable etc ect. They are 'welfare states'; guided and driven by the Will of their (secular and pluralistic) People, who repeatedly Choose Humanity and Fairness over selfish tax reductions at the ballot box. 

        Us seculars appear to be at least as well equipped to 'love thy neighbour' than you God-lovers across the pond.  How so?  How do these - patently caring - governments lack legitimacy in your eyes?




        Mike wrote:
        >>"How do you argue that governments cleanly elected by free and  fair
        >>ballot lack legitimacy?"

        >First of all, the incidents of such "free and fair ballot" election are
        >highly debated.  All too often, recently, I've seen elections judged as
        >relatively clean by international observers rejected by the media and
        >the resulting governments overthrown by the clique favored by the press
        >or some other faction .... consider the Philippines farrago for example.

        >On the other hand, I really doubt that very many governments on the
        >world today are so careless as to permit such elections to occur ...
        >consider the many forms of oppression in Russia still today for

        >On the other hand, coming from a Native American background, I've seen
        >functioning theocracies.  Unfortunately, coercive power has been placed
        >in the hands of imposed "humanist and democratic" tribal councils which
        >all to often act quite harmfully towards us.  As a result, most tribes I
        >know run a kind of dual government ... the traditional leaders who rule
        >by influence and example and the council leaders who rule by force and
        >by by control of life's necessities ....

        >For my money, the typical production of the humanists / secularists
        >crowd has been the stark slabs of Nazi and Communist tyrannies ....

        >compared to the fanciful structures of Barcelona or Singapore or Malay


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