Saturday, August 02, 2008

Politic of the General Will

Some folks get known for things they might rather wish they'd been forgotten for. The Duke of Valencia, Don Ramón María Narváez y Campos, died at Madrid on April 23, 1868. On his deathbed, he was asked to forgive his enemies. He said: "I have no enemies. I had them all shot."

That people found his parting words a scandal tells us that the times were not as inherently evil as the Duke made them. If people had accepted him and his deed as ordinary, nothing would have remained of his parting. He was outrageous. Or but....

Having made that point, an obvious one, we might benefit from looking at the idea of Stoicism as our up-coming "narrative." The man wasn't out in the night shooting people with his pistole. He was Political Power personified. Why? If people disliked him, how did he attain and retain power and act on it as he wished? Yes, we even get things we don't like if we want such. The Duke's enemies must too have wanted such a system. Even if they fought against him, still they must have wanted it or there would not have been such a system in place for them to fight against. If not, it would never have come about in the first place. The Duke's enemies must simply have been on the wrong end of the gun. We get what we want. Protest the outrageousness of it? I'm not convinced.


Eowyn said...

"Having made that point, an obvious one, we might benefit from looking at the idea of Stoicism as our up-coming 'narrative.'"

You may be right, dag. At least, I hope you are, and will welcome additional signs to that outcome.

Stoicism requires not only personal responsibility, as a virtue, but taking a stand for virtue itself. And this involves, to the original Stoics, an abiding and unbroken connection with the virtues of Nature (which I, perhaps, not coincidentally posted something about).

Alas -- with the current American election, I'm seeing not adherence to principle, but shifting of principle depending on which way the poll-driven wind is blowing. Indeed -- the "flip-flopping" of John Kerry in the last election now seems quaint, by comparison.

I hope that's just a momentary cynical lapse.

Dag said...

Eowyn, I'm done reading Sandall, and I loved his book. Will write a real review soon enough, I hope.

I wrote some time back about the Philadelphia story as Stoicism. Had good fun with that. Will look for more commentary from you if I get up something on Sandall.

Thanks for the input here.