coromandal


Hume: the governed

The governed resign control of their lives to the people who govern. So it is the opinion of the many – that they remain powerless – by which the powerful maintain their control.

There are two kinds of opinion: opinion of interest and opinion of right. Opinion of interest means the population at large believes in the advantages of goverment. This opinion gives a sitting government security. Opinion of right is the right to power and right to property.

Why so easy for the few to govern the many? Why turn over how you think and what you like to governors so easily?

Government is established and maintained by controlling the the opinion of the governed.

Nothing appears more surprizing to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. The soldan of Egypt, or the emperor of Rome, might drive his harmless subjects, like brute beasts, against their sentiments and inclination: But he must, at least, have led his mamalukes, or prætorian bands, like men, by their opinion.

Opinion is of two kinds, to wit, opinion of interest, and opinion of right. By opinion of interest, I chiefly understand the sense of the general advantage which is reaped from government; together with the persuasion, that the particular government, which is established, is equally advantageous with any other that could easily be settled. When this opinion prevails among the generality of a state, or among those who have the force in their hands, it gives great security to any government.

Right is of two kinds, right to Power and right to Property. What prevalence opinion of the first kind has over mankind, may easily be understood, by observing the attachment which all nations have to their ancient government, and even to those names, which have had the sanction of antiquity. Antiquity always begets the opinion of right; and whatever disadvantageous sentiments we may entertain of mankind, they are always found to be prodigal both of blood and treasure in the maintenance of public justice. There is, indeed, no particular, in which, at first sight, there may appear a greater contradiction in the frame of the human mind than the present. When men act in a faction, they are apt, without shame or remorse, to neglect all the ties of honour and morality, in order to serve their party; and yet, when a faction is formed upon a point of right or principle, there is no occasion, where men discover a greater obstinacy, and a more determined sense of justice and equity. The same social disposition of mankind is the cause of these contradictory appearances.

David Hume, 1777



know your witches

Western Alps: worker of magic, lurid orgies

Germany: flying witches, always a woman, wicked, lone female, wicked thoughts, satanic, dangerous, insatiable, commanding.

England: blood compact with the Devil, marked bodily, enchanter using charms, ointments and effigies.

The continent: hand walker, rode hyenas, attended forest bacchanals, stole babies and penises, extended pregnancies.

Scandanavia and Scotland: flying witches

Massachusetts: general mischief involving cattle, letters, hay and beer, witty and could either be diminutive or strong.

Witchy qualities / adjectives are established by clergy and authorities who were terribly threatened. Each adjective is a restatement – and a mask – of a root female quality that challenged the authority’s power. The root qualities are perennial through centuries: joy, curiosity, yearning, abandon etc.

What exactly was a witch? Any seventeenth-century New Englander could have told you. As workers of magic, witches and wizards extend as far back as recorded history. The witch as Salem conceived her materialized in the thirteenth century, when sorcery and heresy moved closer together. She came into her own with the Inquisition, as a popular myth yielded to a popular madness. The western Alps introduced her to lurid orgies. Germany launched her into the air. As the magician molted into the witch, she also became predominately female, inherently more wicked and more susceptible to satanic overtures. An influential fifteenth-century text compressed a shelf of classical sources to make its point: “When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.” As is often the case with questions of women and power, elucidations here verged on the paranormal. Though weak willed, women could emerge as dangerously, insatiably commanding.

The English witch made the trip to North America largely intact. She signed her agreement with the Devil in blood, bore a mark on her body for her compact, and enchanted by way of charms, ointments, and poppets, doll-like effigies. Continental witches had more fun. They walked on their hands. They made pregnancies last for three years. They rode hyenas to bacchanals deep in the forest. They stole babies and penises. The Massachusetts witch disordered the barn and the kitchen. She seldom flew to illicit meetings, more common in Scandinavia and Scotland. Instead, she divined the contents of an unopened letter, spun suspiciously fine linen, survived falls down stairs, tipped hay from wagons, enchanted beer, or caused cattle to leap four feet off the ground. Witches could be muttering, contentious malcontents or inexplicably strong and unaccountably smart. They could commit the capital offense of having more wit than their neighbors, as a minister said of the third Massachusetts woman hanged for witchcraft, in 1656.

Matters were murkier when it came to the wily figure with six thousand years of experience, the master of disguise who could cause things to appear and disappear, who knew your secrets and could make you believe things of yourself that were not true. He turned up in New England as a hybrid monkey, man, and rooster, or as a fast-moving turtle. Even Cotton Mather was unsure what language he spoke. He was a pervasive presence, however: the air pulsed with his minions. Typically in Massachusetts, he wore a high-crowned hat, as he had in an earlier Swedish invasion, which Mather documented in his 1689 book. Mather did not mention the brightly colored scarf that the Devil wound around his hat. Like the Swedish devil’s gartered stockings or red beard, it never turned up in New England.

The Witches of Salem, Diabolical doings in a Puritan village, BY STACY SCHIFF



my toy!
November 20, 2011, 6:17 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , ,

When you’re a kid property is power.  When you’re two feet tall and can barely walk, authority is a desirable commodity.  It’s important to let a child maintain control over what is theirs because, really, it’s all he has as a very small person in a very big world.

This makes me wonder about grown up people and their relationship to property.  Are people who are very possessive of their property, and their personal space, exhibiting a prolonged adolescence or even childishness?

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hygiene in the quasi kingdom

Have a look at this incredible description of the world.  Gosh, and I thought it was college, a flat, friends and a seasonal trip to here and there. Apparently not!

There are societies that we hardly know about out there, always have been, deliberately held at arms length from proper society for various reasons.  Is it fair to say they’re like the secret second flat where the girlfriend is kept, or if like me you’re not there yet, the place at the bar where you sit to avoid going home?  I think so.

In these often arbitrarily established lands, people have immunity from local law because … they make their own laws.  Merchant groups, military camps, the church, emigrants, Special Enterprise Zones, refugee camp, favela, protected corridors.  Illicit things are done, sometimes there’s chaos that stems from the sheer complexity of environmental realities, attempts are made to foster a home away from home.

In the end, the image is bipolar and rooted in violence:  to live a genteel life at home we will emphasize hygiene and segregation; to accomplish our goals at the office, we will use private armies.  Gandhi defined the roots of violence in the same terms:

“The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.”

Islands were simply exported to the margins of European geography, thus extending its frontiers.  There they appeared as the ‘outposts of civilization’ floating within the sea of yet unordered barbarity.  The colonies, themselves – sometimes under quasi-private sovereignty such as this of the British East India Company, sovereign in India until 1856, but in most cases incorporated into the legal body of the motherland – were laid out on the basis of a politics of hygiene and a geography of segregation.  Extra-territorial Islands of jurisdiction appeared as well at Europe’s encounter with the countries “outside” of the global colonial order – Japan, Ottoman Empire, Persia, Siam and Ethiopia.  Merchants, military personnel, church missioners and new settlers, were not subject to the laws of these quasi kingdoms but lived in enclaves that were legally incorporated into the territorial body of their home nations.”

-The Geography of Extraterritoriality by Anselm Franke and Eyal Weizman

“The historical Islands of extra-territorial refuge and sovereignty have evolved into today’s zones of humanitarian intervention – set in responses to states of emergency or extreme humanitarian crisis; military camps – deployed for the defense of foreign investments, natural resources, international transport or on behalf of nationals abroad; or Special Enterprise Zones – set as manufacturing enclaves for the financial exploitation of advancing nations by advanced ones.  But the international-law principles of “suspended sovereignty” and of “extraterritorial jurisdiction,” on which Islands rely, violate juridical territoriality in a way that sets a clear challenge to the sovereign power of the state in which they exist, and indeed to the Westphalian state system in general.”

“But there exist as well spaces of another type of interiority, shadowing the more visible economical and political network.  These are “lawless” zones in various states of “anarchy, poverty, decay and crime.”  The refugee camp, the favela and the protected corridors in Afghanistan, Central America are for the drug traffickers and arms dealers what Tax Havens and international banking are to the financial market.  Here they are black Islands of disorder floating within the smooth sea of ordered international flows.” Partly retreating, partly forced into isolation, Gray Islands are governed by warlords, private entrepreneurs, clan chiefs, armies for hire, or youth gangs, and are in a state of low intensity, permanent conflict.  Indeed of the 70 recognized political conflicts across the world today, only six manifest themselves as war between two or more sovereign state actors, while at least half are carried out besides any juridical framework of any legitimate power.  These shadow conflicts most often only come into light when they disturb the official flow of goods, capital and resources.”

At the frontiers – when gray Islands meet the space of flow – counter warlords of various types emerge – private security companies and other such mercenaries of various types operating “anywhere, anytime” – offering their form of violence to the service of he middle classes as a ready-made product on the market.”

~From The Geography of Extraterritoriality by Anselm Franke and Eyal Weizman