- “The Prospects for Liberty: The Threats it faces and how to counter them” (23 Mar. 2022)
- “Mao waves “hello” in his Bathrobe” (9 March, 2022)
Additions to the Library:
- the "conflicted" western tradition: I have added to my list of 26 texts in this collection Kant's Zum ewigen Frieden (On Perpetual Peace) (1795) to be paired with some of Hegel's writings such as Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821). Whereas Kant saw war as a major threat to the limited constitutional republican state with its duty to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens, Hegel saw war as an essential means by which the state could reach its ultimate purpose and ideal form
- an early Christian advocate of peace was the Dutch theologian Desiderius Erasmus (c.1466-1536) who wrote several pieces in the early 1500s which have been translated and republished several times during later wars, such as the 30 Years War (1618-48), the Napoleonic Wars (1790s), and WW1. I first began putting his work online just after the invasion of Afghanistan and Irag in the early 2000s. These works inlcude (the link is to the English version, which is turn has links to other editions):
- "Enchiridion militis Christiani" (The Handbook of the Christian Soldier) (1501) - HTML and facs. PDF
- "Dulce bellum inexpertis" (War is sweet to those who have not experienced it) (1515) - HTML and facs. PDF
- "Querelus pacis" (The Complaint of Peace) (1518) - HTML and facs. PDF
- one of the great calls for peace written in the middle of war was Immanuel Kant's Zum ewigen Frieden (On Perpetual Peace) (1795). He was inspired by the idea of extending a treaty like the Treaty of Basel (1795) into a network of interlocking peace treaties between belligerent powers which would reduce the risks of war. He also thought the gradual spread of republican political ideas would lessen the chances of kings and emperors engaging in wars for their personal benefit and glorification. I have put online the German original in HTML and facs PDF; as well as an English translation published in the middle of yet another war (1917) in HTML and facs. PDF
- In my "illustrated essay" on “Jacques Callot and Hugo Grotius on Crime and Punishment in a time of War” I explore the problem of war in 17th century Europe by juxtaposing an image from the series of 18 etchings made by Jacques Callot (1592-1635) called "The Miseries of War" (1633) which graphically show the ravages of war in his native Lorraine during the Thirty Years War (1618-48), with passages from Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace (1625) which is a foundation stone of the modern understanding of the laws of war.
- another edition of Hugo Grotius's magisterial The Laws of War and Peace (1625), this time the authoritative 18th century edition produced by Jean Barbeyrac, Professor of Law at Groningen, with copious notes. This edition was translated into English in 1738: Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace, in Three Books. Wherein are explained, the Law of Nature and Nations, and the Principal Points relating to Government - HTML and facs. PDF
- further additions to my anthology of essays from Le Censeur (with 16 items) and Le Censeur européen (with 18 items):
- Dunoyer, “De l’influence de l’opinion sur la stabilité des gouvernemens; et de la discordance qui existe entre l’esprit des peuples de l’Europe et la politique de leurs chefs,” (T.6, June 1, 1815), pp. 141-60. - HTML and facs. PDF. In this essay Dunoyer takes up some ideas about the power of ideas and public opinion expressed by Benjamin Constant in De l'esprit de conquête et de l'usurpation (1814) where he argues that the ideas held by the ruling elite are based upon war, conquest, monopoly and depotism; while those of ordinary people are increasingly based upon peace, industry, trade, and liberfty. This conclict of ideas led to the emergence of pro-liberty movements which reached a peak with the American and French Rvolutions and will continue into the coming century.
- An early work by Dunoyer in which he lays out his class theory of history. There is a two way struggle between the ruled and the rulers, and at the same time within the class of rulers, a three or even four way struggle between the king, the nobility, the clergy, and later the lawyers in the Parlements. Throughout the centuries of these struggles the ordinary people of France have been kept in a state of subjection and have thus not been able to develop what he calls “pubic spirit”, by which he means a sense of their own identity, patriotic feelings towards a broader community with common goals, and a sense of individual liberty. See ”De L’esprit public en France, et particulièrement de l’esprit des fonctionnaires publics” (July 1814) - Part 1 [HTML and facs. PDF] and Part 2 [HTML and facs. PDF].
- when Le Censeur was first published as a bi-weekly short news magazine Charles Comte wrote a very forthright and rather cheeky letter to the Minister of the Interior explaining why he supported freedom of speech. This was rather prescient as Comte and Dunoyer would run afoul of the censors repeatedly during the course of its history, having volumes consificated and being brought before the courts and even spending time in prison for what they had written. See “Lettre au ministre de l'intérieur, sur la liberté de la presse, considérée dans ses rapports avec la liberté civile et politique.” Le Censeur No. 3. (5-13 July 1814), pp. 75-110. - HTML and facs. PDF
- Dunoyer (??), [CR], “De La Traite et de l'esclavage des noirs et des blancs” (T.4, Mar. 1815, )pp. 210-30 - HTML and facs. PDF In this review (unsigned but probably by Dunoyer) Dunoyer debunks some of the economic reasons used to justify slavery, shows that Haitians were just as passionate about liberty as white Europeans, and likens Napoleon to a slave owner whose slaves are white and not black, where his slaves are French citizens who were conscripted into the army or were taxpayers who were forced to pay for the wars.
- Charles Dunoyer [CR], “Essai sur les désavantages politiques de la traite des nègres, par Clarkson” (T.2, 15 Nov. 1814) - HTML and facs. PDF. In this review of a book by the English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson, Dunoyer vehemently denounces the immorality of slavery and argues that the "political" opportunities which existed in Britain to argue for the abolition of slavery on other than moral grounds did not yet exist in the France. Nevertheless Dunoyer argues that the only way to increase the prosperity of the colonies and compete with Britain was to free the French slaves.
- Charles Comte, “S’il est permis de tuer un tyran” (T2, Nov. 1814), pp. 267-80. - HTML and facs. PDF. Comte discusses the ancient Greek and Roman belief that it is legitimate for a private citizen to kill a tyrant. Whether the principle applies to his own time is a matter of dispute: yes when Napoleon first came to powerand was clearly a usurper; no when Emperors or Kings lived under a constitution and there were elections.
- Charles Comte, [CR]. “Traité d'économie politique par JB Say,” (T.7, Sept. 6 1815) - HTML and facs. PDF. The economic treatise by JB Say was a revelation for Comte and Dunoyer and his free market ideas changed their entire view of what classical liberalism was. This was the first review. A second one of the revised 3rd edition came after the journal was closed down by the censors and reopened again in Jan. 1817. [HTML and facs. PDF]
- Charles Dunoyer, "Des Révolutions en général, et des révolutionnaires actuel” (T.3, Dec. 1814) - HTML and facs. PDF. Here Dunoyer argues that as societies evolve they are in a state of "permanent revolution" which wise governments have to learn to manage if they wish to avoid a violent revolutionary explosion of political and economic reforms
- I have updated the table of contents page of Comte and Dunoyer's journal Le Cesuer européen (1817-1819) with more information about author's name, page numbers, and other details.
- the work of the English political and legal theorist Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) is notoriously hard to read because of his convoluted and pedantic style of writing, but hidden away in the verbiage, sometimes embedded in footnotes to footnotes, are gems of radical liberal insight, as in this neglected piece Plan of Parliamentary Reform: in the form of a Catechism (1817). In typical fashion the "introduction" is longer (at over 330 pages) than the main piece (at 52 pages) but almost lost amongst the jargon are some very insightful observations about how "the ruling few" use the corrupt parliamentary system to rule "the subject many". [HTML and facs. PDF]
- Bentham identified one important way the "ruling few" were able to control the tax-paying "subject-many" and get them to submit to political authority was the use of "political fallacies", by which he meant false, "fallacious", and sophistical arguments. In The Book of Fallacies (1824) [HTML and facs. PDF] he discusses the following kinds of "fallacies" (or in modern terminology "fear, uncertainty, and doubt"):
- fallacies of authority, the subject of which is authority in various shapes, and the object to repress all exercise of the reasoning faculty.
- fallacies of danger, the subject-matter of which is danger in various shapes, and the object to repress discussion altogether, by exciting alarm.
- fallacies of delay, the subject-matter of which is delay in various shapes—and the object, to postpone discussion, with a view of eluding it.
- fallacies of confusion, the object of which is, to perplex, when discussion can no longer be avoided.