Monday, October 10, 2011

This was the whole point of the Senate/House of Lords

In the ideal government, the commoner, the aristocracy and the soldier would all have an equal say in legislation. I get these categories more or less from the medieval Spanish cortes which had representation from these three groups. (I think clergy might have been one too.) Anyway, in America, we have lost the sense of the aristocracy. The senate was set up to be this, the elite, older members of the community who had amassed wisdom over time. Well, like I said, we lost that with the fact that now senators are elected just like the Representatives.

Not so in England. The House of Lords is doing great things still, or so it seems. And of course the secular rabble is anarchically calling for the repression of the Church and the House of Lords. Oh well, we all have the right to say what we want, right?


thisjourneyofmylife said...

Nowadays, classes aren't that clear anymore, which leads to a much more mixed governement. People aren't defined by their status anymore, which I think is very, very important. In my opinion, the best governement would actually be a good tyran, but as I don't think such a person really exists, I think we can't get better than democracy. A democracy based on equal rights for all people, not just for all classes.

N.W. Thomas said...

According to my research, the best government would be a monarch who is accountable to a group of the most experienced citizens which is accountable to a council of representatives of the general population. This is how America's system was supposed to be. I misused the word "aristocracy" but I think the point remains.

Pure monarchy devolves into tyranny. A tyrant is then overthrown by a group of men who take over the rule (called an oligarchy). This devolves into an elitist group who lord it over the rest of the citizens. Then the people get mad and form a democracy. This eventually devolves into mob rule and the tyranny of the majority. Then a strong ruler must come along and take charge and you are back where you started. (Polybius, Roman Political theorist)

The only way to avoid this vicious cycle is to combine the different forms so that they check each others power before it gets too great.

The House of Lords in England and the Senate in the US were supposed to be the second group, the small group of men who wouldn't let the monarch get too powerful. The House of Commons was for the Democratic side of things.

You see, the Lords in the House of Lords can introduce things like this because they don't have to worry about re-election. They can stand for things based on their own convictions. I think this is an important part of a government.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

It sounds good theoretically, but wouldn't the commoners (for lack of a better word) get frustrated after a while because they could never really make an impact on politics? I mean, the man on the street could merely vote for someone who then could have some political power. The real power would always be for the upper class. And how would the 'group of the most experienced citizens' be chosen? Would you let them take a test or would they be chosen based on their achievements? And even then, how could you ever know if they would be good politicians or just power crazy bad guys?

N.W. Thomas said...

Lost my comment. Darn. O well, cliff notes version.

I don't have a problem with hereditary lines involved in government. One never knows if the person is going to be corrupt or anti-catholic or something. However, if the senator or lord is elected, he mostly cares about re-election and not the will of the people. And, in the two party system that America has, while the majority of the people are pleased (usually not perfectly pleased) with the politician in question, the usually large minority is anything but please. You will have almost one half of the population either poorly represented or suffering injustice.

Even now in America, a lot of the politicians are power crazy. And the power is in the upper class, because in order to run for national office (the most important one, at this point--gah, whatever happened to solving things at the most local level possible??) you have to be really rich. In other words, everyone on power is rich. The poor are represented by the rich which makes very little sense.

In England, at least they know "there is a nobility" and it has some power, but the Prime Minister is always in the House of Commons. He is always an actual representative of the citizenry, so even with a house of Lords, the people have the greater power. At least the Lords can propose measures like this one that can do some good.

As to how they would be chosen, I've already said I don't mind hereditary, but in the US, the senators used to be appointed by the governor basically as ambassadors or representatives of the States. They wouldn't represent each constituency, but rather represented the needs of the state as a separate entity. Just as the representative to the UN is not elected but appointed, right? Anyway, this is another possible system, that the leader of a smaller community could appoint (in theory) his best man/woman for the job.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

Politics would be so much easier if people cared just as much about others as about themselves.

N.W. Thomas said...

Agreed. I don't know if you've heard of distributism, but it's not governmental redistribution of the wealth. It's hard to explain, but here's an article on it. Very interesting.

As CS Lewis says: The best political action is evangelization.

Hieronymus said...

Slight correction: Before 1913, state legislatures elected U. S. Senators. The governor of the state made temporary appointments until the next meeting of the state legislature.

N.W. Thomas said...

That's right. I confused it with something else...maybe a fantasy in my head.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

I was going to read the post on distributism (really, I was), but it's just not going to happen. My busy schedule, combined with the fact that English isn't my mother tongue, has persuaded me to do more important things with my time. Like working and eating. ;)
So I have nothing interesting to say about it.