Requests for Information Related to Thomas Jefferson


> let me quote the most enlightening phrase
> in
> American history; that's where I am: "...they are endowed with their
> creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life
> liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights
> governments are instituted among men..."
> The purpose of government is to secure inalienable rights and
> government
> is merely an agent (they derive their power from the governed) of the
> people not a supernatural entity to be worshiped. Please note that
> this
> is quite different from the rule of the majority.

If the government acts as an agent of the people, how do the people
convey their will to the government?  They do it through their majority.
The idea of "rule of the majority" and of "a supernatural entity to be
worshipped" have nothing to do with one another.  If you do
not believe in rule of the majority, then where does the government
get its power?  Indeed, anyone who believes that the government is
somehow above and beyond the rule exerted by the majority must
themselves believe the government is some superior entity which
must be worshipped by the people.

I am afraid you do not understand the difference between inalienable
rights and the MEANS by which a government implements or secures
inalienable rights.  Of course the purpose of government is to secure
inalienable rights!  No one disputes that, or thinks that majority rule
is a substitute for that.  But the question is, HOW DOES GOVERNMENT DO
their power from the consent of the governed, HOW IS THAT CONSENT
SHOULD DO?  Of course government is merely an agent!!!  But how is that
agency circumscribed?  How is that agency directed by the governed?  IT
IS THROUGH MAJORITY RULE!  Majority rule is a MECHANISM of government.
It is the mechanism by which a free people of equal rights govern
themselves, give instructions to their government, and make sure that
their government secures their inalienable rights.  It of itself is NOT
the expression of their fundamental philosophy; it is the means by which
their fundamental philosophy (inalienable rights) is actualized.  You
seem to believe that those who support majority rule do so because they
believe that anything the majority decides should be considered right and
just.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A majority NEVER
determines what is right; a majority ONLY determines what is the will of
the people.  What is right and just is a philosophical question that is
determined by the principles that you quote.  But those principles are
not self-actualizing.  There must be a power that assures that those
principles will be adhered to.  And "to secure these rights, governments
THE GOVERNED."  And how do the governed express their consent?  THROUGH
THEIR MAJORITY!!!  That is what majority rule means.  That is the only
way that a free people can govern themselves, and that a democratic
government, i.e., a government of the people, can function.  And if the
majority of the people do not support free government, there will not be
free government.

Have you seen my essay on Madison's "Federalist No. 10 and Thomas
Jefferson"?   It explains in detail the democratic principle of
government and the role of majority rule.  It is located at:

> In Jeffersons
> words:
> " A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring
> one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their
> own
> pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the
> mouth
> of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government,
> and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicity."
> In my opinion that is Jeffersons legacy, not majority rule.

What do you think Jefferson meant when he wrote this?

"The first principle of republicanism is that the lex majoris partis is
the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to
consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single
vote as sacred as if unanimous is the first of all lessons in importance,
yet the last which is thoroughly learnt.  This law once disregarded, no
other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military
despotism." --Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1817.

"Republicanism" refers to the system of government, not inalienable
rights.  Majority rule is the fundamental law of a society of individuals
of equal rights, i.e., a society with a republican government.  It is
only by majority rule that such a society can be governed.  If it is NOT
so governed, it must be governed by force, i.e., a minority forcing their
will upon the majority.  Theoretically, perhaps, minority rule *could*
secure the inalienable rights of the people -- but in fact, that is a
contradiction.  Because the right of a people to govern themselves is
itself a natural and inalienable right.  And the ONLY way a people can
govern themselves is through majority rule.

> I know you are pressed for time but this has been gnawing at me all
> day.  I think you have a mistaken idea of inalienable rights.

I think not.  But I think you have a mistaken idea of majority rule and
its function in a free society.  Objectivists oppose majority rule
because their form of individualism is opposed to any subordination of
individual interest to the "general good," or to the "collective."
Because they deny a voice to the people as a whole, they are compelled to
deny the only way that voice can be heard.  They apparently believe that
the only purpose of society is to serve individual concerns, and that the
society as a collective has no legitimate interests.  In fact, I have had
one Objectivist tell me that society as a collective does not exist;
society is just a group of individuals.  And that, basically, is why, as
you say, Objectivism has no heart.  It has no sense of feeling for their
fellow man, only for oneself.


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