I drink coffee in the morning on a round, ornate oak table that once belonged to Harlan Fiske Stone, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1925 to 1946 and the chief justice for the last five of those years. Stone and his family spent their summers on this windswept, remote island six miles off the coast of Maine.
We are creatures of language and interrelatedness. EVERYTHING speaks to us of being IN RELATIONSHIP in every way that are nonetheless eschewed, ignored, denied, scorned - regardless of the fact of being observable. One of the horizons we are approaching is that of Cognitive Theory addressing the failings of Descarte, which so inform capitalism. I would submit that when people begin to assimilate the implications of HOW the Cartesian construct (dys)functions, situations and consequences previously considered “paradoxes” will become apparent and consigned to the dust bin of history.
I always remember Harlan Fisk Stone for articulation of a reality regarding conscientious objection - an experience close to my heart.
In United States v. Steeger:
“both morals and sound policy require that the state should not violate the conscience of the individual. All our history gives confirmation to the view that liberty of conscience has a moral and social value which makes it worthy of preservation at the hands of the state. So deep in its significance and vital, indeed, is it to the integrity of man’s moral and spiritual nature that nothing short of the self-preservation of the state should warrant its violation; and it may well be questioned whether the state which preserves its life by a settled policy of violation of the conscience of the individual will not in fact ultimately lose it by the process.”
“Stone, The Conscientious Objector, 21 Col.Univ.Q. 253, 269 (1919).”
In wrestling with the frustrations of the smarmy incoherence of the Trump administration, I resorted to Cognitive Theory and found reference to George Lakoff. BINGO!
The following is a bit long, and he does have a website, but I found the talk very accessible and eye-opening.
“Stone opposed socialism because, as he told his friend Harold Laski, the British political philosopher and socialist, he believed the judicial system could be reformed and empowered to protect the public from the tyranny of corporate elites. If the judicial system failed in its task to safeguard democracy, he conceded to Laski, socialism was the only alternative.”
There you have it.
I always listen to what Chris Hedges has to say.
He is the first person that I am aware of who has actually used the word “fiduciary” and then only in relation to trustees and corporations. The fiduciary concept that one cannot serve two masters is an aspect of the law pertaining to fiduciaries that is fundamental to our law and English common law, predating the constitution. It is very difficult to interpret or apply it to governmental officers, but it is implicit in the president’s oath to “faithfully” execute the office of president. What else does faithfully connote if not a fiduciary duty of loyalty, which is the source of the concept that one cannot serve two masters.
Those looking at the specific duties and limitations on the president in the Constitution will not find this concept elaborated anywhere except in the oath. Only the concept of “emoluments” approaches, and it provides a pretty limited playing field. I am surprised that no effort has been made to advance the notion that the president has fiduciary duties that preclude profiting from office, engaging in conflicts of interest and the like. No one wants to go there because it is not spelled out in so many words, but I would imagine the framers would have contemplated that Donald Trump’s self-serving subjugation of the nation’s interests to his own would have been simply out of the question. It would have been fundamental to their thinking and probably not considered necessary to say. Even if it can’t be proven or enforced in court because there is no precedent for it or mention of it in the Constitution with respect to the president, it should at least be honored by recognition of its fundamental place in our law and the fact that it is not just a function of ethics.
On a different subject, the article in the New Republic about plagiarism by Hedges is disturbing. It is obviously a political hit piece, otherwise, why throw in the epithet that Hedges is a “lefty”, which adds nothing to the substantive thrust of the article? Nevertheless, it is very well documented and very disturbing for anyone who respects Hedges, as I do.
The judiciary, despite the Federalist Society’s high-blown rhetoric about the sanctity of individual freedom, is a naked tool of corporate oppression. - Chris Hedges
An excellent article by Hedges. Very informative and too true were Stone’s words regarding the Nuremberg Trials.
Yes, the Judiciary today is as corrupted as the other two branches. Madison would be unhappy to see that his theory that the judiciary would be the last bulwark against tyranny has failed.
CEO’s are the real terrorists of the world. They have bought the government and its legal system. They give us most cancers, foul our water and air, sever our mountaintops, profit most by war. My Federal Clean Water Act lawsuit lasted twenty years and went all the way to the Supreme Court and back. The major corporation won by a series of Summary Judgements that would make one’s hair stand on edge for their lack of anything resembling any law. For example, the case was finally lost on “Standing” My marina property was deemed a “Superfund Site” because of PCB contamination so on the advice of doctors after testing, rashes, cancers and filing the lawsuit I moved my family off the site. The Court ruled that we lost standing to sue even after 20 years of litigation because we lost interest in the site. So it would seem that if one was involved in an auto accident they would have to lie in the street until the case was over. I wrote a book about it “Evolution of Pollution” that is hard to believe except that I have over $100,000 worth of government and industry photocopied documents that expose the corruption in the system.
Sorry for your travails.
At least we live in an exceptional country.
The man Hedges writes of certainly had his contradictory traits; yet overall, he seemed true to the basic tenet that the law must first serve the people, and not the wealthy and privileged. Even with his considerable flaws, Mr. Stone would be very welcome in this messed up society, though, like Chris writes, he would quickly be pushed into the political wastelands.
Another brilliant article from Chris Hedges.
We have given them every chance to back away from their excesses.
I appreciate your putting this lecture on your post. I watched it up to the q&a before I had to leave. I think it’s a good idea to confront frames and to engage citizens in reframing but I do worry about being directed to Facebook for the CCN and also, Lakoff’s, seeming uncritically positive view of the Democrats. I did send him a message regarding both issues as well as saying I was interested in this project.
I very much would like to see something great come of this but he has to move away from both FB and the Democrats.
Interesting that all of the hub bub was from 2014 to early 2015, yet Hedges is still here and writing.
“Our constitutional rights have steadily been stripped from us by judicial fiat.”
Those “constitutional rights” were won by the struggle and death of millions since the Constitution was written by the slaveholding, less than 1% elite, terrorist founders. All that was won through the centuries of death and struggle was lost with globalization and the destruction of the labor movement, the only power the common people ever won.
Political discourse is absurd within the limits of the two party system and has been absurd ever since globalization destroyed the only power U.S. citizens ever had which was the labor movement that, briefly, created a large middle class that could not be ignored due to strong unions. In reality though the republic is not dead as it is merely returning to its original restricted representation of property owners only, those with the most property(private ownership of wealth) get the most represented. This has always been the plutocratic heart of the U.S. and even in the heyday of the middle class, success was always defined by ones economic success. Indeed it seemed as though all one had to do was own a house and build equity to enter the middle class. Even a poor person that was a home owner felt somewhat successful. But the safe investment dream of home ownership depended on government support of low cost loans and a sellers market thanks to the prosperity of good paying jobs due to the political muscle of labor unions. But along came the jet plane and computerization that made globalization possible.
Capitalism even in the U.S. economic boom following WWII was always tilted to the rich. Capitalism can be temporarily reformed but it is always set to take from everyone for the few who own everything. That is what the twentieth century taught us. Capitalism is always the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few.
So its back to the good old days of the gilded age. The answer has always been socialism and now more than ever before capitalism destroys the human race. The constitutional rights that have been lost by judicial fiat were always relative to ones ability to demand and afford them. Nothing much has changed for those who have always been at the bottom due to ethnicity, poverty or both.
Many believe that Rome eventually fell due to a widening tax revolt. It became increasingly expensive not only militarily but in terms of bribes to “barbarians” such as Atilla The Hun to not invade Rome. Thus the military was reduced and became unable to fend off the attacks of those who could no longer be bought off due to falling revenue.
The U.S. Empire is now engaged in permanent war for the sake of the freedom of global capitalists to exploit. It would seem as though the ever increasing cost of empire is of no concern. More money can be printed, infrastructure can be ignored and more social programs can be cut for the sake of the empire. Rome took a long time to fall but each succeeding empire has had a shorter life. With economists of all schools predicting an imminent world wide financial collapse the days of the U.S. empire may just about be over. With a worldwide infrastructure collapse the days of empires may be over if it becomes impossible to have enough law and order for government to function in a world beset by political and environmental chaos.
The future holds ever increasing chaos and resource wars aggravated by spreading poverty, ecological destruction and desperate short term financial solutions by the owners. Into the coming chaos there is the very real possibility, with loss of central control and stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, of the human race destroying itself.
Socialism is “the only alternative”. Fight capitalism in any way you can, no matter how small, and better yet look for new ways to fight. You may even become an inspirational leader in a new socialist world where all are provided for and respected in a classless society.
Ah yes, the catch! “National Security”…or…we can’t take this to court because we will have to expose national security secrets etc…