Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Why are today’s sovereigns never at peace?

By Don Jessup Blake Long

Why is it that sovereigns in the premodern world were always joyfully, powerfully and peacefully most sovereign when at rest in their throne; these court portraits were intentional in affirming this as if it meant God too was happily at rest in his throne.

But we modern sovereigns (individuals who share the same blessedness of popular sovereignty) are constantly in motion and never comfortably at peace or with rest. Does this mean our poor God must be frantically trying to keep up with us?

In fact, we delight in this as the most moral and humane worlds possible. On one hand, we criminalize those who are too idly poor and therefore threatening and, on the other, ex communicate as immoral and hopelessly apostate those who are too leisurely rich, and therefore equally threatening. I guess this is our middling way. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the virtues and creativity of work as much as anyone. I am just wondering what happened to this earlier notion of sovereignty. It seems like we the people might want to rethink our current version and try to more joyfully rebalance it. (But not btw the liberal proposal of a universal basic wage, which only makes this moral status quo stronger.)

I instead offer a different world, not for all to be kings at rest but rather to be makers of peace and all things “as beautifully as possible” (the ethos of Renaissance not just of Michelangelo but all guilds from master to apprentice). This quoted phrase was actually written into contracts. 

For anyone interested, it is the disappearing and vanishing (or deliberate oppression and conquest) of this ethos in the early 1800s that defines the triumph of our liberal via moderna today. 

I believe it is possible to have all the fruits of our current liberal market- and state-based world and at the same time, the alternative via moderna left behind. It simply requires reconstituting our parties and politics to reflect the mutually-enriching engagement of two competing but essential visions of a better world. And I am now writing about this.

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