Part IV, conclusion

We recognize two senses of “father”: in one, Solomon might well have been a father (1) to over a thousand children, in another sense he never could have been a father (2) to that many. Fathering (2) requires personal intimacy and so isn’t scalable to a thousand members.  Now if political relations are not scalable, they to allow for the possibility of a politics (1) that isn’t politics (2).

The common good of a family involves more than just fathering (1), since otherwise even orphans would be in families, and for the same reason, the political common good requires politics (2). At some point of expansion, we will find a higher polity (1) that isn’t a higher common good. And so while there is some common good above the family, it doesn’t follow that it is the nation or the “International community”. Perhaps neither of these is a political common good.

It’s unlikely that one could set a strict number of persons beyond which we can have only politics (1) and not politics (2). But one thing that’s been suggested throughout this series is that the Left-Right division of ideologies marks a point where one has only politics (1).



  1. thenyssan said,

    August 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    We might take your “Solomonic Impossibility” as a reductio against the practice of polygamy and begetting so many children. The very fact that we cannot Father (2) so many proves the immorality of begetting so many.

    But if that’s right, then when you make the move to politics it seems you’ve invalidated…heck, not just the United States, but even the “Commonwealth” of Virginia. Why is Politics (1) a good thing if Fathering (1) isn’t? If the answer is “international relations is necessary” then I wonder if the analogy works.

    • August 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      If Solomon has a thousand kids we can blame Solomon, but if a population explodes there is not the same culpability. Maybe it just got healthier, had a lucky run of crops, figured out sanitation, discovered penicillin, etc. Our predicament is in large part due to causes like that. This coincided with advances in communication that gave us the impression that we are actually interacting with persons though we usually aren’t. It’s not as if George Bush understood what was happening after Katrina because he could watch it on TV.

      International relations requires nations, which is an aspect of making the megapolis. This pre-dates the population explosions of the 19th century, and it is something I know a good deal less about.

  2. Sam said,

    December 24, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I don’t know if you can ‘hear’ comments on old posts, but: this critique of the Left (assuming I’ve read you the right way round) doesn’t seem to apply to the Left as I most often meet it, in the form of the labour movement or some relative of it. My sort of ‘home ground’ leftness is the leftness of the little industrial and post-industrial towns of the North of England, and it’s sort of communitarian in character, a history of people working together and communities helping each other to ensure they get a fair deal from the employers and landlords. Solidarity tied up with community, with neighborhood. It’s certainly more like politics (2) than the right as I usually meet it, in a sort of Thatcherite form. In fact, the sort of free-market dog-eat-dog globalized capitalism which to me is the very essence of the Right seems directly opposed to politics (2). This is so pronounced in my way of thinking that the first time I read this series of posts I thought the criticism was directed the other way. I recognise that some of this probably comes down to the different ways left and right are used over here and over where you are, but it still looks to me like the argument has gone astray somewhere.


    • December 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      It is not a critique of the Left, but of the ideology of Left-Right so far as they are the basis of super-state cohesion.

  3. Sam said,

    December 26, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Ah, I see! I misread the whole series.
    But I don’t really see why the principled building and upholding of a network of communities, each of which supports its members and which all try to support each other where they can, shouldn’t form the basis of an arbitrarily large political structure.

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