15 January 2009

Sovereignty fact explained by fiction


Who holds Coinspinner knows good odds

Whichever move he make

But the Sword of Chance, to please the gods

Slips from him like a snake.

The Sword of Justice balances the pans

Of right and wrong, and foul and fair.

Eye for an eye, Doomgiver scans

The fate of all folk everywhere.

Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, how d'you slay?

Reaching for the heart in behind the scales.

Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, where do you stay?

In the belly of the giant that my blade impales.

Farslayer howls across the world

For thy heart, for thy heart, who hast wronged me!

Vengeance is his who casts the blade

Yet he will in the end no triumph see.

Whose flesh the Sword of Mercy hurts has drawn no breath;

Whose soul it heals has wandered in the night,

Has paid the summing of all debts in death

Has turned to see returning light.

The Mindsword spun in the dawn's gray light

And men and demons knelt down before.

The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright

Gods joined the dance, and the march to war.

It spun in the twilight dim as well

And gods and men marched off to hell.

I shatter Swords and splinter spears;

None stands to Shieldbreaker.

My point's the fount of orphans' tears

My edge the widowmaker.

The Sword of Stealth is given to

One lonely and despised.

Sightblinder's gifts: his eyes are keen

His nature is disguised.

The Tyrant's Blade no blood hath spilled

But doth the spirit carve

Soulcutter hath no body killed

But many left to starve.

The Sword of Siege struck a hammer's blow

With a crash, and a smash, and a tumbled wall.

Stonecutter laid a castle low

With a groan, and a roar, and a tower's fall.

Long roads the Sword of Fury makes

Hard walls it builds around the soft

The fighter who Townsaver takes

Can bid farewell to home and croft.

Who holds Wayfinder finds good roads

Its master's step is brisk.

The Sword of Wisdom lightens loads

But adds unto their risk.

(end of the song)

Normally I would be launching into a diatribe, but, instead of giving that and the example, I will give the concept first and then launch into a shortened diatribe!

Fred Saberhagen's Swords series features 12 Swords made by the God Vulcan (no relation to the original, they just have the same job and appearance, plus background) because the Gods were... well... bored. They needed to spice up their lives and end the humdrum of Godly tedium and so they gave Vulcan the task of fashioning something to do that. He came up with the 12 Swords. In all of fantasy (and really this is more SF than Fantasy, but Saberhagen blends them so well you can't tell where one leaves off and the other begins) there is nothing like these Swords. The Song of the Swords gives the basic concept, and each Sword gets its own tale along with some intro and follow-up novels to help round the entire affair out. Although it has some individual slow stories, each one works as part of the greater world that Saberhagen has created, and he puts out multiple, riveting concepts in all of the books of Ardneh, of which the Swords are a sub-part but stand alone component.

Each Sword, looks, basically, like a well crafted 'working blade' with only a slight insignia on the pommel to let you know the true nature of what it is you hold. Thus a triangular piece falling from a square is Stonecutter: the piece cut off the whole. One of them is blank on that, and it is a really quite horrific Sword to stumble across. In each area of power the Sword is Sovereign when other blades are absent. Using Stonecutter as an example, no other Sword may cut through stone as if it was something akin to styrofoam. Wayfinder will assuredly find you the way to go... just make sure you know what it is you are looking to find. And those who hold Coinspinner know invariable good luck in all things, from minor games of chance to having something large happen that is highly improbable, but is very lucky for you to have happen... and just like good luck it can suddenly vanish from your side leaving a spinning coin behind.

Alone each Sword has its Power and its weaknesses, although many seem so powerful as to have none, that is not the case, especially in combination. Thus while the Mindsword can hold anyone alone in or in huge crowds, even Gods, in thrall to the bearer, Soulcutter can go through that to cause unremitting despair and despondency so that doing anything seems pointless, so that entire battles within sight of it fall down to silence. These are their Sovereign Powers, and each has strength and precedence and order, and serve the user within those realms and no other.

The combat Swords get much play, but they have their own ranking from relatively unimportant, that being Dragonslicer as the dragons of that world are not the ones of most fantasy settings just big lizards, Doomgiver which gives damage back in kind to those who attack its wielder, Townsaver so that a town or other similar organizational unit (ex. cities) can have a stout defender who only feels all the damage once the battle is over, Farslayer that you swing around you and name who it is to kill and release it to go do that, and Shieldbreaker the Sovereign Sword of Combat against those who wield weapons, armor and spells, and even the other Swords, save one.... or that guy without armor coming to punch you out, its useless against him and becomes a phantom blade that cannot harm the unarmed and you can't put it down in combat, such is Shieldbreaker.

As even the Gods have no power over these Swords, they cannot destroy them and the power of the Sword is Sovereign in its realm over all other powers in that realm, they definitely livened things up and shook up the establishment and generally started a great game of 'Which God Goes Down Next?' Mind you the God would re-appear under new guise, but that is part of what makes them Gods, now, doesn't it? And because each of these Swords has its own set of weaknesses, that pretty much assures that they will get moved around a bit over the years. If you pick up a Sword you become part of the Great Game of Sword Bearers, where each has their own intent, wants and direction... really, with such power who could put one *down* or say 'I don't want it?' That does mean you have to understand the Sword's nature and what it is you want... or else... well... some people get very, very good at the Great Game of Swords. Mostly, not the Gods who now have very interesting, and sometimes short, life-spans.

By the nature of their powers they are *not* co-equal: they have no peer in what they do.

They can, however, cross-check each other and as you can't survive holding two at a time, at least not long, if you find a *second* Sword you then have to deal with that little problem. And while stockpiling them might seem a *good* idea, Coinspinner, at least, will ensure that there is always a lucky threat against you at some point. Thus the stories wander all over the place, due to the Swords, their Bearers and those who seek out particular ones for certain needs. And no one Sword is proof that you will not be killed, will not be countered or will have your schemes come to fruition. That is the nature of Sovereign Power.

Why go through this?

Over at Rick Moran's place, he has an article up on investigating alleged wrong-doing by previous Presidential Administrations, and its interesting that the concept of the Sovereign Powers of Government are not understood all that well. Perhaps the best text to go to which goes through the Sovereign Powers of the Nation State is Emmerich de Vattel's Law of Nations, which is one of the best and most thorough attempts to go over what the exact powers of a Nation State actually are, and how they are viewed. When perusing through the books, one finds long sections of powers, what they mean, how they are used, and how they interact. Each Power of a Sovereign Nation State is complete, in itself, and yet complementary to all Powers of the Nation. While mainly addressing Nations with Kings and such, Republics are recognized as a system of government that is enacted for the Powers and that those Powers are divided amongst various sub-parts of the overall government. Thus the Power to Declare War and the Power to Execute War can, like in the US system, be divided amongst different parts of government. The whole of the Nation State has these Powers, but they are put into different and separate areas in a Republic, if that is the formulation of that Republic, at least.

In no way are these powers 'co-equal': they are complementary and Sovereign each in their own realm of being. Just like the Power of the Swords, these Powers have their own realm in which they are enacted in understood ways. Thus, for a Republic, we may require the Legislative Branch to start War against another Nation, but the Executive Branch must protect the Nation against all threats, Nations and non-Nations, and must act to ensure that Power is faithfully executed within the restrictions of the framework. Particularly against non-Nation State actors in the military realm, the Executive gets broad powers outside of Congress, while Congress can enact legislation in a larger context against non-State actors (the Letters language) for both citing who to go after and giving Citizens willing to take on the onus of War Duties and abide by the Laws of War the Power and Mandate to do so.

Thus, for Public War, Congressional Mandate is absolute. For Private War the Executive must be able to defend the Nation against non-Nation State actors who may arise at any time in any guise to bring harm to the Nation. These are not 'co-equal': they complement one to the other. The Executive cannot make war, save defensive war, against Nation States, but may address those who refuse to abide by the civilized agreement of what Nations are in any way that is legal but without Congressional mandate. President Jefferson did this against the Barbary Pirates, and all Presidents have this as their duty. To ask common Citizens to fight privately requires Congressional consent and regulation, which is complementary to the Executive Power in this realm. Just as the Declaration of War requires the complement of the Executive Power to enact it and put the Nation to Public War.

In the realm of Civil Law the Executive gets to run the law keeping bodies for the Nation (such as the FBI, BATFE, etc.) under Congressional mandate. Congress has put in an Inspector General system for independent review and investigation of each of these organs that reports on the activities of those organs to Congress. To investigate the Executive for Civil Law infractions, the standard organ (say the FBI) may not be enough due to the influence of the Presidential appointees running it. To ensure that those run properly, Congress can ask for the IG oversight on the investigation, so that a separate report on the process is performed outside of the normal investigation. Congress has a final Power, which is to Impeach and Remove those appointees who are found not to be following their lawful mandates.

In theory, that is the way it should work.

Beats me why the Hell no one does this...

Mostly I chalk it up to lackluster Congresses that are more interested in soundbites than in properly doing their jobs and ensuring that the oversight and review process is carried out properly. Everyone wants to invest some, single, investigator with all sorts of unaccountable, non-oversight power as is the case with Special Prosecutors who can have the life of their 'temporary' office exceed the length of the President and Congress that asked them to do that work and have almost no oversight by the IG whatsoever.

The idea that a representative democracy is the most efficient form of government is one that is wholly inapt when it comes to analysis of the Power distribution amongst the Branches. Indeed, each Branch has been coveting the Power of other Branches, such as Congress wanting to tell a President how to run a war that Congress has mandated, or a Judicial Branch trying to make law from the bench or Presidents who want to adjust mandates and oversight to suit the whim of the temporary Office Holder. These are not problems of 'efficient government' but of jealous government run by those who want more power and are seeking to undermine the Constitutional system to get it. That is true regardless of party, the magic of R or D does not bestow clear thinking and 'being above it all'. Mostly those who claim to 'be above it all' have more than their fingers in the pie and are pretty much up to their elbows and wanting yet more pie for themselves.

An example of 'over-reach' is the horrific idea of Congress thinking it can do ANYTHING in making foreign policy, outside the Senate review of Treaties and the regularization of treaties by law given to the entire Congress. That, really, should be enough. Yet we have Congressional delegations flagrantly ignoring the Power that has this realm, the Executive, in going to see all sorts of tyrants, dictators and other nefarious sorts that the Executive does not want them to go to. The positive power of setting foreign policy goes to the President, and the power of enacting Treaties goes to the Senate and regularizing them to Congress. When there is no treaty, nothing to regularize and the President forbids contact, as Washington did with the Neutrality towards those fighting a war in Europe, then the Congress has no more Power than an ordinary Citizen. It has zero power outside of what it is given in that realm.

For those complaining of the Bush Administration not following law, could you please also complain of Congress not following the Constitutional and Supreme Court ruling on 21 DEC 1936 in US v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. on the powers of government?

What we have is not *just* politics at play, although that is a primary cause.

The politicians elected to High Office are REFUSING to do their JOBS and let the PROCESS work and do their DUTY to ensure that it works. Instead everyone wants expedient justice... which is a lynching by any other name.


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Why might this be, we have to ask? I submit it is because YOU have a greater grasp of history and law than all of Congress combined. They know not the law and do not care, nor does anyone outside know the law and -- if they did -- they'd likely not wish to apply it.


A Jacksonian said...

Mr. Z - Whenever I hear someone praise the federal system as 'set up by geniuses to be run by fools' they forget to address when it is run by unscrupulous knaves... there is no magic elixir to stopping that sort of person.

We have cut the contraints upon power early in the 20th century for the direct electio of senators, allowing direct and 'fair' taxation of citizens, having Congress stop growing in size, and then trying to make all people exactly equal. It is unfortunate that while we all are bestowed with equality, our mortal selves are not equal in any way, shape or form. Absolute equality of all things in society is a fools errand, and when you get it you destroy society. What we seek is equality under law and justice, and that has been horrifically perverted to social aims. We now seek to invert the understanding that Jefferson wrote about so that government exists outside of society and dictates to society instead of the other way around.

If I see further it is standing on the shoulders of giants: those that held the discourse between federalism and the problems of federalism in 1787-89. The problems we have to day were seen, amongst many others, in that period of time and the path of republic is fraught with danger when government is given any capability to step beyond modest limits to act for the common good... not *determine* the common good.

That latter is tyranny.

We now step into that age where liberty is forgotten, society repressed and governmental tyranny steps on both liberty and society. That will end with blood on the streets, unless we seek out our fellow citizens and explain calmly why being dictated TO by government is horrific. Of course they will say 'its for the children' or 'to be fair'... while what we strive for is equality under the law and safety for society, and you don't get those doing it 'for the children' or being 'fair'.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I am hoping otherwise, but I cannot see where government's stepping on the necks of taxpayers in order to fleece them and then limit them and their freedoms can result in anything but, at minimum, massive protest to, at maximum, civil insurrection or war. It is all in the hands, now, of the Obama Administration.


A Jacksonian said...

Mr. Z - America is, apparently, destined to fight another Revolutionary war under the banner:

"No Taxation Without Representation"

The countdown for that began sometime back around FDR, the way I see it...