"In any free society, the conflict between
social conformity and individual liberty
is permanent, unresolvable, and necessary."
by:
Kathleen Norris
[Kathleen Thompson,wife of C.G. Norris] (1880-1966) American novelist
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What if an educated society adhered and reasoned to the absolute laws of nature (that never change) and agreed to govern the rest of their exchanges, laws, and structures according to this exacting standard? What more permanent and enduring basis of government could there be? As cultures, ideas, philosophies, and circumstances change and happen, 1+1 will always equal 2 -- to establish a government on eternal absolutes is brilliant. In a free society, there is not always a fight between conformity and liberty, because the free "society" (if it can even be spoken of as its own separate entity) realizes that it is merely a collection of individuals that simply exist in nature (even if its suburban California). The individual is free, and in this country we have reasoned this is because a natural Creator has made it so -- any interactions we have from that point forward operate on the principle that man can freely move without hesitation, license, or infringement by his neighbor, and that the neighbor may move about as freely as well. How can one conform to liberty or freedom? Liberty and freedom are simply characteristics of nature that exist outside the bounds of humanity -- all men are born free. Conformity, in such a case, can only be applicable to a criminal who is found incapable of being self-governing in a "free society" and is therefore is outside the protection of natural law (an "outlaw") -- thus making it justifiable to incarcerate him. The great American experiment was not about having a "voice of the people" type government -- because those have existed throughout human history -- but to reason and trust the individual to act and be self-governing without being forced, coerced, licensed, or threatened into being accountable for its actions. Is man naturally evil or divinely good? A creature of logic and reason or of ignorance and self-destruction?
 -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    "The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave." Thomas Jefferson. The utopia described by Logan is a pipe dream. "Until humans acquire perfect knowledge and logic - thereby reaching unanimous agreement - there is no hope of knowing how a constitution should be written to achiee a utopia of perfect individual rights. Lacking this omniscience, the people do best by determing their laws and constrints by MAJORITY RULE." If a constitutionally utopian society could be achieved then Jefferson would not have said "each generation should have its own revolt". If each new generation is as logical and capable of reason as the previous why should they not have an equal say in their affairs and not have to live according to something etched in stone hundreds of years previous. Logan assumes along with Hume that man has reached this perfection and can write such a constitution, but Jefferson said, "And where else does Hume, this degenerate son of science, this traitor to his fellow men, find the origin of just powers, if not in the MAJORITY of the society? Will it be in the minority? Or in an individual of that society?"
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    quite right - if there were no left there would be no right.
     -- RobertSRQ     
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    Logan, said well. There is no conflict between social conformity and individual liberty in a free society when the God of Nature's laws and justice are held resolute. Waffler, you missed Logans point. To the degree man's edicts are declared law (not just codes, rules, statutes in harmony with law) as that which best conforms to society's needs, conflict arises. Humans will never fulfil your definition of perfect and, yes there will always be prideful ignorance, greed, power mongers, etc. It is to today's individual to discover law, as existed prior to man's existence on this orb, and apply it to today's society. As Anon said above, "if there were no left there would be no right". The problem with such conflict here is freedom, liberty, and individual sovereignty are not part of such current equation.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Waffler, you have proven nothing with your quotes from Jefferson -- and you missed what I was saying. You should probably actually read what Hume was proposing and not merely assume that you understand based off Jefferson's quote before you try to link me to him. Hume had a lot of good things to say, but Jefferson is right. You have yet to bridge the gap between the founder's contempt of "Democracy" and their desire to establish a government wherein the people may choose their course in government. No, the minority will not rule in our Republic (aristocracy or oligarchy), nor would it be prudent to have an individual ruler (monarch or dictator), but, as we have all said ad nauseam that this is only half the equation. Man is free in nature, and therefore, he is free period (this is inalienable; although, he may be forced against his freedom by an assuming and an usurping force of greater number or power). The specific affairs of government are done by a majority's consent, but only as long as they adhere to reason according to the freedom of the individual (this freedom being natural and inalienable). This does not mean, however, that the individual is in control is an authoritarian demigod. He simply exists, as do the individuals who make up "society". Jefferson, while promoting "majority rule" would never permit the group of individuals to assume some magical power of the individual to act in something that the collective of individuals had no right to do as mere individuals.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    I hope that Locke is right, I know that Rousseau is wrong, but I think that Hobbes is right. "Is man naturally evil or divinely good?" The answer is yes. He is both. "A creature of logic and reason or of ignorance and self-destruction?" Again the answer is yes. He is both. Every man has within him the capacity for natural evil and divine good. He has the capacity of rationality and foolish self-destruction. Everyone makes many choices daily between good and evil and that is the true conflict. The conflict is not between the external society and individual, it is within each individual whether he will choose liberty for himself or bondage to his lower nature.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Jefferson places his faith in majority rule. So do I. What makes you think I was interested in what you were saying Logan? I have now read your post and I suggest there was such a society or at least one was theorized and written about. It was called Plato's Republic and it is considered to be the forerunner of totalitarian communism. A society run by educated sophisticates or elites for the benefit of all others. in other words a dictatorship. Hitler to claimed to establish a perfect government that will last a thousand years. Please, please, please give me the sloppy Jeffersonian model "where the boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave" or a scandal, or an argument. I actually enjoy the free market place of ideas and opinions.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    All of the comments above have proved Norris' point. Congrats.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    BTW, Jefferson NEVER backed the idea that majority rule could override the inalienable Rights of Man. Never.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    No I believe Jefferson backed the idea that the majority guarantees the inalienable rights of man against a tyrannical minority when it is properly empowered. As we know minorities in the Soviet Union, China and Germany stepped on these rights by first bamboozling the majority.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Rather shallow of you to put all your faith and stock in a mere quote, Waffler, without taking a long look at Jefferson's entire collection of thoughts, words, and philosophies. You were addressing me in your previous comment, so you were at least somewhat interested in what I had to say -- even if to counteract it. I happen to think you're an ignorant hack, but I will admit that I do find it interesting to see what new sophistry you'll spew every day. It's a morbid fascination, I know -- kind of like how someone can't look away when coming up to an automobile accident. Open up your mind Waffler, and maybe some of this stuff we're talking about will sink in.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    It will not sink in. And not shallow at all it is just a talking point. You should take a talking cure sometimes Logan it might be good for you.You show your self to be a misanthrope and that is what Jeffeson said Hume was, a philosopher to the Tories and a traitor to his fellow men. Hey we all say a lot of stuff and it all comes together at some time and some place in the future. It has taken you all this much time to find out that I am a hack. Why did you not ask I would have informed you?You, Archer, and Mike from Norwalk are pompous idiots. At least I have gotten y'all to admit after about a year of banter that as Mike begrudginly said "Yes we are a democracy" and you finally begrudginly said well yeah "we are a majority ruled society" but but but" That is about the only word you know Logan is but but but. The other day you said how much you liked me now you are turning on me. I am not here to have friends just to call 'em the ay I see 'em. The good news is y'all keep reading me. You don't have to you know. I do this for my own gratification. That someone would actually read it and go ballistic is well I have a great laugh over y'all.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Waffler, I know it's hard, but don't be stupid -- and don't misrepresent what Mike and I have said (however, I'll let Mike speak for himself in the matter if he wants to). Do we do things by a majority? Typically, yes. What majority do you speak of Waffler? The President is not elected on a popular "majority" vote -- and the "people" did not originally "vote" for their Senators (the States did). This itself violates your damn theories of a Democracy. How dense are you? Seriously... No one has ever stated that we do not do things by the actions of a majority -- but if the equation stopped here, then you'd be right. You, however, are not right, because you totally miss the other half of the political equation -- the half that states that while the majority may rule in certain matters, there is a reasoned area wherein the majority may not rule. How many times do we have to say this? You may have a difference of opinion, although your spewing of words to try to expound on what you THINK I have said shows not merely a difference of a opinion, but of dishonest stupidity. I enjoy the banter. It's entertaining. Watching you try to piece together history is like watching the Titanic sink over and over and over again... As I've said before, it's morbidly fascinating. Just because I think you're an ignorant hack doesn't mean that I don't like you. I like reading everyone's comments on this page, although I miss Reston's comments -- at least he was a socialist who had some reason and some logic to back his theories... I agree with Archer though, I can now see the wisdom in the quote -- some people just can't see the wisdom of living free and establishing understandings wherein they all agree the majority has no power to infringe.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Quit fighting and fearing the majority. One day any one of us may be a part of it. The miracle is that we can slip in and out of it on any given question or vote. It is the wisdom of the ages. Better to have rights denied by the majority than by the minority. At least more people will be happy the first way than the second way. This fear of the majority as expressed by the three Manchureans (you, Mike, Archer) is actually steeped I fear in some dislike of your fellow man, especially in the cases of Mike and Archer (he wants mankind to return to being hunter/gatherers expressing total disdain for modern society). I have a friend here in town that after the 2006 democratic party victory said "Now hear comes the mob, we are a republic not a democracy." His combining of these thoughts shows exactly from whence his thoughts spring. His preferred party was out so he was trying to seek solace in a falsehood that we are not a majority ruled society. Understanding people like him and his ulterior motives for his illogical construction is not rocket science Logan or I would not be able to do it.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Alright, Waffler, how about actually quoting someone exactly, hmm? Your paraphrasing of Jefferson, Mike, Logan, and me are exaggerations to support your failing argument. Jefferson did speak of the will of the majority but not of its absolute supremacy: "Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression." -- Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801. "The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." -- Jefferson, letter to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. Jefferson and Madison formed the Democratic-Republican party after Hamilton established the Federalist party. Our government is indeed federalist, democratic and republican -- the single word 'democracy' does not reflect the other 2 distinctions, my friend, and thus is only a partial definition, and taken on its own liable to endless abuse. 'Democracy' is but party politics. America is not a democracy, neither is England or the new Iraq. It is a sound-bite that makes political speech seem worthy of respect. I would prefer to remain safe in the protection of my rights than to be the slave of public opinion. Thank goodness America is not a democracy, otherwise our rights would have been voted away a long time ago. And by the way, the will of the majority is to stay out of politics -- that's why they don't vote. If you were really concerned about the 'majority' then you would have to admit that the majority is not voting for any of these puppets. The majority is sick and tired of Washington, D.C. and if there were a choice for 'None of the above' you might be surprised.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The practice of reliance on the will of the majority is the wisdom and common sense of the ages. The majority knows instinctively that if it abuses its mandate it will loose its majority status. The problems with ascendant and dominant political parties is that they often overreach with their agendas and the pendulum swings back the other way. Worse than having a majority that overreaches is to have a minority that does so. I am trying to keep it simple Majority rule is the best way, minority rule is what they had in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba etc. Majority ruled government, with free elections is universally called democracy. Democracy has nothing to do with the Democrat Party of America. True democracy is much more than party politics. Democracy is based first of all on love and respect for your fellow human being in that you extend to him/her the same right to have a say in matters of public interest. It includes the concept of fair play. The US has had that for 231 years or so with peaceful changes of the Presidency and Houses of Congress. Such a tradition is rare in the world, and it is something of which Americans should be proud. Thank God America is a democracy, and Americans take it for granted that they control their governments rather than their governments controlling them. A good example of pure as compared to representative democracy is the referendums and recall petitions. I believe there is going to be a referendum in California this November concerning gay marriage. That is democracy when the people come together and run things. Beyond elections and referendums and recalls, the entire idea of political opinion polls as a way to determine what the public wants is a form of pure democracy. I believe a voter can write in any name they choose. Our choices started with about 20 people for President and has narrowed down to just two. The US has the longest and most gruelling Presidential selection process in the world and in history. There has seldom been a man who a substantial number of folks did not think consider to be a jackass. The President is just a standard bearer for the platform of his party. I think these two guys are pretty great. Do you really think the choice this year is any worse than the others: Kerry/Bush, Gore/Bush, Clinton/Dole, Clinton/Bush, Bush/Dukakis, Reagan/????, Reagan/Carter you get my drift. These guys are just representatives of the American people. They are not gods anymore than were the Founding Fathers. In the end it is us who do the governing by our actions and opinions. Personally I think Obama is quite something, my kind of thinking guy. I use to like McCain but disagree with his change on Bush's tax cuts. He was against them twice and now he is for them in order to get in with the far right. America is a democracy get over it, that is what protects our individual rights. The minority governments and dictatorships is what you have to look out for.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    The election was narrowed down to two Democrats. Obama and McCain. McCain was the more traditional Democrat, Obama is the "new" collectivist Democrat. Hope you appreciate his Marxist leanings Waffler.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    I think this quote from Mrs. Norris has direct application today as the battle between freedom of speech (a natural right) and the political correctness movement (tyranny of thought control) intensifies. Students on college campuses with opposing views to socialist and progressive professors are shouted down and belittled to the point of submission. Truly conservative, constitutionalist people are ignored, belittled, or have their words distorted so they seem ignorant and far from common sense, in order to promote the politically correct view of the progressives.
     -- George, Garnett     
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    Yes....
     -- Robert, Somewhere in Europe     
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    Waffler, most of everything you said is false - blatantly inaccurate. (1) Practice of reliance on the will of the majority is NOT wisdom nor common sense (for this, or any age) (2) The majority thinks might makes right thus does NOT know (instinctively or otherwise) that the majority's police state abuse will lose any power, control or status. (3) The systems you speak of (control by majority or minority) are governments of men while the de jure States united was to be a body politic at law. (4) Democracy is NOT based on love, respect or equal rights of individuals but rather, democracy is based on power, control and a herd mentality (there is only the forest, there are no trees). (5) Democracy does NOT include fair play (by concept or otherwise) (6) - just a quickie here - an electoral college selects the President and as to representation, Lysander Spooner said it best, A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years (7) California's referendum on gays was overturned by the courts (the democratic oligarchy's mouth piece). (8) Polls directing government policy is a government of men, as is averse to a government at law and ALWAYS creates a lower class injured party. (9) If the president is just the platform carrier for his/her party then the democrats and majority wants tyranny, despotism, a status of helot, serf or slaves in poverty and continual war (hmmm, you may have something there, after all, the one president was elected for the color of his skin not the content of his character). (10) No individual I am aware of in the last 100 years has represented the individual sovereign's rights but rather, a representative of the collective's tyranny (less freedom, less liberty, less law, less justice, less love, less respect, less wisdom, and less common sense) (11) The Founders laid the foundation for a representative Republic / a body politic at law - fearing and loathing a democracy over all other forms of government (representing the individual sovereign's inalienable rights at law) Gods of a democratic oligarchy govern through their occupying statist theocracy - ruling over a herd mentality of helots, serfs and slaves) (12) Amerika is becoming more and more of a police state of helots, serfs and slaves, waving a democracy ensign. The conflict between social conformity and individual liberty has been made permanent and unresolvable, eliminating any resemblance to a free society (democracy being used as a giant sledge hammer thereto). Individual rights has long been voted, legislated, adjudicated and enforced out of recognition.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Logan, Memphis, TN You got my attention, thank you!
     -- warrdoc, Elk Grove,Ca     
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    " Some people just can't see the wisdom of living free, and establishing understanding wherein they all agree that majority has no power to infringe " Liberty and freedom are simply characteristics of nature, that exist outside the ( bounds ) of humanity. " This is a very old trait of humanity that has reared its ugly head again. Gen 19. Thank you very much Logan, Archer, Mike, George and Ken, for your statements of reason and logic, some having power over themselves to govern themselves understand Liberty.
    " Permanent, unresolved and necessary. " Just like gravity !
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
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    misanthrope? Waffler, where and how has Logan shown himself to be a hater of humankind?
    This name calling (This includes all of us) is not going to elevate the debate. Keep it clean. If you really believe what you are saying and are passionate about it, if you care enough, then find a way to inspire and enlighten. Who knows, maybe just maybe, you'll convene someone. But, if you don't, let it go!
     -- warrdoc, Elk Grove,Ca     
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