Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Corey Robin errs badly when he calls the divine right of kings "a recent innovation" promulgated by James I ("recent" in 1650). Divine right is all over Shakespeare. In Richard II, written about ten years before James became James I, a king is:

  ...the figure of God's majesty,His captain, steward, deputy elect,Anointed...

Indeed the concept of divine right goes back at least to Homer: kings like Agamemnon have a right to rule because Zeus has chosen them. The king of the gods even provides his earthly counterparts with a royal staff to prove their provenance: "the sceptre-bearing king, whose powerful authority comes from Zeus" (Iliad, Book One).

Douglas O'Keefe

San Francisco, CA

Oct 26 2009 - 9:55pm

Web Letter

The insurmountable problem with autocracy and autocratic monarchs is succession. Even if by chance there is a good one, there is no guarantee of what will follow, and no method short of aggression to change a bad one.

As for the "divine" right of kings, that was never anything more than a fairy tale. Kings historically were successful military leaders and therefore have their basis in nature, not divinity. Darwin explains kings better than any theologian ever could.

Bud Ilic

Bloomington, Il

Oct 2 2009 - 11:35am

Web Letter

Bravo, bravo, wow!

The quality of personal submission to the society and government within which you live obviously depends on the individual and collective view of the political science "legitimacy" of the governing system. Both the unreasoning haters of Obama and of Dubya are, in essence, launching an attack on the constitutional order. The seeds of a revolution from both sides at once, as in the Spanish Civil War, is here in potential.

The endless intricacies of determining the current, temporary version of "The Will of the People," are made through the election process. This does so, to the point of general agreement, and that few in modern democratic societies feel like slaves to the democratic process.

But, certainly at the beginning, few felt that way after the initial Nazi takeover. That was partially from huge efforts at parades, rallies and organized participation that gave a great illusion of popular input.

Less nakedly, the guiding activist top cadre of American parties tries to decide what the people really want. The difference is in better feedback mechanisms than Charles I or Pym had.

The revolutionary process is fascinating, and I particularly recommend Crane Brinton's The Anatomy of Revolution and Hanna Arendt's On Revolution.

Finally, please understand that complete revolutions and major extreme social reorganizations follow a definite schedule of 270-year intervals (+/- about 20). This is one of seven cycles in "Politicometrics."

Consider that the date 1776 is now 233 years ago.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Oct 2 2009 - 1:00am

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.