Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Divine Right of Kings

LTG's posting inspired me to take a break and look up some stuff on devine right of kings:

I found this great page with the followig quotation from the works of King James I of England (VI of Scotland):

"I conclude then this point touching the power of kings with this axiom of divinity, That as to dispute what God may do is is it sedition in subjects to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power. But just kings will ever be willing to declare what they will do, if they will not incur the curse of God. I will not be content that my power be disputed upon; but I shall ever be willing to make the reason appear of all my doings, and rule my actions according to my laws. . . I would wish you to be careful to avoid three things in the matter of grievances:

First, that you do not meddle with the main points of government; that is my craft . . . to meddle with that were to lesson me . . . I must not be taught my office.

Secondly, I would not have you meddle with such ancient rights of mine as I have received from my predecessors . . . . All novelties are dangerous as well in a politic as in a natural body. and therefore I would be loath to be quarreled in my ancient rights and possessions, for that were to judge me unworthy of that which my predecessors had and left me.

And lastly, I pray you beware to exhibit for grievance anything that is established by a settled law, and whereunto . . . you know I will never give a plausible answer; for it is an undutiful part in subjects to press their king, wherein they know beforehand he will refuse them.

From King James I, Works, (1609)."

Incendently, most Evangelicals favor the King James version of the Bible which was commissioned and approved by the guy wrote what you just read.


US West said...

This is not just a Western notion. It exists today in the Arab world. The small uprising against Arafat last week was a big deal, because it is ingrained in Arabs that they do not mess with their leaders. They can't. For the sake of legitimacy and out of respect for Muslim culture, I do not pretend to be an expert. I am simply repeating what one educated Muslim told me. I asked my boss why, when so many Palestinians agree that Arafat is a problem, don't they get rid of him. And it was explained that there is something like "divine right" at play.

The concept of consultation and consensus are at stake. These are a deeply rooted part of Islam. A leader is agreed upon by the community- this is consensus. After that, the leader has a duty to consult with advisors (Shura) but he is not required to agree with them or to follow their advice. He can do what he pleases as he draws his authority from the people and, because he is Muslim, from God. Once he has made a decision, his advisors are obliged to carry out his decision and to promote so as to avoid dissention. They are not allowed to instigate rebellion or speak out against the leader, for to do so would be to speak against God himself. Furthermore, they would be risking Fitna (Muslims killing Muslims) which is the gravest of sins in Islam. This is part of the reason you don't see rebellion against dictators in the Arab world. It isn't part of their thinking. In fact, is exactly counter to it.

Raised By Republicans said...

Hi US West,

Your comments would explain why the various sects of Islam go to such lengths to declare the other sects to be unmuslim. When you base politics on religious foundations, you politicize religion.

Its not a coincidence that James I(VI)'s son Charles I was overthrown and ultimately beheaded in a Civil War that took on many of the same religous overtones of the 30 Years War being waged at the same time over on the Continent.

US West said...

It explains the split between the sects only partially. I also tend to think that a lot this comes from the tribal roots of the culture. I want to be careful here because I don't want to give this idea that all Arabs live like Bedouin nomads. That is not at all the case. (just watch LBC with its buxom weather reporters in low cut, tight fitting, suits to disabuse yourself of that notion) The Prophet was attempting to spread, not just a faith, but a coherent life system. Just as Christianity had to adopt pagan elements in order to sell a new set of values, the Prophet had to use tribal traditions to sell Islam.

So the attitude toward authority makes sense when you consider the historical facts. If your life depends on the tribe, and the greatest threat to your existence is invasion, then it makes complete sense to stick behind your leader and to sacrifice your own pleasure or preference for the good of the community.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It occurs to me that the Divine Right of Kings was not the apex of royal absolutism, but the beginning of its decline. In the middle ages, the crown alone commanded authority and obedience. The Divine Right was introduced as became increasingly clear that, unless one could claim that God commanded it to be so, there would be no rationale for the system of monarchy. Put another way, one appeals to heaven only after the appeal to reason has failed. An instructive lesson to GWB.

Raised By Republicans said...

Ah! Thus the old saying "God save the King ... 'cause nobody else will!"

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