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Checks and Balances, Baby...

I'm off to Indianapolis to participate in an academic colloquium on "Limiting Majoritarianism in Republican Constitutional Theory." Madison, Constant, Montesquieu, Calhoun: good times! I hope all of you have a fantastic end of the week.

When I get back the summer term will be ready to begin, and things will get seriously dystopian.


I'll leave you with a vintage Boston terrier picture, because old photos are brilliant, and Boston terriers are super-duper brilliant.

master of the house

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
whswhs
May. 9th, 2013 12:24 am (UTC)
That's a topic that never ceases to be timely! Somewhere early in the Federalist Madison warns against the danger of "a faction that is a majority" both to the actual general welfare (that is, the good of the whole society rather than just of the faction) and to the rights of individuals. And later on Hamilton advances the corollary idea that when the Supreme Court declares a law unconstitutional, this is not a minority overruling a majority; it's judges placing the will of the whole society (as embodied in the Constitution) above the will of an electoral majority or of their agents in Congress, and the will of the whole ought to take precedence over the will of 50%+1. Such ideas seem almost to have been forgotten.
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
You're so right! (Both about it being timely and about so much of this founding dialogue being all but forgotten.) It was a fascinating discussion - all the more so since Reason Magazine had just put out its issue covering various world secession movements mere days before the conference. Interesting stuff.

It's too bad that Calhoun's "Madison 2.0-ism" gets lost beneath some of his more unsavory personal politics. Some of his ideas about concurrent majorities seem (to me) more workable in today's age of technology than they did originally.
cookiefleck
May. 9th, 2013 03:21 am (UTC)
"Limiting Majoritarianism in Republican Constitutional Theory" - that's a mouthful! Have a fabulous time!
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was an absolutely fascinating and energizing event. The hotel was directly across from the most beautiful old art deco facade (the original building was gone, but the facade was preserved); it turned out Kurt Vonnegut's father had designed it! So I had a totally unexpected science fiction geek-out moment, to boot. ;)
gilda_elise
May. 9th, 2013 10:54 am (UTC)
Actually, the seminar sounds intriguing. I'm sure you'll have a good time.

And what a great photo! And, of course, a great dog. :-)
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! It was indeed absolutely fascinating and a very good time indeed.

I loved that photo! And dog. :) I love your icon, too! <3
sittingduck1313
May. 9th, 2013 02:01 pm (UTC)
Not really related to anything in this post. But there's a board game being released in the near future (or it might be a spiffed-up re-release of an out-of-print game, I can't recall which) whose subject matter might interest you called Letters from Whitechapel.
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC)
Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! *points and makes incoherent sounds of excitement*

As always, you have your finger on the pulse of all that's cool. I bow to your awesomeness. Thanks for the heads up!
wellinghall
May. 10th, 2013 07:29 am (UTC)
Vintage dog photos FTW! :-)
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC)
FTW indeed! :D
i_llbedammned
May. 12th, 2013 07:53 pm (UTC)
Is the lecture "Limiting Majoritarianism in Republican Constitutional Theory" a political science thing? It sounds pretty interesting and very relevant to the way the Senate and the House are currently working.

That is one fancy Boston terrier.
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you find it interesting, too! And relevant - I agree wholeheartedly that it's as timely a subject now (or more so, even) than it ever was. The conference was an interdisciplinary thing, so even though it's a political science topic, I got to be involved in the roundtable talk (my field is intellectual history, or the history of ideas).

It was particularly interesting that Reason Magazine had just put out articles on several secession/separatist movements worldwide (Australia, Spain, U.S., etc.), thus bringing up the whole idea of whether the compact theory of government means that the contract can be dissolved if it's not working for some of its parties. But most of the conversation went back to ways in which the checks-and-balances system has failed, and why, and what (if anything) might be done to correct these failures or adjust for them in the future. Fascinating stuff.

That Boston terrier knows he looks good. :D
penfold_x
May. 20th, 2013 04:29 am (UTC)
As you're teaching the dystopian class this summer, any chance you could give us another list of favorite YA dystopian novels. You're the one who turned me on to The Hunger Games, so I'd love any additional recommendations you have.
eldritchhobbit
May. 21st, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
Oooh! *eyes light up* Thank you for asking! I'll make a plan to do just that... it may be a few weeks, as I gear up for that section of the class, but I will come back to it. I'll try to come back here and link to it, too.

I'm so happy that you liked The Hunger Games!
penfold_x
Jul. 6th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
"Like" really isn't a strong enough word in this case. I've got full on fic-readin', headcanon-creating, AU-spawning love sickness.

When we get closer to the release of Catching Fire, I'll post flurry of recs, hoping to entice others. :)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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