Fine then, the "ancien ancien regime"...
Yeah, something like that. Remember, I agree with your basic premise that I've seen your promote throughout the forum (like with Gothic vs. Baroque arguments) that medieval society is the apex of Christendom.... but I also like realism, and reject golden age fantasies. As long as people sin, there's simply no such thing.
I think unwritten laws are better, as they are flexible and avoid the legalism and text-fetishism present in highly literate cultures. That's how a Family is run, and the State should take a lesson.
What family doesn't
have written laws? LOL.
(No, mine doesn't either; but since you mentioned it, I think that'd be an excellent idea once I start my own)
Written laws are necessary to prevent abuses of power. Of course, this isn't strictly an Enlightenment idea, but one borne out of Magna Carta, the Twelve Tables of ancient Rome, the Torah, and Hammurabi's Law; among other things.
Another problem is that in the real world, the state (even a Christian one) is NOT an extension of your family, and never will be. Anything you say can and probably will be used against you, but without written law, there's a chance you might not get your lawyer or your phone call.
All fine with me.
Well, let's test that out. I'm the king, you're a serf. You live in a forest and you, among other tasks, produce firewood for my castle to keep me warm at all hours of the day. So, you're surrounded by trees and you make firewood all the time. BUT, for your own consumption, you're limited to two measures of firewood a year
... Still fine with that? Well, maybe you
are, and that's your prerogative (the more easily I could step all over my subjects as a ruler, the better, so says Machiavelli); but I suspect that most trads would get pissed mighty quick.
Likewise, I notice that most trads sharply criticize Senator Obama for being anti-gun ownership; because, as we know, a disarmed society makes the populace a lot easier to control. A very fair criticism in my book. But Obama is by no means new in the suggestion. It was common in medieval society to disarm the peasantry, so they couldn't pose any threat to the rulers. It certainly makes raping and pillaging a lot easier, and there undoubtedly was a fair amount of that going on even during the High Middle Ages. So, if you feel that the right to bear arms is no good, then your conclusion is legitimate. But if not, that's something about medieval society you might want to disagree with.
Heavy government intervention in the economic system is also a problem, as we all know. Again, let's say I'm the king and you're a merchant this time. You sell.... tomatoes. It costs you, say, 50 cents (converted to whatever currency they had at the time) to produce and prepare one tomato. But I decide for the good of my kingdom that you're now going to sell them for 25 cents. Now you're selling them for a lot less than what they're worth and you're going into poverty real quick.... but guess what? If you try to sell them for a penny more, my men will cut your hand off. Now, you can come to court and complain to me if you want, but that doesn't mean I'll necessarily do anything. You'll have to hope that I'm a good Christian and not a bad one; but, people being the sinners that they are, I'm more likely to be a bad one and have you lashed for wasting my time.
Rewarding natural talents like that is overrated, and creates a Bureaucracy-ocracy more than any romantacized notion of Meritocracy.
I can safely say that I'm not convinced. Virtually every pre-modern civilization can trace part of its downfall to a lack of competent leadership, exacerbated by its being inherited by a pack of fools. The Qin Dynasty was able to conquer all of the warring states of China because its leadership, using the Confucian meritcratic system, had produced much better leaders than all the other states. China remained a dominating force in the east until, you guessed it, the meritocracy had become something in name only, and nepotism had became the de facto
The Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte tore apart most of the armies of Europe, largely thanks to the army's meritocratic system of promotion. A general in Napoleon's army was almost always more qualified to lead than the schmuck commanding the army next door, who was likely in charge simply because he was a noble. Ironically, Napoleon's downfall was partially due to his own nepotism: he assigned his brothers and sisters to rule as kings and queens over all the countries he conquered. His older brother, Joseph (the King of Spain) was politically an idiot, despite his being the eldest son of the family. So were almost all of his other siblings; the empire fell apart rather quickly because of them.
And of course, as we all know, the Church herself never ceases to have problems when she uses nepotism to choose leaders. Napoleon's diplomatic minister, Talleyrand, is a rather notorious example of a man who inherited a bishopric and gave it the corresponding amount of attention (none).
I can see a case for more systematically staggered tax brackets for those who are wealthier, hopefully by their own efforts, but preferring nespotism to meritocracy seems unreasonable.
Actually, this reflects another one of the problems of France's ancien regime: the nobles weren't taxed at all! The First and Second Estates (clergy and nobility) held the vast majority of France's wealth, but only the Third Estate (the commons) were taxed. The last king of the ancien regime, Louis XVI, called the Estates-General together in order to fix that (among other reasons).
So, it would be like the U.S. government taxing only people who made less than $25,000 a year.
I suggest reading Aristotle's Politics; it can be found online. I've only started on it, but I can say that meritocracy and Smithian economics(well, at least the defense of private property) are in there, although in 'uncrystallized' form (similar to Greeks and calculus). There's also 'uncrystallized' anti-socialism in it too.
Oh, no doubt about that. To be honest, there really is nothing new under the sun; almost all Enlightenment ideas can be found in Greco-Roman texts here or there somewhere. But still, it was Enlightenment men who reintroduced them, for better or worse, into our current society.
One know one's a trad when one starts referring to him as 'The Philosopher'.
(I'm being half-serious)
LOL, well, he really is da Man, as far as philosophy is concerned. I certainly couldn't do better than him in that department, anyway. But let's keep him that, and not assign him titles like "The Scientist" or "The Economist".