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Kant's "single ruler" paradigm

Reader comment on item: Immanuel Kant vs. Israel
in response to reader comment: Reading Kant's Perpetual Peace

Submitted by Anne Julienne (Australia), Aug 22, 2010 at 21:45

You wrote: The average American (Aussie, Kiwi, Brit, etc.) would be shocked to find that by "republican" Kant was leaning towards a single ruler, one claiming to embody the will of the people. It's good to see some direct references to Kant's PP. And yes, Kant is tricky to read. However, it makes no sense to contrast a republic with despotic rule unless that single ruler really is embodying the will of the people, not simply claiming to do so. If it's an unfounded claim, then we're looking at despotism.

I would say that the US president and the other prime ministers are close to Kant's idea. It's impractical for executive decisions to be made by a group. That's appropriate for policy and strategy but on the spot decision making is best done by one ruler. That is all that Kant wants here. It is the King Arthur of the example I give elsewhere. A round table without a king is too cumbersome. A king without a round table is too likely to head toward despotism. The UN doesn't have a true "single ruler" or executive. That place is filled, in a de facto way, by the US president because that person commands the greatest power in the world today.

With Obama we now have an abdication of that role. The world is leaderless and it's a very scary place right now. Especially, I think, for Israel. However, while Israel clearly faces the greatest existential threat, it is we - the non-Israelis who are standing around watching what is happening - it is we who face the gravest moral threat. Our parents could be forgiven their ignorance of what was happening in Auschwitz. We cannot be forgiven our silence and inactivity before this second wave of genocidal Jew hatred, this satanic welding of Holocaust with Hiroshima. To quote Primo Levi: Never forget that this [Auschwitz] has happened. Remember these words. Engrave them in your hearts, ... Or ... May your offspring turn their faces from you.

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