David Hume on the Inauguration of Donald Trump

This morning I’m reading Hume, who has a thought for us on Trump’s inauguration.

If you think your constitution is so excellent—and many of our political commentators do—”then a change of ministry can be no such dreadful event; since it is essential to such a constitution, in every ministry, both to preserve itself from violation and to prevent all enormities in the administration.”

If you don’t think your constitution is so excellent, or not so excellent as to relieve you from worry upon a change in the ministry, then you’ve got a much bigger problem: “Public affairs, in such a constitution, must necessarily go to confusion, by whatever hands they are conducted.”

In such a situation, Hume goes onto say, you need the “submission” of the patient philosopher rather than the “zeal” of the virtuous activist, for the latter will only “hasten the fatal period” of the government’s collapse.

Get to it.


  1. jonnybutter January 20, 2017 at 10:19 am | #
  2. Roquentin January 20, 2017 at 11:25 am | #

    In a Reddit conversation immediately after the election, I stated that the biggest tangible effect of Trump getting elected was to demolish a number of cherished national myths. Your remark about the constitution made me think of that. That was back when all these people were going on about how they “woke up in a different country.” And my thought was that a country which started out as a slave state engaged in a slow motion genocide against Native Americans was never innocent. Not in any sense. If any good can come from Trump perhaps it’s to put down this “city on a hill” bullshit, the idea that the US is somehow special, that our system of “checks and balances” somehow makes our government immune to what happens in the rest of the world. But that’s too optimistic, honestly, I have my doubts as to wether or not anything will be learned.

    I also sat down and closely and carefully read The Invisible Committee’s To Our Friends, and perhaps the most memorable portion was right at the beginning “Crisis is a Mode of Government.” Basically the left has a religious faith in crisis, one that flows through pretty much the entire Marxist corpus, somehow bringing about the changes they want. The Invisible Committtee states, accurately I might add, that rather than being a departure from the system crisis is a basic component of it. Crisis won’t save us. I read that and thought “My God, they’re absolutely right.”

  3. David L. James January 20, 2017 at 11:38 am | #

    How imminent would you guess might be ALEC’s deconstruction/destruction of the US Constitution (FYI: http://bit.ly/2jDIrHC & http://bit.ly/2jDIZgw & http://bit.ly/2jsYbLo, & then especially after the 21st. minute -> http://bit.ly/2jDWQDC ), I wonder.

  4. spork_incident January 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm | #

    I just wanted to pop in and thank everybody for exposing Crooked Hillary’s corruption.

    Today wouldn’t have happende without you!


    • Donald January 20, 2017 at 5:28 pm | #

      I voted for Clinton as the lesser evil, but the rottenness of the Democrats and the sleaziness of the Clinton’s definitely played a role in producing a President Trump.

      • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant January 23, 2017 at 10:42 am | #

        “…the rottenness of the Democrats and the sleaziness of the Clinton’s definitely played a role in producing a President Trump.”

        This assumes that the folks who voted for Trump were actually motivated by some kind of moral outrage at the crimes of Ms. Clinton and the Democratic Party. I recommend reading that new genre of journalistic writing dubbed by Chris Hayes as the “Trump Pastoral”, appearing in the elite print press (such as NY Times or WaPo) and on the CBS Evening News anchored by Scott Pelley, and on NPRs national daily news shows in drive time. Little thought is spent by the interviewees (who are mostly older, some retired, almost all White, and residing in rural towns, or in declining industrial counties) on Ms. Clinton’s supposed “offenses”. For certain, they are indifferent at worst to those of Mr. Trump when such is even brought up for discussion with them. Indeed, a sizable few even find his more troubling actions (and I am referring only to the legally problematic ones) quite admirable.

        Rather, these Trump supporters — at the risk of my be being seen as a costal snob — engage in a kind of magical thinking as regards Trump’s powers to resurrect the world these people think they have lost and the prosperity they say they once knew and that their parents once knew. Absent from all of these stories is any explanation for the hard times that have befallen many of them. Their own politicians and business leaders are nowhere implicated, and not even named.

        As much as I reject Clintonism, and as much as I have suggested in earlier comment-section entries that Ms. Clinton was the wrong candidate for a Democratic Party seeking the White House, I remain unconvinced that moral revulsion did Ms. Clinton in so much as revanchist politics, eight years of anti-Obama racism, committed Republican obstruction, redistricting (and voter suppression) and weak and uneven economic growth (it is worth noting that no discussion of our goddamn wars was loudly evident). Remember, Ms. Clinton garnered nearly three million MORE of the popular votes than Mr. Trump. If Clinton and the Dems were such moral reprobates, even to driving some Obama voters into the arms of Trump, then what accounts for THAT disparity? Is there anyone willing to suggest that this disparity would have been overcome in Trump’s favor WITHOUT the Electoral College?

        For the record, I sent money to Bernie (multiple times) until he dropped out, and then sent money to Jill Stein’s count-the-vote effort. I voted for Hillary because I wanted to stand in the way of Trump’s promised victimization of persons less fortunate than myself. I will still stand in his way.

    • Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant January 23, 2017 at 9:36 am | #

      Would you be willing to elaborate?

  5. stevenjohnson January 20, 2017 at 2:31 pm | #

    In a happy ambiguity, “it’ can just as well refer to a philosophical serenity resigned to Trump’s rule as to factional “resistance.” I say happy, because it is Corey Robin, perhaps above all others, who preaches that Trump is the norm. As such then of course such extreme factionalism as Brutus’ and Cato’s is the wrong course. Given that, it’s quite hard to see what “it” could possibly mean in reference to “resistance.”

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