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Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2002 09:35:37 -0600
Subject: Re: (urth) The Best Introduction to the Mountains
From: Adam Stephanides 

on 2/1/02 4:08 PM, Thomas Bitterman at tom@bitterman.net wrote:

> Michael Straight wrote:
>> Nor do I think it makes much sense to pull a few quotes from the
>> Catholic Encyclpedia and think that gives you enables you a complete
>> understanding of Wolfe's political ideas.
> Complete, no.  But Wolfe is a dedicated, intellectual Catholic.  It
> seems prudent to assume that
> he's read both the Encyclopedia and Aquinas (and agrees with them on
> such an important
> matter) until proven otherwise.

The Catholic intellectual tradition is wide and diverse.  The Catholic
Encyclopedia may state the "mainstream" position, but that doesn't oblige
Wolfe to agree with it.  Catholics are obliged to accept papal ex cathedra
proclamations of dogma, but there aren't too many of those.

> To give some relevance to this discussion I'd predict that none of
> Wolfe's characters ever
> approves of a rebellion except when the ruler is clearly tyrannical in
> the narrow sense used
> in the Encyclopedia.

You quoted the Encyclopedia earlier as quoting Aquinas describing a "a
tyrannical law" as "not being according to reason."  I don't see that the
rulers of Dorp fall under this definition.  They're corrupt and unjust, but
probably no worse than the average medieval ruler or lord; and presumably
Aquinas would not give a definition of tyranny which would justify rebellion
against most rulers.

And when Silkhorn gives reasons for rebellion, he says nothing about
tyranny.  First he explains it on the grounds of necessity for himself, and
to keep Beroep and Aanvagen from being ruined; and because the judges are
corrupt. (181)  Later he tells Capsicum "The judges had taken advantage of
their [the people of Dorp's] good qualities, and so the judges had to go; if
I had not removed them, the people themselves would have within a few
years."  He also says, rejecting the idea of overthrowing Gyrfalcon, that
New Viron would probably be worse off without him. (275)  Silkhorn's
criterion, it seems to me, is pragmatic.  If rebellion would make people
better off, then it's justified; if it wouldn't (which he probably thinks is
most of the time), then it's not.  I suspect this is Wolfe's criterion as



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