IT BEGAN WITH PLATO. The SCSU Scholars offer a response to my suggestion that limiting the power of the machinery of repression is more important than obtaining control of it. "But it isn't that simple. When you conceive of rights as coming from the state, as does the modern liberal (as opposed to the classical one), then power is relatively constant. You can't create or destroy it, you simply fight over who will possess it. Like Tolkein's Ring, nobody is safe from the lure of power. (It always comes back to Tolkein.) Stephen is right, but he's asking people to think about this in a way they simply cannot fathom."

Fair enough. I argue that it comes back to Plato: this is simply the latest iteration of the philosopher king model. And I am a relatively small and inexperienced voice in the conversation. Let me offer a larger and more experienced voice: "All you freedom-loving 'left wing" thinkers in the West! You left laborites! You progressive American, German, and French students! As far as you are concerned, none of this amounts to much. As far as you are concerned, this whole book of mine is a waste of effort. You may suddenly understand it all someday -- but only when you yourselves hear 'hands behind your backs there!' and step ashore on our Archipelago." It may not be mine to finish the task, but I will not give it up.

Tolkien? Latecomer when it comes to magic rings.

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