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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Can you diagram this sentence?

Do you remember how to diagram sentences? Help me diagram this one:
No taxation without representation.

I ask because I think it describes my overriding political philosophy more closely than any other pithy political slogan in history and yet people who claim to idealize the political movement where it originated are so opposed to everything I believe. What gives?

Maybe I would make it "no imposition without representation" but that "imposition" would certainly include taxation, so I don't think that's the disconnect. Also, I see the whole sentence as vital to it's meaning... the imposition, the representation, and the logical construct "no X without Y." It would not mean the same thing to say "no X and we demand Y" or just "we demand Y" or "No X.... " or "I'm a retard with a gun who doesn't know anything about history or political philosophy, but I am angry and easily propagandized by xenophobic sentiment."

Maybe it's just my interpretation, but I was thinking a sentence diagram might help to clarify the distinction.

1 comment:

Oran said...

Actually, it's quite difficult to diagram formally because of the amount of what is said that is left implicit. I guess the "no" is short for "I demand no" or something similar.

It also raises a much sticker problem [for thinking people]: what does it mean for someone to be represented? Consider a winner-takes-all system such as how most representative bodies are elected in the US. Is it fair to say that Republicans in MN are represented by Al Franken? You could fairly say no, but many of them would not have selected Norm Coleman as a first choice either, and if they were being honest and rational [I know, a tall order for Republicans] they would admit that they would rather have Al Franken than Stalin. So, where do you draw the line? It's the nature of representation that it is imperfect -- direct democracy is flawed, too. Some systems have mechanisms called "proportional representation" that go a long way to correct this, but those systems were invented _after_ our constitution was written. So, if you are right winger in MN, you have to EITHER admit that you are fairly represented [by Al Franken, among others] OR admit that you are not a true believer in the US Constitution.