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Eamon Arasbard

Radical justice -- short manifesto

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Before I post this, let me give a general description of the ideas which led to it.

 

I've had an interest recently in transpartisan politics, since both political parties and corrupt and based on immoral beliefs, and I would like to create a space for people to get together, discuss ideas, and engage in activism based on rational principles developed through dialogue among everyone who has something to offer. I was also thinking of something else a couple weeks ago related to an issue which Objectivism addresses -- namely, the proper relationship between benevolence and justice.

 

The position of most Objectivists, as I understand it, is that human relationships are based on the attainment of mutual goals (More specifically an exchange of values which benefits both parties), and that benevolence serves the purpose of seeking out worthy associates and enabling cooperation, while justice serves the purpose of evaluating the character of others to decide if they are worthy of friendship and goodwill. These two are not opposed to each other, because someone who is inherently immoral has nothing to offer in any relationship, but holding a grudge over every petty conflict is detrimental to cooperation and makes it harder to achieve shared goals.

 

What I realized, thinking about this problem is that a failure by good men to understand the proper relationship between justice and benevolence is responsible for the power that evil holds in our world. Trying to be just without being benevolent leads to a hostile outlook toward others, which leads to unnecessary conflict and undermines cooperation, and is a critical step which often leads well-intentioned people down the road to evil. On the other hand, trying to be benevolent without being just leads to mercy, and appeasing evil in an attempt to avoid conflict, and hands evil a victory which it could not have won on its own.

 

So basically, I came up with an idea for a political movement which would be devoted to transpartisanism which would be based on a central philosophical principle, which would be the Objectivism approach to benevolence/justice. (Which I've identified as reciprocity -- doing unto others as you want done unto you, with expectation of recieving the same treatment.) The goal of this movement would not be to implement a particular political ideology, but to undermine the party system and make way for a rational political philosophy to be implemented. It would be open to anyone who was willing to be civil and to act with integrity, and they would be united around establishing the standard of reciprocity as the basis for justice in all human associations.

 

What I'm posting here is a list of principles which the movement (Whose cause I've identified as "radical justice" -- using radical in the classical definition of "fundamental") would be based on:

 

 

  1. A rejection of all party ideologies, and a commitment to cooperation among all honest individuals to create a just society.

  2. A recognition of the individual's responsibility to think for himself, and offering support to people of all ideological stripes in this endeavor, with the aim of achieving shared goals.

  3. A commitment to the central principle of holding reciprocity as the objective of all human associations, including the relationship between the individual and society.

  4. A commitment to showing compassion to all individuals, with the goal of finding reciprocity.

  5. A commitment to holding all individuals accountable for their actions and their impact on human welfare, in a manner consistent with the standard of reciprocity.

  6. A commitment on the part of all movements to act with reciprocity toward others who are committed to the cause of justice.

  7. A commitment to applying the standard of reciprocity when engaging in dialogue with others with whom one disagrees, and to supporting others in doing the same.

  8. A commitment to consistently applying the standard of reciprocity in seeking out allies.

  9. The advocacy and implementation of policies, based on rational discussion among all members, to support justice in society based on the standard of reciprocity.

 

I'm looking for any suggestions anyone has for revision -- I'm looking specifically for any errors I've made in identifying the principles involved, and ways to make them more consistent.

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Eamon Arasbard,

Having read through your brief manifesto, I can a find a number of flaws. You are proposing a new movement, its causes is the promotion of radical justice. No one would site you as being wrong for seeking justice, but that is the stated purpose of the current justice system of the US, and that of every existing nation. As I've said, your proposal has flaws. Not least of these flaws is an assumption of the character of individuals based on arbitrary standards. How do you assess the character of an "honest individual" versus an "immoral individual"? Are people likely to change at some point in their lives, from immoral to moral? At very least, do they have a chance to change?

 

In addition, you begin with an assumption that "both political parties (are) corrupt and based on immoral beliefs."

What would you say those immoral beliefs are?

 

There are numerous forums for people and their representative parties to debate rational ideas, including the US Congress. Would the creation of one more forum make any difference? The elimination of ideology would not be to anyone's advantage; Objectivism, if developed to a political system of government, would be a form of ideology. If I might make a suggestion, wouldn't it be more advantageous to focus on the promotion of "radical morality" rather than trying to promote some vague concept of radical justice, coupled with benevolence? That, I believe, is exactly the objective of Objectivism. When a society bases its justice system on truly moral laws, and enforces that law without exception, all will benefit. Could you ask for much more benevolence than that?

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Morality resonates within every plank of Objectivism. From its metaphysics to its aesthetics, it has been shown (I think) in some way to apply. Compared to the modern day Christian idea of morality, bound by scripture only to reemerge in the form put forth, in essence, by the "Golden Rule". Rand's take on this has been shown 'TGR' to be a subtlety, tempered by later connections she identified that draws the lines of demarcation between morality and altruism. Her views on altruism as exacted in "Faith versus Reason" only serve to illustrate that one cannot kill that which is not alive.

 

There was a time in my life where I simply enjoyed what I did. Certain forces, (I know not what) upbraided me in that quest. Suddenly, I find myself re-immersed in the quest I once found satisfaction and joy within. How long it will last, I do not know. This I do know. I feel as if I am in the fight for my life. If I am to go down, it is not to be without a struggle. Do with that what you may.

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Not least of these flaws is an assumption of the character of individuals based on arbitrary standards. How do you assess the character of an "honest individual" versus an "immoral individual"?

 

That's a good point. It might be good to include some definitions of what makes someone good or bad in the ideas behind the movement.

 

 

In addition, you begin with an assumption that "both political parties (are) corrupt and based on immoral beliefs."

What would you say those immoral beliefs are?

 

For the left, collectivism, nihilism, and the socioeconomic balkanization of society through notions like privilege. For the right, religious fundamentalism and nationalism.

 

But what I see as immoral isn't just their choice of beliefs. I can respect the opinion of someone who sincerely believes that socialism is to the benefit of society, even if I don't agree. The problem is when people start forming factions, blindly clinging to the beliefs of their particular faction, and tearing down anyone who disagrees. This leads to the package-dealing of certain rational beliefs with irrational beliefs (Such as support for a free market being lumped in with religious mysticism under the banner of conservatism) and people being pitted against each other, with rational viewpoints within each faction being silenced.

 

In addition, there are evil policies which have bipartisan support, but which the majority of people who are intelligent enough to be involved in politics are strongly opposed to. These include the Federal Reserve (For those who understand its role in inflating the money supply and redistributing wealth into the hands of crony corporations), government bailouts to unproductive firms, government policies which favor corporations (Which Objectivists and libertarians understand as distinct from maintaining a free market without favors to anyone), and violations of civil liberties.

 

What a movement for "radical justice" would be about, in this respect, would be to replace the party system with a civil discussion among everyone who is willing to be intellectually honest and conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, with the goal of finding the most rational political philosophy, and creating a more moral political system.

 

 

Would the creation of one more forum make any difference?

 

Yes, if it addressed the moral problems with existing fora, and provided a basis for organizing in favor of a rational society.

 

 

The elimination of ideology would not be to anyone's advantage...

 

I don't think that ideology is necessarily bad. What I'm against is forming ideology based on the prevailing opinion within a particular group, then demonizing every idea that comes from outside without examining its rational basis. (That being said, I think that there are some ideas which should be rejected out of hand, and that also means ostracizing the groups which espouse them; but this should be done within the context of a rational understanding of what is morally right, which can't be establish if you have groups imposing their own preconcieved notions on the individual, and dismissing any idea which comes from outside the group.)

 

 

If I might make a suggestion, wouldn't it be more advantageous to focus on the promotion of "radical morality" rather than trying to promote some vague concept of radical justice, coupled with benevolence?

 

That's actually a good idea. This group would focus specifically on social morality, meaning the question of what is morally correct within the context of interactions among individuals. Since I would want this to be ideologically neutral beyond the reconciliation of justice with benevolence, it would not address the question of individualism versus collectivism, but only how social morality should be constructed within the scope of society. (And of course individualism should be promoted over collectivism, but that would not be the purpose of this group.)

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