Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Severinian

Heirs to dictatorships

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

13 hours ago, Repairman said:

I don't think you can make a case at this time that America is a dictatorship, but check back in another decade.

DeToqueville's "Democracy in America", Chapter VI, " What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear":
 

Quote

 

I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world; our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression that will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.


 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

If I leave a land mine or bear trap set and lying around where I shouldn't, and ten years from now a five-year-old child blunders into it and is maimed or killed, I have violated that child's rights, even though the child did not exist when I committed my active misdeed.

 

I should have said that not-yet-existing people do not have property rights, so you can't steal from them. The theft, if any, is from the present owners of the property.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Granted, the role of government in this scenario muddies the water, but I am arguing that "what ultimately should be", as in "the deserving" student does not get what he deserved (based on merit and innocence re. slavery).

The person who claims an entitlement to government education is claiming an entitlement to other people's money.  He is or wants to be a thief.  And the question of which thief should successfully steal a college education is not one of any moral significance.  Only if you start with the premise that the college applicant is not entitled to a placement can you have a real discussion -- but it ends right there, with the acknowledgement that there is no entitlement. No person "deserves" a place in a public college. Period. And so no person can be improperly denied a place in a public college.  Also period.

Remember: Emotions are not tools of cognition.  No matter how much one feels some person deserves an education, that does not entitle him to an education on the public dime.

44 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

And the fundamental reason, the justification for affirmative action, is the debt that "some" owe due to the heinous institution of slavery that once existed. (in a prior government committed by the particular owners/dealers etc.)

The wrong, to repeat myself, has nothing to do with affirmative action, no matter how long or loudly progressives and government agents scream that affirmative action is the reason for what they do.  Remember: Ideas do not act.  People do.  Ask not what excuse people use for their evil, ask what their evil is.  The evil here is denying a deserving person (I'm going back to my cop example) a job for an improper reason, and bringing up affirmative action is, at best, a red herring.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

I should have said that not-yet-existing people do not have property rights, so you can't steal from them. The theft, if any, is from the present owners of the property.

Turns out there is a whole thread on this subject.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

I should have said that not-yet-existing people do not have property rights, so you can't steal from them. The theft, if any, is from the present owners of the property.

Let's consider this scenario.

Through negligence, maliciousness, or expediency, I bury a container on unclaimed land without warning anyone.  The container holds chemicals which, over time, will deteriorate and become dangerously explosive.  Thirty years later a twenty-year-old claims the land and builds a house on it.  (I've died by then.)  Before anyone finds the container, vibrations from the building process set off the chemicals.  The resulting explosion damages the house, causing delay and additional cost in completing it.  Haven't I violated the twenty-year-old's property rights?   

Edited by Doug Morris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, then let's try another one:
 
 Slave owner A creates vast properties based on the labor or Slaves X, Y and Z.
 
 Slave owner A has descendants now.
 Slaves X, Y and Z also have descendants too.
 
 Should (X, Y and Z)'s descendants have a right to sue for the property inherited by the descendants of A?
 Or omitting the legalities: Should the descendants of the slaves (that did not exist at the time of slavery) get compensated for the crimes of slave owner A, who does not exist anymore?
 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/13/2018 at 8:59 PM, Repairman said:

But I often see signs of rationality among a minority of "commoners," giving me cause for optimism. I don't think you can make a case at this time that America is a dictatorship, but check back in another decade.

Agreed, also found this quote from the Random Quotes on this website which would confirm the conclusion about the US but not some of the friends of the US:

Ayn Rand

 There are four characteristics which brand a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule; executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses; the nationalization or expropriation of private property; and censorship. A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Should the descendants of the slaves (that did not exist at the time of slavery) get compensated for the crimes of slave owner A, who does not exist anymore?

What rights of the descendants were violated? What force was used against them?

Answer that, and you can answer your own question.

But it is an error to start with an ungrounded "should" question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"one-party rule"

There are two parties in name, but they're differentiable only by exactly which rights they want to violate wholesale.  The "one party" is the political class, which rules for its own benefit.

"executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses"

Drone strikes, done to American citizens, without any attempt at arrest or trial.

Murder done by cops for such "crimes" as "driving while Black".

Executions done "to uphold the law" when there is real evidence of the prisoner's innocence. (Read Herrera v. Collins and be chilled.)

"the nationalization or expropriation of private property"

Kelo, anyone?  Pretty much the entire medical profession, under Obamacare?

"and censorship"

That thing sometimes called FOSTA, sometimes called SESTA.  Campaign finance laws.

"A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw."

America is not a conventional dictatorship, but only because its ruling class realizes that it can gain more power and treasure by allowing a measure of "freedom".  But it is not real freedom -- it can be abrogated almost at will by the government -- and its presence does not save America from the charge of tyranny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

What rights of the descendants were violated? What force was used against them?

Answer that, and you can answer your own question.

But it is an error to start with an ungrounded "should" question.

I find it shortsighted to leave it at "the past is in the past, so it doesn't really matter now". It's fine as a TL;DR, but I think Easy Truth would rather know *why* this is a fine answer.

The thing we need to consider is that injustice occurred, so generally speaking, we should ask in what way we can assure that injustice is fixed. For example, if someone burns down your house, one solution is to have the government force that person to pay for damages. Of course, not all injustices need to be fixed in that way. If someone was really mean to you, the solution might be for them to buy you chocolate to apologize. Since right now we care about force being initiated (or someone threatening to initiate force), the kind of injustice that directly prevents another person from acting or using their mind, we can leave aside other types of injustice.

We should remember that grave injustices have occurred throughout history. Oftentimes, the effects of those injustices extend quite far out. Imagine if it were the Holocaust, your family was murdered, your money destroyed, and everything you did is gone. This could have effects for several generations, in the sense that you can no longer as easily choose to support or promote various ideas or technology even. Clearly, if the Nazi government were still around, it would be straightforward to just force them to repay the damage in some way.

Slavery isn't too different than that, and even after the Civil War, people who were once slaves were barely compensated. This was partly the fault of President Johnson, who more or less let the South get off easy. So in this case, the injustice might be even worse in the sense barely anything was done about it originally.

There is a degree of injustice committed upon the descendents of slaves, in the sense that they may have been in a better condition today if justice was served. The world is not how it should be - it is up to us to fix any wrongs or place the world in a better condition (after all, someone made it worse). 

One answer is compensation with reparations. But this doesn't seem much better, because the people paying for it didn't actually do anything wrong. It might not be as unjust as slavery, except it's still an injustice. Another answer might be to establish a nation to send these descendents. The issue here is that you need to ask where you get the land from. Israel was created as justice for the Holocaust, but this is extremely problematic still because it was created from land by the very same people who unjustly acquired that land. (I'm not talking about the current state of affairs, I mean way back when Israel was first established.)

Another answer is to forget about these grand solutions that require state intervention, not think about justice as a matter of collective or racial history. Around here, we even ignore who has started with "unfair" circumstances. Instead, the best answer is to continue to offer opportunities to people who demonstrate themselves, on an individual level. You may seek to develop an area that's very run down after a long history of racism and slavery. The answer certainly isn't to double down on collective or racial identity, because that is in injustice (even if it is not as unjust as reparations). In a capitalist system, justice is well served when you focus on what individuals are doing now and plan to do in the future.

There is no quick solution to years of injustice. It will depend upon how long it has lasted, and of people continue to commit those injustices. Yeah, the past sucked, but it happened. It's over. The people in the past got away with it. Still, there are things you can do to fix some of the damage. That might be establishing a university in the area, or improving the living conditions of the area. In the context of slavery, removing Confederate statues from public display is a good idea where possible (put them in museums). "Quick solutions" like reparations do more harm than good, not to mention you are using collective guilt.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/16/2018 at 10:36 AM, Invictus2017 said:

"the nationalization or expropriation of private property"

Kelo, anyone?  Pretty much the entire medical profession, under Obamacare?

I forgot to add: civil forfeiture, wherein the government steals your property on the ground that it might have been involved in a crime -- prior to any proof that the crime even happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Is the point that this sort of possibility has to be accepted as part of the risk involved in claiming new land?

More or less.  Note that precisely the same harm could have happened from an undetected sinkhole.  When you claim unowned land, it's on you to check it out before putting it to use.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

The thing we need to consider is that injustice occurred, so generally speaking, we should ask in what way we can assure that injustice is fixed.

"Justice" is not a floating abstraction, any more than "should" is. 

Among other things, there is no moral requirement (and thus no political requirement) that every injustice be fixed.  But the treatment of "justice" as a floating abstraction does allow the absurdity of imagining that justice can be done by stealing from one person that which he has earned to give to another person that which he has not earned on the ground that the second person's parents were deprived of what was rightfully theirs by someone who is long dead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

More or less.  Note that precisely the same harm could have happened from an undetected sinkhole.  When you claim unowned land, it's on you to check it out before putting it to use.

One is man-made (in fact mixing of labor with the land) I wonder if that indicates ownership/responsibility. Once you own a car and it rolls and crashes into something, you are responsible.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

Among other things, there is no moral requirement (and thus no political requirement) that every injustice be fixed.

Then when you have rights, that implies "no moral requirement (and thus no political requirement) that every rights violation be fixed"?

Is this the alienable brand?

What I am hearing in that statement is: "Sometimes it is okay when people steal from you". I doubt that is what you mean.

I would argue that in principle there is that requirement. It just can't be done in practice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Suppose that instead of burying a container of chemicals on the land, a very sick person goes to a hill away from the land, but from which the land is visible, and sets something up which will detect when the land is being built on and fire an incendiary at the building when there are no people present.  This booby trap is sufficiently inaccessible and well-concealed that no one detects it, and it still works after the thirty years.  Wouldn't that violate the twenty-year-old's property rights?   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Among other things, there is no moral requirement (and thus no political requirement) that every injustice be fixed. 

Sure, you don't need to correct every injustice, nor is it even reasonable to assume they always can be fixed, or to assume that every injustice is your concern. I'm discussing here the times when there are injustices that you care about; I'm not trying to say that you should save the world. Still, there are things that happen in your world, so to the extent that they are in your world, it is in your own interest to have those injustices fixed.

I was speaking generally on purpose. As in injustice is not a desirable thing. If you want to discuss which injustices you want to care more about, that's a fine discussion. It's worth asking yourself if there are injustices you should fix. In the context of political science, we might want to ask if there are any observable effects of those past injustices. 

I think I might be overly abstract here. I think a good example of "past injustices" without immediately getting into really complex social questions is the one Doug Morris posed. In this case, you would recognize that someone took an action that caused property damage. If the buried "chemical bomb" blew up immediately after someone bought the house, that person who caused that damage should pay for. 

(I'm assuming that it would be the justice system you are a part of, not just something going on on the other side of the world under a government that you can't actually worry about right now. I don't want you to get the impression that I'm advocating fixing every environmental injustice done to others in the world. If you exist in a society that protects rights, it would be in your interest that people's rights are actually protected.)

What difference would it make if the damage was 30 years later? The next step would be to ask if anything can be done about it. As I mentioned before, maybe the guy got away with. Maybe no one will ever know who did it. Some people might say "well, the government should intervene, we should all give this person money to fix the damage, even though we will never catch the person who did it!". That would be wrong. Fortunately, in a capitalist system, we don't suddenly intervene and say that "we can't catch the guy, so we gotta do something through the power of the government!". 

In fact, the best solution really is for the victim to persuade others that a little help is needed because their house blew up due to the fault of another person who was criminally negligent. They could say "I moved here to get a PhD in physics, but now I have nowhere to live and can't afford it, so I like you guys to help me out. I think I deserve it, and it really sucks that the guy got away with it."

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am almost sure that we all agree that a injustice remains an injustice even after multiple generations.

An injustice does not suddenly lose its identity because of time. It does not age gracefully into becoming justified.

There is no moral requirement to solve all problems due to finite resources.

A problem can change from being a problem to a non-problem when it is not a current obstacle to a goal/need.
But a past injustice remains a historically recorded fact.

A problem (as with an injustice) by definition is something that needs to be solved.
The only reason that they don't (or shouldn't) get solved is due to the hierarchy of values.
The moral principle countering it would be to "get the most important things done first", based on the reality that our time is limited.

When there is no cost, fixing an injustice is going to be the right thing to do.
A cost-benefit analysis is what seems to shift the moral direction/option.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

One is man-made (in fact mixing of labor with the land) I wonder if that indicates ownership/responsibility. Once you own a car and it rolls and crashes into something, you are responsible.

Not necessarily.  Responsibility depends on a mental state, not on physical accident.  If the car rolled because you were negligent or deliberately set it in motion, you are responsible.  But not if, say, the brakes failed due to a manufacturing defect (in a new car) or because someone else disengaged the brakes.

Note also that "mixing labor with land" is not what makes ownership of or responsibility for land, but that's not a discussion I want to spend time on right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Then when you have rights, that implies "no moral requirement (and thus no political requirement) that every rights violation be fixed"? 

Is this the alienable brand?

What I am hearing in that statement is: "Sometimes it is okay when people steal from you". I doubt that is what you mean.

I would argue that in principle there is that requirement. It just can't be done in practice.

"The moral is the practical" and, conversely, what is not practical is not moral. What cannot be done in practice cannot be required in principle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×