Friday, March 26, 2010

The lack of a Stasis point…

A bane in the political process has been, and continues to be the lack of a stasis point. From the abortion debate’s lack of stasis with one side claiming to be ‘pro-life’ while the other side claims to be ‘pro-choice,’ the argument can never be resolved; the opposing side will not take up the banner of being anti-life or anti-choice. In much the same way, with health care and one is either for it, or has a problem with sick people; one is for immigration, or is racist; one is for social justice or hates poor people; is for eco justice or hates the planet, and so on. The terms are not clearly defined on both sides, so it is impossible to actually have a stasis point - it is impossible to argue terms without definitions. The very nature of this lacking a stasis point sets up a false dichotomy, based on vague implications. What makes it all the more unfortunate today, is the scale of what is going on, and that those in power have learned to use the lack of a stasis point for manipulative purposes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Justice... in politics

Ex plures, unus verus

Justice: the quality of being just, moral rightness, the administering of deserved punishment or reward.1

When the concept of Justice was first compartmentalized is irrelevant. What is of relevance is the ubiquitous nature of Justice being compartmentalized, especially in contemporary politics. Political ideas such as Economic, Social, Racial and Eco Justice are bandied about, with proponents of each seeking the harmonization within the given field. The idea which must be examined is whether Justice is whole, or, regardless of subdivision, Justice is piecemeal; the ideas are mutually exclusive.

Could Justice be piecemeal? What would that look like?—it would look like the various proffered subgroups of Justice. Economic Justice, or Social, or Racial, or Eco would be first and foremost, wholly contained systems. As wholly contained systems, they are from the outset separate, and therefore subject to interaction amongst, even against each other. But, before they can interact, what must be asked is: compartmentalized Justice is what, and for whom within, and among, those subgroups? The very nature of dividing Justice into subgroups is to have subgroups within those subgroups, e.g. whites, blacks, et al within Racial Justice, or ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in Economic or Social Justice. What do such groupings mean?—that collectives are of prime importance The very notion of such groups removes individuality, and replaces it with guilt or innocence by association; it makes victims or victimizers based on implied group affiliation.

The idea of Justice as a whole emphasizes individual responsibility. Individual responsibility emphasizes how one acts. That one could belong to a group by itself is not what is important; what is important is that in order to belong to a group, or not in any group, one must act in a specific way. For Justice, that which does not relate to acts is superfluous; superficiality has no place in Justice for superficiality has no place in moral rightness or proper administration of punishment or reward. Superficiality does have its place in group mentalities. Is one white?—black?—rich?—poor?—and so on. Each of those groupings doesn’t require a certain set of behaviors. They don’t require one to act a certain way, but just to possess a given characteristic. However, what one does is the key component in Justice.

Justice is a multifaceted principle. Context rules Justice, as do principles; they are not mutually exclusive. Justice is absolute, but our attempt to embrace Justice includes finite ways to try and reach it. Sometimes it is easier, sometimes, not so much; sometimes context is filled in, such as evidence supporting a decision, while other times the evidence is lacking, or contradictory. Our application of Justice may be fallible, but with reasonable doubt, we can approximate quite closely and when possible, amend.

With Justice, the moral balancing being an attempted goal, there will be those who are not reaching that goal, either in their attempt to reach or erroneously having a falseness ascribed to them. With a focus on individualism, Justice can be looked at on a case-by-case basis and can be re-visited to be amended. Some may still be missed. As regrettable as that may be, what is the alternate? With compartmentalization, the moral balance is based not on individuals, a case-by-case basis, but on the implied, or ascribed, group. Based on one’s membership in a given group and its relation to another group, all members within both sides have compartmentalized Justice placed on them; individuals have rewards or punishments foisted upon them based on superficial characteristics which they possess linking them to a ‘class.’ Regardless of individual actions, it is the perception of the given group’s interaction with another group, which will be the base of compartmentalized Justice.

At the individual level, one’s effort is not a guarantee of success. One may work quite hard to come to little reward; push as hard as one might, on a door which says ‘Pull’ one is wasting their efforts. This is proper; it is Just. Anyone working hard does not offer enough to get more than their work; hard work alone is not what is important, right work is what is important. Hard work with smart work is right work. There may be thousands who can move rocks to where they are told, but only a few can do the appropriate designing, planning, implementation and all else to change a mass of rocks into a building. All may work hard, but the type of work, its importance relative to its scarcity is what gets the just level of reward. If all were rewarded equally, then the masses would be given more than their due, and the few would be short-changed on what they offered. Further, society’s relation to the individuals would be strained in that society would have to pay much more to the same people for the same work, and it would lose quality of work for if the extra work which goes into the designing, planning and all else is rewarded the same as those who simply hauled the material, then people would not put that level of effort into it. Either way, based on groupings, individuals would have incentive removed to do better than the rest (lost quality) while those who don’t work as hard as the rest would still gain the same (lost resources).

Compartmentalization is the result of trying to ‘level the playing field,’ based on given groupings. What does that mean?—that certain groups have been wronged, and therefore another group wronged them – that a given number of individuals based on a similar characteristic, by that characteristic, have been wronged by others who share a similar characteristic different from the first group, among themselves: any color group, gender or social class could be included. What follows is that in order to achieve ‘harmony,’ or leveling the playing field, based on the given compartmentalization, that one group needs to have value removed from it to give it to the group which was wronged. Examples abound and are given as axiomatic, such as in Racial or Social Justice blacks have been wronged by whites, or in Gender Justice, women have been wronged by men; the wronged group is to be compensated by the ‘guilty’ group. The nature of groups and society is that one will be larger than the other. With that, many groups can call themselves aggrieved against the majority.

With compartmentalized Justice, the majority of those in the various groups (for statistically speaking, the ‘norm’ doesn’t actually exist) are either receiving more than they should, or are losing more than they should. Regardless of which area the ‘correction’ may be made, it is by nature a forced imbalance. How is it just to take from one who didn’t act wrongly, along with other individuals classified as belonging to a group based on superficial characteristics ascribed by a third party? Classification is a valid concept for description, but compartmentalization advocates do not use classification for description, but for proscription. With proscription as the goal, classes are made for one purpose, active division, and the purpose for active division is to create classes which are ‘owed.’ As there are infinite ways to group people, there is always some way to create a victim and a victimizer; there is always a way to point the finger at a faceless group, which is demonized, as the cause of misfortune.2

Is this to say that group concepts of Justice are always invalid?—no. Group Justice is a valid idea on two conditions: 1) that Justice, as a moral administering of punishment and reward, would entail that proper groupings would be based on moral relations, not superficial characteristics, i.e. on behaviors, not traits: 2) as aforementioned, that norms do not exist in actuality, and are attempts to aggregate individuals to more or less, get a statistical approximation, i.e. individuals within any group on either side, based on their own actions, have more or less guilt or innocence for the given thing around that norm. From history’s annals, there are countless examples, concretes which can be given. One of the most egregious examples would be the persecution of the Jews during the holocaust. It was not simply Germans persecuting Jews, as that itself is a nationality against a non-nationality (border-bound against that which isn’t border bound: Jews as a blood-tied group are not border-bound). A better comparison is Nazi persecution of the Jews, which is one being a belief system (Nazism) against the superficial relation of ancestral blood-bound ties (one can convert to Judaism, and blood-born Jews may practice the faith to varying degrees, to not at all, or even against the faith that is generally believed that they embrace). Further, as the Nazis didn’t possess power in a vacuum, and did not conquer their own country, the country which they did ascend to power in voted for them and as a member of a group which as a whole, had the majority act in accordance with the group’s will, there is the proper group culpability. As a group, there are those who have differing levels of culpability, those who petitioned for the party, to active party members, to those who voted for them, to those who didn’t vote for them but remained in the Nazi rule – if one lives under a government system, then as being under its umbrella, not fighting its coverage or speaking against its wrongs, one is still tied to that system as a subject, albeit on the lowest level, but tied to that system nonetheless.

To briefly continue the aforementioned group mentality on Justice, let us simply change who is doing what to whom. Does it matter if it is the Nazis against the Jews?—Americans against the Arabs?—Arabs against the West?—blacks and whites?—women in somewhere as victim or victimizer?—the haves and the have-nots? What if the actions are not about genocide but sentencing for criminal offences?—characterization in entertainment?—to receive government benefits – such as healthcare? Will any of those changes make a difference to the application of Justice from an individual to an individual?—no.

A look at Environmental Justice and Species Justice will now be made: the ideas that either the environment is being treated unjustly, or that animals are being treated unjustly. Both of those ideas are invalid, for Justice being a moral harmonization has to do with choices from one volitional being to another volitional being and the environment and animals are not volitional. This is not to say there is not a proper way to interact with either one, but the proper way of interaction with the environment has to do with prudence, efficiency and morality. It will be said to differentiate treating things with morality, while not justly, is oxymoronic; that is not the case. Acting morally is acting as a member of our species properly, which is not wastefully: we may use items in the environment and animals for certain tasks, but those are for goals which assist us individually or as a species (mining, farming, research, ranching). When using animals or the environment arbitrarily, it becomes a question of theft (immoral usage of another’s property) or waste – which have to do with prudence and efficiency, not Justice. Justice and morality is another, and valid, discussion overall; the focus here is Justice in politics.

Justice is post-hoc; as a reward or punishment, it necessarily follows an act. This is not to say that only a like act is to follow an initial act. The likeness, and depth or severity of an act may be a good guide, but it is not the only way to proceed with acting justly. As a caveat, this does apply to punishment only, not to rewards. Rewards are to be earned by completed action, but where punishment can be given without the actual act is by the threat of force. From the threat of force, one may initiate an escalation; the threat itself is an act, and because it hasn’t been fulfilled, doesn’t mean one needs to allow oneself victimhood before responding. Like all aspects of Justice, it is contextual with respect to the type of action proper to the principle of defense: an incapacitated drunkard mumbling on the violence he is going to inflict may be somewhat of a threat, but not at the same level of someone quite sober, stating that they are going to kill you and are raising their weapon. The threat is an act, justly countered. A dead man will not get Justice; those who survive might try for him.

What is all this based on?—whether it is a just nation, a just society or a just individual, the base is the concept of a perfectly just level – that where its appropriate level follows the concept of Justice, which is of proper moral actions. Moral actions are chosen. Therefore, whatever level, Justice includes that where people, societies or nations act rightly and are rewarded, or punished for acting wrongly, accordingly to those acts (only individuals act, but individuals in groups as aforementioned share their relative relationship to the act of the leaders of their group). Overall, Justice is first-and-foremost adherence to the law of identity (deeper examination is for another paper); that things are what they are and are appraised and judged and acted upon as such; most importantly man qua man on principle, and that includes from the beginning life and liberty for each man. A just nation is composed of just societies, which are composed of just individuals; like any structure, how pretty the image may be on the façade (nation), if the base (individuals) is corrupted, the whole structure will fall, including the façade which cannot be supported by falseness any longer. A truly just society is only made of just individuals; it cannot work in reverse; individuals cannot be made just, but must act justly. We are a collection of individuals, but are affected as individuals in our own lives.

What is the goal of those who advance compartmentalized Justice?—those who use compartmentalization do so for the pragmatic end of getting an ‘aggrieved’ group what they ‘deserve’ by taking what was owed from a less sympathetic group; by that act, they solidify themselves and their position either in the community or in politics for their own gain. They set up systems (institutions) of unjust removal of value, i.e. theft. Based on a created system designed for the taking from one group, to give to another, the system is self-perpetuating, for the types and numbers of groups will always be many, and as the taking of value from one group for another is unjust, there will always be the imbalance and always another reason to keep various individuals grouped against one another. This redistribution will never end for the system ensures the cycle. By its nature, it removes the right to property.3 That is, until there is nothing left in the system to redistribute. Ceteris paribus is a myth. By active division, class/group warfare will never cease, be it any group which classifies itself by proscriptions, whether it is any racial or gender group, political affiliation (Democrat or Republican), or even countries e.g. any against America, or types of countries, e.g. third world against Superpowers, against each other. The goal is by those who seek power to force their system of morality through an amoral agent: the government, which is legal force.

Moral acts cannot be forced. Morality, Justice is achieved by volition. When force is initiated, it is no longer a moral act but an act of enslavement… where Justice cannot exist. Where enslavement exists, as a natural violation of Justice, the just act is to act against the enslavement. As a violation of rights is an immoral act, if the victim cannot get Justice themselves, a proxy may act for them; that is not an obligation, but it is a right; it is not obligatory to take up a given concrete in defense of a principle. When action is obligatory is when it affects you, either by action against you, or being carried in your name. Proxy Justice to punish violators of rights is moral as Justice is a principle, the violation of Justice sets a principle; both principles cannot exist together – they are mutually exclusive.

Only Capitalism embraces non-compartmentalized Justice, for all other systems compartmentalize in their attempts to seek their version of Justice.4 Lady Justice is not treated as the independent arbiter with her blindfold for proper Justice, but instead is saddled and strapped-up as a horse, complete with blinders so She can only look in the direction desired for the given compartmentalization. To keep Her from bucking them off, they set up their cyclical system, making Her circle, focusing on that what is irrelevant to that which is irrelevant, which is always changing, so they never stop driving Her where they want. Let us help Her raise her sword and cut those binds so she can be proper once again.

When another tries to level the playing field, the game is destroyed.

1. Summarized definition from multiple dictionaries.
2. Among the ways to compartmentalize, and based on said axiomatic examples include in history, slavery and patriarchy, or current events in other areas, such as the same ideas in other areas. Either way, it references harms done to others, not to oneself. If done to oneself, then that individual has a grievance for what was specifically done to them.
3. Justly acquired property, for there is no right to another’s property.
4. Capitalism, with an unfortunately needed redundancy of Laissez-faire, for any perversion of Capitalism, is not Capitalism but the beginning of compartmentalization; the form of compartmentalization is irrelevant, whether the division is among groups of individuals, corporations, states or nations.