Thursday, December 06, 2018

When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice

To MA: May the journey ahead be a comfortable and pleasurable one. Farewell and have a wonderful journey

Marguerite Yourcenar, The Art of Fiction No. 103.
The French title is Quoi? L’Eternité, which is from a poem of Rimbaud’s: “Quoi? L’Eternité, elle est retrouvée.” The book is the third volume of my memoirs. The other two are being translated into Engish at the moment. There are certain words one can’t translate literally, and one has to change them. For example the first volume is called Souvenirs pieux in French, and I have translated it as Dear Departed, which conveys the same nuance of irony. The second volume is called Archives du nord, but “the north” in another language evokes a different image: In England the north refers to Manchester, or even Scotland; in Holland it is the Fresian Isles, which has nothing to do with the north of France. So I have changed it completely, and taken the first line of a Bob Dylan song—“Blowin’ in the Wind.” I quote the song inside as an epigraph: “How many roads must a man walk down /  Before you can call him a man?” It is very beautiful, don’t you think? At least it defines well my father’s life, and many lives. But to come to the present volume, I don’t think “Quoi? L’Eternité” would work in English, and we will have to find another title. Among the Elizabethan poets there must be quantities of quotations about eternity, so I think I might find something there.

Politicians and LEAs tend to utilise revenue agencies in most countries to frustrate and frighten journalists or independent politicians 
Philippines journalist Maria Ressa vows to challenge tax fraud...
Nell Dunn, Talking to Women.  Interviews with British (and Irish) women, circa 1964, remarkably frank and open, “witty, anarchic, and sexually frank.”  Strongly recommended, is it possible that the quality of discourse on these matters has not much advanced or even declined?

Louise I. Shelley, Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy is Threatening Our Future, is a useful survey of varying kinds of black and dark markets

“Employees have spoken! These are the Best Places to Work in 2019 – did your company make the cut?”  The list this year does not place Facebook, Google, Apple in the top 5 slots, although there is a slim margin between all the top rated companies. In the number one place this year – as it have been for the past four, is Bain & Co. [Note – Japanese firm Recruit Holdings acquired Glassdoor in 2018, and the survey is voluntary.]

Can The Working Class Speak? Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

From lesser lights to greater, from murderers to comedians, the praise continues.  

As usual, the network of those who run the world we merely inhabit have nothing but respect for each other. And why not? They may pick each other off from time to time (both Saddam Hussein and Moamar Khaddafi, were once in high favor), but over the long haul, keeping each member of the ruling circle in a reverential spotlight keeps them all — keeps the circle itself — in reverence as well. Since they operate as a system, the system is honored each time its members, no matter how deadly, are honored as well. And the system sees that the system is always honored. 

That's why Bernie Sanders and his new progressive colleagues in the House are so hated. They want to take that system apart. It's why Nancy Pelosi surrendered to the No Labels-financed "Problem Solvers" caucus rather than to those same new progressives and their agenda. The tiny system of people that run the world supports the tiny system of people that run the world, and always will.

Another Criminal Dies Gaius Publius, DownWithTyranny

NEARSIGHTED NEOLIBERALISM HELPED MOBILIZE TODAY’S FAR RIGHT Wired (UserFriendly). Important, but has an annoying ageist theme. Older people grew up with the New Deal and acutely feel its loss. This is a 10% v everyone else issue, not an age issue. Do you really think Mark Zuckerberg or any of the young tech squillionaires would implement better policies for the bottom 90% than the people now in charge?
Everyone loves Paul Volcker. Everyone is wrong.The Week (UserFriendly). Great piece. Wish I had written it.

The excellent Jason Brennan with a short introduction to his new book, When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice:
Imagine a situation in which a civilian commits an injustice, the kind against which you believe it is permissible to use deception, subterfuge or violence to defend yourself or others. For instance, imagine your friend makes an improper stop at a red light, and his dad, in anger, yanks him out of the car, beats the hell out of him, and continues to strike the back of his skull even after your friend lies subdued and prostrate. May you use violence, if it’s necessary to stop the father? Now imagine the same scene, except this time the attacker is a police officer in Ohio, and the victim is Richard Hubbard III, who in 2017 experienced just such an attack as described. Does that change things? Must you let the police officer possibly kill Hubbard rather than intervene?
Most people answer yes, believing that we are forbidden from stopping government agents who violate our rights. I find this puzzling. On this view, my neighbours can eliminate our right of self-defence and our rights to defend others by granting someone an office or passing a bad law. On this view, our rights to life, liberty, due process and security of person can disappear by political fiat – or even when a cop has a bad day. In When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice (2019), I argueinstead that we may act defensively against government agents under the same conditions in which we may act defensively against civilians. In my view, civilian and government agents are on a par, and we have identical rights of self-defence (and defence of others) against both. We should presume, by default, that government agents have no special immunity against self-defence, unless we can discover good reason to think otherwise.
I think it helps in answering this question to think of other countries say South Africa under Apartheid or China today among the Uighur in Xinjiang province…then be consistent. Note that resistance to state injustice may be unwise even when it is ethical.

Coordinated crackdown on 'Ndrangheta mafia in Europe