Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Transition to a Just Society III

Just a quick question, looking for some feedback and discussion with the readers of my blog. Please chime in if you have any sort of opinion about this issue.

Is justice possible in a heirarchical system?

While those of you who know me or at least are familiar with my blogs probably already know what I think... I'll chime in with my thoughts later once some other people have had the chance to express their opinions. I'm looking to learn from you all on this and foster the collaboration that I was talking about with this series of blogs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is justice possible in a heirarchical system?"

First, I think the question is too broad to be answered in less than, say, 500 pages. So I think we need to nibble at its edges and maybe be able to say something meaningful.

So, what is "justice?" Can we agree on a definition? Is justice situational; does the presence or absence of justice depend on the particular circumstances? Is justice the same as equality?

What does history tell us about justice (if we can use a commonly accepted definition of the term "justice")?

Is anarchy the opposite of a hierarchical society? Is true anarchy even possible? If true anarchy is possible, is justice possible in an anarchic society?

I think we need to consider "human nature." So, what is "human nature?" Is there just one "nature" that is
common to all human? Are greed and the lust for power embedded in human nature? Are compassion and the need
to help others embedded in human nature? Are these two modes of behavior mutually exclusive? Does human nature require justice? Is there such a thing as "inhuman nature?"

What do human beings need? We need food. We need shelter (which may or may not include clothing). We need
sex; that is a biological imperative. We need love; that is an emotional imperative. When these needs are not met, we turn to pills, psychiatry and war. We also need to feel involved with our society in some way for some period of time in our lives. That is why we work; or volunteer. I doubt that, with all our needs met, we could spend a lot of time sitting under a palm tree in the sun and do nothing else.

These are the thoughts that your question prompts me to ponder. And ponder I will. Some of the questions I have posed I cannot answer. For example, I am not a student of history and have no desire to do the research necessary to answer that question. But I will think about these things and, maybe, have more to add. Dialog trumps war.

12:09 PM  
Blogger and i said...

thank you, oh anonymous reader of truth addicts anonymous... you're right, the question really is very broad... that's the problem with deep questions--in order to answer them you have to ask dozens of other questions. and the questions you pose in return are all very good questions to ask.

i suppose my purpose in posing the question as i did was not to get an "answer" to it, but to raise the question in my mind and the minds of my readers, and prompt them to ponder whether heirarchy itself is at the root of our current societies problems.

personally, i think that greed and power lust are not natural desires. I think they are brought on by our existance in a heirarchical society. those above us in the heirarchy have some sort of right to act unjustly or disrespectfully towards us. in this sort of imposed system it is "natural" for us to seek to elevate our status, so that we may be free from others compromising our individual sovereignty. but the nature of the pyramid is such that there is always someone else higher up, and always someone below you to take out your frustrations on. no matter where you go in a heirarchical system your rights are being compromised and you are compromising the rights of someone else in order to maintain or further your own status. i see heirarchy as a perpetual cycle of injustice.

12:21 PM  
Blogger and i said...

my rough definition of justice...

1. universal access to food clothing and shelter given you make a positive contribution to your community in some way. you wanna be a lazy bastard then you're on your own.

2. no person or group of people taking #1 away from any other person or group of people.

3. freedom to live as one chooses so long as he/she abides by #1 and #2

i believe that hierarchical systems violate number 3, because people do not have the freedom to live as they choose without the risk that their access to food clothing and/or shelter (via money) will be compromised.

take me, for instance. i'm a musician, but i work a day-job because if i lived as i chose, i would not make any money and therefore die of starvation or exposure. it should be my right to contribute to society in the way that i see fit and not have to work for someone else doing something i don't care about in order to be afforded basic human rights. a common answer to this is "well, life isn't fair." and my answer to that is "who made that decision? aren't adults running this place? why can't we make things fair for everyone?"

we could make things fair if our money system was honest or if we didn't use any money at all. we could make things fair if the pursuit of power, money, and status were not the paramount of our society. we could do this if no person or group of people claimed power/authority over any other person or group of people. we could do this if our schools were transformed from institutions of social conditioning where the acceptance of unfairness and hierarchical systems is forced into children through the quiet sanctioning of bullying and mandatory left-brained intellectual regurgitation into community centers that encouraged learning on one's own terms, the ability to think for one's self, the ability to be responsible for one's self. our children would quickly learn that hierarchy is not necessary.

and this doesn't have to be anarchy, either. government does not have to be equated with power. governing is a public service. it should be performed with humility and without influence from special interest groups. it should not be used as a platform to express power over people. the government should serve the people, not the other way around. this doesn't mean communism either. it just means honesty, forthrightness, and humility should trump money, power and status.

(p.s. i spell checked this one for ya)

7:26 PM  
Anonymous PJ said...

I'm impressed with your definition of "justice." You've obviously given this a lot of thought And I agree with you, wholeheartedly. However...

I don't believe that the complex societies which now span the globe could possibly survive by following the consequences of your three-part definition. I did some homework on the Web, digging into anarchical societies. I'm not advocating anarchy, and I know that you're not either. (Read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy to see a modern picture of anarchy.) I read that some aboriginal societies can be described as following your precepts. I just don't think we can.

For us to live as you describe we'd have to turn the clock back -- w-a-a-a-a-y back. That will not happen.

So, my conclusion is that justice is not possible in a hierarchical society.

Perhaps the next question should be: Should justice be a priority in the 21st century? Should we be more concerned about the possible re-ignition of the nuclear arms race?

While we're discussing government, let me note that the 11th edition of Webster's Collegiate, on page 541, tells us that to "govern" means both a) to exercise sovereign power and b) to rule without sovereign power. I guess we're not the only one looking for answers.

PS The benefits of correct spelling accrue much more to the writer than to the reader.

2:10 PM  
Blogger and i said...

Yes, I do think our society is way too complex--and purposefully so. I don't mean to suggest we should do without technology or creature comforts... I just think we could do with a MUCH smaller government. I think we could do without mega corporations and their intrinsically useless products. i think we could do WITH localization of our energy, food, clothing, and shelter systems.

We need a system of civic administration that the large majority of people can understand in its entirety. We need a system devoid of legal loopholes. We need a system where the accumulation of material wealth does not equate to the accumulation of political power. We need a government that is beholden to the citizens--not the other way around.

if you read I think the second part in the Transition blog series... you'll see that in order to implement these changes I’m calling for a complete shutdown of commerce for 5 years. We need to obliterate the current social order and start fresh. Is that turning back the clock? Or is it simply eliminating corruption and all of its products? Either way, i guess it's not "realistic." but I don't deem it any less necessary...

That’s a great definition. Does it say "see paradox" at the end?

2:34 PM  

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