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What is one's moral obligation when faced with a unjust system?

 
 
kuvasz
 
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 05:32 pm
October 16, 1859.

Harpers Ferry.

Quote:
“I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with Blood.”


Quote:
"What is one's moral obligation when faced with a unjust system?" said Columbia University historian Eric Foner. "These are questions which are perennial. They come up in every country at one time or another, in every kind of issue."

"Most of the abolitionist movement believed in nonviolence," Foner said. "They believed in what they called moral suasion. They believed that slavery was itself a form of violence and that you couldn't overturn it by violence or you'd be sort of adapting the same tactics, so to speak, as the enemy.

"Brown believed that the only way to overthrow slavery was by violence," he said. "Now, that actually turned out to be true."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/14/AR2009101402520.html?hpid=topnews


 
Philis
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 07:28 pm
@kuvasz,
A good post kuvasz. John Browns words did stand the test of time.

The thing about the courts that does irritate me is the letter of the law...the law is what it is and barely is there a deviation or mercy in sentencing.
But once criminals are sentenced that is where the moronic happens....they let criminals/prisoners out of prison well before their sentence is legally expired as sentenced by the court.

History is contaminated with humans who have died for their cause, a righteous cause.

What is a humans moral obligation, the individual faces death, or people in society stand together to show outward support for a bad law. Like others have done ....go to DC...capital hill, change the law.

But there was no way slavery was going away without blood. Even with blood, slavery remained, showing itself ugly with suppression of rights and indentured servants. If we had waited for the law to remove slavery our society would still be waiting......and waiting
hawkeye10
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 08:58 pm
The obligation is two tracked, one is to protect yourself and those close to you as best as possible, the second is to work towards ending the injustice. Doing great harm to yourself or your loved ones in the attempt to end an injustice is not a obligation. One can elect to give of themselves, but to let those close to you be hurt while fighting a injustice in the system is failing to meet your obligations.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 09:24 pm
@Philis,
I was driving to the vet today with my wife, a lawyer listening to radio tell us that one of the financial firms had just given $billions in bonuses, despite being given multiple $billions by the US government to the firms. I mentioned that until those people responsible were actually killed, murdered for their unethical actions that led to the financial near-collapse, the industry would not change its behavior. I pointed out that in America social change has come only by violence or the threat of violence, and that with even a most responsive legal system America did not change legally until blood was spilled.

Whether slavery, desegregation, labor's right to organize, female suffrage, or homosexual rights, little changes until blood flows in the street. While I wish that were not true, it seems to be, and history can be reasonably described with the insight that .........

Quote:
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Mao Tse-Tung


I recognize the extremely slippery slope of using violence to obtain a goal but at what point is violence morally acceptable? Is it simply a calculus of body count?

And this is what brings "morality" into the equation. One likely would kill one person to save a million or Hitler in 1944, or 1934, but what about in 1904?

I am familiar with the admirable non-violent efforts of Gandhi and King, but just a simple thought experiment; have you ever thought about what the Nazis would have done to Mohandas Gandhi and his non-violent protestors? Likely they would be treated the same manner as the denizens of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Non-violent protest is noble, but is effective towards its immediate goals only when you believe that your adversary is going to show some sort of basic humanity, otherwise you get enslaved and slaughtered.

Personally, I just don't know what my moral threshold is towards an obligation for action when facing injustice. I guess its just like pornography to Potter Stewart.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 09:36 pm
@kuvasz,
Quote:

Non-violent protest is noble, but is effective towards its immediate goals only when you believe that your adversary is going to show some sort of basic humanity, otherwise you get enslaved and slaughtered.


wrong. it also works when shame works, when pointing out how their behavior is at odds with their beliefs or at odds with the collective will causes enough pain for them that they change course. Humanity has nothing to do with it, it is all aversion to pain.
Philis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 09:49 pm
@kuvasz,
ON the large scale injustice done to the nation because of the billions of dollars given to corporations ....citizens have expressed their outrage at this, this is a new happening for our citizens in America and grass roots is where it begins.
Can we kill them, maybe some nut will track down ceo's and do so.
Can we march on capital hill........yes, we can do that. Capital hill thinks this is the time to bailout corps and this time they got it by us, dare they continue to do this again, knowing how citizens feel, let's vote them out of office.

On a more personal level. More than once I have stepped in, against the odds, to help/save an individual who was in physical trouble. When that personal injustice is in my face, something takes me over. I don't think twice.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 09:54 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye said:

Quote:
wrong. it also works when shame works, when pointing out how their behavior is at odds with their beliefs or at odds with the collective will causes enough pain for them that they change course. Humanity has nothing to do with it, it is all aversion to pain.


Quote:
Man is the Only Animal that blushes. Or needs to.
Mark Twain


Thus, we are saying the same thing.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 10:13 pm
@kuvasz,
One's moral obligation is to heroically attempt to change the unjust system through legal means - e.g. Nelson Mandella

Admittedly, at some point, one's moral obligation becomes to change the unjust system through the only means possible - e.g. George Washington

Still there remains a limit to one's action, and each and every revolutionary will be called upon to set that limit. If you believe in a Higher Power, you will have to answer to its judgment; if you don't, you will have to answer to History's.

An idiotic kook in 2009 who calls for the murder of the CEOs of financial firms is not likely to obtain the vaildation of God or History.

kuvasz
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 11:42 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
finn said:

Quote:
An idiotic kook in 2009 who calls for the murder of the CEOs of financial firms is not likely to obtain the vaildation of God or History.


If one disregards the human factor and considers only the financial situations, perhaps, but what if the actions of particular CEOs caused the deaths of hundreds of people? After all, the man who killed that abortion doctor a few months ago considered his actions moral in that by killing the doctor fetuses would not be aborted. He had decided that it was better to kill a person because it would save lives. So the details could be different but not the process nor results.

The man who shot the doctor knew that he committed a crime, but he recognized, to him, a higher reality.

Any way, the point is that one cannot demand adherence from others their own sense of moral obligation.

This is pure Objectivism, btw.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 07:43 am
@kuvasz,
John Brown is not a good example of a moral person fighting the evil of slavery or society as he was just a socipath killer who wipe out whole families encluding children.

All and all he was just a very evil man who found an excuse of a higher cause to harm others.

The unibomber is another example of this kind of sick person or for that matter McVeigh. Both more then willing to kill women and children and even babies to make a point.

Such are mad dogs that need to be hunted down and kill not given respect of any kind or in any manner.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  2  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 08:02 am
@kuvasz,
The man who shot the doctor knew that he committed a crime, but he recognized, to him, a higher reality.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Such people are mad dogs no matter what your postion on such issues as abortion is or is not and need to be hunted down and kill as a mad dog.

A slave by the name of Nat Turner led a slave revolt and did such deeds as after killing all the teachers at a school line up the young children and cut their heads off, along with the random killing of all whites encluding infants in their mother arms.

Sorry but no matter how evil slavery was it does not justifly killing infants or young defenseless children and such people should once more should be view as mad killers no matter what kind of cover of a just cause they try to hid behind.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 08:12 am
@kuvasz,
kuvasz wrote:
"Brown believed that the only way to overthrow slavery was by violence," he said. "Now, that actually turned out to be true."

How did he come to the conclusion that violence was the only method that would have been successful? Certainly that's the way it happened, but hardly the only way it could have happened.

Wasn't the slave-driven economy of the South already under pressure?
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 03:25 pm
@DrewDad,
A major civil war and not a slave revolt was the end of slavery.

Off hand, I can remember no successful slave revolt but for Haiti and that was where the slaveholders was only a few percent of the total population and home country of the slaveholders had withdrawn support of slavery.

Slave revolts normally turn out to not be a good thing for the slaves and as in the Nat Turner case, all the very restricted limits on black movement, learning to read, and the ability to set blacks free by their owners came into place only after that revolt in the South.

Hell before the Turner revolt free blacks in some areas could vote and that was taken away from them until the 1960s!
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 04:07 pm
All and all the norm is for sick losers to find some cause or other that give them cover to attack the society that they do not fit into.

One of the brave killer of abortion doctors also if memory serve me correctly was also the person behind the Atlanta Park bombing that kill people at random.

The doctor killer in the news now was not the type any sane person would have as a friend and was complete loser.

The we had Ted of Unibomber frame out in the woods sending bombs off and even once even try to take down an airliner.

These people who find a moral obligation to attack society and their fellow citizens are sick killers and little else no matter how some try to paint them.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 05:30 pm
@kuvasz,
Whether slavery, desegregation, labor's right to organize, female suffrage, or homosexual rights, little changes until blood flows in the street. While I wish that were not true, it seems to be, and history can be reasonably described with the insight that .........
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blood flowing in the streets?

See the results of the French Revolution to see how well that can work out !!!!!!!!!!

The leadership ended up turning on each others and the result was another one-man rule that plumb all of Europe into the worst conflict until WW1 happen.

Force and violence should be used with great great care as it had the sad habit of getting completely out of control and destroying everythings you was trying to achieve by using it.

Side note: It is sad that we do not seem to teach history in any meaningful way.
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 06:11 pm
@BillRM,
bill

my remark about history was directly related to mao's quote about the use of force to obtain political control.

i listened to a retired admiral in the 80's talking about viet nam where the guy made the observation, akin to your own, that when using force to obtain control often results in the total loss of control.
0 Replies
 
Philis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 08:33 pm
Billrm wrote...
Quote:
Sorry but no matter how evil slavery was it does not justifly killing infants or young defenseless children and such people should once more should be view as mad killers no matter what kind of cover of a just cause they try to hid behind.
also wrote man or god cannot condone this


This is the idea we are trying to get across to the Muslim terrorists and even the american indians in history. What's real is when a foe comes against a more powerful force they will use any means they can conjure to stop killings and injustices done to them. They have a right to their existence, and the right to defend their beliefs, way of life and families.

The American Indians slaughtered children, men/women and were not wrong in doing so..... they had a right to fight for their existence and survival.....

Civilization seems so civilized , but that is what the american media serves us......barbaric acts occur everyday. The US does not have a threshold on how to make war.

France and England had war down to politeness, but Colonials would not have won the american revolution had we fought using their conduct rules of war.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 08:59 pm
@Philis,
The American Indians slaughtered children, men/women and were not wrong in doing so..... they had a right to fight for their existence and survival.....
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By killing men and women and children of the evil white man for whatever reason they ID themselves as far too dangerous to be allow anywhere near.

They was either move far away or they was kill as a result.

You see my friend a lot of people at the time could see the unfairness of poor treatment of the Indians but once the blood begin to flow of the white women and children no one gave a damn about being fair to them they was a danger that need to be wipe out or move and that was all they was.

In the south not everyone was supporting slavery but once Nat Turner and his followers begin their killing spree if did not matter what your opinion of slavery was or was not. As it was just proven that you need to keep a tight control on the black population if you did not wish to find you family wipe out.

Laws that could not had been pass before sail by limiting the blacks ability to learn to read or move around or even go to church. Free blacks was told to leave the south or go back into slavery where before they could even vote in some areas and own slaves themselves.

By turning to any means they in effect was their own worst enemy.

If somehow we loss a few million citizens to middle east terrorists by WMD no one would care at that point about being fair or understanding that only a small percent of the muslin population was to blame and the hammer of god would fall on the whole middle east.

0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  3  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 05:12 pm
@kuvasz,
If one believes the corporate CEO is personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people, there are quite a few measures that can be taken short of murder.

I don't condone the murder of the abortion doctor regardless of what the murderer believed, but he, obviously, didn't require my affirmation. Because he felt the murder was either equitable or ultimately life-saving doesn't change my opinion that he was both wrong and bent.

Your original question, it seems to me, must be answered in the context of commonly accepted mores. As a society, we have adopted a certain framework in which to co-exist. Because someone believes actions outside of that framework are justified only makes them so in their individual regard. If that actually represents justification then all we need to judge is the sincerity of every madman and monster.

If morality has any practical meaning it can't be predicated on the personal beliefs of each and every individual on earth.

Your moral obligation in confronting an unjust system is to heroically challenge it through methods that ultimately conform to the moral framework of the world in which you live.

For most of us (certainly as respects Americans) this does not preclude violence, but it does preclude vigilantisim.

It really isn't tough to identify the right action to take, but it can be very tough to take that action. We are far more threatened by the selfishness and cowardice of our fellow inhabitants of the framework, then we are by the kooks who live and rationalize outside.

Such kooks are, clearly, able to effect dramatic instances, and some that could have far lasting implications (What if Obama really is the Messiah and some nut assassinates him?), but their actions are always recognized as falling outside the framework and are as predictable, preventable and regrettable as a random natural event.

Bottom line: No one, who does something the rest of agree is freaking crazy has met their moral obligation.
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 07:41 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
good answer.
0 Replies
 
 

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