Friday, September 10, 2021

Demolition of America's moral high ground

In an article smuggled out of the gulag, Alexei Navalny makes - more powerfully - a point I have shouted for decades... that corruption is the very soul of oligarchy and the only way to fight it is with light. And if that light sears out the cheating, most of our other problems will be fixable by both bright and average humans... citizens... negotiating, cooperating, competing based on facts and goodwill. With the devils of our nature held in check by the only thing that ever worked...

...accountability.

Don't listen to me? Fine. Heed a hero.

Alas, the opposite trend is the one with momentum, favoring rationalizing monsters. Take this piece of superficially good news -- "Murdoch empire's News Corp. pledges to support Zero Emissions by 2030!"

Those of you who see this as a miraculous turnaround, don't. They always do this. "We NEVER said cars don't cause smog! We NEVER said tobacco is good for you! We NEVER said burning rivers are okay! We NEVER said civil rights was a commie plot! We NEVER said Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires will turn out well! We NEVER said the Ozone Crisis was fake!..."
... plus two dozen more examples of convenient amnesia that I list in Polemical Judo.
Now this 'turnaround?' As fires and storms and droughts make Denialism untenable even for raving lunatics and the real masters with real estate holdings in Siberia? so now, cornered by facts, many neural deprived confeds swerve into End Times Doomerism? No, we will not forget.


== More about Adam Smith... the real genius, not the caricature ==

I've long held that we must rescue the fellow who might (along with Hume and Locke) be called the First Liberal, in that he wanted liberated markets for labor, products, services and capital so that all might prosper... and if all do not prosper, then something is wrong with the markets. 

Smith denounced the one, central failure mode that went gone wrong 99% of the time, in most cultures; that has been cheating by those with power and wealth, suppressing fair competition so their brats would inherit privileges they never earned.

6000 years show clearly that cheating oligarchs, kings, priests, lords, owners are far more devastating to flat-fair-creative markets than "socialism" ever was. (Especially if you recognize the USSR was just another standard Russian Czardom with commissar-boyars and a repainted theology.) Whereas Smith observes that “the freer and more general the competition,” the greater will be “the advantage to the public.”

Here in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism the rediscovery of Smith is taken further, by arguing his moral stance was also, in interesting ways, theological.


== Now about that Moral High Ground ==


The demolition of USA's moral high ground - now aided by the most indignantly self-righteous generation of youths since the Boomers - is THE top priority of our enemies.  

Let me be clear, this is pragmatically devastating! As I have pointed out six times in trips to speak at DC agencies, it's a calamity, not because we don't need to re-evaluate and re-examine faults and crimes - (we do!) - but because that moral high ground is a top strategic asset in our fight to champion a free and open future when moral matters will finally actually count.

In those agency talks, I point out one of the top things that helped us to survive the plots and schemes of the then-and-future KGB, whose superior spycraft and easy pickings in our open society left us at a huge disadvantage.  What was it that evened the playing field for us? 

Defectors. They'd come in yearly, monthly ... and once a decade, some defector would bring in a cornucopia of valuable intel. Beyond question, former KGB agent Vlad Putin made it his absolute top priority to ensure that will not happen during Round Two. He has done it by systematically eliminating the three things we offered would be defectors --

- Safety....
- Good prospects in the West... and...
- The Moral High Ground.

Safety was the first thing Putin openly and garishly attacked, with deliberately detectable/attributable thuggery, in order to terrify. The other two lures have been undermined with equal systematicity, by fifth columns inside the U.S. and the West, especially as Trumpism revealed what America can be like, when our dark, confederate side wins one of the phases of our 250 year ongoing civil war. It has enabled Putin and other rivals to sneer "Who are YOU to lecture us about anything?"...

... And fools on the left nod in agreement, yowling how awful we are, inherently... when a quarter of the world's people would drop everything to come here, if they could. 

(Dig it, dopes. You want the narrative to be "we're improvable and America's past, imperfect progress shows it can happen!" But the sanctimoniously destructive impulse is to yowl "We're horrible and irredeemable!")

But then, we win that high ground back with events like the Olympics, showing what an opportunity rainbow we are. And self-crit -- even when unfairly excessive -- is evidence of real moral strength.


== Evidence? ==


This article from The Atlantic, History will judge the complicit, by Anne Applebaum, discusses how such a Fifth Column develops in a nation, collaborators willing, even eager, to assist foreign enemies against democracy and the rule of law. (I addressed much of this in Polemical Judo.)


"...many of those who became ideological collaborators were landowners and aristocrats, “the cream of the top of the civil service, of the armed forces, of the business community,” people who perceived themselves as part of a natural ruling class that had been unfairly deprived of power under the left-wing governments of France in the 1930s. Equally motivated to collaborate were their polar opposites, the “social misfits and political deviants” who would, in the normal course of events, never have made successful careers of any kind. What brought these groups together was a common conclusion that, whatever they had thought about Germany before June 1940, their political and personal futures would now be improved by aligning themselves with the occupiers."



== And now… from crazy town … ==


Turkey’s leader met two E.U. presidents. The woman among them didn’t get a chair.


And here’s an interesting look at the early fifties, showing an amazing overlap between UFO stuff and the plague of McCarthyism. And it’s stunning how similar the meme plagues were, to today. “On any given night, viewers of the highest-rated show in the history of cable news, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, might find themselves treated to its namesake host discussing flying saucers and space aliens alongside election conspiracies and GOP talking points. Praise for former President Donald Trump, excuses for those involved in the Capitol assault, and criticism of racial and sexual minorities can sit seamlessly beside occasional interviews featuring UFO “experts” pleading conspiracy. Recent segments found Carlson speculating that an art installation in Utah was the work of space aliens and interviewing a reporter from the Washington Examiner about whether UFOs can also travel underwater like submarines.”


I do not like these Putin shills

I do not like indignant shrills

From Foxite liars aiming barbs

At every elite except thars.

Lecture us when mafia lords...

...casino moguls and commie hordes

Petro sheiks and inheritance brats

And despots and their apparats

Don't rule the GOP with help

From uncle toms who on-cue yelp!

Your all-out war on expert castes

has one goal, lordship that lasts!


And finally

...showing that we aren't the only ones... Dolphins chew on toxic puffer fish and pass them around, as stoners do with a joint.




102 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

"Just because they have guns doesn't mean you should fight back with guns too. Fight back using legitimate knives."

Heh. Not really. It's all about allies… not weapons… again.

This is the same situation you were in when you wanted to call Two-Scoops an illegitimate President. He wasn't… yet. I advocated for letting him make himself so in order for your side to retain as many of our active duty personnel as possible. His election was legal until we could prove it wasn't because it was certified legitimately. He proceeded to make himself illegitimate enough to get impeached. Twice.

I know you don't want to hear this, but those Texas f#$kheads are making their argument illegitimate. Let them. Don' t destroy yours to win. Let them destroy theirs.

Look around at the forces mobilizing. Texas legislators want a fight on this topic. They'll get it. LET it happen.

——

Truth is Roe v Wade was decided on a weak argument. Privacy. Now look at the way most of us argue it in public. NOT privacy. We argue about LIBERTY! Let it happen because it is a fight the other side cannot win without fascism… which they will try… and it will not be tolerated.

Trust Your Civilization To Do The Right Thing.
Help it too.

Alfred Differ said...

Trust Your Civilization To Do The Right Thing.



I'm going to expand on this a bit without necessarily pointing it as a response to Larry. I'm thinking of a lot of you here in the community.



There has been a general trend over the last couple hundred years of our civilization turning away from an ancient, accepted human institution. Slavery. Human history is thick with it. It is SO thick that many of us still want it. Whether it lurks in our psyches as a kink or reaches the surface as behaviors that alter who we choose for mates and treat our neighbors and co-workers, it is still there.

We've partially liberated ourselves. We like to think we've come a long way. Both are true, but the battle is far from over. There is still a global industry for "human trafficking" which is just a nice word for slavery in the dark pockets of the global economy.

Make something people want to do illegal, and prices for it might climb high enough to make the ROI on slavery positive. Cold economic business terms to use for sure, but that's what killed many forms of slavery in the 19th century. The ROI's went negative as the world industrialized. That undermined a lot of support for the institution because the money vanished. No money? No bribes & corruption for it. Well… less bribes and corruption. Enough 'less' that they lost the fights.



How does this relate to abortion? Because the underlying issue is really Liberty. How free is a woman to decide what happens to her own body? How free is a pregnant teenage girl to avoid telling her parents and deciding what is best for herself? There is no doubt a woman is a moral agent, but how free is she to decide when it impacts someone else?

This is about a kind of slavery we still haven't abolished. We don't agree yet on what the right thing is. The facts are NOT what matters, though. This is about morals. What Rights does a woman really have?

We HAVE been coming around to a consensus that a woman must give consent to an act of sex for it not to be rape. We aren't fully there, though. Some feel that once she marries, she surrenders some of her rights to her husband. Some. Hopefully fewer each year, but there are still enough to make winning jury trials difficult.

We HAVE NOT come around to a consensus on what rights a woman surrenders when she becomes pregnant. Many of us have strong feelings about all this, but we do NOT agree yet. Some argue she surrenders nothing. Some argue she surrenders everything at least with respect to the fetus growing within her. Many argue for something in the middle. All of these arguments have one thing in common. We are debating the liberty of women. We are debating whether they are voluntary slaves.

Think on that and it is no surprise we get mad as hell. It's a fight that has to happen, though. Your civilization needs you to fight this fight. We need you to liberate women on something less flimsy than a privacy argument as used in Roe v Wade.

Are the women around you truly free?
What Rights do they surrender, if any, when they marry or become pregnant?
Who decides these things?
YOU DO! SO DO!

duncan cairncross said...

Just finished reading - The Deficit Myth – Modern Monetary Theory by S Kelton
Extremely interesting read
Previously I had considered that Robert A Heinlein’s summary of the requirement for “money” in a financial system was the best there was
A simple explanation that the money supply should increase as the economy does Which if you think of money in the economy as similar in function to blood in a body makes perfect sense
Directly from the book
We call the system “finance” and the symbols “money” The symbolic structure should bear a one to one relationship to the physical structure of production and consumption. It’s my job to keep track of the actual growth of the physical processes and recommend to the policy board changes in the symbol structure to match those in the physical structure

Reading “The Deficit Myth” I agree completely with the conclusion that “money” can be created with a few keystrokes
But I now question
“The symbolic structure should bear a one to one relationship to the physical structure of production and consumption”
Why???

I much prefer the pragmatic approach in MMT that the money supply can be increased UNTIL it hits a barrier of increased inflation
I do disagree with the “Federal Jobs Guarantee” idea in The Deficit Myth – it strikes me as being vastly over complex and that a Universal Basic Income would have the same effect without the complexity

One of the nice things about this is that when you remove the idea that “Taxes are used to balance the budget” then you can use Taxes more effectively to simply level the playing field and prevent people from having sufficient financial power to destroy democracy

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.
Louis D. Brandeis

Der Oger said...

Re: Sofagate and Ursula von der Leyen: Of course it could bee seen as a vile, populist and misogynist act by Erdogan. Another perspective is that she is part of those political forces who have stalled Turkey's entry into the EU for over 20 years, and that has led to bitterness vs. the EU.

But I could help but also feel some kind of schadenfreude. I opposed and disdained her politics since 2005 when she was "only" part of my state's administration, and though not as corrupt as many of her party colleagues, she had her own affairs and questionable situations. Allegations of Plagiarism, attempts to increase internet censorship under the guise of combating child pornography (hence her nickname "Zensursula"), murky and possibly corrupt relationship to healthcare and consultant corporations, obstruction of justice, the very way how she became president of the European commission, etc.

The only redeeming thing that I can find is that she did hold out longer at the helm of the Ministry of Defense than many of her predecessors, which is a feat upon itself.

Oh, and von der Leyen is a descendant of confederate slave-owners.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred,

I applaud your inspirationalism. Really.


Let it happen because it is a fight the other side cannot win without fascism… which they will try… and it will not be tolerated.


The difficulty is in really believing that second part.


Trust Your Civilization To Do The Right Thing.


Ok, I'll try not to be the one who "like so many others, I've...lost faith in the Dynamic Duo."

In any case, I trust my daughter's generation to do the right thing. I hate to put it on her, though.

* * *

On your second posting:


Some feel that once she marries, she surrenders some of her rights to her husband.


In the post you're responding to, I mentioned that marriage might constitute consent for carrying a fetus to term. I didn't mean that as surrendering her rights to her husband. I was thinking more in terms of the balance of the woman's rights and society's interest in protecting the life of the unborn--that willful actions which create a life do carry some responsibilities.


We are debating the liberty of women. We are debating whether they are voluntary slaves.


In cases where the woman is impregnated against her will and wants to terminate the pregnancy, that's what we're debating. In the larger sense, though, women are cast by biology in a role in reproduction (which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans'). And it's not like The Handmaid's Tale where the establishment forces fertile women to reproduce for the good of the state. Most women still do seem to want children at some point in their lives. And I daresay that a large, vocal contingent of the "abortion is murder" side are themselves women.

I'd say the larger debate is about mediation of the rights of a woman vs the rights of an unborn child, and about society's obligations to both.

scidata said...

Agreed with everything Alfred Differ said so well. I'll add my usual robotics/computation twist. AI as possessions/slaves is a theme that goes back to Frankenstein and before. It was certainly popular with Data-Pinocchio in TNG. Watch the latest demo videos from Boston Dynamics if you haven't already. These are not just toys or pets, they are nascent persons. They are created for menial/dangerous/tedious tasks - slavery.

This largely misses the point though. It's not about them -- it's about us. It's a revitalization of this "ancient, accepted human institution". I care little about the circuits I build, I certainly don't love them. But it gives me a twinge of guilt when I discard or damage them for my own capricious purposes. The halls of power are filled with statues and paintings, but they could use a few more mirrors.

'Skiffy' occasionally captures the double-edged horror of slavery perfectly (Blade Runner ending):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoAzpa1x7jU
I'm really hoping there's some of this poignancy in OGH's Uplift series, which I want to get to soon. Although truthfully, CB is so chock-full of spoilers that it makes it difficult to be a wide-eyed neophyte, my preferred mindset when starting a new series. Also, Orcas know how and why to eat shark livers. Dolphins know how and why to share puffer bongs. I wish I'd known these factoids when I debated Alfred Differ who insisted that science is a purely human endeavour :)

BTW, Paradoctor, I'd talk Rudy Rucker's ear off about Autodesk and John Walker (and Forth), so he's fortunate to have you as a friend and not me. If he drops in here, I promise not to pester him. [makes a zipping the mouth gesture]

Re: Allies
The morning of 9/11/2001 I was wondering if they gave out pilot's licenses in cereal boxes (ignorance is bliss).
Later that week I was talking to a fireman near Toronto who was collecting donations for NY while my fellow Canucks stood in silence, saluting the Stars and Stripes.
"Courage my friends, 'tis not too late to build a better world." - Tommy Douglas

Larry Hart said...

Appropos nothing, I finally found this site which I used to visit many years ago. It shows the result of the electoral vote all the way back through American history.

https://www.270towin.com/historical-presidential-elections/

What I find most fascinating is following the historical trends of (my own state of) Illinois and California. It's accepted wisdom now that both states are deep blue, but that's a fairly recent phenomena--only true since the Clinton election of 1992. Before that, both states voted for a Republican president many more times than for a Democrat. That's true even if you include the post-1992 elections in the total mix.

But what I find most fascinating is that whether Republican or Democrat at the time, the two states almost always vote for the same presidential candidate as each other. Going all the way back to California's first election in 1852, the only elections the two states voted differently in are:

1880 - Illinois went Republican for Garfield. California went Democratic.
1912 - Illinois went Democratic for Woodrow Wilson. California went for 3rd Party Teddy Roosevelt.
1916 - Illinois went Republican. California for Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
1960 - Illinois and Mayor Daley for JFK. California for native son Nixon

Otherwise, the two states have voted identically each time, often historically for Republicans but recently only for Democrats.

TCB said...

Alfred Differ, let me repeat to you the words of Jimmy Cliff: I'd rather be a free man in my grave, than living as a puppet or a slave, and I'll keep on fighting for the things I want, although I know that when you're dead you can't. So as sure as the sun will rise, I\m gonna get my share now, what's mine, and then the harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpQrLUopf-k

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

In the post you're responding to, I mentioned that marriage might constitute consent for carrying a fetus to term.

Yah, but I wanted to be real careful and not try to pin a belief on you that I do not actually know. When I'm in full Abolitionist mode, I honestly have no concerns with anything I've seen you write. Not a thing.

In cases where the woman is impregnated against her will…

I was specifically avoiding that case because there is a decent consensus for a woman NOT having to carry through the pregnancy. Only part of that consensus has to do with her liberty, though. A significant fraction of support comes from those who believe the rapist shouldn't be rewarded with a child. They are playing God when they judge that way, but I'm not objecting.

I'd say the larger debate is about mediation of the rights of a woman vs the rights of an unborn child, and about society's obligations to both.

Yes… but we don't have consensus on what rights a woman has. Many of us like to think we do, but it's not there yet. We couldn't even get the ERA passed. Without that foundation, balancing rights of women with their unborn children won't happen. We are not all starting from the same positions.


Everyone,

I don't mean to sound preachy on this topic. Well… sorta. Sometimes I do and it's one of the few topics on which I'll get hostile. I'm strongly for women's liberty. I'm an abolitionist. I'm the type who shows up at your door with an axe if I think you are into human trafficking.

I don't mean to sound preachy really means I don't think I need to be preachy. Not here. Not necessary.

Larry Hart said...

What I think President Lincoln really said:

You can be a bad cat all of the time.
And you can be a good cat some of the time.
But you can't be a good cat all of the time.

matthew said...

Looking at party preference over a long trend line and drawing conclusions from that data runs into a huge problem when you remember that the Republicans used to be the progressive party in US politics.
It is more fair to say that California and Illinois have trended to vote in a more progressive manner throughout our history when compared to the other states, with some exceptions when the two parties were changing positions (and membership) regarding progress.

Alfred and Larry - thanks for the good dynamic conversation you've been having lately. I learn a lot from both of you. It's appreciated.

matthew said...

TCB - words of utter wisdom from Jimmy Cliff. One of my favorite live shows was seeing Jimmy Cliff at the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe. Such a great place to see him. His songs really resonated there.

The Paolo is closed and supposed to be destroyed. I hope that it gets saved. It is a treasure of architecture and acoustic design. Check it out if you've never seen it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paolo_Soleri_Amphitheater

https://paolosoleriamphitheaterhistory.com/

Alfred Differ said...

Comment on political drift in California…

I got here in '83 to attend grad school. I had my head down most of the 80's and didn't notice politics very often. When I voted, I was far from being a libertarian. Rather more like a social democrat.

I was done with school in '92 and married by '95. By then I had a different outlook. Bulletproof ego. New priorities regarding what I needed to earn to start a family. All that stuff. For a short time I sought academic work, but that all ended in '94 and I joined the non-academic economy full time.

One thing I noticed is that my degree made it relatively simple to get an interview, but complicated things when they wondered if I'd stay. I developed a 5 second explanation for my departure from academia and used it a few times to secure jobs. It worked.

Another thing I noticed is that it was becoming progressively more difficult (read that as expensive) to live in California if you did not have a college degree. It was getting to where an advanced degree was the new 'college degree' when seeking employment. Expectations from hiring managers were inflating along with the education pool… and associated college loan debts.

By 2012 or so, it was quite obvious the uneducated residents weren't making it here. Many were beginning to leave. They couldn't afford the cities. The backwater places were economically fueled by gray and black market activities. We had undergone an economic segregation that highly correlated with education achievements.

It's no wonder our politics has drifted away from the GOP. That's where our underclass went. There is a helluva lot of resentment among those who still live here. I can't overstate that. They are pissed off, but they are also out-numbered and out-priced.

The English-Only event that happened here was part of their last gasp. Not only have we made it near impossible to live here on a HS diploma, we've also browned a lot. Much of the southern end of our state is a cultural borderland. Who cares where the border is with Mexico? Many of us don't except for the annoyance of crossing it. The English-Only advocates were striking at the wrong target, though. Those folks are inclined to be conservatives. The educated are not.

David Brin said...

Really interesting Alfred. A bit exaggerated I'll warrant. But eye-opening.

duncan cairncross said...

Re the abortion discussion

IF (big if) you give a fetus the same rights as a living breathing baby THEN it still does NOT have the "right" to use the mothers organs or blood

If one human being had the "right" to use another human beings organs or blood then the situation would be different
But we do NOT give a person the right to use another persons organs

The "pro-life" nutters would give a clot of cells MORE rights than an actual human baby

David Brin said...

Duncan. We part company on that one.

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

Looking at party preference over a long trend line and drawing conclusions from that data runs into a huge problem when you remember that the Republicans used to be the progressive party in US politics.
It is more fair to say that California and Illinois have trended to vote in a more progressive manner throughout our history when compared to the other states,


While I realize that the Republicans of the late 19th Century are almost the opposite thing of the Republicans of today, that's not the entire story. During the dust bowl migration of the late 30s, California authorities were the ones hostile to the rights of the Okies. And Illinois state government--outside of Chicago--was very much Republican until the 21st Century was visible in the headlights.

Remember that Nixon and Reagan were products of California, and Dennis Hastert and Henry Hyde came from my home state.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:
.
IF (big if) you give a fetus the same rights as a living breathing baby THEN it still does NOT have the "right" to use the mothers organs or blood


Yeah...except that biology works that way, and that's nobody's fault, not even the Romans'.

I'm not dismissing your point entirely, but it's a little disingenuous to equate "If one human being ad the *right* to use another human being's organs and blood" with the natural way pregnant women and babies relate to each other since forever. Note that I've been completely on your side in the case of rape, but when a woman creates a baby or risks doing so on purpose...well, I'm not sure how to end that sentence, but isn't it a different case from just hooking up a random person to your circulatory system or harvesting your organs for the benefit of a stranger?

duncan cairncross said...

HI Dr Brin
Possibly not
I was talking about "rights" - privilege's are a different animal

Being pregnant does involve some expectations of support -
Much as society SHOULD support the pregnant mother then the mother SHOULD support the fetus

But neither is a "right"

Larry Hart said...

duncan carincross:

Being pregnant does involve some expectations of support -
Much as society SHOULD support the pregnant mother then the mother SHOULD support the fetus

But neither is a "right"


I think the operative concept is whether either is a societal expectation.

And I think Alfred is on the mark with his assertion that that hasn't been decided yet.

David Brin said...

Sorry. Questioning a new human's right to support makes "right" meaningless.

I view it as murky. The fetus's rights GROW, not displacing the mother's but alongside hers.

Humans try to employ digital laws for an analogue world. Yes, especially we do that through religion, when Creation is hugely analog... and parallel.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Exaggerated and Simplistic.

I've yet to meet a part of reality that isn't complex, but I still squint at it and apply reductionism for my first couple of perturbation/expansion terms.

I was embarrassed when we tried that English-Only crap many years ago.

I was ashamed when Prop 8 passed.

I was surprised how both fell in short order. Especially Prop 8. I thought it would take longer to claw back the decision our State government had the courage to make earlier, but it happened in a relative blink of an eye.

(For the record, I'm voting to keep Newsom. I don't have to be a Democrat to dislike what GOP money is trying to do right now. Libertarians are likely going to vote to remove, but I'm not interested in helping the GOP.)

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Illinois state government—outside of Chicago…

Heh. Democrats were corrupt as Hell and the party chosen as home by Dixiecrats. Republicans were corrupt in their own way too. It was the era of party bosses, so I view old party divisions more as turf battles instead of idealogical conflict. Boss X owns Chicago. Boss Y owns the rural regions.

Parallels between CA and IL that date back are probably mostly about boss alliances. At least until CA residents enacted term limits in our state legislature. I remember voting for that, but my feelings on it have since become mixed. There are advantages to having party bosses… and big serious consequences too. We eliminated a problem and re-created a few others.

I think the operative concept is whether either is a societal expectation.

You are describing the virtue called 'Justice'.

What is reasonably expected of us?
What can we reasonably expect of others?

As far as I can tell, there are two competing definitions. One is liberal in the classical sense. Socially flat, created Equal, etc. The other is close to flat but permits 'those here first' to assert rules 'those who come later' aren't supposed to debate.

There is a third one that isn't socially flat, but most Americans would oppose it if they thought there was a risk it would dominate. It's the ancient pre-liberal one that tolerates social classes and different rules for each and between each. [Our host portrays it in action in his Foundation book. It's still in play in parts of the UK.]


Justice is emergent. There is no way to write down the rules we actually follow. We write some of them as legislation when needed, but only the ones that are absolutely needed have much chance of working in written form.

For example, we don't really need legislation making murder illegal. Most everyone already agrees it is. For the few who don't, though, we need those laws to prevent vigilante reactions. We write them not to punish evil-doers, but to protect The Rule of Law from those of us who would damn well defend Justice if necessary. You disagree? Think about it. If your community knows X murdered Y and will not face punishment from authority, what happens to the chances that X will be murdered by Y's kin? We already know how to deal with murder w/o criminal legislation. It's just that it's not a good way to run a community. OUR version of Justice has rules in it opposing vigilantes… because they damage us.

Alfred Differ said...

…you give a fetus the same rights as…

A GREAT deal of care needs to be taken at this step. Allow me to demonstrate…

1. Rights are not given. The ONLY time we make an exception to that rule is for Believers who have faith that Rights are given by God. That's it. No other exceptions.

2. Rights are claims that might or might not be recognized by others. Making matters worse, we might not all agree on making the same claim. It's even less likely we agree on recognizing the same claim made by others.

NOTE | If you think you can give another person rights, you are likely just recognizing their claim to a right. I'll understand if you want to make a mess of the English language and claim you give them a right, but I won't agree. However, please do try to make sure they actually make the claim before you recognize it. You CAN'T give someone a right THEY don't claim. [I can give my cat a right to an advanced physics education and accomplish something useful, right?]

3. Government doesn't grant rights. They don't even recognize them. They are BARRED from infringing on some of them (by name) because we've written the rules that way. We don't need them to recognize our rights EXCEPT to bar them from infringement. Anything more than that is frosting sweetened with ipecac. You won't like the unintended consequences.

4. [The Real Kicker] A fetus can't claim anything. An infant can claim slightly more, but they are really just demands. WE make claims for the fetus and infant. How do we do that? By claiming a Right to claim a Right for them.

NOW we are in recursion-land. Rights about rights. Rights of the mother. Rights of Mothers. Rights of Communities. Oops. What a @#%ing mess! WHO is making claims now? Who gets to make claims for groups? Do we recognize a right for some groups to make claims and not others? What about fathers who want one thing and mothers-to-be who want something else? Ugh.

5. Older children can make claims, but there is no digital 'step' between when they can't and can. They grow into their complexity, thus their understanding of what it means to claim a right. Very Analog. We still make claims for them using the Right in #4, but gradually pull back leaving room for them.

——

Abortion issues usually involve #4 because we do not yet agree on who can speak for a fetus and what they can reasonably expect of us. Claims are made, arguments are marshaled, legal fights are fought, but we don't have a consensus and won't for at least another generation. A big part of the impasse is we do not agree on what rights a mother-to-be HAS that can reasonably be defended. Is her womb her property? Is her body? If not, whose is it? Don't try to dodge the term 'property', though, because it is a foundation stone underlying Liberalism. Mess with it and everything topples.

Irji Dolas said...

Jesus Christ was just an "unwanted fetus".
So, if or more correcly when he'll be born yet again.
That'll be danger him being killed unborn.
Resolution is obvious. That all is Devil's plan.
Only hope that Jesus will come to us from that countries that do not support that murderous "woman's rights" to kill babies.

Larry Hart said...

This (emphasis mine) is worded exactly correctly. It's not that "Neither side will ever respect the results of an election again." It's that Republicans won't.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Senate/Maps/Sep13.html#item-9

The results will likely be known tomorrow night, but Republicans are already claiming defeat. They say that Newsom will win due to voter fraud. If, surprisingly, he is recalled, they will instantly retract the assertion of voter fraud. But the new normal in elections is that whenever a Democrat wins an election, Republicans will claim it is fraudulent. These claims may or may not change the results, depending whom the secretary of state is and whether he or she has a backbone with sufficient steel in it. But they will keep the base enraged and make sure they no Democrat can ever win an election that is not contested, except maybe in states with almost no Republicans, like Hawaii and Vermont.

The claims of voter fraud are not idle remarks to keep the base charged up. Larry Elder, the leading Republican in the recall race, has a "voter integrity board" set up, so if he loses, as expected, the lawyers on it will sue immediately. The idea is that the election is only round one. The final rounds take place in the courts.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

(For the record, I'm voting to keep Newsom. I don't have to be a Democrat to dislike what GOP money is trying to do right now. Libertarians are likely going to vote to remove, but I'm not interested in helping the GOP.)


I remember back when Wisconsin Democrats tried to recall Scott Walker, and our old buddy Tacitus2 made clear that many voters who voted against recall didn't like Walker, but thought that the recall attempt was underhanded. I'm assuming California Republicans don't agree with that assessment.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Think about it. If your community knows X murdered Y and will not face punishment from authority, what happens to the chances that X will be murdered by Y's kin?


It depends on the respective skin colors of X and Y.


We already know how to deal with murder w/o criminal legislation. It's just that it's not a good way to run a community. OUR version of Justice has rules in it opposing vigilantes… because they damage us.


That might be the most dangerous aspect of the rule of Trump. He encouraged vigilante action by his people while officially condemning even the slightest protest by the rest. The Capitol insurrection was the inevitable result, but long before that he was courting the support of the "tough people" by pardoning war criminals and encouraging police brutality and such.

Larry Hart said...

That theory about Jesus and abortion--well, you probably can guess what I think of it, but I can see that it would have traction with someone already inclined in that direction. In fact, that's probably the first time I've seen an actual connection made between the abortion issue and Jesus.

David Brin said...

I planned to reply courteously to Irji Dolas, till the 2nd posting just became a rude and aggressive hate-meme. So into the spam filter he goes.

Still, I do have an answer to the first post. That Mary was set aside special by the Immaculate Conception because no normal human women would be a worthy receptacle with inherited sin. Moreover there was also the Annunciation. And the virginity thing. So... I don't think it is very likely... if that process is repeated... that any saviors are aborted.

Anyway, given the hysteria we can expect in the 2030s, you can expect the claim he was already born around 2000. Check the carpentry shops about now. Or the Ashrams.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Still, I do have an answer to the first post. That Mary was set aside special by the Immaculate Conception because no normal human women would be a worthy receptacle with inherited sin. Moreover there was also the Annunciation. And the virginity thing.


Is any of that part of accepted Christian doctrine outside of Catholocism?


Anyway, given the hysteria we can expect in the 2030s, you can expect the claim he was already born around 2000. Check the carpentry shops about now. Or the Ashrams.


We've already discussed how the 2000th Easter might be anywhere from 2029 to 2037 depending on how we're measuring. Something that somehow escaped calendar boy's notice until recently is that the Jewish calendar year 6000 will fall very shortly thereafter--the end of 2039 and most of 2040. So one more thing to look forward to.

Larry Hart said...

correction....5800, not 6000.

Guess that's how it escaped my notice until now.

:(

Larry Hart said...

Oh, and how did the Q-Anoners miss this one?

The 1619 Project? The numbers 1 + 6 + 1 + 9 add up to 17. And the 17th letter of the alphabet is Q.

That's gotta prove...something.

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ, your comment on laws meant to obviate vigilantism remind me of the famous "town bully" murder case.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_McElroy

Shot in broad daylight, with 30 to 46 witnesses who didn't see nothin'.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Off topic but cool, Clickspring has a new video where he talks about what sort of workshop the Antikythera mechanism would have been made in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLBDKmFG90U

Robert said...

For example, we don't really need legislation making murder illegal. Most everyone already agrees it is.

But "most everyone" doesn't always agree which killings are murder. For example, lynchings where people posed for photographs and postcards clearly weren't regarded as murder by the (white) crowds. Indeed, they were "justice" for the crime of (for example) whistling at a white woman.

So I think we do need legislation, to define murder and to put the prosecution/punishment for it in the hands of a neutral justice system. (Ideally neutral, anyway, although demonstrably being non-pink is a disadvantage.)

TCB said...

Re: Jesus as son of God borne by a human woman, this was a standard bit of Greek and Roman mythology everyone knew about. Hercules is but one example: a mythical son of Jupiter, and a mortal woman, Alcmene. It was either a borrowing from that, or maybe a nose-thumbing at the Emperor. I've heard that contemporary Romans, on first hearing of the Jesus immaculate conception myth, would either tend to dismiss it as a new flavor of religious nonsense (Lucretius surely would, had he lived to hear about it) or express doubt that a god would create an offspring with a commoner. And perhaps the idea that Jesus could trace his lineage back to King David would have been an attempt to answer the second objection.

Incidentally, the Dwayne Johnson 2014 movie Hercules is REALLY GOOD. It's an adventure yarn, obviously, plus (according to my friend Kevin) the Iron Age battle tactics in it are pretty accurate, plus a theme of the movie is "How could all these myths originate about one man doing all those incredible things anyway?" In this movie, the answer is "He had a crew."

Jon S. said...

According to the date converter I found online, the year 6000 in the Jewish calendar will be 2239 Gregorian, meaning that it's possible Jesus would return just about in time to join Starfleet (he'd be six years younger than Jim Kirk).

Alfred Differ said...

Robert,

So I think we do need legislation, to define murder...

Won't do any good if we don't already have a significant consensus on the underlying moral behavior.

Lynchings happened because the consensus that it was murder wasn't there.

How big does the consensus have to be? At least 90%+.

Back in the Rodney King related riot in LA, big parts of the city were brought to a halt by just 2% of the population. It doesn't take much of a breach of consensus to stop some of our institutions.

Prohibition had hard-line advocates and a general public that was moderately willing to give it a try initially. Consensus was there, but a tad weak. A few years later, consensus was broken and the hard-line advocates doubled-down with laws that couldn't possibly be enforced short of fascism. Consensus broke further.

We have experience with these things, but we don't like some of the humbling lessons we've had to learn. Ya can't fix what people don't want to fix.

Alfred Differ said...

TCB,

Yup. That's why as a prospective jury member I SHALL take into account the possibility of letting someone get away with an illegal act IF I think they are socially trapped where Rule of Law isn't properly in place.

I'll consider it, but otherwise I frown heavily on vigilantes. Stop short of coercion, though, and I'm suddenly supportive.

gregory byshenk said...

Alfred Differ said...
1. Rights are not given. The ONLY time we make an exception to that rule is for Believers who have faith that Rights are given by God. That's it. No other exceptions.

2. Rights are claims that might or might not be recognized by others.


What is the actual point here?

Rights are social constructions, where a society agrees that it will not interfere with the exercise of that right (possibly within some limits) and as such (at least in my view) "given" by society.

That is what it means to socially recognize a right. Yes, a right may be claimed before it is granted, but the operative aspect is the granting, not the claiming.
Anyone can claim anything at all, but that claim remains empty unless and until it is recognized by society; i.e. "given".

And also, yes, granting rights that will not (or cannot) be exercised may be silly or pointless, but that doesn't seem to change the point. Granting cats the right to a higher education would be pointless and stupid, but we could ensconce such a thing in law. And this is no different than claims. I can claim a right to impossible things, and this is just as pointless.

Larry Hart said...

I said:

The 1619 Project? The numbers 1 + 6 + 1 + 9 add up to 17. And the 17th letter of the alphabet is Q.


I wonder if we can use this to our advantage. Convince the Q conspiratists that the 1619 Project is actually a sneaky way of getting Q-related theories taught in schools. They may start arguing in favor of 1619, and against the Republicans who want it kept out of schools.

At the very least, they might not know who to root for.

Der Oger said...

Re: Vigilantes: I have got the impression that US cops are exactly that ... playing judge, jury and executioner if you happen to have the wrong skin tone or live in the wrong area. Also, Batman and Punisher tatoos ... (One of my favorite questions when I worked in mental health was "If you were a superhero ... who would it be? Which superpower would you like to have?" The answers often gave away interesting insights.)

Re: Texas Abortion Law: While part of the agenda, it is also a fine GOP tool for creating more chaos, division and fear ... which helps to incite their base, keeps the other side angry and fearful, and divert the eye away from a far greater danger: That slow putsch they are enacting. The March through the institutions, as our 68ers have called it.
Maybe it helps to see this law as a part of a strategy; the prestidigitation of a cruel and cunning stage magician, working with smoke, mirrors, pyrotechnics and illusions ... also, "Chaos is a Ladder."

Re: Califonia: In what Alfred said, I see something that seems to confirm my suspicions about first-past-the-post electoral systems ... and two-party systems that seem to flourish under such circumstances. Maybe, just maybe, it is this system that creates these fascists if the conditions are right ... And maybe, just maybe, Leftists and Greens would not be considered as toxic and traitorous by OGH if they had actual participation in the political process ... as they often (not always) gravitate to the center when they mature.

Also, tent cities ... to deny that both great parties have committed grave mistakes is, like, denying climate change ... though we have increasingly the same problems with affordable housing. (The Berlin State has a proposition for expropriating real estate companies with more than 3000 housing units on September 26. Fun part is, the conservatives and libertarians cannot scream "Communism", because they did the same with whole villages to make way for coal mining and infrastructure projects. For decades.)

Re:Dolphins: Is there any scientific approach how to measure sapience? A test, scale or set of generally accepted conditions? I'd assume "recreational drug use" could be a positive indicator of whether a species is a sophont or not.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

According to the date converter I found online, the year 6000 in the Jewish calendar will be 2239 Gregorian,


Yes, I was off by 200 years. For some reason, I was thinking I might live to see Y6K.


meaning that it's possible Jesus would return just about in time to join Starfleet (he'd be six years younger than Jim Kirk).


First of all, I think the Christian mythos has Jesus returning full grown, not being born again (as it were).

Second, whatever connection would the return of Jesus have to the Jewish calendar? I mean, it's not like He was born or killed on a significant date the first time around.

* * *

gregory byshenk:

Yes, a right may be claimed before it is granted, but the operative aspect is the granting, not the claiming.
Anyone can claim anything at all, but that claim remains empty unless and until it is recognized by society; i.e. "given".


I think Alfred's point is that society doesn't come up with its own list of rights to grant out of whole cloth. The claiming is the first step which leads to the granting (or the denying, or the putting off until granting later).

Although sometimes, the claiming is done with an appeal to other values, such as logic and consistency. "If I own a mule, I'm allowed to vote. Why am I not allowed to vote if the mule dies?" That sort of thing.


And also, yes, granting rights that will not (or cannot) be exercised may be silly or pointless


"What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?"

scidata said...

Re: They may start arguing in favor of 1619
The movie INCEPTION, successful salesmen, corporate ladder climbers, and skilled diplomats all know this: persuasion is the art of making someone think your idea was theirs. If that's not possible, then at least they should think the idea came from within their tribe. If that's not possible, then screech, screech, for the dying of the light.

Re: Immaculate conception
"the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danaƫ as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother's flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was thus conceived. . . . Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. . . ." - Christopher Hitchens
This dovetails with the Tower of Babel. There's a special something about humanity; even Creators seem to heed it. My beef with Hitchens was that he often went for the cudgel of scorn when Melville's eye of Starbuck would have turned more minds.

Paradoctor said...

gregory byshenk:
<<
Granting cats the right to a higher education would be pointless and stupid, but we could ensconce such a thing in law.
>>

It would be pointless because cats already think they are higher beings.

I second Mark Twain's proposal that some monarchy make their royal family be cats.

David Brin said...

Der Oger, since it is now un-woke to call puzzle/problem solving skill as a measure of sapience - and we cannot judge it based on any human conception of semantics - one must sigh and ask what the meaning of the word is? ANy and all efforts to apply any 'human-centered" metric will be humano chauvinism. There comes a point when all you can do is sigh and shrug and then go back to trying our best to be empathic and curious and exploring.

"Re: Vigilantes: I have got the impression that US cops are exactly that ... playing judge, jury and executioner if you happen to have the wrong skin tone or live in the wrong area."

Yes, Der Oger! You DO get that impression! It is almost utterly false on a statistical level for the vast majority of officers who are decent folks and the very large number (well above population representation) of black and minority cops.

Now if we look beyond statistics to the tail of utterly repulsively-evil abuses by a minority who are thugs and bastards and living horrors? Yes, that can and should utterly outrage us enough to ream the cop unions and force the "decent" ones to do their top job, which is to find the guts to protect us from their badguy peers!

Robert said...

that can and should utterly outrage us enough to ream the cop unions and force the "decent" ones to do their top job, which is to find the guts to protect us from their badguy peers

I'm beginning to think that the solution is to professionalize policing. Put policing on par with nursing or teaching*, in terms of professional standards, retired training, needing a license which can be revoked, etc. You can (and should) still have unions for things like contract negotiations, ensuring that members have access to due process, etc, but the professional standards body would be a different matter.


*At least in Canada. America may be different.

Robert said...

"What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?"

So that when we get uterine replicators he can be landed with the responsibility of caring for it?

Having something like Bujold's uterine replicators would change a lot about the abortion argument, although I suspect the patriarchy would argue against the technology 'to protect the baby', but actually to continue to control the woman. But from a science fictional viewpoint, being able to give up that six-week-old clump of cells for adoption would change a lot. And seeing the arguments about who funds the mandated replicator would reveal a lot about true motivations.

Der Oger said...

Yes, that can and should utterly outrage us enough to ream the cop unions and force the "decent" ones to do their top job, which is to find the guts to protect us from their badguy peers!

There is a special mindset in certain subcultures - esprit de corps - which enhances that feeling of "we against the others". Anyone blowing the whistle on a colleague might be seen as a traitor, and suffer the consequences instead of the original bad apple. Many decent people in these systems purposefully look away or learn to keep their mouths shut. It remains even if you limit union power and influence, and give police officers advanced training, free healthcare, and high job security.

I side with Robert on the training aspect, though. I probably would not propagate "Defund the Police", but funding them in the right way.

...since it is now un-woke to call puzzle/problem solving skill as a measure of sapience...
Huh? Did I step on your toes, or is that really the current state of the debate?

Jon S. said...

First of all, I think the Christian mythos has Jesus returning full grown, not being born again (as it were).

Then the concern about aborting Him is even sillier. And basically I was mocking a silly idea.

Second, whatever connection would the return of Jesus have to the Jewish calendar? I mean, it's not like He was born or killed on a significant date the first time around.

He was killed after Passover, no? The Last Supper and all that? And for that matter, why would He return according to any particular calendar? They're all fairly arbitrary, and I'm tickled by the idea of Lt. Joshua Josephson serving under Capt. Kirk.

David Brin said...

Yes the Mormons depict him coming bodily to preach in Americas. But the 2nd coming is depicted variously. The Omen films have him "born" as a baby again, soon after Damien matures.

Anyway, they will pick and choose whichever mythos suits their needs at the moment. Round numbers they love.

David Brin said...

Der Ogger : >> ...since it is now un-woke to call puzzle/problem solving skill as a measure of sapience...
Huh? Did I step on your toes, or is that really the current state of the debate?

What? Crank back your tone-amplifier, fellah. Who the heck was angry or yelling at you? Not me fer sher.

I was simply commenting that comparisons of animal intelligence based on puzzles, or problem solving, or mazes, or tool use or semantics is always dismissed as chauvinistic and humano-centric narrowminded.

"They have their OWN styles of intelligence!"

And yes! That's entirely true! But it also means we must come up with some other word for what used to be a flawed-but-servicable word.

And that dismissal (and I did NOT accuse you of it) also ignores one of the top salient traits of smart humans in an enlightenment/scientific society... the fact that many researchers are always looking for any new angle to approach inter species communication. And dolphins are eager too! But every advance comes from our end.

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart said...
gregory byshenk:
Yes, a right may be claimed before it is granted, but the operative aspect is the granting, not the claiming.
Anyone can claim anything at all, but that claim remains empty unless and until it is recognized by society; i.e. "given".

I think Alfred's point is that society doesn't come up with its own list of rights to grant out of whole cloth. The claiming is the first step which leads to the granting (or the denying, or the putting off until granting later).

But that isn't what Alfred said, at least as I read it. He said that they are not given, but claimed. My point is that this seems to me to be either an empty distinction, or just wrong.

Of course rights are not something free-floating, nor does society simply make up a collection of rights from nothing. Rights arise out of historical social contexts.

And indeed, most rights that have been granted have arisen out of a claim.

But the claiming is not the operative aspect. A claim remains empty unless and until society chooses to recognize the claim and grant the right. So I am not saying that claims are irrelevant; often they are. Rather, I am saying that the statement "Rights are not given" is incorrect.

Der Oger said...

But it also means we must come up with some other word for what used to be a flawed-but-servicable word.

I sometimes use the term "sophont" from the Traveller RPG, which itself is a part of a scaled system and puts us in the middle somewhere between Viruses and godlike beings. But maybe the search for a better word is a small step we have to manage before we get to the next level. Perhaps using a Kardashev - Type scale could help... maybe the Brin Scale of Technobiocultural Development? :-)

the fact that many researchers are always looking for any new angle to approach inter species communication. And dolphins are eager too! But every advance comes from our end.

I often think that they try to tell us way more than we can understand. Maybe "Ability to communicate with different biological species" is a box on some other sophont's evaluation list we'll have to check. As might be "Ability to raise other creatures to the same level of Intellect".

Tim H. said...

The issue of police crimes might have a link to a meme infesting some "conservatives", "Trash people", those considered unworthy of being protected by law. While this is certainly one way to boost self-affirmation, I don't think it's in the long term interest of elites. From here, it seems like it'd be more fun in the long run to work out a livable compromise for as many people as possible. Such a compromise would cut into some profits, and not do as much as would be ideal for others, but should allow commercial enterprises to continue, which might be a debatable prospect without a compromise.

Larry Hart said...

Thank you California for saving us from Governor Larry Elder.

David Brin said...

Der Oger… any attempt to come up with a new word for “intelligence” that allows us to recover the utility of discussing problem-solving and linguistics and action-consequence projection… any such word will immediately then be pounced upon as un-empathic, oppressive, humano-chauvinistic and insular. The irony being that the reflex to extend empathy and inclusiveness IS a human value that such critics are calling supreme metrics.

GB: Braveheart: “They can kill us, but not take our FREEEEdom!” That claims the assertin of rights comes first.

Side consequence of this recall tomfoolery is that Democrats may be getting in the habit (esp. with mail in ballots) of a

David Brin said...

..... the habit of actually voting in off year elections.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Democrats may be getting in the habit of actually voting in off year elections.


Republicans may have awakened a sleeping giant.


GB: Braveheart: “They can kill us, but not take our FREEEEdom!” That claims the assertin of rights comes first.


I think gb and Alfred are having a semantic argument.

Gregory doesn't dispute that the claim comes first (chronologically), but maintains that until the acceptance of the claim, the claim itself is meaningless.

Alfred asserts rather that the heavy lifting is being done by the act of the claim itself, while acknowledging that the ratification of that claim hasn't happened until society accepts it.

Contrary to Fiddler on the Roof, they can both be right.

matthew said...

Doc, please supply verification of this statement - "[S]ince it is now un-woke to call puzzle/problem solving skill as a measure of sapience." I run in pretty "woke" circles and I've never seen anything like this. At best you are describing the actions of .0001% of the population, but I doubt it is even that prevalent.

Also, Portland Police would like to take you to task for your description of the majority of cops as good people. You are *severely* exaggerating the number of good cops. Look to how many cops would turn in a dirty cop for example of how many good apples are being spoiled...

We have a *big* problem with police, the FBI, the intelligence agencies, etc. What our host calls the "protector caste." Ignoring the problem is not the solution. Defending problem makes it worse.

David Brin said...

Matthew the last FOUR cops I've interacted with across years were a hispanic, two black males and a white woman.

Anecdotal, yes, but not all California. And very professional. And yes I am white privileged, but with THEM?

I distinguish between those who keep their heads down and do professional jobs but ignore the bad guys... and the Serpico heroes who denounce bad cops. The latter are rare! And we should go at the unions who help intimidate the better ones into shrugging.

As for "intelligence" bah! What utter drivel, sir! I have long lived in the community of those discussing animal intellect and almost any use of that word comparatively in any public way gets you swiftly hammered.

scidata said...

What astonishes me most about SpaceX is the reliability. Spaceflight is becoming a bus ride. The crew almost looks... bored.

David Brin said...

96 landed orbital launches. No one else has done even one. Yeah.

David Brin said...

Scott Manley points out a record 14 humans are in space. 7 on ISS. 3 on Taigong... and these 4.

duncan cairncross said...

At best you are describing the actions of .0001% of the population, but I doubt it is even that prevalent.

Unless Americans are completely different to Brits and Kiwis that is so wrong its just insane!

People - real people - are solving problems all the time - every day!

And in many ways so are animals

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

The heavy lifting is (indeed) in making the claim. It is a risky thing to do when a claim flies against the social rules baked into our concept of Justice. Imagine the Monty Python peasant claiming to be oppressed. Really? (Heh.) That was their place! At the bottom in the mud!

I'm opposed to using the term 'grant' mostly because I think it is incredible hubris. I'll make an exception for Believers who think God granted them rights, but I'll make no exception for them to play at being God. I'm not a believer, but I do have issues when people assume too many capabilities for themselves. We are amazing at time, but we simply aren't THAT capable.

Gregory,

Many years ago I would have argued that the distinction was pointless. I don't anymore because I think the distinction is fundamentally what made our civilization different in the 'Enlightenment' sense. Our civilization has a core belief in Individualism. Some of us take it to an extreme and try to deny the existence of collective entities, but I'm not one of them. To me it is obvious that we give up 'something' when we choose to marry and procreate. That something HAS to be given for the 'family' to come first in our minds when security and survival are threatened. We give up something when participating in larger communities too. What we've done with our civilization is limit the surrender, level it between peoples of different backgrounds, and even begun to level it between men and women.

Our core belief in individualism emerges mostly as a 'let them be' kind of tolerance, but that implies an assumption about existence of a number of 'rights' that usually goes unspoken. So… how do 'individuals' establish right? Obviously by stating claims. There is no other way. How do 'individuals' tolerate each other? The only reasonable way is by recognizing claims. Individuals can't grant because they have no authority to grant.

The consequences of strict individualism shape explanatory narratives covering why things are the way they are. That doesn't mean other narratives don't cover them equally well, but being an individualist I tend to stick to the ones consistent with my core beliefs. Thirty years ago I was less of an individualist than I am now, so I've had no choice but to face these consequences.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Thanks for a new rabbit hole. This may distract me from flatearther debunking for a bit.

Alfred Differ said...

saving us from Governor Larry Elder

Heh. My household gets one voter supplement pamphlet from the state covering common instructions, ballot choices, and supporting material offered by campaigns. No need to print as many of those as there are voters, right?

My normally extra cautious mother-in-law gets the mail and places it on our kitchen counter. She's super sensitive to social faux pas situations, so I don't normally discuss politics with her. Occasionally she'll ask questions, but is hesitant to voice positions.

When I found the pamphlet listing all our candidates for governor, she had scrawled across the front of it the following.

"Get a load of THESE losers!"

---------

Our county seat is in the city of Ventura. There is one set of buildings that house a number of courts and a lot of administration offices. Whenever there is a political protest to be arranged, we typically do it on their grounds nearest the major roads. Wanna protest police brutality happening somewhere? Wave your signs at the traffic flowing nearby. Wanna support the police? Wave your blue line flags at the traffic flowing nearby. Wanna support Trump's effort to steal the election? Wave your US flags AND drive smoker trucks through that area. Wanna recall a governor? Wave your flags and shout at the traffic.

I get to see these events fairly often, but not because I'm participating. Our favorite coffee shop supports those county workers, so it's located across the street and down the block a little bit. I'm over there with our family most weekends getting my diet-required daily doses of dairy... that happen to be mixed with espresso. It's a predictable family event. Wife, kid, mother-in-law, and me.

Normally when we drive by protests, my mother-in-law is silent and my wife grumbles if she disagrees with them. This last weekend, though, we passed by the recall protesters. No grumbles or silence this time. My wife slaps the universal loser sign on her forehead and makes damn sure the protesters see her glare at them. My mother-in-law pipes up with "Boo!" and they see that too. The Protester's retort? "Liberal Women!" Heh. My wife was chuckling at that for a solid 30 minutes.

---------

Not only might they be getting more into a habit of voting in off-year elections, they might be getting down right uppity. Heaven help us all.

gregory byshenk said...

David Brin said...
GB: Braveheart: “They can kill us, but not take our FREEEEdom!” That claims the assertin of rights comes first.

That is a nice bit of rhetoric, but it is actually wrong, if you think about it. Killing me does very effectively (and irrevocably) take away my freedom.

As noted above, my point is not that claims don't exist. Indeed, in order for a right to be granted someone must assert that such a right should be granted. But, also as stated above, anyone can claim anything, no matter how absurd. What is operative in rights is the granting, not the claiming.

GMT -5 said...

Build a wall around the Torah and lead by example. That is about all we can do now. And resist militant expansion (eg. military action against China if it invades Taiwan or against any other country that attacks a neighbor in an attempt to gain some advantage) but do it the way we did it for the first gulf war...by creating international consensus that military action is justified and building a coalition to oppose the aggressor. No more attempts at nation building...no one knows how to do that.

Larry Hart said...

I know I deviate from several others here (including our host) on whether Democrats should take advantage of gerrymandering as in the article below. My minority position is that I would like to see all gerrymandering eliminated, but that we won't ever get there by Democrats unilaterally disarming while Republicans continue to reap the benefits. The only way forward to the elimination of gerrymandering is to make it clear to Republicans that the practice can hurt them too.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Senate/Maps/Sep16.html#item-5

New York was not gerrymandered in 2010 because neither party had the power to do so. Now the Democrats have the trifecta and the power to do so. Officially, there is an independent redistricting commission, but it is only advisory to the legislature. The Democrats in the state legislature can ignore it if they want to. And they certainly want to.

They are going to squeeze the map like it has never been squeezed before. There is a chance they can draw districts that will cost four Republicans their seats in 2022. So even if the seat that New York has to give up is a Democratic one (for geographical reasons), the Democrats have an outside shot at picking up a net of seven seats. It's currently 19 Democrats and 8 Republicans, which is +11 Democrats. If you knock out one of those Democrats but convert four of the red seats to blue seats, then you end up with 22 Democrats and 4 Republicans, which is +18 Democrats. An increase from +11 to +18 is +7. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) has said she has no qualms about gerrymandering the hell out of the map, which is all the incentive the Democrats in the legislature need.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Individuals can't grant because they have no authority to grant.


Individuals, no, but the community can grant or withhold. It's not so much a matter of authority as just the way things are.

For context, in one of Kurt Vonnegut's books, he said (or had a character say--I forget which) that dignity is something we grant to one another. In answer to the question of whether one can be granted dignity by God, his answer was no, that it doesn't work that way.

You probably take issue with that, but I do see the point he was getting at. If the black family who moves into Cicero, Illinois gets rocks thrown into their windows all night by a milling crowd with ropes and guns visible, and the police are just chatting up the mob rather than even thinking about intervening, then the community is refusing to grant that black family human dignity. It makes no difference if one says that they deserve the same dignity as everyone else, or that God sees them as equally valuable as anyone else, or that they can believe in themselves no matter what others say. What is happening is that the community is denying them dignity. The community can do that. It's not a question of authority. It's a question of "What's the alternative?"

Larry Hart said...

Presented without further comment...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Senate/Maps/Sep17.html#item-4

[H]ere is this story, also sent in by J.S. in Den Haag, who is clearly on top of the schadenfreude beat. A hospital system in Arkansas was getting a lot of demands for vaccine exemptions on the basis that the vaccines were developed using fetal-cell lines, which conflicts with Christian employees' beliefs. The hospital has decided they will grant such exceptions, as long as the employees also forego other medicines developed using fetal-cell lines, including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, ibuprofen, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, albuterol, Preparation H, MMR vaccine, Claritin, and Zoloft. Hospital administrators say their goal is twofold: (1) to identify people with real religious concerns, and (2) to educate people about how widely used fetal-cell lines are. We can find no information about how well this has worked out, but it certainly has to gladden the hearts of folks who would like to see religious-exemption pretenders hoisted by their own petards. And that is pretty much the definition of schadenfreude.

scidata said...

In South Africa, local artisans are building their own hand-crafted radio telescope near the SKA.
https://www.sarao.ac.za/media-releases/telescope-built-by-karoo-locals-releases-data-to-astronomers-around-the-world/

The roots of curiosity are ancient and deep.

gregory byshenk said...

Alfred Differ said...
The heavy lifting is (indeed) in making the claim. It is a risky thing to do when a claim flies against the social rules baked into our concept of Justice. Imagine the Monty Python peasant claiming to be oppressed. Really? (Heh.) That was their place! At the bottom in the mud!

It may sometimes be a risk to make a "rights" claim, but that seems almost wholly irrelevant to whether the right ever becomes actual. And I suggest it is often much riskier to make a claim when it goes against the social rules of power relations (something I suspect your example is actually illustrating). Claims made that conflict with our concept of justice will likely be ignored.

I'm opposed to using the term 'grant' mostly because I think it is incredible hubris. I'll make an exception for Believers who think God granted them rights, but I'll make no exception for them to play at being God. I'm not a believer, but I do have issues when people assume too many capabilities for themselves. We are amazing at time, but we simply aren't THAT capable.

What other word do you want to use? A "right", if it means anything, is a recognition by society that certain things must be respected, and will be protected. That is something that is "granted" by society. Unless you think that rights are some sort of ideal thing floating free - which just seems like nonsense to me (and to many others).

Many years ago I would have argued that the distinction was pointless. I don't anymore because I think the distinction is fundamentally what made our civilization different in the 'Enlightenment' sense. Our civilization has a core belief in Individualism.
[...]
The consequences of strict individualism shape explanatory narratives covering why things are the way they are. That doesn't mean other narratives don't cover them equally well, but being an individualist I tend to stick to the ones consistent with my core beliefs. Thirty years ago I was less of an individualist than I am now, so I've had no choice but to face these consequences.


Ah. Individualism.

Our core belief in individualism emerges mostly as a 'let them be' kind of tolerance, but that implies an assumption about existence of a number of 'rights' that usually goes unspoken. So… how do 'individuals' establish right? Obviously by stating claims. There is no other way. How do 'individuals' tolerate each other? The only reasonable way is by recognizing claims. Individuals can't grant because they have no authority to grant.

The problem, of course, is that "stating claims" does absolutely nothing to "establish" rights. People claim things all the time, and discover that their claims are empty. Take the 'sovereign citizen' movement, for example.

As Larry Hart points out, what actually makes a difference is when society, in the form of a state (or state-like) organization chooses to grant that right and protect it. No doubt many who have been persecuted or killed have claimed a right not to be, but such claims meant nothing.

Alan Brooks said...

I sent messages to AOC and Tliab (because they’ll pay attention) saying that the first priority is keep Trump from being elected again in 2024. “What good is progress if it gets wiped out four, five, six years from now?”

Larry Hart said...

gregory byshenk:

As Larry Hart points out, what actually makes a difference is when society, in the form of a state (or state-like) organization chooses to grant that right and protect it. No doubt many who have been persecuted or killed have claimed a right not to be, but such claims meant nothing.


I used the word "community" instead of "state" because people can give aid, comfort, refuge, etc to others irrespective of what the law states or what the government will enforce. I'm thinking of, say those who hid Jews from the Nazis in the 40s. They were granting rights to their neighbors which the state and the law explicitly denied. In the case I cited, where the townspeople of Cicero drove a black family out, almost the opposite was true. The law and the state granted rights which the community refused to honor.

* * *

Alan Brooks:

I sent messages to AOC and Tliab (because they’ll pay attention) saying that the first priority is keep Trump from being elected again in 2024. “What good is progress if it gets wiped out four, five, six years from now?”


For that same reason, I'd say that the first-er priority is to keep Congress out of Republican hands. What good is progress if it gets wiped out two years from now?

scidata said...

Not my biz or expertise, but I'm a bit surprised at Dems who lament the persistence of Mango Unchained. There's a rotund, orange torpedo about to slam into the CSS Titanic. I try to look away, but I just can't.

BTW Did you know there's a conspiracy theory that the Titanic didn't sink, and that it was actually an insurance scam? What are you people eating/drinking down there?

matthew said...

We need to keep Congress out of GOP hands for the reason that the GOP is now openly stating that they are going to refuse to certify the next Presidential election if they lose it. We are now at the point where the American nation as we know it is existentially threatened at every federal election.

Larry Hart said...

mathtew:

the GOP is now openly stating that they are going to refuse to certify the next Presidential election if they lose it.


Obvious sarcasm:

It's a good thing Vice President Gore didn't refuse to certify the election of his opponent George W Bush after W stole Florida in 2000. They'd have done the same thing to us when they had the chance.

Bob Neinast said...

Alan Brooks:

I sent messages to AOC and Tliab (because they’ll pay attention) saying that the first priority is keep Trump from being elected again in 2024. “What good is progress if it gets wiped out four, five, six years from now?”

And I bet that their retort would be that the only way to keep him from being elected in 2024 is to fully adopt their progressive agenda right now. (And they may be right.)

David Brin said...

AOC is far more highly evolved than her squad mates. She undserstands politics.

Alan Brooks said...

True, but it’s a good idea to keep in touch with Muslim politicians. What worries me most (and ‘concern’ is more or less synonymous with worry) is the prospect of a big war later in the decade. It appeared Trump wanted a war with Iran a couple of years ago; whatever the case might have been, if anyone could start a big war, Trump is one who could instigate it. So he can strut around like Napoleon without a jockstrap. This is to say that Trump’s foreign policy outlook is even more worrisome than his domestic.

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart said...
I used the word "community" instead of "state" because people can give aid, comfort, refuge, etc to others irrespective of what the law states or what the government will enforce. I'm thinking of, say those who hid Jews from the Nazis in the 40s. They were granting rights to their neighbors which the state and the law explicitly denied. In the case I cited, where the townspeople of Cicero drove a black family out, almost the opposite was true. The law and the state granted rights which the community refused to honor.

I think that failing to be sufficiently specific tends to make the question less clear.

I said "state (or state-like)" because I think the only reasonable concept of "rights" is of something granted by a society and recognized as being protected, and it is only a "state (or state-like)" organization that can do this.

The example of those protecting Jews from the Nazis is, in this view, not an example of an existing "right", but of a sort of 'privilege'. The rights of the Jews were not actually protected, but some people chose to help them in spite of this.

Actual protection is important for a "right" to be meaningful. Suppose we say that someone has a "right" to free speech - but every time they attempt to speak, someone else walks up and hits them in the head with a bat, and no one does anything about it. I say that in this case the "right" does not meaningfully exist.

Tim H. said...

If "Drumph!" attempts a comeback in 2024, I'd suggest borrowing from LBJ's '64 campaign, a mushroom cloud with the message "In your heart, you know he might.".

Unknown said...

I'd like to go back to the part of your post that touches on French collaborators - "their political and personal futures would now be improved by aligning themselves with the occupiers."

I'm thinking that you are obliquely referring to Republican officials in the service of Putin's kakistocracy? I suspect it goes further than that. There does seem to be a reverse Comintern angling for antidemocratic outcomes across the globe, well funded by malefactors of great wealth.

David Brin said...

GB well said... and also Unknown, whatever that one's source. The filter let it through and I am glad.

Speaking of which I get a daily report and it looks like someone is thrashing and yowling down in the swill bucket. Maybe I'll drop a toe down there and see what it is now. And maybe not. Busy.

Larry Hart said...

gregory byshenk:

The example of those protecting Jews from the Nazis is, in this view, not an example of an existing "right", but of a sort of 'privilege'. The rights of the Jews were not actually protected, but some people chose to help them in spite of this.


We're saying essentially the same thing, although you seem to think we're arguing. I think I'm just being more Alfred-like in uncoupling rights from the state. In my view, a healthy government is established (among other things) to protect the rights that the community/society recognizes. But if the government is dysfunctional or captured, that doesn't necessarily change the popular perception of rights.


Actual protection is important for a "right" to be meaningful.

True, but protection is not limited to the state. I'd say that those who hid Jews from Nazis did so with the conviction that those people did have rights, despite their government. Or that their government didn't have the right to dehumanize a subset of their subjects.

You seem to want a simple rule as to how rights are recognized and enforced, and calling recognition and enforcement by someone else to be something different. I'm going for the more complicated interpretation. If there's enough of a recognition and protection of claimed rights, then the right can be said to exist.


Suppose we say that someone has a "right" to free speech - but every time they attempt to speak, someone else walks up and hits them in the head with a bat, and no one does anything about it. I say that in this case the "right" does not meaningfully exist.


That is exactly the situation I described with the black family who moved to Cicero. In that case, their right to move into that community didn't meaningfully exist because the community rejected them, despite anything claimed by the law or the state.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

dignity is something we grant to one another

Yup. Completely agree.

the community can grant or withhold

Ugh. No. They can recognize or deny. There is a subtle difference.

A community is composed of individuals but is itself NOT a moral agent. It has some capacity to think, react to stimuli, and engage in actions. The atoms of which one is composed aren't always individual humans, though. Often they are family units where individuals have surrendered some of themselves for their tiny collective.

Communities aren't smart enough to grant. They CAN tolerate claims by 'letting them be'. This is essentially what recognition is. If we 'let you be' your claim stands unchallenged. That's enough!

I intentionally try to avoid "should" and "deserve". Let the religious folks debate that stuff. I look squarely at what is tolerated. If I make a claim to own an acre of land on the Moon and no one challenges my claim, then I do… simply because I say so. It does NOT matter if people think I'm being stupid about it because that will become obvious later when I try to sell my claim in a market and get no bids.

1) The CLAIM establishes an expected Right.

2) The RECOGNITION establishes the rules of Justice that we might or might not encode in legislation depending on whether we care enough to do it.

deserve the same dignity

The danger of getting into arguments involving "should" and "deserve" is that one has already assumed the rules of Justice determined by the society. If one is debating those rules, one should avoid assuming them. Establishing "Rights" IS such a debate.

Alfred Differ said...

Gregory,

I suggest it is often much riskier to make a claim when it goes against the social rules of power relations

Completely agree.

What other word do you want to use? A "right", if it means anything, is a recognition by society that certain things must be respected, and will be protected.

I don't expect to convince you to do it my way… and that's perfectly okay by me. What I WANT is for the claim to be a 'right' and recognition by society to be a 'recognized right'.

Think about some of the folks being moderated out of our discussion right now. They CLAIM to have a right to shit on our host's rug. They keep making the claim every time they try. Obviously he rejects their claim, but more importantly… we do too. Their claim still exists, though. They see it as a form of freedom. We deny it, thus it does not advance to that next level.



I think it important to recognize a claim for what it is. Without that, one of the amendments in our Bill of Rights means nothing. With it, minority members of our society can make all the claims they want and challenge a majority on a legitimate battle field.

If a claim is not a right, the claimant should not be allowed on the field. This is what confederates denied blacks for decades. They disallowed the battle by making it illegitimate and Jim Crow ruled the day. We must not allow this to remain so if we care to liberate all of us from unnecessary oppression.


"stating claims" does absolutely nothing to "establish" rights. People claim things all the time, and discover that their claims are empty.

Indeed, but that doesn't undermine my point. I can make all sorts of stupid claims and be ignored by all of you. As long as I'm tolerated, though, my claim remains and I go about my life as I wish. I can claim a right to wear mismatched socks every day! Y'all will probably let me without sending the fashion police after me. Ta da! I'm happier for it. More importantly, though, I'm liberated by your tolerance even for stupid s&(t.

Take the 'sovereign citizen' movement, for example.

Heh. I resemble that remark.

Look closely at it, though, and you'll find most of it is merely stupid crap you can tolerate leaving us happily living our lives. It isn't until we push our expectations further in attempts to change the rules of justice by which you live that you have to respond.

No doubt many who have been persecuted or killed have claimed a right not to be, but such claims meant nothing.

I reject that. Their claims mean a lot even when they are unpersuasive.

Alfred Differ said...

Gregory wrote…

I said "state (or state-like)" because I think the only reasonable concept of "rights" is of something granted by a society and recognized as being protected, and it is only a "state (or state-like)" organization that can do this.

I understand that a lot of people see things this way. It is a 'positive' system in that a right does not exist until granted.

I think it is an error and a failure to understand the foundation of our Enlightenment civilization. We were founded on a 'negative' system. Liberty is the absence of coercion. A Right is claimed by the smallest entity of a society whether or not it is recognized and defended.

Read Amendment 9 in the Bill of Rights. It's real short.

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

They made it real clear that the BoR wasn't a list of grants. It was a list of recognized rights the federal government was forbidden to infringe.

We've added to the list with later amendments as Amendment #9 clearly states we would. What we've added, though, are NEGATIVE statements. "Government may not infringe X." Look at Amendment #19 for example.

David Brin said...

I am a pragmatist about "rights" but in a way that leads me to constitutional rights absolutism! I need one thing. A civilization that continues to encourage good governance, greater awareness, error-detection and problem-solving ability, less talent-wasting and continued joy and fun.

The governance thing requires we leave behind us the standard model imposed by male reproductive drives... feudalism, which always governs very badly. And only one method has ever keept feudalist cheating under control... democracy.

Error detection requires reciprocal criticism (RC) with some methods of openly criticized adjudication. And reciprocal criticism (while claimed to happen under Maoism) only EVER actually happens on the presence of freedoms, especially speech. And those freedoms are only defended with sufficient vigor if they are held to be universal and sacred.

In order to get the thing we need, (RC), we must nurse an illusion of natural "rights" which were never 'rights' in any more natural human culture. It is to get the pragmatic necessity, the thing we'll die without, that I go along with treating natural rights as sacred. And of course these rights help to stop wasting talent with idiocies like racism/sexism.

The 'fun' part could happen in a Huxleyan BNW society, and World Director Mustafa Mond speaks of their allowances for criticism and error detection. And in theory, it MIGHT happen in a controlled state. Still... it's never ACTUALLY happened without democracy.

Alas, as we saw in Periclean Athens, Florence and today, the male oligarchic drive will leverage a power base to pry at democracy's emotional weaknesses. Surrounded by sycophants, these oligarchs proclaim THEY are the ones defending fundamental rights! When they are only proving one fact... that they are barely sapient beings. And maybe not even that.

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart said...
We're saying essentially the same thing, although you seem to think we're arguing. I think I'm just being more Alfred-like in uncoupling rights from the state. In my view, a healthy government is established (among other things) to protect the rights that the community/society recognizes. But if the government is dysfunctional or captured, that doesn't necessarily change the popular perception of rights.

I think you are misreading what I am saying. I am saying that what is required for a "right" to exist is that there is some collective that will actually protect it. This does not require a formal state, but something like a 'state' in Weber's definition: a community that has a monopoly on the use of of force. That is the point of examples such as lynching; if individuals can violate claimed "rights" with impunity, then those "rights" do not exist.

Here I say strongly: "do not exist". This because, in my view, the only sensible concept of 'rights' is something that a community agrees upon. They have no existence other than that. Other concepts, such as "endowed by our creator" or "natural" are non-starters. So far as we can tell, there is no creator, and if there is then we have no idea what it might endow; and 'rights' are just not a part of nature.

This is not a "simple rule". Of course there is a matter of degree. No "right" can be perfectly protected. But there must actually be some protection within the relevant community for a right to exist; it cannot be dependent upon the view of a single individual. An individual may "claim" a right, but that is only a desire or hope. Donald Trump may claim to be the president (interestingly, another sort of thing that exists only as a social construction), but that claim remains empty (and indeed false) unless and until the relevant community accepts it.

Note also that I am not suggesting that merely writing some "right" into law makes it exist. If such a "right" is claimed (even by a state), but not protected, then it also does not exist. That is precisely my point about the emptiness of 'claims'.

gregory byshenk said...

Afred Differ said...
1) The CLAIM establishes an expected Right.

2) The RECOGNITION establishes the rules of Justice that we might or might not encode in legislation depending on whether we care enough to do it.


This seems to me to be simply wrong, unless you are using some odd definition of 'establish'. A claim may propose or suggest the idea of some right, but it does not will it into existence.

I think it important to recognize a claim for what it is. Without that, one of the amendments in our Bill of Rights means nothing. With it, minority members of our society can make all the claims they want and challenge a majority on a legitimate battle field.

If a claim is not a right, the claimant should not be allowed on the field. This is what confederates denied blacks for decades. They disallowed the battle by making it illegitimate and Jim Crow ruled the day. We must not allow this to remain so if we care to liberate all of us from unnecessary oppression.


It is important to recognize a claim for what it is: it is a claim. And in our society everyone has a right to make claims, and thus a claimant is "allowed on the field".

Your example of confederates seems mistaken. Claims were made - indeed from the founding of the USA - but they were rejected.

Indeed, but that doesn't undermine my point. I can make all sorts of stupid claims and be ignored by all of you. As long as I'm tolerated, though, my claim remains and I go about my life as I wish. I can claim a right to wear mismatched socks every day! Y'all will probably let me without sending the fashion police after me. Ta da! I'm happier for it.

This also seems mistaken. Yes, you can do what you like so long as no one else cares (as can anyone else). But this is not a 'right'. A 'right' is something that is protected even if someone else objects to it. Take a job with a certain dress code and you will find that you have no "right" to wear mismatched socks.

I don't expect to convince you to do it my way… and that's perfectly okay by me. What I WANT is for the claim to be a 'right' and recognition by society to be a 'recognized right'.

Your explanation (quoted above) doesn't make sense to me, as it is not required to do what you seem to want (allowing claimants on the field), while on the other hand making the concept of 'a right' vacuous.

gregory byshenk said...

David Brin said...
In order to get the thing we need, (RC), we must nurse an illusion of natural "rights" which were never 'rights' in any more natural human culture. It is to get the pragmatic necessity, the thing we'll die without, that I go along with treating natural rights as sacred. And of course these rights help to stop wasting talent with idiocies like racism/sexism.

One problem with this sort of myth-making is that "idiocies like racism/sexism" are arguably more "natural" than any currently claimed "natural rights" to individual freedom, which means that 'natural rights' talk risks being self-undermining.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"the community can grant or withhold"

Ugh. No. They can recognize or deny. There is a subtle difference.


Ok, what I meant was that the community can grant or withhold protection. They can also grant or withhold violation (in fact, the opposite thing).

I'm sort of agreeing with gregory byshenk that "rights" without recognition and enforcement don't mean much, but I'm disagreeing about who can be an actor in that recognition and enforcement. The state is not the only one.

Larry Hart said...

The New York Times's Jamie Bouie understands...


...
“Voter fraud” is not a factual claim subject to testing and objective analysis as much as it’s a statement of ideology, a belief about the way the world works. In practice, to accuse Democrats of voter fraud is to say that Democratic voters are not legitimate political actors, that their votes do not count the same as those of “the people” (that is, the Republican electorate) and that Democratic officials, elected with those illegitimate votes, have no rightful claim to power.

In a sense, one should take accusations of voter fraud seriously but not literally, as apologists for Donald Trump once said of the former president. These accusations, the more florid the better, tell the audience that the speaker is aligned with Trump and that he or she supported his attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election. They also tell the audience that the speaker will do anything necessary to “stop the steal,” which is to say anything to stop a Republican from losing an election and, barring that, anything to delegitimize the Democrat who won.
...

Larry Hart said...

gregory byshenk:

I think you are misreading what I am saying. I am saying that what is required for a "right" to exist is that there is some collective that will actually protect it. This does not require a formal state, but something like a 'state' in Weber's definition: a community that has a monopoly on the use of of force. That is the point of examples such as lynching; if individuals can violate claimed "rights" with impunity, then those "rights" do not exist.


I really am agreeing with most of what you're saying, just not the parts that contradict the other parts.

My example of the black family driven out of Cicero, IL was exactly the same as your lynching scenario--the local community (including cops) openly opposed the family's right to live there and acted forcefully to deny that right. Therefore, the fact that the family had a legal right (on paper) was essentially meaningless. I was pointing out that in that case, the local community and the state were actually at odds, and by virtue of proximity and of "wanting it more", the community held the deciding role over and above that of the state.

It gets harrier to define when the community which has the most ability to protect or deny certain rights is itself conflicted--some for and some against. Hiding Jews from Nazis in 1940s Europe might be an example of that. "The state" didn't recognize or protect the Jews' human rights, but some among the community did. Others in that same community gladly snitched when they could.

What's infuriating about seeing white men with guns get away with terrorist acts like the Capitol insurrection of the Cliven Bundy standoff is the implication by the (in)action of law enforcement that white men with guns have a right to commit terrorist acts which neither black people nor Muslims nor anyone protesting injustice is equally accorded.

David Brin said...

"One problem with this sort of myth-making is that "idiocies like racism/sexism" are arguably more "natural" than any currently claimed "natural rights" to individual freedom, which means that 'natural rights' talk risks being self-undermining."

Except that is exactly the path of 6000 years that did not work at improving any aspects of human life. While supporting universal rights has had the pragmatic outcome of better governance, justice, creativity and joy. Sorry man, you aren't making the slightest sense.

gregory byshenk said...

Gregory wrote
One problem with this sort of myth-making is that "idiocies like racism/sexism" are arguably more "natural" than any currently claimed "natural rights" to individual freedom, which means that 'natural rights' talk risks being self-undermining.

David Brin said...
Except that is exactly the path of 6000 years that did not work at improving any aspects of human life. While supporting universal rights has had the pragmatic outcome of better governance, justice, creativity and joy. Sorry man, you aren't making the slightest sense.

My concern is not about "universal rights", but about the "illusion" (as you wrote) of framing this in terms of "natural rights", which can lead into arguments about whether such things as racial or sexual submission are more "natural".

Alfred Differ said...

the "illusion"

I think it is pretty clear David realizes there is an illusion associated with 'natural rights'. I'd call it a 'framing.'


Gregory,

Our host is using the academic term and you are concerned about the way it will be interpreted among the non-academic public. Yah. That's kinda the point the academics drive, though. Is sexism really natural? Racism? Many of us assume it, but is it really true?

Remember there was once a time before humans invented agriculture. We were nomadic hunter-gatherers. All of us. Was racism and sexism as 'natural' to them as it is to farmers and pastoralists? This is a reasonable question to ask since nomadic people don't have to suffer jerks as much as people fixed to a patch of land for raising animals and crops. Nomads can pick up, shout their equivalent of "F$^K YOU", and leave. Our deep ancestors were freer to choose where to live and with whom to trade than our more recent ancestors. So… which behavior pattern set is really natural to us? That freedom is a core element of the difference between the sets.

(Please don't make the claim there is only one set. It doesn't fit the evidence.)

Enlightenment philosophers argued for a set of rights they considered natural to free people. They depend heavily on reciprocity both direct and indirect.

Our nomadic ancestors understood indirect reciprocity in their bones because it is the underpinning behavior that glues bands of humans together. You don't have to pay back a kindness directly to a member of the band. You can do it indirectly if everyone else agrees to similar rule. That will eventually pay back the first gift giver. We call this 'pay it forward' nowadays as if it was newly invented, but it's probably older than humanity.

What we had to invent was direct reciprocity. Contract. Trade. You give me this and I'll give you that. It's mostly unnecessary among humans in a band, but deeply necessary for trade between kinship groups. We managed this BEFORE agriculture. Long before, but not so long ago that it shows up among the other great apes. This invention was crucial to our survival and likely prevented the extinction of homo sapiens. It's the difference between a few million of us wandering nomadically across the Earth and a few billion of us contemplating star travel. It's also what domesticated us a bit and left many of us vulnerable to the jerks we would have abandoned ages past.

To Enlightenment philosophers, natural rights are just a set that enables most of us to be mostly free to pursue what makes us happy. If the jerk next door wants to be a sexist, so be it as long as they can't trap women who should be covered by those same rights. Right? I don't have to recognize his right in a positive way, but if he's with a woman who likes it, I'll tolerate it with 'negative' recognition. I'll let him be.

David Brin said...

onward

onward