Monday, 4 April 2011

The Legitimate Grounds On Protest

After the 26th of March there has been a lot of condemnation and well, ill informed drivel surrounding the whole affair, with pundits either condemning the whole thing as a no holds barred disgusting display of the anti culture doing its ogre like thing and smashing shit for the hell of it. Then we have a bunch of armchair social democrat's and liberals saying how they love peace but hate violence in protests, which is to me like saying you like people to protest the government just so long as it is a meaningless gesture that no-one listens too. Finally there are a few, just a few generally outside the pale of the mainstream who support violent protest such as Laurie Penny, at the end, all of these i personally find are wrong, but for different, rather double standard and ill informed reasons as is my nature.

Firstly, and what is perhaps most important, is that no-one seems to make clear on whether this is a moral, or a legal matter, whether the two are linked, if they are then what is the legal pale with so much overlap of rights and constitutional protections, and if not then what constitutes moral, or if violence serves any purpose at all.

Well then, what is legality:

"established by or founded upon law or official or accepted rules" - Even here we have a fucking massive issue, official or accepted, the fuck does that mean? I mean to be in possession of marajuana is an offense nowadays, but you don't need to be social scum to know that its actual use is not confined to a small minority in the country, a large number use it, and probably a majority of people have at least tried it, or condone its use. Right here we have an issue in that legality is not even always in sync with the law.

So then, what of the law, its big, its there and we all have to follow it, this then drifts into the realm of political philosophy, what makes a law legitimate? People such as Rousseau in "The Social Contract" suggested that for laws to be legitimate there had to be some kind of direct legitimization by the people to such a law, in effect then any law by the judiciary or the government cannot really be legitimate because in the end this was never put to the people, it was never accepted and therefore has no validation.

On the other hand, someone like Locke would argue that law is passively legitimized from the very act of living within a countries borders. The use of resources and taking advantage of a countries systems is in itself an acceptance of the laws and customs it abides by. I have a problem with this personally, as although a very good staple for not constantly bemoaning the state, and i am sure i have occasionally used it as a means of telling people to quit their bitching it doesn't account for the matter that we should for some reason have to abandoned everything that we have due to growing up in a country through no choice of our own. It's like saying charging 1000% more for water is certainly more desirable than having to go down to the Thames to fill up buckets and haul them back to the house, but just because this is marginally better does not make it not exploitation.

Finally, because i am not writing a 10,000 word essay here i come to Hobbes, who yes is outdated but comes up with a good point. In that if a government violates its social contract we have grounds to remove them. But what i think this can mean is that if they do something not promised, the gloves are off. Well then, here we have a scope for any kind of civil disobedience, against basically any government as no government has ever kept to its manifesto, not even the man who used it on a national level - Sir Robert Peel. Well our governments attempted restructuring and cuts, not to mention the total change of tune for the Lib Dem's gives a lot of justification to more violent action.

But that is not quite so fair is it? Department stores, banks and so on are not the government, and as sad as it makes me, this means there are no grounds for attacking shops and such because alas, they are not the violators of any social contract, in fact any selfish, bastardy action is totally in line with their contract which in most legal centers is to maximize profits... though perhaps i could get them on saying short term profits is not maximizing profits... bleh i will get to that another time when its not past 3 in the morning.

So then, i would personally go with saying that a Rousseau is untenable, Locke isn't fair, but Hobbes proposes a strong legal system for the two party dictatorship we live in today, and that quite simply if a government is not doing as we contractually agreed upon then we have a moral duty to take em out, or at least rough them up a bit. This however excludes attacks on private enterprise in this instance as they generally fulfill their contractual arrangements, we have them there to be money making pricks and that is what they do.

Still, legally then this does not remove the police and government structures as targets of such things, these are all instruments of the government, and as such are wholly permissible to be attacked in what ever desire we so wish to do. After all if an all powerful leviathan has violated the contract then we must do all within our power to remove it. Legally we can hope that they will see such an error and step down gracefully, but within the real world inequality creates a stall in such a legal process, in a country with such a power imbalance it can only be expected for a powerful entity to defend itself.

So now, morality, the fuck is that? Does it exist? What is good and all that stuff. Well, i don't think we can really even point to anything in the philosophical world that says what precisely morality IS. Oh sure we have examples of how to be moral and how we react with it, but there is nothing to it in nature, and as Aristotle question was often answered by, what is the form of the good was really only answered with example. To argue about the essence of morality is to merely argue about definitions.

Well then, what can be argued? Well what humans want i suppose would be a good start. Selfish rationality? Oh go read some Ayn Rand, Faux intellectual blog you playground intellectual! As with all good things in this world we must firstly go to the world of Biology. It is general theory today that about 75% of our DNA is generally defunct, and many of the neurons in our brain turn off by the age of about 11. In those 11 years we develop most of our "software" processing power as human beings. Or to be more precise, what our parameters we have, if you learn a second language in this time you will find it easier to learn languages in the future, because that part of your brain is kept active, in the same manner those with a stimulating, friendly environment will probably grow up to emulate such characteristics. In fact before we are even born our body is rearranging a lot of its gene codes, if it detects high blood pressure levels from its mother, it will be more aggressive when alive, if starved of food, it will develop an ability to absorb more food. Which is why so much DNA is defunct. The point being is that Human beings are highly capable of living in all matter of societies, with different incentive systems and different mannerisms, our bodies are more than capable of adjusting to it. But surely there is a general drive towards some over arching good? Damn Skippy.

Naturally i wont dispute that people wont act in self interest in times of scarcity, I will also not dispute that people want the best for themselves. However what is "best" is never money, it might at times be resources but it is never actually a paper with a picture on it. I will take the Aristotelian path in saying that free of scarcity, worry and inequality people want more than anything to pursue "Eudamonia." the good life. A life of moral virtue and genuine strong, intimate social relations. How can i say any of this? Well i would look firstly at social tensions in countries with high disparity incomes, and those of lower disparity incomes and see firstly that countries with a more similar social gradient are more relaxed, and at peace with themselves, then what of the social side? Well if we look at small, socially compact tribes such as the Inuit when left to their own habitat often rate almost as high as the extremely wealthy american counterparts. So yes, extreme wealth while being wealthy among other extremely wealthy individuals away from the sights of poor people is certainly the most desirable outcome for a single person. But that is only sustainable to a tiny fragment, it cannot be applied to everyone. Ultimately then, any person who was coming into a world, with no idea of what position in the social hierarchy they would be in, would ultimately want a perfectly equal, socially homogeneous society as the only better alternative is a very unlikely outcome for them.

So, then, if this is what people should have to best enjoy life, then we should surely try and achieve it? If then, you can place yourself on the side of equality and fraternity then yes, you can ultimately say you are morally justified in your actions, and if a government has violated their contractual arrangements with the people then you are allowed to do anything within your power to remove or alter them, because their actions have made the social contract null and void which means ultimately all their legal systems are null and void.

There is one problem though, if we are abiding by societies laws most of the time, but do something against government here, then what are you saying? You want to beat up government because its bad but want all the support it gives you? That unfortunately cannot be done. If you attack the government, be it person or building, and are saying that the system has failed and must be resisted until it corrects itself then you are in the right, and if that government is pushing through a brutal austerity program when only "efficiency" savings where promised in the manifesto, and this is going to really hurt the poor and social structure then you are not only legally bound but morally bound in your actions. But if you are only out for a day, and you just want to throw a few bottles at cops, before retiring to your residence, then you are wrong, and you are going to have to accept punishment because ultimately you are demanding a state be in the wrong and uphold their social contract obligations at the same time. You cannot pick and choose the areas a state has legitimacy over, it comes down to one executive so they either are or not.

Still, in a democratic society public protest should perhaps be covered under the law, and damage sustained in that time should be covered by the government, but that is another massive issue for another time. For now I am saying that protest is great, but if your not planning on wholly changing the government for its abuses then stay within its own legal customs because you cannot have it both ways, even if you are morally right, because unfortunately a state is by no means moral, it's a rigid game that you either play by the rules or get out.

Finally, about those references, there are none, thats why this is ill informed drivel. Still, if you want to know about anything i discuss here, look it the fuck up. I am not taking any ideas here for my own, they are all others, i make no profit from most of this. And if you here something i am talking on well, your online aren't you? Look it up!

Still, if i do actually get anyone reading this site i will endeavor to start properly referencing my matirial, right now this is more of a place for me to get my thoughts properly straightened out which is really quite a lot harder than just thinking about it, there are loop holes here, and it will probably take me days to figure out everything here.