Victim Culture

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  • Kwesi wrote: »
    I don''t think "compensation for past injustices" is an example of "positive discrimination". Rather it would be a belated payment for services received through forced labour and deprivation of liberty in the same way a tribunal can require an employer to compensate an employee for ill treatment and non-payment of wages.

    There is a significant and important difference between these two cases, which is that the belated payment for services is being paid directly to the person who provided those services in one case but not in the other.

    If it came to light that my great-grandfather was mistreated by his employer then, no matter how clear-cut the issue, there is no tribunal on earth that would compel the great-grandchildren of the employer to pay compensation to me. Because the employer's descendants would not be guilty of the historical mistreatment, and I would not be a victim of it.

    I consider it morally wrong to suggest that somebody now can share in the guilt or victimhood of somebody from hundreds of years ago even if they are direct descendants of the initial perpetrators or victims. To suggest such inheritance of guilt/victimhood purely by virtue of having the same skin colour is just absurd.
  • So -

    If your father was held in unpaid slavery and this has had a detrimental impact on your life - for example you have fewer resources than anyone else, you own no land when everyone else does, you cannot enter certain professions because you haven't got the right qualifications (because nobody had the money in your family to pay for them) - then nobody has any responsibility to put things right. Because that all happened in the past.

    How convenient.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    If your father was held in unpaid slavery and this has had a detrimental impact on your life - for example you have fewer resources than anyone else, you own no land when everyone else does, you cannot enter certain professions because you haven't got the right qualifications (because nobody had the money in your family to pay for them) - then nobody has any responsibility to put things right. Because that all happened in the past.

    If it was my father? Possibly - I'd probably have been alive at the time the slavery was happening so would have been directly affected by it. But I doubt there are many people alive today who could even claim to have had a grandfather who was a slave (and if they can, said grandfather would have been emancipated as a young child). I chose to say great-grandfather in my previous post for a reason.

    The question is, for how many generations is it legitimate to retain that sense of victimhood? For how many generations does historical slavery continue to have a detrimental effect on anyone's life?

    Please note that this doesn't mean there aren't injustices happening right now that should be rectified. Saying that the guilt for the sins of the ancestors shouldn't be passed on to their descendants is perfectly valid, but in no way does it minimise the guilt for the descendants own sins. There are more than enough of such sins to be going on with without bringing in the sins of distant ancestors.
  • I don't know - maybe as long as the residual effects of the injustice continue.

    In 1878 there was a massive mine explosion in this valley that killed 200. Ok, I suppose you could say that these things happened and it was plenty of generations ago now. Whatever.

    Except that there continued being accidents right up until the 20 century and nobody cared enough to make these coal mines safe.

    These things are only just outside of people's memories - I was only talking to someone the other day who worked in a local mine in the 1960s and told me about seeing someone die from a roof fall in front of him.

    On a micro-scale, that's the cultural memory of being in a part of the United Kingdom that nobody gives a shit about. That was the last to get clean water and sanitation. That regularly watched miners die - and then blamed them for their own dangerous jobs. Where people had low life expectancies because of the dirt and crap. Where other people many miles away ruminated about whether there was any point in educating their children.

    And today the relic of that industrialised labour exploitation is widespread unemployment, underemployment and low life chances.

    And then people wonder why people from the Welsh Valleys have a chip on their shoulder.

    How much more is that sense going to be if you are a descendent from slaves?.

  • Marvin the Martian

    Kwesi: I don''t think "compensation for past injustices" is an example of "positive discrimination". Rather it would be a belated payment for services received through forced labour and deprivation of liberty in the same way a tribunal can require an employer to compensate an employee for ill treatment and non-payment of wages.

    MarvintheMartian: I consider it morally wrong to suggest that somebody now can share in the guilt or victimhood of somebody from hundreds of years ago even if they are direct descendants of the initial perpetrators or victims. To suggest such inheritance of guilt/victimhood purely by virtue of having the same skin colour is just absurd.

    I'm not sure, Marvin, whether you agree with my post or not. If you read it carefully you will note I was not arguing for or against retrospective compensation, but suggesting that such arguments are more analogous to the rectification of payment for services rendered rather than a plea for positive discrimination. Had you included, when quoting me, the bracketed sentence at the conclusion of the paragraph: " (Of course, there are all sorts of practical problems in the case under discussion, apart from questions over the moral legitimacy of retrospective legislation)," the drift of my case would have been more accurately stated. The point I was trying to make was that arguments based on "positive discrimination" are open to the charge they create "additional" or "preferential" rights, whereas those based on "restitution" are based on the payment of money owed.

    Your observations regarding historical wrongs have some force, though the righting of more proximate wrongs, strongly argued by mr cheesy, deserve to be addressed. Respecting West African slavery, a tricky question would be raised by any claims for a "right of return" against African societies whose ancestors were involved in the trade, not to mention the crippling consequences of financial compensation.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    I don't know - maybe as long as the residual effects of the injustice continue.

    In 1878 there was a massive mine explosion in this valley that killed 200. Ok, I suppose you could say that these things happened and it was plenty of generations ago now. Whatever.

    Except that there continued being accidents right up until the 20 century and nobody cared enough to make these coal mines safe.

    Those subsequent accidents weren't a residual effect of the 1878 one, they were a direct effect of the ongoing neglect of miners and their welfare. That ongoing neglect should absolutely be challenged, corrected and compensated for, but that's not the same as saying that the descendants of those killed in 1878 should be given financial compensation for the deaths of their ancestors.

    The 1878 explosion is in the past and done. The continuing neglect of former mining areas is here and now and needs to be stopped.

    Similarly, slavery is in the past and done. But the continuing discrimination, marginalisation and persecution of black people is here and now and needs to be stopped.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    If your father was held in unpaid slavery and this has had a detrimental impact on your life - for example you have fewer resources than anyone else, you own no land when everyone else does, you cannot enter certain professions because you haven't got the right qualifications (because nobody had the money in your family to pay for them) - then nobody has any responsibility to put things right. Because that all happened in the past.

    If it was my father? Possibly - I'd probably have been alive at the time the slavery was happening so would have been directly affected by it. But I doubt there are many people alive today who could even claim to have had a grandfather who was a slave (and if they can, said grandfather would have been emancipated as a young child). I chose to say great-grandfather in my previous post for a reason.

    That does seem to be a popular perception, but not an historically accurate one.
    Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

    For most Americans this is entirely new history.
  • I suppose I see things like affirmative action (and in a British context, things like universities lowering entrance grades for people from disadvantaged backgrounds - like much of the Valleys) as being, in some sense, a form of historical wrong-righting, and a blunt form of compensation for past wrongs.

    Circling back to the OP, Russ' thesis appears to be that any attempt to help disadvantaged groups because of past wrongs is an example of victim culture.

    Presumably he objects to Welsh people getting grants and assistance because those Valley boys need to get their fingers out and work harder.

    Or perhaps, because these people are primarily white then he thinks this is acceptable.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    From memory, in the West Wing episode, the concept was that because slavery had been endorsed or allowed by government, then government should consider some measure of financial restitution. How that should be allocated is not something I remember.

    In any case, I was using the example to illuminate a principle; that a moral case existed for restitution that went further than simply removing the inequity which produced such damaging consequences.

    I think the concepts of restitution, of redressing the balance, are part of a general understanding of what is fair. You even get some of that from the OT concept of Jubilee - a 50 year redistribution of land, forgiving of debts and freeing indentured servants (slaves) from their obligations to masters.
  • .........but there is no evidence of Jubilee ever having taken place- for obvious reasons, might one suggest?
  • It probably takes experiential learning to understood the real way entire groups of people are mistreated and victimized. I found the Holocaust museum in Washington DC, touring (if that is the word) Auschwitz, participating in a sweat lodge and attending reconciliation events, acquainted me with the lived experience which Jews and First Nations people have experienced. The idea of equality of all, re opportunity and for life, is challenged when systematically it is provided only on the basis of certain groups being worthy to get, certain cultures and languages being promoted while others are denigrated and punished. It isn't true that all are created equal, and the inequality continues during life.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Kwesi wrote: »
    .........but there is no evidence of Jubilee ever having taken place- for obvious reasons, might one suggest?

    Too idealistic? The better off not likely to give up their advantages?

    Equity is always an excellent principle provided no one has to pay anything?

    An old, old, story
  • ...
    The question is, for how many generations is it legitimate to retain that sense of victimhood? For how many generations does historical slavery continue to have a detrimental effect on anyone's life?
    ...

    You tell me: The Racial Wealth Gap. And it's not getting better, it's getting worse: Median Wealth Projected

    Just because the people who did it are gone doesn't mean the impact of what they did is gone. Funny how nobody ever asks how many more generations of white people will enjoy the economic advantage of other people's historical slavery ...
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    the argument of a group that sees itself as collectively disadvantaged is not that it is seeking additional rights but the realisation of rights that are formally granted to all citizens living in a particular society.

    That's a useful distinction. One notion of "equal rights" is that everyone should have equal rights under the law - what you call formal rights. Another notion of "equal rights" is that everyone should have the same ability in practice to exercise a right - what you call realised rights.

    The two are not inherently in conflict. But there are ways of pursuing realised rights that involve giving some people more formal rights than others.

    For example, if you're really concerned about people's right to eat bananas, it might bother you that some people of limited means don't seem to be eating many. If you parse their lack of banana consumption as an unrealized right, you might think it necessary in the name of equal rights to provide free bananas to certain groups.

    If instead of doing so directly you pass a law to make it happen, you have given some people a legal right to free bananas, a right which some other people don't have. In other words, unequal formal rights in the name of equal realised rights.

    And yes, that example is completely bananas...
  • Russ: For example, if you're really concerned about people's right to eat bananas, it might bother you that some people of limited means don't seem to be eating many. If you parse their lack of banana consumption as an unrealized right, you might think it necessary in the name of equal rights to provide free bananas to certain groups.

    If instead of doing so directly you pass a law to make it happen, you have given some people a legal right to free bananas, a right which some other people don't have. In other words, unequal formal rights in the name of equal realised rights.
  • .......sorry, pressed the wrong button! To continue:

    It would be helpful, Russ, if you could give some real life examples of general rights that have involved the creation of "unequal" formal rights. Is it not normally the case that if a government believes that a right should be universally applicable (a certain level of health provision) or desirable (a certain standard of education) that it will be made available for free, being paid for out of taxation? And could you show how the generation of "unequal formal rights" is linked to your thesis regarding the existence of "victim cultures and mindsets".

    Incidentally, I'm not aware of legislation that privileges people of dark skin pigmentation over those of white pigmentation- indeed, it would be administratively impossible to decide who belonged to which categories.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    Kwesi wrote: »
    .........but there is no evidence of Jubilee ever having taken place- for obvious reasons, might one suggest?

    Too idealistic? The better off not likely to give up their advantages?

    Equity is always an excellent principle provided no one has to pay anything?

    An old, old, story

    I don't understand how the Jubilee is supposed to have been fair or equitable. If I borrowed money from you and thus owe a debt to you, and then all of a sudden that debt is erased and I don't have to pay you and you never get your money back, how is that fair, exactly?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Inherited wealth produces inequity of opportunity for succeeding generations. The poverty of parents, whether or not it was there own fault, provides disadvantaged starting points for the children and the grandchildren. So every 50 years you start again.

    It's a crude concept but it belonged to a society without anything other than voluntary donations to look after the disadvantaged. Care for the poor and disadvantaged was part of the old covenant. Jubilee appears to have been conceived as an adjustment to ensure that.

    I think Kwesi is right in saying there is no evidence that it ever happened.

  • The 1878 explosion is in the past and done.

    That was true the day after it happened. From this nothing follows as regards the responsibilities of those responsible.
  • Respecting Jubilee: it appears that the use of the term is restricted exclusively to Leviticus, apart from a solitary reference in Numbers. It is, however, notable that the sentiment is reflected by Jesus at the start of his ministry in Luke.
    Luke 4: 18-19. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

    I guess Jesus had a yen for the 'victim culture", Russ!

  • mousethief wrote: »
    The 1878 explosion is in the past and done.

    That was true the day after it happened. From this nothing follows as regards the responsibilities of those responsible.

    The Aberfan disadter is in the past and done. The Bhopal factory disaster is in the past and done. The attack on the World Trade Center is in the past and done. The London transport attacks (7/7) are in the past and done.

    Which ones should we disregard? Are accidents and disasters that are the consequences of commerce somehow acceptable while attacks with bombs and runs are not? They are all man-made but the political reaction and legal consequences differ considerably.
  • Dave W wrote: »
    I don't understand how the Jubilee is supposed to have been fair or equitable. If I borrowed money from you and thus owe a debt to you, and then all of a sudden that debt is erased and I don't have to pay you and you never get your money back, how is that fair, exactly?
    You're presuming that the prior situation, in which you have enough spare money to lend some to me and I am in need of a loan, is itself fair and equitable. It may not be. I suspect that any situation in which you lend money in the expectation that the other person will only pay you back because they have to (as opposed to because one good turn deserves another) is probably not fair.

    There's also the point that if both parties know a debt amnesty is coming up they know what they're getting into. Although in that case pragmatically speaking loans would be harder to get as the amnesty date approaches.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    sionisais wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    The 1878 explosion is in the past and done.

    That was true the day after it happened. From this nothing follows as regards the responsibilities of those responsible.

    The Aberfan disadter is in the past and done. The Bhopal factory disaster is in the past and done. The attack on the World Trade Center is in the past and done. The London transport attacks (7/7) are in the past and done.

    Which ones should we disregard? Are accidents and disasters that are the consequences of commerce somehow acceptable while attacks with bombs and runs are not? They are all man-made but the political reaction and legal consequences differ considerably.

    Well I suppose some are longer ago, so by some measures become increasingly irrelevant with time.

    I would argue, however, that the long term impacts on some populations of events that happened long ago are still profound. So saying that slavery happened long ago now, and therefore there is no (need for a) fight for equality for minorities seems bogus.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Dave W wrote: »
    I don't understand how the Jubilee is supposed to have been fair or equitable. If I borrowed money from you and thus owe a debt to you, and then all of a sudden that debt is erased and I don't have to pay you and you never get your money back, how is that fair, exactly?
    You're presuming that the prior situation, in which you have enough spare money to lend some to me and I am in need of a loan, is itself fair and equitable. It may not be. I suspect that any situation in which you lend money in the expectation that the other person will only pay you back because they have to (as opposed to because one good turn deserves another) is probably not fair.

    There's also the point that if both parties know a debt amnesty is coming up they know what they're getting into. Although in that case pragmatically speaking loans would be harder to get as the amnesty date approaches.

    I think in many ways we are insulated from the anti-capitalist instincts of how ancient Hebrew society(ies) were set up. Even if it was theoretical, the notion that there was official sanction to wipe away debts every seventh year must have had a profound impact on financial relationships.

    We see hints that this was basically forgotten by the gospel era, of course. I'd argue that one of the reasons why paying a day labourer a full day for an hour's work was so shocking (in the parable) was because of a loss of the idea that financial resources were to be shared for the benefit of everyone rather than just the capitalist.

    Of course this makes even less sense in the modern era.

    Which is something of an irony; as we've become more equitable and more aware of historical crimes and injustices, we've somehow also infected everyone with the idea that the only thing that matters is personal financial stability - and the ramifications to people at the other end of the transaction are basically ignored.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Jubilee and the Sabbatical year according to Wikipedia.

    The Luke 4 scripture does indeed hearken back to Jubilee as "the acceptable year". And mr cheesy makes a good point. Here is an article about the importance of the collective in Judaism.

    (I'm conscious this is a tangent, but we'll see how far it goes!)
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    I don't know - maybe as long as the residual effects of the injustice continue.

    In 1878 there was a massive mine explosion in this valley that killed 200. Ok, I suppose you could say that these things happened and it was plenty of generations ago now. Whatever.

    Except that there continued being accidents right up until the 20 century and nobody cared enough to make these coal mines safe.
    Indeed. And there were similar and awful mining disasters at Haydock in Lancashire just a few months earlier, and at Blantyre(the home of David Livingstone) the previous year. Life was cheap (in lots of industries) and the safety record was atrocious.

    My wife tires of officials, after some tragedy, saying that "lessons have been learned" when they haven't been, or of promises being made that are never carried out. However sometimes things do happen: in 1889 there was a terrible rail crash in Ireland that killed a lot of children on a Sunday School excursion. That (finally!) brought in legislation to make rail travel much safer, although it was resisted by some bosses because of the cost implications.

    But, to get back to the original point, surely many people are victims of past decisions, quite often ones which seemed good at the time. For instance my wife is from Clydebank, which became a boom town when shipbuilding (and, later, Singer's the sewing machine people) moved there in the late 1800s. But the world changed, the shipbuilding industry both failed to modernise and was beset by union woes; also the geography was not suited to building ever-larger ships. The result was that the town has suffered the same fate as the Welsh Valleys; there has been inward investment but even now it is a poor place. Whose fault is that? The original shipyard owners who moved there in the first place? The later bosses or union leaders? The 1970s British Government or the local Council? The Japanese and Korean entrepreneurs who set up in competition? It's not easy to apportion responsibility.

  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    So saying that slavery happened long ago now, and therefore there is no (need for a) fight for equality for minorities seems bogus.

    I've been at pains to clarify that this is not what I'm saying. I fully support the fight for equality for minorities, but I think those rights are being denied by decisions and systems in the here and now, rather than by something that was banned over a century ago.
  • It's not easy to apportion responsibility.

    I believe the concept of limited liability (and unlimited profit) has a lot to answer for.
  • I'm not saying there was anything particularly "special" about Abercarn - it was sadly and predictably repeated here in the valleys and elsewhere into the early 20 century. I just mentioned it because I was thinking about it.

    Fwiw, there were three major accidents here within 5 miles between 1860 and 1875 and the official inquests all determined that the miners themselves were to blame. Given that so many died, I suspect the evidence was shaky but the inquests all determined that the main causes were miners not using safety lamps - rather than that the Blackvein seam was dangerously and ridiculously dangerous.

    As to blame - in this example I suspect everyone was basically to blame, especially the mineowners who were hungry for profits through to the investors in the railways, the national demand for coal etc.

    They are all dead and gone, but it seems reasonable to me to go after the current government as a representative of the past rulers of the country that was so blazé with the lives of working people.
  • And that principle is basically the one in operation elsewhere.

    Nobody in government might be personally responsible for years of racist discrimination. Those who were might have all died.

    But we as a society and the government as representatives of the society - past and present - has a responsibility to put these things right. Via financial compensation or some other mechanism.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    Dave W wrote: »
    I don't understand how the Jubilee is supposed to have been fair or equitable. If I borrowed money from you and thus owe a debt to you, and then all of a sudden that debt is erased and I don't have to pay you and you never get your money back, how is that fair, exactly?
    You're presuming that the prior situation, in which you have enough spare money to lend some to me and I am in need of a loan, is itself fair and equitable. It may not be.
    That's odd. I was presuming that you (or B62) loaned money to me - that's why you should presume the hypothetical loan was probably fair and equitable. Can you not imagine a case in which you loaned me money and think the fair and equitable result is that I have an obligation to repay you? That repayment is not just me doing you a good turn? (If you have a bank account, do you think you have a legal right to get your money back from the bank or its borrowers?)
    I suspect that any situation in which you lend money in the expectation that the other person will only pay you back because they have to (as opposed to because one good turn deserves another) is probably not fair.
    That seems to suggest that practically all bank lending must necessarily be unfair. I strongly disagree with that - but in any case, the Jubilee still doesn't make sense in regard to debt erasure. If you think unfair lending is a problem, shouldn't you just ban it? Why let all that unfairness drag on for 50 years? Same goes for inheritance of excessive wealth - if it's a bad idea, just don't allow it. Why would you build in a wait of up to 50 years before you address an injustice?
    There's also the point that if both parties know a debt amnesty is coming up they know what they're getting into. Although in that case pragmatically speaking loans would be harder to get as the amnesty date approaches.
    I think there's not a lot of pragmatic thinking behind the whole concept of Jubilee.

  • Kwesi wrote: »
    It would be helpful, Russ, if you could give some real life examples of general rights that have involved the creation of "unequal" formal rights.
    Presumably, judging by his banana example, Russ thinks that any means-tested benefits are unequal formal rights.
    I personally lean towards the idea that benefits shouldn't be means-tested and should be replaced by a universal basic income. But I suspect Russ doesn't.
    As far as I can tell, to be consistent with his stated principles, Russ has to think that if people can't find work and can't find charity they should be left to starve in the streets.

  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    They are all dead and gone, but it seems reasonable to me to go after the current government as a representative of the past rulers of the country that was so blazé with the lives of working people.

    To what end?
  • Dafyd: Presumably, judging by his banana example, Russ thinks that any means-tested benefits are unequal formal rights.

    I think that's right (no pun intended!). Ironically, I think the logic of his argument is that only universal benefits are justifiable, for not only would he oppose means-tested benefits but also those which "privilege" certain groups, e.g. old age pensioners, children, the disabled, pregnant women, etc. etc..

    Isn't the point that modern society is governed by law, which of necessity creates a whole gamut of universal and discrete rights relating to both public and private bodies (the MBA and Bar Council, for example) for its efficient administration and regulation? None of this has anything to do with the existence or not of a "victim culture or mindset". Indeed, if anything, it may be evidence, inter alia, of a culture of privilege that preserves the autonomy of the professions against the public good.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    They are all dead and gone, but it seems reasonable to me to go after the current government as a representative of the past rulers of the country that was so blazé with the lives of working people.

    To what end?

    Well to the end of righting wrongs so that the current generation do not have to continue being adversely affected by things that happened generations ago.

    We ideally want a situation whereby individuals within historically abused groups have equal rights and opportunities - as if those historical things had never happened - do we not?

    We want a situation whereby massive underemployment in the Merthyr Vale is deemed as important as it would be in the Thames valley. If that means pressurising the current government to invest in infrastructure in the valleys, then that's a form of historical wrong righting, is it not?

    Therefore in the same way black folks pressurising government to ensure that they have working sanitation in parts of the America South is not about asking for some kind of "special treatment" but simply asking for the hardships inherited from slavery are wiped out.

    I'm struggling to see how else you can be understanding this.

  • Kwesi wrote: »
    Dafyd: Presumably, judging by his banana example, Russ thinks that any means-tested benefits are unequal formal rights.

    I think that's right (no pun intended!). Ironically, I think the logic of his argument is that only universal benefits are justifiable, for not only would he oppose means-tested benefits but also those which "privilege" certain groups, e.g. old age pensioners, children, the disabled, pregnant women, etc. etc.

    Other examples of real-world laws that fail the Russ test of "unequal formal rights" are public primary school education (only available to people in a certain age range) and most forms of disaster relief (people whose homes were destroyed by wildfires are entitled to benefits that those with undamaged homes are not).
  • edited September 2018
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Well to the end of righting wrongs so that the current generation do not have to continue being adversely affected by things that happened generations ago.

    We ideally want a situation whereby individuals within historically abused groups have equal rights and opportunities - as if those historical things had never happened - do we not?

    We want a situation whereby massive underemployment in the Merthyr Vale is deemed as important as it would be in the Thames valley. If that means pressurising the current government to invest in infrastructure in the valleys, then that's a form of historical wrong righting, is it not?

    No, I'd say it's a form of righting current wrongs. If it was only about the historical wrongs then even if Merthyr Vale was vastly better-off than the Thames Valley the latter would have to pay it compensation, because the historical wrong would still have been done to the former by the latter.
    Therefore in the same way black folks pressurising government to ensure that they have working sanitation in parts of the America South is not about asking for some kind of "special treatment" but simply asking for the hardships inherited from slavery are wiped out.

    There should be working sanitation in all parts of the American South because all people should have working sanitation. It doesn't matter what colour their skin is or who they are descended from, that is just something to which they should have access.

    That's nothing to do with slavery.
    I'm struggling to see how else you can be understanding this.

    Is it so hard for you to comprehend that when I hear people calling for compensation for slavery I perceive it as meaning black people alive today should be given money by white people alive today in order to compensate them for the evils done to (some of) their ancestors by (some of) ours?

  • Is it so hard for you to comprehend that when I hear people calling for compensation for slavery I perceive it as meaning black people alive today should be given money by white people alive today in order to compensate them for the evils done to (some of) their ancestors by (some of) ours?

    Well yes. But you don't seem to regard other social payment like Affirmative Action as compensation.

    Whereas I do. I don't think, in my example, that an individual should be compensated because they come from a British community blighted by mining. But I do think it is part of the social responsibility of the nation to right wrongs - the reason that there are current problems in places like this is because of the historical wrongs - the things cannot be taken in isolation.

    The reasons that Black people in America are the biggest population in the prisons are complicated - but they all boil down to prejudice going back to slavery.

    If one has a programme in the inner city projects which overwhelmingly target black and Latino youth - you might say this is unfair. It is unfair that this money is spend on poor black people rather than poor white people in rural areas.

    Or you might say it is unfair that illiterate Asian women get assistance to find work in Greater Manchester when unemployed stockbrokers don't get that help.

    It isn't simply about the need - in some level it is because there is a historic wrong which means that some communities need a lot more help than others to get the level playing field.
  • Sorry I got carried away a bit there. In simple terms, yes - the fat profits accumulated by rich white people should be used to compensate those who suffered to make them rich.
  • Therefore in the same way black folks pressurising government to ensure that they have working sanitation in parts of the America South is not about asking for some kind of "special treatment" but simply asking for the hardships inherited from slavery are wiped out.

    There should be working sanitation in all parts of the American South because all people should have working sanitation. It doesn't matter what colour their skin is or who they are descended from, that is just something to which they should have access.

    That's nothing to do with slavery.

    Really? I'd say the fact that "black belt" counties are a lot less likely to have adequate sanitation has at least something to do with slavery (which includes the kind of "slavery by another name" most Americans are intent on ignoring).
    Is it so hard for you to comprehend that when I hear people calling for compensation for slavery I perceive it as meaning black people alive today should be given money by white people alive today in order to compensate them for the evils done to (some of) their ancestors by (some of) ours?

    I find it interesting and telling that you equate the U.S. government with "white people". Seems just a wrong-headed as saying that the reparations paid to Japanese-American internees was a payment from white people. I'd say a more reasonable interpretation was that it was a payment from all Americans to compensate for the wrong done in their name via their government.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    But I do think it is part of the social responsibility of the nation to right wrongs - the reason that there are current problems in places like this is because of the historical wrongs - the things cannot be taken in isolation.

    Whereas I would say we need to fix the problems in society regardless of what caused them.
    It isn't simply about the need

    Yes, that's where we differ. I'm talking about meeting the needs people have right now, not making reparation for wrongs done hundreds of years ago.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    But I do think it is part of the social responsibility of the nation to right wrongs - the reason that there are current problems in places like this is because of the historical wrongs - the things cannot be taken in isolation.

    Whereas I would say we need to fix the problems in society regardless of what caused them.
    It isn't simply about the need

    Yes, that's where we differ. I'm talking about meeting the needs people have right now, not making reparation for wrongs done hundreds of years ago.

    I think the two things are the same.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Therefore in the same way black folks pressurising government to ensure that they have working sanitation in parts of the America South is not about asking for some kind of "special treatment" but simply asking for the hardships inherited from slavery are wiped out.

    There should be working sanitation in all parts of the American South because all people should have working sanitation. It doesn't matter what colour their skin is or who they are descended from, that is just something to which they should have access.

    That's nothing to do with slavery.

    Really? I'd say the fact that "black belt" counties are a lot less likely to have adequate sanitation has at least something to do with slavery (which includes the kind of "slavery by another name" most Americans are intent on ignoring).

    My point is that it doesn't matter why they don't have adequate sanitation - that's a situation that needs to be remedied in and of itself.

    If you can't justify fixing a societal problem on its own merits then appealing to history shouldn't change that fact. And if you can justify fixing a societal problem on its own merits then there's no need to appeal to history.
  • But the needs can be CAUSED by wrongs committed in the past. For example redlining kept black people from buying homes, and home ownership is the primary way of acquiring and passing down wealth for the American middle class. Discriminatory hiring practices also kept great-grandparents from making enough money to buy a home even in a "bad" neighborhood. Crappy schooling prevented grandpapa from getting a better job than he might have with his innate talents. All of these wrongs (and more) IN THE PAST have a profound effect on the wealth and well-being of African Americans IN THE PRESENT.
  • There are systematic forms of oppression. Those have built up over centuries.

    You can't hope to treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying issues.



  • mr cheesy: You can't hope to treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying issues.

    While I have a lost of sympathy with this sentiment, I fear that the game was lost when Adam took a bite of the apple. It's the human condition that's the problem. Righting the wrongs of past slavery, not to mention its continuance, is whistling in the wind. How with the best will in the world can racism in the USA, for example, be rooted out at its source? All one can do IMO is to operate on the principle "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof", by addressing problems in front of us as best we can and not ignoring them.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Barnabas62 wrote: »
    I think the concepts of restitution, of redressing the balance, are part of a general understanding of what is fair. You even get some of that from the OT concept of Jubilee - a 50 year redistribution of land, forgiving of debts and freeing indentured servants (slaves) from their obligations to masters. {Italics mine)

    Dave W

    My reference to Jubilee was actually secondary and I don't think the redressing of the balance described in the Jubilee scriptures reads across all that well into our current culture.

    But I think the concepts, that fairness can and does involve redressing the balance and making restitution to those who have been treated unfairly, do transcend cultures.

    Redressing the balance is generally associated with creating a level playing field to amend or replace the previous one, which was institutionally advantageous to some, disadvantageous to others.

    Making restitution is associated with compensation for previous injustices. Who pays, how much, and what timescales should be applied to previous injustices? These are secondary factors that people will argue about. But they do not affect the sense that many of us have that making restitution is a right and good thing to do.

  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Kwesi wrote: »
    mr cheesy: You can't hope to treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying issues.

    While I have a lost of sympathy with this sentiment, I fear that the game was lost when Adam took a bite of the apple. It's the human condition that's the problem. Righting the wrongs of past slavery, not to mention its continuance, is whistling in the wind. How with the best will in the world can racism in the USA, for example, be rooted out at its source? All one can do IMO is to operate on the principle "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof", by addressing problems in front of us as best we can and not ignoring them.

    Well for a start by not thinking that everyone is basically at the same place and that black people just need a bit of assistance to correct minor current problems.

    These aren't minor problems. They're major structural issues that need to be conceived as such.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    There are systematic forms of oppression. Those have built up over centuries.

    You can't hope to treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying issues.
    Kwesi wrote: »
    All one can do IMO is to operate on the principle "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof", by addressing problems in front of us as best we can and not ignoring them.
    While every injustice can no doubt be traced back ultimately to the human condition, I don't think that means that there's no point in tracing it back to more proximate causes that can be fixed. Addressing the problems in front of us as best we can is likely to be futile if we don't look at the cause of the problems.

    That said, I'd like to think through assumptions behind the two ways of framing the problems.
    One way prioritises the fact that the problems were caused by some direct act of injustice, and therefore presents the remedy as an act of compensation or restoration. The other prioritises the fact that there is a problem now, and therefore presents the remedy as meeting human needs or remedying inequality.
    I think the model of human interaction behind the first is somewhat dubious. That is, if you prioritise compensation as the reason for giving assistance you're implying that the outcomes of human interactions where there is no clear wrongdoing are therefore just. You have a just process model (or a jobsworth model as I'm inclined to call it pejoratively). On the other hand, the other model starts by treating suffering or inequality as such as problems. I think I prefer the latter - although I'd agree with anyone who said it risks an ahistorical inattention to the causes of inequality: it's no good unless it's willing to call out the diagnosis of the problems rather than merely treat symptoms.

  • mr cheesy: These aren't minor problems. They're major structural issues that need to be conceived as such.

    Of course they aren't! My question is how you propose the consequences of the Atlantic slave trade in Europe, West Africa and the Americas are to be addressed and resolved. All the rest is self-indulgence. (I hope your solution does not require the bankrupting of West Africa with the burden of reparations).



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