Victim Culture

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  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Ohher wrote: »
    Let’s say I am a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts (I am not), living in 21st-century Gay Head with federal recognition (though no reservation) as a tribe. Here’s what I’ve lost, in just shy of 400 years since the Mayflower anchored in Massachusetts Bay...

    ...Second, am I, one 21st-century Wampanoag individual, a victim? Consider:
    • Does it matter how ‘well’ I’m doing as an individual in the here-and-now, regardless of how ‘well’ my group is doing now? Does it matter how ‘well’ my group has done in the past?
    • Does it matter that only some of the losses listed above may be experienced by me directly and personally?
    • Does it matter whether I view myself as a victim? Does it matter whether I have internalized a sense of these losses, or whether, for me, this is ancient water under washed-away bridges and I just want to get on with my life in the present?

    Good questions.

    For starters I'd say that you have first and second the wrong way round. That you are first and foremost an individual living human person. Talk of tribes and races is second-order stuff, shorthand for the complexities of person-to-person interaction and shared values and customs and family ties. You haven't lost anything over most of the last 400 years because you haven't been around that long.

    Wrongs committed by other living persons against you may give rise to a moral claim by you against them for compensation. But no sense of past wrongs that you may feel gives you any moral claim against a person who is innocent of those wrongs.

    If you think you have inherited from your parents a moral right to something more than what possessions they chose to leave to you, maybe you should spell out how you think such moral rights of inheritance work. With basic everyday examples of concrete things like watches...

    Will that get you to where you want to be ? Personally I doubt it; I suspect moral claims against the living for what the dead have done to be entirely spurious, nothing but the bleatings of victim culture.

    But it might help to try. To put some philosophical rigour into the case that your moral intuition is telling you ought to be made.

    Does that case depend on seeing people as members of a collective whole that can suffer and have rights and commit wrongs in a way analogous to the experience of individual people ? Tribal consciousness ?
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Ohher wrote: »
    Let’s say I am a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts (I am not), living in 21st-century Gay Head with federal recognition (though no reservation) as a tribe. Here’s what I’ve lost, in just shy of 400 years since the Mayflower anchored in Massachusetts Bay...

    ...Second, am I, one 21st-century Wampanoag individual, a victim? Consider:
    • Does it matter how ‘well’ I’m doing as an individual in the here-and-now, regardless of how ‘well’ my group is doing now? Does it matter how ‘well’ my group has done in the past?
    • Does it matter that only some of the losses listed above may be experienced by me directly and personally?
    • Does it matter whether I view myself as a victim? Does it matter whether I have internalized a sense of these losses, or whether, for me, this is ancient water under washed-away bridges and I just want to get on with my life in the present?

    Good questions.

    For starters I'd say that you have first and second the wrong way round. That you are first and foremost an individual living human person. Talk of tribes and races is second-order stuff, shorthand for the complexities of person-to-person interaction and shared values and customs and family ties. You haven't lost anything over most of the last 400 years because you haven't been around that long.

    While what you say may be true for a product of the culture I personally inhabit, how can we be sure it's true for our Wampanoag friend? Enough discriminatory encounters with so-called "mainstream culture" -- say from the masses of summer tourists, or a local lobsterman who doesn't want you horning in on his trap territory -- may drive him to seek comfort with his fellow tribal members, who may view the world through a very different lens, clinging to whatever scraps of the original culture which remain. Not all cultures are as individualistic as the one where I, and perhaps you, live.
    Russ wrote: »
    Wrongs committed by other living persons against you may give rise to a moral claim by you against them for compensation. But no sense of past wrongs that you may feel gives you any moral claim against a person who is innocent of those wrongs.

    Well, there's innocence and there's innocence, isn't there? If the local lobsterman acquired his trap territory from his dad, through his dad's dad, and on back to when Priscilla Alden's cousin claimed that trapping spot for himself and told Tisquantum's brother-in-law
    he'd better steer clear if he didn't want to end up wearing musket-ball earrings, how innocent is today's lobsterman? After all, Squanto's brother-in-law might well have passed that trapping spot down the generations to our Wampanoag friend. He couldn't, though, because Priscilla's cousin misappropriated it by threat of force.

    And I'll end there for now.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    But if A realises that C has the wrong car, then A is out of luck. A has to take part in an auction to recompense C for any emotional attachment C may have formed to the car.
    If A and C have agreed to swap cars, the transaction is consensual. But if they both take the wrong car by mistake ? Maybe the two are identical except for being different colours that look the same in the dark ? And the same key fits both ?
    I note that despite me specifying the case that A does not take the wrong car by mistake you do not consider A's situation. A is not allowed to take C's car on your previously stated position, since you believe that 'it is wrong to take property without consent,' 'the end does not justify the means,' and 'two wrongs do not make a right'. Which combine to prevent A from driving off with C's car.
    My answer would be that both have inadvertently stolen the other's car, (removed it from their possession without consent) and that therefore neither has the moral right to refuse to swap back.
    So inadvertence does not make a moral difference here to the fate of the stolen goods? Presumably if when one inadvertently steals something you then have no right to refuse to return it, if you inadvertently are an accomplice to stealing something or inadvertently receive stolen goods, you then have no right to refuse to return it?
    All of which considerations argue against Mousethief's view that property must morally be returned to its rightful owner full stop.
    Since you believe that all moral rules are absolute, this amounts to a recognition that there is no moral rule that property must be returned to its "rightful owner". If as soon as I take something I'm allowed to keep it there can be nothing wrong with taking it in the first place. A moral rule is only a moral rule if I don't get to declare fait accompli. That is effectively a claim that property rights are not a moral matter in your terms. There is therefore in your terms no moral objection to redistributive taxation grounded in property rights.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    If we are to take seriously the parameters of Russ's moral stance - that moral rules are absolute, and that only promises made between individuals matter:

    Individuals must promise all other individuals (individually) not to steal any of their possessions, which must be listed individually so as to avoid any complication of interpretation, and must be revised upon acquisition or disposal of any possessions.

    In the absence of such promises, might makes right.

    Since any thought of the real-life effects of a moral rule is dismissed as "utilitarian", I really don't see that we have any other option.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Ohher wrote: »
    Squanto's brother-in-law might well have passed that trapping spot down the generations to our Wampanoag friend. He couldn't, though, because Priscilla's cousin misappropriated it by threat of force.

    If we accept that

    a) it is entirely plausible that in an alternate universe you might well have inherited a piece of land (or fishing rights or trapping rights)

    And

    B) that that particular alternate history was prevented by a wrongful act

    Are you saying that that is sufficient to give you a moral claim to that property ? (All of it ?)

    In the absence of the intermediate generations having the ability or the demonstrated intent to will it to you ?

    Because in your preferred alternate history they might have done ?
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited October 2018
    There are many systems of property rights in which the inheritance of estates, especially land, is determined by law or custom.
    Mind you, even in systems where inheritance is by the wishes of the testator, the group who inherit is a good deal more predictable than 'might have done' implies.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Ironic if those who would argue most strongly that eldest sons are unjustly privileged, and would cheer most loudly at the property being left to a daughter, then turn round and make an argument that the eldest son of the eldest son etc to the nth generation has a moral right to compensation for what he should have inherited...

  • Russ wrote: »
    Ohher wrote: »
    Let’s say I am a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts (I am not), living in 21st-century Gay Head with federal recognition (though no reservation) as a tribe. Here’s what I’ve lost, in just shy of 400 years since the Mayflower anchored in Massachusetts Bay...

    ...Second, am I, one 21st-century Wampanoag individual, a victim? Consider:
    • Does it matter how ‘well’ I’m doing as an individual in the here-and-now, regardless of how ‘well’ my group is doing now? Does it matter how ‘well’ my group has done in the past?
    • Does it matter that only some of the losses listed above may be experienced by me directly and personally?
    • Does it matter whether I view myself as a victim? Does it matter whether I have internalized a sense of these losses, or whether, for me, this is ancient water under washed-away bridges and I just want to get on with my life in the present?

    Good questions.

    For starters I'd say that you have first and second the wrong way round. That you are first and foremost an individual living human person. Talk of tribes and races is second-order stuff, shorthand for the complexities of person-to-person interaction and shared values and customs and family ties. You haven't lost anything over most of the last 400 years because you haven't been around that long.

    Wrongs committed by other living persons against you may give rise to a moral claim by you against them for compensation. But no sense of past wrongs that you may feel gives you any moral claim against a person who is innocent of those wrongs.

    If you think you have inherited from your parents a moral right to something more than what possessions they chose to leave to you, maybe you should spell out how you think such moral rights of inheritance work. With basic everyday examples of concrete things like watches...

    Will that get you to where you want to be ? Personally I doubt it; I suspect moral claims against the living for what the dead have done to be entirely spurious, nothing but the bleatings of victim culture.

    But it might help to try. To put some philosophical rigour into the case that your moral intuition is telling you ought to be made.

    Does that case depend on seeing people as members of a collective whole that can suffer and have rights and commit wrongs in a way analogous to the experience of individual people ? Tribal consciousness ?
    Talk of individual rights works if you come from a culture which sees things this way. European. It didn't work that way in North America. There were customary boundaries to territories, occasionally challenged in wars and at times discussed and traded. The understanding in the northern part of North America is that the tribes and confederacies of tribes amounted to nations. Just like England is a nation. (The situation is different in the American part of the continent, but some parallels hold. )

    Thus we have treaties which are nation to nation. In the case of where I live, although this is in Canada, the treaty is between the Crown and the various indigenous nations. Canada inherited responsibility to live up the treaties, government to government. We are progressively sorting out how it was that Canada violated the terms of the treaties, by trying to extinguish the rights of the indigenous nations and by trying to destroy their cultures and languages. I don't know what the numbers are but it's in the billions of dollars paid in compensation so far with much more to come. They decided that courts weren't the best way so there are alternative dispute mechanisms for some of this, such as those who can recount the story of how they, their parents and grandparents were directly affected by Canadian gov't policies. And they get heard and compensated. This is individual and also community. It isn't considered victim culture, it is considered basic justice.

    My point in posting all of this, is that you can go on about individuals, but if you're part of a group which has been harmed and the trauma of that lives down unto 3 and 5 generations, and the effects are shorter life spans, massive social problems, and both systematic and individual racisms, and, this is directly traced to the systematic history, then the unit of analysis is groups, tribes and nations. (BTW, "tribe" isn't used too much anymore.)
  • My chief problem with collective guilt is that it's so inconsistently applied. Consider the following two statements:

    (a) "White people bear collective guilt for slavery"
    (b) "Muslims bear collective guilt for 9/11"

    To me the statements are equal, both semantically and functionally. And I reject them both for the same reason: namely that those evils were carried out by evil people who happened to be White/Muslim, and it's wrong to tar all other White/Muslim people with the same brush.
  • My chief problem with collective guilt is that it's so inconsistently applied. Consider the following two statements:

    (a) "White people bear collective guilt for slavery"
    (b) "Muslims bear collective guilt for 9/11"

    To me the statements are equal, both semantically and functionally. And I reject them both for the same reason: namely that those evils were carried out by evil people who happened to be White/Muslim, and it's wrong to tar all other White/Muslim people with the same brush.

    There's a material difference. A very material difference. White people, ie, white Europeans, gained economically from the profits of slavery and continue to do so. No Muslims have gained anything in any way from 9/11 or other terrorist attacks.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    My chief problem with collective guilt is that it's so inconsistently applied. Consider the following two statements:

    (a) "White people bear collective guilt for slavery"
    (b) "Muslims bear collective guilt for 9/11"

    To me the statements are equal, both semantically and functionally. And I reject them both for the same reason: namely that those evils were carried out by evil people who happened to be White/Muslim, and it's wrong to tar all other White/Muslim people with the same brush.

    There's a material difference. A very material difference. White people, ie, white Europeans, gained economically from the profits of slavery and continue to do so. No Muslims have gained anything in any way from 9/11 or other terrorist attacks.

    Do you consider yourself guilty of slavery?

    Also, I would be very interested to know how you think I have benefitted from the profits of slavery in a way that my non-White friends, colleagues and neighbours have not.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Ironic if those who would argue most strongly that eldest sons are unjustly privileged, and would cheer most loudly at the property being left to a daughter, then turn round and make an argument that the eldest son of the eldest son etc to the nth generation has a moral right to compensation for what he should have inherited...
    (I'm not sure that anyone would cheer on the sole grounds that a daughter had inherited rather than a son.)
    That would be a different argument (a bait and switch as it's called in the internet). To say that we don't know who the inheritance would otherwise have gone to is a distinct argument from saying that there are other people who are more justly entitled to the inheritance.

    So suppose that Macbeth knocks Duncan over the head, and therefore inherits instead of Malcolm the oldest son. We may think that it's unjust that Malcolm is heir rather than his older sister. But even if we think that the older sister or anyone else had a more just claim than Malcolm, that doesn't mean that Macbeth or his heirs are among the people with a more just claim.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    My chief problem with collective guilt is that it's so inconsistently applied. Consider the following two statements:

    (a) "White people bear collective guilt for slavery"
    (b) "Muslims bear collective guilt for 9/11"

    To me the statements are equal, both semantically and functionally. And I reject them both for the same reason: namely that those evils were carried out by evil people who happened to be White/Muslim, and it's wrong to tar all other White/Muslim people with the same brush.

    There's a material difference. A very material difference. White people, ie, white Europeans, gained economically from the profits of slavery and continue to do so. No Muslims have gained anything in any way from 9/11 or other terrorist attacks.

    Do you consider yourself guilty of slavery?

    Also, I would be very interested to know how you think I have benefitted from the profits of slavery in a way that my non-White friends, colleagues and neighbours have not.

    Well, there are countless institutions such as museums, universities, hospitals and schools founded using the profits from sugar and cotton plantations. Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester became cities as a consequence. Lancashire and much of Yorkshire was transformed from an agricultural backwater to an industrial powerhouseeb. Numerous banks and financial institutions were founded on its basis and London's position as a if not the financial hub is based on it.

    Personal guilt is tricky, but I have certainly gained as a consequence of slavery.

    As for the benefit that I have received which non-whites have not, I'd suggest it is primarily a matter of degree, but it is worth noting that many Black and Asian people here are descended from slaves or persons displaced (eg, from India to Southern Africa and the Caribbean) and they have in addition been discriminated against once they have arrived here, so they have not had the opportunity to share in the benefits and proceeds of slavery to the extent that white British people have.

    Oh, and you haven't replied to my refutation about the false equivalence between slavery and 9/11, merely evaded it.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    Oh, and you haven't replied to my refutation about the false equivalence between slavery and 9/11, merely evaded it.

    Your refutation was on the basis of economic gain, thus bringing an extra factor into the equation without which - by your own argument - collective guilt for historical evils cannot apply. That being the case, your refutation effectively proves my point - white people bear no more collective guilt for slavery itself than Muslims do for 9/11. The collective guilt must, therefore, be based purely on having accrued, however inadvertently, an economic benefit from the evils of others.

    Hence my question about the nature of that benefit. You initially said that it's economic, and added in the subsequent post that it comes from the fact that "Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester became cities as a consequence. Lancashire and much of Yorkshire was transformed from an agricultural backwater to an industrial powerhouse. Numerous banks and financial institutions were founded on its basis and London's position as a if not the financial hub is based on it". OK, no argument here. But surely that rise in status and wealth benefits everyone who lives in those places - to varying degrees, yes, but that's not purely a function of race.

    If you want to say that present-day Britain is guilty of benefitting economically from slavery then so be it - that much cannot seriously be contested. But such guilt must then be laid upon the whole nation in all its multicultural glory. Any accusation that claims to be based on economics but that says the Archbishop of York is a victim while the meanest white beggar is guilty is, quite simply, judging people based on nothing more than the colour of their skin. There's a word for that - "racist".
  • sionisais wrote: »
    Oh, and you haven't replied to my refutation about the false equivalence between slavery and 9/11, merely evaded it.

    Your refutation was on the basis of economic gain, thus bringing an extra factor into the equation without which - by your own argument - collective guilt for historical evils cannot apply. That being the case, your refutation effectively proves my point - white people bear no more collective guilt for slavery itself than Muslims do for 9/11. The collective guilt must, therefore, be based purely on having accrued, however inadvertently, an economic benefit from the evils of others.

    Hence my question about the nature of that benefit. You initially said that it's economic, and added in the subsequent post that it comes from the fact that "Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester became cities as a consequence. Lancashire and much of Yorkshire was transformed from an agricultural backwater to an industrial powerhouse. Numerous banks and financial institutions were founded on its basis and London's position as a if not the financial hub is based on it". OK, no argument here. But surely that rise in status and wealth benefits everyone who lives in those places - to varying degrees, yes, but that's not purely a function of race.
    Surely? No. Wishful thinking again Marvin, Blacks and Asians don't gain to any thing like the same extent, although I'll grant you that wealthy white British continue to gain fastest of all and show no sign of finding their largesse embarassing.

    If you want to say that present-day Britain is guilty of benefitting economically from slavery then so be it - that much cannot seriously be contested. But such guilt must then be laid upon the whole nation in all its multicultural glory. Any accusation that claims to be based on economics but that says the Archbishop of York is a victim while the meanest white beggar is guilty is, quite simply, judging people based on nothing more than the colour of their skin. There's a word for that - "racist".

    You can't argue from a specific case to the general. Even you must know that by now. And accusations of racism don't belong here, as an admin should know.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    Surely? No. Wishful thinking again Marvin, Blacks and Asians don't gain to any thing like the same extent, although I'll grant you that wealthy white British continue to gain fastest of all and show no sign of finding their largesse embarassing.

    Yes, wealthy white British men are gaining hugely. But as you yourself just said, you can't argue from the specific to the general.

    If you can point to the Duke of Westminster to say "look how well white people are doing" then what's wrong with pointing to the Archbishop of York to say "some non-white people are doing pretty well too"?
    And accusations of racism don't belong here, as an admin should know.

    I said the argument was racist, not the person.
  • If we want to understand the effects of slavery we also have to understand the effects of the larger context which is colonization. What colonialism did is extract resources (including people) from other nations by force and manipulation. It can be debated that certain local people, such as coastal dwellers were also part of, and even the movers and shakers of it. But when we look at the effects of colonisation during the time it was running, and then several hundred years later, the effects are profound. But is it really over? Former colonial and empire countries are fabulously rich and prosperous while the colonised countries are poor. The exceptions, such as Canada, USA, Australia, took over the colonial system of resource extraction, so not different. There's been talk at least since I was a young fellow starting univ more than 4 decades ago that the world economies are organized by international structures such as the WTO and IMF to support the economic colonization of less powerful former colonies. And we get mighty upset when some of these countries get organized to take us on, such as China.

    Are there ongoing lingering effects from this history? Yes. The additional question being how former colonised countries still have their economies organized around extraction of their resources. Their economies continue to serve ours' We like to blame them themselves for this ongoing situation, that they have no democratic history, that they haven't the skills, various... but the facts seem to be that we want them this way because it serves outr economic interests and standard of living.

    Should there be a massive transfer of wealth from the developed world to the former colonised world which continues to be organized for the developed world's benefit? It probably doesn't matter what we think, it is merely a matter of timeframe for it to happen, how rapid it will be, and what sort of international violence will be involved.
  • My chief problem with collective guilt is that it's so inconsistently applied. Consider the following two statements:

    (a) "White people bear collective guilt for slavery"

    Bear in mind that, as previously noted, MtM considers "the U.S. government" and "white people" to be interchangeable terms referring to the same collective entity.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Ohher wrote: »
    Squanto's brother-in-law might well have passed that trapping spot down the generations to our Wampanoag friend. He couldn't, though, because Priscilla's cousin misappropriated it by threat of force.

    If we accept that

    a) it is entirely plausible that in an alternate universe you might well have inherited a piece of land (or fishing rights or trapping rights)

    And

    B) that that particular alternate history was prevented by a wrongful act

    Are you saying that that is sufficient to give you a moral claim to that property ? (All of it ?)

    In the absence of the intermediate generations having the ability or the demonstrated intent to will it to you ?

    Because in your preferred alternate history they might have done ?

    As others have already noted, "property" is probably faulty terminology in this situation -- it's the confusion about the mythological "transaction" in which Native Americans "sold" Manhattan to -- was it the Dutch? -- for $26 worth of beads. The Dutch may have thought they were acquiring property, but that doesn't mean the Native participants in this alleged transaction believed that's what they were offering.

    It's my (not necessarily accurate) understanding that many of the original Northeast Woodland peoples (not the Mohawks) had no concept of "owning" land (it's also my understanding, subject to correction by more-knowledgeable others, that these cultures were often collectivist); so what people had were more akin to rights to use certain areas/resources for themselves, and to pass these rights down within their own family lines.

    Being deprived of use of these resources by immoral means surely gives me a moral claim to having my access to this resource restored.



  • Ohher wrote: »
    As others have already noted, "property" is probably faulty terminology in this situation -- it's the confusion about the mythological "transaction" in which Native Americans "sold" Manhattan to -- was it the Dutch? -- for $26 worth of beads. The Dutch may have thought they were acquiring property, but that doesn't mean the Native participants in this alleged transaction believed that's what they were offering.

    It's my (not necessarily accurate) understanding that many of the original Northeast Woodland peoples (not the Mohawks) had no concept of "owning" land (it's also my understanding, subject to correction by more-knowledgeable others, that these cultures were often collectivist); so what people had were more akin to rights to use certain areas/resources for themselves, and to pass these rights down within their own family lines.

    More relevantly, the group making the "sale" was actually from what is now Brooklyn and didn't even have any kind of rights, individual or collective, to most of the island of Manhattan. They controlled a section of the south end of the island but were willing to "sell" the whole thing.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Ohher wrote: »
    Being deprived of use of these resources by immoral means surely gives me a moral claim to having my access to this resource restored.

    All of us are born into this world with no possessions. Every thing that we possess is acquired by some form of transaction. In our earliest years, we have nothing to trade, and no notion of how to trade, so the commonest transaction is a gift from our parents. As we slowly become capable adults, more and more of what we possess is stuff we have chosen to trade for, and we also use our skills to create new things from the resources we have.

    And we can join groups of people, and those groups can own stuff collectively. A farmer who owns a field by a river can sell the right to fish in the river to an angling club, who can make conditions about who can fish where and when, which are binding on members of that club.

    If the farmer dies and the field passes to a developer and the developer wrongfully prevents the angling club members from exercising their right to fish, then at that point in time all members of the angling club do indeed have a moral claim to having their access to that resource restored.

    Where it is less clear is the case of new members joining the club thereafter. The transaction by which they join the club cannot grant them access to the river to fish because the club does not possess that access. (Presumably the club has other riversides from which they can fish, or there wouldn't be much point in new members joining...)

    At the point where all the old members have resigned or died off, the angling club consists only of people who have not been directly wronged by the developer.

    Do they have a moral claim against the developer for "restoration" of the access they have never possessed ?

    If your idea of justice is of winding back history to eliminate the wrong and winding it forward again to undo all its consequences, then you will probably say yes.

    But I tend to think that you can't buy into or inherit a moral claim.

    The law may treat a collective as a person, but we know that's a fiction.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Ohher wrote: »
    Being deprived of use of these resources by immoral means surely gives me a moral claim to having my access to this resource restored.

    All of us are born into this world with no possessions.

    To whom does an infant's body belong?
    Russ wrote: »
    Every thing that we possess is acquired by some form of transaction.

    Is the infant's life a "thing?" What transaction did the infant enter into to acquire its life? Does that life belong to (that is, is it possessed by) the infant? Do infants have rights? Are rights "things?" What transactions do we enter into to acquire these? That is, assuming you accept the existence of rights; perhaps you don't.

    Interesting as your remaining discussion is, it seems inextricably welded to the concept of "stuff," or "property," or material goods, and problems or questions which can arise around ownership of property -- concepts on which vast stretches (and centuries) of Western law stands. As has already been noted, however, cultures exist or have existed which understand the relationship between human beings and material goods, and human beings and land, or geography, or real estate, or however one understands that entity, very differently. While I cannot personally pretend to fully grasp such alternative understandings (I'm a child of my own culture), the fact that so much of our law (which "possession" is claimed to be 9/10 of) is concerned with this idea suggests that the very concept of ownership may be problematic, and -- however entrenched in Western custom, culture, and consciousness -- may represent a moral "wrong turn" in human endeavor.



  • Crœsos wrote: »
    My chief problem with collective guilt is that it's so inconsistently applied. Consider the following two statements:

    (a) "White people bear collective guilt for slavery"

    Bear in mind that, as previously noted, MtM considers "the U.S. government" and "white people" to be interchangeable terms referring to the same collective entity.

    No, I think that when people say black people should be compensated for slavery the image in their minds is of a white person handing over the money.

    If you’re serious about it only being the government that owes the debt, then would you be happy for the cheque to be handed over and the apology given by an African-American member of government? Would that image be perfectly fine for you?
  • Works for me. If Obama had done something about reparations as the president, well, what's wrong with that?

    Personally, though, while I think reparations would be in the service of justice, sadly I think they are unworkable. But that's besides the point.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Ohher wrote: »
    ...the very concept of ownership may be problematic...

    Without having an anthropologist's grasp of the range of variation in human cultures, I would have said that the concept of ownership is near enough to universal for it to be said to be human nature. But that cultures differ in how widely that concept is applied - what the range of things is that people can own.

    For example, not surprising if hunter-gatherer cultures have a different attitude to land than cultures where growing crops provides the staple diet. (Give us this day our daily bread...)

    You're confusing me a little by doubting the concept of ownership in the same post as you suggest that a newborn baby owns its life and its body.

    We've been talking about owing compensation as an extension of the concept of ownership. That - at its simplest - if I thieve a £5 note from you then morally I owe you £5 in compensation.

    It's not clear to me that anyone has put forward an argument for compensation that doesn't draw whatever intellectual force it has from the concept of rights of ownership.

    Even if the emotional force is rooted in sympathy for victims.


  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    So suppose that Macbeth knocks Duncan over the head, and therefore inherits instead of Malcolm the oldest son. We may think that it's unjust that Malcolm is heir rather than his older sister. But even if we think that the older sister or anyone else had a more just claim than Malcolm, that doesn't mean that Macbeth or his heirs are among the people with a more just claim.

    Is this a shillelagh that I see before me ?

    Don't think anyone is doubting that Macbeth has wronged Malcolm.

    The question at issue is whether - in an alternative history where the English decline to lend Malcolm an army, Birnam Wood stays where it is, and Macbeth's descendant is King of Scotland a century or more later - whether any of the descendants of Malcom have a moral claim against their de facto king.

    If you believe in the notion of "rightful king" - that inheritance by the eldest son is morally right - then yes there is one descendant of Malcolm who has a moral right to the position of king and all that goes with it.

    If you don't believe that, then are you not positing that Macbeth has a moral duty to recompense Malcolm which is inherited by Macbeth's heirs (all of them ? or only the one who wears the crown ?) And correspondingly Malcolm has a moral right to recompense, which is inherited by his heirs ?

    A moral debt and moral claim that pass down the centuries regardless of the actions of the intermediate generations ? Is that what you're arguing ?
  • Russ wrote: »
    ...
    A moral debt and moral claim that pass down the centuries regardless of the actions of the intermediate generations ? Is that what you're arguing ?

    But you don't have a problem with inherited wealth or privilege, though, do you? Regardless of whether the intermediate generations deserve it or use it wisely...
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    A moral debt and moral claim that pass down the centuries regardless of the actions of the intermediate generations ? Is that what you're arguing ?
    That does look implausible if you decide to rule out the idea that Malcolm and his heirs can inherit ownership of the title or the equivalent from Duncan. The right to the title is therefore the primary right, and any other moral debts or claims belonging to persons currently having the use of the title would be entirely derivative from the ownership of the title.
    So once again we see that your position depends on the denial of intrinsic property rights and ownership.
    That makes sense: after all it's almost certain that Duncan's ancestors did not come by the title peacefully. But when it comes down to it your position is that the end, preservation of the status quo, justifies the means that have led up to it.

    I'm not sure if I've asked before why you focus on the concept of moral debt or moral claim against people for taking property or other title. One would normally think that the point of such things is that one thinks security of enjoyment of property is a good for a human community. But the notion that moral claims derive from the protection of human goods (that is, aspects of human life that make up human flourishing) is something that you don't want to allow. I have asked you before from where you think moral claims do derive if they're not grounded in the protection of human goods?
  • Russ wrote: »
    Without having an anthropologist's grasp of the range of variation in human cultures, I would have said that the concept of ownership is near enough to universal for it to be said to be human nature.

    So's murder.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    You're confusing me a little by doubting the concept of ownership in the same post as you suggest that a newborn baby owns its life and its body.

    If you return to that post, I think you’ll find that I raised a question about this rather than offering suggestions:
    Russ wrote: »
    All of us are born into this world with no possessions.
    Ohher wrote: »
    To whom does an infant's body belong?
    This rather depends on the culture and the circumstances, doesn’t it?

    In certain parts and eras of the old Roman Empire, the infant’s body belonged to its father, and he had the right to dispose of it if he found it unfit or inconvenient to maintain. In 21st-century US, the infant’s body belongs to the infant (unless Mexican or Central American in origin, in which case it apparently belongs to ICE). In Alabama in 1845, any infant born on a plantation would have belonged – lock, stock, and barrel – to the plantation owner: offspring begot by him from his wife, offspring to any slave, regardless of parentage.

    So while confusion over the ownership of infants’ bodies is certainly understandable, I’m not sure I want to accept responsibility for yours.

  • I think that when people say black people should be compensated for slavery the image in their minds is of a white person handing over the money.

    Which "people"? So far the only person making this suggestion here is you. Is this the same image "people" have of the reparations paid to interned Japanese Americans? George Takei teaming up with Pat Morita's kids to shake down individual homeless white folks, as you suggested?

    Or maybe you're getting this from Donald Trump's favorite source for dubious information, Manny Peeple. It's a convenient way to make a claim without taking ownership of it. "Manny Peeple say . . . "
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    I fail to see what rights of inheritance have to do with moral rights.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    Kwesi wrote: »
    I fail to see what rights of inheritance have to do with moral rights.

    Russ's point is that you need if you are going to say that an individual or group has a moral right to be recompensed for a past injustice, or that they inherit an moral obligation to give such recompense, that needs to be part of a principled moral theory about what can and can't be inherited in terms of rights and obligations.

    Whatever else Russ might be wrong about, he's not wrong about that.

    Mind you, I'm not sure that all of the advocates for reparations on this thread are putting their case in a way that that is an answer to it. I think it's being said that the entity that would giving recompense is the same corporate entity that was responsible for the injustice in the first place, and possibly (I'm less sure about this) that the injustice for which recompense is due is the continuing effect of slavery, and not the past existence of slavery per se.

    If the case is put in that way, then it side steps the question of inheritance altogether (though it doesn't deal with Marvin's point that if what we are concerned about is the continuing unjust effect of a past injustice, then that effect on it's own, regardless of cause, should be sufficient for remedial action, because remedying present injustice, no matter how that injustice arose, is a proper concern of society and government).


    I'm broadly in agreement with Marvin (in case you hadn't guessed). I don't think that "we" (as individuals, groups, races, governments or wider society) need to admit any sort of culpability or causative responsibility for things done by or to individuals who are now deceased, in order to feel or act on a strong moral obligation to put right, as far as we practically and rightly can, the injustices that presently exist within our communities. That something is broken now is reason enough to fix it.

    That said, I don't think the historical analysis on which the reparations case is built is a waste of time, because knowing how and why we got to where we are is essential in understanding what the problems are and how they can be addressed. Also, the rhetoric of collective responsibility and moral entitlement to reparations at a group level is, quite clearly, a very powerful motivator for some people. It does absolutely nothing for me (I feel no sort of collective guilt and I find much of the reasoning morally incoherent*) but it clearly does help others, and I have no problem with different people finding different motives for doing the right thing.



    (*compare and contrast - I fully expect to hear something at a remembrance day service this year to the effect that because people gave their lives for my freedom, I have a responsibility to use that freedom to serve others in my community. I find that morally incoherent, too - I don't think the death, however selfless or heroic, of someone who lived before I was born, can create an obligation on me to make a better society that I did not already have. And yet I also know that I can and do sometimes find that rhetoric deeply inspiring. Therefore I'm not going to object to it - and I'll try to use it for what good it will do me. I know that other people would find it meaningless, and would prefer other motivators for their altruism, and that's OK too. I see the language of reparations for slavery in a similar way. It doesn't help me. If it helps you, I'm not going to argue about that. If you think you can develop it into a consistent and principled moral theory that governs what our obligations actually are, then I think you're being optimistic, but I don't think that matters all that much. There's plenty of common ground to work from for people of general good will.)

  • I think there is a lot of truth in that. Even though my relatives fought and died in two world wars, I don't think that has any moral weight - or even guilt weight. Partly I think that's because I refuse to believe in the myth of redemptive violence. But more because I think one has to put wars in a certain context rather than simply considering the individual sacrifice of a soldier and their family, and that context is about geopolitics, tit-for-tat fights, jossling for imperial power and so on.

    I don't think one can talk about legacies of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the same way. It isn't simply that humans are always enslaving each other and that the one involving black people was preceded by others where they were the enslavers rather than the slaves.

    To go back to talking about the Holocaust* as a similar case, we don't tend to accept an argument that this was unfortunate but somehow "just" because of similar past wrongs.

    And I don't think one can bypass any acceptance of guilt by saying one had nothing to do with it - whilst it is clear from history that ships full of bedraggled Jews were refused places of safety in our country.

    In terms of slavery, I believe a large proportion of our national wealth was grown off the backs of the profits from the slave trade. There is a direct connection.

    * Which I think is reasonable given that it involved dehumanising specific groups of people, many of whom have thousands of years of history of oppression and also because there was a system of recompense
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    I don't think one can talk about legacies of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the same way. It isn't simply that humans are always enslaving each other and that the one involving black people was preceded by others where they were the enslavers rather than the slaves.

    Black people were the enslavers and the slaves and the slave traders. And white people were the ship captains and plantation owners and slave traders. And they're all dead now.

    And yes slavery goes at least all the way back to the ancient Egyptians and has probably been practiced at one time or another by people of every skin tone.

    These simple facts are not the whole story.

    But seems like you're determined to interpret history in the light of an oppressor/victim narrative where all white people have collective guilt and all black people have "Victim" on their T-shirt, and any facts that don't fit that narrative have to be downplayed.

    So why not just take off your monochrome spectacles and focus on what has to happen before we can say that no human being will ever be a slave again ?

  • Black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of slavery.

    Stopping future slavery is important, but so is refusing to step around that fact and refusing to downplay how it affects people's lives today.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    That does look implausible if you decide to rule out the idea that Malcolm and his heirs can inherit ownership of the title or the equivalent from Duncan. The right to the title is therefore the primary right, and any other moral debts or claims belonging to persons currently having the use of the title would be entirely derivative from the ownership of the title.

    You're arguing for the Divine Right of Kings ? That the eldest son of the king has a moral right to rule when the king dies ? Because he has ownership of the title and everything that goes with it ?
    So once again we see that your position depends on the denial of intrinsic property rights and ownership.

    OK, so we're in this strange position that you think I don't believe in property rights and I think you don't believe in property rights.

    I think you don't believe in property rights because you see them as a means to an end
    moral claims derive from the protection of human goods (that is, aspects of human life that make up human flourishing)
    implying that you feel justified in ignoring someone's rights if you feel that the goal of human flourishing would be served thereby. A right that you can ignore if it doesn't serve your purposes isn't a right.

    You think I don't believe in property rights because I restrict the moral claim to a claim against the individual who breaches the right, rather than a claim against all sapient beings in the universe for return of the property if they should happen to come across it. And I assert that the moral claim lapses at the point where that individual dies and their estate is distributed to others (first used to pay off any creditors who make themselves known at the time and then distributed to the heirs in accordance with custom). Because there is then no culpable entity or estate thereof against whom one could have a claim.
    I have asked you before from where you think moral claims do derive if they're not grounded in the protection of human goods?

    Clearly if one believes in a creator God then He is the source of morality.

    But I suspect that doesn't answer your question.

    I think you're probably asking something that amounts to "how do we know where the line is between moral duty and acts of supererogatory goodness ?" And I don't find that an easy question to answer.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited October 2018
    Russ wrote: »
    You're arguing for the Divine Right of Kings ? That the eldest son of the king has a moral right to rule when the king dies ? Because he has ownership of the title and everything that goes with it ?
    distributed to the heirs in accordance with custom).

    I think there is something strange going on between these two assertions with inheritance - which presumably you are all for - being brushed under something done 'in accordance with custom'. Inheritance is only possible insofar as the predecessor has a legitimate claim on the property being inherited.
  • I had occasion, the other week, to revisit something I look back on with some shame. At 13, entering Grade 2 Speech and Drama, I was required to deliver a speech from Shylock, in cod Yiddish accent, in cringing posture, more Fagin-like. Somehow, I was not coached into understanding what it was about. This thread brings it back, yet again.

    What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
    You have among you many a purchased slave,
    Which—like your asses and your dogs and mules—
    You use in abject and in slavish parts
    Because you bought them. Shall I say to you,
    “Let them be free! Marry them to your heirs!
    Why sweat they under burdens? Let their beds
    Be made as soft as yours and let their palates
    Be seasoned with such viands”? You will answer,
    “The slaves are ours.” So do I answer you.

    OK, he goes on about his reparations in the form of the pound of flesh, but this is Shakespeare getting serious about slavery, and is as good a legal speech as Portia's.

    And we paid reparations, didn't we, to the slave "owners"? This property thing runs deep.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    I think there is something strange going on between these two assertions with inheritance

    In technical legal terms, Russ is arguing that property rights exist, but operate in personam, that is, as a moral claim by the possessor of something against other persons not to have possession of property disturbed. Hence the conclusion that if the owner is dispossessed of the property, a person coming into possession of it innocently can also acquire equivalent rights to it. On the possessor's death, there would therefore be no 'person' to assert the right, and it therefore ceases to be a moral claim but (since property has to pass somewhere on death) a matter of custom and practice. There might be a moral claim to have the customs followed consistently and impartially, but inheritance as such is not a moral right. Once the transfer of property to the heir has been effected, the heir has a new in personam right not to be deprived of the property, as the heir is in the same position as any other innocent possessor.

    This differs from the usual meaning of "property rights" since it is pretty well established that what makes something specifically a "property" right is that it operates in rem - it is not merely a right against specific interference with possession, it is a right to the thing (res) itself, and therefore good against a person innocently coming into possession of another's property. It is easier to see inheritance as the passing on of a strict right under this system (though who is entitled to inherit may be a matter of custom).

  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    That does look implausible if you decide to rule out the idea that Malcolm and his heirs can inherit ownership of the title or the equivalent from Duncan. The right to the title is therefore the primary right, and any other moral debts or claims belonging to persons currently having the use of the title would be entirely derivative from the ownership of the title.
    You're arguing for the Divine Right of Kings ? That the eldest son of the king has a moral right to rule when the king dies ? Because he has ownership of the title and everything that goes with it ?
    It's an analogy. (I'm a republican when it comes to monarchy.)
    I had understood that your position was that rights and duties are non-natural facts. So that the question of who is entitled to what property is not simply a matter of social convention or of might making right. Now you appear to be expressing scepticism about that kind of non-natural fact.
    So once again we see that your position depends on the denial of intrinsic property rights and ownership.

    OK, so we're in this strange position that you think I don't believe in property rights and I think you don't believe in property rights.

    I think you don't believe in property rights because you see them as a means to an end
    moral claims derive from the protection of human goods (that is, aspects of human life that make up human flourishing)
    You should familiarise yourself with the difference between act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism before you throw out comments like this; as it is you make yourself look like you do not understand what you are pontificating about. (Not that I'm a utilitarian.)
    You think I don't believe in property rights because I restrict the moral claim to a claim against the individual who breaches the right, rather than a claim against all sapient beings in the universe for return of the property if they should happen to come across it. And I assert that the moral claim lapses at the point where that individual dies and their estate is distributed to others (first used to pay off any creditors who make themselves known at the time and then distributed to the heirs in accordance with custom). Because there is then no culpable entity or estate thereof against whom one could have a claim.
    That appears confused.
    Let us consider Joe Fingers, who is wandering around a pub beer garden picking up wallets and purses that he happens to come across.Now according to you the people in the beer garden have no general claim against Joe Fingers as a sapient being in the universe for return of the property if he should happen to come across it. They only have a claim if he's breached their rights. But apparently as they have no claim against him for doing so, coming across their property and not returning it does not breach their rights. In order for him to breach their rights apparently he would on your account have to be doing something over and above coming across their property and taking it.
    (Intent isn't going to solve your problem here: the intention to do something morally permissible is itself morally permissible.)

    If you have the right not to be killed, then no sapient entity in the universe is entitled to kill you. Saying that a claim only applies against entities that breach your rights and not against all sapient entities is nonsense.

    The idea that you only have a claim if there is a culpable entity is backwards, and leads to the absurdity above. What makes the entity culpable is that they know of the existence of an obligation that they're not meeting. If they have your property and they know you were deprived of it unjustly then they have an obligation they are not meeting, and they are therefore culpable.
    I have asked you before from where you think moral claims do derive if they're not grounded in the protection of human goods?
    I think you're probably asking something that amounts to "how do we know where the line is between moral duty and acts of supererogatory goodness ?" And I don't find that an easy question to answer.[/quote]For that matter, the line between moral duty and moral wrongdoing.
    While I appreciate your frankness, you realise that this puts your claim that your position is in any way more principled than any contrary position in serious question.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of slavery.

    No, black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of racism. Slavery was merely one outworking of racism, now gladly consigned to history. Many other outworkings of racism remain to be tackled, but the battle against slavery (literally, in the case of the USA) has already been won.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    I had understood that your position was that rights and duties are non-natural facts. So that the question of who is entitled to what property is not simply a matter of social convention or of might making right. Now you appear to be expressing scepticism about that kind of non-natural fact.

    I'd prefer to say "unobservable fact", seeing morality as rooted in human nature (rather than knowable only by divine revelation, for example).

    But no, I'm not backing off from the category of moral rights that are unobservable facts. I'm doubting that hereditary monarchy falls into that category, suggesting that it is no more than social convention.
    You should familiarise yourself with the difference between act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism

    I probably should. But if you're claiming not to be either, how does that answer the point ? And does that mean you agree or deny that you see property rights as a means to an end, that you're morally free to ignore if you consider that a specific example is not serving that end ?

    I happily acknowledge that you are more well-read in philosophy than I am.
    Let us consider Joe Fingers, who is wandering around a pub beer garden picking up wallets and purses that he happens to come across.

    You probably possess quite a lot of stuff that you're not actually holding in your hand at this moment. It's still in your possession, and anyone who dispossesses you of it without your consent wrongs you thereby.
    If you have the right not to be killed, then no sapient entity in the universe is entitled to kill you. Saying that a claim only applies against entities that breach your rights and not against all sapient entities is nonsense.
    No, I'm saying that a claim (for redress) is specific to the perpetrator(s) and the victim(s), and arises from a breach of the universal moral duty.
    I think you're probably asking something that amounts to "how do we know where the line is between moral duty and acts of supererogatory goodness ?"
    For that matter, the line between moral duty and moral wrongdoing.

    That's two lines - a line between the morally permissible and the morally required, and a line between the morally wrong and the morally permissible.

    Do you think me libertarian because I believe in a gap between those two lines ? Because I reject the notion that everything that is not mandatory is forbidden ?

    And I think there is a principled answer, it's just not a short and easy answer.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of slavery.

    No, black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of racism. Slavery was merely one outworking of racism, now gladly consigned to history. Many other outworkings of racism remain to be tackled, but the battle against slavery (literally, in the case of the USA) has already been won.

    Wrong. Asians (for example) are affected by racism in America. Black people have even shittier lives due to much deeper racism which is the long-tail of slavery reaching down the generations.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Penny S wrote: »
    And we paid reparations, didn't we, to the slave "owners"?

    Britain paid 40% of the government's annual income to former slave owners in the 1830s. The loan they took out was so big it was only paid off in 2015 (Guardian article). According to Wikipedia, the Slave Compensation Act resulted in over 40,000 awards.

    Lots of countries similarly ended slavery through compensated emancipation; the U.S. was not one of them. There was only one provision for compensated emancipation in the US, in Washington, DC, where 930 slave owners were compensated for the loss of their property under the District of Columbia Emancipation Act of 1862. The U.S. was never going to end slavery in any kind of organized way at the national level, as slavery was regulated by the states.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of slavery.

    No, black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of racism. Slavery was merely one outworking of racism, now gladly consigned to history. Many other outworkings of racism remain to be tackled, but the battle against slavery (literally, in the case of the USA) has already been won.

    Wrong. Asians (for example) are affected by racism in America. Black people have even shittier lives due to much deeper racism which is the long-tail of slavery reaching down the generations.

    I agree. Slavery reinforced racism, by institutionalising it. Not sure if that is quite the word I'm after, but I mean once something becomes an integrated part of society, of people's family lives, being lived out in a concrete way in their day-to-day lives from childhood, it becomes established deep in people's psyches, and has repercussions long after it is ended.
  • No, black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of racism. Slavery was merely one outworking of racism, now gladly consigned to history. Many other outworkings of racism remain to be tackled, but the battle against slavery (literally, in the case of the USA) has already been won.

    Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
    Since Aug. 21, prisoners across the United States have been on one of the largest prison strikes the nation has seen in years. They have several demands, but at the top is the end of the forced labor the state coerces out of them. Up to 800,000 prisoners a day are put out for work without their choice, usually for extremely paltry compensation that in Louisiana is as low as 4 cents per hour.

    I keep mentioning this and you keep maintaining the pretense that American slavery ended in 1865, but I live in hope.
  • Eliab wrote: »
    Hence the conclusion that if the owner is dispossessed of the property, a person coming into possession of it innocently can also acquire equivalent rights to it. On the possessor's death, there would therefore be no 'person' to assert the right, and it therefore ceases to be a moral claim but (since property has to pass somewhere on death) a matter of custom and practice.

    In reality there are all sorts of cases in which the law as currently framed doesn't operate in this way - inheriting the proceeds of crime (especially where that crime has been committed against the state and/or corporations) doesn't protect it from seizure.

    And presumably between someone dying and their heir by custom and practice 'coming into possession of it innocently' it can be claimed by anyone, including the government - but again I suspect Russ would cavil over that.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of slavery.

    No, black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of racism. Slavery was merely one outworking of racism, now gladly consigned to history. Many other outworkings of racism remain to be tackled, but the battle against slavery (literally, in the case of the USA) has already been won.

    No. Slavery is a huge present-day problem: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/10/17/this-map-shows-where-the-worlds-30-million-slaves-live-there-are-60000-in-the-u-s/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7d67696532fb
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    No, black people overwhelmingly have shittier lives than white people because of racism. Slavery was merely one outworking of racism, now gladly consigned to history. Many other outworkings of racism remain to be tackled, but the battle against slavery (literally, in the case of the USA) has already been won.

    Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
    Since Aug. 21, prisoners across the United States have been on one of the largest prison strikes the nation has seen in years. They have several demands, but at the top is the end of the forced labor the state coerces out of them. Up to 800,000 prisoners a day are put out for work without their choice, usually for extremely paltry compensation that in Louisiana is as low as 4 cents per hour.

    I keep mentioning this and you keep maintaining the pretense that American slavery ended in 1865, but I live in hope.

    The issue of prison labour is a different one to the issue of race-based lifelong slavery, ISTM. Nobody is born into prison, for one thing.

    But this feels a lot like arguing for the sake of arguing, to be honest. At no point have I said that black people (or any other minority in the US or UK) aren't discriminated against, that the effects of such discrimination aren't important or material, or that such discrimination doesn't need to be fought against. Quite the reverse, in fact. Why does it matter so much to you that the cause of that discrimination is said to be slavery rather than racism? What does it add to the argument?
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