"burn your house down… brew you a cup of tea in the still-glowing embers" - good and evil in people

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Comments

  • There but by fortune must go you or I.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Most of us would not become Hitler or Stalin or Jack the Ripper.

    And that’s exactly the attitude that helps the next Hitler rise to power.
    No, the fuck, it isn't. What allows evil like Hitler to arise is demonising and scapegoating other people.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Even on this thread we’ve had the claim that most of us would never become Hitler. But we would, if we were given the right motivation, power and opportunity.
    Complete bullshit. The lesson from Nazi Germany is that normal, "good" people can become complicit in the actions of their leaders, not that we could all become those leaders. Those are two different things.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Admin
    edited July 2020
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    If we treat them as comic book villains whose only desire is to do evil for its own sake then we lose that understanding, and take a step down the path to darkness.

    [citation needed]

    Really? What else does saying there’s nothing good in someone mean to you?
    It's a good job that that's not what I'm saying then.

    What I am saying is that if you are capable of doing a little good, you are also capable of restraining yourself from evil. You are in command of what you do. You are not an automaton. You choose to do evil to other people? That's what defines you to them. Don't like being called evil? Don't do the evil.
    The thread title is a failure to understand the nature of good and evil coexisting in individuals, not least because it presupposes that both the good and the evil will be applied to the same person/people.

    You'll freak out when I tell you about abusive relationships.
    Criticising a preconception does not mean I think that preconception is never true, just that it’s not always true.

    Did I ever say it was always true? No. But you certainly implied it.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    The reason most people don’t do it is most people never get the power and opportunity - preventing one or the other of those is pretty much what democracy is for.
    If people were as fucked up as you present, democracy would have never come to pass.
    The problem is not that we are all potential Hitlers, but that we are all potential followers/non-resisters.
    The big evil is easy to not commit. It is the steps we allow our leadership to take that creates the platform for the big evil. cf the current US status.

  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Most of us would not become Hitler or Stalin or Jack the Ripper.

    And that’s exactly the attitude that helps the next Hitler rise to power.
    Yes I'm not sure how to fix it. The important thing is what we use any similarity/differences for.

    If thinking we're "not like Hitler" or the "Dog Poo Leaver" causes us to be blind to the consequences of our own or others actions, then that leads to badness.

    If thinking "Hitler and the Dog Poo Leaver are basically the same causes us to be indifferent to evil, then that leads to pretty much the same badness.

    Conversely if thinking of the similarities warns us of dangers and spurs us to good, that is a good.
    And if thinking of the differences reminds us how important it is to be good, that is a good.

    Note this is not saying we should be on some middle ground, thinking of a random mixture of similar/different leads to just as bad a mix of good/evil as chosing consistently either similar/different, it's kind of like a 2*2 chess board.
    But that doesn't provide a neat answer...

    Perhaps it's "We shall not be like Hitler"
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Trying the clarify the debate for myself, ISTM we are faced with a moral variant of the nature versus nurture argument: Are individuals in some essential way good, bad, or a mixture of good and bad which leads them to behave in accordance with their basic natures, or do all individuals have essentially the same nature but behave differently due to their interactions with external circumstances?

    I hypothesise that the distribution of personality and moral types are randomly distributed between different national communities, so that at this level the potential for any society to become fascist is more or less the same. Germany, however, due to a variety of circumstances developed a political culture which enabled those with character traits that in other societies would be regarded as unacceptable (wicked, even), to achieve political power and to create structures that encouraged and promoted those with violent, sociopathic, psychopathic or whatever tendencies. One might add, however, that when ‘free societies’ introduce torture they have no difficulty in recruiting torturers, and where there is structural racism there are no shortages of racists to populate those structures.

    When I think about people I have known and read about ISTM that in a rough and ready way a small number might be regarded as morally warped A1 Bastards, perhaps a few more would refuse to compromise their desire to behave altruistically, while most (including myself) seek to behave well but not when it’s too inconvenient.
  • Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Both Brexit and Trump illustrate that hardship/threat can be imagined and still push people towards the dark side.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Doc Tor wrote: »
    Hitler managed to get a large number of ordinary people to participate in his atrocities.

    And you know what we call those people? Nazis. That's what we call those people.

    Or you could call them the parents, grandparents and great grandparents of modern day Germans who appear to be a decent lot.

    I would argue that the majority of Germans who 'helped' Hitler were motivated by fear.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    How do you account for other fascist regimes?
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    Faugh. This was Hitler's excuse and the flag he waved to get support.
  • Marvin--

    You said:
    It would be so fucking easy, precisely because we’d be utterly convinced that we weren’t evil, that we weren’t monsters, that our cause was just. The reason most people don’t do it is most people never get the power and opportunity - preventing one or the other of those is pretty much what democracy is for.

    I've been thinking, off and on, that very recent history can help us understand older history better, if we let it. E.g., consider a time in the past about which moderns routinely think, "Ewww, ick! How could they do that? Why did they believe something so stupid? Common sense should've told them..." And then think about the last 7 months or so, and the last 4 years, and...
  • Addendum:

    I wasn't particularly thinking of The Angry Guy WIth A Mustache. Just any time on which we look back and think "What in the world? Idiots!"
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    How do you account for other fascist regimes?
    Name one and we'll talk about it.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    Faugh. This was Hitler's excuse and the flag he waved to get support.
    So you are saying that the Germans were just more evil?
    It was literally a textbook cause.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    Faugh. This was Hitler's excuse and the flag he waved to get support.

    mousethief -I think that you're largely right, and more so if you extend the excuse-makers to include the other far-right groups campaigning against Versailles. Another point to make is that there were real differences between nazism and fascism, differences which went beyond Hitler's extreme anti-semitism. Mussolini was anti-semitic in much the same way as later on Salazar and Franco (and a string of Eastern European dictatorships) were, and not much different to the upper classes in France and the UK. He only reluctantly went along with Hitler in return for much needed support as the allies pressed Italy harder and harder.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    How do you account for other fascist regimes?
    Name one and we'll talk about it.

    there are a number of candidates. Let's go with Franco's Spain.
  • why the hell do these discussions always end up with bloody fascism? How many times do we have to go over and over this annoying bullshit? Why can't we talk about human nature without always ending up here? It shits me.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    why the hell do these discussions always end up with bloody fascism? How many times do we have to go over and over this annoying bullshit? Why can't we talk about human nature without always ending up here? It shits me.
    Because, of the most egregious events of modern history, it is the clearest and easiest example of humans at their worst. Stalin's and Mao's horrors were less clear and less focused. Pol Pot's too foreign, I suppose.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Simon Toad Why the hell do these discussions always end up with bloody fascism? How many times do we have to go over and over this annoying bullshit? Why can't we talk about human nature without always ending up here? It shits me.

    Largely because fascist Germany murdered more than six million jews, together with gypsies and other non-humans, individuals with various disabilities, conducted murderous medical experiments on others, racially discriminated against the slavs, plunged Europe into war, causing great misery. For many Europeans the authors of these atrocities were regarded as evil, especially Hitler, whose recorded views were loathsome. Naturally, the question arose as to whether individuals behave in the way Hitler and his henchmen did because they were ontologically evil or whether it was the inevitable outcome of forces over which they had little control, and why such a large proportion of the civilised German population seemingly approved of what the regime did and collaborated in its actions. Linked to that was the question as to whether the phenomenon could be repeated in other countries, or whether Nazism, especially, was peculiarly German. It is almost inevitable that any discussion. on good and evil amongst Europeans focuses on 'Hitler' because culturally there is general agreement that he was the the worst of the worst, a test case when it comes to the nature of good and evil, whether all can be saved, how the rest of us and our societies compare with Nazi Germany and so on....It's difficult to see how the issue can be avoided for Europeans in any discussion about human nature.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited July 2020
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Could you clarify your comments about Germany please. It sounds a bit like you are saying that Germany's situation was particularly susceptible to fascism.
    Part of it fairly unequivocally was. The hardships set in place by the Treaty of Versailles are acknowledged to have created fertile soil for Hitler's rise.

    How do you account for other fascist regimes?
    Name one and we'll talk about it.

    there are a number of candidates. Let's go with Franco's Spain.
    Franco's Spain came to power in a civil war, quite different to Nazi Germany. Franco came to power because his, combined with Germany's support, was the better army. The internal conflict with the communist v the nationalist is a different dynamic.
    But anyway, what is your point?
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    Simon Toad Why the hell do these discussions always end up with bloody fascism? How many times do we have to go over and over this annoying bullshit? Why can't we talk about human nature without always ending up here? It shits me.

    Largely because fascist Germany murdered more than six million jews, together with gypsies and other non-humans, individuals with various disabilities, conducted murderous medical experiments on others, racially discriminated against the slavs, plunged Europe into war, causing great misery. For many Europeans the authors of these atrocities were regarded as evil, especially Hitler, whose recorded views were loathsome. Naturally, the question arose as to whether individuals behave in the way Hitler and his henchmen did because they were ontologically evil or whether it was the inevitable outcome of forces over which they had little control, and why such a large proportion of the civilised German population seemingly approved of what the regime did and collaborated in its actions. Linked to that was the question as to whether the phenomenon could be repeated in other countries, or whether Nazism, especially, was peculiarly German. It is almost inevitable that any discussion. on good and evil amongst Europeans focuses on 'Hitler' because culturally there is general agreement that he was the the worst of the worst, a test case when it comes to the nature of good and evil, whether all can be saved, how the rest of us and our societies compare with Nazi Germany and so on....It's difficult to see how the issue can be avoided for Europeans in any discussion about human nature.
    I think also because of the way it unfolded to the world. The war ended and BAM! there were the atrocities. No hiding or ignoring them, front and centre at the end of a war that was front and centre.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    But was Churchill evil?
    He certainly did evil.

    Churchill was one the good guys who's job was to win the war.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    But was Churchill evil?
    He certainly did evil.

    Churchill was one the good guys who's job was to win the war.

    So was Stalin. The world is not divided into good people and death eaters, Harry.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »

    Largely because fascist Germany murdered more than six million jews, together with gypsies and other non-humans, individuals with various disabilities, conducted murderous medical experiments on others, racially discriminated against the slavs, plunged Europe into war, causing great misery.

    Of course, the 2 great mass-murderers of all time were Stalin and Mao, each of whom killed more than 20 million of their own peoples. No excuse for Hitler though.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Kwesi wrote: »

    Largely because fascist Germany murdered more than six million jews, together with gypsies and other non-humans, individuals with various disabilities, conducted murderous medical experiments on others, racially discriminated against the slavs, plunged Europe into war, causing great misery.

    Of course, the 2 great mass-murderers of all time were Stalin and Mao, each of whom killed more than 20 million of their own peoples. No excuse for Hitler though.

    I'm never quite sure whether to count the deaths from carelessness or negligence motivated by ideological commitment in the same category as deliberate murder (I think most of the deaths attributed to Stalin and Mao are down to famine, are they not?). If we are then we have to talk about the Bengal Famine too.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    But was Churchill evil?
    He certainly did evil.

    Churchill was one the good guys who's job was to win the war.

    So was Stalin. The world is not divided into good people and death eaters, Harry.

    Stalin was not one of the good guys.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Many of those killed by Stalin - eg the Cossacks - did in fact die from famine, that famine occurring when they were deliberately moved en masse to a place with inadequate food resources. I'd count that as murder. Those who died in the Cultural Revolution fall into much the same category. I'd count neither as negligence of carelessness.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Too much talk here of extremes.

    Can we talk about ordinary people who don’t turn out to be fascist dictators?

    Some evil people present as good. Put on a face. They can be very good at it. Think of the bully who is lovely to everyone except the person they are bullying. Who pulls the wool over even discerning eyes.

    Think of the abusive partner who presents as a kind and loving person to the world.

    This isn’t a good person with potential to do evil. This isn’t a person who is good but has some faults/blind spots. This is a person who wants to be seen as ‘good’, but isn’t. A whitewashed tomb.

    How do we deal with him/her?
  • So - to take it back from the usual Hitler examples - Moby. Recently revealed to be very creepy (although there have always been interesting stories). None of which takes away from the fact that he has written and produced some incredible music. Inspirational, spiritual, beautiful.

    That is still the case. The fact that as a person, he is clearly creepy as fuck does not remove his talent, the good that he has done. But the good also does not excuse the bad.
  • I'm uncomfortable about discussing the flaws of still-living artists. Caravaggio? Mozart? Oliver Reed? There are plenty to choose from.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Gee D Of course, the 2 great mass-murderers of all time were Stalin and Mao, each of whom killed more than 20 million of their own peoples. No excuse for Hitler though.

    Fair point, but we are not discussing who in fact was the most evil person who ever lived, or lived in the last century, but the nature of evil, and most people in Europe and the western world would accept the proposition that Hitler, for them, is undoubtedly the test case in their cultural context: "if he gets away with it, so does everyone else."

    *******************
    Boogie: Too much talk here of extremes .Can we talk about ordinary people who don’t turn out to be fascist dictators?

    Think of the abusive partner who presents as a kind and loving person to the world.

    Some evil people present as good.

    OK, but what do you want to conclude or discover from an examination of those not at the extremes about human nature? Do the evil and saintly form separate categories from the rest of us, or is the "abusive partner" no different from those designated as evil or good? Are we all basically the same or not?
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    But was Churchill evil?
    He certainly did evil.

    Churchill was one the good guys who's job was to win the war.

    So was Stalin. The world is not divided into good people and death eaters, Harry.

    Stalin was not one of the good guys.

    But your only argument for Churchill being one of the good guys was his job was winning the war.

    The same can be said of Stalin.

    Neither of them were good guys.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    Gee D Of course, the 2 great mass-murderers of all time were Stalin and Mao, each of whom killed more than 20 million of their own peoples. No excuse for Hitler though.

    Fair point, but we are not discussing who in fact was the most evil person who ever lived, or lived in the last century, but the nature of evil, and most people in Europe and the western world would accept the proposition that Hitler, for them, is undoubtedly the test case in their cultural context: "if he gets away with it, so does everyone else."

    I largely agree, and that is why I added Stalin and Mao to the list. 2 more examples of great evil. Where I do part from you is your comment of the name that would spring to most peoples' minds. Many would start with Stalin or Mao. If they do jump to Hitler, it is good to think that there are at least 2 others just as evil
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Many of those killed by Stalin - eg the Cossacks - did in fact die from famine, that famine occurring when they were deliberately moved en masse to a place with inadequate food resources. I'd count that as murder. Those who died in the Cultural Revolution fall into much the same category. I'd count neither as negligence of carelessness.

    If you look at the history of famines in the British Empire they have a strong tendency to occur in places where the indigenous people had proved troublesome to the ruling power. Of course things like famines are over-determined, and there it is possible to find mitigating factors for each one, but the overall pattern is fairly clear.
  • Marvin the MartianMarvin the Martian Admin Emeritus
    Boogie wrote: »
    Some evil people present as good.

    My whole point is that people aren't either evil or good, they're both. Someone being a bully to one person doesn't mean them being good to other people is just a facade or pretence, any more than them being good to some people doesn't mean they're not really a bully to others.
  • AnteaterAnteater Shipmate
    Marvin the Martian:
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Most of us would not become Hitler or Stalin or Jack the Ripper.

    And that’s exactly the attitude that helps the next Hitler rise to power.
    I think it is a plain statement of fact, what lilbuddha said. Do you seriously believe that the number of Hitlers-in-the-making is large? Do you seriously believe that could be you? Call me complacent but I don't think it is me. Mind you I've not much time left to develop.

    My problem with your attitude is that it opens the door to preventive measures which could be oppressive, since it is possible to screen children for the genetic traits that are associated with psychopathy. (I'm not implying that you advocate that, but it has it's supporters).

    I think a degree of optimism is best here.
    Saying that Hitler-level evil isn’t even possible for humans, that such evil isn’t even on the continuum of human behaviour, is massively problematic
    First, I know of nobody who thinks such evil is not possible with humans, or denies Hitler's human status, which would be plain silly. I did talk about him not being on the continuum of normal human behaviour, and the word you omitted is important. I was using the word "normal" in it's popular usage, as meaning relatively average, nothing outside what is normally part of the human character. I was not formally making a statement about normal (Gaussian) distribution. So a body temperature of 99degF is a bit high but within the normal continuum of temperature, where 105 definitely is not.

    And I think this is important, because you use the term "human" almost as if it is half-way to "humane", that to be human implies at least some minimum of social conscience. IMO "human" just refers to your species and for me it is an ethically neutral term. However, I accept that a lot of people use it to imply otherwise, as it the popular idea of some act being "inhuman". Which is a pity, because we have a perfectly good and under-utilised word "humane" which does have this connotation. I assume you would agree that Hitler's behaviour was inhumane.
    But we would [become like Hitler], if we were given the right motivation, power and opportunity.
    I've no idea how you think you know that. You appear top be very pessimistic about people. We're not all Pavlovians.

  • It's not that we would become 'like Hitler' that's the problem. It's rather that we would obey someone like Hitler, for whatever reason. Hitler only got to be Hitler because people chose to enact his policies - for whatever reason: loyalty to the state, societal pressure, fear of retribution, or that they agreed with what he was doing.

    And the point is, it doesn't matter about the rest of it. It's what you're remembered for by your victims. My brother went on an student exchange to a German family when he was at school: the host-father was an ex-serviceman, a tankie on the Eastern Front, and had won an Iron Cross. While he was being undoubtedly brave there, behind the lines they were shovelling millions of people (including Jews, like mine and my brother's father) into incinerators.

    On a less contentious level, if you provide a good home for your family and are completely shitty to your neighbours, then your neighbours won't care about the former - it's irrelevant to their situation. You're the shitty bloke next door. That's how you get remembered, and it's how you get treated.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Many of those killed by Stalin - eg the Cossacks - did in fact die from famine, that famine occurring when they were deliberately moved en masse to a place with inadequate food resources. I'd count that as murder. Those who died in the Cultural Revolution fall into much the same category. I'd count neither as negligence of carelessness.

    If you look at the history of famines in the British Empire they have a strong tendency to occur in places where the indigenous people had proved troublesome to the ruling power. Of course things like famines are over-determined, and there it is possible to find mitigating factors for each one, but the overall pattern is fairly clear.

    Do you have any facts behind those assertions?
  • Hmmm...I did read that the Irish potato famine had been purposely caused by outsiders. I *think* some kind of plant disease was thought to have been introduced.
  • In short, no. Potato blight is a periodic disease, and sometimes conditions are such that whole crops fail.

    However, given that Ireland was part of Great Britain at the time, it might have been expected that (a) other foodstuffs from Ireland were not exported when mass starvation was not just imminent, but ongoing, and (b) when the scale of suffering was realised, that there would have been imports of food from the rest of Britain, either as charity or heavily subsidised.

    Instead, it was policy that trade would continue as normal. Rich Irish landowners continued to export grain and meat to Britain, and the poor either starved or left for the Americas.
  • Marvin the MartianMarvin the Martian Admin Emeritus
    Anteater wrote: »
    My problem with your attitude is that it opens the door to preventive measures which could be oppressive, since it is possible to screen children for the genetic traits that are associated with psychopathy. (I'm not implying that you advocate that, but it has it's supporters).

    This is interesting, because the way I see it it's exactly the opposite. If we believe that some people are just Evil then that opens the door to such screening, as a way of eliminating that evil before it has a chance to affect those of us who are Good. Whereas if we accept that the propensity for both good and evil reside in all of us it means there are no such easy fixes - evil is not an external thing, it is in us all, and we all need to work towards the good.

    To put it another way, if you believe that Hitler and those like him are a special, separate category of humanity then it follows that being able to identify those in that category means you can screen them out of society. Whereas if you accept that they're not inherently different from everyone else you can't do that.
    You appear top be very pessimistic about people.

    Perhaps, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. Power corrupts, even if it's initially used for good. It might, for instance, start with having zero tolerance for racism, evolve into banning any societies or organisations or political parties that can be said to have racist aims, thence to locking up anyone who says anything even slightly racist, or anyone who is even accused of being racist. Not in concentration camps, of course - those are an evil thing, these are reeducation camps where people will be taught (forced) to think and act in more acceptable ways for the greater good of society. Maybe you'd start forcibly removing people from their homes or jobs because you've decreed that those homes or jobs have been unfairly taken from or denied to minorities.

    Each step not that much worse than the previous, just a slow, incremental movement towards totalitarianism, because the cause is Good enough that no measure taken to further it is too extreme, and no opposition can be tolerated. It's happened before and it will happen again.
  • The author of The Turner Diaries would like their plot back, @Marvin the Martian
  • Marvin the MartianMarvin the Martian Admin Emeritus
    edited July 2020
    I was trying to pick the cause most likely to be accepted by everyone here as a good one in order to illustrate my point. I'd never even heard of that book before your post, and I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited July 2020
    Gee D wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Many of those killed by Stalin - eg the Cossacks - did in fact die from famine, that famine occurring when they were deliberately moved en masse to a place with inadequate food resources. I'd count that as murder. Those who died in the Cultural Revolution fall into much the same category. I'd count neither as negligence of carelessness.

    If you look at the history of famines in the British Empire they have a strong tendency to occur in places where the indigenous people had proved troublesome to the ruling power. Of course things like famines are over-determined, and there it is possible to find mitigating factors for each one, but the overall pattern is fairly clear.

    Do you have any facts behind those assertions?

    It's what I take from the work of Mike Davis and Dirk Moses; I think they show a relatively clear pattern of famine being used as a policy tool by a number of imperial regimes including that of the British.

    Certainly it's a choice on your part to ask for evidence in one case but to discount excuses of negligence and carelessness in the other.
  • The point is, your analogy is genuinely terrible in ways you are now aware of, and reads like a right-wing libertarian's fever-dream.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I was trying to pick the cause most likely to be accepted by everyone here as a good one in order to illustrate my point. I'd never even heard of that book before your post, and I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make.

    It's a bit of a jump from "this could happen" to "anyone could, given the right circumstances, be the person who makes this happen"
  • It might, for instance, start with having zero tolerance for racism, evolve into banning any societies or organisations or political parties that can be said to have racist aims, thence to locking up anyone who says anything even slightly racist, or anyone who is even accused of being racist. Not in concentration camps, of course - those are an evil thing, these are reeducation camps where people will be taught (forced) to think and act in more acceptable ways for the greater good of society. Maybe you'd start forcibly removing people from their homes or jobs because you've decreed that those homes or jobs have been unfairly taken from or denied to minorities.

    I'm not sure what conclusion you want to be drawn from this argument apart from 'therefore we need to tolerate racism' -- to which my question would be 'How? and how much?'
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