Viewing posts tagged morality
3 years, 6 months ago
Israel is currently killing hundreds of people in Gaza. As they do from time to time. To make something Abba Eban once said true by simply inverting his meaning: the Israelis never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace. Though even that is too kind to them. As even White House senior staff acknowledge, the Israelis don't want peace. Give them everything they've ever wanted, and it still isn't enough - because what they say they want isn't what they want. What they really want is to continue the war until they have finally completed the work that David Ben-Gurion left unfinished, and eradicated the Palestinians. The mindset of Israel is genocidal, and becoming more openly so by the day.
It is now clear to a great many people that what happened to the Native Americans as a result of the institution and independence of the United States of America was a scandal, a holocaust and a tragedy. The idea is so commonplace it's become a sentimental truism in pop-culture. Well, Israel had not done very much that America didn't do in the process ...
3 years, 7 months ago
Bourgeois law sets up a system which seems, superficially, to draw its moral force from the common sense morality of ordinary people (in the West this is filtered through the formal Christian ethics internalised by our civilisation). Its actual function, of course, is to promote and enforce a social orderliness which allows the relatively untrammelled existence of social hierarchy.
(This isn't a conspiratorial view, by the way. Conspiracies undoubtedly happen - the ruling class, and their adjutants, are as capable of getting together and discretely working towards their own agendas and advantages as anyone else - but conspiracy is not the basis of the system. Conspiracies are often criminal and, though frequently winked at by The Law, they are theoretically punishable. They are, in a very real sense, an aberration. An endemic aberration certainly - and more endemic the more confident the ruling classes get - but an aberration nonetheless. It's important not to be too cynical about the concept of law, to imagine that it is just a sham, and that everyone at the top knows it to be. That isn't how systems of control endure. Systems of control endure by being ...
3 years, 9 months ago
Spoilers for Game of Thrones... if the writers haven't already spoiled it enough.
Aside from being just horribly and needlessly misogynistic (Moffat has nothing on this. Nothing.
) and basically relying on the assumption that Jaime can be redeemed despite being a rapist (presumably because Cersei is such a b*tch that its okay to rape her), it also perfectly illustrates something I was banging on about in a post about The Borgias
a few years back.
It illustrates what happens when you purposefully remove consistent moral thinking from narrative texts just for the show-offy hell of it.
Now, I'm not a moralising finger-wagger (at least, I try not to be because it's a deeply unattractive and narcissistic trait) but I do believe that morality is a vital part of fiction. Not in the sense that all stories should contain clear moral messages, or avowedly support a certain moral position, or anything like that, but rather in the sense that they should be aware that questions of justice and injustice are built into storytelling, at least in the Western tradition, and that it is literally impossible to tell a story in that tradition without ...
4 years, 6 months ago
On 'A Town Called Mercy'
The ends can justify the means, but there needs to be something which justifies the ends.
Jex experiments on people in order to create a cyborg supersoldier. His motive is to end a war which is killing his people. But were his people the attackers or the attacked? That this is ignored tells us a great deal about the writer/s but deprives us of the possibility of making moral sense of the story. It is ignored, presumably because it is considered irrelevant. Yet, the whole point of the story appears to be the question of whether Jex is a bad man or a good one... with the answer being, of course, "yes". But I'd argue that the wider social context of Jex's actions (beyond just saying that 'it was war') is as important as it is obscure.
The notion - that war is, as Jex puts it, "a different world" in which normality shifts drastically and morality becomes fuzzy - is, for a start, a somewhat glib truism. Like all such glib truisms, it can be pressed into service (i.e. "Yes, an invasion will ...
4 years, 11 months ago
Kant's categorical imperative is an expression of the bourgeois liberal ideas of the 18th century, expressed as morality. It is progressive in the sense that it attempts to derive morality from Reason. It is part of the Enlightenment. It also expresses the new, universal promises of the bourgeois revolutions in that it universalises (i.e. "All men are created equal"). It is based on the principle of universality. What you do must apply to all people or it fails to be truly moral.
However, it is also based on a bourgeois notion of rights. The concept of 'rights' is a product of the rise of bourgeois property/trade relations. One brings one's rights to the market place and, on that basis, one participates in the putatively level playing field. For Kant, one negotiates the conflicts between these rights on the basis of contractual clauses. If the Party of the First Part undertakes to do such and such, the Party of the Second part will be understood to be obliged to do so and so. It is this which finally inverts the universality of the notion into an ...