15 votes

How do you reconcile 'legal principles' with the seeming inability to change them?

This is mostly in reference to a recent post on ~news that has me curious.

Based on the law, it seems like the Rittenhouse trial ended about as fairly as it could have. Other users have accurately pointed out that a lot of the law that we're governed by was (at least, in part) influenced by the white supremacy that is rooted into American law. This is where it gets a bit confusing for me.

If you're devoted to legal principles, then you must believe things like this (far-right extremism) are to be addressed through our established systems, i.e congress. This is logically consistent. However, how can you reconcile this with how corrupted the system we rely on has become?

The legislative branch in the US is notorious for being a partisan shit-show filled to the brim with deceit and corruption. When the only way to change the law is marred by evil and ineffectiveness, how am I (or those skeptical of the true reasons behind the Rittenhouse verdict) supposed to remain devoted to principles that rely on the system functioning in good faith?

30 comments

  1. [24]
    mtset
    Link
    There are basically, as I see it, two options. You can believe that the system is more important than the people it is currently harming, and therefore seek to reform the system - a potentially...

    how can you reconcile this with how corrupted the system we rely on has become?

    There are basically, as I see it, two options. You can believe that the system is more important than the people it is currently harming, and therefore seek to reform the system - a potentially long-term solution at the cost of tolerating gross injustice without a deadline. Or, you can believe that the people are more important than the system - that's pretty much the definition of radicalism. Radicals seek to change the system into a more just one as rapidly and thoroughly as possible, potentially risking long-term problems in return for, hopefully, providing justice today.

    13 votes
    1. [21]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I really can't comprehend the non-radical stance. "Solve big problems now, solve any new poblems later" seems the infinitely better solution. Let's look at global warming. It's kind of a good...

      Radicals seek to change the system into a more just one as rapidly and thoroughly as possible, potentially risking long-term problems in return for, hopefully, providing justice today.

      I really can't comprehend the non-radical stance. "Solve big problems now, solve any new poblems later" seems the infinitely better solution.

      Let's look at global warming. It's kind of a good example of how slow change within the existing framework is. How much better off would we be if we took hard, fast changes to mitigate the problem quickly, circa 1970->1990? And then developed solutions to any new problems that arose?

      From both my own life and my learnings of history, it seems a solid 95% of the fear of drastic change for justice is propagated by those who stand to lose (no matter how minutely or tangentially) from those changes, and the refrain is often the same. "We can't do X change because it will destroy Y."

      Abolishing slavery. Shortening workweek. Eliminating child labor. Minimum wage. Women voting. Desegregation. Gay marriage. All claimed by those in power that it would be too radical and destroy society. Somehow that never came to pass.

      15 votes
      1. [12]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        This is really based on how confident you are that the new problems won’t be even worse than the big problems now. Is that so bad? If the people who stood to lose from neoliberal economic policies...

        "Solve big problems now, solve any new poblems later"

        This is really based on how confident you are that the new problems won’t be even worse than the big problems now.

        From both my own life and my learnings of history, it seems a solid 95% of the fear of drastic change for justice is propagated by those who stand to lose

        Is that so bad? If the people who stood to lose from neoliberal economic policies agitated more on that basis wouldn’t this have been a more desirable outcome than if they just took the “rising tide will lift all boats” trickle down narrative at face value?

        Abolishing slavery. Shortening workweek. Eliminating child labor. Minimum wage. Women voting. Desegregation. Gay marriage. All claimed by those in power that it would be too radical and destroy society. Somehow that never came to pass.

        Industrialism is responsible for silent springs and the modern climate crisis. Homesteading and providing free land out to the frontier, with tons of forestry service firefighting to make it easier, is responsible for both crazy wildfires as well as the Native American genocide. Long term consequences genuinely are unknowable and scary, especially since we can’t even really be sure that our present moral judgements will actually stand the test of time. Tons of cutting edge moral theories in the early 20th century we now realize were a disaster, particularly around the imperative to “civilize” other races or to Christianize them.

        As a modern person you’re a product of historical forces that shaped your value system. It didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Trade-offs people made in the past obviously won’t seem so catastrophic because you’re living in the world those trade-offs made. We have no way of imagining what the alternative worlds could have been or how we would have valued things if we were born into those worlds instead.

        9 votes
        1. [4]
          mtset
          Link Parent
          I don't agree with this at all. Much ink has been spilled on this exact topic, both in speculative fiction and in academic philosophy. Forgive me for being blunt, but if your imagination extends...

          We have no way of imagining what the alternative worlds could have been or how we would have valued things if we were born into those worlds instead.

          I don't agree with this at all. Much ink has been spilled on this exact topic, both in speculative fiction and in academic philosophy.

          Forgive me for being blunt, but if your imagination extends only to your current value system, it is a poor imagination. That is a far more restrictive filter bubble than anything an algorithmic timeline could create.

          8 votes
          1. [3]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Speculative fiction is fiction and academic philosophy is mostly ivory tower esoterica that is several steps removed from anything that happens in practice. And both of these are downstream of the...

            both in speculative fiction and in academic philosophy.

            Speculative fiction is fiction and academic philosophy is mostly ivory tower esoterica that is several steps removed from anything that happens in practice. And both of these are downstream of the value systems we absorb through society and the historical processes we're shaped by. When sci-fi authors write sci-fi they're applying contemporary values to a novel setting and seeing how they play out. Philosophers are doing much the same.

            But in actuality we cannot actually predict how norms and values will interact and evolve over time, what future generations will think or feel about things that happened in the past, or what past generations would have felt about the present. It's all fundamentally unknowable because we care about different things, carry different kinds of baggage, and weight things differently.

            10 votes
            1. [2]
              mtset
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              So let me get this straight - it's bad that people don't think about how their value systems could be different, but when they do it doesn't count? This is flatly false as an assertion about all...

              Speculative fiction is fiction and academic philosophy is mostly ivory tower esoterica that is several steps removed from anything that happens in practice.

              So let me get this straight - it's bad that people don't think about how their value systems could be different, but when they do it doesn't count?

              When sci-fi authors write sci-fi they're applying contemporary values to a novel setting and seeing how they play out.

              This is flatly false as an assertion about all speculative fiction. There's lots of sci-fi like this; Star Wars is like this, for example, as is Battlestar Galactica, because they're about the present day in that way. But I challenge you to read some le Guin and tell me that Ged/Sparrowhark has anything like a typical 1968 value set.

              It's all fundamentally unknowable because we care about different things, carry different kinds of baggage, and weight things differently.

              Of course. I also can't know whether you'll like a Diet Pepsi even if I have lots of evidence (that, say, you like Diet Coke and regular Pepsi) and have though about it a lot. But your particular criticism was:

              We have no way of imagining what the alternative worlds could have been or how we would have valued things if we were born into those worlds instead.

              We can imagine them perfectly well, we just can't know whether we're right - and much like I can imagine that you'd either like, or not like, the Diet Pepsi and therefore be considerate and prepare an alternate beverage option, we can imagine many ways in which society might function, talk about them, and use those discussions to inform our actions.

              I originally took your argument to be that radical change is bad because radicals don't spend enough effort on thinking about what could go wrong, which I don't agree with but is defensible. Now it sounds like your argument is that radical change is bad because we don't have perfect knowledge of the past and future, which is not even wrong, it's just nonsense.

              4 votes
              1. NaraVara
                Link Parent
                It was well within the scope of a 1968 value set, just not a typical one Le Guin had a system of values informed by the influences in her own intellectual development. It didn't just bubble up out...

                This is flatly false as an assertion about all speculative fiction. I'm there's lots of sci-fi like this; Star Wars is like this, for example, as is Battlestar Galactica, because they're about the present day in that way. But I challenge you to read some le Guin and tell me that Ged/Sparrowhark has anything like a typical 1968 value set.

                It was well within the scope of a 1968 value set, just not a typical one Le Guin had a system of values informed by the influences in her own intellectual development. It didn't just bubble up out of nowhere.

                We can imagine them perfectly well

                Not perfectly well. We can speculate about them but are very limited in our ability to understand the interiority of real humans, let alone hypothetical ones with whom we cannot communicate.

                Once upon a time either slavery or slavery-type social arrangements of varying degrees of exploitativeness were basically universal defaults across societies. Opinions on these ranged from "it's bad" to "it's a necessary evil" to "it's good actually" but most people just didn't really have opinions on it. It was a shitty situation to find yourself but the notion that this was something changeable or that society would function without it didn't really enter into anyone's heads.

                The general taboo around any kind of involuntary servitude we have today (to the extent where even people doing it need to gussy it up with euphemistic language or go through elaborate administrative mechanisms to disguise it even to themselves) is something from the past few hundred years and only really took on any moral force during that span of time. How far can you actually get inside the head of a freed slave who wins their freedom and goes on to set up a gladiator slave-training camp of their own? You can speculate a great deal about what's going through their heads, but it's only going to be speculation. You're only ever able to see it through a foggy window at best.

                I originally took your argument to be that radical change is bad because radicals don't spend enough effort on thinking about what could go wrong, which I don't agree with but is defensible. Now it sounds like your argument is that radical change is bad because we don't have perfect knowledge of the past and future, which is not even wrong, it's just nonsense.

                I never said "radical change is bad" at all. I said it's reasonable to be suspicious of radical change and the people advocating for it. For example, many of the abolitionists who were super intense about abolition were also super intense about prohibition and Christianizing 'savages.' Advocating for "radical change" isn't like a precise social engineer tweaking a variable. It's more like trying to throw stuff at a game board and hope it rearranges the pieces into a more desirable configuration. You not only don't know the outcomes of the thing being proposed, you don't know the outcomes of empowering the people and social forces pushing for it nor the outcomes from retrenchment and blowback against it. Would a Robespierre supporter at the beginning of the French Revolution have imagined the same guy waxing on about the dignity of individual rights and liberty might end up rolling heads all over France later on?

                That's why people are suspicious of radicalism and rightly so. They will only opt for it if they feel there are no other options and the status quo is sufficiently intolerable that these potential disaster scenarios won't seem bad in comparison.

                8 votes
        2. [7]
          vord
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          This is true of remaining in the same place as well. It's true we didn't understand how burning fossil fuels was harming the planet before, and didn't really investigate the long term...

          Long term consequences genuinely are unknowable and scary

          This is true of remaining in the same place as well. It's true we didn't understand how burning fossil fuels was harming the planet before, and didn't really investigate the long term consequences. But when we did learn of those consequences, and we could have pivoted much sooner. Work on bringing alternative transport could have ramped up circa 1970 and not 2000+.

          I think about how we handle my job in IT. It's exponentially easier to stay on top of security patches and to update our technology very fast after it is released. Sure, you occasionally run into problems. But you can be proactive, and help fix the problems by submitting bug reports (or even patches if code is open). By contrast, by not changing anything for 5+ years because "if it's not broke, don't fix it", you open yourself to security disasters and upgrade/migration nightmares as you begin rushing to avoid disaster. Look at the Y2K problem, where old operating systems only stored 2 digits of a year, and with the year 2000 everything would have overflowed and you'd have no way of distinguishing between 1900 and 2000. Almost no problems occurred because tremendous effort was spent not letting it happen at the last minute. The 2038 problem (32 bit unix timestamp overflow in same vein) likely won't happen because we're being proactive of fixing it early because the scope of the problem was identified and coders started taking measures relatively quickly.

          Applying this philosophy to governance, we could all be a lot more agile in resolving problems as they arise, rather than being afraid that we'll break a few things along the way and letting them fester for decades or longer. How much less bad would racial injustice be today if the War on Drugs was canned once it was shown to be an abject failure in almost every metric? Or remembered the consequences of severe wealth inequality? Or corporate monopolies? /rhetoricals

          Would there be many problematic changes made over the course of history? Of course. But with any luck a society which values happiness and justice would try to rectify them faster than we have been in the past.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Yes and no. But generally people feel a lot more comfortable with the devil they know than the devil they don't. But in the American context most of our inability to refine or update problems has...

            This is true of remaining in the same place as well.

            Yes and no. But generally people feel a lot more comfortable with the devil they know than the devil they don't. But in the American context most of our inability to refine or update problems has less to do with any inherent conservatism in the polity and more with the fact that our governing system is lousy with veto points that can stop any popular initiative in its tracks. The constitutional system simply wasn't designed to function under the constraints of hard partisanship. It was designed for a world where political parties were just loose affiliations of fundraisers and interest groups, not ideologically doctrinaire power brokerages.

            7 votes
            1. [2]
              streblo
              Link Parent
              This is very striking to a non-American. Most parliamentary systems produce governments with the ability to actually carry out their platforms -- incredibly important for voters to be able to hold...

              But in the American context most of our inability to refine or update problems has less to do with any inherent conservatism in the polity and more with the fact that our governing system is lousy with veto points that can stop any popular initiative in its tracks.

              This is very striking to a non-American.

              Most parliamentary systems produce governments with the ability to actually carry out their platforms -- incredibly important for voters to be able to hold governments accountable at the next election. In the US no one is ever satisfied with the result but the parties themselves are blameless -- everything is the fault of the opposition or or the system or the deep state or whatever.

              2 votes
              1. NaraVara
                Link Parent
                It's a specific confluence of factors. Partly its media polarization but also the US Senate vastly overweights states that are primarily rural. In the modern world where urbanization keeps...

                This is very striking to a non-American.

                It's a specific confluence of factors. Partly its media polarization but also the US Senate vastly overweights states that are primarily rural. In the modern world where urbanization keeps intensifying this has the result of way way way over representing the interests of people who live in regions with low population density. And the same force driving the urbanization (opportunity concentrated in knowledge work, lack of returns to work directly tied to working or exploiting the land) means those same groups that are over-represented politically are underrepresented economically and culturally. This is a dangerous combination. The only mechanisms they have to get what they want involve the levers for application of state violence. Not through any of the civilized means such as mass culture, media, finance, etc. So that's what their politics and social norms have converged on.

                3 votes
          2. [3]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            To continue the metaphor a bit though, upgrading to newer versions of software often seems more like incremental than radical change? Typically you’re moving from things that are becoming less...

            To continue the metaphor a bit though, upgrading to newer versions of software often seems more like incremental than radical change? Typically you’re moving from things that are becoming less popular and harder to support to what you hope will be more popular, and the software you’re moving to has often been well-tested by others.

            This sort of planned migration seems more like adopting the Euro in Europe than the radical changes we see in speculative fiction. I doubt anyone wrote speculative fiction about adopting the Euro?

            1. [2]
              vord
              Link Parent
              Yes and no. Much like performing maintenance on a bridge, keeping it in good condition makes it incremental. Neglecting it means rebuilding a bridge, much more radical. You ever try to upgrade an...

              Yes and no. Much like performing maintenance on a bridge, keeping it in good condition makes it incremental. Neglecting it means rebuilding a bridge, much more radical.

              You ever try to upgrade an application 5 major versions with no direct support path between them? We had to do intermediary tests and installs with throwaway VMs as part of an upgrade path for a neglected system in order to remain on the official support path. Even something as simple as a Redhat upgrade, a 7 -> 8 is much easier than a 6 -> 8.

              If rapidly-introduced, agile legislature becomes norm, is there any significant difference between radical and incremental? I'd say most of our problems stem from this kind of societal neglect, such that even basic procedural stuff (like tacking minimum wage to inflation once in awhile) has been turned into a "radical change" in the USA.

              1. skybrian
                Link Parent
                By “radical” I was thinking more along the lines of rethinking the fundamentals. Rebuilding a bridge might be a lot of disruptive and expensive work, but however difficult it is, if in the end you...

                By “radical” I was thinking more along the lines of rethinking the fundamentals. Rebuilding a bridge might be a lot of disruptive and expensive work, but however difficult it is, if in the end you get another bridge that’s used for the same purpose, this isn’t a radical change.

                Nobody’s going to write speculative fiction about it or ask “how would this new bridge even work? Is it even possible to build? Would it immediately collapse?” Or even “I don’t really understand what a bridge is. Why would I want one?”

      2. [8]
        antisocialite
        Link Parent
        I can comprehend the non-radical stance. People are only altruistic when it's convenient for them, and radical change presents a great inconvenience, or even just a potential for inconvenience....

        I can comprehend the non-radical stance. People are only altruistic when it's convenient for them, and radical change presents a great inconvenience, or even just a potential for inconvenience. Edith Wharton has some remarkable prose on this in The House of Mirth (1905), if in a different context:

        But she could not breathe long on the heights; there had been nothing in her training to develop any continuity of moral strength: what she craved, and really felt herself entitled to, was a situation in which the noblest attitude should also be the easiest. (Book II, Chapter VIII)

        Lily Bart feels as though she deserves both an extravagant and morally justifiable life; the obvious impossibility of this desire leads her to moral quandary. To your point, Wharton's next metaphor suggests that Miss Bart's approach to morality is damaging to the self: "If she slipped she recovered her footing, and it was only afterward that she was aware of having recovered it each time on a slightly lower level" (Book II, Chapter VIII). In political science, where "the noblest attitude" applies to more than just oneself, it is also damaging to society. But people don't care to address an abstract issue if it makes their own life any more difficult. Even if they find it morally problematic to ignore, it's extremely easy to justify inaction in the context of a problem where an individual solution is secondary to a systemic one. Why help a destitute woman on the street when there are ten thousand more just like her, and when the state could feed them all without any individual action of one's own?

        I don't agree with this philosophy either, but it's not complicated. We romanticize our own "continuity of moral strength" enough that we forget how to actually train and exercise it. The real goal of progressive legislation and indeed of radical thought should be to create systems that make it easy to be good; not just easy to donate to charity, but to live sustainable and altruistic lives in general. People are not really so lacking in empathy for this approach to be the philosophical end-all of societal conceptualization, but it is the fastest and most radical way to enact serious change. The existential crises people have when they think about radicalism go away when radicalism no longer requires an uncharacteristic altruistic leap of faith for them.

        3 votes
        1. [7]
          vord
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Perhaps a better way to phrase my opening would have been "I can't comprehend how the non-radical stance is considered remotely acceptable anymore." We live in an age of abundance. When we apply...

          Perhaps a better way to phrase my opening would have been "I can't comprehend how the non-radical stance is considered remotely acceptable anymore."

          We live in an age of abundance. When we apply our resources, things can get done quickly. There is better insight on how to analyze for problems, and more people with creative solutions to solve them. The only reason I can perceive that we have not taken strides to do so is that we (especially in the USA) have fostered a culture of individualism and competition while actively suppressing empathy. Contrary to what you and @NaraVara have talked about, I don't believe any of the principals discussed are inherit traits of humanity and by extension society.

          But, even if they were, one of the greatest parts about being a human is that we are capable of making conscious choices to override any primal instincts and be better than any biology or bigotry of the past. Violence is a fairly natural reaction to anger and fear. But over the course of time we've been able to mitigate and reduce it. My wife and I are actively working to avoid the cycle of abuse and neglect that we experienced as children. We are not alone in these decisions to override those ingrained traits and do better for the next generation.

          For another example, let's look at the recent passage of the climate bill in the House, with the paid family leave baked in. It is, at most, a mild expansion of FMLA. Only a depraved sociopath would oppose such a basic measure to enable any family to care for their sick parents or bond with and care for their newborn child.

          Yet, this is one of the major points of contention, and I suspect the measure will be killed because we've accidentally allowed ourselves to be governed by sociopaths, and there's too many people supporting them because change is scary.

          1 vote
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            It doesn't need to be an "inherent" trait of humanity. Humanity has capacity to be a lot of different ways. The problem is that there is a natural selection process at work that will ensure...

            The only reason I can perceive that we have not taken strides to do so is that we (especially in the USA) have fostered a culture of individualism and competition while actively suppressing empathy. Contrary to what you and @NaraVara have talked about, I don't believe any of the principals discussed are inherit traits of humanity and by extension society.

            It doesn't need to be an "inherent" trait of humanity. Humanity has capacity to be a lot of different ways. The problem is that there is a natural selection process at work that will ensure certain social arrangements and configurations will dominate others irrespective of the capabilities and choices for individual humans might want to make. For example, anarchist societies of hunter gatherers often made conscious choices to avoid domination by large state structures and hierarchical cultures. But states are an extremely effective tool for marshaling resources and people in service of a common goal. When in competition with them, stateless people inevitably got pushed to the most marginal and undesirable lands over and over again until we live in a world where almost every inch is under the control of powerful nation states with these more open cultures basically living at their sufferance.

            I have deep reservations about our abilities to have "insight" about how to "analyze problems" as well. I'm a policy analyst by training who works in this field, and the biases and blind-spots of the technocrats who do this analysis are extremely plain to see. And that's before the systemic and institutional biases around how programs get structured and resources get allocated comes into play.

            Yet, this is one of the major points of contention, and I suspect the measure will be killed because we've accidentally allowed ourselves to be governed by sociopaths, and there's too many people supporting them because change is scary.

            Like I said before. We actually have supermajority support in the population at large for some kind of FMLA policy. (Something like high-60s to low-70% of the population). The issue is that the political system is structured (through formal and informal mechanisms) to severely overweight those opposed.

            Only a depraved sociopath would oppose such a basic measure to enable any family to care for their sick parents or bond with and care for their newborn child.

            If you can only imagine those who disagree with your policy preference to be either depraved sociopaths or completely ignorant morons you're not going to be very good at pitching these policies to anyone who isn't already on board. No doubt there's plenty of depraved sociopaths among them, but living in a democracy means engagement with politics has to be able to get people we don't like on board with the program.

            6 votes
          2. [5]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            It seems hard to reconcile “we live in an age of abundance” with all the shortages in the news lately. Do we have an abundance of housing? Health care workers? Child care? Food and energy prices...

            It seems hard to reconcile “we live in an age of abundance” with all the shortages in the news lately. Do we have an abundance of housing? Health care workers? Child care? Food and energy prices are up.

            1 vote
            1. [4]
              vord
              Link Parent
              I can't dive into them all, but We grow enough food to feed a planet of 10 billion people. Circa 2012. Hungry people are a byproduct of bad policy. USA has, as a best guess, about 500,000...

              I can't dive into them all, but

              We grow enough food to feed a planet of 10 billion people. Circa 2012. Hungry people are a byproduct of bad policy.

              USA has, as a best guess, about 500,000 homeless. There are over 1 million homes for sale in the US (not even counting rentals). Homelessness only exists because of bad policy.

              Prior to COVID we had virtually no shortages of anything, let alone basics. Supply chain problems during COVID are a result of bad policy.

              4 votes
              1. [3]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                Pointing to the lack of shortages before the pandemic seems complacent. Haven’t we learned anything since then? Disasters tend to have a way of showing how unprepared we are, and I think the...

                Pointing to the lack of shortages before the pandemic seems complacent. Haven’t we learned anything since then? Disasters tend to have a way of showing how unprepared we are, and I think the pandemic revealed that, particularly around medical care. Traveling nurses are making a lot of money these days. We are likely unprepared in a lot of other ways.

                I agree that bad policy makes housing issues worse. But I don’t think raw numbers about housing prove much of anything. Housing isn’t nearly as interchangeable as this implies. A house in Detroit doesn’t do any good for someone whose home was destroyed by wildfire in California. Someone moving to Austin to work at Tesla’s plant needs a place in Austin.

                1. [2]
                  vord
                  Link Parent
                  Especially in the wake of COVID, I think it most certainly is. For many jobs now the only requirement is a stable internet connection. It can be a catalyst to decentralize a bit to make use of...

                  Housing isn’t nearly as interchangeable as this implies

                  Especially in the wake of COVID, I think it most certainly is. For many jobs now the only requirement is a stable internet connection. It can be a catalyst to decentralize a bit to make use of said housing. And again, this doesn't account for the vast majority of people who are renting and the vast number of spaces available to rent. And I dunno about you, but if I were homeless I'd definitely be willing to travel in exchange for a home and medical care. There isn't a housing crisis. Theres policy crisis regarding NIMBY and lack of incentives to decentralize and/or improve housing. Pretty sure nobody needs to move to Austin to slave for Tesla, there's plenty of unemployed in Austin who could.

                  If on average most people whom are not homeless are employed, that housing supply is still pretty darn elastic if you lower barriers to be able to leverage it.

                  I think my point about supplu was that it is not for a lack of an ability to provide abundance, but a lack of will.Yes, there are disruptions. Yes, there will be more. But all evidence prior to 2020 shows that these disruptions do not need to be permanant, or recur. The crux of the problem wasn't an inability to provide, it was an inability to listen to the people highlighting the weak points of the system for years because they were more expensive than stripping resiliance to the bone.

                  1 vote
                  1. skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    I think “lack of will” often boils down to “people disagree about politics.” That’s a real problem and often an intractable one. Like, are you just going to wish your opponents didn’t exist? But...

                    I think “lack of will” often boils down to “people disagree about politics.” That’s a real problem and often an intractable one. Like, are you just going to wish your opponents didn’t exist?

                    But it’s also true that, when you set out to do something, all sorts of problems come up that we didn’t imagine when thinking about it at high level, and I think this discussion is so abstract that we aren’t going to even touch on the real problems.

    2. [2]
      streblo
      Link Parent
      I don't think grouping people into broadly defined radical or non-radical groups is useful (fun philosophical musing aside) unless we're talking about specific changes with prescribed goals and...

      There are basically, as I see it, two options.

      I don't think grouping people into broadly defined radical or non-radical groups is useful (fun philosophical musing aside) unless we're talking about specific changes with prescribed goals and implementation details. Not all radicals support every radical change and not all non-radicals would oppose every radical change.

      2 votes
      1. mtset
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Yes, I agree with you here. By "radicals" I meant people who support radical change, and that's necessarily constrained to a topic or issue, or set of issues. I should have been more clear.

        Yes, I agree with you here. By "radicals" I meant people who support radical change, and that's necessarily constrained to a topic or issue, or set of issues. I should have been more clear.

        1 vote
  2. [3]
    bkimmel
    Link
    Here's one idea to fix the problem of "congress being corrupt" (if you think it is, I don't necessarily agree): Stop voting for them. There is nothing written into the law in Wisconsin that says...

    Here's one idea to fix the problem of "congress being corrupt" (if you think it is, I don't necessarily agree): Stop voting for them.

    There is nothing written into the law in Wisconsin that says only white people have the right to self defense. If you think judges are interpreting those laws in inherently racist ways (I happen to think they are): Stop voting for them.

    Before you "dismantle" the system on behalf of people of color, you might want to ask some of them who explicitly came from other places to escape other systems if that's something they want you to do.

    My personal opinion: Rittenhouse is a pile of shit. He made some bad choices (and his mother did, too). But having watched the video, those guys came after him. Imagine instead of a giant pile of racist shit, it was a decent person you care about getting rushed by a violent group of people (and no, I'm not talking about the protesters, but the 5-6 people who were attacking him). What would you want them to do? How would you want the law to view it?

    The case I'm watching where I'd probably agree to "dismantle the system" with you is the Arbery case. Arbery was not violent, did nothing to provoke the killers in any way. Those three men controlled the situation the whole way and even if there was a brief moment where one of them felt threatened because Arbery defended himself: It's because they forced him into that position. I decided before the verdict that I'm keeping my (metaphorical) powder dry for the Arbery case. I could accept the verdict either way in the Rittenhouse case, but not for the Arbery case. Two guys in Kenosha are dead because they made a choice to be violent with a guy holding an AR-15. Arbery is dead because he's black. My biggest fear in the national reckoning of these things is that we'll allow these things to be conflated.

    5 votes
    1. antisocialite
      Link Parent
      This is a relatively ineffectual approach by itself because many substantive issues we face really only affect a minority of people negatively, or are understood to manifest that way. Voting out a...

      Stop voting for them

      This is a relatively ineffectual approach by itself because many substantive issues we face really only affect a minority of people negatively, or are understood to manifest that way. Voting out a terrible candidate doesn't work if most constituents are happy with their job performance. Even with a numerical majority, the inaccessibility of voting makes it difficult for disadvantaged people to actually participate. Hence radicalism.

      Regardless, voting is simply a mechanism for implementing philosophical action, not a solution to a dilemma as such. A good opposition campaign can make a nasty judge lose reelection, but it doesn't necessarily address the conditions that allowed them to 1) be elected and 2) enact discriminatory rulings to begin with. Those conditions are enforced systemically and it is extremely difficult to adjust them with any one election. Hence radicalism.

      Before you "dismantle" the system on behalf of people of color, you might want to ask some of them who explicitly came from other places to escape other systems if that's something they want you to do.

      The New York Times has had a few pieces recently about the way in which wealthy, white progressives interested in effective altruism represent a well-meaning but extremely out-of-touch subset of the electorate. This is the demographic of Tildes or your average software company. For instance, the broadly anti-theistic (or theistically indifferent) preferences of most liberals are unattractive to a lot more low-income and non-white voters, who are often deeply religious. The same goes for many radical-progressive positions on policing ("defund") and education ("dismantle"). I don't like being the hand-wavy centrist, but this sort of thing is what loses Democrats half their elections, especially on the local level. And the party that wins instead is not interested in fixing any of these problems.

      Certainly many radicals are not wealthy and white, but that is where a large portion of the progressive narrative originates. I think many of us forget that progressivism in itself is not a universal constant. It's sort of ironic that the left wing takes such an objective (and often teleological) meta-stance on policy considering how important subjective reasoning and individual self-empowerment is to the historical progressive ideology.

      7 votes
    2. vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      There's a bit of a problem though (even ignoring the 2-4 year problems). For a large quantity of congress....the preferred representative (I'm siding with D but it really applies to both tribes)...

      Here's one idea to fix the problem of "congress being corrupt" (if you think it is, I don't necessarily agree): Stop voting for them.

      There's a bit of a problem though (even ignoring the 2-4 year problems).

      For a large quantity of congress....the preferred representative (I'm siding with D but it really applies to both tribes) is already elected. Voting for the other side is often unthinkable for one reason or another (a lot boils down to Guns and God). So the only other option for change is to primary the same party, which is often frowned upon, especially in swingy states (a fair number of them).

      So you can keep the kinda-terrible rep, or risk getting a much-worse one.

      Then there's the whole problem of scope. At most, you can vote for 3 members of congress (your two senators, and one house member). Paired with the above, there's too much at stake to rock the boat, especially for Democrats. Republicans have a solid quorum of Guns and Abortion for single-issue voters, so long as they don't rock that boat they can go as extreme as they want.

      I lived in PA. Pretty red state overall, barring massive turnouts for elections. So voting against the one D senator is risky. My House rep is pretty solidly D no matter what, and even successfully primaried IIRC.

      So that's the extent of what I, a relatively average person, am capable of on the national stage short of becoming a passionate activist and dedicating large quantities of time I don't neccessarily have.

      The best thing we could do for this country (as Democrats) would be to migrate a solid chunk of Democratic base from California and New York to Wyoming and other solid-R-by-virtue-of-low-pop-and-disproportionately-strong-representation states.

      3 votes
  3. vord
    Link
    Ever see a strange rule and wonder why it's there? It's because that one guy decided to push it till people couldn't take it anymore and a new rule came along. Something like "We all thought this...

    Ever see a strange rule and wonder why it's there? It's because that one guy decided to push it till people couldn't take it anymore and a new rule came along. Something like "We all thought this was obvious, but now we have an official rule not to poop in the pool."

    So now we end up developing an increasingly complex set of written rules because someone keeps violatimg unspoken ones and using "but it isn't against the rules."

    l blame the lawyers for making this problem worse. Not neccessarily as an overall profession, because it is imporrant to be able to appoint someone to help understand the law and represent you if you are incapable of doing so.

    But an inherint problem with lawyers is that their profession will trend to following the letter of the law and not the spirit, because it's easier. Paired with how every case won/lost can become used as supportive evidence in later cases, it creates complex law which makes it easy to exploit loopholes.

    We shouldn't need laws regarding polluting. We should just be able to punish people who do because nobody wants to live in filth. We shouldn't need massively complex laws about murder and other violence. Because nobody wants to be hurt or die.

    I think it might help if every single criminal (and civil) case must stand in complete isolation with as simple a law as possible.

    Let's supppse we have one law regarding harm: Do not hurt or kill people. The jury will decide guilt and punishment.

    If that was the case, Rittenhouse's trial might have gone very differently. His guilt would be undisputed. The remainder of the trial would then be devoted to deciding what punishment would be best given all the surrounding circumstances.

    Self defense no longer means 'no consequence.' It merely becomes a mitigating factor after determining guilt of the simple yes/no. It beomes much easier to introduce broader context and remember the human element. You can factor in things like recieving support from fascists and knowingly putting themselves in harms way.

    I don't think this is a perfect system by any means, but I think one worth exploring and discussing further.

    5 votes
  4. lou
    Link
    You seem very concerned with the legal system, and that is absolutely a valid concern. However, many important things happen outside of court. Most things, in fact. Also: juries are composed of...

    You seem very concerned with the legal system, and that is absolutely a valid concern. However, many important things happen outside of court. Most things, in fact.

    Also: juries are composed of regular people, not judges or lawyers. A lot can be achieved by changing them as well. And to change people, you change society.

    2 votes
  5. skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    It seems like it might help to be clearer about what it means to "support legal principles" and what the possible alternatives might be. One practical answer is that, if for reasons of justice you...

    It seems like it might help to be clearer about what it means to "support legal principles" and what the possible alternatives might be.

    One practical answer is that, if for reasons of justice you think someone should be in prison, the courts are the only legal way of doing that. Any other way would be opposed by law enforcement.

    And if, on the other hand, you think someone was unjustly arrested, making arguments through the legal system is a lot more practical than busting them out of jail.

    But if you ask whether people follow laws in general, the answer is no, they often break them.

    1 vote