Recently I got a chance to see the movie ‘Dark Knight’, for the first time. There is a very interesting scene in it where Joker creates a situation where he plants bombs on two boats and gives the trigger to the people of the other boat, and tells them that if one of them isn’t destroyed soon, he will blow both the boats up. This was director’s attempt to create a “trolley” problem. This does not happen to me a lot, but once in a blue moon someone will decide to question my commitment to individualism by posing the following scenario:
Imagine if there is a speeding train rushing towards 10 people who are tied down to the track. Their death is certain if the train maintains its course. You can prevent that from happening if you flip the lever and divert the train to another track, where one person is tied down to the track. Assuming you cannot release the individuals, would you let 10 people die or kill one person to save 10 people.
I am sure you must have heard many variations of this scenario. The proper libertarian/individualist answer is simple, you cannot take away the rights(in this case that right would be his life) of any individual in order to save the rights of one or more individuals(assuming its your inaction which will take away the rights of those many individuals).
The goal of posing this scenario to a libertarian in most of the cases isn’t to ponder over a difficult but hypothetical scenario, but to present them with a ‘gotcha’ moment. Most people would not hesitate to take away rights of one individual over the rights of many people, and saying otherwise is not an easy reply.
My replies to few such scenarios are as follows.
For the above given scenario, the question one must ask is, how did this situation came about to. How did 10 people ended being tied up on the railway tracks, and how come another individual was tied to the alternate railway track when the train was destined to go towards the 10 people. This seems to be a very tailored scenario where every element is designed so that above question can be posed to the libertarians.
I am not saying its an impossible scenario, its physically possible to do something like that, but the chances of scenarios like these showing up in real life are very rare. But assuming this does happen, my answer is simple, if this hypothetical example happens exactly how its proposed to me, then yes, I will not kill that one individual for the sake of 10 people. In reality, if I ever do confront this scenario, I will flip the switch so that the train heads towards the single individual, and then try to make a dash towards that guy to save him(because it would be easier for me to untie one guy then ten people). Even though I would do such a thing, it does not mean I am sacrificing the life of one guy to save the lives of many, but that I still want to save the lives of everybody in the scenario, its just flipping the switch towards the single individual gives me a better chance at it. He may still die, and my attempt to untie him could be proven completely futile, yet I have not chosen to kill him, I have chosen to save everybody.
When I give this answer it frustrates people and they decide to present me with more realistic scenarios, take for example this scenario:
Imagine if a terrorist has planted nuclear bombs in American cities(like in the plot of movie ‘Unthinkable’), would you torture him to get out the location of the bombs, or kill him if the act of killing him saves the lives of the millions of people?
Its true that this is a much more feasible scenario than the train and tracks scenario, except its a very easy scenario to answer. If an individual really has put bombs in American cities and he threatens to explode it, then he is making a realistic threat of violence, and a realistic threat of violence is the same thing as the act of violence itself, therefore this individual, according to his own confession is guilty. If an attempt is made to prevent this attack by harming him, then its an act of self-defense, not an ethical dilemma.
This reply usually makes people feel they have been tricked, so they immediately present to me with the following scenario:
Imagine if there is a deadly virus on loose which has the capability of killing millions of people very quickly, in fact lets just say everybody will die if this virus is set lose. One innocent person is infected with this virus. There is no cure for this virus, in fact its so dangerous that even studying it represents massive amount of risk. Would you kill this person, or forget killing him, would you incarcerate this person so that he may not be able to infect other people?
Finally we have landed on a decent enough version of this question. The individual is not guilty, he is not voluntarily causing the death of millions of people. Keeping the arguments about feasibility of such a scenario in a free society aside, lets just assume this just happened. What would you do in such a scenario? Would you uphold his rights or save the lives of millions of people.
This scenario is not very feasible scenario to start with, if a person has been infected with some virus which may infect everybody else, most individuals will voluntarily submit themselves for any kind of measures which may be required to keep the rest of the population safe. Even if we assume there are no such individuals or this individual has no such conscience even then he can be restricted to a piece of property without violating his rights. Everybody on the planet rescinds consent to allow him on their property since every property is private property. Insurance companies can pay him a lot of money so that he stays on a quarantined villa with all sorts of facilities until the end of his life or until he is cured, this money paid to him would just be a cost towards preventive measures against disease.
The simple answer just like the first scenario given is pretty simple, no you cannot violate the rights of an individual over the rights of many people. There are simply no exceptions to that rule, and if this is the only scenario on which the argument of the anti-libertarian relies upon to demonstrate the abject failure of individualism then so be it. The fact is the sole reason why this argument is being posed to the proponent of Individualism because all his rest of the arguments have been satisfactorily answered. When a socialist promotes his ideology, the critique of his argument does not rely upon some hypothetical scenario where the private ownership of means of production is important, but because private ownership of means of production is required everywhere.
Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change (Stephen Covey)
Human is a rational animal. None of us can ignore or deny the importance of the above mentioned four important endowments, none of us is such who does not use these effective tools of a rational mind in our daily routine life. Yet the extent to which we are aware of our rational faculty and its immense power to create happiness and success varies from person to person.
Self Awareness, Conscience and Independent Will
The process of discovering one’s own potential and accepting its limits at a certain point of time and to strive to increase is the real way to progress. A person with clear self awareness live and act in a manner which they discover using their own rational faculty, their mind, the inner compass to assess whether an act is possible or not, whether a particular way of thinking or behaviour is right or wrong.
In some situations, one may find himself in conflict between the established norms and his own perception of the circumstances. Man is a rational being; he has a choice either to accept the conventional norms or to apply his personal aptitude to find his way out of such situations. Yet, one cannot apply their rational mind if they are not aware of the effectiveness of the rational tools they possess. It is not necessary that a self-aware, independent person will always go against the socially established norms. An independent person is surely not anti-social; rather he (she) is pro-progressive with a will for improvement and refinement. The society may find such personal attitude as idiosyncratic and often oppose it, yet every person gains and enjoys the progress brought upon by such independent people. One of the famous examples of such a character was Galileo who dared not to accept the conventional norms and tried to establish the fact that the Earth revolves round the Sun. He was punished for his strive to solve out the mysteries of planetary system, yet he was not anti-social.
Often people lose the will to discover their own potential because of the religious, traditional and social aspects of their surroundings. Right since their birth, men are taught to follow the established norms. Children are taught to behave in a manner that will please others. They are taught to gain the approval of others. Peer pressures and need to compete with others often blurs the ability of person to seek his own self and to develop and sharpen his rational tools. They grow up as situation dependents and lack the potential to access the independent zone.
The first step towards realizing the importance and potential of one’s independent rational self, it is very necessary to realize whether one is free or he is independent.
A situation dependent person often becomes docile against the social norms and tends to believe that the best way to live is to please others and gain their approval.
A Situation dependent person
- Depends on the circumstances and finds himself unable to improve situations or change them.
- Fails to detect and make use of the non-salient or not so obvious clues that may bring forth a sudden surge of progress or effectiveness of their acts.
- Fails to give a shape or structure to uncertain yet seemingly rational and creative imagination and ideas.
- Fails to link the evolving information with the already established norms to judge whether they are right or wrong and is there a need to change or go against the established norms.
- Such person fails to retrieve information from their previous experiences. They lack the potential to learn from their mistakes and that is why they remain close to any possible progress.
- Often such people fail to gain the real inspiration which is intrinsic, rather they depend on extrinsic motivation and want others to suggest, direct or order them to achieve new goals.
- Often such people are extrovert as they seek other’s approval and most often they invest their inner and yet unknown potential to convince or impress others.
A person with self awareness and an independent mind will have an entirely different approach
- He will be able to recognize objects and motives distinctly and eminent from the circumstances.
- He will be able to enlist the priorities, discarding the irrelevant and trivial issues to concentrate on rationally beneficial points.
- He will be able to provide a rationally viable structure for his rational creativity and imaginations.
- Even the most rational person can commit mistakes, yet his process of learning and experiencing will make him able to link his prior experiences with current situations to help him avoid repeating similar mistakes and to attain progress.
- A person with an independent mind always seeks the real inspiration emanating from his inner self. He knows that the potential inspiration is always intrinsic in nature.
- He is self-motivated and self-content. He does not seek approval from others rather, he considers his own rational faculty as the only tool available to help him in understanding the reality.
- Often such people are introverts, deep thinking, and rational speakers. They choose not to impress others with vague expositions; rather they believe that the results of their endeavours will show the way.
Irrespective of being a dependent person or an independent person, everyone owns a certain rational faculty, his mind. That is why there always are possibilities to strive for improvement. Once a person realizes his own position and limits to which he is using his mind, he can strive for self-awareness and the conscience to understand and recognize their independent will and ability to give shape for their creative imagination in a rational manner.
So, are you willing to strive for achieving the independence of your mind?
Prostitution is considered as misdemeanour or a “lesser” criminal act in almost all United States except Nevada, where the state government allows licensed brothels.
The police investigate and arrest persons involved in prostitution, even FBI glorifies itself from time to time while fighting against interstate prostitution.
A proper examination and understanding of the activity of prostitution and its prohibition explains that prohibiting or il-legalizing prostitution is a wrong step causing wastage of resources, reducing the quality of life and the individual liberty in the society.
What is Prostitution?
Prostitution involves buying and selling of sexual services, it is simple act of mutual benefits between two consenting individuals without any compulsion.
Having sex is not a crime; exchange of money is also not a crime because there is nothing wrong or illegal in exchange of money between two individuals. So, why is it illegal?
Most of the critics against the legalization of prostitution usually claim that if prostitution is allowed freely, the strong evil men may force women to involve in prostitution.
Forcing anyone to do anything is an obvious crime, force or compulsion is simply against the individual rights of any civilized society, but prostitution does not involve any force or compulsion on anybody, it is simple exchange of money for the service provided with mutual agreement.1
Sex as a Trade
People say that sex should be allowed only in marital limits and hence prostitution should be illegal. What people do not realize is marriage or a consensual love relation is nothing but transaction of love. If a man provides his girlfriend some precious gifts and in return she favours him with sexual affection, then it is no different than prostitution, similarly, a married woman providing sexual benefits for her husband in exchange of love and security of married life is nothing but trade of sex, transaction of love. What makes prostitution different from such love relations is the polygamous nature of prostitution. Thus, people opposing the demand of legalizing prostitution are not against the exchange of money for sexual services, rather they are against the polygamous nature of prostitution. Recent scientific researches show that it is quite natural for both males and females on biological levels to have a polygamous attitude and a desire to be in intimate relationships with many partners2 and animals of other species also get involved in activities like prostitution.3
Prohibition never helps
The Constitution of United States stands firm on individual liberty stressing on freedom of speech, religion and trade. Thus, illegalization of prostitution, which violates the premise of inalienable right of Individual, is simply against the Constitution that confirms full freedom for consenting adults for having mutually beneficial agreements, relations and transactions.
Prohibition never helps though it causes wastage and corruption. Alcohol consumption was prohibited from 1920 to 1933 through Volstead Act, which made Bootlegging as an underground industry, home producers created whiskey and gin. The prices of alcohol skyrocketed in black market sales of alcohol because of heavy demand and corrupt governmental officers who surreptitiously helped the black-market4 . Government lost a huge amount of tax from bootleg alcohol and it became impossible to check the quality of alcohol thus produced. The unsafe alcohol caused many accidents. Government spending to prohibit alcohol consumption increased $4.4 million to $13.4 million annually. Coast Guard spent at an average $13 million per year to check the prohibition during 1920′s. Government thought that prohibition would solve many social issues but the result was just opposite. The criminal activities increased as a result of prohibition. The homicide rates increased up to 66% during prohibition.5
History teaches us that prohibition never helps, rather they increase wastage of useful resources and causes increase in crime rates. Prohibiting prostitution also leads to similar results.
Legalization reduces crime rate
Prohibitionists suggest that legalizing prostitution may increase crime, but the facts say opposite. Serious crimes, such as rapes, homicides, robbery, kidnapping are noticed to be increasing because of prohibition. Countries that allow prostitution as legal activity do not suffer from high frequency of violent crimes. Canada, France, Israel, Singapore, United Kingdom all allows prostitution and all have lower crime rates than the crime rates in US.6
After being charged with a sex-crime, a woman faces the social stigma and she becomes unemployable and hence forced to get involved with further criminal acts. Once she is jailed, it becomes impossible for her to gain any other means of living and that enforces her to work as prostitute for longer than they otherwise would. The experience of jail further makes women prone to get involved in other serious crimes.
When police bans brothels, motels or other places where prostitution might generally be practiced, prostitutes find themselves forced to work in neighbouring streets and hence spoiling the neighbourhood. The dangers for prostitutes also increase many folds and they find themselves unable to care for health and safety precautions. Such prostitutes can easily be soft target for serial killers and sociopaths.
Better way is to legalize prostitution in certain areas of cities where the prostitutes and their clients may work in safe environment.
Other criminals who consider prostitutes and their customers as easy target to rob, blackmail, or rape also remains unchecked. Many a times, even the corrupt police also engage in corrupt exploitation of prostitutes. Thus, the criminals realize that prostitutes or their customers are most unlikely to report to police and that provides them an incentive to commit crimes against such people.
If prostitution is legalized, such people would not flinch from reporting any criminal activity against them and that will reduce crime rate.
Legalization promotes health care
Prohibition causes health hazards. Because of laws against prostitution, most of the prostitutes often find themselves forced to involve in unsafe sexual activities. They cannot go for medical help too because of the fear of police. Prohibition on prostitution thus increases the probability of unsafe sex and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and herpes. If prostitution is legalized, the prostitution can be monitored and medical facilities can be provided to them and that will control the spread of such diseases.
A public health review of World Health Organization7 states:
“In Kenya, where the importance of chancroid in HIV transmission was first described in the late 1980s, interventions targeting sex workers and STD patients were implemented. Reported condom use by sex workers has since increased to over 80% in project areas and the incidence of genital ulcers has declined. Chancroid, once the most common ulcer etiology, now accounts for fewer than 10% of genital ulcers seen in clinics in Nairobi, Kenya.
In Senegal, HIV prevalence among pregnant women has been below 1% for more than a decade. A strong multisectoral response, an effective STD control programme and early legalization of prostitution have been credited for this low level. Special clinical services, for example, offer regular examination and treatment for registered sex workers. Not only has there been a significant decline in STD rates among sex workers and pregnant women between 1991 and 1996, but genital ulcers are also no longer common and chancroid is reportedly rare.”
It is very reasonable to legalize and regulate prostitution and medically monitoring the sex-workers and hence providing a safe environment to their client. Legalizing prostitution will also encourage the sex-workers to learn more about health issues, and ways of prevention. Canada, France, Denmark, Israel, Singapore and many other countries that have legalized prostitution have much less number of people living with HIV AIDS and the number of deaths due to HIV when compared with the records of US.
Legalization of Prostitution and Social Condition
The societies that have allowed prostitution as a legal activity are providing much better social environment for the individuals. Countries like Canada, France, Denmark, Israel etc are spending much more of the percentage of their GDP on education and health-care than what US government spends. The suicide rates in such countries is also lesser.
Legalization of prostitution promotes individual liberty and privacy; it also provides a way for the poor to alleviate their situation. In a free society, it makes no sense for the government to dictate people, specially the poor one that they cannot take money in exchange of the service they are willing to provide freely. Legalizing prostitution will also promote the privacy of individuals about their intimate relations and it will reduce the stigma the sex-workers suffer.
Prohibition on prostitution causes a lot of wastage of resources. The law-enforcement bodies that devote a lot to monitor the prohibition on a harmless activity in between consenting adults can be used for better works and prevention of serious crimes. That will certainly help the society to reduce the crime rate and establish peace. Legalization will also reduce the police corruption and dangers of underground industry and provide safety for the sex-workers against organized crimes.
Conclusion: Prostitution is such an activity that harms nobody. Legalizing prostitution will serve the society in better way because that will tend the police to direct their efforts towards preventing and solving actual crimes which involves clear exploiter and victims and that will help the cause of justice. Legalizing prostitution will also help in improving the health care and social condition of United States.
- Reason for Liberty, Discussion on the issue of Prostitution on Objectivistic perspective [↩]
- Dr. James J. Hughes, Monogamy as a Prisoners Dilemma: Non-Monogamy as a Collective Action Problem [↩]
- A New York Times report, on a recent scientific research signifying that even monkeys get involve in money transaction for sex, that is Prostitution. [↩]
- Nancy Nixon, Nancy Nixon discusses over the effects of Prohibition on Alcohol during 1920 to 1933 [↩]
- Mark Thorton analyzes the policy of prohibition on alcohol consumption during 1920′s, stating that Alcohol Prohibition was Failure, Mark Thorton [↩]
- Crime Statistics in Canada, 2006, Canada Government [↩]
- Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Bull World Health Organ vol.79 no.9 Genebra 2001, Richard Steen [↩]
Consumerism is the principle of Free Market, which states, “free choice of consumer should rule the market, or, the consumer decides the economic structure of the society“. Producers and providers bring their products to the market and make it certain that consumers, the public, may gain enough knowledge about their product so that, if the consumer decides that the particular product is good, they may buy it.
To spread the knowledge of their product, producers advertise and apply proper marketing strategies. The consumer remains free either to accept the product and buy it, or to reject it at certain price.
Now days, producers are delivering good attractive services, better comfortable products and advanced technologies in the market. Some people claim that all this advancement is redundant and nobody needs it.
Do we want better technology, superior products and services that are more effective?
Human desires are infinite and so is his potential. We want better medical services, information technology, better telecommunication services, better heating and cooling devices in our homes and office rooms. We desire better toothpastes, toothbrushes, better hair oils and shampoos, better and more verities of food, wine, better cleaning products, better cell phone, better ipods, better televisions, better laptops, better internet, we all want better and improved.
It is our want that drives the market to innovate and provide new technologies, services and products.
We want better and faster vehicles, satellite phones, and internet access. We need clean and filtered water, we need lifts and elevators, we need homes, we need security we need better services, we want more options.
Consumerism makes it possible. We are receiving everything we wish for and the market is providing them. Free market is nothing but a group of billions of people working together with free will, innovating and inventing further for the improvement, free market is also a system that joins billions of people together, yet provide full freedom for each individual to live for himself, at his own conditions with his own efforts. Nobody is pulling legs of other to rise higher. Market competition is nothing but a constant try of innovators and entrepreneurs to learn and satisfy the hearts and minds of consumers. Consumers are undoubtedly the kings of free market.
It is all consumerism, to desire better and to have full freedom to make one’s dream come true.
The socialists call it devilish, they say people do not need improvement, they say materialistic quest for making life better is futile. They say all this improvement in standards of life is waste. They ignore the real effect of all these changes. While blaming consumerism and crying anti-consumerism songs, they just hide away the evidences of improvement in human conditions.
Since the start of civilization, wise people are trying to search a self-sustaining system that may serve the common person rather than just the aristocrats and the rulers.
Free market is the quest for that riddle. Free market provide the system through which, the billions of unplanned desires and wants, billions of unorganized and independent economic choices succeeds in creating a self-sustaining system of production and provision to satisfy and serve everyone.
Now socialists, anti-consumerists decries against this system, they say consumerism provides too much for too many, they say it is not necessary and it is wastage. They say people does not need these things, they are mere senseless materialistic wants.
The question is, are the consumers buying those things that are not required? Who dictates the difference between a need and a want? Some religious guru, or some socialist dictator?
One’s desperate need is fulfilled by Other’s want for Leisure
The fact, which makes the free market sustainable, is “the need of a person is fulfilled as a resulting effect of fulfilment of other’s want. That is, wants and needs are interlinked in a free market.
A common example of this fact is, the Shiksha India program run by Confederation of Indian Industry1 . CII is a non-governmental and non profit organization managed by Shiksha India trust. Shiksha India works closely with schools and institutions across India and helps promote use of technology for making teaching-learning more effective. To run such a non-profitable organization, money is collected from a free market strategy of advertisement. Various products of industries, which are a part of CII, provide donations for Shiksha India Trust. In return, they use the motive of Shiksha India as an advertising strategy.
The common advertisement they propagate is
“Support Shiksha, lead a child to the path of education, Buy large packs of Tide, Ariel, Pantene, H&S, Rejoice, Vicks VapoRub, Whisper, Gillette Mach 3 Turbo, or Pampers, & lead a child to the path of education.”2
The advertisement simply suggests that the more you consume, the more poor kids get proper education.
Consider another example, a person’s child is badly sick, he is trying to get her to a doctor. The urgent clinic is open until late night; the neighboring drug store is also open. The desperate father goes out; get the proper medicine and gets in, to save his daughter. There is nothing phony demand in this entire act of saving a child’s life.
However, the urgent clinic can remain open late because its office is situated in a dense mall with low rents and higher access. The medicine store is open late night because cosmetic store, bakery, bear bar, sports shop, a swimming pool, a hotel facilitating late night parties and discotheque also share the area where the medicine store is situated. All of these stores are selling superfluous things. They pay rent too. The owner of the mall would not have made that place if those less desperate needs were not to be sold there. That is, the want of leisure and pleasure of other people became the reason for the prompt and urgent health-care of that child. Some of the Indian cities are experiencing development, socialists call it redundant, Indian villages does not have such superfluous stores, they do not have proper schools and hospitals too.
The demand of public for the non-essential wants became the background of hospital facilities for the needful.
The same is the case of luxury goods such as mobile phone. Mobiles were meant to be available for the rich alone. It was not an essential demand it was a luxury good. Only the rich could use them. The innovators created cheaper versions; the capitalists increased the production and made it affordable even by the middle class and lower middle class person, now even the poorest of Indians is likely to have his mobile phone.
Quality of life improved even for the poorest person. He is more resourceful now and able to earn more.
Some people believe that quality of life does not matter, for them; equality of life is better idea. The question for such people is, why not the poorest should get easy access to vast grocery stores, medical stores, better food, technology, and other not-so-essential luxuries? Consumerism helps the facilities, better services, and technological comfort to reach to the poorest strata of society. Consumerism actually reduces poverty. In addition, the better quality of life provided by consumerism has its own importance. It is natural right of the people to have freedom to choose and buy market products, as they want. Free market provides this freedom to the consumer, the people. Free market keeps providing better technology and products at cheaper rates, and this ability of free market is driven by the motive of consumerism.
Better quality of life has improved the average life of people too. The average life of women and men in 1900 were 48 and 46 years respectively. Now, the average life of women and men consumers is 80 and 77 years respectively. Obviously, consumerism is serving consumers. Infancy death rates dropped hugely because consumerism brought better medical help and vaccines. Death toll due to epidemics reduced to great extent. Overall consumerism is serving humanity to lead human for better, more comfortable and more satisfactory quality of life.
Either those who oppose and criticize consumerism are misled or they have some evil motives against the developing humanity.
- Welcome to Shiksha India, a CII Initiative in association with CRY [↩]
- Shiskha India in association with CRY, 2006 report, Shiksha India CII [↩]
Often statists try to color the inhuman governmental wrongs as ‘Humanitarian’ stern acts for the safety and benefit of all.
Can one really justify the Iraq Invasion by US as a Humanitarian act to save the Iraqis from the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein? One may say that Saddam was a real danger for Iraqi people and by overthrowing his regime, US actually served the welfare of Iraqis. They may say that although American Invasion killed Iraqi people, but those deaths were accidental and if Saddam’s regime has continued many people might have suffered death, penury and tortures under his tyranny.
Yet such justifications of foreign invasion is futile because nobody can know, what the future harms Saddam’s tyrannical government could have caused to the innocents or those harms if calculated properly could have been more than the harms and killings the American invasion caused on Iraqis.
That is, there is no actual reasonable way to say that Saddam would have caused any more harm to Iraqis than whatever has been actually caused by American invasion. Since there is no such real way, there can be no moral humanitarian justification for Iraq war. Nor such justification can be put forth to the American Drone invasion on Pakistan territories. Innocents are being attacked and killed in Pakistan. Children, mothers, elders are suffering the attacks. One can never say that had America not attacked Pakistan using drone missiles, Pakistanis might have suffered much more.
Since we cannot calculate about the harms that would have been caused if America had not attacked Iraq or Pakistan, we simply cannot determine the moral proper course of action, yet one thing that we know is, we should not directly murder or harm or injure the innocent, we should not jeopardize their economic and social life.
Yet that is what being done in Iraq or Afghanistan or in Pakistan by the American government, and all this is under the fake mask of Welfare of people, welfare of those people who are under attack, who are innocent and who are being killed regularly.
As a matter of fact, wars can never be justified.
Now a days, American government and media are also trying to paint Iran as a dangerous state under a tyrannical head of government. Every second day media covers an article how Iranians are suffering tyranny under Iranian regime. Will this be any moral base to justify yet another invasion by America?
Bombing civilian places full of innocent people was in no means necessary to oust Saddam, or to end his tyrannical regime. Nor is the use of very high explosives with the unmanned drone fighting planes on Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which every now and than kills the innocent public ‘unintentionally’.
How can the defenders of Iraqis or Pakistanis or Afghans claim that these deaths of Innocent people were accidental? They actually were pre-planned cold blooded murders, meant for the safety and welfare of those who were killed.
The so-called ‘smart weapons’ used by US forces, like Drones, Aerial an artillery bombardment etc failed hugely to defend the innocents, rather they killed the innocents, and are killing.
Doctrine of Double Effect
Again, government supporters claim that US forces did not aim to murder those innocents rather those innocents were unavoidably in the region of attack hence they were killed. This is known as Doctrine of Double Effect. It states that, if the injury to the innocent is controllable and proportionate, than only one can attack the culprit without considering the harm to the innocent. One cannot bombard a cricket stadium full of thirty to forty thousand audiences just because one of those audiences is a supposedly high profile terrorist. That is, just in order to encounter one terrorist or tyrant, one cannot jeopardize the life of whole audience of the cricket stadium. At most, one may try to shoot the terrorist with his gun without fearing that his missed shot may kill an innocent. Yet, in case of Iraq invasion or Drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the killing of innocents is obviously wayward and absurd. Many more innocents were killed without any proper success of actually killing or punishing the terrorists.
Obviously, all such humanitarian grounds in support of US forces invasion on Iraq or Afghanistan and Pakistan are futile. So, was the issue of nuclear warheads with Iraq a proper reason to invade Iraq, or can it be a proper ground to Invade Iran?
We now know that the intelligence reports that suggested that Saddam’s regime had nuke powers were fake and false, yet the Iran is beyond any doubt a Nuke power. Yet, Iran with Nuclear arms is a very minute matter.
USSR had tens of thousands of nuclear warheads and sophisticated delivery vehicles that were always kept in constant readiness. Yet USSR never threatened or ‘Blackmailed’ USA. How can a minute and much weak nuke Iran be of any threatening consideration to USA? Or How could have been Iraq any threat to USA even if Saddam had nuclear power?
US army also claims that Pakistani warheads are under threat and Al-Qaida may try to control them, hence they say that it is necessary to attack and end the Taliban and Al-Qaida outfits involved in Pakistan. The thing is, it is sincerely not wrong to try to kill the Taliban or Al-Qaida members, but US government has no authority or right to endanger and actually murder the innocents while trying to notch the terrorists.
Furthermore, can government justify the extremely large military budgets for which the common people are being confiscated of their wealth by means of taxation?
Attacks on our own citizens
It is not that a government can only kill the innocents in other countries. Many a times, government does not even flinch away from the possibility of killing its own citizens and that too for their own welfare.
During the Indira Gandhi regime in 1984, when a handful of terrorists lead by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale occupied the Golden Temple, Indian government ordered attack and firing on the Golden Temple. That act was named as Operation Blue Star that killed Thousands of Innocent people along with Bhindranwale’s supporters. Those innocent people were simple religious people and Indian government actually was supposed to safeguard them. Similarly, many innocents were killed during the formation of Bangladesh by the Pakistani government.
The programmed massacre of Muslims in Gujarat against Narendra Modi’s state Gujarat government after the Godhra attack is yet to be forgotten. The list of fake encounter cases of central and state government police and special task forces keep on increasing month by month and it is all done under the mask of protecting and providing a secure welfare state for the same innocent citizens who are being butchered.
Conclusion: Just like other social welfare policies of government, the war and conflict safety policy of government also fails absurdly and instead of being a welfare state, a government lead state often turns out to be a warfare state, while wars brings no good for any one ever.
The Article 7 of the Human Rights declaration suggests that
“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.1 “
The law is supposed to be enforced uniformly, and without any discrimination against the guilty based on their economic and social background.
Yet recently, the Indian Apex Court decided to go against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On Monday, the Supreme Court said that the courts should consider the economic status of a murderer before sentencing him to death penalty of life sentence even in cases of crimes falling in the category of “rare of rarest”.
The Bench comprising of Justice P.Sathshivam and H.L Dattu said that poor background of the accused should — along with old age and years spent behind bars while awaiting death sentence — be considered as mitigating factors when courts ponder whether life sentence should be used in an otherwise fit case for death penalty.2
It would be fascinating to know why Supreme Court judges are seeking for the populist issues, is the Supreme legal body of India the Apex Court trying to be the champion of socialism?
Significance of the Supreme Court Statement
Reservation for the Poor in Crime
The Supreme Court believes that socio-economic factors might not dilute guilt, but they may amount to mitigating circumstances. That is, if a girl walking on road is raped and murdered by a rich tycoon, than he is surely guilty and must be punished in the harshest manner, but if the rapist murderer belongs to middle class, than the punishment should not be that harsh, furthermore, if the rapist belongs to lower-middle class, than the punishment must be further “mitigated” and if the rapist is a poor (there is no definite definition of poor), than the punishment can only be for the name-sake. After all, he is poor, he should have reservation to be morally depraved, and he should be having freedom to rape or murder, steal, or rob.
The idea behind this is a morally strong, talented, intelligent person is obviously a criminal to some degrees, on the other hand, a lazy, stupid person, who obviously is poor, is certainly innocent to some degrees. Alternatively, the idea can be, to be rich, hardworking and intelligent is a crime in itself.
Obviously, it is akin to show a green flag for all who consider them poor, to be casual about the moral standards and feel free to commit crimes. It is just like showing the shortcut for the poor to be criminals and make money through mean ways.
Apparently, this trend will increase further crime in cities as now; the poor will get a certain “mitigating” security while committing a crime. The police and law bodies are supposed to deal with “poor criminals” with ease.
Consequences of Such Ridiculous Ruling
As now poor have reservation in committing the crime, they can easily innovate and employ themselves in various crimes. Not only they will feel free to commit robbery, theft, rapes or murders for their benefits, they may be employed by the other “richer” criminals to pursue their benefits. Furthermore, any criminal, if he is rich, can easily deal with some poor and pay him a chunk of money to take the responsibility of the crime. The poor will also feel no harm in taking the responsibility of the crime as that will provide him high money and the Supreme Court has already provided him an assurance that his punishment will be much “mitigated”.
Results will be an obvious increase in crimes, further increase in jail maintenance and police expenses, terrorizing environment for middle class individuals and exploitative situations for the poor individuals. The mafia of government, police, politicians and oligarchic corporatists will enjoy the foolery of Indian public that will appreciate the socialistic thought of Supreme Court and Indian government to give priorities for the poor in committing crime, Nonetheless, the Apex Court ruling have provided an easy money making job for the poor. The poor now doesn’t need to be hardworking, morally strong, intelligent and talented for making his life better, he just need to be morally depraved and ready to commit a crime, or to take the responsibility of any already committed crime.
Trailing the Law further
Indian politicians always remain hungry for any such populism so that they may divide the society in various fragments; cause them to struggle within and than rule over them. Yet this time, the Apex Court of India has taken the route of populism. No politician could have thought such a new sector to be divided in various sects of society. SC has already announced the reservation for the poor eventually the High Court of various states may announce a similar quota for Muslims in crime too and then being a Muslim will also be a mitigating factor for punishment for a crime. Well, terrorism is also a crime, so if a terrorist is poor, SC suggests that he should not be punished severely, if High Court of West Bengal announces similar mitigating quota for Muslims, then if a terrorist is a Muslim, he will also not be punished severely.
Quota for crime based on economical state has been announced, sooner or later politicians will again install some committee’s recommendation, suggesting that Muslims should also get reservation in crime, after all Muslims are predominantly minority, no less than poor. After that, politicians may further divide the criminals among their various castes as SC criminals, ST criminals or OBC criminals, with various “mitigating” degrees that would certainly be prescribed by the Supreme Court bench of judges. Ultimately, government and law authority have started encouraging the crime and producing the criminals.
Conclusion:: Socialism, or the idea altruism, that is, the obligatory immorality of having “pity” on the poor ultimately leads to the destruction of not only the poor but also of the whole social set-up. Whenever the government or central collective law authority takes such altruistic step, irrespective of their good intentions, the results come out to be devastatingly opposite. The recent statement of Supreme Court to discriminate the criminals based on economical class will certainly increase the crime in society and will further cause deterioration. The best way a society can assert uniform justice is by providing free or privatized legal services.3
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations [↩]
- Poverty could mitigate crime, even murder: SC, Times of India [↩]
- Prospects of Private Judicial System in India, RFL [↩]
I wrote this ‘controversial’ article Was Gandhi a Libertarian? last month which had many positive and belligerently negative responses from the readers as well as the other RFL team members12. The question which came up again and again(Gandhi was asked this during in his lifetime as well), which I unfortunately couldn’t answer satisfactorily. In fact I haven’t seen anyone answer that question satisfactorily. The question is, how would Gandhian philosophy help the Jews in Nazi Germany. What could have Jews in the Nazi Germany have done consistent to Non-violence principle to deter Nazis.
This argument seems to be like the lynchpin of Gandhian philosophy. Gandhi himself wasn’t very informed of the situation in the Nazi Germany. So even his own answer is not sufficient in my opinion. Upon being asked about the Nazi persecution of Jews, Gandhi answered:
If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest Gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy [...] the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the God-fearing, death has no terror.3
This answer is very unpopular in the western world. Gandhi is called anti-semite(try typing the terms Gandhi and Jews in your favorite search engine and see what shows up in results). The question almost always asked is “How do you think Jews in Nazi Germany should have followed the philosophy of non-violence, the Jews were slaughtered in millions without any resistance anyway. In fact the task of the Nazis would have been much more easier had they just gone to the gas chambers peacefully”
I really had to think a lot about the possible solution of this issue. What I came up with was simple, the person who asks the above question actually doesn’t really understand Gandhian method. He confuses Gandhism with non-violence, but it is really important to differentiate between the two. Not all non-violence is Gandhism. Nor all civil disobedience is Gandhism. If few people want to bring Socialism(which is an inherently violent philosophy) through non-violent civil diobedience, they may or may not succeed for a short period of time, but in long term they will fail, because they are not being a Satyagrahi.
As I wrote in my previous article on Gandhian philosophy, what Gandhi managed to do was to remove the the color of righteousness from a morally wrong aggressor. If a thief steals something from someone, and then tries to be all non-violent when the person tries to take back his property through violence, then that’s not Gandhism. This is why Gandhi coined the term ‘Satyagraha’, because civil disobedience does not capture the essense of Gandhian philosophy.
Lets come back to the original question, what could Jews have done as they were standing in front of the gas chambers, consistent with the Gandhian philosophy. The answer would be NOTHING. They could not have done anything as they stood in front of the gas chambers, that is not the time to become Gandhist, its just too late. Then what is the right application of Gandhian philosophy in case of Jews in Nazi Germany? The answer is simple, the Jews in Germany should have done Satyagraha long before they were shipped to the concentration camps.
What Jews should have done is the moment Hitler gave the order that the Jews must stop owning all the businesses, the Jewish businessmen should have done Satyagraha against it. The moment the government took away the guns from the people in Nazi Germany they should have started Satyagraha against it. The moment Hitler ordered all the Jews to get registered and move to the ghettos the jews should have started Satyagraha against it. There are two possible outcomes of this situation:
- The German government backs out and allows Jewish businessmen to continue doing businesses, allow people to own guns, give up trying to register and move Jews to ghettos, which solves our problem but is highly unlikely, knowing what we know about the history.
- The Germany government orders shooting of the Jewish Satyagrahis or forcefully ship them to the concentration camps.
We don’t have to worry about the first outcome, so we will just discuss the second. There are some historical facts you must know about the Nazi Germany, at that particular time nobody in the world knew about the concentration camps. These gas chambers and concentration camps were not publicly known until the war ended. The only news about such atrocity were regarded as mere rumor and war gossip. When Hitler forced Germans to give up their guns, it wasn’t foreseen by anyone that he is disarming the Jewish people in some diabolical plot to eventually have his ‘Final Solution’. I am not saying that the Jews walked gladly into the concentration camps, but all I am saying is had Jewish businessmen not followed the Nazi instructions, had Jews not given up their guns so gladly for the ‘peace’ in Germany, had the Jewish people not registered and moved to the Ghettos, but instead refused to follow the orders from the exact point where they were living their lives exactly how they wanted, they would have been able to expose the Nazis WAY EARLIER, and that exposure would have been the most effective thing to do to fight against the Nazis.
When the news spread about how the Nazis shot 500 Jewish businessmen because they refused to stop owning businesses, or that they sent 1000 people to places from where they were never seen just for refusing to turn over their weapons, or that German soldiers shot 20 families inside their homes in Warsaw who refused to move to the ghettos or registered, this would have uncovered the truth of the Nazi Germany. This would have shown Jews what was coming up for them. A lot of jewish people would have still died, no doubt about that. In fact I can’t even say if more jews or less jews would die in this scenario, either way the number of people killed by the Nazis would have been much much less. It would have mobilized people against the Nazi Germany. Remember, Nazi Germany did not look as monsterous as it looks now to us. Imagine Nazi Germany just as Germany who is invading its neighboring countries without all the holocaust stuff. This is what Allies thought they were fighting during Second World War.
Gandhian philosophy is not applicable for the Jews already standing in front of the firing squad or gas ovens. The correct application of Gandhian philosophy is on the day when the German government first aggressed against them, when the German government wanted to take away their guns, when the German government wanted to them to move to ghettos, when the Germany government wanted them to move to concentration camps. As the aggression of Germany government increased against the Jews, the time to do anything slipped away with every new aggression. We are facing the same situation here, we trade our liberties for temporary security or peace. The UK government orders every citizen to give up their guns, and the British follow the orders, after all who wants to risk getting arrested, so people fool themselves that this will help in maintaining law and order, what they are doing is laying the ground work for another possible Hitler. Yeah the current UK government may not do anything like what Hitler did, but trust me, the new Hitler will not be racist(it won’t be Nick Griffin of British Nationalist Party, it won’t be the Klan association in US, and it won’t be Bal Thakarey in India), whomsoever it would be, you wouldn’t be able to expect him.
Today US government is installing checkpoints across the border to look for illegal immigrants. Indian government is creating a national database of all citizens and every citizen have an ID card. Whatever reasons given for these things, however rational these actions may sound, the fact is you are giving up your liberties! Once you have given up your civil liberties they are much more difficult for you to get them back. Do not give in to evil! Lets say you live in India and you think we cannot allow Indian citizens to have guns otherwise we will have a gun culture like we have in America (where our kids are shooting each other in schools). The thing is, if China attacks in India again or any foreign government for that matter, tries to disable our government and military, we will lose so many lives and property that few disturbed kids shooting each other will sound such a fair deal to the possible resistance Indian citizens could have done to a foreign invasion.
- Was Gandhi a Libertarian – II – Author: Unpretentious Diva, Dec 8 [↩]
- Gandhigiri and Libertarianism – Dec 10– Author: Unpretentious Diva, Dec 10 [↩]
- 26 November 1938 (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol. 74, p. 240) [↩]