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Thinking about political action - Input Junkie
December 21st, 2009
04:58 am


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Thinking about political action
In my previous post, I raised the question of what to do about the increasingly violent American police and border guards.

And the discussion somewhat turned to the possibility of libertarians being a good choice to work on this, followed rapidly by a discussion of how awful libertarians are.

I will note that what I actually asked about what rhetorical strategies have a historical record of working. If no one has an opinion, fine.

Anyway, I've started reading Bury the Chains, a history of British abolitionism. It looks to be a good bit stranger than fiction.

Before abolitionism, three fourths of the human race was in servitude-- this includes Russian serfs in the count. It took about a century to abolish slavery-- and even though the results were incomplete, it's still a tremendous accomplishment.

Abolitionism started with a dozen people.

There is no noticeable faction in the US is strongly invested in improving the justice system. There's been some progress in exonerating innocent people, but not much in improving procedures so as not to convict them.

There are aspects of Republican, Democratic, progressive, independent, and libertarian thought which are highly compatible with working towards a sane justice system. I'm inclined to think that Obama would go along with a popular movement, but I don't think he's going to stick his neck our for that issue.

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
I think something like Maslow's hierarchy of needs has come into play. We've all been in a Red Queen's Race situation for all but a couple of years ever since the OPEC crisis, which leaves far too many people with not much energy or enthusiasm for caring about anybody other than "me and mine."

I know beyond all shadow of a doubt that the last year to several years' worth of torture revelations, both on foreigners and on our fellow Americans in our own jails, have made my depression and panic attacks worse; not because of the revelations themselves, few of which were shocking (I am at least that awake) but because even when they became front-page news, vast and overwhelming numbers of Americans polled as either just okay with it or at most indifferent; as a nation, we have no particular conscience left to shock. If there truly is a god who loves justice, and he is looking? America is doomed. And even if there isn't, I have never been so ashamed of my country, never thought I could be.

That's why it's probably a good idea for you to be reading history of the early abolitionists, because that was the problem they confronted. It didn't matter how many accounts you published of individual masters torturing slaves or individual slaves being tortured. You couldn't convince most of them that it wasn't just individuals, that it was systemic; you couldn't convince most of the rest that it mattered or that any alternative was plausible because "realists" know "that's just how the world is, and there's no changing it." Somehow they managed to awake a national, and ultimately almost global, conscience about thinks that didn't shock the conscience before they did whatever it was they did. Finding out how is probably a good idea.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
(I want to come back to this when I have more time, so I'll just pick up on one aspect)

I think a libertarian approahc is going to be extremely problematical, because this needs more state intervention. You want someone to perform legislative functions who is neutral, accountable , and who is a servant of the public. Right now, you have a lot of contractors and community elects who cannot easily be ousted from above: this is great as long as the people who do the job are conscientious, but catastrophic when they are afraid, in love with their own power, or a bit of both.

Fixing the problem with need several things: a full examination of what the problem is (solid journalism: facts and evidence), convincing the public that it's a problem, lobbying to change the structures that lead to systemic failure.
[User Picture]
Date:December 22nd, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
I opened that can, didn't I? Sorry--I was thinking about groups who ought to be behind such a movement, and I started thinking about Bob Barr's philosophical path since 2001, among other things.

There are alreeady people working on this, and yet they seem to make no dent. I suppose what it will take is a member of the mainstream press getting caught up in something like this--a real Villager. Because otherwise the mainstream press will never take this as a serious issue--maybe part of it is the Overton window for this issue has been jerked out of place for very far by the authoritarians.

I think you're right about what it will take to get Obama moving.

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