"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Sep 16, 2011

Just This

Some people should die. Like rapists. Or slavers. Or torturers. Also, Harvard and Yale graduates. And people who want the chief executive job at a PR firm, or to head up an army. Or run a country. You know, the demonstrably reprehensible sorts.

Which doesn't mean they ought to be killed. It's just that, if the universe were just and fair and actually coded to promote human happiness (which it is not, natch), those people would die. Or at the very least, suffer from debilitating vertigo and glossolalia.  They could have every possible desire to rape, kill, enslave, govern, rule, torture and generally be the sort of dick who gets off doing all that shit. But they'd be too permanently dizzy and creepily off-putting to ever be able to pull it off.

And as a back-up, they'd also have to suffer from chronic, stinky, highly audible meteorism. At the least. At the very least.

It might not be a perfect cosmos - because: asteroids, and planet frying quasar pulses, and viruses, and stuff -  but claims to categorically imperative justice would have merit. They don't, obviously. Because the universe is unjust. Or, more to the point, because "justice" is at once a conceptual imposition on a universe which is neither just, or unjust, and it is the bloody hand of power.

As in, criminal justice.

Which happens when shitclowns who like to tell other people what to do, and generally make living between the two poles of darkness a miserable affair, devote a portion of their ill gotten gains towards the enduring project of caging, poisoning, abusing, raping and otherwise dehumanizing people who break their rules. Sometimes the rule breakers are also shitclowns, as in the cases of rapists, child molesters, wife killers, slavers and fuckwits who get wasted and then operate motor vehicles.

When shitclowns punish fuckwits for being too obviously fuckwitted to put on a suit, get elected to office or appointed to position and then do miserable things to other people for a profit within the sanction of the law, nobody actually wins but the shitclowns in suits.

It's incidental, if you catch my meaning. The coppers aren't locking up the rapers because the President, or the governor, or the mayor has a personal loathing for rape. Maybe he does personally loathe rape. It doesn't really matter. The cops aren't locking up rapists because rape is one of the worst things you can do to someone short of killing her or him, or as is often the case, because rape is a violation of a person so devastating that it can and does prove to be worse than murder. The cops are locking up rapists because their bosses have to repeatedly demonstrate that their protection racket is a net benefit to their client populations.

Client populations, you get?

That doesn't necessarily mean you. Or any of us. It might, if you have the right certificates. Or breeding. Or daddy. Or it might not, if you have the wrong concentration of melanin per square inch, place of origin, or religion. Universal justice and equality before the law are chimeras. And not the poetic variety, which transform a futile gesture into a memorable adventure.

Nope.

Universal justice is a fool's dream. A deliberately cultivated one.

Don't believe me?

It's all good. Let's take a break. You get your hands on a civics, American history, law, ethics or philosophy textbook. We can wait while you flip through their pages.

Drinkers, now's the time to quaff another draught. Smokers, you dirty smelly fuckers, light another one. Ronpaulians, I believe this is your cue to break out the hookah, the pipe or the bowl. Smackers, shoot one on the house. I don't judge. Whatever gets you through the night, right?

Here's a song, for the rest of us, while we wait:



There we go.*

That was a nice break, no? If you haven't had the delight of an introduction to the music of Lhasa before, it was my honest pleasure to acquaint you.

But, I'm also an asshole, n'est-ce pas?

So, the textbooks...

You see all those paragraphs wherein the text repeats, over and fucking over again, that law and justice are universal, or at least ought to be? See where the fancy ones discuss isonomy and the dumbed down ones go on and about "rights and responsibilities"? Go on, take a moment. Note how often these planned and designed study guides mention democracy, human rights, equality before the law, one man one vote, et cetera. It's like a catechism, or a sales pitch, or a call to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, or some shit.

If you care to spare another minute or two, flip back and forth to all those sections which make mention of struggle for equality, democracy, rights, and universal human behavior. Even the whitewashed versions which get the imprimatur and the nihil obstat of the mandate schoolmarmers end up contradicting the claim to universality, don't they? I mean, if history is the record of people with power resisting giving it up or losing it - and it is, this royal history we're still learning in the age of Democracy - then you almost have to wonder why these same rulers insist on mandatory schools in which the opposite is also taught.

If they have to teach it, and if it takes them ten or twelve years to get children to believe it - it really isn't so universal, is it?. That shit is indoctrination. And a sales pitch. Like a Budweiser commercial for childhood expectations, where after ten years of relentless campaigning, the target demographic finally begins to associate coded terminology with a set of unrealizable assumptions about what it is the bosses and owners do with all their horded loot. Budweiser invests in getting twenty something fuckwits with jobs to associate a swilly alcoholic "beverage" with boobs and vomit-free, project-managed Ken-doll camaraderie. The text books aim a wee bit higher. Or lower. It's all a matter of perspective. They want the little ones who will become consuming big ones to believe that every one gets a fair shake.

Because - and I hope I don't have to point out how obvious this it - almost no one gets a fair shake. Let's be frank: almost the only people living fully human lives are also exactly the same people who can afford to earmark a share of their stolen treasure towards persuading everyone else, and especially the children, that the evidence available to them everywhere and free of charge by way of some really nifty senses - well, that it is false. Hell, they know it. And they know you know it. When the teevee phase shifts from a formulaic girl-as-prize "comedy" to a 30 second spot introduced by Starving African Child Music, the ad agencies for the lords of all creation are playing it up.

The point of the indoctrination, and the sales pitch, isn't to elide all sensory input and feedback. That's not possible. Sargon's first ever anointed priest had already figured that shit out, thousands of years before universal public education, ad campaigns and manufactured consent. Mother Church has already conceded the point, to the chagrin of Cathars and Bogomils. The host is a piece of bread. Or a stale cracker. The blood tastes like wine...because it is wine.

The investment in indoctrination doesn't pay back its investors by erasing the evidence of the senses, or by overcoming the thorny and nearly indestructible human capacity to observe events with relative capacity and then communicate those observations to others in a shared tongue. Its return - and this stock splits with predictable regularity - comes from defacing them.

Which is how we end up back at justice, perhaps one of the more lasting and damaging defacements of sense, and sensibility. Justice obscures, because it insists on a universality which cannot be demonstrated, and which must be believed, right at the intersection between real pain and loss and the application of power.

Justice is a false proof...

...with real consequences, as Duane Buck and Troy Davis may soon discover. (And as Cameron Willingham found out.) That is, right before someone poisons them to death in the name of that false proof.

And you know how we can tell rather quickly?

Because without some dude in a black robe, neither man would be isolated in near-solitary confinement, awaiting a poisoning to death. And without the intervention of a dude or two in black robes, neither man will escape that poisoning to death.

But Barack Obama, who has admitted in public to ordering the murders of people he has never met, will close out the year with a salary in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all the pretty people for his friends. Because dudes in black robes say it's okay for him to do so.

Maybe Messrs. Davis and Buck murdered other people. Perhaps they did not. The case against Mr. Davis is certainly far shakier than the one against Mr. Obama. Mr. Davis maintains his innocence and the cops and prosecutors who made the case against him are lying abusive bullies who intimidated witnesses, appear to have falsified evidence, and generally embody a perfected douchebaggery. Mr. Obama - also a perfectly embodied douchebag, and proudly so - signed a confession. In public. Without coercion. And to waves of applause.

One week from now, Troy Davis will likely be dead. Barack Obama will have raised another million or so dollars in his attempt to recapture the most powerful office on the planet.

Because there is no justice. Because the law does not apply to everyone equally. Because, in fact, the very ideas of justice and punishment are themselves colonizations of our memories, scripted and refined over the last five thousand years in order to get us to police ourselves in expectation of reward. Because the law doesn't exist, anywhere or when, without force or the threat of force.

Because, most significantly, while some people perhaps ought to suffer or die for their unending forays into pillage, depredation, rape and murder, the ones doing the bulk of the suffering and dying are their victims.

I don't know exactly how that can be changed so that everyone has it easy, and the number of people who want to boss up and make others suffers reaches an all time low.

But a good place to start, I imagine, is with a challenge to the indoctrinated belief in a universal and equalizing justice.

Actual existing justice is anything but...

...which is a bummer, in the short term. And for that reason, it's a damned good thing there was ever a Lhasa de Sela:




* - here's more evidence that "justice" is false: Lhasa de Sela died of breast cancer last year, but - Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany...

22 comments:

The Somewhat Intoxicated Mr. Drunken Pundit said...

Justice is a concept. Things that are conceptualized aren't real, they're constructs of the human imagination. They are what we make them.

That the justice you and I observe isn't what we would really call justice is evidence that many of our fellow humans lack the ability to imagine something better. They accept the concept of justice as handed down to them. I'd like to think someday the human race will have a better imagination.

I have no idea if they ever will.

Nice post though.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

Because - and I hope I don't have to point out how obvious this it - almost no one gets a fair shake. Damn fucking skippy dude.

Rape is not about sex..its about power and humiliation over another...the ugliest type of humiliation possible. That's why dumbass countries run by Muslim religious nutjobs don't prosecute rape crimes...the woman always did "something" to piss the guy off so she deserved it..fucking bags of ignorant shit that they are.

I feel rage rising up inside of me..time to take my leave.

Slim Charles said...

No wait, Jack, I'm not sure I can fully agree with this.

I do not believe that the _notion_ of justice is to be discarded. The notion is useful at least so that we can say, "there is no justice."

Those who want us to discard the notion of justice are like people who want us abandon the *notion* of property. No, the *notion* of property is extremely useful, because it enables us to point out that some people *have* more than others.

Vanguardists who believe too much that all ideas are generated from the top-down suggest, preposterously, that slaves in Haiti revolted because they discovered a "notion" of freedom and justice from French Revolution. Whereas I would argue that slaves didn't need to learn the "notions" of freedom and justice in order to embody, in their whole being, the reality that it is degrading, unfree, and unjust to be treated like a slave. In fact freedom and justice in those cases are not really "ideas" at all.

What I'm getting at is that freedom, justice, and other such "notions," if we must call them that, are not generated by the elites. They are exploited by the elites. Moreover, the belief that it is a task of any urgency to deconstruct notions of freedom, rather than to point out that the notion is not living up (and sure: has never lived up) to the reality, strikes me as a kind of idealism, leading dangerously close to the old Marx joke about believing people are drowned in water because they are possessed with the "idea of gravity."

It's just like with popular culture: the elites don't generate that culture. The people generate it, but the elites _exploit_ it. As with labor or anything else, they steal grassroots culture, re-package it, and re-sell it.

Why would notions like "freedom" and "justice" be different? It's quite likely that the elites have, once again, stolen a set of grass-roots notions and exploited, and re-packaged them for their own purposes.

But if we relinquish the idea of "justice" just because it has been exploited by the elites, again, we don't even have the capacity to point out that the elites are "unjust."

Our goal is not to relinquish the notions but to point out that the notions have always been exploited and co-opted. Otherwise what kind of vocabulary are we left with but a kind of technocratic functionalism? e.g. "the system happens to function for one group of people. But we must fight to have it function for another, and more populous, group of people!" No, we must say, "the system is unjust. And we must fight to make it just!"

Justin said...

Jack,
Nice post. Your point about the cumulative colonization of our minds over thousands of years is one that is perhaps the most subtle and, in my view, the most foundation shaking. The defacement of the senses is exactly right. This is the process by which normative or returns to some prior era of honor or better times takes root. We see shit around us is fucked, but we think we remember it being either much better at some other point in time from our education. Since we all have roughly the same education, we all have roughly the same memories of how things were.

When you stop and consider the often inverted relationship that our modern history has to reality, and this in the context of a time when much more consideration and thought is given to perspectives somewhat below the king's than in the past, if you are feeling thoughtful, also consider the inverted relationship to reality that most of our history likely has.

I'd bet that most people, outside of a few power brokers and sociopaths, thought the collapse of Rome was a good thing. I'd guess that Nero fiddling while Rome burned was probably only offensive to the courtiers and other hanger-ons who most benefited materially and psychologically from being a ruler of empire.

Currently reading Seeing Like a State, highly recommended to you, my friend. It documents that much of what we take for granted as being the way it must be, or has always been, or of human nature, are very recent impositions of state perspective, and only recent because until recently, state perspective lacked the administrative legibility to see or act at the scale it/they can today.

Your point about justice is exactly to this point, our laws are as deterministic (or absolute) as can be precisely because the amount of variability and context dependent information about the circumstances behind and action that could warrant legal sanction would be illegible to the state. This is most egregious at the federal level, where sentencing guidelines are a checkbox list of yes/no facts that tally up points and turn out a sentence.

Anyway, enough.

Jack Crow said...

Hot damn, great replies.

I've promised my wife I'd be a house boy this morning, so I brief responses for now:

Pundit, Slim Charles

I wonder if the very idea of justice is a trap, because it's never really been separate form the king's vengeance. I try to conceive of justice as an act recompense, but every image and thought is already colored by the fact that, for as long as men have been recording their deeds, justice has been the province of power. I'm sympathetic to the idea that justice is a popular creation which was appropriated, like labor or culture, but I don't know if it actually holds true. It seems to me, instead, that it is definitely a ruling class moral commodity, and probably always has been. When a people or portions of a populace rise up or revolt, and enact justice, I don't think they're reclaiming a concept so much as acting out the familiar; especially, because it has been imposed on them "from above" for so long. Which is why, perhaps, attacks on power so often reconstitute themselves as power, later on. The need to secure a blood price, or a list of punishments which match deeds (as Justin notes) is not the same thing as the more primate and horizontal sense of fair play which does approach something of a universal condition. As a matter of tendencies, the lack of fairness often sees people withdrawing themselves, but the need to satisfy justice has them engaging and enforcing.

Dusty,

I think we might disagree a bit on the Muslim countries aspect of your reply. More generally, rape is not a priority for most states, regardless of the majority religion, because women are not a priority for those states. Making women a priority won't really change the nature of states, all the same - as is demonstrated by Sweden and Iceland.

Justin,

You expressed my images and intentions better than I. I think you're on to something, with regard to homogenization. The idea of a universality of reward, punishment, sentiment, perspective owes more to a training than it does to "native" similarity. I think a study of cultures and societies would show that claims about universal conduct are more common where universalizing religions, states or cultures are the dominant community of force.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

I was talking more about Muslim countries that have non-secularist govt's. If a husband feels he was 'wronged' in some way by his wife, he can pretty much do what he wants to punish her. Those govt's have condoned stoning women for offenses in those countries as well. You don't get much more barbaric than that Jack.

When you have time later, I would hope you could give me examples of where you think I am wrong. Thanks!

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

Oh and Justin's comment, which would make a really great post btw, was spot-on.

To Justin - you have a few blogs sir, which is your primary one? I really would like to follow you. ;-)

rapier said...

At risk of changing the subject, to the subject of debt which is entwined with the idea of justice, in experiments; I know bear with me,

"primatologist Frans de Waal, who found in a series of experiments that capuchin monkeys that had been trained to trade pebbles for slices of cucumber threw their pebbles out of the cage and refused any further cooperation with the experimenters when one monkey was given the more valuable prize of a grape in return for a pebble."

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/apr/09/the-way-of-all-debt/?page=1

This says something about justice I believe. Imperfectly but still anyone knows that even the smallest children have a keen sense justice. While tangential, or less, to the subject of criminal justice, no matter how badly justice is applied or apportioned, I believe seeking justice is intrinsic.

Jack Crow said...

rapier,

That "universal...fair play" to which I alluded was drawing upon de Waal's experiments. Sorry I wasn't explicit.

But, I think it's possible to distinguish between fair play (which involves mutuality) and justice (which requires the sanction of power).

Dusty,

Turkey comes to mind.

Otherwise, I think there's a tendency to Other-ize Muslim countries as especially anti-women because we have been raised to believe that our legal "progress" is also social. Rape is significantly likelier to occur in the US than it is in Indonesia or Pakistan, all the same.

The rapes per one hundred thousand number for Turkey is 1.4. Syria, at .7; Morocco at 3.6; .1 and so on.

It's 28.6 for the US.

That's obviously not the whole picture, because standards for reporting aren't, well, standardized.

But, it does provide a thumbnail.

Curiously, Sweden (which has some of the toughest anti-rape laws in the world) has one of the highest numbers, at 54 per 100,000. Whether or not that a function of prosecutorial consistency and a broad definition of rape is not entirely clear.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

Jack, Turkey has a secular govt, so I would expect them to have more respect for women.

As to the stats, I think they prove how fucked up American law is w/regard to prosecuting rape.

But I had no idea about Sweden. Thank you for enlightening me. ;-)

Jack Crow said...

Turkey is ruled by an Islamist party, Dusty. It's "mild," in the language of empire, but it is a religious party all the same.

*

As to "secular governments": I humbly submit that there are none. Not one. A state is a religious organization which depends upon sanctification and mystification for the exercise of its power.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

Their constitution is secular in nature and the govt is largely secular but like ours, they get the religious nutters in there as well.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

This quote sums it up quite well JackCrow:

Turkey's mix of economic growth and secular democracy under an Islamist government has fascinated Arab countries eager for a new model.

Jack Crow said...

I think the word "secular" is a distraction from what it is States are, and do, Dusty.

Just because a State does not actively promote an official faith (and that assertion is itself subject to challenge) does not alter the fact that the State is largely a religious construct.

Even officially atheist states, such as currently governs China.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

I get what you are saying and agree somewhat...but Turkey is still a helluva lot better place for women than other Muslim led nations.

The whole 'headdress banning' argument there was a doozy btw, and that had religious heads spinning as it was directly aimed at a religious belief.

Jack Crow said...

I'm not trying to suggest that a woman would do better to live in Saudi Arabia than Turkey, Dusty. It just has little to do with the State, conceptually and historically. If a massive earthquake collapsed the Turkish economy and if this event was followed by the rise of a Salafi movement which captured the Turkish state, the structure of the Turkish state would not present much of a barrier to the imposition of repressive "reforms." In fact, it might happen with less resistance, because it would have the sanction of "democracy."

What makes Turkey different from Saudi Arabia is history. Without the rarity that is Ataturk, Turkey might still have a degraded Caliphate.

*

The secular/religious lens isn't unique to the US, but we seem to use it more than our counterparts elsewhere, when seeing and discussing States, perhaps because we've been successfully indoctrinated into accepting the premises of exceptionalism.

The US is also a deliberately and officially secular state. That hasn't really meant much of a difference, when it comes to the history of that State's interaction with women, or the treatment of women and, specifically rape, by its constituent parts.

Jack Crow said...

Ataturk, Women

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

Great points Jack, and I was aware of the Ataturk, which is one of the reasons I mentioned Turkey to begin with.

I will be back later and try to address this topic on a different level since I seem to be missing your point. ;-)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

First thing we do is kill all the Yale grads.

*hides diploma*

Justin said...

Dusty,
It's senselessly complicated.
I used to have a single blog,
Americancrackpot.blogspot.com

I retired it because I didn't find writing about our newscycle to be for me anymore.

Then I started an art blog
Shotwellart.tumblr.com

I kept writing about political issues though, but in a more focused way. I started organizing these into a separate project that was intended to be an online book/blog hybrid.

conepost.blogspot.com

Then I started a similar project with the theme of anarchism

boutiquerevolution.blogspot.com

I have separate blogs for different subjects because I intend to write pieces for them that relate to one another specifically and only to one another. So any random posts about cats or paintings I am working on go on Shotwell. The Big Dada project is probably about done. I have a few more pieces in mind for the Boutique Revolution.

Jack Crow said...

Dusty,

I don't think we're missing each other's points. We've each just got a different emphasis.

Thunder,

As you as you're ashamed of it...

Slim Charles said...

Jack,

That's a thoughtful and eloquent response, thanks.

I mean, of course, we disagree on this point, but I certainly see the reasons for that kind of "genealogy of morality," even if I'm no longer aligned with it...