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Moral duty

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cavacava
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Moral duty

Post by cavacava » November 28th, 2018, 8:48 pm

Aja Monet is a poet. She presents a short, peculiar argument based on the consequences of abdication of moral duty. Moral duty is a duty (under natural law) which one owes, and which ought to be performed, but which is not legally binding.

Monet's argument is peculiar because it is presented between individuals yet the implication of the argument is that applies to the collective 'you' or nation states. Here she is explaining in brief video. What do you think?


[yid=]https://youtu.be/8Id1U8MAuO8[/yid]

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chewybrian
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Re: Moral duty

Post by chewybrian » November 29th, 2018, 8:01 am

It seems you are asking two questions:

Are you your brother's keeper?

Do you have the right to give your opinion of how your brother should proceed if you fail to act?

There is a broad spectrum of duty to act based on your abilities, and your relationship and the ability of the person, or country that is in distress. Think of the 'reasonable person' standard used in law. Would a reasonable person think: that they should act, that the danger to themselves was outweighed by the chance to help the other person/country, that they could help, that the person in distress could not help themselves, that they might not make the situation worse by trying to help?

Should Reagan have sent in the troops to free the people in East Germany? If the answer was that simple, he probably would have. Did he have the moral right to say: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Probably he did. Arguably, saying this had some positive effect on the ultimate outcome, and people were freed in the end without bloodshed.

Should Bush Sr. have gone into Kuwait? Should Bush Jr. have gone into Iraq, Afghanistan? Are these actions morally correct, and do the ultimate gains outweigh the costs? If either did not act, would he have been wrong to condemn Saddam, or to suggest that people fight back against him? Did they, or by extension the U.S. have no moral right to hold an opinion on the situation unless they sent in the troops?

Her position holds appeal if you only think of a particular situation in which you support the person/country in distress and want action. If you examine it from a broader perspective, it seems a bit silly and way too simple to accept as dogma.

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Re: Moral duty

Post by ktz » November 29th, 2018, 9:12 am

It sounds to me in this video that Monet is speaking very directly about her own personal commitment to Palestinian solidarity, as a person watching the oppression of Palestinians, and why she personally felt compelled to aid in their resistance so as to grant her activism and poetic speech a degree of legitimacy that it would not have otherwise.

Monet may be implying that anyone who does not assist in this resistance, including nation state actors, is morally complicit and not authorized from a place of moral legitimacy to give advice on "how to resist". I think you and Chewy have a logical case for certain pragmatic failings in this broader generalization of the idea, though there may be a legitimate case on both sides that we could talk about at length if you are interested. However, I feel that the specific instance of her idea that her activist pursuits intended to help Palestine "take the foot of their neck" does lend a moral legitimacy and character to her poetic speech and calls for solidarity that may otherwise be missing.
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Re: Moral duty

Post by ktz » November 29th, 2018, 9:45 am

Looking a bit deeper, the particular argument in question doesn't appear to be an appeal to the general case of moral duty or calling for generalization to nation state actors at all, but instead is a very specific analogy targeted at public commentary that would debate Palestinian methods of resistance and advocate for non-violent methods without a commitment to solidarity and the moral platform of understanding the "foot on neck" oppression that modern Palestinians face and helping them improve their situation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psR6CHaxzOM&t=33m55s
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Re: Moral duty

Post by chewybrian » November 29th, 2018, 11:08 am

ktz wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 9:12 am

Monet may be implying that anyone who does not assist in this resistance, including nation state actors, is morally complicit and not authorized from a place of moral legitimacy to give advice on "how to resist". I think you and Chewy have a logical case for certain pragmatic failings in this broader generalization of the idea, though there may be a legitimate case on both sides that we could talk about at length if you are interested. However, I feel that the specific instance of her idea that her activist pursuits intended to help Palestine "take the foot of their neck" does lend a moral legitimacy and character to her poetic speech and calls for solidarity that may otherwise be missing.
I think both sides have been victims and aggressors along the way, and it is very messy. Arguing that resistance should be non-violent is not only morally correct (or at least not immoral), but pragmatic. Freedom has been won in the past through non-violent methods, and it seems to be a stalemate with current methods. The truth is a stronger weapon than a rock.

Here is a great example of morally correct methods, eloquence, truth and ultimate victory (not instant, total victory, but significant and lasting progress):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvG5YUjvUyk

^No name-calling, no spin, no violent attacks... Am I wrong to celebrate this man and his words and his actions as an example of how others might move forward in other places? Am I wrong to say or think that they should emulate him if they want a better chance to win? If their position is in fact correct, these methods can work. I am not unworthy of holding this opinion because I am not out there throwing rocks, or because I might think there are two sides to this issue.

Here is an example of an ineffective and morally questionable strategy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMT0JulZRQ8

^If they are in fact morally correct, their actions degrade their position in the minds of others, and prevent the integration they ostensibly seek. If what they seek is only to annihilate their enemy, then they should expect a fight in return, and certainly should not be surprised that they are not given the key to the city. Especially in the case of a stronger enemy, how is progress to be made in this way?

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Re: Moral duty

Post by ktz » November 29th, 2018, 12:25 pm

chewybrian wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 11:08 am
ktz wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 9:12 am

Monet may be implying that anyone who does not assist in this resistance, including nation state actors, is morally complicit and not authorized from a place of moral legitimacy to give advice on "how to resist". I think you and Chewy have a logical case for certain pragmatic failings in this broader generalization of the idea, though there may be a legitimate case on both sides that we could talk about at length if you are interested. However, I feel that the specific instance of her idea that her activist pursuits intended to help Palestine "take the foot of their neck" does lend a moral legitimacy and character to her poetic speech and calls for solidarity that may otherwise be missing.
I think both sides have been victims and aggressors along the way, and it is very messy. Arguing that resistance should be non-violent is not only morally correct (or at least not immoral), but pragmatic. Freedom has been won in the past through non-violent methods, and it seems to be a stalemate with current methods. The truth is a stronger weapon than a rock.

Here is a great example of morally correct methods, eloquence, truth and ultimate victory (not instant, total victory, but significant and lasting progress):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvG5YUjvUyk

^No name-calling, no spin, no violent attacks... Am I wrong to celebrate this man and his words and his actions as an example of how others might move forward in other places? Am I wrong to say or think that they should emulate him if they want a better chance to win? If their position is in fact correct, these methods can work. I am not unworthy of holding this opinion because I am not out there throwing rocks, or because I might think there are two sides to this issue.
I agree with this in principle, but in practice civil disobedience has entered a dark period in its history. The techniques of civil disobedience works only when you have a commitment freedom of speech, and an educated and sympathetic populace/international community with the capacity for solidarity and cosmopolitan ideals. Some examples of the limits of modern effectiveness in civil disobedience in adverse political environments include 1989's Tiananmen Square in China, Assad's reaction to protests in Syria as well as the subsequent military coups in Egypt and other Arab Spring participants, and the effective media campaign that destroyed the Occupy movement. Civil disobedience is not a silver bullet.

Israel has a record of detaining and even torturing activists and civil disobedience leaders, including a sixteen-year-old Palestinian girl protesting the murder of her fourteen-year-old sister: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved ... ed-tamimi/

Can you see why civil disobedience may not be the preferred demonstration method of choice? In these types of situations, there may be alternate non-violent means of effecting change, but I can't blame the average citizen trapped in this kind of situation for feeling hopeless and lashing out in violence.
Here is an example of an ineffective and morally questionable strategy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMT0JulZRQ8

^If they are in fact morally correct, their actions degrade their position in the minds of others, and prevent the integration they ostensibly seek. If what they seek is only to annihilate their enemy, then they should expect a fight in return, and certainly should not be surprised that they are not given the key to the city. Especially in the case of a stronger enemy, how is progress to be made in this way?
I agree that such displays are largely ineffective and counterproductive. Monet's concern as I understand it is primarily with the rescinding of moral legitimacy based on videos and activities like this one, saying we ought to sympathize with any individual who has a "foot on their neck". Sure, there are bad actors like Hamas and the PLA, but to use these groups to paint the entire Palestinian people with Chomskian depictions of terrorists and insurgents is akin to denying the cause of MLK because the same cause was shared by Malcolm X.

The Gaza Strip has 8 refugee camps and 1,221,110 refugees. If you are a Palestinian civilian, you are subject to Israel randomly destroying your house to make room for their residential expansions. Palestinians have no access to international travel or legitimate higher education, and most appallingly civilian targets are subject to random bombing and assassinations. As previously mentioned participants in civil disobedience are subject to indefinite detention and torture. While in principle I am in agreement that non-violence is the preferred method of resistance, and in some cases it has been used to great effect for Palestinian causes, I can understand over the course of an occupation period of 50 years why some would eschew Thoreau in favor of Robert the Bruce.
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Re: Moral duty

Post by ktz » November 29th, 2018, 12:30 pm

I should add that from what I am reading, the Palestinian government also engages in detention and torture, so there's little moral legitimacy to be found on either side of the aisle here. Ultimately the whole situation appears to an outsider like me to be a hellish travesty, and I hope some peaceful resolution can be found in the future.
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Re: Moral duty

Post by barata » November 29th, 2018, 12:35 pm

our moral duty is to eat, sleep, have sex like anything and than die.

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Re: Moral duty

Post by Hereandnow » November 29th, 2018, 1:44 pm

There is a point embedded in this: If the foot is on YOUR neck, then the ethical takes on a completely new dimension; it becomes suffering beyond the context of judgment, judgment that is defined by restraint and well tempered thinking. We think ethically from the armchair, as a politician with an agenda would, or you or I would if called upon to consider. But no matter how you might rationalize oppression, when then oppression is upon you, and they have lighted up a cross on YOUR front yard, thrown YOU into a nightmare of existence, much of what is thoughtful ethics becomes annihilated. And judgment from the OUTSIDE of this becomes irrelevant, because these institutions have become suspended.

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Re: Moral duty

Post by cavacava » November 29th, 2018, 7:40 pm

ktz wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 12:25 pm
chewybrian wrote:
November 29th, 2018, 11:08 am


I think both sides have been victims and aggressors along the way, and it is very messy. Arguing that resistance should be non-violent is not only morally correct (or at least not immoral), but pragmatic. Freedom has been won in the past through non-violent methods, and it seems to be a stalemate with current methods. The truth is a stronger weapon than a rock.

Here is a great example of morally correct methods, eloquence, truth and ultimate victory (not instant, total victory, but significant and lasting progress):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvG5YUjvUyk

^No name-calling, no spin, no violent attacks... Am I wrong to celebrate this man and his words and his actions as an example of how others might move forward in other places? Am I wrong to say or think that they should emulate him if they want a better chance to win? If their position is in fact correct, these methods can work. I am not unworthy of holding this opinion because I am not out there throwing rocks, or because I might think there are two sides to this issue.
I agree with this in principle, but in practice civil disobedience has entered a dark period in its history. The techniques of civil disobedience works only when you have a commitment freedom of speech, and an educated and sympathetic populace/international community with the capacity for solidarity and cosmopolitan ideals. Some examples of the limits of modern effectiveness in civil disobedience in adverse political environments include 1989's Tiananmen Square in China, Assad's reaction to protests in Syria as well as the subsequent military coups in Egypt and other Arab Spring participants, and the effective media campaign that destroyed the Occupy movement. Civil disobedience is not a silver bullet.

Israel has a record of detaining and even torturing activists and civil disobedience leaders, including a sixteen-year-old Palestinian girl protesting the murder of her fourteen-year-old sister: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved ... ed-tamimi/

Can you see why civil disobedience may not be the preferred demonstration method of choice? In these types of situations, there may be alternate non-violent means of effecting change, but I can't blame the average citizen trapped in this kind of situation for feeling hopeless and lashing out in violence.
Here is an example of an ineffective and morally questionable strategy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMT0JulZRQ8

^If they are in fact morally correct, their actions degrade their position in the minds of others, and prevent the integration they ostensibly seek. If what they seek is only to annihilate their enemy, then they should expect a fight in return, and certainly should not be surprised that they are not given the key to the city. Especially in the case of a stronger enemy, how is progress to be made in this way?
I agree that such displays are largely ineffective and counterproductive. Monet's concern as I understand it is primarily with the rescinding of moral legitimacy based on videos and activities like this one, saying we ought to sympathize with any individual who has a "foot on their neck". Sure, there are bad actors like Hamas and the PLA, but to use these groups to paint the entire Palestinian people with Chomskian depictions of terrorists and insurgents is akin to denying the cause of MLK because the same cause was shared by Malcolm X.

The Gaza Strip has 8 refugee camps and 1,221,110 refugees. If you are a Palestinian civilian, you are subject to Israel randomly destroying your house to make room for their residential expansions. Palestinians have no access to international travel or legitimate higher education, and most appallingly civilian targets are subject to random bombing and assassinations. As previously mentioned participants in civil disobedience are subject to indefinite detention and torture. While in principle I am in agreement that non-violence is the preferred method of resistance, and in some cases it has been used to great effect for Palestinian causes, I can understand over the course of an occupation period of 50 years why some would eschew Thoreau in favor of Robert the Bruce.
I think Monet's remark is also aimed at the Black situation in the United States, which is why she started off with the choice between Malcom X and MLK. Malcom X' wanted black people to be willing and able to protect their own rights and their dignity as free people, from attack. MLK's program used non-violent civil disobedience and protests to convey to the white majority the hopelessly unfair character of the Black's situation in America.

She seems, at least here, to be more in favor of Malcom X's approach, and from a pragmatic point of view the Civil Rights protests of the mid 1960's and now America's recent inner city problems, riots and violent protests have had the practical consequence of moving the Elite to take actions to try to accommodate those who are protesting and suffering,

I think she may be aiming her comments more towards the apathetic suggesting that these people have abdicated their their moral duty (if Moral duty is a natural law) by not speaking up for the oppressed. People who know that the killing of over 200 people, and the injuring of 14,000 in Gaza is wrong but who do not want to speak up about it.
She may also be suggesting, like Ta-Nehisi-Coates, that any system that preaches non-violence to the violent by means of violence has lost its moral ground.

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Re: Moral duty

Post by Alias » December 1st, 2018, 7:01 pm

Isn't this just the same argument as not judging another until you've walked a mile in their shoes?

What would you do if --- imagine various kinds of danger, duress, suffering, oppression and hardship that might be inflicted on you. Each circumstance is different, and each one's ability to act is different from every other's. Certainly, if I were kidnapped by a madman and tied up in a basement, I wouldn't be too fastidious about the methods I tried to get out. Nor would I welcome criticism from the safe and comfortable sidelines. (Especially if they themselves employ similar methods to achieve less laudable ends.)
She's quite right: we don't have the moral basis to tell Palestinians how they should behave in their circumstances.
We know they've been asking the nations that got them into this situation for relief long enough to understand that it's never coming.

There are different ways that a bad international situation can be addressed. Military intervention is the least morally sanitary. But our western nations are not without other kinds of power - economic, primarily - that they could exert, and would, if the electorate put enough pressure on their governments. So, yes, we are all complicit through inaction, indifference, convenience and prejudice.

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