Inter-generational culpability and compensation

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Steve3007
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Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Steve3007 » June 18th, 2020, 3:35 am

"The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son."
- Ezekiel.18:20.

In most circumstances it seems reasonable to adhere to the principle that descendants are not responsible for the actions of their antecedents. To what extent ought we to stick to this principle of inter-generational individuality in the cases of both culpability for wrong-doing and compensation for past harm? If my recent ancestors were wronged by your recent ancestors, am I due recompense for this?

Wealth and poverty have a tendency to flow down generations. Does the answer to that last question depend on the extent to which this happens?

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Marvin_Edwards » June 18th, 2020, 6:43 am

If it were a simple matter of individual crimes, then I'd go with Zeke. Each person should bear the responsibility for his own sins.

However, if your father steals my car and gives it to you, is it rightfully yours or mine? While you are innocent of your father's guilt, it's still my car, and I want it back.

In cases of the crimes of a nation, state, or institution, the same entity continues to exist from generation to generation. Crimes such as slavery, racial discrimination, and prejudice need to be addressed by those entities. They bear the responsibility for addressing and repairing any lasting harms that continue to exist. This would include the current racial prejudices that have been passed down from generation to generation and are still causing harm today.

As to wealth and poverty, a nation as a whole bears the responsibility of assuring that the rules work for all citizens. No one can be expected to follow the laws if the laws lead their family into starvation.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Steve3007 » June 18th, 2020, 7:25 am

The above post seems generally reasonable. But the problem - the part where the judgement call comes in - is in deciding the extent to which we follow chains of responsibility and property down the generations. Obviously in the simple case of my father stealing your car and giving it to me, the car still rightfully belongs to you. I have been the receiver of stolen goods. Knowingly doing that is a recognized crime in itself. But in the example of the proceeds of slavery, the webs of responsibility, property and descendants are more complex.

The example recently in the news where I live is the English city of Bristol. It was heavily involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and profited from it. And a statue there was recently pushed into a river.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Terrapin Station » June 18th, 2020, 8:54 am

As long as our economy is set up in the (to me) stupid way that we've set it up, I'd say that something should be done (though ultimately it should be done by the government in my view) when the injustices of previous generations have clearly created (and "clear" there means that it requires more than a belief that it's the case) significant present inequities, especially of opportunity and access to basic resources, including health care, education, etc.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Papus79 » June 18th, 2020, 12:22 pm

I'm going to bracket it with the current moment I suppose.

If one or both of your parents were bank robbers, thieves, or were responsible for thousands of opioid deaths across a country and your sitting on top of those ill-gotten assets then those assets are something that the nation you live in should be able to file a lawsuit against.

For historical wrongs in the cultural progress sense - that money should first translate into opportunity, education, and step-up programs because the culture was damaged by history and needs to be repaired.

There's also the issue of Darwinian game theory where bad faith actors will try to pull whatever levers they can to extort things out of people and they'll use anything where complexity or uncertainty are present. In this sense you need to have a very tight frame that most ethicists would find fair and reasonable to be applied to the situation and we need to have clear language for when we're seeing people take something past just compensation into a completely different place such as using it as a lever to flip or reverse the situation.
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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Marvin_Edwards » June 18th, 2020, 1:05 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
June 18th, 2020, 7:25 am
The example recently in the news where I live is the English city of Bristol. It was heavily involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and profited from it. And a statue there was recently pushed into a river.
We're still trying to take down statues of Robert E. Lee across Virginia.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Steve3007 » June 18th, 2020, 1:30 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:We're still trying to take down statues of Robert E. Lee across Virginia.
Sounds like your statues are stronger than ours.

The statue that was thrown in a river in Bristol was slave trader Edward Colston. It's recently been decided to take down a statue of famous empire builder Cecil Rhodes in Oxford. I think the previous flare up of controversy on that one was at about the same time as the previous flare up over Robert E. Lee.

I know General Lee is controversial, but I did used to love The Dukes of Hazzard.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Sculptor1 » June 18th, 2020, 4:10 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
June 18th, 2020, 3:35 am
"The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son."
- Ezekiel.18:20.

In most circumstances it seems reasonable to adhere to the principle that descendants are not responsible for the actions of their antecedents. To what extent ought we to stick to this principle of inter-generational individuality in the cases of both culpability for wrong-doing and compensation for past harm? If my recent ancestors were wronged by your recent ancestors, am I due recompense for this?

Wealth and poverty have a tendency to flow down generations. Does the answer to that last question depend on the extent to which this happens?
If the son is living of the illegal drug money of the father, then I beg to differ.

If whole generations of British aristocrats continue to benefit from the money their ancestors made from kidnapping and selling black slaves, permanently uprooting them from their lives, homes and family , then I beg to differ.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Steve3007 » June 19th, 2020, 4:15 am

Sculptor1 wrote:If whole generations of British aristocrats continue to benefit from the money their ancestors made from kidnapping and selling black slaves, permanently uprooting them from their lives, homes and family , then I beg to differ.
Fair enough. So what to do about it? It's not just aristocrats. Britain as a whole is a relatively rich nation partly because of the legacy of slavery and empire.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Sculptor1 » June 19th, 2020, 5:04 am

Steve3007 wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 4:15 am
Sculptor1 wrote:If whole generations of British aristocrats continue to benefit from the money their ancestors made from kidnapping and selling black slaves, permanently uprooting them from their lives, homes and family , then I beg to differ.
Fair enough. So what to do about it? It's not just aristocrats. Britain as a whole is a relatively rich nation partly because of the legacy of slavery and empire.
As a whole?? My family was also exploited by the aristocrats. Whilst my ancestors actually built the country the rich have continued to benefit. And do not think that because you are American it is any different for you. Your aristocrats were just not honest enough to carry a title.
What to do? First acknowledge wide ranging exploitation. Then address inequalities - actually without specific reference to colour where possible. Equality requires equality.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Steve3007 » June 19th, 2020, 5:23 am

Sculptor1 wrote:As a whole??
In general.

As a British citizen who is not an aristocrat I am more wealthy (have more access to various goods) than the citizens of lots of other countries. This is partly due to the legacy of slavery and of empire (which itself is a form of slavery).
And do not think that because you are American it is any different for you. Your aristocrats were just not honest enough to carry a title.
By saying "you" here are you referring specifically to me?

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Steve3007 » June 19th, 2020, 7:19 am

Papus79 wrote:If one or both of your parents were bank robbers, thieves, or were responsible for thousands of opioid deaths across a country and your sitting on top of those ill-gotten assets then those assets are something that the nation you live in should be able to file a lawsuit against.
I agree.
For historical wrongs in the cultural progress sense - that money should first translate into opportunity, education, and step-up programs because the culture was damaged by history and needs to be repaired.
Which culture are we talking about here?

A problem here is the same as the problem with Marvin_Edwards' stealing a car analogy. It's not as simple as that. As time goes by, cultures interweave, people move, people from different cultures inter-marry, etc, it is no longer possible to say something like "Your dad stole my car and gave it to you! Give it back!".

Of course, governments know this very well. It's one reason why invaders know that all they have to do, after invading, is to wait. As time passes, "reality on the ground" makes it harder and harder to propose unpicking all of the threads of history that develop during that time. We can see that in places like Chinese occupied Tibet, the Israeli occupied West Bank and Russian occupied Crimea.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Papus79 » June 19th, 2020, 8:37 am

Steve3007 wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 7:19 am
Which culture are we talking about here?

A problem here is the same as the problem with Marvin_Edwards' stealing a car analogy. It's not as simple as that. As time goes by, cultures interweave, people move, people from different cultures inter-marry, etc, it is no longer possible to say something like "Your dad stole my car and gave it to you! Give it back!".

Of course, governments know this very well. It's one reason why invaders know that all they have to do, after invading, is to wait. As time passes, "reality on the ground" makes it harder and harder to propose unpicking all of the threads of history that develop during that time. We can see that in places like Chinese occupied Tibet, the Israeli occupied West Bank and Russian occupied Crimea.
I guess this raises the question - when a fragment of a culture has deeply fallen behind based on what's been done to them, and it could apply in any of these cases, is there a way for the dominant culture whose maybe grown embarrassed of what happened to help rectify the situation in good faith or is a culture that's been through that so saturated in trauma, distrust, and survival-mode thinking that it's too late? There's also the biggest issue I think, ie. that for game-theorhetic reasons people don't *really* want to help but they're fine virtue signalling as if they do.

Aside note on that, for most of my life I was never a political liberal or progressive, I still at farthest would maybe say I've veered in some senses center to center-left based on things I've seen but I noticed that most people's solutions are really hair-brained, tend to make things worse, and it can be tough to parse the border sometimes between sincere human stupidity and the will to do one thing while saying another (thinking John Gray's Straw Dogs here).
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Wossname » June 19th, 2020, 8:39 am

Steve3007 wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 7:19 am

A problem here is the same as the problem with Marvin_Edwards' stealing a car analogy. It's not as simple as that. As time goes by, cultures interweave, people move, people from different cultures inter-marry, etc, it is no longer possible to say something like "Your dad stole my car and gave it to you! Give it back!".

Yes – “your great-granddad stole my great-granddad’s car so give me some money for a new car” is not a compelling argument.

OTOH – “your great granddad helped create a society that means I am systematically disadvantaged today, do something to promote equality” is somewhat more compelling I think.

And this applies to ethnicity, class, gender (and other social groups) too.

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Re: Inter-generational culpability and compensation

Post by Papus79 » June 19th, 2020, 9:20 am

On a side note - I'm listening to Bret Weinstein on Rogan and his suggestion for some of the concerns I had mentioned above, ie. how to get a historically conquered or robbed group back on their feet, to his way of thinking is give them the tools of science and better scientific education. The way he put it - it's for breaking what you think is true, finding out what is, and using that as your map of reality for problem-solving. I'm at least on board with the idea that, thinking of the current hot-topics in the US, giving money is not a generator function but giving a repressed group tools that they can use and organization to use them - that's another matter. It goes right back to my core concern though, do people want to help them or just signal cheap virtue for the sake of more gas-lighting (ie. no one voluntarily forfeits a zero-sum game if that's how they see it) and keeping them where they're at?
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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