Monday, June 08, 2009

Short-lived Martys and the Eternal Cool People

If you geezers want to live a long time, the Danes have it figured out: get a young wife. It' Big Science, I tell ya. The Danes spent some good cash finding out that old guys who marry young women live longer than old guys who marry women their own age. And what could be cooler than hanging out at the bocce court with a babe in tow? You could be knocking over your mates like wooden pins at a lawn bowling tournament when you show up with your own Berlusconi babe. What about the old ladies? Give them a fulfilling occupation. Paradise.

If the meaning of your life is to live a long time: marry a younger woman.

Vail Beach said at June 7, 2009 07:12 PM: "My father, who recently passed away, thought my mom could make better-tasting ice water."

Bronco Bomber said at June 6, 2009 03:45 PM: "I made a huge mistake when I married my first wife. Not only is she older, but she is dumber than a mule. I am hoping to find a younger and smarter and better looking woman perhaps half my age next time. Wish me luck."

Men Married To Younger Women Live Longer

Many of my readers are looking for any edge they can find to extend their lives. They are willing to embrace scientific research results that suggest that a dietary practice or lifestyle choice will help them live long enough to still be around when rejuvenation therapies hit the market. I share this desire. With this thought in mind I have a tip for the guys: Danish men who marry women much younger than them live longer.

According to the research, if a man marries a woman 15 and 17 years his junior, his chances of dying early are cut by one fifth. Also, it suggests that men cut the risk of premature death by 11 percent if their wives are seven to nine years younger.

Another aspect highlighted by the study was that men who opted for older wives have an 11 percent higher chance of dying earlier.

http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/006268.html

You can be like contestant number one whose father passed away recently, obviously meaning the father is dead, especially because his wife seemed to be about the father's age; or you can be like contestant number two, a man who still hopes to live a long time if only he can score a hottie. This is important for Danes. There aren't that many of them, and those there are don't seem to like Danes very much, if we can judge by the abortion rates, latest available to me, 2006. If Danes don't live a long time, there won't be any left at this rate:

20066498415053(15053)

yearlive births abortions, reported
http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-denmark.html

If you're identical to me, then you too will find this part interesting:

Friedrich Engels, The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State. "Preface to the Fourth Edition." (1891)

[Johann J.] Bachofen finds the proofs of these assertions in innumerable passages of ancient classical literature, which he collected with immense industry. According to him, the development from "hetaerism" to monogamy and from mother-right to father-right is accomplished, particularly among the Greeks, as the consequence of an advance in religious conceptions, introducing into the old hierarchy of the gods, representative of the old outlook, new divinities, representative of the new outlook, who push the former more and more into the background. Thus, according to Bachofen, it is not the development of men’s actual conditions of life, but the religious reflection of these conditions inside their heads, which has brought about the historical changes in the social position of the sexes in relation to each other. In accordance with this view, Bachofen interprets the Oresteia of Aschylus as the dramatic representation of the conflict between declining mother-right and the new father-right that arose and triumphed in the heroic age. For the sake of her paramour, AEgisthus, Clytemnestra slays her husband, Agamemnon, on his return from the Trojan War; but Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and herself, avenges his father’s murder by slaying his mother. For this act he is pursued by the Furies, the demonic guardians of mother-right, according to which matricide is the gravest and most inexpiable crime. But Apollo, who by the voice of his oracle had summoned Orestes to this deed, and Athena, who is called upon to give judgment – the two deities who here represent the new patriarchal order – take Orestes under their protection; Athena hears both sides. The whole matter of the dispute is briefly summed up in the debate which now takes place between Orestes and the Furies. Orestes contends that Clytemnestra has committed a double crime; she has slain her husband and thus she has also slain his father. Why should the Furies pursue him, and not her, seeing that she is by far the more guilty? The answer is striking: "She was not kin by blood to the man she slew."

The murder of a man not related by blood, even if he be the husband of the murderess, is expiable and does not concern the Furies; their office is solely to punish murder between blood relations, and of such murders the most grave and the most inexpiable, according to mother-right, is matricide. Apollo now comes forward in Orestes’ defense; Athena calls upon the Areopagites – the Athenian jurors – to vote; the votes for Orestes’ condemnation and for his acquittal are equal; Athena, as president, gives her vote for Orestes and acquits him. Father-right has triumphed over mother-right, the "gods of young descent," as the Furies themselves call them, have triumphed over the Furies; the latter then finally allow themselves to be persuaded to take up a new office in the service of the new order. [B]achofen believes at least as much as AEschylus did in the Furies, Apollo, and Athena; for, at bottom, he believes that the overthrow of mother-right by father-right was a miracle wrought during the Greek heroic age by these divinities.

I'm not so keen on Justiice. I'm usually happy to argue in favor of rational law instead. We have to make some choices in this life. We might like the idea of a Just Price, as Aquinas argues in favor of, or a Moral Economy, as E.P. Thompson wants. These would be fine things, I'm sure, just like a matriarchy, and justice by Furies. Believe me, there are innumerable cases I would love to judge with the Furies as my counsel. I'd like to have according to my needs rather than according to my abilities. And toss in a couple of babes for fun. But there is a matter of selection. Do we want geezers with babes, and Wise Latina matriarchs ruling us all fairly by intuition? We could live a long time, and maybe forever, so long as we can dump the old lady into the Supreme Court so she has something to do while we fool around and expand with the universe. I hear from those who know that it's a matter of "quality of life." Let's topple those Greeks and open abortion so the hotties are ready all the time and the old girls are bitchy with a good enough income not to mess up Paradise. What did Aeschylus know? He's a dead White male. Probably couldn't find a young wife.

Fewer and fewer people, getting older all the time, and being all the happier for it. I understand this is a quality I should like. Unfortunately for me, me being a Right Wing religious bigot, I'd settle for the best ice-water a woman can make. In fact, like Marty Pilletti, I think it'd be worth having over the other.

25 comments:

Eowyn said...

LOL

Walker Morrow said...

Sorry Dag - but shouldn't it be 'marty*r*s?

Charles Henry said...

Marty is an old, old Ernest Borgnine movie, Walker, that, er, people of Dag's generation would remember fondly from their college days. ;)

It's about... well, I don't know if I can describe it without giving away the ending, and I don't want to spoil it too much for you, you should see it; anything by Paddy Chayevsky is always very well written. (If a bit depressing)

The photo is from the film.

Walker Morrow said...

Charles Henry:

Oh! Ok, that makes sense then. I guess I was just making an assumption based upon my own typo-ridden past.

I'll have to see if I can find Marty sometime, and give it a watch.

truepeers said...

I am having trouble posting this - it keeps telling me "Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters" - has someone changed the blog settings? I don't have any HTML here anyway. But I'll try posting in parts...

"I'm not so keen on Justice . I'm usually happy to argue in favor of rational law instead. We have to make some choices in this life. We might like the idea of a Just Price, as Aquinas argues in favor of, or a Moral Economy, as E.P. Thompson wants."

-well, to continue where we left off last Thursday... you appreciate that we cannot ground our talk of "justice" in any positive representation of justice; in other words, we can't construct a satisfactory model of justice. Rather, what has priority in human cognition is a sense of injustice, or resentment, a sense of some unacceptable difference between one and the other guy on the shared scenes of human representation. What provokes our sense of injustice, in other words, is a sense that someone is going against a representation of what we (thought we) hold sacred.

Instead of "justice", whatever that is, the sacred is more likely to suggest to us a model of ritualized or esthetic propriety. What the resentful seek from justice is a return to propriety, a proper reciprocity and we apply the word "justice" to this with difficulty because we are never perfect in assimilating sacred model and reality.

truepeers said...

But for this reason you can't fault Augustine or Thompson from beginning, where we all do, with a sense of injustice. The problem with notions like "moral economy" is not that they begin from a sense of injustice but that they are prone to make some vain idea of a perfectable "justice" into a model to be imposed on this world rather than to leave what we cannot fully figure - "justice" - as a horizon that our necessary efforts at (temporarily) transcending resentment can only ever point towards.

By the same token, "rational law", whatever that is, necessarily begins with recognizing injustice or resentment too, but also with recognizing that the mere sense of an injustice, of a difference that someone's freedom has made between one and another, is not itself proof of an unacceptable difference. Reason must allow that the freedom to make a difference can serve the greater good by providing us with new ways to represent and transcend our resentful rivalries through allowing someone to take the lead in renewing a model of reciprocity (e.g., yes, I can see how you have more money than me, but I can also now see how your putting it to work creating new wealth gives me a job and a share in a greater overall wealth... difference can be productive).

But some "freedom" or difference is just destructive or immoral, unproductive, parasitic, corrupt, decadent, tired and uncreative, in which case the rational law is right in siding with the resentful calling for a "moral economy".

truepeers said...

In other words, I don't think we should idealize the rational law as if it were any more figurable than "justice" because we risk ending up like Capt. Bligh (as the movies have him), who followed the letter of the law, the king's book, and still lost his ship due to his human incompetence. It is irrational not to respect the resentment of the workers, even when their resentment is irrational. We have to negotiate with their attempts at moral blackmail of the system, and not just sit back and champion the "rational law". Yes, we cannot give in to the kind of blackmail which destroys or is parasitic on the system and its resented freedom, but at the same time we have to offer a model of a renewed reciprocity to avoid the destruction that too much communication of resentment will bring whether we like it or not.

I think my point is that a respect for something like patriarchal religion - some sense that the "father's" difference in authority and love is (or should be) grounded in a rational/faithful understanding or figure/sign of the need for freedom and difference that allow us to come collectively to tackle the hard realities that the human and natural world throw at us - is probably necessary to our surviving or sustaining the levels of resentment that come with modernity and its freedom. But this openness to difference is grounded in a respect for a competitive freedom as the testing of shared truth claims: he who would make a difference must be tested in the marketplace, both economic and political. In other words, the world of the patriarchal figures can't be grounded in simple respect for "rational law"; reason and law must be accompanied by a faith (forever seeking a renewed covenant) in our fellows on the scenes of our testing, including faith in the women, to use freedom responsibly in our collective negotiation of our sense of injustice. Or else the rational law becomes a tyrant and will be destroyed by our resentment.

And it may well be harder for many women to transcend a sense of injustice rooted in maternal or matriarchal notions of an equalitarian love for all children/respect for mother, or in the hottie's sense that her sacred beauty is deserving of full attention from all and that she is not getting what she deserves from her (sugar) daddy. It's tough to learn how to love the father in his difference, whether you're a boy but maybe especially a girl; if it's not good enough for sugary men to go sexually after younger women who feel some desire to break away from matriarchal rule, to get closer to daddy, then the truth of the father, of rational difference, must be re-presented in a way that holds together a maximal reason and faith in our shared social system. What will drive us to do that if not some ethical, if not moral, conscience? We need to respect a responsible and potentially civil disobedient freedom and not just the established law.

truepeers said...

Re the 4096 characters, this seems to be a change Blogger has made:

Spammers figured out that, if they made their spammy comments long
enough, we wouldn't be able to delete them.

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2009/05/bx-gc7ujn-or-bx-crozx2-when-try...

Blogger made the limit, so spammers can't make undeletable comments.
If you're a comment spammer, you'll be pissed off by the limit. If
you're an honest blogger and don't want spammers posting comments that
you can't delete, you'll learn to live with the limit.

Learn to live with it, and move on. Unless you're a comment spammer.
source

-note how obnoxious the rational law and its mouthpiece can be in this instance

Dag said...

Rational law, as I see it, isn't just rational in the same sense but is Rational: codified and based on precedent, on our experience that things go wrong when we try to impose yesterday on today. Rational law is the Men Made law, not the man made law of, for example, Shari'a, attributed to Allah and enforced by men without significant change over the past 1,400 years. It's Irrational, if you will. It's a rational and considered tyranny of the mind of all in the pursuit of unchanging perfection. One cannot discuss changing perfection unless one argues for deterioration. Who but a criminal would do so? to suggest that one cares for Justice over law is to argue for totalitarian obscurantism forever. The Rational can deal with change even if some people get mowed down in the proces. It's not perfect,and those who go down unfairly serve as terrible reminders of our fallibility, making us cautious in the law and its execution, merciful even in the execution. We can temper our laws with mercy; we would have a difficult time tempering our Justice with mercy.

Justice? That would be telling the Internet world that Charles is only a few years younger than I; and having made my points above I couldn't possibly let that slip.

Marty is a good movie that I recall from seeing a rerun when I was a young fellow, a few years back. Walker, if you ever feel like there's no one in life whom you can find to love and be happy with, well, you're probably right.

Damn. I mean, NO! There is, as I once herd a lady on a porch say to a sobbing teenage girl, a key for every lock. What a heart-break that scene was. That sobbing girl probably doesn't think of that moment as often as I do. Life is tough; but one of the beautiful things about it is other people; and there are those who can make this life transcendent just by you be in love. Then, like Marty of the movie, you know the Good.

My problem with Justice is that it's utopian and leads to expectations and then enforcement of the good according to others. Self-appointed others who have that Gnostic vision the rest of us missed, we being mere unenlightened mortals this side of the pleroma. Better to face the persons of twelve angry men than to face the Justice of a Gnostic seer.

The hetaerism of old is hardly the oikos of paradise. It's not the household of genuine economy and amity. It's the festival of Diana. There only the Furies could rule. Only women could care about children, no man caring. Monogamy, as boring and frustrating as it is, is also the chance of Marty-dom. It's not perfect, but one could fall to ones knees and thank God for it when it works.

And, Walker, if by chance you know any babes who want to go out with a guy a few years older than Charles, let them know about me. I do want to live a long time, after all.

Waves at you, too, Eowyn.

Walker Morrow said...

Will do, Dag. Although I think that Lewis Black might have been on to something when he made this comment about longevity: 'The good die young, but pricks live forever. And so, the next time you see your paperboy, go to your front door and scream: "Get outta here, you little shit!" '

Or something like that, anyway.

Dag said...

Uh oh.

Did you know you're bring out my store awful of jokes?

Old truckers never die, they get new Peterbilts.

I'm not going to last too long with humor like that.

Do check out the movie, Walker. It's good on its own merits, no didactic reasons involved.

Dag said...

I know why we're all so famous here. Who else writes quoting Engels on an obscure 19th century anthropologist writing about Aeschylus, tying it all together with a Paddy Chayefsky movie, and ending with the worst joke in history? Only at Covenant Zone.

truepeers said...

One cannot discuss changing perfection unless one argues for deterioration. Who but a criminal would do so? to suggest that one cares for Justice over law is to argue for totalitarian obscurantism forever. The Rational can deal with change even if some people get mowed down in the proces. It's not perfect,and those who go down unfairly serve as terrible reminders of our fallibility, making us cautious in the law and its execution, merciful even in the execution. We can temper our laws with mercy; we would have a difficult time tempering our Justice with mercy.

-so what's the difference between some supplementary "mercy" vs. "justice" from the p.o.v of the established law?

-and who argues for some cosmic justice over law as an eternal truth realizable by men on earth? Does even your stock figure Muslim believe in Sharia as a victory of justice over law? Would the distinction be meaningful to him, or do you have to think from within a world view in which law is necessarily understood to be incomplete to raise the law/justice distinction? In other words, how can we figure a men-made rational law that doesn't raise the question of justice even if, as I suggested, we can never go far in modeling "justice".

One doesn't have to argue for deterioration; it's just a fact of life: the sacred difference we create (transforming the material world into transcendent significance) in order to make peace is always, once figured, in a process of deterioration. That's because we inevitably resent - even the most pious and wise among us resent to some degreer - the difference between whatever is held up as sacred, central, and our own relative insignificance. Some of the most profoundly religious argue with God, and his sense of mysterious "justice", and that's why change is inevitable and perfection, to the truly wise, is not of this world. Still, how can we not respond to our resentful limits by posing a horizon of a better world to come? Justice, ultimately, is the promise of God's love.

Walker Morrow said...

Dag: it's all part of the, unrepentent, Covenant Zone experience. Never forget that...

But yes, I'll have to check out Marty some time.

Dag said...

"What's the difference between some supplementary "mercy" vs. "justice" from the p.o.v of the established law?"

Common law, or positive law, cannot consider itself to be justice. It can only be men's best attempt at the rational today. That's not Justice.

Speaking only for myself, if there were Justice in the world, I would have been hanged decades ago for some of my transgressions, most of which are hardly worse than the common an would shrug to know. Justice demands Clytmnestra be avenged. The Furies are right in demanding Orestes' death. Even th e law as we know it might demand Orestes' life and blood. But Law, rather than Justice, can demand that which it will not claim. The Law, in its majesty, can say, "Guilty. Now go and sin no more." Justice cannot be merciful. Mercy isn't Justice. It's Mercy. Mercy is given to the undeserving, for whatever reason. And the undeserving might even deserve mercy, but that's not the right if one demands justice.

The poligion cannot accept anything less that the totality of Justice. If so, it won't be the political and the religion both. It would be two things: the polis and the religious. It's the fasces, the binding of the two that creates the poligion. And what justice? Man-made like any other. Accepting the baseness of Men-Made laws is to accept that we make mistakes and we can and must temper our judgments with mercy or suffer from our own conscience. There's no sloughing it off on the deity. Man makes his own mistakes, and he lives in terror of that, if at all. Men cannot demand justice. They can only demand the best their own minds can conceive at the time, subject to change. Better to be a bit merciful that to be God-driven and follow orders from above regardless of ones own mind.

And then one must act on ones best judgment. Yes, some will suffer wrongly, unjustly. The law isn't perfect. We know that because we know we aren't perfect. So we hang some innocent people, knowing they're innocent: the innocent go because we know we make mistakes and that we must follow our own rules, our own laws even if they are incomplete. We hang the innocent, knowing they're innocent, not because they're innocent but because we have to follow our laws till we fix them. We cannot endlessly defer all judgments. We must act wrongly, even knowingly, in some cases, if only to give ourselves the time to act better next time. Then we have sorrow. It's a lesson one cannot learn but from the doing. The law might trample one man or a hundred; but in the wrong, we learn to save the millions if we care to learn at all. We learn by fighting the wrong, by suffering and making the suffering meaningful enough to stop it from continuing. It's the fight that makes it worth the living.

You write so much is such a short space. I can't keep up with you!

Walker, it's a great movie. The link at the bottom of the post takes you to amazon where you can read some reviews to get a sense of what it's about.

Walker Morrow said...

Will do.

truepeers said...

Dag,

We seem to agree that "justice" is ultimately a religious promise for the world to come. Yet Christians who have believed this and taught a patient humility in this world nonetheless have always assumed that while the kingdom is not of this world, they are duty-bound to keep Jesus' call to a more perfect human reciprocity in mind as a horizon for acting in this world. You Americans call it the quest for a more perfect Union. One has to build as much of the kingdom as humanly possible in this world, without falling into the totalitarian trap of Utopian politics or economics. Why you can't allow humans or the law any room for approaching "justice" is not clear to me, since anyone who admits that the law evolves over time, through dint of history's revelations into the law's failures, should supply some account of what motivates that evolution; and if not some sense of "justice" then what is it by which we acknowledge errors?

Common law, or positive law, cannot consider itself to be justice. It can only be men's best attempt at the rational today. That's not Justice.

-why the need for such absolutes in conceptualization? I think if we considered how many law suits work out, with more than one point of law and many facts in dispute, we will see that the reason lawyers have active jobs, and are not simply rubber stampers, is that the law, in its breadth of established claims, does not lend itself to easy resolution of cases that go to trial, either in terms of established precedents, or in terms of fitting the present reality, and its various and conflicting imperatives, to those precedents. In civil law, many cases don't go to trial because the chances of winning or losing are clear enough to one side and they cave. But when things go to trial it's because on both sides the lawyers to their best reckoning tell their clients that they have a decent chance. And then so much depends on how the trial unfolds and what kind of judge you have. There are all kinds of intangibles; it is no perfect or predictable system. And in trying to weigh all the evidence and the various points of law, it's very hard for judges not to be moved by some sense of "natural justice".

truepeers said...

Justice cannot be merciful. Mercy isn't Justice. It's Mercy. Mercy is given to the undeserving, for whatever reason. And the undeserving might even deserve mercy, but that's not the right if one demands justice.

-but if mercy is an act of humility, where the law defers to the possibility of a divine justice, something man cannot (fully) hold, and declines to take the pound of flesh the law allows, the law is deferring to some justice. It is not claiming justice so much for itself but it nonetheless makes some claims for it on behalf of humanity. And the claim is not on behalf of the guilty who only deserve an eye for an eye, but as I say on behalf of the integrity of the larger community. Justice demands the law recognize its own limits in a world of mimetic and ever compounding rivalries. Kill a condemned, rightly guilty man, and the matter may not end there; there is always the fear of revenge, of fingers being pointed back at the law, of future narratives turning the guilty into counter-culture heroes, of some kind of potentially violent contagion in accusations. Who is to stop the potential "cycle of violence"/finger pointing if not the strong and right who try to validate their own law by showing mercy? "Mercy" implies thanks, reward, reciprocity; and what is "justice" but a vision of perfect reciprocity? Now a perfect justice, in a world judged immediately by God, would have no need or space for mercy, unless we be granted forgiveness for killing the Son of God, for not knowing what we do; but if we admit our law and "justice" is not perfect, then I don't see the contradiction in calling for mercy in the name of some larger justice to which we aspire even if we can never grasp its "logic" fully. Because if we don't try to grasp it at all, how do we test the law and move forward?

Now, you go on to argue that the law learns from its dreaded mistakes, but how can it recognize those mistakes without some partial claim on justice?

truepeers said...

So we hang some innocent people, knowing they're innocent: the innocent go because we know we make mistakes and that we must follow our own rules, our own laws even if they are incomplete. We hang the innocent, knowing they're innocent, not because they're innocent but because we have to follow our laws till we fix them.

-but in Canada today we don't hang or execute anyone. The lawyers, it seems to me, don't have any conception of knowingly hanging the innocent, except perhaps metaphorically in the sense of someone getting less than he might in a civil suit, or someone getting less of due criminal process than another might. The whole criminal justice system is predicated on sometimes letting the guilty go in order to protect the innocent from wrongful conviction. And now there is a growing movement to create institutions focused on reversing wrongful convictions. So I don't see how you figure we knowingly hang the innocent. The law recognizes that its integrity is dependent on not being seen to do that. The law is not interested in simply following rules, come what may; it is very concerned that justice be seen to be done. Of course it periodically fails and there are calls for reform.

But all this evolves in relation to a never-fully-graspable horizon we call "justice". It evolves in response to periodic revelations that a human law that has heretofore been dependent on maintaining its "reason", or what the nihilist left would call the myths and rituals of power, through scapegoating or sacrificing the innocent is less and less able to justify any sacrifice over time. If we ever knowingly hung the innocent, the reasons for it no longer hold today. And if you want to reverse that trend, you need a clearer argument. It seems to me the law has to evolve its procedures against a horizon of greater, if not absolute, justice.

I see you wanting to respond to a Utopian and hence totalitarian vision of "justice", by throwing totally into question human hubris and its claims on "justice". But in seeking an absolute rebuttal of your rivals, it seems to me you take a position that is not long sustainable at the other end of the pendulum swing.

Dag said...

My concern with what could well be seen as totality in law is my concern that law be equitable: that it is the same for all without exception; and that it be the same for all regardless of the person; that law apply equally to all without privilege or prejudice.

When Orestes murders Clytemnestra he is pursued by the Furies in their right role as The Law. This is a problem for law and the people who live with it: that the law breeds cycles of revenge, of fury. At some point there has to be an end, which conceivably could be the last man standing. That's a Pyrrhic no one can afford. It's justice that one kills X, as an eye for an eye; but the flaw is obvious. There comes a time when Reason must prevail over justice or one ends up with lawless and futile pursuits of justice that are effectively criminal. Reason can't provide justice because there will always be two sides, probably equally deserving, and only one can win or at best, both can only gain something less that justice itself. I'm happy to suggest that compromise is better than the purity of Justice, which, from my experience in the world, would often call for massive slaughter.

Mercy isn't a mark of compassion, I think, but of strength: that one who is merciful is saying he can afford to give without harm to himself, the offense being too insignificant to demand a rightful payment. Mercy is an exercise in terror. It's arbitrary. It doesn't depend on anything but Will. There's the terror: that one cannot know if an infraction will result in good, bad, or nothing; and so too one cannot be sure that good will result in good in turn. Thus, there is an Irrationality as power, and no one is safe in the mind. There is always fear. I argue thus that to know that if one errs against the law, whatever it might be, and if one knows that one can err by doing, then one accepts the trade-off of living in peace with the law or one accepts the price. There is less terror in being forewarned. More: there is safety in knowing one is out-law; that one can derive great strength in combatting the ill through ones own Will against the ill. Martyrs, for example, don't willingly break the law for its own sake: they do so for the sake of creating new law. The judge might consider this in his deliberation. But it can't matter at that point: the law is offended against regardless. Next time, but not yet, the law can be different. Thus, we can hang the innocent in good faith and know so. It's not personal, and that is the elevation of Man over savages. We put the law over the individual so the individual is as individual as any one, regardless of the being himself and his accidental attributes. In that case, everyone is free or not free the same.

Dag said...

Is all positive law Rational? I refer again to the Stasi officer who impatiently explained to me that the East German secret police didn't arbitrarily arrest people for having "bourgeois tendencies." He said, "We arrested them for breaking the law."

Justice required that I kill him.

Mercy demands that I spit on him.

Prudence demands that I walk away and sin no more.

Canon law demands that I forgive him.

The positive law of the nation in question demands that I do nothing and not involve myself in affairs outside my realm of right action, i.e. that I mind my personal business and leave the state to do its business according to the nation's interests.

There is no justice. He lived. If we demand Justice, then the blood will never stop flowing. His children will come for me, and my children for his. So we look to a template of the possible, I think, and fit ourselves accordingly, adjusting retroactively to try to stay current with what happened.

At the risk of bringing Sean Orr back with a further accusations of our being "anachronistic and semantic," I suggest that what we posit as law is not the same as what we accept as Revelation from the demi-god, f.i. Marx, casting us as watch-men of others' "bourgeois tendencies." What we posit can be the mediation of harm; or it can be that we posit the foundations of freedom. I suspect that when we move into the realm of orthodoxy or orthopraxy that we have left the right realm of legitimate law and moved into totalitarianism. What others think or do is of no concern to the other unless it affects him negatively; and then both parties have legitimate rights in Nature to deal with the problem themselves without interference from others, i.e. the law. If another is outrageous against me, I have a natural right to act in my own best interest to make him modify his behavior. If I can't, then I need recourse to the law, that determined by my peers according to our customary law as codified and applicable to all, regardless of person. If the laws are outrageous against me, I can leave the land. If I can't leave, then I have a natural right to defend my rights, come what may. But no matter how bad things are against me, if I can leave, I do not have a legitimate right to offend against a law I know is wrong. By leaving, by going elsewhere to other people, then I might return as an outsider not bound by my own agreement to live by the rules of the land. If I choose to live as a different citizen, as it were, I have no loyalty toward the past agreement.

Dag said...

If, on the other hand, my government or my people, violate my prior agreement, even if by majority consensus, then my contract with the nation is violated, and I have a natural right to restore the previous regime. It's not a matter of fairness or justice that I have natural rights. I can imagine it being grossly unfair that I have natural rights. It's my natural right to hoard grain in a famine. There's no justice in it. Those peasants who would rend myself apart are not, though, within their legal rights to do so. Were I a starving peasant facing a hoarder, would that prevent me from breaking the law? No. The law cannot rightly demand that I die. We have a conflict; and there we have a system of laws to decide which right is more or less deserving. There's no justice involved. Who knows how it would turn out? We can't decide till we decide. Having decided, we can't call it all off as an exercise in morals. We set a precedent so we know better next time how to deal with this as it occurs. Maybe some innocent people suffer. From that we learn. It's not personal. It's not Will or whimsy.

To break the law deliberately in the pursuit of reforming law is a good thing, in my opinion. But one must grasp that there is a price to pay for it. It's paying the price that makes the effort worth the penalty. There's no justice in an innocent man paying a high price for correcting a wrong. There is some benefit, perhaps, in suffering to make something practical and better come from ones actions, but it's not justice. It's mediocrity. It's tomorrow going on as if nothing happened, taht others don't know and don't care, that they just live in free peace.

But I'll think about it. I don't even have the first idea about jurisprudence. All I'm sure of is that if there were justice in the world I'd have done a lot more harm that I've done so far.

Dag said...

There's a cheap way to get a lot of comments.

Regardless, I do much appreciate the comments you all have given here, allowing me a chance to display my ignorance of this subject and filling it with some ideas worth pursuing. I do love the Internet. Thanks.

truepeers said...

I'm getting back to this late, so just a few quick responses, I'm afraid.

-I don't see why we can't equally say that the Furies are pursuing justice and law...

Mercy is an exercise in terror. It's arbitrary. It doesn't depend on anything but Will.

-you may just as well say it depends on a leap of good faith; why must we feel terror towards that which we can't know will happen until it happens? If every offer of a new covenant were founded simply in terror, though an experience of terror is always somewhere in the background, would that be sufficient to explaining how we ever find a basis for renewing reciprocity? Why not say mercy is an act of love?

Martyrs, for example, don't willingly break the law for its own sake: they do so for the sake of creating new law. The judge might consider this in his deliberation. But it can't matter at that point: the law is offended against regardless. Next time, but not yet, the law can be different. Thus, we can hang the innocent in good faith and know so. It's not personal, and that is the elevation of Man over savages.

-no, I don't think we can in good conscience hang the innocent. Yes, the judge must apply the law to those willing to pay the price to reveal where the law is wrong. But once the rest of us see the situation and believe in the honesty of the disobedient who is willing to pay the price to bring this scene to our attention, there is always the possibility that the people or executive authority will then offer a pardon, which is something usually allowed by law. The thing is, of course, that to claim martyrdom is not necessarily to be seen as innocent, at any point in time. The martyr has to take the gamble. Maybe there won't be sufficient consensus and he will hang until some future time when there is greater belief in his innocence. But if a condemned man is widely seen to be "innocent" or in the right then there will be a movement to pardon him. We simply can't tolerate the certainty that we are hanging an innocent man.

Yes, it is a principle of our law that it must apply equally to all. But that principle alone is not sufficient to understanding the human condition. Our humanity requires, at times, for someone to go first in positing a new sign, a new covenant, to take on the personal risk involved, just as the first sign that founded the first community in equality before the sacred law required someone to go first in signifying the sacred, that the rest could then take it up. A community that is alive to this human reality will not accept that it must necessarily hang every civil disobedient. It will pardon those who teach us a lesson that we can recognize as necessary, once someone has taken the leap of faith to show how we may evolve the law as a way out of the present terror and violence of seemingly endless tit for tat.

truepeers said...

All I'm sure of is that if there were justice in the world I'd have done a lot more harm that I've done so far.

-Well, I think the reasons we can't take the law into our own hands are clear enough. But the resentment of injustice lives on. It is resentment and injustice that are tangible and unavoidable, and the road back to "justice" always uncertaint. Well we can never understand exactly what justice is, but to say the law is not involved in mediating injustice and resentment would be incorrect. Obviously some systems of law are relatively incompetent or corrupt, but resentment and a sense of injustice are human universals and every legal system has to at least pretend to respond to them in terms of acknowledging some communal consensus as to morality, even if it's that of the gangster state.

Justice is supposed to be served by people detached from the rivalry and resentment at issue; when you are the one feeling the resentment towards the Stasi, you are not in a position to be judge or executioner, however much we might agree on who deserves to face justice.