What is an innocent civilian?
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15-03-2013, 06:39 PM
What is an innocent civilian?
All adult aged people in powerful countries have access to information about what their countries have done and are doing to other people's around the world. Wealthy nations and their inhabitants all enjoy products made from slave like labor in economies that have been exploited by the west. Are people in the west innocent civilians? Does making the choice to stick ones head in the sand about things going on in the world make one an innocent civilian instead of a part of the problem?
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17-03-2013, 02:10 AM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
Many of your terms will need specification before any accurate answers can be given. What standards do you use to determine "innocen[ce]"? Where are you referring to by "the west"? Which people in "the west" are you referring to when you say "people in the west"? What acts constitute "stick[ing] ones head in the sand"?
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17-03-2013, 05:03 AM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
I & I - do you think enjoying products from slave-like labour is a military problem? If not, "civilian" seems like the wrong word to be using here. Perhaps you could express yourself more clearly?

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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17-03-2013, 09:58 AM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
Hey, I.

Steve Earl once said something to the effect of, 'I am against capital punishment because the state is made up of the people, thus I am the state, therefore I am executing someone, which I cannot be a part of.'

For sure, we benefit from the suffering of others. The saying goes, the First World cannot exist without the Third World. That's not just a snappy saying, that's an economic reality.

People talk a lot about immediacy. I don't care about the child labourer in Vietnam because they're out of sight, out of mind. If I walked past my niece in a sweatshop down the road from where I live, my reaction would be vastly different.

It's not just other countries. The list of atrocities committed by the factory farming industry is legion. But people happily ignore it and eat factory farmed meat.

A lot of research has gone into the idea of the intermediary.

In WWII, they found out that only 15% of American Marines were doing the bulk of the fighting in the Pacific while the other 85% were essentially non-participatory. Through a lot of inquiry into behaviouralism, they realised that humans are actually hard wired against killing humans. This has a lot to do with our ability to empathise, which is fueled by our ability to create identity. I am a person, therefore you are a person too, therefore you must not like the things that I do not like, therefore I will not harm you. However, if you introduce an intermediary, this mechanism is short circuited. The army now trains people to react to targets by rote, rather than cognitively. Weapons themselves act as great intermediaries. I am not killing you, I am pulling a trigger. The ultimate intermediary is the removal of the humanity of "the Other"; which is the root cause of disorders like sociopathy and psychopathy and we all know what people suffering from those disorders are capable of. Martin Buber's seminal work "Ich und Du" (I and Thou) talks about the difference between the relationship between two individuals (I and thou) and an individual and an object stripped of any humanity (I and it). When a person becomes an it, we can treat it however we like.

The relationship between the First World and the Third World is one of I and it.

This allows us to quite easily resolve our cognitive dissonance. We aren't hurting people because they aren't people. Problem solved.

So the question is, are we innocent?

In the strictest sense, no. If I mug someone and then hand you their wallet, you're an accessory after the fact. We are all accessories to the crime of exploiting the Third World.

That being said, we are all a part of a larger system. Noam Chomsky, in the absolute MUST WATCH Canadian documentary "The Corporation" talks about the difference between a monstrous person and a monstrous institution.





This is the question that was asked after WWII. Were the Nazi prison guards responsible, or were their superiors? It's hard to say.

When I was in the army, the conflict was clear. I was to obey all orders or be punished. I had the right to refuse an order if I was morally opposed to it. When you create a situation where you are permitted to opt out, but where you will be punished for doing so, what happens to your ability to choose?

At the end of the day, we all have to eat. As it's said, any society is three meals away from a revolution. We're all just trying to make a living. But that isn't an individual event, it's a team sport. I rely on others and on the infrastructure of my economy to make a living. So if the infrastructure available to me relies on exploitation (which is true not just of the relationship between the First and Third Worlds, but between the First World and the natural world and between those that control the means of production and the proletariat) what happens to my ability to choose?

Certainly, I can create a new infrastructure, an alternate economy, but there are very serious difficulties with that, not the least of which is that Our culture's economy doesn't like alternatives and actively tries to wipe them out (see the history of Aboriginal people during the Colonial Era for examples). So what does that do to my ability to choose?

In the end, we're all a part of the problem. I bet you money that you're going to throw plastic in the garbage today. I bet you money that you're going to use a product from the third world. I bet you money (unless you're a vegan) that you're going to ingest factory farmed meat, eggs, or milk; either directly or as ingredients in something else.





But are we innocent or not? It's complicated as fuck.

Veganism demonstrates that it's possible to create alternative infrastructure within the existing economy. 20 years ago, being a vegan was super difficult. 10 years ago, it was hard. Today it's supremely easy. But in economic terms, all that's really happened is that investors have taken their money out of one sector and invested in another. The overall system works the same and vegans are still exploiting the fuck out of the Third World.

When Al-Quaida attacked in 2001, their targets were not symbolic. They attacked the Pentagon, the centre of the military machine waging war against them, and the World Trade Centre, the core of the economic machine waging war against them. We hear all the time that the people that died in the towers were innocent. But were they? Were there any CEOs in there that paid local officials to displace populations in their country so that a pipeline could be built? Did any of them fund armies to put down those revolting against the foreign exploitation of their resources? What about the employees of those CEOs? I can dig on the idea that the first responders were innocent, salt of the earth those people. But the financiers? Were they? It's complicated as fuck.

We're engaged, on a daily basis, in a war against the planet and against other human beings. We are Annihilators. That is the strategy of Our culture (see Daniel Quinn for a basic understanding of the Annihilator strategy, or ask me about it, but I can go on for a very long time about it). John Forbes Nash (Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind) proposed his Nash Equilibrium. When two or more players are engaged in a game and they are all using the same strategy and no player benefits from unilaterally changing their strategy, then it is unlikely that anyone will.

This is where we are. Trapped in a Nash Equilibrium. We know that what we're doing is wrong. We even know that it's going to kill us. But we don't change. Because if we do, the other Annihilators will overwhelm us. So what does that do to our ability to choose?

In the end, I don't think that we're innocent. We're all complicit. But we're all in a difficult situation in which change does not come easily. Does that mean we're powerless? Not at all. Does that mean that we have the ability to shake the pillars and change everything tomorrow? Not at all. It's complicated as fuck.

Just so I don't end on a downer:





Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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17-03-2013, 02:00 PM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
(17-03-2013 09:58 AM)Ghost Wrote:  But are we innocent or not? It's complicated as fuck.

Innocent of what? That's what I was getting at by asking I about his standards for "innocence". One who is an accessory to an act and one who directly carries out that act are not guilty of the same thing(s).
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17-03-2013, 02:56 PM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
Hey, Fat.

Accessory after the fact. That's a legal term. If I kill someone and tell you and you don't tell the cops, you're as guilty as I am in the eyes of the law.

But more to the point, anyone here that has a Mac or an iPhone is using something that is produced in a Chinese factory with a worker suicide rate so high, that they installed NETS around the buildings to prevent people from jumping to their deaths. That's a pretty damn direct relationship.

During US slavery, cotton was the chief American export. So people in the North benefited from the fruits of slavery just as much as those in the South, even if they didn't own slaves. To this day, we all benefit from a railroad (either for travel or for freight) that Chinese workers were forced to build under forced labour.

I think that the overall point is that there are atrocities like Third World labour, slavery, factory farming, forced labour, stripmining.... that we can look at and call an atrocity. But what is our involvement in that? Can we say, "I'm innocent, it has nothing to do with me," or are we complicit? If we're complicit then what's our responsibility?

Anyway, what do you think innocent means? When I say, "the people killed on 911 were innocent," what is your reaction?

Also, go back and read through my post. I give multiple examples of what innocence could mean.

Finally, it's not that complicated, dude Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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17-03-2013, 06:13 PM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
Ghost,

From what book of Daniel Quinn's is The Annihilator Strategy from? (I've searched but cannot find).

...or feel free to impart your wisdom upon us!

Quick question: Did it hurt to give away a 'like'? Wink

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17-03-2013, 06:23 PM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
(17-03-2013 06:13 PM)aurora Wrote:  Ghost,

From what book of Daniel Quinn's is The Annihilator Strategy from? (I've searched but cannot find).

...or feel free to impart your wisdom upon us!

Quick question: Did it hurt to give away a 'like'? Wink
Holy moly, I didn't know he'd given out so few.

Good catch!

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17-03-2013, 06:47 PM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2013 07:02 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
(15-03-2013 06:39 PM)I and I Wrote:  All adult aged people in powerful countries have access to information about what their countries have done and are doing to other people's around the world. Wealthy nations and their inhabitants all enjoy products made from slave like labor in economies that have been exploited by the west. Are people in the west innocent civilians? Does making the choice to stick ones head in the sand about things going on in the world make one an innocent civilian instead of a part of the problem?
"It requires but a very small glance of thought to perceive that although laws made in one generation often continue in force through succeeding generations, yet they continue to derive their force from the consent of the living. A law not repealed continues in force, not because it cannot be repealed, but because it is not repealed; and the non-repealing passes for consent." - Thomas Paine Rights of Man
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3742/3742-h/3742-h.htm

While a civilian is defined as a non-combatant, that is under civil law, an innocent civilian is hard to define.

Yet under the notion that inaction is indistinguishable from consent and are therefore equal, I'd have to say that in some since they are responsible, are not innocent. That is if they have the knowledge of western exploitation and do nothing about it.

On the other hand if the system is set up in such a way that one cannot behave other wise than they do, then the guilt lies on those who author that system, and make it's decisions.

NOTE: Take off your tin foil hats, I think the system has no insidious leaders or grand conspiracies. Rather a complex meshing of ideas that has produced the modern western society. I attribute the majority of bad western ideas to passive processes of people in society reacting to the world and information they receive. Many adopt ideas based on emotion, bad logical arguments, and cognitive laziness. Though few try the empirical, logical, evidence based route, and epically fail. Very few make it through to unbiased inquiry.

Because of all that you see at least here in America, a society hell bent on entertainment, fast food solutions to everything, and I'll informed citizens that would rather get drunk and have sex than actually try to address anything.

Rebellious American teens...



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The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
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17-03-2013, 08:27 PM
RE: What is an innocent civilian?
Hey, Aurora.

My Ishmael.

(For the uninitiated, I'm going to be using Quinn jargon. You may or may not be able to follow along.)

Around page 88-91, Quinn talks about the conflict resolution strategies of Leavers (erratic retaliator) and Takers (annihilator). The strategy of choice for the people of Our culture is annihilator; wipe out your competition whenever you can. This, of course, dovetails perfectly with the Taker vision.

The Annihilator strategy is anathema to the law of limited competition.

We can see this in the way we approach just about everything, from totalitarian agriculture, to war, to philosophical and ideological positions. The Annihilator strategy is the way in which Takers enact their story.

As with Highlander, there can be only one.

The problem is that every state and every corporation on Earth has adopted this strategy. In terms of the Nash Equilibrium, no one benefits from unilaterally abandoning the Annihilator strategy because if you do, the other players, who all practice Annihilator, will annihilate you.

So while we know that our lifestyle, the manner in which we make our living, is killing us (deforestation, carbon emissions, habitat depletion, soil erosion, speciocide, stripmining, exploitation of natural resources, exploitation of human labour, pollution, the list goes on for a while), and while we know that the reason we're doing things in this manner is because of the Annihilator strategy (all of these problems are manifestations of a strategy that tells us to wipe out our competition), we aren't changing. But the reason we aren't changing isn't because we're stupid, it's because we're locked in. It's like Speed. Driving at 50mph in a bus is insanity, it will kill us and we bloody well know it, but if we drop bellow 50mph, the bus explodes. So how do we stop it and how do we get off without dying? There's no easy answer. And while we're trying to figure it out, we're still doing 50mpm in a school zone.

And then we have to ask ourselves. While our bus is cutting its swath of destruction and leaving carnage in its wake and (and granted the metaphor breaks down a little here Drinking Beverage ) making us RICH, how complicit are we?

Anyhoo, I don't particularly want to hijack this thread. If you'd like to discuss Annihilator further or any of Quinn's theories, feel free to start a thread. I imagine that the philosophy forum is the most appropriate forum.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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