Paternalism

Rahul Mahajan rahul at hagar.ph.utexas.edu
Sat Apr 15 20:38:04 MDT 1995


Justin, I'm not sure we're getting anywhere with this discussion. You seem
now to be taking care of counterexamples by saying that they are examples
of stability based on domination, therefore don't fit into your scheme. It
seems to me that you're simply making your claim vacuous by doing so.
   I can't remember my exact words, but my premise was not that a less
innovative regime would be more stable. It was, rather, if you consider a
closed system, such as in the past many individual countries effectively
were, although today you would have to take the whole world as the only
closed system, then technological innovation is clearly a force tending to
destabilization, simply bacuse ,as Marx taught us, changing the economic
base of society changes its class structure, creating new contradictions
which need new resolutions. The argument is not at all about a situation of
competition between different nations with differing levels of innovation.


>3. Rahul claims that elites do not really believe in the justice of their
>own rule, but only avow it cynically to dupe the masses.

Here, you seem once again to be caricaturing what I said. I clearly
acknowledged that many (even most) of the elite believe in at least some of
their system of justification of the status quo. I think it doesn't so much
harm your argument as make it irrelevant -- i.e., there's no particular
point in a moral argument to prove they're wrong on their own terms.


>d. The universal disregard for the Geneva convention is not a
>counter-example. The capitalists, etc. do not believe that they are acting
>immorally in, for instance, engaging in bombardment from air, prohibited
>by the convention. They think there is always some moral justification for
>doing what they do. These justifications are spelled our quite openly.
>While often thin and transparent, they suffice to quell doubts in the
>minds of elites, as justifications of whatever happens to be in one's
>group interests generally do.

The point is that the Geneva convention is one part of the dominant
ideology of justification. All you are saying is that that ideology is very
crudely inconsistent, which is obvious and to my mind obviates the need for
any further soul-searching on the subject.


>The struggle for >eamncipation refutes the justice of domination.

You might as well say the struggle for power refutes the justice of
equality or the struggle for wealth refutes the justice of equitable
distribution.

>5. Rahul says that moral philosophy has gotten nowhere but avows a crude
>utilitarianism, saying that "The Good of the many outweights the good of
>the few."
>
>a. Obviously if he accepts the utilitarian principle he thinks that moral
>philosophy has gotten somewhere.

I didn't avow the principle, I simply threw it out for you to consider.
It's not much, and in that form it is rather crude, but I still think it
beats your convoluted searchings and ideas of stability that have a hundred
counterexamples. Not to mention the fact that even if it can be made to
make sense it hardly seems compelling in any way. As to moral philosophy, I
just don't think it's gotten very far. Compare it with biology. The advance
from Plato to Rawls (or whoever your favorite is) is nothing compared with
the advance from Aristotle to Watson and Crick, let alone the present state
of the art.
    I'll repeat if I haven't made myself clear before: My point is not to
provide an alternative scheme to yours, but to claim that the relativist
problem cannot be solved. Why should anyone even accept your basic tenet
that if a certain order creates resistance to it, then it is wrong? I don't
even accept it in unalloyed form, and I happen to agree with you about the
desirability of an emancipatory order.

Rahul




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