Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Thu Sep 20 15:02:02 2007
Smashed Between Dice

Today I grabbed lunch with someone from India, and among other things we talked about their experience with Saudis, comparing their racism (and sexist values) with those of Americans and Europeans. Racism takes interestingly different forms between these societies - negligible numbers of Americans have experienced these precise forms of racism because, by-and-large, people of European descent get different treatment in the cultural sorting bins that penninsular Arab culture encourages. Realistically though, even if they knew about it, a lot of people indulge in the laziness masquerading as tolerance that suggests we should be kosher with that engrained racism as part of "their culture". I suspect that same laziness would take only a slightly different form if slavery were still here in the United States - a number of people might privately sympathise with the slaves but they'd be too polite/reserved/meek to do anything about it (or possibly they would withdraw our notion of human empathy from them). I believe that people going abroad should not give up their value system when entering another country as a guest - if one can't enter and act with good conscience, one should choose not to enter rather than discard one's values. I would be very disappointed if people I know who feel the same way about labour issues were to go over there for a stay and embrace those traditional ways in order to fit in. I do not believe Americans (or anyone else) should not have slaves (or things that are close enough to them in exploitativeness), no matter the country they're in or its traditions. On a human level, personal servants are something that should not exist, and from a socialist perspective, to have them is an abomination (there may be rare situations of exception - disabled people or those going through temporary adjustments in life are examples - this also obviously does not cover matters one is not qualified to manage oneself such as doctors, tax advisors, etc. It's primarily about having lackeys to help with the necessities of life that one could do oneself).

Thinking about governance, I put my thumb on what may be a value conflict - I've long held the intuition that the state should be organised whereby no member of society may gain legal privilege over society in general by any declaration of faith/values. I came to this when thinking about the rights to use cannabis and run casinos that Amerindian tribes have. I realise that a decent defense on these matters for most people would be that tribal land is considered in most ways to be legally independent from the state and counties in which it resides (effectively making it a state-level division), although my strong centralist perspective (I don't believe states should have much in the way of rights at all - I think the federal government should have almost all the power, devolving purely local matters as prudent to the city/town level) makes that argument not so convincing for me. This should apply to matters of ethnicity, religion, lifestyle, and any other grouping that has traditionally acquired privilege through this means (e.g. Amish) - it's one of the aspects of universal sufferage, where the various states of Europe ended legal self-governance for their communities and made one set of legal codes for (theoretically) everyone. One simplification of this notion is that the identities people choose should not be manipulable for their public benefit. This represents almost a strong sysadmin-style operating system of government, where users are treated as greedy and potentially hostile but still with legitimate needs, and the goal of the system is to be a skeptic, dividing their intent by predefined intuitions. The conflict here lies with another notion - that society and the state should create, guard, assume, and rely on good will from its members. Without such guardianship, there's a risk (as earlier noted) that people will opt out of "buying into" society to the extent that it either must rely on ridiculous amounts of policing, fall apart, or have very heavy corruption. Do they truly conflict? I'm not sure they must, especially if we allow a temporal aspect into the equation and interpret them a certain way, but a number of ideas that might intuitively fit with either would need more scrutiny if they are to fit with both.