The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Law of Equal Treatment

Last Friday, I wrote an article on the idea that if a society has a rule or duty, it must apply that to everyone in the applicable situation, no matter who they are, even if it’s someone you love. It was interesting to me that most of the commenters disagreed. Perhaps this is my fault, as I chose to use the famous example of a German general executing his own son for abandoning his sentry duty to fight and win a small skirmish, though I think this speaks partially to people not understanding how important sentry duty is — a group of soldiers ambushed in an encampment because sentries fail tends to get wiped out.

But whether the rule was reasonable or fair was NOT THE POINT. The point was that, if you have a rule, it must be enforced for everyone in the same situation. This can be a punishment, as in the example, or it could be a reward.

And that everyone isn’t just about people you love, it’s about you.

Ask yourself this: For what crimes, if you committed them, would you turn yourself over to the police? Those are the laws you actually support. You don’t support any other criminal laws, no matter what you say. This exercise may be a little hard, because most people support laws because they lack the imagination to conceive they would break them or be caught if they did, but give it a shot.

The law that everyone in the same situation should be treated the same is almost the most foundational law of a good society. Finland often ranked as having the world’s best education system. A researcher asked someone involved in designing and setting it up about how they did it, and they replied that hadn’t been the intention; they were trying to make sure that everyone was treated equally.

Again, though they didn’t say it, “in the same situation,” that clause is very important. If your kid is disabled in way X, they get treated the same as a rich or powerful person’s kid who is disabled in the same way. You can use power or money or connections to get better treatment, and not having money, power or connections doesn’t mean you will be treated badly.

There is a famous quote from Anatole France:

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

These are bad laws, because they don’t acknowledge context. A better law about sleeping outside on another’s property might be that only those who have nowhere else to sleep can do this — with exceptions for camping and whatnot. Or, perhaps we would assume that if someone is sleeping outside they have a good reason, and when we see someone doing so in an odd place (a.k.a. not camping) we ask what the reason is, then get them some decent shelter if it’s because they have nowhere else. (As opposed to sending them to a homeless shelter, where theft and assault are common.)

If someone steals basic food, well, again, probably they need help because they’re hungry, and sending them to prison probably isn’t the best answer to the issue. In this case, the law might be that those who steal food and are found to not have the ability to otherwise feed themselves are sent to a social worker, not prison, and the state reimburses the business. Or perhaps a decent system of social support makes this sort of thing virtually not a problem. People who are old enough will remember that food banks were almost unheard of before the 80s recession because most countries had decent welfare system, and the chronic street people (of whom there were far fewer) were helped by soup kitchens run by a few large private organizations.

All of this is important. This is so basic that if it isn’t grasped, having a decent society is essentially impossible. Everyone must be treated the same in the same circumstances. Everyone. The poor and unconnected must be treated well when the rules say so, and the rich and powerful and connected must be treated badly when the rules say so. (Doing so is the best way to fix evil rules, by the way. Enforce them against the powerful.)

There’s a step beyond this, a prescriptive step. We’ll touch on that in a later article.



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  1. Astrid

    What crimes would I turn myself over to the police for, even if I would otherwise totally escape punishment?

    Honestly, in this society, basically nil. I try to live a noncriminal life (despite some of my stronger murmured curses against the powerful and the masses in this evil doing country) but only time I would turn myself or someone I know or a stranger over is if I know there is a high likelihood of harmful crimes (including white collar crimes where real people would be harmed) occurring in the future, so that the social harm of not getting locked up is greater than the harm of putting someone through the horrors of the American criminal justice system.

    If the American criminal justice system was more equitable and compassionate, or if the society that crimes are harming was more just, then there’s more logic to obeying the law more blindly. As it is, propping up the criminal justice industrial complex is nearly as unconscionable as propping up the MIC or pharmaplex.

  2. Hickory

    I agree with what you wrote. I think others’ disagreements speak to how disconnected most are from the actually important challenges like war – people who’ve faced death in a situation like with the sentry or lost friends would not question your example. Most peoples’ lives are relatively soft, just dealing with daily systemic exploitation and its stresses, and most rules are understood in this context – as either enabling exploitation or making life fairer in an abstract sense or more pleasant. There are few opportunities for life-and-death decision-making that give people perspective on the importance of rules like you describe.

    A Native American named Ohiyesa described a battle that took place when he was very young, and it involved his whole tiny village. The group was enjoying a quiet dinner time when a sentry dashed into camp on horse and yelled that attackers were inbound. The women ran with their kids to the river to cross to safety, and the men ran towards the threat to protect them. The women sang the men songs of courage and strength to inspire them. Ohiyesa said 4 men died that night, but far fewer than would have died if there had been a poor sentry.

    I guarantee no one in that village misunderstood the value of a good sentry, or holding them to absolutely the highest standards regardless who they were or their social connections.

  3. Synoia

    The Gislane Maxwell trial managed to avoid disclosing Epstein’s guest lost of people who deserve scrutiny.

    So much for equal protection under US Administrations.

  4. StewartM

    I think your Roman (not German) example was a bad one as, as enacted, it punishes and straight-jackets personal initiative and judgement, which is also very important. Judgement is very important as to treat people fairly, you don’t treat them equally, in a robotic fashion at least, which is what I see is the exact point of Anatole France’s ‘majestic equality’ quote (i.e., the robotic application of the law). I think to most of the people here, the fact it was the general’s son being punished was not relevant to their objection(s).

    To be fair and just, you sometimes have to treat people unequally. The well-off camper who trespasses, and the kid from the well-off family who steals from the grocery store for the thrill of it, can be rightfully punished. It’s wrong to do this to the homeless person and to the kid who stole cookies because he/she was hungry and had nothing to eat at home. Though I think this is covered by your ‘in the same situation’ clause.

  5. multitude of poors

    Seems to me, without spiritual beneficence from our fellow human beings we are truly sunk.

    I would say treat others as you would be treated, but then one runs into the wormhole of those who actually enjoy truly unhealthy behavior (e.g. brutal competition for profit), perhaps not realizing they enjoy it because they have plenty of resources to evade any severe consequences; or perhaps because, for whatever reason, they are just highly unpleasant (to put it very mildly) people.

    Bill Gates (along with all of the other High Tech, Megalomaniacal Billionaires) is a poster boy for that, reading his first Time Magazine interview in the nineties was a case study in sociopathy (to my mind), yet nonetheless, there was never a leash put on him.

    I’ve noted this repeatedly, but frankly it needs to be hammered home. The manner in which Renters have always been treated in US society is a perfect illustration of a disease at the core of capitalism. It never ceases to amaze me why so many property owners who chide those who buy a home without being able to afford it; somehow think it’s okay that renters are the only ones who receive no return on their massive lifetime investment, even while their landlords are allowed deductions for expenses they’ve charged those renters for? A country sovereign in it’s own currency could easily resolve that were there the will to do so.

    Those who didn’t buy a home when they couldn’t afford it, are not only not given credit for that, they are increasingly joining the ranks of the homeless in a country where rents are criminally high .(e.g. 02/07/20. Some retirees flocking to Arizona now homeless because of rising rents: ‘Not as affordable as used to be’ )

    Anecdotally, about a week or so ago, I went to a post office to check up on the rumor that if you became homeless, the Post Office might at leas help in not losing a mailing address. The snicker on a younger woman’s face was terrifying. Her older manager’s face at least expressed some sympathy, but even then, the manager’s failure to understand that the response (with nothing in writing) of: use a change of address form and write General Delivery and it’ll be held (no note of how it would be segregated by person) for only thirty days generally. She implied some exceptions might be made, with no info on that either.

    Talk about a loss of agency, let alone being set-up for not paying bills such as insurance, Medicare Part D premiums, and renewing registrations and licenses on time.

    The newly homeless person gets nothing in writing verifying it will be held, or where it will be held. I hold every single one of our Congress Monsters accountable for this travesty, along with every single California Assembly or Senate member, because California has the most unsheltered homeless in the country. Sickeningly, California Non-Profits supposedly serving such unfortunate human beings for decades still aren’t aware of this reality, nor have pushed California’s Politicos (all of whom love to co-sponsor bills to name Post Offices after some Hero™) to do anything about it. This when those politicos know fully well California has a huge population of older single Renters about to become homeless, with barely any Senior, or other, affordable housing in sight for years. Add that to the rampant Age and Gender Discrimination that they’ve allowed for decades and a nightmare is unrolling and not being addressed at all.

    Yes, broken record here, yet another of countless reasons to never elect or appoint a Grifting (there appear to be no other types than bipartisan grifters and amoral CIA associated parties, from my decades of experience) California Politico to any High Office, or Agency.

    gotta go, will check back.

  6. Willy

    I like the idea of enforcing rules, rules which have been agreed upon by respectable representative elders and credentialed experts and basic common sense, applicable to all including top leadership.

    But what if you have the House Minority Leader talking of retaliation against a legal system which demands probable cause, before even asking what that probable cause was? How have leaders gotten so bold that they’re just saying the quiet part out loud, that power plays trump rule of law?

    I worked for a place once where corporate dictats were posted on walls. A humble worker might assume, live by these dictats and be rewarded, ignore these dictats and get fired.

    In my division, our leader mandated a special dictat which came in the form of an award, suitable for framing. It was called the “Golden Ears Award”. It came complete with a photo of Dear Leader and was ‘pre-awarded’ to all thanking us for listening to our customers. (IOW, be a good listener or suffer consequences.) I found that modifying “Ears” to “Lips” was easy to do, as was covertly re-framing the award in a carefully chosen managers office.

    I never got caught. But why would I ever do such a thing? I’d been such a good employee.

  7. Ché Pasa

    All this is very interesting. My objection to the example of the Roman general executing his son for disobedience is that it does not represent justice or equality under the law so much as it represents arbitrary tyranny under parental authority, something Romans — and quite a few other societies — were notorious for. It doesn’t represent a healthy, vibrant society so much as an insane one that will inevitably not end well neither for itself nor for those it conquers/oppresses.

    I hope this example isn’t taught in British boarding schools as a proper example of good leadership and equality under the law. Whither the Empire now?

    I’m thinking of this in relation to the keening and garment rending and threats of violent revenge over the FBI raid on Mar a Lago. The argument seems to be “equality under the law” and no one is above the law, etc., but the counter argument is “don’t you know who I AM?” and “What about Hunter?! What about Hillary?”

    The obvious consequences of never holding the political/financial elites to account, or being so delicate about it that no consequences are undertaken. Ultimately what happened to Epstein? For years, everyone knew what was going on (so said Cindy McCain) and he was allowed to get away with it — until he wasn’t. And then the only way to deal with him was… well, what happened, and we still can’t say with certainty what that was.

    So it goes. Trump, too, has been allowed to get away with endless skirting and flouting of the law his whole life, as have many others of his ilk. One warrant served and search made and his entire fan base loses its shit, and how many threats of violent revenge have been cataloged so far?

    What would have happened if he’d been treated like any common hooligan when he was young? Yeah, but that doesn’t happen does it? No, our society elevates and part of it reveres common hooligans who are rich and well connected and “persuasively bad.”

    Just like the arbitrary society of ancient Rome, where fathers could kill their children for any apparent or no reason and face no legal consequences, our own arbitrary society that worships power and money and fame above all, where the rich and powerful can mostly do whatever they want to the little people and get away with it, these societies are insane.

    Equality before the law only works when the law itself is anchored in wisdom. We don’t live in that society.

  8. Astrid

    Sentry duty is one place where you really don’t want flexibility or personal initiative or extenuating circumstances. Otherwise the vainglorious or the lazy can personally decided that it’s okay to leave their post and leave their camp exposed. 99 times out of 100, nothing happens and it seems harmless, the 100th time your clan/city/country is wiped off the map.

    As for treatment of rich v. poor, the better solution is to shorten the distance between the two and provide a social safety net generally, not to get more in endless means testing. The only place where I’d support means testing is fines – I think they should be a small $ amount plus x% of your annual income above a certain thresholds. The rich should feel their speeding tickets as much as the poor. Ideally, wealth should only be usable for completely unnecessary things like Hermes handbags and high end stereo equipment.

  9. Ian Welsh

    People really don’t get how big a deal it is to leave your post if you’re a sentry. Armies have been wiped out and fortresses seized and entire clans destroyed because some sentry didn’t do their job and stay at their post. Running off to fight and win a small skirmish is not worth risking an entire army camp.

    Right thru the late Republic, leaving your post or falling asleep on sentry duty was a capital crime, for everyone, high or low. (Probably well into the Empire, but I only know for a fact up to late Republic.

  10. someofparts

    what Astrid said

  11. StewartM

    People really don’t get how big a deal it is to leave your post if you’re a sentry. Armies have been wiped out and fortresses seized and entire clans destroyed because some sentry didn’t do their job and stay at their post. Running off to fight and win a small skirmish is not worth risking an entire army camp.

    An army in a combat zone should be in some state of readiness; not just the sentries. Even when sentries/skirmishers do their job, that may not be good enough.

    We’re lacking the details on what Manilus’s son did. Saying it was a ‘small skirmish’ seems to indicate that he wasn’t the sole sentry; that it was a party. Did he leave any others a behind and take a detaching with him on the skirmish, or was the post entirely abandoned?

    There have been also plenty of battles lost because an opportunity appeared and no one who witnessed the opportunity felt empowered or wanting to risk acting on it. There have also been enemy attacks that were stillborn because a small force (a skirmish line or a sentry outpost) put up so much resistance and was so aggressive in its tactics the attackers thought they had run into a sizeable force and backed off. True, the examples I’m thinking of are not from ancient warfare, but I think the point holds.

  12. StewartM

    Let me follow up the example of Manilus’s with a real, historical counter-example: Five Forks, April 1st, 1865.

    Philip Sheridan’s Union Cavalry was engaged with Confederate General George Picket’s mixed infantry-cavalry force at Five Forks, at the very end of Lee’s Petersburg lines. Coming up to support Sheridan was Gouverneur K. Warren (the hero of Little Round Top at Gettysburg) with his 5th Army Corps. Warren was later than anticipated, having had to fend off a Confederate counterattack on his flank at White Oak Road, but had successfully disengaged. Sheridan, who was the overall commander, laid out plans for the attack.

    But once the attack began, part of Warren’s corps–Crawford’s division–went astray, missing its proposed striking point entirely. Warren rode after it, finally catching it, and turning it around, which was fortuitous as after he did so Crawford’s division ended up descending upon the Confederate flank and rear, resulting in a complete Union victory. But Sheridan, who was already miffed at Warren for being late, by his eyes, was furious–for Warren not being at the front with his troops, or anywhere around where he could find him during the battle. So he immediately told one of Warren’s subordinates, General George Griffin, to take command of all of Warren’s corps and relieved Warren on the spot.

    Now, true, relieving someone of their command isn’t the same as executing them. But many say Sheridan acted arbitrarily, in anger, and without taking any time to discover what had happened. (There’s more to it, and I personally believe that both Sheridan and Grant himself, being Westerners, were prejudiced against veteran Eastern commanders like Warren). The battle was a complete Union victory and as it turned out, Crawford’s misstep, once Warren had corrected it, made the victory quite possibly a more complete one than if the battle had gone the way Sheridan had planned it. Warren had done his best to comply with the orders Sheridan had given him in good faith, but in Sheridan’s eyes, he had not done his job exactly as Sheridan told him to do it.

    Warren did have a reputation of not being a ‘yes-man’, and maybe more infuriating to some of his superiors, of not being a yes-man and then being proven right all along by events. This started in May 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, when he told Meade/Grant that an attack across Sanders field into a Confederate position would be suicide, but might be successful once the 6th Corps came up on his left. But Grant ordered that Warren immediately ‘pitch in without taking time for preparations’ and Warren complied, and exactly as he predicted, one of his divisions got shot to pieces. Most military historians agreed with Warren’s original assessment of the situation at Sanders Field as being correct. I have an article by historian Gary Gallagher on Warren’s tenure under Grant in 1864, and it’s rather painful to see Warren in it trying so hard to be the type of officer Grant wanted his officers to be, even later doing things that must have been against his own best judgement.

    Warren asked after the war to have a military tribunal investigate his being relieved at Five Forks. One did, and found that Warren had been indeed treated unfairly by Sheridan interviewing more than 100 witnesses, but it came after Warren’s death.

    So I see Manilus’s case, like Sheridan’s, as someone who makes decisions based upon obedience to authority as he defines it, without taking the time or energy to find out the situation being faced, or weighing the outcome achieved.

  13. Jason

    It’s the mindset/attitude of those who see only one option with regard to the post/sentry that leads to empires and these situations in the first place. What goes up must and will come down. Always. So again, it is they who are at fault. It’s the authoritarians. Always. This is the only place where there should be no nuance. Not if you’re interested in true freedom – not the flag-waving kind, which of course isn’t freedom at all, rather a trained pavlovian response to…authority.

    Again and again and again it is revealed in indigenous literature that, as one elder put it, “If I were to tell another person what to do, I would not be leader anymore.”

    That is true freedom that none of us has ever experienced, nor do we have the ability to. But we ought to have the breadth of intelligence to understand it. If not, we may as well suck on nuclear bombs while staring at glowing screens, because that’s all this shit is really all about anyway. But at least life will be easier with the implanted ID chip containing all your pertinent information. And the kids will be just as easy to find as the dog.

    People aren’t only strong or weak. That’s a monstrous statement someone around here has made on more than one occasion. It’s simply not true. And it’s that attitude that has led us to where we are.

    Help me Trinity. I think I’m going insane.

  14. Bill H.

    The law should be applied equally, but not really because if someone really needs to break the law he should be allowed to do so. Or, perhaps, laws should be written based on circumstance. You can’t rob banks unless you really need money. Rich people can’t steal from stores but poor people can.

  15. Harry Haller

    Stewart M says “The well-off camper who trespasses, and the kid from the well-off family who steals from the grocery store for the thrill of it, can be rightfully punished. It’s wrong to do this to the homeless person and to the kid who stole cookies because he/she was hungry and had nothing to eat at home.”

    We can’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them, Einstein supposedly said.

    An unwise society that creates and maintains massive income inequality and a permanent underclass of starving untouchables has unfairness baked in at a fundamental level. It would never pass laws in favour of equal treatment or maintain a basic standard of living for all its members regardless of their income level or life circumstances.

    A wise society would still reward ambition and allow social stratification, to a point, and it would probably also leave some space for dropouts and rebels, but it wouldn’t let masses of people fester in decrepitude and rob the poor and unlucky of their health, dignity and right to participate in society.

    There needs to be a massive shift in thinking and priorities at the leadership level before our moribund late-capitalist societies can begin to change for the better. Trying to patch a bit of ‘fairness and equality’ into a socioeconomic system that values unfettered greed and rewards psychopathic behaviour in the name of ambition and self-actualization will fail every time. Jeremy Corbyn’s trajectory from 2017 to 2019 is instructive here.

  16. anon y'mouse

    essentially the only laws that could be universally applied to everyone, without shifting the limit or “means test” or whatever elsewhere (which raises the question of what parties shall be considered rich vs poor for the stealing bread example, how was that limit determined to be fair, and so on) would be something like the Ten Commandments, and even then we all know that killing someone may at some time be necessary, everybody covets their fellow’s wife or livestock, and different cultures have different things they consider absolute sin.

    this conversation is one of those things that seems intuitively right on its face, but then devolves into nitpicking about what percentage of a person’s income for a penalty fee is “fair” (usually a totally arbitrary thing. fairness is not universal, and appears to be some kind of negotiation particular to the circumstance and even then people will only come to a compromise and not truly “agree” in the fairness thereof).

    Ian, you’ve run into the ultimate ethical problem because no set of ethics and no means of determining them has ever worked universally under all circumstances for all people. we can’t have our great god of AI come up with computer rules, because we can’t decide what the rules are and the circumstances would then quickly change to make that specific application “unfair”.

    we’ve also lived too long under a society where some people are writing the rules for their own benefit, applying them for their own benefit and making sure to write rules the little guy gets tangled in (the IRS is essentially exclusively this) that the powerful know will never effect them in any meaningful way.

    a rule that didn’t become encased within a series of exclusions or adaptations to make things fair would be something like “don’t toss around nuclear waste”—so broad as to be meaningless but essentially something almost everyone (except the truly mad scientists and psychos among us) could agree on.

    there seems to be no ultimate “fairness”. everyone’s sense of fairness is relative. even those experiencing the same thing believe what is fair is fair for them, but perhaps not for the other guy. this is essentially why i say that Thatcher’s statement of being engaged in a “moral project” was more telling than she or anyone listening knew—we have lived too long in a world of “competitive (some kind of) capitalism” which says “what’s good for me is good for society, unless your good is coming at my expense then it is abad. greed is good. i do to you before you do to me and run away with the loot=success.” a world in which negative externalities shunted elsewhere and onto others is promoted as long as you can sell it as a “win-win” or “efficiency” , and so forth.

    we would need a detox from this society to even begin to have a conversation about what is “fair”. even after that, it would be a state of constant bickering and determination because of our technological and thus social complexity.

    here’s one of those examples which highlights this very quickly: i heard once that Japanese students take shifts cleaning their own school. i thought it was an immense social learning program that says “we all must take the effort to make this place a good place for all of us”. when you suggest it to anyone, their outcry is that their children go to school to learn, their children’s time is better spent doing only that, and someone else can be hired to do those menial tasks which teach no one anything worth knowing (very debateable). so: “what is fair is that my child is to be catered to for their learning and some other slave does the dirty work to make the school a good place to be. tasks like keeping the school orderly and clean are for other people who don’t have better things to do, like my own child does and who essentially failed at life and thus have to be enslaved by the labor market to do meaningless and menial tasks all day”.

    and they all consider that absolutely fair.

  17. StewartM


    I think all the commentators hear agree on Ian’s basic premise–that the mere fact of being a relative or friend of someone shouldn’t exempt you from getting the same penalty that a stranger would get, for the same transgression, in the same circumstance.

    I think the difficult part is about relying on just circumstances alone (and I’m arguing with myself now) is illustrated by Benjamin Franklin’s stint at being a vegetarian–after seeing on how a fish had eaten smaller fish, he opined “If you eat one another, I don’t see why we mayn’t eat you.” But he later also admitted that ‘one of the advantages of being a rational creature is that you can always find a reason to justify your decision”. So yes, the danger of not having any hard-and-fast rules, of allowing circumstances and judgement to ascertain what the penalty will be for all transgressions, is that people will always find that same “reason to justify your behavior” to spare their friends and family members that they wouldn’t find for a stranger.

    So it has to be some mix of the two approaches.

  18. someofparts

    This is for Multitude of Poors –

  19. Willy

    Sentry duty is like keeping watch on a ship. Do it poorly and thousands of tons of steel, passengers and cargo can wind up on the bottom.

    I think the point was that if any vital job is allowed to be done poorly because of ‘special privileges’, even if the fortress doesn’t fall or the ship sink, then the working culture will change and the quality of all other jobs being done will eventually decline. You wind up with a corporation like the one I worked at, full of underperforming Jim Halperts focusing on our next little prank against the nepotistically enabled, instead of on helping to maintain the glory of our corporate empire.

    I once suggested here that the Roman Empire fell in large part, because of such cultural degradation. “Strength and honor” became a sort of joke, only done by the suckers and losers. Not the sole cause for sure but a strong variable. Then some guy showed up and tried selling me that it was all the Seleucids and Huns fault. Yeah right. And Ismay got to blame the iceberg. I think maybe that guy was a Republican.

  20. Trinity

    Jason, I’ll do my best but your post is right on, so you are definitely not insane. If you can suggest some Native American literature, I would love that.

    If one is going to take on the mantle of being a leader, one is then responsible not just for the ones they lead, but also responsible TO the ones they lead. Military people probably get this. But there are probably very few commissioned officers who believe this and live it, as they are usually in it for the glory only (as is every narcissist).

    Parents get this too, as we are responsible for and to our children. If we have a spouse, however, the calculus changes. We are not responsible FOR them, but we are most definitely responsible TO them. And, we should be (but we aren’t) responsible TO each other, including everybody, and especially we should be (but aren’t) responsible FOR and TO every child alive today.

    This being accountable to each other is especially why “ice floes” are so important. Because the problem with the candidates for the “ice floes” treatment is because they are not responsible to or for anyone but themselves. This is why they are a danger, and why we need ice floes. As long as they exist the rest of us are in danger. This is as true for a family as it is for a nation. Because here’s the thing: we are only as strong as the “weakest” member of our tribe (the human race tribe). We grow weaker and they grow stronger every single day.

    And it’s just crazy to assume people are one thing or another, forever and ever amen, a limiting, binary classification. Normal people grow and change over a lifetime (and please note that non-normal people do not change. This is a “tell”).

    Western culture is designed to create these good/bad dichotomies, because it’s easier to control people when the people accept these and keep them alive. Black/Red/Yellow is bad, white is good. Rich is because they are superior, poor means lazy/stupid. Old is wise and young is stupid, it’s all an endless sorting algorithm to maintain the myriad fictional narratives that keep the powerless powerless. I have a feeling many of you would be amazed that if we had a good, non-political, true (as opposed to fake) family man black man in charge, things would be SO much better. Why is this true? Non-western cultural background.

    We need a culture that recognizes that people are never one thing forever, a culture that affirms that we are all, in reality, dependent on each other and on nature. We need a culture that nurtures but expects us to be our best, at whatever is our best (and I personally believe we all have something special to offer).

    A culture that recognizes that we are dependent on each other and nature would be the antithesis of what we have right now. Despite the fact that we are the air, and water, and soil, and plants, and animals, and a part of all living things, this narcissistic, driven, greedy western culture demands we work, not for ourselves, not for nature (the only thing that keeps us alive), not for each other (what brings joy and meaning into our lives). No, it demands we instead work for THEM. Hubris doesn’t even qualify to describe or define what they are.

    As Jason said, no one in a western culture has ever really been free. It’s a fiction like all the other fictions that are necessary to ensure the powerless remain powerless, and the powerful are never held accountable.

  21. anon y'mouse

    “This being accountable to each other is especially why “ice floes” are so important. Because the problem with the candidates for the “ice floes” treatment is because they are not responsible to or for anyone but themselves. This is why they are a danger, and why we need ice floes. As long as they exist the rest of us are in danger. ”

    the Western Capitalistic culture that Thatcher was talking about has spent the last 500 years or so making everyone adhere to this very moral system.

    almost all of us are “in it for ourselves” as a necessity of survival within it.

    stick us all on the ice floe.

  22. multitude of poors

    @ someofparts

    What was the youtube about, any easily accessible transcript somewhere?

    Thanks very much for the thought, but I can’t access youtube videos on my old computer with very little timely ‘internet access remaining’ (my affordable mobile phone is only used as a telephone). Also, not all that long ago, I was able to access videos but stopped after Google acquired youtube. Even pre my current impoverishment, I’ve steadfastly refused to go to Facebook sites, Use Amazon for anything, use Google search; email to anyone with a GMail account, join Twitter (though I do sometimes read it via if I need to find information that’s only available through it) etcetera. Now many of those things I couldn’t do if I wanted to, which I actually don’t want to. The only trusted computer repair shop I used got out of dodge, just prior Coved, likely due to vicious Silicon Valley Commercial Rents. So many other small repair shops and non corporate electronics shops were forced to do that after decades of running their businesses. The wealthy grifters in Silicon Valley are literally sucking the air out of peoples lungs. I’m absolutely positive the suicide attempts are way under reported. Actually, attempts are not reported unless it’s visible, like on the train rails etc.. It’s far more difficult than many realize to commit suicide versus ending up maimed and even worse off, unless someone knows how to access something like fentanyl.).

    Lastly, I actually don’t have time to watch videos if I could (and much preferred simple text even when I did have the time). So many emergency issues have hit all at one time (including brutal asymptomatic covid more than once, with no GP) while I feel morally responsible for 3 older loved ones who don’t have internet access at all (I don’t have any offspring to assist with computer issues), and I’m the only one with a car that can be trusted for more than a few miles.

    gotta run, I’ve got a much dreaded list of things I should do that absolutely traumatize me (PS agree with much in the comments above, sorry to be so depressing, but I really do want to stress that those who still vote would be making a huge mistake to vote for a President from California, it’s a very hostile state to its multitude of poors).

  23. someofparts

    oh golly MoP, sorry that didn’t work

    It is a John Oliver episode about rent. I don’t know if you have any way to access his show, but if you do, somehow, that episode is worth watching

  24. Jan Wiklund

    I suppose you write about public officials. They, of course, have a duty to treat all equal. Otherwise it would be called corruption.

    But as a private person there is no such duty at all. You don’t need to feed any child in the street just because you have the duty to feed your own children, for example.

  25. multitude of poors


    oh golly MoP, sorry that didn’t work
    It is a John Oliver episode about rent. I don’t know if you have any way to access his show, but if you do, somehow, that episode is worth watching

    Not your fault, and believe me, I do appreciate the human response from you; but hadn’t a clue as to who John Oliver is (and as I have no time for videos, I have no time for cable HBO (have never had the expensive time sucking cable, even when I could easily afford it.))

    In essence, John Oliver makes millions off of Hot Buttoning, as in Jon Stewart, Colbert, et al. (wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he had some sort of LANDLORD INCOME (to be revealed when he retires).

    I am at severe time constraints yet feel this point is crucial to be shared as I don’t have time to elaborate (I actually hate the Jimmy Whales wikipedia lesser evil):

    Political views
    Oliver endorsed Joe Biden for president of the United States and celebrated Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory in the 2020 US presidential election. ….

    No Bernie Sanders noted; and frankly I’m not even a Sanders fan, particularly when he, early on, welcomed California House Rep. Ro Khanna with either no vetting (why?), or vetting (FAR, FAR, WORSE)

    And, per HuffPo and Rolling Stone’s pieces that came up, no fucking mention Oliver made of the homeless in the high Blue Wealthy as Sin Metros such as California and New York City (where he luxuriates)? He must be F ing nuts, amoral, or both.

    I know you meant very well, but the only things that are helpful for the homeless, or about to be homeless are actual advice from actually homeless people, such as: what in the world will happen to my mail; where in the world do I drop my drawers and pee 7 times a day; where can I park to get at least an hours worth of sleep, etcetera. The last thing they need is advice from a millionaire comedian making bank off of miseries that they’re far more informed of than the millionaire is, nor do they have the time and access to watch their shows.

    I’ve truly gotta run now. A request before I do, if you have the time to watch comedic videos, and such, please take the time to not address me as MoP, as I take time I really don’t have to address you as what you name yourself, someofparts.

  26. Jason

    Trinity, I was just in the midst of writing what turned out to be a rather long comment, and then I inadvertently deleted the whole damn thing. I’m now in that place where I’m trying to piece back together what I had written! Just briefly, the “indigenous literature” I referenced is from various sources. I don’t want to use the word “secondhand” because that may tend to connotate towards unreliable. I know we’ve both referenced Jerry Mander’s book here in the past. Mander actually referenced a movie in that book, the name of which escapes me now, to make the point I made about leaders not actually leading from a place of authority, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they obtain their “authority” from the fact that they don’t give orders.

    I will write more soon.

    I hope you are well, Trinity. These are dark times, but the sun still shines and the kids still play. I am fortunate to have a place to stay in a working class neighborhood. A neighbor’s little girl just ‘drove” down our street on her toy car. I love watching her because she sort of goes wherever she wants in a meandering fashion, even into peoples’ yards when she deems it necessary. She’s doing it purely for the fun and adventure of course, not to disrespect anyone’s precious property.

    I hope everyone is okay, in their own way, given what we are going through. And thank you Ian for hosting. I do not say that nearly enough. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever said it.

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