Organised vengeance called “justice”

August 2022 Forums General discussion Organised vengeance called “justice”

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  • #80890
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Kropotkin wrote somewhere of “organised vengeance called ‘justice'”. Listening to comments after the recent trial of those accused of killing Stephen Lawrence but also in many other cases it would seem that nowadays there is no difference between the meanings of the word “justice” in a legal context and the word “vengeance”. The State doesn’t want individuals or groups taking vengeance and so organises this itself and hopes that people will be satisfied (as they seem to be).

    #87271
    DJP
    Participant

    Looked up who it was who came up with the ‘state as monopoly on violence’ idea thinking it was one of the anarchists, but seems that one comes from Weber, the godfather of sociology and enemy of socialism.The thing with ‘justice’ like all words is a hard thing to tie down, depends in what context it is being used. Besides retributive justice “an eye for an eye” there’s also amongst others distributive justice, which is to do with fairness. But what is seen as fair of course depends on a persons social background and cultural conditioning. Since there is no such thing as an objective moral truth (as far as I can work out) it all comes down to different groups trying to put their beliefs onto others, how people come to agree on the game and the rules of the game if you like….

    #87272
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    All of which begs the question ‘what would a socialist society do about a group of stupid, racist thugs who kill people for their self-gratification?’ 

    #87273
    DJP
    Participant

    Ignoring the fact that it is impossible to dictate to people of the future…A few considerations:If society has reached the stage of socialism the masses will have had to recognise there common heritage and acted co-operativly to bring about a vast transformation in the nature of society, this makes ‘racism’ seem unlikelyPeoples actions are largely the result of there environment, the alienated and atomized society that is capitalism potentially lends itself to these kind of behaviors…It seems to that sadism is a form of mental illness, so I guess a socialist society would treat such people as they would anyone else requiring psychiatric help.

    #87274
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Are you suggesting that no-one will be able to take dictation in the future?  That’s my novel out of the window, then…Just my little joke! DJP, forgive me if I seem a little impertinent, but, Shklovsky-like, I’m having to fill a gap or two in replying to your post.  Just as we, as revolutionary socialists, have to help our proselytes with their filling-in of gaps. (Putting the case for socialism is, of course, our praxis.  And so it should be!)I act as though socialism could happen tomorrow.  It keeps me alive.  As Ron Cook said to me many years ago, ‘being a socialist is a great way of coping with the depredations of capitalism’. (Actually, I’m fairly convinced that Ron didn’t use the word ‘depredations’, but that’s what I took him as meaning.  Come to think of it, I never heard Ron use the word ‘depredations’ ever.  How is Ron, by the way?  I always looked up to him more than my father, who was an even bigger asshole than I’m capable of being.)  And, as we all know, socialism could – in theory – happen tomorrow.  All we need is a majority of the electorate worldwide who think that the revolution is worth getting out of bed for.  Or maybe switching off the tv for.  Or whatever.  My point holds.  We could live in a classless, stateless, moneyless society based on common ownership and democratic control tomorrow if the political will were there to establish it.  But it isn’t…The problem I have with your response is that it does nothing to address the concerns that non-socialists have with the revolution.  Let me put it this way: If 50. 00001% of the planet’s population wants socialism then,so far as I’m concerned that’s more than enough. (Personally, I think that once 20% of the planet’s population wants socialism it’s ‘game over’ for capitalism.  But that’s another debate!)  Now, of course it’s true to say that with the abolition of private property and the advent of a society that is based on the ethos of ‘from each according to their ability and from each according to their needs’ we will be looking forward to a society in which people don’t even recognise the concept of ‘race’, but – and let’s also be very clear about this – there will be a period of time in which a fledgling socialist society will have to deal with the kind of shitheads that capitalism spawns.We do ourselves a grave disservice, it seems to me, when we attempt to explain away this problem by merely saying ‘Oh, well, you know, people won’t behave that way when all of their needs are satisfied…’  It simply doesn’t stand up.  The revolution will not – except in the wilder dreams and waking fantasies of the more utopian amongst us – abolish pure nastiness.  And, in fact, we’re going to be faced with a situation – inevitably, it seems to me – in which anything up to 49.99999% of the population are still stupefied enough to think that it’s a neat idea to stab people who don’t look quite the way that you do.I don’t pretend to have an answer to this problem, but to suggest that a socialist society will offer ignorant, depraved and racist cretins some kind of psychiatric rehabilitation whilst we have a planet to feed is ridiculous beyond belief.

    #87275
    DJP
    Participant

    Seeing as 97% of the people share the same position in society do you really think it conceivable that the amount of people favouring socialism would reach the 50% mark and then suddenly stop? It seems to me they’d be some kind of ‘tipping point’ that would be much lower perhaps 20% or less…The european murder rate is currently 3.5 per 100,000 and fascist parties are marginal, so where you get the idea that half the population are potential racist murderers is beyond me.I do not share your judgmental outlook on the world, there are no such things as ‘cretins’ or ‘thugs’ or ‘shitheads’ just people and circumstances.Feeding the world is a problem that technically has long since been solved. Racism and other mistaken beliefs can only be solved by education.

    #87276
    Anonymous
    Inactive

     When we speak of the revolution and how it may take shape we must necessarily speculate.  None of us can actually know what’s going to happen.  And it is, of course, quite possible that once the movement reaches what we – somewhat nebulously – call ‘critical mass’ there will inevitably be a sudden mushrooming of socialist ideas.  But even if that does happen we are not going to see it happening within a short span of time.  So the possibility of there being 50.1% of the population wanting socialism and 49.9% not wanting socialism is a situation that we are likely to have to address at some point.  You can’t just brush it aside by saying it’s not going to be like that. I’m not suggesting that 49.9% of the population are potentially racist murderers at all.  What I am suggesting is that even when we have a majority in favour of socialism, and, indeed, even when we’ve established socialism, there will very likely still be elements in society that will continue to behave in an unacceptable fashion.  We are at a point now where capitalism has churned out millions of disaffected, dysfunctional and thoroughly anti-social people who are incapable of thinking for themselves and are completely unable to reason.  People whose raison d’etre revolves around Friday night’s alcopop-fuelled punch-up.  Such people are likely to oppose socialism for the very reason that it will take away their reasons for fighting… Now, it’s true that capitalism has created these people, and that the establishment of socialism will remove the social forces that turn people into brutal, ignorant apes, but it is foolish to think that such creatures will change their ways overnight in a society that is fundamentally different from the one that produced them.  Which leaves us with the problem of how a socialist society will deal with – to put it in your chosen non-judgemental terminology – people whose circumstances lead them to behave in violent and anti-social ways. I agree that the machinery for feeding the world is already in place, but once again you are underestimating the sheer enormity of the problems we’ll face in terms of organisation.  And it seems to me that in prioritising the big problems – like getting huge amounts of food to places where it’s needed, we won’t have a great deal of time to spare for psychoanalysing and rehabilitating the sick people that capitalism creates as a matter of course.

    #87277
    DJP
    Participant

    OK, I hear you better now.
    I guess the question is “for a socialist society to operate does it require a majority in the technical sense (50%+1) or a vast majority?”
    I’m thinking it’s the latter.

    #87278
    ALB
    Keymaster
    DJP wrote:
    Looked up who it was who came up with the ‘state as monopoly on violence’ idea thinking it was one of the anarchists, but seems that one comes from Weber, the godfather of sociology and enemy of socialism.

    I thought that before that Engels had defined the state as “armed bodies of men” defending private property but on checking can’t find this, only that this is what Lenin and Trotsky said he said. Not that it’s necessarily wrong (just a bit summary) or that Engels wouldn’t have said it. It’s just that he doesn’t seem to have done. At least I couldn’t find it.The early French Marxist Gabriel Deville defined the state in a talk on The State and Socialism in 1895 as:

    Quote:
    the public power of coercion, created and maintained in human societies by their division into classes, and which, having force at its disposal, makes laws and levies taxes.

    Surely this pre-dates Max Weber’s definition of the state as an entity which successfully claims a “monopoly on the legitimate use of violence” (even if this isn’t a bad definition).The Socialist Party inherited Deville’s definition. As, for instance, we said in our pamphlet Questions of the Day (http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pamphlets/questions-day):

    Quote:
    The State is the public power of coercion. It arose out of the early division of society into classes, and developed with the development of class conflicts. It is the result of the desire to ‘keep order’: order, that is, in the interests of the class that is supreme; order to allow the ruling class to protect its property ownership and exploit the rest of the population. Through the ages the State has been controlled, as a rule, by the class that has been economically the most important. Through its control of the State and its power to levy taxes a class that has outgrown its economic importance can often continue for a time to control social affairs.
    #87279
    sparkystar
    Participant

    It makes me sick listening to the sanctimonious comments about Stephen Lawrence’s murder. The ‘political class’ is falling over itself now to get on the side of jusice – where were they for the past 18 years? Did David Cameron enter politics to get justice, did any of our MPs enter politics to achieve a fair  social system? No they did not. 

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