The Arc of Justice

That’s been pointed out at least since the book Black Athena was published in 1987, and I’m sure earlier. I swear we’re going backwards in a lot of areas.


What’s happening is the early days of the last-ditch defense of privilege. Privilege as in private law. Law for rich people versus law for the rest. Rights for organizations that are put over rights for the individual. Regardless of what the individual is being targeted for, regardless of what individual is doing the targeting, and regardless of the conflation of concepts like “speech”, “accessory”, and, say, “murder”.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Not Feminism 101

Biggesr misogynist I ever dealt with was a woman – at work (and she had authority over me, wheeeeee…).

I think some women feel threatened by a less patriarchal world because they’ve learned to work within patriarchy. Also, if other women can hack it without falling back on stereotypes, it means they can too, and that freaks them out.

(The woman I worked with was anything but a damsel in distress, and did not look like one, but she’s do this weird little-girl act when speaking to men. It was weird to see a fiftyish woman in a power suit, voice croaky from decades of smoking, do this. The men all seemed to pretend not to notice; it’s not like it was effective.)


I think if historical arcs are a thing they’re only manifest in our perception. The expectation that practically no one escapes being chattal was gone a long time ago. Now we’re developing the expectation that no one at all should be chattal nor that anyone is treated as such.

Chattal slavery and symbolic stand-ins like religious law are matters of private law, special law for the privileged, and their battle right now is to deflect talk of that privilege toward cultural and religious issues as justification. It’s cast as the right of organizations to claim individuals to their private realm. When the legal issues keep coming back to extortion, kidnapping, rape, etc.


I think “historical arcs bending towards justice” are based on selective memory; we remember all of the things that we and our parents and grandparents to make the world better, but not the stuff that happened to make it worse.

So, we remember how workplace safety and child labour laws came into effect, but not how those laws just pushed the sweatshops and child labour overseas. We weigh the defeat of Nazi Germany in our “moral arc,” but not the horrors inflicted upon Vietnam. And so on.

It’s a nice story that we tell ourselves about how things are always improving, and it’s even true, as far as it goes. But it’s only true because we don’t tell ourselves the whole story.


I see historical arcs as the act of bending history by the people who make it - us. If we want it to bend to justice, we got to do the work. History doesn’t exist outside of us and our interactions.


Those laws did not push that activity overseas. The people who do that shit make the conscious criminal choice to continue their criminal acts out of jurisdiction.


Well, yes.

My point was that when we think of something like “abolishing child labour” as a sign that humanity is improving things, we don’t pay attention to the places which end up with more child labour, or are otherwise getting worse as the wealthy nations “bend towards justice.”

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No, I think we need to do what we can, where we can, when we can. When scumbags operate outside our zone or fool a new generation, we can expand the zone or defend where we’re at.

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I’d also like to point out that child exploitation isn’t necessarily being increased, but it is more visible because we keep pushing at the boundaries of the zone of civilization.

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I don’t get what point of mine you’re arguing with. I’m not talking, at all, about what we should be doing.

The entirety of what I’m saying here is that people who look around and think, and I’ll use the actual MLK quote here, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” are only able to do so by ignoring all of the counterexamples. The Native Americans and Indigenous Australians. The damage colonialism did to Africa and India. The sweatshops and the honor killings and the oil spills and the oncoming climate disaster. Few of these situations are “bending towards justice;” if anything, most are getting more unjust. The West continues to sustain itself at the expense of the rest of the world, and nothing like justice is anywhere near forthcoming.

The idea that our parents and grandparents made the world an uniformly better place is a polite fiction that we tell ourselves, and nothing more, and nothing we do today will change that - we can only act to try to make it the truth when our kids and grandkids say it.

Edit to add:
Looking more into the context of the quote, it looks like Rev. King was using it in the context of Christianity: no matter how bad it gets, God’s plan is stronger. Crucify Christ, and he will rise again defeat death, etc. So, I’d like to clarify the above: I’m not calling Dr. King ignorant of history or of the horrors around the world. However, his use of that phrase was predicated on the idea that there’s something external to humanity doing the bending. As an atheist, I find that idea much less comforting.

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Funny how the way to minimize the work done to improve lives and further justice is to drown it out entirely by pointing out, one by one, ad nauseum, all the people who did nothing good. I don’t think you understand how old that shit gets.

I’m going to disengage now.

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I still have no idea what part of my posts you’re thinking that you’re responding to, because your posts seem to be non-sequitirs to mine. You want to argue that the world, the whole world and not just the WEIRD countries, has bent closer towards justice over the past fifty, seventy-five, one hundred years? Fine, make the argument.

Otherwise, in case it isn’t clear: I don’t mean to minimize any of the good work that individual people are doing; it’s just not enough to offset what I perceive as an overall trend towards injustice (or rather, “justice for ‘us’ and who cares about ‘them’”), and I will not stop calling attention to that trend because you feel that it’s “getting old.”

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