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Thread: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

  1. #31
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Look up Ping Shan. It, and other villages in the New Territories, was involved in a war against the British in 1899 (I bet you didn't know that). What was notable about that conflict is that, in one short war, more villagers were killed than in a century of inter-village warfare. Was this oppression of native villagers by the British? Not for the villages themselves, for whom this was an ill-advised fight against professional soldiers. But what is relevant about the above point is that there were centuries of inter-village warfare before this, and decades of inter-village warfare after this. The Hong Kong-British war is documented in published histories, while the inter-village warfare is present in folk histories (such as records of alliances between different villages, and celebrations of these alliances), and referenced in these published histories.
    The stupidity of one is no excuse for the stupidity of another. You keep trying to lower the moral bar by pointing out how other people did bad things, too. If you murder someone tomorrow, you can't convince the judge (maybe the jury, but I wouldn't bet on it) to set you free by arguing that Hitler killed many millions and wasn't jailed for it. That people were killing one another does not excuse you going in there and killing even more of them. And their opinion of it doesn't matter in the slightest. Otherwise the opinion of some "Uncle Toms" makes slavery okay as well. What is so hard to understand?


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  2. #32
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    The stupidity of one is no excuse for the stupidity of another. You keep trying to lower the moral bar by pointing out how other people did bad things, too. If you murder someone tomorrow, you can't convince the judge (maybe the jury, but I wouldn't bet on it) to set you free by arguing that Hitler killed many millions and wasn't jailed for it. That people were killing one another does not excuse you going in there and killing even more of them. And their opinion of it doesn't matter in the slightest. Otherwise the opinion of some "Uncle Toms" makes slavery okay as well. What is so hard to understand?
    Montmorency was making the (exceptional) argument that history can be judged by modern ethics. I raised the point of war and spoils, which is completely alien to modern western societies, but which was an integral part of society in the past. Montmorency tried to argue that it was abhorrent to ancient societies, when most evidence (barring that of the philosophical elite) indicates otherwise.

    If you don't want to talk about war and spoils, how about religion, as PFH has raised? What do you think of the importance of the soul in pre-modern history? Should you try and understand this subject and via that view history through that perspective? Or do you stick with Montmorency's argument that we should view history through the modern perspective?

  3. #33
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    As a British citizen I am ashamed, and until the people of Hong Kong are free I will never again claim to be "Proud to be British".
    I would just like to interject that I find it hilarious that this particular situation is what made you go ahead and make this proclamation. It's not the relatively high level of poverty, the fact that many young people who feel disenfranchised are turning to the far right, not the legacy of strife left by the empire, not the level of chaos in the wake of Brexit, not the damage done to the environment through overzealous "maintenance" policies, certainly not the fact that LGBT communities are seeing increases in violence.

    The thing that is most disconcerting is autonomy status of a former colony acquired through forced arbitration following a drug war that involved flooding a country with an extremely destructive and addictive substance.
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  4. #34
    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by CrossLOPER View Post
    I would just like to interject that I find it hilarious that this particular situation is what made you go ahead and make this proclamation. It's not the relatively high level of poverty, the fact that many young people who feel disenfranchised are turning to the far right, not the legacy of strife left by the empire, not the level of chaos in the wake of Brexit, not the damage done to the environment through overzealous "maintenance" policies, certainly not the fact that LGBT communities are seeing increases in violence.

    The thing that is most disconcerting is autonomy status of a former colony acquired through forced arbitration following a drug war that involved flooding a country with an extremely destructive and addictive substance.
    No, it's the 7 million people we knowingly handed over to a repressive dictatorship.
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    Backordered Member CrossLOPER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    No, it's the 7 million people we knowingly handed over to a repressive dictatorship.
    So what makes the other things I mentioned so far less disconcerting?
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  6. #36
    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by CrossLOPER View Post
    So what makes the other things I mentioned so far less disconcerting?
    Most of the other things you mention aren't exactly within government control - government can try to mitigate poverty but poverty is caused by the economy.

    Our elected representatives handing over 7 million fellow citizens (who are denied the right to vote?

    How is that NOT astronomically worse?

    For starters - you have the disenfranchised citizens who are also basically the victims of overt state racism (non-Chinese Hong-Kongers were given the option to emigrate to Britain far more readily). Then you have the shear number, about 11% of Britain's entire population when you include overseas territories. Then you have where we sent them, and when, and in what context. The Joint Sino-British Declaration was signed in 1984, two years after the Falklands Conflict established that Britain would protect the right of its citizens to be British.
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    Ni dieu ni maître! Senior Member a completely inoffensive name's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    Now, you can, if you wish, judge them as evil for believing differently to you, or you can judge them as misguided.

    I take the second view, which means that British Imperialism was misguided, but I will not apply words like "brutal" or "evil" unless the actual acts at the time were evil or brutal.
    What's that term Socrates used basically saying that no one willingly goes towards the bad?
    Problem I have with that notion is that you are basically saying that previous humans were somehow more deficient in their reasoning that they couldn't figure out slavery is wrong OR they lacked the imagination of all possible scenarios and they somehow couldn't even conceive of a world where slavery is removed. Apply this to any morally questionable choice from the past and it seems like bending over backwards to not hurt the feelings of dead people.
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    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    What's that term Socrates used basically saying that no one willingly goes towards the bad?
    Problem I have with that notion is that you are basically saying that previous humans were somehow more deficient in their reasoning that they couldn't figure out slavery is wrong OR they lacked the imagination of all possible scenarios and they somehow couldn't even conceive of a world where slavery is removed. Apply this to any morally questionable choice from the past and it seems like bending over backwards to not hurt the feelings of dead people.
    You assume we are not deficient in our reasoning, as did they.

    Slavery is often a proxy for this notion that we are overall "better" than our ancestors but the notion of slavery people have is of the transatlantic slave trade which is really a "special case." You see, slavery had already been illegal in much of Europe for several centuries and people DID believe that it was wrong. In England it was outlawed by Wulfstan of York under King Knut (though I believe it made a bit of a comeback under the Normans and they also had serfs).

    So, how to justify enslaving Sub-Saharan Africans?

    Well, basically you declare them sub-human, and then enslaving them isn't wrong. Modern ideas of "racial purity" are a direct result of the slave-trade and the "scientific racism" used to justify it. Can you think of anything we do today which isn't immoral or self-destructive? How about our over-use of natural resources and electricity? The whole point is to recognise that we are NOT necessarily ethically superior to those in other historical periods, that's the real value in history - to see and understand things freom another perspective and then question your own assumptions.

    How does this relate to Hong Kong?

    Well, it relates because it is not an "historical" event that belongs to another period, it happened a couple of decades ago, under our current ethical system. The reason what is happening in Hong Kong is so bad and in a way worse than the 19th Century depredations of the British Empire is that it wasn't done by an historical "them" but by the present "us", with full knowledge of the consequences.

    At the time of the handover Hong Kong's population represented more than a tenth of the total British citizenry. What we did is roughly equivalent to the US handing about 35 million people to Russia - possibly the equivalent of giving them California.
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  9. #39
    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Rather interesting thread, thank you all for the read. In truth, I found myself swayed by arguments presented from all sides. I found it fascinating that (to me) what began as a debate between British Idealism and British Pragmatism morphed into a debate between unified British defenders versus the rest of the world, picking up the tools of deconstructionsim and universalism.

    I remember we had a Chinese national engineer on one of my development teams at my first job in the mid-90's. Since we were in Rhode Island, outside of work and imbibing quantities of alcohol, the members of my team and I, Chinese engineer included, were able to speak freely. An American Conservative (Large C by design) was poking the Chinese engineer, 7 years on from Tianmen, about China's record on human rights.

    I'll never forget the answer the Chinese engineer gave... he smiled softlly, puffing on one of the cigars I had offered to the group, and asked him "Isn't not starving to death a human right? Isn't that more important than who the Mayor of Beijing currently is, even to the average citizen of Beijing?"

    I raise this because it started a trend in me to begin to see morality in politics and history as a question of framing. In what context are you making your judgment?

    Philip's core assertion... that the government of the UK was in error to hand over sovereignty of Hong Kong without input from the affected population stands on it's own. Self-determination and autonomy are about as close to unversal truths as we get in this life. But they do raise some interesting wrinkles...

    -Why should PRC be obliged to provide fresh water or any other supplies to a newly formed sovereign nation of Hong Kong & Kowloon?

    -Is it moral to turn Hong Kong loose for it's own sovereignty if it cannot sustain it's own needs?

    -Somebody raised the question of the US and its relationship to Taiwan... I would suggest, strongly, that is a different situation entirely and the parallels are limited. But the core reason for it's inclusion... that at the end of the day, like it or not, Might Does Make Right is probably more correct than any of us would ever care to admit.
    Last edited by Don Corleone; 07-16-2019 at 16:29.
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  10. #40
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone View Post
    Rather interesting thread, thank you all for the read. In truth, I found myself swayed by arguments presented from all sides. I found it fascinating that (to me) what began as a debate between British Idealism and British Pragmatism morphed into a debate between unified British defenders versus the rest of the world, picking up the tools of deconstructionsim and universalism.

    I remember we had a Chinese national engineer on one of my development teams at my first job in the mid-90's. Since we were in Rhode Island, outside of work and imbibing quantities of alcohol, the members of my team and I, Chinese engineer included, were able to speak freely. An American Conservative (Large C by design) was poking the Chinese engineer, 7 years on from Tianmen, about China's record on human rights.

    I'll never forget the answer the Chinese engineer gave... he smiled softlly, puffing on one of the cigars I had offered to the group, and asked him "Isn't not starving to death a human right? Isn't that more important than who the Mayor of Beijing currently is, even to the average citizen of Beijing?"

    I raise this because it started a trend in me to begin to see morality in politics and history as a question of framing. In what context are you making your judgment?

    Philip's core assertion... that the government of the UK was in error to hand over sovereignty of Hong Kong without input from the affected population stands on it's own. Self-determination and autonomy are about as close to unversal truths as we get in this life. But they do raise some interesting wrinkles...

    -Why should PRC be obliged to provide fresh water or any other supplies to a newly formed sovereign nation of Hong Kong & Kowloon?

    -Is it moral to turn Hong Kong loose for it's own sovereignty if it cannot sustain it's own needs?

    -Somebody raised the question of the US and its relationship to Taiwan... I would suggest, strongly, that is a different situation entirely and the parallels are limited. But the core reason for it's inclusion... that at the end of the day, like it or not, Might Does Make Right is probably more correct than any of us would ever care to admit.
    There's an entry in the Hong Kong Museum referencing an episode in the 1960s (when Mao was the PRC leader) when the mainland provided Hong Kong with fresh water supplies during a time of drought. In case anyone may think this is bias towards the current Chinese overlords, there is another entry referencing an episode in the early 20th century when the Qing government demanded the hand over of republican agitators, which the British government of HK ignored. The lesson I'm trying to drive is that maybe people shouldn't pontificate about generalised principles from afar, but should learn something about the subject being discussed, or at least listen to those who know more about it. Whatever your political orientation, relevant knowledge and good historiography should be something to aspire to.

  11. #41
    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Totally agree. I feel completely unqualified to take a side one way or the other. I've learned that there tends to be so much nuance in each and every situation, it's hard to apply general priciniples in anything but the most superficial way. If I came off as pontificating, my apologies, that wasn't my intent.
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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    You assume we are not deficient in our reasoning, as did they.

    Slavery is often a proxy for this notion that we are overall "better" than our ancestors but the notion of slavery people have is of the transatlantic slave trade which is really a "special case." You see, slavery had already been illegal in much of Europe for several centuries and people DID believe that it was wrong. In England it was outlawed by Wulfstan of York under King Knut (though I believe it made a bit of a comeback under the Normans and they also had serfs).

    So, how to justify enslaving Sub-Saharan Africans?

    Well, basically you declare them sub-human, and then enslaving them isn't wrong. Modern ideas of "racial purity" are a direct result of the slave-trade and the "scientific racism" used to justify it. Can you think of anything we do today which isn't immoral or self-destructive? How about our over-use of natural resources and electricity? The whole point is to recognise that we are NOT necessarily ethically superior to those in other historical periods, that's the real value in history - to see and understand things freom another perspective and then question your own assumptions.

    How does this relate to Hong Kong?

    Well, it relates because it is not an "historical" event that belongs to another period, it happened a couple of decades ago, under our current ethical system. The reason what is happening in Hong Kong is so bad and in a way worse than the 19th Century depredations of the British Empire is that it wasn't done by an historical "them" but by the present "us", with full knowledge of the consequences.

    At the time of the handover Hong Kong's population represented more than a tenth of the total British citizenry. What we did is roughly equivalent to the US handing about 35 million people to Russia - possibly the equivalent of giving them California.
    Some of that attitude was present in Anglos, even into the late 20th century, as represented by the FILTH. Many Brits in Hong Kong still regarded the Chinese as an inferior people, with Hong Kong being a last holdout of the Raj. Of course, this wasn't unique to the Brits, as the Hong Kong Chinese in turn viewed the mainland Chinese as an inferior people, holding a similar position to their mainland cousins as the Brits did to them. While the Brits' attitude to the Hong Kongers may be described as racism, how would you describe the Hong Kongers' same attitude to the mainlanders? Caste may be a better description, and this hierarchy held until the handover and possibly even beyond. Whites at the top, locals next level down, mainlanders at the bottom. This was why Patten was seen as exceptional, a big name Westminster politician who treated all inhabitants of Hong Kong as his constituents.

    I have no idea what the right thing to do in the case of Hong Kong may be. But it irks me when Hong Kong is set up as something it is not, to put forward an argument of general principles, whatever they may be.

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    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Some of that attitude was present in Anglos, even into the late 20th century, as represented by the FILTH. Many Brits in Hong Kong still regarded the Chinese as an inferior people, with Hong Kong being a last holdout of the Raj. Of course, this wasn't unique to the Brits, as the Hong Kong Chinese in turn viewed the mainland Chinese as an inferior people, holding a similar position to their mainland cousins as the Brits did to them. While the Brits' attitude to the Hong Kongers may be described as racism, how would you describe the Hong Kongers' same attitude to the mainlanders? Caste may be a better description, and this hierarchy held until the handover and possibly even beyond. Whites at the top, locals next level down, mainlanders at the bottom. This was why Patten was seen as exceptional, a big name Westminster politician who treated all inhabitants of Hong Kong as his constituents.

    I have no idea what the right thing to do in the case of Hong Kong may be. But it irks me when Hong Kong is set up as something it is not, to put forward an argument of general principles, whatever they may be.
    Many Brits overseas still regard non-Anglos as inferior - but we as a society have reached a point where we no longer consider that remotely acceptable, and we had reached that point AT LEAST by 1990, if not before.

    Despite which, Parliament STILL has not granted British citizens born in Overseas Territories the same rights as those in Mainland Britain and Ireland.

    As to how Hong Kongers viewed mainland Chinese, I'd just call that racism the same as I'd call the antipathy between the British and French racism.
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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    And thus "racism" gets devalued to the point where people's instinctive dislike and fear of "other" is labelled as "racism". Even if everyone is the same race. Better use Xenophobia since at least that is accurate.

    Most people are at least to an extent xenophobic. Most lie about this of course since it is not PC. Everyone loves everyone. As long as they do not encroach on our lives.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Xenophobia, bigotry sure...

    But to me (and I'm open to being wrong on this) Racism implies power structures that enable one group to permanently relegate said other to a permanent underclass.

    If you can't lynch or disenfranchise somebody, can you truly be racist? Bigoted and hateful, certainly... but racism requires power and instutionalized control.
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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Nothing has changed:

    https://youtu.be/CgASBVMyVFI

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Look up Ping Shan. It, and other villages in the New Territories, was involved in a war against the British in 1899 (I bet you didn't know that). What was notable about that conflict is that, in one short war, more villagers were killed than in a century of inter-village warfare. Was this oppression of native villagers by the British? Not for the villages themselves, for whom this was an ill-advised fight against professional soldiers. But what is relevant about the above point is that there were centuries of inter-village warfare before this, and decades of inter-village warfare after this. The Hong Kong-British war is documented in published histories, while the inter-village warfare is present in folk histories (such as records of alliances between different villages, and celebrations of these alliances), and referenced in these published histories.

    What do you know of Hong Kong, that you feel confident in dismissing the above?

    PS. If you have difficulty getting your head around small-scale inter-village warfare, read about the early history of Rome.
    Pannonian, what are you talking about? Do you really read me as contesting that violence and warfare exist?

    Montmorency was making the (exceptional) argument that history can be judged by modern ethics. I raised the point of war and spoils, which is completely alien to modern western societies, but which was an integral part of society in the past. Montmorency tried to argue that it was abhorrent to ancient societies, when most evidence (barring that of the philosophical elite) indicates otherwise.
    No, I didn't. I pointed out that such practices did not go unquestioned, that there is no such thing as a universal attitude or philosophy of time and place, and that to assign one is a form of bias. And my larger (unexceptional) point is that the ethics of the observer can be applied to any event at any point in time to some extent, unless one is an absolute moral relativist, which no one is.

    If you don't want to talk about war and spoils, how about religion, as PFH has raised? What do you think of the importance of the soul in pre-modern history? Should you try and understand this subject and via that view history through that perspective? Or do you stick with Montmorency's argument that we should view history through the modern perspective?
    Again, two quite distinct questions:

    1. What was a specific historical viewpoint, what were its antecedents, what was its milieu, what functions did it serve...?
    2. What do I personally make of this viewpoint?

    For example, people have believed in thousands of different gods and deities across time and place. What do I make of these gods? Well, I'm an atheist, and I'm just as much of an atheist with respect to Ba'al as to "God". I don't suddenly stop being an atheist just because some gods were worshiped long ago. And I don't suddenly have to respect scientific concepts like humours, nor do I lack standing to accept, reject, or modify any philosophy or theology I come across in deference to age. It too would be absurd to hold one to agnosticism or against criticism of the myriad contradictory worldviews that have existed - yet most are far older than we are. They were believed by different humans in a different time and place - but you don't have to.



    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    What's that term Socrates used basically saying that no one willingly goes towards the bad?
    Problem I have with that notion is that you are basically saying that previous humans were somehow more deficient in their reasoning that they couldn't figure out slavery is wrong OR they lacked the imagination of all possible scenarios and they somehow couldn't even conceive of a world where slavery is removed. Apply this to any morally questionable choice from the past and it seems like bending over backwards to not hurt the feelings of dead people.
    The reservation advanced in thread is so obviously extreme and illogical, I think it's more about flattering the feelings of present people. To me it is a very telling juxtaposition when we see in this thread the perfunctory condemnation of the Indian settee practice, but colonialism is set above criticism because it was part of a different cultural context, how very dare you sir (with non-British colonialism having less enjoyment of this buffer somehow).

    It's a put-on.



    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    You assume we are not deficient in our reasoning, as did they.

    The whole point is to recognise that we are NOT necessarily ethically superior to those in other historical periods
    The presence of deficiencies in ourselves does not preclude comparison, whether hold to our (individual) own standard or some other. One of the things anyone should quickly realize when reading history is that many of us today, for whatever reason, simply are better people in many regards than most of those that have come before - to the extent we know anything about most of that lot. There is nothing impossible in this observation, only discomfiting for some perhaps. To observe difference is not to say that we are New Man or ubermensch or the apex of history.

    Well, it relates because it is not an "historical" event that belongs to another period, it happened a couple of decades ago, under our current ethical system. The reason what is happening in Hong Kong is so bad and in a way worse than the 19th Century depredations of the British Empire is that it wasn't done by an historical "them" but by the present "us", with full knowledge of the consequences.
    Don't you think that's too elitist, too presentist? What happened a year ago or yesterday has merged into the realm of history. History does not start or begin at a fixed point, and it does not reach its limits with our consciousness. Don't be like the French labeling everything after 1789 as "contemporary." Drawing breath doesn't qualitatively rupture intellectual space, as opposed to the phenomenological aspect.


    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone View Post
    -Why should PRC be obliged to provide fresh water or any other supplies to a newly formed sovereign nation of Hong Kong & Kowloon?

    -Is it moral to turn Hong Kong loose for it's own sovereignty if it cannot sustain it's own needs?

    -Somebody raised the question of the US and its relationship to Taiwan... I would suggest, strongly, that is a different situation entirely and the parallels are limited. But the core reason for it's inclusion... that at the end of the day, like it or not, Might Does Make Right is probably more correct than any of us would ever care to admit.
    Here's a kind of rhetorical problem, namely that some moral quandaries are difficult in a given moral framework - but others are very easy.

    1. From either a human rights or utilitarian perspective, yes. [easy]
    2. Depends on who the sovereign is. If Hong Kong were a syndicalist commune - maybe. [harder]
    3. Unclear what the proposition is [can't compute]
    Last edited by Montmorency; 07-17-2019 at 02:34.
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    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    And thus "racism" gets devalued to the point where people's instinctive dislike and fear of "other" is labelled as "racism". Even if everyone is the same race. Better use Xenophobia since at least that is accurate.

    Most people are at least to an extent xenophobic. Most lie about this of course since it is not PC. Everyone loves everyone. As long as they do not encroach on our lives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone View Post
    Xenophobia, bigotry sure...

    But to me (and I'm open to being wrong on this) Racism implies power structures that enable one group to permanently relegate said other to a permanent underclass.

    If you can't lynch or disenfranchise somebody, can you truly be racist? Bigoted and hateful, certainly... but racism requires power and instutionalized control.
    Or we could just distinguish between "racism" and "institutional racism". Race is a construct, it's the human equivalent of different dog breeds, and if you think that sounds silly look at how obsessive people get over specific types of Collie sheepdog - court colour, ear shape...

    Rory thinks that the English and the French are "the same race" but if we look at "Scientific" racism we see the French classified as Galles or Celts and the English as "Arian". Both are white but the French are, unlike the Germans, somewhat suspect, they are perhaps not "as white". After all, France borders Italy and the Italians have been worthless since the end of the Roman Empire.

    Racism is not special, it is common and it is vulgar and the same thought pattern which allows the French and the English to sneer at each other also allowed one group of Germans to enthusiastically slaughter another group of Germans as a matter of principle because they might be Jewish.

    Every human being has the capacity for bottomless evil and the ones you should be most worried about are the ones who believe that isn't true.
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  19. #49

    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Or we could just distinguish between "racism" and "institutional racism". Race is a construct, it's the human equivalent of different dog breeds, and if you think that sounds silly look at how obsessive people get over specific types of Collie sheepdog - court colour, ear shape...
    This is a problematic analogy because dog breeds are demonstrably very physically and behaviorally divergent.

    Racism is not special, it is common and it is vulgar and the same thought pattern which allows the French and the English to sneer at each other also allowed one group of Germans to enthusiastically slaughter another group of Germans as a matter of principle because they might be Jewish.
    This sense of racism might have been applicable in the 18th century, but different modes of thinking are current as to the relationship between English and French people.

    Every human being has the capacity for bottomless evil and the ones you should be most worried about are the ones who believe that isn't true.
    This isn't meaningful though, if you care about measuring or predicting behavior. Every human has the capacity to go to space; most won't for a variety of reasons, even projecting future space-based technologies or economies.

    Similarly, we have to hone in on the evils we should be worried about today, not the whole universe of possible evils. (I have a feeling I'm devolving into reflexive captiousness )
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    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    This is a problematic analogy because dog breeds are demonstrably very physically and behaviorally divergent.
    True, but Collies are not - which was the point.

    This sense of racism might have been applicable in the 18th century, but different modes of thinking are current as to the relationship between English and French people.
    Are you sure? Are we abandoning the "banality of Evil" then?

    This isn't meaningful though, if you care about measuring or predicting behavior. Every human has the capacity to go to space; most won't for a variety of reasons, even projecting future space-based technologies or economies.

    Similarly, we have to hone in on the evils we should be worried about today, not the whole universe of possible evils. (I have a feeling I'm devolving into reflexive captiousness )
    You miss the point - evil is not really very special except when special people are evil. Imagine if Adolf Hitler had known and loved his Jewish Grandmother and been an ardent democrat? In that circumstance World War II might have started because Hitler was outraged by Soviet encroachment in Eastern Europe.

    Worse, evil is a matter of perception. Today we would consider burning heretics evil but 500 years ago our direct ancestors would have considered giving them a platform to spread their poisonous lies over the Internet much more evil.

    The point is to learn from history and the thing to learn is that you will be judged centuries from now and you might be wrong.

    In the case of Hong Kong we can look back 22-years and say that a lot of people, including the Hong Kong Legislature at the time, considered what was done - denial of citizenship to Hong Kongers - was wrong.

    Some of the people who made that decision are still in Parliament, almost all of them are still alive and are public figures in the UK.
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  21. #51

    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    Are you sure? Are we abandoning the "banality of Evil" then?
    What do you mean?

    Jewish Grandmother
    Err...

    In that circumstance World War II might have started because Hitler was outraged by Soviet encroachment in Eastern Europe.
    If WW2-era Germany incorporated Jews toward the project of subjugating Europe, exterminating Slavs and colonizing their land, that would still be about as evil.

    The point is to learn from history and the thing to learn is that you will be judged centuries from now and you might be wrong.
    Do you think I disagree?

    In the case of Hong Kong we can look back 22-years and say that a lot of people, including the Hong Kong Legislature at the time, considered what was done - denial of citizenship to Hong Kongers - was wrong.
    I haven't yet in thread rendered an opinion on this OP subject, but if it makes you feel better at first glance I would be inclined to agree.
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    What do you mean?
    You are trying to elevate racism and make it special from other forms of xenophobia (fear of people from other races).

    Err...
    Sorry, I meant grandfather - and that's never been proved either way.

    If WW2-era Germany incorporated Jews toward the project of subjugating Europe, exterminating Slavs and colonizing their land, that would still be about as evil.
    You ignored the part about Hitler being a democrat and not a tyrant - I'm asking you to imagine a world where Hitler is basically and angrier, shoutier version of Churchill. Point being, Adolf Hitler had certain special gifts - he used those gifts in pursuit of evil ends and so his evil killed six million people.

    However, many other Germans also participated enthusiastically - are they all equally evil? Only a little bit? Are they still evil if they have fallen for "Nazi lies" and believe Jews are actually the evil ones?

    Difficult, complex, and uncomfortable questions.

    Do you think I disagree?
    I think that you have not considered all the ramifications.

    Try another one - 1066, the Normans invade England, confiscate 100% of the land, enserf the entire peasant population who were previously free.

    Are the Normans "evil"?

    Within a generation the economy had collapsed due to miss-management and the introduction of Feudalism basically sopped the development of English civil society. The administration was so poor that the late-Anglo-Saxon system of county division was ossified for 1008 years.

    On the other hand, the Norman invasion paved the way for real democracy with Magna Carta, it re-orientated England towards the European mainland instead of Scandinavia and it jump-started the modern English Middle-Class, eventually.

    Now compare this to the British Raj - definitely some downsides but the British are just doing what everyone does in this period, and they're generally better at it and better about it than a lot of other people. Sure, there's some short-term harm done to India, and it's not trivial, but there's also the groundwork layed for "The World's Largest Democracy."

    So, were the British "evil"?

    A lot of people in this thread are confusing a refusal to outright condemn or apply moralistic language to the past as condoning past actions.
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  23. #53

    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    You are trying to elevate racism and make it special from other forms of xenophobia (fear of people from other races).
    I think you're being too reductive with the concept.

    You ignored the part about Hitler being a democrat and not a tyrant - I'm asking you to imagine a world where Hitler is basically and angrier, shoutier version of Churchill. Point being, Adolf Hitler had certain special gifts - he used those gifts in pursuit of evil ends and so his evil killed six million people.
    More than six million.

    Sounds like something from Turtledove's Southern Victory series. Amusing fantasy, but alternate worlds are not ontologically meaningful.

    However, many other Germans also participated enthusiastically - are they all equally evil? Only a little bit? Are they still evil if they have fallen for "Nazi lies" and believe Jews are actually the evil ones?

    Difficult, complex, and uncomfortable questions.
    Not really. I'm with:

    Quote Originally Posted by Julius Goat
    Historians have a word for Germans who joined the Nazi party, not because they hated Jews, but because out of a hope for restored patriotism, or a sense of economic anxiety, or a hope to preserve their religious values, or dislike of their opponents, or raw political opportunism, or convenience, or ignorance, or greed.

    That word is “Nazi”.

    No-one cares about their motives anymore.
    Though I think it is useful to study their motives (as historians have in fact been doing for generations) to build theories of how and why societies turn fascist. Very timely.



    I think that you have not considered all the ramifications.

    Try another one - 1066, the Normans invade England, confiscate 100% of the land, enserf the entire peasant population who were previously free.

    Are the Normans "evil"?

    Within a generation the economy had collapsed due to miss-management and the introduction of Feudalism basically sopped the development of English civil society. The administration was so poor that the late-Anglo-Saxon system of county division was ossified for 1008 years.

    On the other hand, the Norman invasion paved the way for real democracy with Magna Carta, it re-orientated England towards the European mainland instead of Scandinavia and it jump-started the modern English Middle-Class, eventually.

    Now compare this to the British Raj - definitely some downsides but the British are just doing what everyone does in this period, and they're generally better at it and better about it than a lot of other people. Sure, there's some short-term harm done to India, and it's not trivial, but there's also the groundwork layed for "The World's Largest Democracy."

    So, were the British "evil"?

    A lot of people in this thread are confusing a refusal to outright condemn or apply moralistic language to the past as condoning past actions.
    If something can be condemned in its own right, it should be condemned.

    You're introducing a conflation here. In this sense it is impossible to assess anything that happens anywhere, because who knows what the ultimate causal chain looks like. Wasn't WW2 pretty good? Maybe when Hitler set up the General Government in Poland he disrupted a lot of criminal activity, prevented a lot of harm by moving people around. Maybe experiencing the war prevented Nikita Khrushchev from becoming the next Hitler. The outcome of the war encouraged European cooperation. Maybe it will turn out to have been key to world peace by 2100. Maybe if a time traveler went back and killed Hitler as an infant, every human would be dead today. Who knows, right? Maybe you should visit my home and smother me in my sleep, just in case all's well that ends well? I can't say how the ultimate balance of things lies, so is it really reasonable not to kill me?!

    Again, ontologically meaningless speculation. It's just not a valid means to understanding the world.

    And you're whitewashing British colonialism again. "Definitely some downsides" is partial and moralistic language. Why is this sort of evaluation intrinsically acceptable but the opposite, that it was particularly bad in scope, scale, and intensity, that the prevalence of imperialism is not exculpatory, and that there were long-term costs not acceptable, even on the basis of evidence? The problem is you don't speak on principle, a bad principle which as I have established is logically incoherent, but out of nostalgia or identity-based legitimation. Our disagreement lies not in whether it is possible to judge colonialism, but in how harshly or leniently it ought to be judged.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 07-17-2019 at 05:32.
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone View Post
    Xenophobia, bigotry sure...

    But to me (and I'm open to being wrong on this) Racism implies power structures that enable one group to permanently relegate said other to a permanent underclass.

    If you can't lynch or disenfranchise somebody, can you truly be racist? Bigoted and hateful, certainly... but racism requires power and instutionalized control.
    Interesting parsing of those terms. By your definitions, I conflate bigotry and racism. To be sure, the power to effect subjugation of one race by another through laws, terror, etc. is the real sticking point.
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  25. #55
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Pannonian, what are you talking about? Do you really read me as contesting that violence and warfare exist?
    I read you as contesting that good historiography consists of reading events and actions in the context of the time and then current background, that bad historiography consists of reading events and actions in your current time and context.

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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    I think you're being too reductive with the concept.
    I think you're being too narrow.

    More than six million.

    Sounds like something from Turtledove's Southern Victory series. Amusing fantasy, but alternate worlds are not ontologically meaningful.
    You are correct, six million Jews, ten million people overall. As a thought experiment the point is to not simply see Afolf Hitler as Satan, but to see him as a human being (not a popular idea in the West) who made certain choices for certain reasons.

    Not really. I'm with:
    Again, we come back to burning heretics. At the time all Christians were inducted at birth and had no real choice about their membership, do we therefore "not care" about why they were members. Julius Goat omits to consider "fear for ones self and ones family" as a reason for joining.

    Though I think it is useful to study their motives (as historians have in fact been doing for generations) to build theories of how and why societies turn fascist. Very timely.

    If something can be condemned in its own right, it should be condemned.

    You're introducing a conflation here. In this sense it is impossible to assess anything that happens anywhere, because who knows what the ultimate causal chain looks like. Wasn't WW2 pretty good? Maybe when Hitler set up the General Government in Poland he disrupted a lot of criminal activity, prevented a lot of harm by moving people around. Maybe experiencing the war prevented Nikita Khrushchev from becoming the next Hitler. The outcome of the war encouraged European cooperation. Maybe it will turn out to have been key to world peace by 2100. Maybe if a time traveler went back and killed Hitler as an infant, every human would be dead today. Who knows, right? Maybe you should visit my home and smother me in my sleep, just in case all's well that ends well? I can't say how the ultimate balance of things lies, so is it really reasonable not to kill me?!

    Again, ontologically meaningless speculation. It's just not a valid means to understanding the world.

    And you're whitewashing British colonialism again. "Definitely some downsides" is partial and moralistic language. Why is this sort of evaluation intrinsically acceptable but the opposite, that it was particularly bad in scope, scale, and intensity, that the prevalence of imperialism is not exculpatory, and that there were long-term costs not acceptable, even on the basis of evidence? The problem is you don't speak on principle, a bad principle which as I have established is logically incoherent, but out of nostalgia or identity-based legitimation. Our disagreement lies not in whether it is possible to judge colonialism, but in how harshly or leniently it ought to be judged.
    No, I'm just pointing out that if the EIC's annexation of India was evil and makes the subsequent British Rag evil then the Norman invasion was also evil and so was the subsequent development of English democracy was also evil.

    For about a century and a half all of India was under British rule, and for about a century of that this was the "British Raj" as distinct from the "Company Raj". As extraordinary as it sounds the annexation of India was a private undertaking which the British government ultimately took over when the private contractor demonstrated itself to be incompetent and unable to govern to the benefit of the Crown or the local population.

    Ultimately, after World War I Britain increasingly democratised the government of India, a process which continued up to Independence. We even built the Parliament in New Delhi. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centra...ative_Assembly

    At what point did the Raj stop being evil? Or was it through its nature only capable of evil? If that is the case was granting independence and the asked for partition evil?
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  27. #57

    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    I read you as contesting that good historiography consists of reading events and actions in the context of the time and then current background, that bad historiography consists of reading events and actions in your current time and context.
    You will find answers to your questions in my posts, which establish that your principle is necessarily a hypocritical one that you can't and don't adhere to. It is right to be critical of history tailored to a self-interested agenda. It is wrong to dismiss the honest ascertainment of facts about history and pretend they bear no relevance to the present day or vice versa.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    As a thought experiment the point is to not simply see Afolf Hitler as Satan, but to see him as a human being (not a popular idea in the West) who made certain choices for certain reasons.
    You're confusing popular culture with routine historical practice; we don't disagree. Unless it's with the insinuation that "choice" of any configuration is omnipresent.

    Again, we come back to burning heretics. At the time all Christians were inducted at birth and had no real choice about their membership, do we therefore "not care" about why they were members. Julius Goat omits to consider "fear for ones self and ones family" as a reason for joining.
    I don't know what heretics and Christians have to do with it, but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRDq7aneXnk.

    The demographic of people who actively participated in atrocities out of fear is smaller than either the demographics of the indifferent and accepting or of the actively sadistic. Anyway, we can condemn cowardice where we see it, while being cognizant of contextual differences between German clerk working paper at a munitions factory in 1940, a lawyer whistling past renditions of his neighbors in 1934, and a Wehrmacht soldier looting and burning a peasant hut in 1941. A Pole in 1943 refusing to shelter a Jew at pain of death is not bad the same way as a Pole joining the local paramilitary in 1943 to hunt down Jews and Resistance with SS assistance. (And if I turn out to be a coward, that's not good either.)

    No, I'm just pointing out that if the EIC's annexation of India was evil and makes the subsequent British Rag evil then the Norman invasion was also evil and so was the subsequent development of English democracy was also evil.
    Why the latter? The problem is refusal to accounting.

    At what point did the Raj stop being evil? Or was it through its nature only capable of evil? If that is the case was granting independence and the asked for partition evil?
    I've only recently begun to accept use of the word "evil" and don't really have a sophisticated conception of capital-Evil as compared to Bad or Wrong (which two we may or may not philosophically distinguish themselves depending on your thinking). Suffice to say at the point of committing to a transition out of a colonial regime, the important thing is the process of doing it, how well you set up the decolonized people for self-rule. It's a different subject from the characteristics of colonial rule as a system, though arguably "truth and reconciliation" for the latter ought to play a prominent role in the former (though it pretty much never has).
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    You will find answers to your questions in my posts, which establish that your principle is necessarily a hypocritical one that you can't and don't adhere to. It is right to be critical of history tailored to a self-interested agenda. It is wrong to dismiss the honest ascertainment of facts about history and pretend they bear no relevance to the present day or vice versa.
    There is no hypocrisy in my point, nor is it something that I can't and won't adhere to. It is one of the first principles of history study as I was taught. You do not assess the past by the standards of the present. You will never have a perfect understanding of the past. But you pursue that anyway, for it improves your understanding of what the evidence tells you. While perfection may never be reached, there is one perspective that is definitively wrong. That is to do as you say should be done, which is to assess the past by the standards of the present. Just about every other mistake can be forgiven, as an error in detail. What you suggest is a fundamental error in principle.

    Why did people in the past put so much resources into building places of worship? Can you explain this from the standards of the present?

  29. #59
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    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    I don't know what heretics and Christians have to do with it, but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRDq7aneXnk.

    The demographic of people who actively participated in atrocities out of fear is smaller than either the demographics of the indifferent and accepting or of the actively sadistic. Anyway, we can condemn cowardice where we see it, while being cognizant of contextual differences between German clerk working paper at a munitions factory in 1940, a lawyer whistling past renditions of his neighbors in 1934, and a Wehrmacht soldier looting and burning a peasant hut in 1941. A Pole in 1943 refusing to shelter a Jew at pain of death is not bad the same way as a Pole joining the local paramilitary in 1943 to hunt down Jews and Resistance with SS assistance. (And if I turn out to be a coward, that's not good either.)
    Nazis hunted down Jews for a number of reasons, but often because they believed Jews were evil.

    Now we hunt Nazis because we believe they are evil, we put them on trial even when they are old and infirm octogenarians.

    The parallel with Christian heretics is apt - once we denounced them as evil and executed them, now we denounce those who take their faith to a logical extreme as evil. Earlier Husar referred to the 9/11 bombers and asked if they were evil if they believed in what they were doing - it's an apt question, and it has two answers. Basically, over the last hundred years or so we've gradually inverted our moral system, whereas we used to value moral purity we now value moral flexibility. This may be progress, or it may be an aberration that future generations will look at as a mystifying and shameful stain on human history.

    Nazis are a proxy for this, the Crusades are another, and religion in general is often said to be "the only thing that can make good men do evil things" when that's patently nonsense.

    Why the latter? The problem is refusal to accounting.
    Sentences require subjects and objects, and verbs. I'm going to have to ask you to re-frame this because I literally can't tell to what it it you are referring here.

    I've only recently begun to accept use of the word "evil" and don't really have a sophisticated conception of capital-Evil as compared to Bad or Wrong (which two we may or may not philosophically distinguish themselves depending on your thinking). Suffice to say at the point of committing to a transition out of a colonial regime, the important thing is the process of doing it, how well you set up the decolonized people for self-rule. It's a different subject from the characteristics of colonial rule as a system, though arguably "truth and reconciliation" for the latter ought to play a prominent role in the former (though it pretty much never has).
    So, is it more evil to prolong Colonial rule to put in place the machinery of self-government to to end Colonial rule sooner when that machinery may not be functional? If Colonisation happened centuries ago what is the nature of the current Colonial Government?

    We could consider the US occupation of Hawaii and Puerto Rico here - is one more evil than the other because one has been granted Statehood?
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  30. #60

    Default Re: Hong Kong: Britain's 22-year shame

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    There is no hypocrisy in my point, nor is it something that I can't and won't adhere to. It is one of the first principles of history study as I was taught. You do not assess the past by the standards of the present. You will never have a perfect understanding of the past. But you pursue that anyway, for it improves your understanding of what the evidence tells you. While perfection may never be reached, there is one perspective that is definitively wrong. That is to do as you say should be done, which is to assess the past by the standards of the present. Just about every other mistake can be forgiven, as an error in detail. What you suggest is a fundamental error in principle.

    Why did people in the past put so much resources into building places of worship? Can you explain this from the standards of the present?
    You keep using wrong and misleading terminology and refusing to address what I have said. I have explained what it is you are doing. Address my posts for once.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    Basically, over the last hundred years or so we've gradually inverted our moral system, whereas we used to value moral purity we now value moral flexibility. This may be progress, or it may be an aberration that future generations will look at as a mystifying and shameful stain on human history.
    I don't agree with this reading of history at all.

    The general principle you seem to be drawing from 'moral beliefs differ' is not one about the study of history but about your moral system in particular being superior - which would be unsupported. I hope that's not where you're going.

    My own belief is that to the extent I have moral beliefs I can apply them to my reasoning. It's pretty straightforward. Whether I'm wrong to hold some moral beliefs is neither here nor there.

    Sentences require subjects and objects, and verbs. I'm going to have to ask you to re-frame this because I literally can't tell to what it it you are referring here.
    You can't discern the antecedent? Colonial governments are accountable for the harms they perpetrate, because in general people or groups should be accountable for harms; failing to be subjected to an accounting of harms is/was wrong.

    So, is it more evil to prolong Colonial rule to put in place the machinery of self-government to to end Colonial rule sooner when that machinery may not be functional? If Colonisation happened centuries ago what is the nature of the current Colonial Government?
    If the government isn't imposing sacrifices on the home population in order to expedite this process, then it isn't upholding its duty.

    We could consider the US occupation of Hawaii and Puerto Rico here - is one more evil than the other because one has been granted Statehood?
    I mentioned earlier in thread that the USA is built on conquest too; that's bad. But Americans today overwhelmingly identify with the country, so there's no real revanchist sensibility. Naturally they should have representation in the conduct of national politics.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 07-18-2019 at 02:11.
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