Failure of Modern Society-4 (Diverse Systems of Ethics)

If democracy, rule by public opinion, is the best hope for earth to reach higher levels of civilization. If we desire dignity and happiness to be within the reach of most of humankind, that every living thing be free to exercise and satisfy all impulses fitting to that species. Then our primary goal must be an atmosphere to perfect the means by which moral opinions are formed. The enduring success of any democracy presupposes a high level of intelligence, creativity and morality on the part of a majority of it’s citizens.

To secure progress and achievements already made it is necessary that leaders and inspirers evolve who reduce corruption and by their creative activity, improve, refine and increase human culture. The “catch 22” being; while we need to improve human nature itself we are a diverse and increasingly intertwined array of human cultures and individuals existing in an ever more delicate biosphere. Any system of ethics which ignores this situation is out of step with our time.

Our world civilization has developed on a multi ethical basis, governed by ethical principles of very different systems which have never been harmonized, but rather are more often in conflict. No one system alone will suffice as the basis of our civilization. One system unmalleable and unchecked by its neighbor, leads to disasters such as war. A universal system unmodified by the recognition of the validity of other systems, must lead to stagnation and decay. Therefore, the great need of our time is some rational and effective interrelation of diverse systems.

The purpose of this book is to make suggestions towards such a mixture, insisting that such a scheme must make two principal demands or prescriptions. First, is a true diversity, consisting in society or family of strong and stable individuals, each sensitive and benevolently sympathetic to the just claims of each member. Secondly, it will prescribe for each individual and group, rights that will enable it to effectively play its proper roll among its fellows. A wholesomely democratic organization, in accordance with the dictates of post-modern aesthetics and required by the experience of beauty.

Diverse Systems of Ethics

To begin there are certain ethical problems confronting the post-modern world and promise to become very rapidly more urgent. They are problems, which will need to be met by moral action on the widest scale and in the near future. Political action, if it is to be carried through successfully and confidently for the settlement of these problems, must conform to principles recognized as fitting and proper. Yet they are problems in the face of which the ethical principals previously accepted by civilized societies give us no sure guidance. This is true of the principles of most civilizations, present and past.

The ethical principles of most civilizations have had much in common, in spite of differences in detail and of emphasis. Compare the Judeo-Christian code with the moral codes of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome, of China, of Japan, of the Moslem world, of Buddhist peoples or of many tribal peoples. We find that in all these codes the most essential and effective precepts are substantially identical, in so far as they bear upon the personal relations of person to person, within those societies.

Following are the common stock of ethical precepts, without the cultivation of which, as a strong and effective moral tradition a civilization remains very crude.

To speak the truth,
To be mutually helpful and loyal,
To be compassionate,
To do no violence to the persons or property of our neighbors,
To practice moderation and

Various civilizations have emphasized differently these main precepts with various solutions. Each has insisted upon certain detailed applications in a manner peculiar to itself. Such special features of moral code have profoundly affected the course and destiny of each civilization. Such peculiarities of moral codes have played a great part in determining the fates of people and civilizations. Yet the differences as regards personal conduct of one person to another, have been differences of the moral license rather than differences of qualities. In short ethics has been ethics of the individual, within a more or less homogenous group.

Ethics have evolved to regulate conduct between individuals within a group and outline the individual’s responsibility toward the group and visa versa. The larger ethical problems outside the individual as member of a societal group have been neglected. Problems arise when one well-defined group comes into active contact with another. One group inevitably endeavors to dominate the other. Especially when one group is more powerful and the other group is a non-represented component of the biosphere. Each claiming rules binding upon the other. In most cases the popular, practical, ethical code by which the mass of human kind has lived is essentially ethno-political. We have seldom sought to apply universal principles to relations of people outside their own group. The only people generally recognized in a full sense are alike fellow-citizens. Everyone else is outside the ethical purview.

In the bio-ethno-diversity of post-modern reality, with its extreme convergence of millions of years of diversification, our world has failed to achieve a synthesis of ethical and political principles with a generally excepted validity.

Since Plato’s Republic, ethics and politics were treated as inseparable. Yet these political ethics are severely flawed in their development, by the restriction of looking only at free men of Greek city-states. These national political ethical systems make for extreme conservatism, for national stability and endurance. It seeks to preserve the national type by implanting respect and reverence for national gods and other institutions and also preserving some degree of racial purity. It makes of others aliens, alien to privilege and citizenship.

The modern world has treated ethics and politics as two divided systems. One is a universal individualist and the other a national ethno-political system. China is the paradigm of endurance among nations with its ethical creed, cult of family and hostility toward foreigners. Contrast the Roman Empire with its attempt to assimilate an immense mass of diverse races, creeds and codes into one ethical system. The source of its power and foundation was destroyed.

Systems of national ethics are, by their indigenous nature, incapable of extension to alien peoples. Those that have endured have remained strictly exclusive. The universal systems on the other hand are by character assimilative and missionary. Principally they spread by destroying or supplanting the lesser national codes. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all spread across diverse areas of the bio-sphere. Any one of them must have seemed destined to supplant all codes.

In each case the multiplicity of contacts of diverse elements of race and culture, crossings and blendings would stimulate immense human productivity. At the same time conserving and stabilizing influences would be removed. Soon the brilliance would dim and inertia would replace vigor. We have continued cycles of rapid expansion followed by stagnation or decay.

When I say conserving influences are missing I distinguish between those that clog progress of the mind and those that respect the past. If conservatism doesn’t complement liberalism we end up with race prejudice and national prejudice, ethnocentricity verses dissolution and decay. What we in fact ended up with is the modern era of cosmopolitans. An age guided by pure reason, where passions float on the current of life. We are a society of nations that have accepted the religion of peace and brother hood, yet are constantly at war with each other.

By: Sami Saeed

From my diary of September, 1954

“Ask, and it shall be given unto you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
but seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you.” Bible

پڑھيئے ایک دلچسپ اور معلومات کا حامل بلاگ ” میں کیا ہوں ” پر کلِک کر کہ یا مندرجہ ذیل یو آر ایل براؤزر میں لکھ کر

The Force of Law

Pakistan has the misfortune of being periodically bashed by the international media. Recently, it has been the uproar over the revival of the death penalty. The European Union, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, called for reimposition of the moratorium on executions.

Locally, the HRCP criticised the measure, arguing (without any study/survey) that execution of convicts has no nexus with the crime rate in the country. Some columnists also cautioned the government to exercise restraint, lest innocents get hanged for want of a fair trial.

The moratorium was imposed in 2008 as a condition for getting the GSP Plus status with the European Union. Reportedly some 8,000 convicts, proven guilty for heinous crimes including terrorism, were languishing in prisons – with growing attacks by the Taliban to set them free. In April 2012, in a daring assault on the Bannu prison, 400 prisoners were released, followed by another audacious attack (in July 2013) at a prison in D I Khan, resulting in the release of another 248 hardened criminals. This caused alarm and panic in the country: the KP government asked the centre to transfer Dr Shakil Afridi, a high-value target (alleged facilitator of the US raid on Bin Laden), from the Central Prison Peshawar. There were calls for resumption of executions of condemned prisoners.

The government was, however, in a quandary: the moratorium could not be lifted without the risk of losing the GSP-Plus status. Public pressure then intensified after the horrific incident of APS, Peshawar. The government relented and executions resumed.

The global community is divided over the imposition of capital punishment. It has abolished or suspended in 140 states but still practised in 63 others. In Pakistan, the death penalty is prescribed for various offences, ranging from murder, bomb blasts/suicide explosions to narcotic/drugs, gang rape, blasphemy, etc. It is in our constitution and sanctioned by the substantive/procedural law.

Under the constitution, the right to life is not absolute but qualified; hence the state has the right to award capital punishment. There is yet another aspect of the death penalty: it is imposed under Islamic law, which carries supremacy. The constitution stipulates that any existing law repugnant to the injunctions of Islam is invalid (Article 203D), and all such laws must be brought in conformity with Islamic injunctions (Article 227).

Islamic law lays stress on the sanctity of life. Says the Quran: “On that account: We ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole mankind” (Sura 5:32).

Thus, Section 302 of the PPC prescribes Qisas as punishment for the offence of murder. It is a private right of the heir of the victim and can be compounded by Diyat or forgiven without compensation. And whereas the president has the power to grant pardon (Article 45 read with Section 402A of the CrPC), such power cannot be exercised in respect for the penalty of Qisas without the consent of the heirs of the victim (Section 402 of the CrPC). Besides Islam, other revealed religions – Judaism and Christianity – also permit capital punishment. Israel practises capital punishment for major offences including treason and war crimes/crimes against humanity. Some states in the US also practise capital punishment.

The insistence of the European Union on abolition of the death penalty is unfair, keeping in view the troubling times. Its stance is baffling, for it doesn’t object as vehemently to the killings of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the illegal/unjustified wars in Iraq, Syria and the drone strikes in Pakistan. Capital punishment is awarded to convicts proven guilty for the heinous offences of murder, bomb blasts, terrorists’ acts, etc.

The European Union has also reminded Pakistan of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966. Let it be clarified that this convention, far from imposing a total embargo on capital punishment, permits it for serious crimes. It however bans the death penalty for children under 18; that is fully complied with under the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000, which prohibits, inter alia, death sentence to minors below 18 years of age.

The abolitionists’ often-quoted arguments are that the death penalty is cruel, inhuman, degrading, and that convicts are likely to suffer irreparable/irreversible loss due to a defective criminal justice system, etc don’t stand to logic, as the same arguments equally apply to the suggested alternative punishment of imprisonment for life.

What then is the likely scenario: letting the murderers/terrorists get way and relapse into Hobbes’ state of nature: “war of every man against every man”, making “life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. Further, the counter-narration of pain/suffering inflicted on a victim and his/her family, disturbing the social balance in society, flouting the writ of the state, is missing from the discourse. It is a cardinal principle of morality and justice that the convict gets his just desserts to assuage the angry sentiments of both the victim and the community.

The government therefore need not be influenced by such criticism. The executions are legal; the moratorium was illegal since executive notification cannot override the law. The country is passing through a turbulent period. There is no security of life/ property; even highly guarded ministers/political leaders are being targeted. There is an escalating trend of violence coupled with bomb blasts and suicide explosions by militants/terrorists. In these circumstances, the country can ill afford to lower its guard by abolishing the death penalty and giving a free hand to militants/terrorists to operate with impunity.

After normalcy returns, the government may refer the matter to parliament as it requires research and study. The law must be reviewed to restrict the scope of anti-terrorism law and ensure that capital punishment is awarded in serious/heinous crimes. The law/constitution are not immutable but organic and open to reform. The provision of Qisas requires review.

Law, in order to remain relevant, must evolve with the vicissitudes of time, emerging realities and socio-economic conditions. Our criminal justice system is also in dire need of reform/improvement to prevent the miscarriage of justice.

The writer served as secretary, Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan; director general, Federal Judicial Academy; and registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan.

By: Dr Faqir Hussain

You are Rare

If your parents are still alive and still married…
you are very rare.

If you can hold your head up and smile,
you are not the norm, you are unique to all those in doubt and despair.

پڑھيئے ایک دلچسپ اور معلومات کا حامل بلاگ ” میں کیا ہوں ” پر کلِک کر کہ یا مندرجہ ذیل یو آر ایل براؤزر میں لکھ کر

International gangsterism

Mere two months after clashes between black youth and police in Baltimore following the murder of Freddie Gray while in police custody, President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the indictment of twenty-four year old Raymon Carter for his alleged involvement in the torching of a CVS pharmacy. The national government’s intervention into the case had an unmistakable message – if you engage in ‘unauthorised’ forms of resistance – in this case, crimes against property – expect to confront the full power of the national government.

This aggressive and speedy move on the part of the DOJ to criminalise poor, black kids in Baltimore differed sharply from the DOJ approach to high government officials, armed servants of the state at the local level and the big banks and investment firms. For the officials involved in torture under the Bush Administration, the financial gangsters who engineered the 2008 economic crisis, and the killer cops across the country who have yet to experience one indictment from Obama’s DOJ after months of ‘investigations’, DOJ-granted impunity has been the operative principle in practice.

But Obama’s DOJ has not been the only state institution involved in providing cover and impunity for repression and criminality in the service of the capitalist oligarchy.

What might seem oppositional and important in the game of US politics is usually insignificant and diversionary. Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House Select Committee, ostensibly established to conduct a bi-partisan investigation into the events that led to the death of Christopher Stevens and three other US citizens on September 11, 2012, was a case in point.

Despite the supposed acrimony between the two ruling class parties in Congress, an ideological consensus exists around the overall strategic commitment to maintain US global dominance. On that ultimate objective both corporate parties share an interest in shifting public attention away from state policies and actions that demonstrate the state’s absolute commitment to the principle of “by any means necessary” for maintaining and advancing the interests of the White supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist order.

For example, initially the Republican majority’s decision to launch another investigation into the events of 2012 was met with a considerable amount of consternation on the part of some democrats who saw the investigation as just another effort to sabotage Clinton’s run for the presidency. However, when the republicans settled on the issue of Clinton’s emails the democrats were concerned that Clinton’s use of a private server might cause some embarrassment for her candidacy, but it was also clear that the hearings were going to be rigged and the real questions related to Benghazi would never be raised.

If the House Committee had really been committed to public accountability and surfacing the truth, there were a number of questions that could have been raised such as: 1) what was the role of the facility that was attacked? Was it a US Consulate, a CIA facility or some other entity? 2) Why were those facilities set up so quickly even before a stable government was established in the aftermath of the destruction of the Libyan state? 3) Why were there estimated to be more than twenty CIA personnel on the ground in Benghazi just miles from the facility on the night of the attack and what was the mission of those CIA personnel? And 4) Why did the US government contract with an organisation to provide security for the facility that had clear ties to Jihadist groups that the US considered as part of the international terrorist networks?

These kinds of questions that would have delved into US involvement in Libya were not raised for two reasons: 1) The Syrian issue – Congress didn’t want the public to focus too much attention on the question of the timeline of US involvement. Although many right-wing republicans were upset that the Obama administration was not more aggressive with more open and direct support for its regime change strategy, everyone in Congress knows that the narrative of reluctant and recent involvement on the part of the Obama administration in the events in Syria is pure fiction. And 2) elements in congress and the Obama administration, with the full collaboration of the corporate press, have suppressed the facts around the mission of the CIA and the role of the State Department in Libya during the period leading to the attack on the two compounds because those activities contravened both US and international law.

Investigative journalist Seymore Hersh revealed that a classified annex to a report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Benghazi that was not made public, discussed a secret agreement made in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdogan administration in Turkey to run an arms supply line from Libya using arms secured with the overthrow of the Libya state to the so-called rebel forces in Syria. The operation was run by CIA director David Petraeus, and the elements that received support included jihadist groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate.

So even though information on the real role of the US in the war in Syria is getting more coverage, the elites in Congress and the Administration were still not interested in calling too much attention to the fact that the US provided material support to groups that it defined as terrorists which technically under US law should have made that assistance prosecutable.

Vice President Joe Biden even stated publically that governments allied with the US and their nationals were supplying arms to elements that they knew were terrorists and US officials knew it.

Yet not one of these individuals or government officials, many who travel on a regular basis to the US and other western nations have been charged or had sanctions applied to them. In fact, in a pathetic and disingenuous comment, Biden claims that even though it was pointed out to those states by US officials that their support was going to extremist jihadists forces – “We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”

Obviously for the Obama Administration charging them, freezing their bank accounts, slapping sanctions on the government as was done with the governments and individuals in Iran and Russia was out of the question.

This is why for anyone whose vision is not distorted by the myopia of white supremacist, capitalist ideology, the crude class politics of the DOJ’s decision to prosecute the young resisters in Baltimore is so outrageous.

Benghazi is only a symptom of a pattern of criminal activity on the part of US officials from both parties. From the illegal attacks on Iraq and Libya, subversion in Syria and Venezuela, surveillance, police state repression and mass incarceration domestically, coups in Honduras and Haiti, support for genocide in Yemen, and the continued occupation of Palestine, it is clear that what unites the elites of both parties is their unshakable commitment to maintaining the power of the US/EU/Nato axis of domination as the institutional expressions of concentrated white power for as long as possible.

In the meantime, Raymon Carter is facing years in prison because the state claims it has a right to hunt down and prosecute who it defines as criminals.

But the social world is not static and the balance of forces is shifting. One day using that same logic but informed by an alternative ethical framework that centres real justice, the people will be in a position to hunt down and bring to justice the international colonial gangsters who destroy our earth, torture, exploit and bring death to countless millions.

By: Ajamu Baraka