The Law

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RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Don't think I'll change much Maysie. Too bad most of the men here can't recognize our privilege and step away from the conversation. I appreciate you trying to bring some "progressive" analysis.

Seems even that is verboten hereabouts.

How are we to bring about this just society? I have a feeling I'm flailing at ghosts.

The law is still an ass.

Is it okay because most of us privileged enough to post here need not worry?

Rinse. Repeat...


I didn't see anything progressive in this instance about 'stfu because y'all have no idea what you're talking don't even bother trying.'  Like we're best buddies with the police or something.

sknguy II

Maysie wrote:

The law is regressive. The law is reactive. Laws that protect the so-called marginal classes come into being after months and years of lobbying. The Persons Act? Suffrage? Same sex marriage? It's not as if the legal system took the initiative on any of these improvements. In fact, it took considerable work, energy, effort, time and resources to bring about all of these changes in the law(s). 

Changes in law comes slowly. But the law does evolve... and is just a snapshot of what we perceive of "justice", and what that might entail at whatever point in time. The law may be an ass because our thoughts about what "justice" means to us, including how to get there, are incomsistent. It's tough to positively effect the beliefs of others. Our thoughts on justice definitely are personal, evolve with age and time, and likely don't change as quickly as others might be willing.

epaulo13 wrote:

...what protects us is the fear of uprisings.

Or it could be that the law serves the function of protecting society from too much change.

But back to Maysie's comment. It's disheartening that it's always necessary to fight for change. Competition has always been the formula, or mechanism for conflict resolution in western social institutions... like the law, politics, economics. It's always been the goto tool for resolving a lot of things. Not a very healthy foundation on which to build a society.

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Before I get called on it, I should point out one exception about civil disobedience, and other challenges to the law - that of jurisdiction. For instance, that a certain law should not apply on a First Nation. 

I've experienced a lot of "what's up with that?" attitudes regarding that. Laws do reflect a particular social strategy. And, a particular society's strategy for acheiving a "just society" can be as different as our personal thoughts on justice. This is is pretty rough analogy I've used before, but... let's say you have two neighbours in an appartment. One is readying for bed, and the other's blasting the tunes. In a rights based society this is a situation of competing rights in that both have the right to enjoy their property unmolested. The law arbitrates a "balance" between these competing rights. Probably in the form of a bylaw.

But how would the scenario change if the two residents held no rights? If there were no such thing as property rights, or even human rights? What if the relationships (the Law) between the two were based upon human responsibilities and human obligations. You would probably default to asking "what are my obligations in this situation?" before you began blasting the tunes. Indigenous social strategies are different from western strategies, generally not based upon human entitlements.

Laws are about relationships and how we choose to relate to world and each other. Western strategies are rights based and Indigenous strategies are obligations based. Each expresses a different worldview (or the nature of our "Just" relationships with the world) and this effects the types of legal strategies that are employed. The laws would likely be very different.

Catchfire wrote:

This is about the crux of what I've been saying--the law is not separate from capitalism, anymore than we are.

"Capitalism" is an expression of the way in which we perceive our relationships with the world, our worldview. The concept of property is an important achor for "capitalistic" relationships in law. I very much enjoy everyone's perspectives in this thread.


And I. A wise Haida elder in discussion with a learned legal scholar, when asked about the characteristics of traditional Haida law, said that at its core it revolved around the concepts of 'respect and consent'. The Western legal scholar responded that the best  part of western law could also be said to embody the same concepts. Unfortunately there's also a large 'big fish eat little fish' compulsion component as well.

sknguy II

Yup... and while not all Indigenous strategies are identical I don't think people (western legal traditions) realize that respect is such a fundamentally important expression of Indigenous obligations. Where western habits are more concentrated on the compliance of individuals within the law, in some Indigenous traditions respect is THE law that compels individual to make the "right" choice.

Really, choice is not a right (read freedom), but a fundamental responsibility and an accountability towards the law. I cannot make myself accountable for the choices others make by making those choices for them. I can certainly help them make the right choice but I can't displace the person from their obligations. Everything's intertwinded and also relates to the manner in which I'm suppose to teach my children "how" to make choices rather than telling them "what" choices to make. We all have to be accoutable to the law for the choices we make, and I think that's a significant distinction. As a child, the teachings showed me how to make the right choices, and be a critical thinker, so as to prepare myself for assuming my adult responsibiites.

sknguy II

RevolutionPlease wrote:
I'm not likely to keep up with the highbrow conversation but 6079 brought up an interesting topic in another thread:
Even when it needs to be changed or resisted, the law is one of the most important things there is, and we ignore it at our peril.
I'm of the casual camp, the law is an ass. I'm also cognizant and in favour of the basic rule of law. The subsequent execution and writing of said rule is where I disagree. If the law is written by men, how can it create equity for women? If the law is written by white folk, how can it create equity for the other? If the law is written by rich folk, how can it create equity for the impoverished? In short, the law is an ass.

I was a very ardent supporter of the principle of equality when I was younger. But as I grew older and learned more about myself and society I found it more and more difficult to rationalize the contradiction between reality and the principle of equality. I became very disillusioned with western legal practices and the political contexts that seemed to precluded many principles and ideas. Also as a younger person, I didn’t pay much attention to my own Indigenous ancestry and teachings and mainly reflected on them through my foreign prejudices. Basically, that was because I was trained and brainwashed into thinking of my own heritage as inferior to the monuments (and monoliths) that are the western legal traditions.

Equality is a noble principle, there’s no doubt about that. But having learned more and more about my ancestor's culture I think that in an Indigenous context, the idea of equality would be conflicting and rather unnecessary. But again this is from my perspective and learning. So... from what I've understood there's likely no conceptualisation of the idea of equality. In practice, the only concept that would be similar is the principle of "respect". The contradiction for me here though is that through respect you have to acknowledge the inherent diversity of humans and the diversity of their responsibilities. This to me means that you can't, in principle, enforce an idea like equality among people who have inalienably unique responsibilities towards the law. I think that the ideas like everyone is equal under the law, or that the law applies equally to everyone shouldn’t be as important as respecting our unique relationships towards the law. Hmmm... this is tough to describe... but in the end I find equality a contradictory principle to my own perspective.


Justice-as-Truth Legal Argument  - by W'Lawpsh

'Truth is the summit of being: justice is the application of it to affairs...and whatever instances can be quoted of unpunished theft, or of a lie which somebody has credited, justice must prevail, and it is the privilege of truth to make itself believed. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"1. The Constitution precludes imperialism as against 'foreign Nations and Indian Tribes..Certainly those Americans who for their own power, prestige and profit persist in playing 'The Great Game' of imperialism are 'Enemies' in the treasonable constitutional sense...

Their success to date has terminated the existence of the United States as a constitutional democracy under the rule of law. That is the only right to exist that the country claims. Or can claim.."

Justice As Truth Legal Argument 2

'Justice as fairness is intended as a political conception of justice. While a political concept of justice, is, of course, a moral conception, it is a moral conception worked out for a specific kind of subject, namely, for political, social, and economic initiatives.' (John Rauls)

"The Declaration of Independence settled that one People has no right to possess another's homeland or dictate how the other shall govern itself..."