Peoples' movements and protests




On the inconstancy of morality





by Jan Wiklund



On 7 December 1941, the hitherto strong US peace movement of 40 million members collapsed. It was replaced by a racist campaign against the Japanese as a people; after the nuclear bombings, and after Japan had surrendered, as many as 24 per cent of US residents believed that the Japanese should be exterminated as a people.

This shows a general problem with movements based on "bearing witness against sin" as opposed to movements based on self-interest. They are unstable, sometimes violently so.

The latest, big example is of course the German Green Party, which at the time of writing is the most warmongering party in Europe. It began as a pacifist party.

The essence of "bearing witness against sin" is moral positioning. One positions oneself as Good, an opponent as Evil, and ideally there should also be a Victim involved.

And there is nothing necessarily wrong with that, all movement mobilisation is based on separating Us from Them. But it can be a problem because the logical endpoint of moral positioning is that the Evil One has no reason to exist at all, but should be exterminated.
Another problem, as I said, is impermanence. Whoever is Evil on Monday may, given some dramatic event, become Good on Tuesday, in this case NATO.

Self-interest is not so easily transformed.


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