Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Thursday, April 6, 2017

A CHALLENGE TO MY READERS

In recent weeks, there has been a good deal of extended and sometimes heated comment on this blog about political, military, and international affairs.  Today, I am going to pose a question and invite responses.  Let me say two things at the outset.  First, this is a serious question, not a rhetorical question assuming an answer.  Second, I am going to tip my hand by saying that I do not think there actually is a defensible answer to the question.  The question sounds perfectly comprehensible, and much of the commentary here seems to presuppose one answer or another to it, but in fact I do not think the question has an answer, and that fact is extremely important for the sorts of discussions we have been having.

Before I pose the question, I will tell you that tomorrow morning, before dawn, I shall leave for an overnight trip to Amherst, Massachusetts.  The occasion is a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the doctoral program in Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, a program that, as many of you know, I played a role in establishing and running for its first twelve years.  I shall return to Chapel Hill early Saturday afternoon, at which point I shall respond to whatever comments this question has elicited.

Here is the question:  What, in your view, is the appropriate, or right, or justifiable, or progressive, or suitable or defensible shape of the world order?  What ought the borders of nations be?  Which nations ought to come into existence or go out of existence or continue to exist?  

Should Tibet be a part of China or an independent nation?  Should the former Soviet Socialist Republics be reincorporated into Russia or not, or perhaps should some of them be reincorporated and others not?  Should the Czech Republic and Slovakia be reunited?  Should Hawaii and Alaska be states of the United States or not?  What about Texas?  The states formed from the Louisiana Purchase?  Should the lands of the Native American nations be separated out from the United States?  Should the Middle Eastern nations created at the end of World War I continue to exist with their current borders?  Should the Kurds have their own nation?  What about the Zulu?  The Xhosa?  

Should these matters be decided by the United Nations?  By the General Assembly or by the Security Council?  Should each nation have its own military forces and be responsible for their size, maintenance, and use, or should there be a world military force superseding national forces?  If these matters should be decided by the United Nations [or some other world body], who should have a seat on that body?  All the present members?  All the present members plus the Kurds?  The Palestinians?  The Arapahoe?  The Chechens?


I am quite serious about this question, and I urge you to try to answer it, from whatever ideological or geopolitical perspective you wish.  Obviously, none of us has the slightest capacity to actually change the world order, so the question is for that reason purely hypothetical.  But some answer or other clearly underlies the comments that have been posted lately on this blog, so consider this an invitation to bring your implicit answers into the open.

33 comments:

Neil Rickert said...

I agree. There is no answer to your question.

The world in itself is a disorderly place. It is part of human nature, that we attempt to impose order on the world. But if people cannot agree on what order to impose, we will finish up worsening the disorder.

s. wallerstein said...

I have a problem with the question.

When you ask how the world should be, I envision something like "from each according to his or her abilities, to each other according to his or her needs".
A place where what are now states become voluntary associations formed out of cultural affinities, without any need to agress those of another cultural affinity.

Now obviously we are so far from that state of affairs that it becomes difficult to frame realistic changes in terms of "should" or "ought to be" (an ideal).


David Palmeter said...

“What, in your view, is the appropriate, or right, or justifiable, or progressive, or suitable or defensible shape of the world order?”

This is quite a question, and I can’t give a definitive answer. It is something I’ve thought about from time to time, but those thoughts have produced nothing profound. The best I can say is that we should get on as just and peaceful a track as we can and go where it leads.

Kant said that a single world government would be impractical and totalitarian; he opted for a confederation. Well, we have a confederation of sorts with the UN, but its shortcomings are obvious. The disparity in power among the nations means that the large powers will control. That said, I don’t think we should abandon the UN. Even if it does not become more useful in the future, the mere existence of that kind of diplomatic forum is a benefit.

The UN is the most obvious example of the enormous growth, particularly since WWII, in the number of international agreements and institutions. When you fly to Paris, you usually go through Canadian airspace, Danish airspace (south of Greenland), Irish airspace, British airspace and on into French airspace. Each one of these governments would claim the right to shoot down any aircraft infringing on its airspace, yet they don’t do that.

There are a series of international agreements among all of these governments that permit you to fly to Paris. Procedures exist for pre-notification of flights, for providing air traffic control throughout the flight, for paying for the cost of that service.

There are international organizations dealing with trade, with labor, with meteorology and many other subjects. The OECD’s members are industrial countries that utilize its economic and social research. There are the World Bank and the IMF.

Then there are NGOs--the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Amnesty International, Greenpeace. There are even the IOC and FIFA, corrupt as they are.

Organizations like these bring people together. They encourage interdependence and give individual people a stake in a peaceful world order--on the smaller issues, if not the big ones: war and peace. They are a good start. I think the best we can do is to see where they lead.

howard berman said...

The thing I would ask is for all the people in charge to assume the mantle of a philosopher prince if not quite a King- rather than grab, gasp and grovel for power, bending their states as instruments to their will.
This requires that people will desire for politicians who govern rather than vie for power, that people want real, genuine leaders and I can't say how such a world is possible.
If all the governments fit to this order a world government would prove superfluous, but human nature or the human condition must alter

LFC said...

The specific questions raised here are difficult -- partly because, as Stanley Hoffmann noted in a roughly 20-year-old article, the norms of sovereignty, democracy, national self-determination, and human rights often come into conflict. Here's a link to a pdf of that piece:
http://www.li.suu.edu/library/circulation/Stathis/posc4660msCrisisofLiberalPart1Spr03.pdf

Anonymous said...

One could write a whole dissertation on each of these questions posed. A bit much for a blog comment section.

Amin said...

Capitalist Vs Universal Federalism ( or maybe none of them)

After second world war the winners, specially the US and its allies, decided to found an organisation for preventing another conflict and also a centre for more cooperation, but it has been transformed into a centre which moves only toward the political interest and economical benefit of war winners, permanent members of security council. They did military actions in countries for non existence nuclear missiles, put international sanctions on countries who never intend to have a nuclear weapon, Issuing resolutions against countries who are not considered as friends. The joke is here that they did all these actions in the name of HUMAN RIGHT and HUMANITY, those who dropped bomb in Japan, now want to prevent other countries from making bomb. Those who interfere in other countries affairs and overthrow governments all over the globe suddenly become Mother Teresa and intend to spread democracy and freedom everywhere. Those who created the foundation of terroristic groups ,like Mojahedin which later on became Al Qaeda and Taliban, in Afghanistan in 1980s to confront Russians, today want to fight terrorism.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and the like (who don’t know what parliament, election and democracy is) become US allies and friends and there is no complain about their humanitarian situation and if only a slight complain utters by United Nation Saudi Arabia would threaten to break relations with the United Nations and cut hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance, in the case of Yemen.

It seems smart and intellectual to say that UNIVERSAL FEDERALISM is the final solution of future but the reality shows something else.
I believe that we should be more patient and considered about this very important point that still countries matter, borders matter, cultures matter, languages matter, histories matter, diversities matter and different types of human being matter.
Countries still need to grow and flourish under their own native principles and flags. It is too early for human being to think universally, 60 percent of people in western countries are suffering from overweight problem while 40 percent of people in Africa die of hunger.


After first world war and fall of Othman Empire some new countries and borders created in middle east by westerners and sometimes it turned out to be a zigzag shape that might be Winston Churchill"s hiccup ;). But a country like Iran that its boarders are natural rivers, mountains and plains and no one drew them on paper people can live peacefully since thousands years ago from different ethnicities like Kurds, Turks, Lors, Baluch, Torkmans and etc lived inside the country peacefully.
To me it doesn’t make any sense that Kurdish people who never had an independent country suddenly in twenty first century decided to found their new country due to chaotic situation in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

David Palmeter said...

Heard Berman

I think any fruitful approach to the problem has to take into account of what Rousseau, I believe it was, said: We must take people as they are and laws as they might be.

LFC said...

@ Amin:
To me it doesn’t make any sense that Kurdish people who never had an independent country suddenly in twenty first century decided to found their new country due to chaotic situation in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The Kurds have wanted an independent Kurdistan for decades, as e.g. Turkey knows well. (Cf. the PKK.) The notion that this is a sudden development of the past few years is absurd.


----

Going back to the post:
Normatively, I'm not sure there is a clear, general answer to the question "What ought the borders of nations be? Which nations ought to come into existence or go out of existence or continue to exist?" No doubt some writers have tried to come up with
an answer (there is a literature, including by some philosophers, on this), but I'm not sure it's possible to come up w/ abstract principles of general applicability.

And if one does come up with general criteria -- say, a 'people' is entitled to its own state if it meets certain criteria of peoplehood (e.g., shared common history, culture, language, more-or-less identifiable territory in terms of where it is concentrated), applying the criteria in particular cases will be difficult.

Practically speaking, the clock often cannot be turned back: for instance, the ostensibly and formally sovereign (in some sense) Indian tribes residing in the U.S. are not going to secede from the U.S. and become independent countries and be admitted to the UN, etc. Not going to happen.

A wholesale redrawing of int'l boundaries is not feasible and, I think, not really desirable. So one must end up making particular judgments about particular cases, based on a mix of practical and other considerations, and living with some inconsistency in terms of how principles get applied in practice. That's not great, but I think it's probably the best that it's possible to do here.

s. wallerstein said...

LFC,

In the south of Chile Mapuche Native-American activists want their own independent state for their people.

They meet your criteria above: shared common history, culture and language and a more or less identifiable territory where their people are concentrated.

There is a constant political and semi-military struggle for independence which has cost some lives on both sides.

I tend to think that if they want their own state, they should have it, as long as the non-Mapuche people living in the zone are compensated for their property if they want to leave, which will probably be the case. Obviously, there needs to be a carefully monitored plebiscite among Mapuches to see if they really want independence or if independence is only a fantasy of some small radical groups of activists.

We'll see what happens.

LFC said...

@ S Wallerstein

Suppose there is a plebiscite/referendum and a majority of the Mapuches vote for independence. Will the Chilean govt be disposed to grant it? (My guess is no, the most they could get is some kind of semi-autonomous status, but I don't know.)

I know almost nothing about Chile. But in the case of India, which I know a little about, there are decades-long, low-level violent insurgencies in the far northeast of the country by ethnic groups seeking independence (or maybe they'd settle for de facto autonomy from the Indian state). The Indian govt has zero interest in accommodating them and indeed has fought them militarily for decades. India of course is a very large, federal, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual country and the govt's reasoning doubtless is that if they grant concessions in this case it will be setting a bad precedent and/or opening a Pandora's box. The Chilean situation I'm sure is different, but govts in general are reluctant to make these kinds of accommodations, much less stand by while even a small piece of the country secedes. There are exceptions to this rule, but probably not that many.

s. wallerstein said...

LFC,

No, the Chilean government and ruling elite have no intention of giving in to the Mapuche activists, and in any case, plebiscites are prohibited by the Chilean constitution (the one Pinochet gave us in 1980).

In fact, more moderate Mapuche activists and their supporters demand constitutional recognition of their status as a separate people within the Chilean state, and that too is resisted by the powers that be.

However, there is a political and military struggle going on, which if it escalates, may force the government or congress to give in to the more radical Mapuche activists.

LFC said...

p.s. That's an empirical sort of response. Normatively, I might agree that if the Mapuches vote for independence and the non-Mapuches are compensated, then they should get independence, but I don't know enough about the details. Btw normatively (and to some extent practically), there is a pretty strong case for an independent Kurdistan; that doesn't mean there will ever be one. (Right now the Kurdistan region of Iraq is highly autonomous anyway, though it's still part of Iraq.)

LFC said...

Sorry, cross-posted. "That's an empirical sort of response" refers to my own initial response to you.

s. wallerstein said...

LFC,

No need to apologize.

LFC said...

In The Global Covenant (2000), Robert Jackson points out that most territories that became generally recognized independent states sometime in the 20th cent. had a prior 'juridical' existence, either as "colonies of overseas empires or internal administrative units of federal states" (p.325). Thus:

"...ethnonational identity alone is not sufficient to give a group a right to draw an international boundary around itself. At a minimum what seems to be required is a prior existence as a juridical unit of some kind, already in possession of territorial borders which in the right circumstances can be elevated into international boundaries and recognized as such. International boundaries are almost always likely to be political borders that are historically inherited rather than drawn from scratch in accordance with ethnographic information."

As a general description of practice in the 20th cent., this is probably pretty accurate. It doesn't necessarily answer the question of what the practice or the norms *should* be.

Alexander McColl said...

Ok this question has piqued my interest enough, I'll comment. From a fan from the UK since my A-level (high school equiv) politics teacher gave me a copy of 'in Defense...', and fairly recent discover of your blog:

My instinct used to be that providing it's accountable, the more local government is the better, so I would like to see a compulsory division of everywhere into local units with populations in the region of ~100-300,000 people. These would hold most powers that states currently do, with defence pooled in larger organisations.

But now I've probably come about 180 degrees and feel like a nice large, established, pondering bureaucracy is perhaps a safer bet. While large state bureaucracies reproduce certain everyday, largely predictable forms of violence, they are very resistant to sudden change - in the hands of 1 or a group of autocrats - and good at keeping normal life basically running and running.

As much as 'normal life' can be and is oppressive to many, I think that you can't enact societal change without it as a base, and such change can only ever proceed slowly. I think the historical record is really clear that rights are never won through violent revolution that upturns everything about a current order, instead they only come when those in power voluntarily give away some of their power, because they see it as in their interests, and internalise and support such a change.

I also think that cultures around the world are so so different that although I believe in universal human rights, approaching the problem with a prescriptive solution - this way will be best for the whole world - would never work.

I lived in China for 3 years, so if I use that as an example; when I look at Xi Jinping's leadership, he bears many of the hallmarks of Mao, but I think very much fortunately for the Chinese people, in the intervening years the CCP has grown from insurgency party tearing the state apart to this enormous bloated behemoth that as much as Xi tries to centralise power, railroad certain policies etc etc, the diverse interests of the bureaucracy are constantly keeping him in check. Yes, this bureaucracy are systematically engaging in the biggest theft of common land for personal profit the world will ever see, but a) that's much much preferable to a civil war/famine/regional conflict and b) as one of my professors at university showed really well in his research on Vietnam, the self-enriched party members do then drive economic and social growth by investing usefully with their ill-gotten gains.

To give another example, it's pretty much universally accepted now in the UK that the biggest determiner on school performance is the head teacher and leadership team. So the Conservative government engaged in a deliberate policy of giving schools more autonomy, so that great headteachers had the resources and free hand to turn around failing institutions. Certainly, at a number of schools, some fantastic heads transformed them. But what of the other side to this? Schools that end up with mediocre or miserable heads go just as easily downhill, and some are taken over wholesale by religious groups that introduce segregation and uniforms that have nothing to do with good education and everything to do with a complete abuse of power. If we dismantled the current order of nation-states, power hungry local strongmen would take control of some areas and in my opinion the great successes of some parts - freed from everyday bureaucratic violence - would not compensate for introduction of exceptional, extreme violence and oppression that would occur in others.

So with that in mind, I wouldn't touch the current order, and instead promote pooling sovereignty, supranational unions and devolution of powers to local authorities but within the current nation state framework.

Alexander McColl said...

As for the various regional disputes you pointed at, until June 23rd last year I definitely would've favoured plebiscites. I'm still big proponent of direct democracy, but perhaps there is a greater role for pluralism; I'd encourage dialogue, see if the biggest concerns of the local population actually require independence to be fulfilled or can't be done by a change of national government policy - recognising a language or religion for example. I'd also encourage citizens to express their political belonging in more ways. I remember learning that US school children actually salute the flag and sing the national anthem regularly and thinking that this was like a totalitarian state (yeah we don't do that in the UK), and I am so angry about our PM's statement that "a citizen of everywhere is a citizen of nowhere". We should aim to be citizens of everywhere - some very locally, the street you live on, more generally up to your city, your nation, your values, your shared humanity... I think that if governments could accept and even encourage their populations to see the world this way, and made meaningful policy changes to support it, then we'd see a lot less struggles for independence - just look at the new calls for a Scottish Independence vote, precipitated on exactly May's insistence that now, our only acceptable political identity is British.

RM said...

“Here is the question:  What, in your view, is the appropriate, or right, or justifiable, or progressive, or suitable or defensible shape of the world order?  What ought the borders of nations be?  Which nations ought to come into existence or go out of existence or continue to exist? “

I have difficulty seeing this as a single question or even a set of closely related questions. I’m quite comfortable with the first part of it beginning with “What” and ending in “world order.” But once what is posed moves into talking of nations and borders, I’m not sure that it’s so, that those who stand up for certain borders or their adjustment, or who propose that certain nations ought to exist or not exist, all always care all that much about a world order rather than just a small part of the world, the rest of the world be damned.

But that’s perhaps a minor point. I think a more troubling matter is that the question seems to imagine that the answer rests with individuals. I’m not saying that individuals and what they think are irrelevant. But it seems to me it’s only insofar as individuals and what they think are part of a large, complex conversation that they acquire any significance at all. And often enough individual contributions will quickly be somehow judged marginal and irrelevant or else picked up, modified out of all recognition, etc.

In short, it seems to me the processes whereby actual answers to these sorts of questions that are given practical effect are very complex and that they are developed within a collectivity of persons that may even come to define itself as a collectivity by engaging with these questions. Neither should it be lost sight of that the nature of the process itself is subject to review and perhaps rejection, especially—see, e.g., Alexander McColl’s sudden conversion experience last 23 July—when the process, whatever it is, results in collective decisions one doesn’t favour.

David Palmeter said...

I agree that Prof. Wolff bombarded us not with “a” question, but with a long series of them. I chose to address the first, which I think is basic: “What, in your view, is the appropriate, or right, or justifiable, or progressive, or suitable or defensible shape of the world order?”

It is easy to answer this question with generalities or clichés--“liberty and justice for all.” But, in a concrete sense, if you were dictator of the world for 24 hours and instructed to establish a governing system for that world, taking “people as they are,” what would you offer?

The thought experiment is something like Rawls’s veil of ignorance. We can know of the world’s diversity, but we don’t know what our personal characteristics are. What would we come up with?

I’ve pondered this problem many times and haven’t come up with a trace of answer--apart from doing what we’re doing: fostering international cooperation through a myriad of agreements.

Relevant, though not directly related, is an observation of Joseph Carens that has stuck in my mind for some time:

“Citizenship in Western liberal democracies is the modern equivalent of feudal privilege--an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life.”

I think he’s right, and that troubles me. I don’t know--in a practical sense--what we can do about it. I don’t know how I would organize the world in practical way that would, among other things, eliminate this kind of injustice.

Daniel Langlois said...

'Today, I am going to pose a question and invite responses..I do not think there actually is a defensible answer to the question...I do not think the question has an answer.'

Okaay..

'Here is the question: What, in your view, is the appropriate, or right, or justifiable, or progressive, or suitable or defensible shape of the world order?'

Well, this is a bit abstract, and informally stated, but hardly paradoxical or otherwise crazy. Heck, Kant had a great deal to say, for example, about the matter.

'What ought the borders of nations be? Which nations ought to come into existence or go out of existence or continue to exist?'

I think it's a mind-bender to even consider such questions, geopolitical stuff. What if I have an opinion about what your wallpaper should be in your bedroom? If you ask, you'll get an opinion. But do you care? Oh I've got my own agenda, who doesn't?

'Should Tibet be a part of China or an independent nation?'

Now, my understanding is that from a legal standpoint, Tibet has to this day not lost its statehood. It is an independent state under illegal occupation. However, there is not really any 'legal standpoint' unless it can be enforced. And I'm willing to accept the reality that, to repeat myself, 'might makes right'. I'm being quite serious, I think that for example, hypothetically, if the Nazis had won world war 2, then maybe I wouldn't like it, but they didn't merely lose a *debate*, they lost a *war*, and that's how these things are decided in the real world, whether I know it to be true, or not. I don't have to like it, reality is reality. Just trying to make my perspective clear -- some things are under our control, and some are not, etc.

I see these further questions, but I think I'll punt on the answers for now -- the general approach that I take is at least reasonably clear to my own mind:

--Should the former Soviet Socialist Republics be reincorporated into Russia or not?
--etc. .etc.


I am not personally insisting on phrasing the matter in terms of 'should'. The word has, informally, some strange associations and connotations. Maybe I am the one who is strange in my thinking, because I admit to being willing to conform to reality. Be that as it may..I don't know what sort of 'teleology' is implied in any deliberate conscious coherent terms by talking 'should', here. If it always matters what I think 'should' be, then I think I should be beautiful and rich and immortal. I mean, if we're asking me! Of course there is something absurd about that answer, but it's just me trying to be as serious with my answer as I can be with the question!

'I am quite serious about this question,..'

Fine, then make a note: I think that I should be God, and you should kneel. Of course, I think maybe I should learn to accept reality, here, and probably improve my attitude. Yet, my attitude remains. Since you ask. Serious answer for a serious question. I should be God, you should kneel. I don't expect this to happen, but I do expect that we can think of more relevant questions, since you are 'quite serious' etc.

Just trying to explain that it's not precisely, for me, about tossing 'should should should' all over the place..the only 'should', for me, is what I want. I might say 'should', but by my lights it's thrown around to mean 'I want', most of the time..and I'm willing to simply say what I want.

Daniel Langlois said...

I am voluble, but I do feel obligated to read the other comments besides my own!

Alexander McColl said...
'I remember learning that US school children actually salute the flag and sing the national anthem regularly and thinking that this was like a totalitarian state (yeah we don't do that in the UK), and I am so angry about our PM's statement that "a citizen of everywhere is a citizen of nowhere".'

I'm willing to infer that 'like a totalitarian state' is meant as a criticism of a bad thing! Yet there is always a sense in which something is like something else. I'm not very exercised about this particular example, the way that I am about torture or something. Also, I am not sure you are picturing the situation accurately, here. So I'll slow way down to give you the picture in some detail: US school children sing the national anthem regularly? I'd say that a lot of Americans do know the words because they sing it at sports games, etc. But is it a compulsory part of the curriculum? Answer: SOME Americans have to sing their national anthem at school, but not all. School governance is totally local, there are fifty states, and some states have hundreds of school districts, each with its own rules.There are a growing number of schools where even the Pledge of Allegiance is phased out these days. I can give you my fairly typical experience , -- the National Anthem and a few other "patriotic" songs ("America the Beautiful" comes quickly to mind) are common fare for the sort of informal music classes that elementary schools (ages 5-11 roughly) include. In those instances, the words are generally learned through repetition while using the songs as examples to learn basic singing skills. I'm gonna say that I think it's fairly rare for students to be required to learn the words of the National Anthem, but whether they've sung it earlier in life or not, the constant repetition at every major sporting event they attend gets the first verse and the tune internalized. Not everyone knows all the words correctly. Also, even if you know the words, our national anthem is not easy to sing! Nor are we required to stand (most of us do), nor are we required to take off our hat or cover our heart with our right hand (but we typically do). It is played before many (large) sporting events, but again, not required.

Sorry, that was voluble as advertised!

Anonymous said...

David Palmeter said...

Relevant, though not directly related, is an observation of Joseph Carens that has stuck in my mind for some time:

“Citizenship in Western liberal democracies is the modern equivalent of feudal privilege--an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life.”

I think he’s right, and that troubles me. I don’t know--in a practical sense--what we can do about it. I don’t know how I would organize the world in practical way that would, among other things, eliminate this kind of injustice.


I know you are a perfectionist, Palmeter, but don't trouble yourself: there's no need. You people are doing just fine to eliminate that kind of injustice and it has cost you nothing.


02.07.2016
Nearly half a million Greeks have left, Bank of Greece report finds
STRATOS KARAKASIDIS

Nearly half a million Greeks have left the country in search of better opportunities abroad since 2008 due to the financial crisis, with educated professionals among those leading the exodus, a Bank of Greece report has shown.
http://www.ekathimerini.com/210072/article/ekathimerini/news/nearly-half-a-million-greeks-have-left-bank-of-greece-report-finds

Conquistadors no more: Spaniards flock to Latin America for work
Simeon Tegel, GlobalPost Published July 21, 2015

LIMA, Peru — “When we told friends and family we were moving to Peru, no one was surprised,” Ana Bustinduy says. “There is just no work in Spain."
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/07/21/globalpost-spaniards-latin-america/30456943/

Europe: Portuguese rank second with more emigrants leaving the country – Portugal
Posted on 25 February 2017.

Portugal ranks second after Malta among the European countries losing more population to emigration, the Lisbon-based Emigration Observatory [Observatório da Emigração] reported.
http://portuguese-american-journal.com/europe-portuguese-rank-second-with-more-emigrants-leaving-the-country-portugal/


Is the US facing an epidemic of 'deaths of despair'? These researchers say yes
Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s findings on mortality rates have made waves. A new paper looks deeper at a divided America – and its crisis of suicide, overdoses, and drug- and alcohol-fueled diseases.
Michael Bible
Tuesday 28 March 2017
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/28/deaths-of-despair-us-jobs-drugs-alcohol-suicide


Get Ready to See This Globalization 'Elephant Chart' Over and Over Again
The non-winners in globalization are the Western World's middle classes.
by Luke Kawa
28 June 2016, 12:51 am AEST
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-27/get-ready-to-see-this-globalization-elephant-chart-over-and-over-again

LFC said...

Anonymous's reply to D. Palmeter is very partial.

Carens is right, in a general sense and on average, that one's 'life chances' will likely be better and one's overall well-being higher if one is born in the U.S. or UK, for instance, than in the Philippines or South Africa or Somalia or Afghanistan or [the list could be expanded]. Of course not everyone born in the U.S. is better off than everyone born in India, but as a statement of a general tendency the Carens quote is right.

The 'elephant chart', courtesy of B. Milanovic if I'm not mistaken, does capture the reality that some members of the emergent middle or upper classes in fast-growing 'developing' countries have been doing quite well in recent years (and many members of the West's middle classes have been losing ground, relatively). One needs to look at within-country inequality (and poverty), not simply between-country inequality, and Milanovic is on top of the data on all this.

The clear prescription for someone concerned w/ what another author has called 'the birthright lottery' is to reduce both extreme poverty (which has in fact fallen in recent decades, though it has most certainly not been eliminated or anything close) and both intra-national and international inequalities. Carens has written, I believe, extensively on border regimes and immigration and favors freer movement across borders. That's another aspect of the problem.

I took Prof Wolff to be mostly interested in the specific questions he asked about issues of self-determination, etc. His general question about 'what is the best shape of the world order?' is so general it cd be taken in various directions, as this thread shows.

A last note, re D. Palmeter's reference to Rawls: there have been efforts to apply Rawls's views on a global scale (in a different and more far-reaching way than Rawls himself did). These matters have been under discussion, mostly by academic writers, for quite a while. Those who have written relevant works on this complex of topics include C. Beitz, H. Shue, and T. Pogge (and there are many others besides these).

LFC said...

Another ref.:
M. Risse, On Global Justice (2012; pb, 2015)

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9904.html


----
When I wrote my undergrad thesis on global distributive justice approx. 40 years ago, I was able to read much/most of the relevant stuff on the topic b.c there wasn't all that much; now there is a great deal. (I haven't kept up w/ most of it.)

Daniel Langlois said...

'I took Prof Wolff to be mostly interested in the specific questions he asked about issues of self-determination, etc. His general question about 'what is the best shape of the world order?' is so general it cd be taken in various directions, as this thread shows.'

I consider this part of his query: 'Obviously, none of us has the slightest capacity to actually *change* the world order, so the question is for that reason purely hypothetical. But *some* answer or other clearly underlies the comments that have been posted lately on this blog, so consider this an invitation to bring your implicit answers into the open.'

Again: 'Obviously, none of us has the slightest capacity to actually *change* the world order..'

Honestly the thought crosses my mind that this could be sarcasm. Probably not, but I think the phrasing is hasty, because I think it is, so to speak, a duty for us to devise a sound plan for sustaining and promoting world order. And I cannot be, therefore, precisely 100% on board with this seeming lack of appreciation of the potential of individuals' contribution to the fabric of society -- and in turn to world politics. What if I put it this way: it is in our hands to improve the good in the person. Indeed, I'll go further and emphasize that I doubt the notion, categorically, of societal and institutional changes that are going to matter for world politics, exclusive of changes at the individual level. Having a care for our own characters, has relevance for the solutions of the problems of the world. I do not think that I would say that ultimately, I pin my hopes on a reconstruction of society, without looking to the remaking of individuals. Preoccupation with social arrangements and systems and mechanisms would, I think, require some sort of corrective, in terms of emphasis.

I didn't really bother, up the thread, with alternative world-order proposals. Like, for example, what should be done about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, or whatever. It's not that I don't care -- I'd say, for starters, that it seems to have had disastrous consequences. I have opinions, about Turkey’s policy and illegal actions. My immediate response up the thread, was to tarry with 'the anarchic nature' of the world. I actually do, though, want to embrace rationality and morality in world politics. I think the means to promote order should be mainly peaceful, and such. I'm for freedom, tolerance, pluralism, voluntarism, humanism, rwhat else? Free-will, maybe? I'm against authoritarianism, dogmatism, .. the real questions, though, might be like whether I'm for the right or the left in Greece, or something..I'm not sure that counts as a question that I particularly have an opinion about, or as one of 'the real questions', but I admit that I may seem to be ignoring the real questions! Somebody who is being against authoritarianism and dogmatism cannot, though, turn around and simply offer *the key to a decent human future*!!

Anonymous said...

LFC said...

Anonymous's reply to D. Palmeter is very partial.

(...)

One needs to look at within-country inequality (and poverty), not simply between-country inequality, and Milanovic is on top of the data on all this.


Really?

Palmeter invited the discussion of international comparisons

“Citizenship in Western liberal democracies is the modern equivalent of feudal privilege--an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life.”

I think he’s right, and that troubles me. I don’t know--in a practical sense--what we can do about it. I don’t know how I would organize the world in practical way that would, among other things, eliminate this kind of injustice.


Is that the kind of game you people play? One changes the terms of the challenge when one doesn't like the outcome?

He chose the place, the time, and the weapons. Sorry, you have nothing to object.

Anonymous said...

Here's postmodernism in a nutshell. Three premises:
1. You can't really know anything, except the one knowable objective truth, which is...
2. White guys are bad and everything that has gone wrong is there fault, therefore...
3. We have to switch to socialism.

There you have it, students. That's what your teachers are brainwashing you to believe. If you don't pull your heads out of your a$$es, stop whining about this inequality crap, they are going to succeed in destroying the country. Then you will learn what real inequality and racism is all about. And you are right, this does exist, but not in the USA, to any appreciable degree. Yeah, some of us are dumb rednecks, but they aren't the problem right now. Jim Crow laws are gone, women, blacks can do what the want, as can anyone (that is as good as it is going to get, people). Matter of fact, you have the right to make a complete jackass of yourself, a reality that's becoming less abstract every day. Tell you what, you think you know what "should" happen? "Should" Northern Africa be more democratic? Well, we really fixed that didn't we, just ask the Europeans! Another place we put things right, South Africa! Boy, those whites, they sure were a bunch of dumbasses, weren't they!? Things are much better now. Let's get serious, take care of your own problems students, that will be hard enough. When your more experienced, have raised a family, you will learn that power flows from the end of a gun, as Mao said. The real question is "Who should have that gun?" Do you have a better candidate than the USA?

Anonymous said...

Allow me to provide a second response. Do we ask or did the universe ask "what species should be allowed to exist and which ones should go extinct?" Well, maybe it did, maybe out there in objective reality, God is pulling the strings. But we can't know, so, being a complete dumbass, I can only assume, like other dumbasses out there who have to make a living, that we are basically on our own. That means we have to fight to survive and, if we are lucky, we'll get to live somewhere nice, not have too many people telling us what to do, etc. Maybe something like what John Locke talked about. Maybe we can't actually prove we have inalienable rights, but wouldn't most of us like it to be that way? Well, can it be shown objectively that we cannot have this? No, it can't. So I say we go with that, even if it is subjective. So, we "should" a) maintain a shell of freedom to the extent we are able to extend that shell and b) remember it is not our responsibility to save the universe. If we can help, ok, no problem, but not to the extent it destroys the country (which seems to be happening). So we make the part of the world that we do have some control over as decent and comfortable as we can. According to our own subjective whims, in effect. CAn you say we are wrong to do this? Can you stop us from doing it? I doubt it. "Should" has nothing to do with it. "Should" children obey their parents? "Should" criminals stop committing crimes? Let's keep it real. And the real question is, as I said before, "Who should have the gun?"

Anonymous said...

Correction: "Who do we 'want' to have the gun?"

LFC said...

@anonymous

There is still a very substantial amount of extreme or 'absolute' poverty in the world; I'm not going to take the time now to give most of the statistics, but roughly a billion people live on less than the equivalent of $1.25 a day. The vast majority of them live in the world's poorer countries. So international comparisons are not irrelevant; they are one pertinent part of the whole picture.


Is that the kind of game you people play?

This kind of tone doesn't do anything except reveal unflattering things about yourself.

I. M. Flaud said...
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I. M. Flaud said...
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