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Barn Burning Patterns

John Smith
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"Sartoris Snopes", that I understand. But "Steve-O"? Is MTV popular among the U.S. military personnel? How about Faulkner?
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We are officially prohibited from making any sense here, in Meaningless Drivel.


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Deepak Mahbubani
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But that makes sense sheriff !
Jeroen Wenting
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does it?


42
Mark Fletcher
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Anyone here seen my car keys?


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John Smith
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Ok, here is the story. In the socialist Russia, sometime in the 1920s, the bolsheviks started a "food expropriation" campaign. They would go to the rural areas, take whatever food the farmers had, and send it to the cities. There was a farmer who hid his food supply so that his family would survive the winter. And there was a little boy named Pavlic Morozov, his son, who would go to authorities and turn his father in. The bolsheviks arrested and eventually shot the father, his family starved to death, and Pavlic became a communist icon, a national hero. For the subsequent 70 years, the Soviet youths were taight to act like him, the schools and factories were named after him, and the morality was that of loyalty to your government and the state before loyalty to your family. After the communism collapsed, everyone suddenly saw Pavlik for what he was -- a little bastard who betrayed his family.

Sartoris Snopes is a character from the William Faulkner's short story "Barn Burning". He is a little boy whose father is an arsonist, and Sartoris is to testify in court against his father.

Steve-O is a 14-year-old Iraqi boy who recently turned his terrorist father to American military forces. The Americans killed the father, the boy's fellow citizens killed his mother in retaliation, and Steve-O himself (nicknamed as such by American soldiers, presumably after the MTV's Jackass character) was proclaimed to be a hero by Fox News. He lives with the U.S. military and will probably become an American citizen.

These three stories is what I call "Barn Burning Patterns".
[ August 17, 2004: Message edited by: John Smith ]
Max Habibi
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I'm going to let this thread stay, as a test, and see if it self regulates. Nice to see you back John.

M


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John Dunn
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Actors, Fishers, Doctors!!! Folks are killing to be considered.


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Warren Dew
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Max Habibi:

I'm going to let this thread stay, as a test, and see if it self regulates. Nice to see you back John.

So we're supposed to be self regulating now?

Open the floodgates, Jeroen!
Max Habibi
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Self regulating, autonomous collective, or anarcho-syndicalist commune: whatever it takes. If the conversation doesn't take a sour turn, I won't move it. Of course, there are some fifty other moderators who might disagree.

M
Warren Dew
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Okay, Max.

So, John, are you drawing a parallel between the three cases? Are you saying that saving enough food to survive the winter is morally equivalent to arson and terrorism?

While the Bolsheviks in your story seemed to think so, I can't say that I agree.
[ August 17, 2004: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
Frank Silbermann
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
So, John, are you drawing a parallel between the three cases? Are you saying that saving enough food to survive the winter is morally equivalent to arson and terrorism?

While the Bolsheviks in your story seemed to think so, I can't say that I agree.


Indeed, the response of the father's friends -- to retaliate by murdering the boy's mother -- makes it pretty clear which side is good and which side is evil.

The superficial similarities (boy informed on father) make as meaningful a comparison as, say, a comparison between the 1935 Japanese invasion of China, on the one hand, versus the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy.

['stupid' comment snipped: go easy Frank-MH]
[ August 17, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Helen Thomas
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All I can visualise are three boys who didn't like their fathers.

Steve-O's story :

Some of his family memories are warm. He remembers his father happily cooking rice and dolma, grape leaves stuffed with mutton, tomatoes, peas and spices. But he also recalls the time his father brought home photos that pictured him beating a bound man with inch-thick cables. He thinks his father was trying to impress his mother with a show of force.

His father appeared to snap, the teen says, after Mr. Hussein's regime fell in April 2003. He says his father spent time and money to build a network of insurgents to fight the Americans, and succumbed to frequent rages, beating his children more severely than ever before. Once, he says, his father tied his left hand to his left foot, and right hand to his right foot, and beat him "with anything that came into his hands."

His body bears witness to the violence around him. His scalp is a roadmap of scars from beatings and an accident. The skin on the back of his left hand is disfigured from the time he says his father accused him of stealing money and used a red-hot spoon to punish him. The teen recalls crying for days, in part because his mother didn't come to his rescue.

[ August 17, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]

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John Smith
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Warren: So, John, are you drawing a parallel between the three cases? Are you saying that saving enough food to survive the winter is morally equivalent to arson and terrorism?

Nope. What I am saying is that the state that encourages the children to betray their parents and makes them into heros is the rotten state, and rotten become the children.
Mohanlal Karamchand
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Originally posted by John Smith:
There was a farmer who hid his food supply so that his family would survive the winter. And there was a little boy named Pavlic Morozov, his son, who would go to authorities and turn his father in. The bolsheviks arrested and eventually shot the father, his family starved to death, and Pavlic became a communist icon, a national hero.


The Pravda version of the story seems less melodramatic :
http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/10951_morozov.html
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JS: For the subsequent 70 years, the Soviet youths were taight to act like him, the schools and factories were named after him, and the morality was that of loyalty to your government and the state before loyalty to your family.

This is interesting. When I was a child, I didn't see any problem with Pavlic. A hero he was. I would not tell on my parents, though, and when their version of reality differed from the official one, I believed them, not the official version. This duality didn't bother me either, I just assumed "this is how things are".
Frank Silbermann
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Originally posted by John Smith:
Warren: So, John, are you drawing a parallel between the three cases? Are you saying that saving enough food to survive the winter is morally equivalent to arson and terrorism?

Nope. What I am saying is that the state that encourages the children to betray their parents and makes them into heros is the rotten state, and rotten become the children.


You state that as a kind of principle. [Nazi references deleted -MH]

People tend to state things as general principles without first testing it to see whether they in fact are general principles.

All states encourage people to betray criminal faimly members. What makes a state rotten is when its totalitarian impulse criminalizes so many behaviors that it becomes difficult to avoid becoming a criminal. When that happens, any compromise of privacy becomes a deadly threat, and family relations become oppressive.
[ August 17, 2004: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Joe King
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

All states encourage people to betray criminal faimly members. What makes a state rotten is when its totalitarian impulse criminalizes so many behaviors that it becomes difficult to avoid becoming a criminal.


True. Mostly I feel like I have a duty to obey the law - if a member of my family committed a serious crime (like murder), then I would feel as if it was my duty to call the police (although I'm not sure if I could). If the country was run as a dictatorship, then I probably wouldn't feel the same sense of duty to uphold the law. It seems as if the validity of the law, in our eyes, comes from its source in a democratic process - we are more likely to support a law that we feel is a "law of the people".

The question is - at what point do we switch from feeling a law is valid to a law that is invalid? If a particular law inconveniences us do we then begin to think that it may not be fair? Perhaps sometimes we can convince our selves that the government is not being "democratic" enough, and the law is therefore not valid. An example may be a government in country X implementing a law that may infringe on civil rights. A supporter of the government may say "the democratically elected government made the law, so it is fair". An opponent of the government may say "the law goes against the [constitution/spirit of law/other reason], so the government is not being democratic so the law is not fair".
[ August 18, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
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