The Small Picture
I was once at a picnic with otherwise right-thinking people when a fellow there started up with an anecdote about him having rung the local radio station to participate in an on-air discussion about that old chestnut of what's-to-be-done-with-wayward-teens. His gleeful contribution was to demand 'More Whipping!' Seriously. He was convinced that if only children were beaten more often and more harshly, society would be the better for it.
Happily he had never had children. The only person there who had, and whose children were famously trouble with a capital T, agreed. She recounted anecdotes of all the trouble she had made as a child, with the punch-line consisting each time of the hell they copped when their father caught them. Somehow this was evidence of the rightness of 'whipping', never mind her own kids. Sure enough, yours truly spoiled the social harmony by declaring that they had everything arse-about.
For the record, I've never had children. But that being said, my youngest brother was born in my last year of high school, and whilst ultimate responsibility didn't lay with me, I didn't miss much either. (And if I might just take a brief moment to brag - in an age before disposal diapers, my nappies were a triumph of dynamic tension and left everyone else's for dead). But never mind me as a crowing rooster cock-a-doodle-doo - in a discussion about discipline I followed my father's lead, which for the purpose of the argument I shall sum up as 'less is more'.
According to my father, we as children copped a whack on the bum precisely twice. In amongst us throwing anti-social, me-uber-alles tantrums we were told that this was unacceptable and that we might choose to stop it, or cop a smack on the bum. It was up to us. After we chose poorly twice, and copped two smacks, in the face of his unambiguous implacability, from then on we just believed him and chose the option that consisted of not getting whacked. I have no recollection of this you understand, merely his say-so. In fact, until he told us how he'd disciplined us, I'd have declared we'd never been whacked at all. And this is how it went for my youngest brother a decade and a half later. He was smacked precisely twice during that two year old period wherein one's sense of what-I-am expands to include the whole world. I don't know if this will surprise people, but I and my brothers were absurdly well behaved. For us, our greatest horror was that people might be disappointed in us.
This is merely me recounting the past you understand and doesn't necessarily represent me in the present. Meanwhile back at the picnic, I declared that 'whipping' will, in and of itself, in no way instil a sense of right and wrong, nor any other useful thing apart from fear. This fear will ensure nothing more than a variety of cunning that pivots on Not Getting Caught. Honestly how many times have we seen parents, of the variety given to copious physical punishment, variously promise a smack and not deliver it in the face of continued appalling behaviour (indeed with the likelihood of offering some reward-like sop to mollify the child), or otherwise delivering a whack from nowhere for behaviour that, never mind the child, had me stumped as to what they'd done wrong. What's a child to glean from this?
This was perfectly summed up for me when I once lived across the hall from a father who'd terrorise his daughters mercilessly - the screaming was nightmarish. He perfectly nailed his own absurdity when I heard him scream at his daughters, "Listen! Even when Dad is wrong, he's right!" God help those kids, there's only one lesson they'll learn from that, and that is: since there is no right and wrong, everything is arbitrary, with the say-so belonging to whoever has power, and thus the only thing that counts is not getting caught.*
The Big Picture
And from the micro to the macro, everything is like this. In this white man's world with its God who favours 'those who help themselves' (think about that), we extol no 'virtues' apart from those of individuals who excel at amassing things for themselves. Sure enough for yours truly, who puts everything on the selflessness/selfishness continuum, these are not virtues but sins. 'Sins' meanwhile, as defined by society, differ from its 'virtues' by the merest of technicalities. If I was to take $4 from a fellow I would be a criminal. But if I was a member of the Gillette/Schick cartel and charged $4.10 for a razor blade that cost 10c, I would be a feted captain of industry, an example to all.
Society deters people from committing its definitions of sins by way of fear - a fear, not of being seen as selfish (since this is a virtue), but rather of getting caught and thus being on the receiving end of further sins, which is to say, deprivation of liberty. This fear is a 'deterrent' - knowing how harshly we will be treated upon being caught we are thus deterred from committing the crime to begin with. Either that or we will do whatever it takes not to get caught.
You don't hear the word 'deterrence' much anymore - certainly not like you used to back in the seventies and eighties. Back then it was everywhere, what with being the reason why we needed to fork out a bazillion dollars for enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world ten times over. Now it's nowhere on account of it being at odds with Israel's desire to reduce Iran back to a parking lot. Frankly the complete absence of the word deterrence in a discussion of Iran's alleged pursuit of nukes is enough to tell any thinking person that the whole thing is bullshit.
Sure enough, deterrence is bullshit. For every person deterred from committing a crime, is another who is only deterred from being caught - to avoid this, he'll corrupt the judiciary, kill the witnesses, heap crime upon crime, whatever it takes. Which is to say, deterrence is as likely to increase crime as to reduce it. Not forgetting the beyond obvious fact that if deterrence worked, there'd be no one in jail.
I do hope no one starts up with that old chestnut about how if we didn't deter people then it'd be worse than it is now. Not unless they want to buy one of my famous tiger amulets, which will guarantee the wearer protection from tiger attacks. I've worn it for forty years and never been attacked once. Except for that time at Taronga Park zoo... but think how much worse it would have been if I hadn't been wearing it!
I don't know if they have tigers in Bhutan, but they certainly have criminals. Well, they do now anyway - ever since Rupert Murdoch's Sky began broadcasting into every home that is. Suddenly their meagre police force no longer has time to assist grannies cross the street because they're too busy chasing all those people who've taken to robbery and murder. Where's that fellow from the Picnic? He could advise the Bhutan government that what's needed here is more 'whipping'. Yeah well, fuck him and fuck his bullshit.
That aside, if anyone ever wanted proof of the rightness of the continuum, the unasked for social experiment taking place in Bhutan is it - a society that overnight replaced a consensus of selflessness with a shiny media model of selfishness and instantly found itself amongst all the ills of the West. Clearly it's high time we in the West wagged our finger and explained how their newly crime-ridden nation should now join the civilised world in instituting a fear-based model of deterrence, and thus may their society be as free of the depredations of criminals as we are. Or would the abysmal hypocrisy be too much? Ha ha ha ha, "Mr. Prime Minister, the delegation from the Wackenhut corporation is here to see you."
And that's how it goes - the Bhutanese are fuzzy-wuzzy jibber-jabberers and we teach them and not vice versa. The Portuguese on the other hand, whilst they are wogs, and do jibber-jabber, at least they're Christians who occasionally use soap, and thus might have something to say worth listening to. They've de-criminalised drugs it seems. Astoundingly the whole place hasn't turned into predicted den of iniquity. What's going on? It seems that the drug-users who were otherwise undeterred by the fear of punishment, actually benefit from calm and sensible discussions about the rightness of the whole caper and actually take up the government's offers of what I'm going to call redemption.
As if this wasn't completely fucking obvious. As if people like breaking into homes to steal laptops to pay for their addiction. Honestly. Portugal's experiment (in the bleeding obvious) is perfect proof that a fear based system of punishment pushes people further into crime. Now that it's been dispensed with, people finally have an opportunity to return to the embrace of society and are doing so wholeheartedly. Both crime and drug use in Portugal is declining.
The only problem with Portugal's experiment is the narrowness of the vision. Redemption is offered to users but not to sellers. Why is this is an either/or proposition? Rather than get bogged down in finicky arguments, why don't we just say that if fear didn't work for one crime, why do we imagine it will work for another? In the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary? Besides, what sort of person is picky in offering redemption? What is the 'line in the sand' that defines who or what deserves redemption, and who or what deserves fear and loathing, apart from a statement of arbitrary personal prejudice?
Little Picture Us Versus Big Picture Motherfuckers
Here we are, regular folks ever more appalled at monstrous sins of those who rule the world. Between a non-denominational satanist paedohile death cult, and a Jewish banking and warfare death cult, it's perfectly unsurprising that we dream of their righteous demise at the hands of a howling mob - string them up from lamp posts, tear them limb from limb, push stakes up their arse until the blood gurgles out their mouths. I get it. In fact I've brought up lamp posts on more that a few occasions myself.
But honestly, there's no future in it. Were this to happen, nothing would have been learnt (amongst the survivors - and there would be survivors, there always are) apart from that old chestnut 'Don't get caught' and the requisite next thought, 'If only we'd been more vicious'.
There's no either/or for redemption. What works for small scale misdemeanors is every bit as applicable for large scale crimes-against-humanity. Honestly if the Emperor Pu'yi (in Bertolucci's Last Emperor) who was inculcated his entire life can find happiness as a gardener, anyone can.
And yeah, I also get it that what I'm suggesting is an idealistic mad dream that's right up there with pig aviation. But I don't give a fuck. Not that I'm making any pretentious claims to whatever, but did the Jesus in the bible give a fuck? Did he temper his positions on account of fear, realpolitik necessities, or any other thing?
The most absurd thing is that a world without fear, a global societal model based not on proscription of innumerable sins but rather redemption and a single aim of selflessness, is possible. We now have mass communications perfectly capable of bringing about a paradigm shift in how humans regard, and subsequently treat, each other. And in Bhutan, all we'd have to do cut their satellite, ha ha.
I haven't a shred of doubt that this is technically do-able. If anyone doubts this, just consider what would result if all the time and energy currently devoted to turning us into self-obsessed gits striving to outdo our neighbour, was instead spent on the rightness and benefits of selflessness. It's inarguable that this could be done if we wished it.
Instead, the social darwinist motherfuckers who rule this world choose, amongst all the models Darwin offers us, to emulate predators. It should be obvious to anyone of the meanest understanding that they've chosen poorly. It may have made sense once, but now (in this age of dioxins and depleted uranium) it no longer does. We are now perfectly capable of infinitely greater things. That these people have so wildly excelled at mimicking such hateful creatures, does not speak of their greatness, but rather of their prosaic lack of imagination and ultimately their stupidity.
To hell with them and their world of fear, I reject all of it and refuse to participate in any aspect of it, regardless of how much I'd like to see them on the receiving end of their own bullshit. In spite of me mentioning it just now, truth is, hell is none of my business. And quite right too given that redemption is always possible. Just to make things crystal clear, this is not a discussion of probability, but of possibility. If a thing is right and if a thing is possible, then that's where I'm at. Fear, whether received, or inflicted, and with no acknowledgement of redemption, is bullshit. The death cult can bring on their armageddon, whatever they've got - the fear and loathing will all be theirs.