A New Understanding of Just War, Part 2 of 2

So. Here goes:

The identity (of action, of belief, of feeling, of interests) between a military force and a civilian population is an empirical variable.


A prime requirement of justice in warfare is to target the opposing military force in opposition to the civilian population associated with it.


Justice in war demands that the required identity and non-identity of the civilian population be a real fact.

that is to say

A military force can only make war legitimately if the civilian population in the area it is fighting in is

a) reasonably believed to be in active united majority support of that military force;


b) reasonably believed to be in active united majority opposition to the opposing military force.

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A New Understanding of Just War: Part 1 of 2

In the light of the new assault on Gaza, I find myself considering the Israeli government’s narrative of its actions as a justified war of self-defense, and considering the whole idea of a just war. I seem to disagree with most mainstream opinion on this topic, so in this post I’m going to explain my view of the essential problem of war, and in my next post I’m going to suggest some ways to mitigate it.

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What is Reproductive Freedom

Blogger Anniee has taken extensive issue with my post on controlling birth. This isn’t really suprising, since that post was meant to be controversial. But much of the criticism was sufficiently snarky that I felt moved to offer a response.

I get the impression that Anniee and I disagree on almost everything there is. I think she has a completely false view of what I was proposing in the aforementioned post, because she saw the word ‘communism’ without the word ‘anarchism’ and concluded that everything was to be administered by a centralised coercive minority, i.e. a state. This is completely wrong, but I don’t really have much desire to go into it.

What I do want to go into is the issue of reproductive freedom. Anniee says:

“Let’s get down to the damned bones here.  [Radical feminists] are liars.  They want to subjugate and control our reproductive choices AND our right to bear children (and most certainly our right to raise them) and control it but good.”

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An Injury to One is an Injury to All

Possibilities Stay Open in Guinea

The Camara-led government in Guinea has appointed a civilian Prime Minister – Kabine Komara, a banker in the African Export-Import Bank. He apparently was put forward as a suggested Prime Minister by the opposition and unions in last year’s protests. Since, as I mentioned in my last post on the subject, this follows a consultation with opposition and union groups on who to appoint, it seems reasonable to suppose that this guy was their pick.

The new government have done two other things. They’ve forced a lot of older generals into retirement, and they’ve announced an intention to renegotiate all of the state’s mining contracts. Since the previous government structure had endured for about 24 years, and since most of the prominent coup members are quite young, the first of these clearly indicates that part of what’s going on is just a new generation of elites forcing the older generation out – which is what you’d expect in such an ossified political system.

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Passive Imperialism

The following is the draft of an article I’m submitting to a student newspaper, and which I thought would interest readers. Although this isn’t discussed explicitly in the article, it’s an attempt to flesh out the way that imperialism destroys lives even when it’s not doing anything obviously destructive – just be its continued existence as a system.

So without further ado:

There is a tendency, when discussing the overall state of the world economy, to say that while most areas of the world are growing, Africa is an exception, where ‘normal’ economic growth is being held back by political instability and conflict. For much of the recent few decades sub-Saharan Africa’s economies have actually shrunk, and certainly much of the reason for this is the civil wars, coups, and insurgencies that have plagued the continent. Yet I disagree with the tendency to separate this from the rest of the global economy as an anomaly, an extraneous factor interfering with normal economics. Rather, I wish to argue, this recurrent violence is an integral part of and consequence of those economics.

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Conservative Dialectics

Traditionally, most philosophers who’ve talked a lot about ‘dialectics’, mainly Marxists and Hegelians, have seen it in an essentially positive light, as something that drives forward progress. I think it should be recognised, though, that very often, dialectical processes are conservative: they contribute profoundly to the stability of systems, and hold back progress. Of course this is, in practice, often quite obvious, but it may be helpful to put it in theoretical terms.

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The Church of England Against Capitalism

Several senior figures in the Church of England have claimed that British society under Labour is suffering from “family breakdown, an addiction to debt and a growing gap between rich and poor.

This reminds me of nothing so much as the following passage from the good ol’ Communist Manifesto on ‘feudal socialism’:

“It became the vocation of the aristocracies…to write pamphlets against modern bourgeois society. But even in the domain of literature the old cries of the restoration period had become impossible.

In order to arouse sympathy, the aristocracy was obliged to lose sight, apparently, of its own interests, and to formulate their indictment against the bourgeoisie in the interest of the exploited working class alone.

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This is so stupid it makes my head hurt.

Prince Edward goes out with some dogs and kills pheasants. He then hits on of the dogs. People are in uproar about hitting the dog. Uproar does not seem to be forthcoming about the fact that he was shooting pheasants.

If I a choice between being a dog and getting hit with a stick, and being a pheasant and getting shot with a gun, I know which one I’d choose.

Controlling Birth

A few people currently have posts up about breeding, children, and families. From musing on this, I am inclined to think that maybe we need to move towards something that will be very close to things that will make people very scared.

That mockery of a sentence is basically me saying: controls on reproduction may not be all that bad. It may be that the best situation for society is, speaking very broadly, one in which people do not operate with an expectation that they automatically have the right to have children. The principal reason is that more people require more land, more energy, consume more plastics, more minerals. The number of humans is way beyond the planet’s capacity to support at our current level of consumption. I think this is one good reason for people to make a personal choice not to reproduce. But personal choices may not be enough.

EDIT:  This post sparked a lot of controversy, which I have partly responded to here.

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