Roma and the Social Contract

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Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 27th, 2018, 5:51 am 

Morning. Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued in The Social Contract that the authority of the state over the individual is justified by the fact that we all implicitly agree to be part of society, but Bertrand Russell argued that a man can hardly opt to be apart from society if he wants to. Recently in my home town there has been a violent reaction of the general population to the presence of travellers, who have always been moved on and vilified, the world over, which leads me to wonder two things: What does it mean to be "part of society"? (Or put another way: what exactly is society?) And are the Roma people evidence against Rousseau's argument?
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Serpent on September 27th, 2018, 10:22 am 

The Roma are a society, with rules, hierarchy, loyalties, traditions and mores.
That they are not part of the larger societies of Europe can perhaps be explained by their history - but it's too complicated for me to attempt. Look at it this way: Like the Jews, they lost their homeland and were dispersed. Like the Jews, they were unwelcome everywhere as a distinct group and stubborn enough to resist assimilation as individuals. Like the Jews, the exceptional (disloyal) individuals who did assimilate fared considerably better than those who clove to their ethnic identity, who were often harshly persecuted. Like the Jews, they developed a defiant pride in that separate identity, and a good deal of resentment toward the host nations: they looked for ways to spite or cheat the dominant nationals, just as that majority found ways to exploit them. Like the Jews, they always made a convenient political scapegoat or deflection from what the ruling class was really screwing up.
That long, tortuous relationship is still in evidence. We hired them - cheap - to bake our bricks, train our horses, play at our weddings, mend our pots - but we didn't let them live in our towns. And they did take the odd chicken or goat to eke out a living, and felt justified in doing that. So now, modern-thinking governments attempt to settle and assimilate them by force, and it doesn't work - and it's all their fault, not down to the ham-fisted approach of ignorant bureaucrats.

This isn't about the social contract. It's about the difficulty of reconciling different social entities.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 27th, 2018, 11:56 am 

I don't think the comparison to Jews is very enlightening. The Jews could never have been expected to assimilate into what were essentially Christian theocracies. While it is true that Jews represent a subculture in Europe based on ethnicity the barrier to integration was more religious than cultural. In the case of the Roma the conflict was primarily culture. Part of the different in assimilation actually results from some very politically incorrect cultural differences related to IQ. I don't want to have the whole IQ debate again so for the purposes of this discussion let's just assume that the radical social constructionist views are correct and it is a proxy for assimilation. From that perspective we can examine in more detail what cultural differences lead to success or failure of various ethnic traditions beyond isolation and persecution.

The tragedy of the Roma is not entirely a story of prejudice. A similar tragedy unfolded in North America when nomadic people came to be dominated by an agrarian culture. Although there are few parallels in the conflict between Europeans and the Roma and Europeans and Native Americans it is clear that nomadic people are either absorbed or marginalized by settled people's. Even the Mongolian hordes were eventually "civilised" and became almost indistinguishable from their Chinese subjects.

The question then becomes why do some nomadic ethnicities continue while others assimilate. It is a question of such complexity we will probably not be able to address it here. I would only suggest that cultures based on an informational hierarchy and rigid concepts of property and competency assimilate into Western European culture easier than those with other values more associated with extended family tribalism.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Braininvat on September 27th, 2018, 12:50 pm 

The social contract does seem sensitively dependent on agreed upon concepts of law and property. A functioning society depends on such agreements. In the U.S. there was considerable conflict between a society based on rule of law and a society that has the older "honor culture." Also between a Christian monogamous culture and a splinter group that sought refuge in a wilderness area to practice polygamy. And, as noted above, between landed agrarian culture and a nomadic hunter-gatherer culture. Generally, over time, individuals tend to assimilate to the culture that has the power, in order to gain the economic benefits this offers. (unless there are extremely powerful religious influences which dictate an unequivocal ethos of being apart from the larger society - e.g. the Shakers, the Amish, Mormon subgroups that remained polygamous in remote communities until quite recently) Scapegoating marginal groups seems to be most common when that group triggers a xenophobic reaction. Amish, for example, don't seem to trigger xenophobia as much or get knocked around as much because in spite of their "weirdness" they are white Northern European descended people who uphold basic principles of land stewardship and hard work.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 27th, 2018, 2:09 pm 

The chains of rigid hierarchies required for agrarian and even more so for industrial society are a psychological burden that 10 thousand years seem unable to erase. The romanticism seen in terms such as the "noble savage" depict a longing to return to a more "natural state". I'm not a fan of this kind of sentimentality or Rousseau. I'm a fan of pragmatism tempered by an understanding of the need for an emotional life that recognizes millions of years of evolution that cannot be ignored.

What BIV describes as "Northern European descended people who uphold basic principles of land stewardship and hard work" is sometimes called the protestant work ethic but it must be much older than Christianity itself. People's that did not adopt it likely did not survive in agrarian societies. The survival rate has probably had an influence on personality traits that aid in assimilation into industrial societies. The unfortunate side effect is the acceptance of authoritarian doctrines on the left and right. It would be a mistake to think that people like the Roma who seem to have a more egalitarian social structure do so out of humane instincts. Most likely they are simply more suspicious of central authority. It would also be a mistake to think that industrial society is less concerned with "equality" because perversely the instinct that is suspicious of authority can lead to authoritarian solutions. Very small differences in personality traits can have profound effects on political and cultural outcomes. Proof of this can be found in the Scandinavian countries where the result of egalitarian policies have reduced work place diversity for the sexes.

We should not expect an equality of out come where there is an inequality of interest. Those naturally inclined towards a work ethic that is a natural match to an industrial society (or Simi industrial agriculture) should be expected to fair better and in the post industrial age those with an inclination towards intellectual labor can be expected to do better.

A liberal democrat capitalist society is a meritocracy but the value structures determine what merit is. Conflating success with merit is dangerous game that produces unnecessary conflict. Expecting everyone to have the same values is as unrealistic as expecting equal outcomes. The problem with the Roma or even the "deplorables" is their lifestyle while complementary to personality traits has become impractical.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Serpent on September 27th, 2018, 7:00 pm 

Small reminder regarding xenophobia here: The Roma came originally from India and had the same colour skin as the Egyptians (for whom they were mistaken) and Muslim Arabs. Christian Europe had both of those reasons to be suspicious of them - beyond the nomadic lifestyle.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 27th, 2018, 8:21 pm 

No doubt racism is a disadvantage to anyone with brown skin but you have to explain how yellow skin doesn't seem a significant barrier to assimilation.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 27th, 2018, 8:33 pm 

The yellowskins haven't always had it easy. Something about railroads.

Braininvat » September 27th, 2018, 5:50 pm wrote:The social contract does seem sensitively dependent on agreed upon concepts of law and property. A functioning society depends on such agreements. In the U.S. there was considerable conflict between a society based on rule of law and a society that has the older "honor culture." Also between a Christian monogamous culture and a splinter group that sought refuge in a wilderness area to practice polygamy. And, as noted above, between landed agrarian culture and a nomadic hunter-gatherer culture. Generally, over time, individuals tend to assimilate to the culture that has the power, in order to gain the economic benefits this offers.

This is why I think the example of the Roma holds as a counterargument to the social contract theory. It's not just the temptations of affluent Western society; it's the disadvantages which that society imposes on traveller societies. Here in stuffy England, the most powerful society has farmed the arable land, mined the mountains, fished the rivers, claimed the skies. We tell the travellers where to go and live and if it's ghastly there, tough. Serpent's point about the Roma constituting a society misses the greater point: it will be persecuted by our society, or it will assimilate. That's an odd conception of consent, Mr Rousseau, isn't it?
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 27th, 2018, 8:40 pm 

Glad to see you're all still here, by the way. Been a busy year. As soon as I catch up on sleep, I can catch up on waking from my dogmatic slumbers.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Serpent on September 27th, 2018, 9:27 pm 

wolfhnd » September 27th, 2018, 7:21 pm wrote:No doubt racism is a disadvantage to anyone with brown skin but you have to explain how yellow skin doesn't seem a significant barrier to assimilation.

Where?
Of course it's a disadvantage. Ask any Chinese and Japanese Americans. All Asians have some difficulty in the US, except young people, through higher education and professions. In Europe, Asians have not been a significant enough presence to considered either a threat or a useful scapegoat. From the fall of the Roman empire till the end of the 20th century, Europeans have identified themselves as discreet nationalities, mostly in long-standing feuds and alliances with one another. A significant foreign presence always caused problems - is causing problems now; they have the motivation to be inclusive, but do not yet know how to make the necessary adjustments.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 27th, 2018, 10:18 pm 

Serpent » Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:27 am wrote:
wolfhnd » September 27th, 2018, 7:21 pm wrote:No doubt racism is a disadvantage to anyone with brown skin but you have to explain how yellow skin doesn't seem a significant barrier to assimilation.

Where?
Of course it's a disadvantage. Ask any Chinese and Japanese Americans. All Asians have some difficulty in the US, except young people, through higher education and professions. In Europe, Asians have not been a significant enough presence to considered either a threat or a useful scapegoat. From the fall of the Roman empire till the end of the 20th century, Europeans have identified themselves as discreet nationalities, mostly in long-standing feuds and alliances with one another. A significant foreign presence always caused problems - is causing problems now; they have the motivation to be inclusive, but do not yet know how to make the necessary adjustments.


We have gone a bit off track so let's just agree racism is a factor working against the Roma. Can we clarify how much of factor it is?
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Serpent on September 27th, 2018, 11:46 pm 

Lomax » September 27th, 2018, 7:33 pm wrote:This is why I think the example of the Roma holds as a counterargument to the social contract theory. It's not just the temptations of affluent Western society; it's the disadvantages which that society imposes on traveller societies. Here in stuffy England, the most powerful society has farmed the arable land, mined the mountains, fished the rivers, claimed the skies. We tell the travellers where to go and live and if it's ghastly there, tough. Serpent's point about the Roma constituting a society misses the greater point: it will be persecuted by our society, or it will assimilate. That's an odd conception of consent, Mr Rousseau, isn't it?

I think he was talking to and about a cohesive, homogeneous society. That's how all Europeans have traditionally viewed themselves: as distinct nation-tribes. England is one society; France is one society; Sweden is one society - that is how they view themselves, in the very teeth of their own history of conquest, internecine warfare, larger tribes subsuming smaller tribes and changing over time. It's a pervasive and persistent conceit.

In the Americas, the fiction became far more difficult to sustain - and yet you still have white supremacists and Americans who boast that their ancestors came over on the mayflower, as if that carried some special privilege, and Canadians whose Scottish forebears bullied Russian immigrants, by virtue of their previous land-grants from a king who'd never set foot on the continent he handed around so generously.
People have some peculiar and powerful self-delusions.

The social contract of any one nation automatically excludes the members of all other nations.

Wolfhnd -- We have gone a bit off track so let's just agree racism is a factor working against the Roma. Can we clarify how much of factor it is?

I very much doubt it. The history is long and convoluted; i don't think anyone can disentangle learned prejudice from instinctive fear from personal resentment, from envy and contempt and suspicion and reputation and legend and ongoing hostility and insecurity.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 1:12 am 

I don't think we should lose sight of the importance of administrative districts or the advantages of local laws. All nations are subdivided into a variety of administrative zones. It may even be necessary for a representative government to be so divided. In the case of the Roma for example where do they pay their property taxes and how can they participate in local decisions on how those taxes are spent. Besides for the practical there is as I mentioned an element of personality involved in political preference and local law affords people the ability to vote with their feet. Voting with your feet only works of course if you are contributing to the place you switch allegiance to.

Returning to the practical there are issues of sanitation, health codes, user taxes, education, child welfare, to mention a few areas where the travelers come into conflict with administrative agencies. Nomadic life style is non adaptive in a densely populated environment.

An excess of liberalism is a vice. Not only is there wisdom in all things in moderation but borders define consciousness itself. The ability to focus is an act of discrimination necessary to engage the world in a non chaotic fashion. What is being called prejudice on the part of settled people is to some extent a subconscious recognition that that the burdens and benefits of organized society cannot be shared with transient populations. The social contract is a two way street. The crisis in San Francisco with the homeless drug addicts is an excellent example of a modern dilemma created in part by tolerance. The lesson of our experiment with the welfare state is that it increases the need for borders. There is simply no way to administer a political entity where people can move freely. When restrictions become tyranny well that is just the opposite side of the coin.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby davidm on September 28th, 2018, 10:07 am 

wolfhnd » September 27th, 2018, 11:12 pm wrote: The crisis in San Francisco with the homeless drug addicts is an excellent example of a modern dilemma created in part by tolerance.


This is such a ridiculous stereotype, I hardly know where to begin to refute it.

I lived in San Francisco in the 1980s, and it had a very large homeless population then. I expect it is even larger now. Reason? Because housing prices are stratospheric. Even working people in SF can’t afford a place to live.

Very few people choose to be transient or homeless. Some, but not all, of these homeless people have drug problems. Some may be on the street because of drug abuse and poor choices, but a goodly number of others have drug problems because they are on the street. Try being homeless for even a few days and see what it does to your head.

I know firsthand because I worked in a homeless shelter in San Francisco in the 80s. Most of the people in the shelter were young gay men who may or may not have had drug problems, but this brings us to another subclass of so-called transients: Back in the 80s, many young gays ran away from home to escape intolerant communities and families that had rejected them. As a Mecca of gay culture, San Francisco held out hope for them. For some, that worked out. For others, not so much. Some OD’d on drugs. Some committed suicide.

You speak of “transients.” Let’s talk about another group of transients: trans-national corporations, the main beneficiaries of free trade and globalization. An influx of high-tech firms have driven up housing prices in San Francisco, forced small businesses to close and put people on the street. Old San Francisco is being gentrified out of existence by this transient corporate monoculture. In other cases and other cities, transient corporations destroy communities by pulling up stakes and shipping their plants overseas, where they can pay much lower wages, face lower taxes and looser regulations. Especially in the Rust Belt Midwest, they leave behind gutted small towns and spreading opioid addictions. A lot of these people voted for Trump, not because they were racists, but because they thought (wrongly) that he would fix their wrecked lives.

Here in New York City, where I live now, immigrants — onetime transients — are the backbone of everything. They are the drivers of small businesses, and have helped resurrect this city from the pit it was in just a few decades ago. The city has a lot of poor immigrants, some documented and some not, from Latin America. I have never seen such hard workers. Some of them work almost literally round the clock at the most menial jobs imaginable to make ends meet, and live seven 0r eight to a room. They don’t use drugs or commit crimes. It makes my blood boil to hear our mad dope of a president and his idiot enablers stigmatize these good people.

Deep social problems cannot be fixed or even addressed with the typical American approach of blaming the victims.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Serpent on September 28th, 2018, 11:16 am 

wolfhnd » September 28th, 2018, 12:12 am wrote:I don't think we should lose sight of the importance of administrative districts or the advantages of local laws.

Yes, I think this may be part of the situation.
In the case of the Roma for example where do they pay their property taxes and how can they participate in local decisions on how those taxes are spent.

They don't. They were definitely not included in decision-making, and they mostly were not allowed to own 'property', even if they had the means, which was rare. As nomads, they lived in wagons and set up camp where they found work - typically, adobe brick-making and metal pot-mending in the countryside; sometimes fairs and other entertainments. A popular musician or band might settle near the inn where they played or a particularly good horseman might live on a farm where he worked, in which case their families were rented a cottage on the outskirts of a town.

Besides for the practical there is as I mentioned an element of personality involved in political preference and local law affords people the ability to vote with their feet.

Voting of any kind is not an issue for the traditional Roma. You have to remember that Europe had few democratic processes that included anyone below the landed gentry until quite recently, and transient people are not registered anyhow. Think Mexican migrant workers in California, not urban homeless.

Returning to the practical there are issues of sanitation, health codes, user taxes, education, child welfare, to mention a few areas where the travelers come into conflict with administrative agencies. Nomadic life style is non adaptive in a densely populated environment.

That's one of the new-fangled problems. Travellers didn't used to come under local bureaucracy; for centuries, their hygienic and child-care arrangements were nobody's business; they managed however they managed. Suddenly, every petty official is sticking his nose in, and they naturally resent the hell out of it.
Hence the conflict.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 12:11 pm 

." Suddenly, every petty official is sticking his nose in, and they naturally resent the hell out of it."

My problem is that most people that think as you do do not afford the deplorables the same deference in terms of their right to cultural self determination. We see the same hypocrisy with how Muslim's are treated by the left with the exception of people like Sam Harris who I guess is now a Jewish intellectual Nazi. I suppose that the popular discussion can not be as nuanced as our discussions and that you still have to choose political sides but it makes me uncomfortable. I'm fully committed to the advancement of technology and a civilization that supports it. Some people are going to get left out most likely the travelers and the Deplorables. I have equal sympathy for both as well as well as other indigenous people but I'm not going to become a romantic.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Braininvat on September 28th, 2018, 12:30 pm 

Wolfhound: For other readers, can you clarify what you mean by a "Jewish intellectual Nazi" ? I am not quite sure how take that.

Also, you have a response from DavidM, above, regarding your comment on homeless people in SF. If you are getting around to it later, forgive me for any unnecessary mentioning.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 2:09 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:30 pm wrote:Wolfhound: For other readers, can you clarify what you mean by a "Jewish intellectual Nazi" ? I am not quite sure how take that.

Also, you have a response from DavidM, above, regarding your comment on homeless people in SF. If you are getting around to it later, forgive me for any unnecessary mentioning.


My comment on Harris was simply to illustrate the cognitive dissonance introduced by assuming that identity carriers with it privileges and responsibilities that can only be associated with an ability to navigate complex moral issues. It takes years of training to achieve the level of intellectual clarity necessary to ignore cultural influences that produce prejudices and perhaps some unique personality traits as well. Harris illustrates how people who praise him for criticism of Christianity and condemn him for criticism of Islam have incorporated into their thinking some dubious elements of intersectionality and multiculturalism.

I don't want to go to deep into DavidM's comments as the homeless in San Francisco was simply an illustration of good intentions can lead to undesirable outcomes. Anyone who has dealt with a drug addict in their own life will know how thin a line there is between helping and enabling. Victim blaming is an overused term that does nothing to address a complex issue. In the context of the original post the social contract puts rights and responsibilities on both the individual and society at large. We all know that hierarchies produce the dispossessed but that does not mean we can dispense with hierarchies.

It is not the corporations but the individuals willing to pay exorbitant prices for housing that drive the market. Surely the answer is not to pay people less so they don't compete for homes. The tech industry in particular seem to want to have it both ways. They promote social justice while their profits and salaries drive income "inequality". New industries are social disruptors but again that surely doesn't mean we don't want new industries. A case in point is the industrial revolution that caused a massive influx of the rural poor into urban areas where conditions were horrendous but the question was never asked if the rural conditions were even worse.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 2:22 pm 

My phone went dead while I was typing :-)

Keep in mind that my purpose here was not to offer solutions but to illustrate the complexity of the issue. The only part of the solution that I have settled on is that biological differences in personality traits should be considered. A one shoe fits all solution seems unworkable as well does letting everyone simply follow their inclinations or predispositions or even their own cultural prerogatives. In the past those who found their social environment stifling could simple move on but population density and suppression of violence severely limits that option. I also believe that in the near future the bureaucratic solution will be demonstratively invalidated.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 28th, 2018, 4:01 pm 

Regarding the analogy between Muslims (or Jews) and Travellers: we can hold that a person's theological beliefs make them more likely to crash an aeroplane into a building, all else being equal, and we can infer a criticism of that theology. We can hold that living in a caravan forever makes a person worse-educated, filthy, violent, and we can infer a criticism of that housing arrangement. In both cases we would be pernicious fools not to draw distinctions between those who actually do crash aeroplanes into buildings (for example) and those who don't. In my hometown, there have been reports of violent animals left to roam around Traveller encampments; dogs buried in shallow graves; human excrement smeared on shop windows. Many people blame Travellers en masse for this, and on the town's odious "community" facebook fora, people suggest forming mobs, picking up baseball bats, throwing acid, drowning. This is the norm for a large section of my hometown and those who disagree receive more verbal abuse than those who do not. No distinctions are drawn between the Travellers who smear excrement or abuse animals, and those who don't - nobody cares. The council will not move the encampment on because it contains a sick child - nobody cares. If you are part of our society, you are an individual; if you are part of Traveller society, lumped in.

In the same vein, here's a sharp musical critique of my favourite writer's defense of Colombus Day, and white America's treatment of those who did not sign the correct Social Contract: resist/comply, you die.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 5:03 pm 

I wish you would of told us how extreme the reaction to the Roma was. Crazy frightened stuff that seems like something out of another century.

Years ago I was on a tour of Spain and the guide told us to not acknowledge the gypsies and that it was a civil offense to buy anything from them. Didn't stop me from giving them a few dollars, maybe I should of taken the warning more serious.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 28th, 2018, 5:19 pm 

I have a second job as a journalist now, and I'm thinking of writing a couple of pieces on their situation. (If I write a piece on their persecution, would it be crass of me to call it The Gypsy Curse?) The other question that interests me is whether the word "gypsy" is racist - the Left increasingly takes it as given that it is, and there are articles by Roma arguing that it is. On the other hand I noticed many Roma and travellers themselves use it (perhaps most notably, Tyson Fury) and the organisations set up to defend the rights of these people call themselves things like "the Gypsy Council". It'd be interesting to explore whether and when the word is offensive, and I'll be making an effort to get the opinions of Roma and other travellers, as well as outside viewpoints. Given the tensions in my town I cannot decide whether it's wise to walk down to the encampment myself and start asking such questions. Obvious risks but potential benefits.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 6:13 pm 

I don't see what good it would do to talk to either side. Journalists are not socialists it's all about where, when, what, and who. Investigate journalism is another story but infiltrating groups is truly dangerous and takes years. Perhaps the police have already performed they own "hate" crimes investigation although even that probably lacks substance.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 28th, 2018, 6:22 pm 

I'm not talking about infiltrating. I'm talking about interviewing. (And for what it's worth I am both a socialist and a socialite, and the latter certainly helps.)
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Braininvat on September 28th, 2018, 6:44 pm 

If you are part of our society, you are an individual; if you are part of Traveller society, lumped in.
- Lomax

Good luck with any journalistic coverage you can do. The individual v lumped-in problem has long been part of racial strife here in the USA. Eddie Murphy was constantly criticized as a black comedian who favored vulgarity because he was "representing black people. " Or "wasn't a good role model."
White comedians OTOH can be vulgar, profane, scatalogical and only represent themselves as individuals. They aren't indicted as poor representatives or role models for some defined group. It's been a bizarre double standard here, based on the preposterous idea that a black person (or some other minority) is somehow called upon to "represent" all black people.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Serpent on September 28th, 2018, 7:20 pm 

wolfhnd » September 28th, 2018, 11:11 am wrote:.[" Suddenly, every petty official is sticking his nose in, and they naturally resent the hell out of it." ]

My problem is that most people that think as you do do not afford the deplorables the same deference in terms of their right to cultural self determination.

I don't know which people think as I do, or how that thinking goes and what problems it causes.
Neither this nor the following comments have any relevance to my attempts at explaining the historical relationship of itinerant Gypsies to the settled European nations on whose periphery they traditionally existed. There has always been tolerance in some places and hostility in others - and both of those states of mind apply both to the host nation and to the travellers. That tension, that balance has recently (in the second half of the 20th century) been rendered invalid by government agencies, without the participation or consent of the Roma themselves. This causes a new kind of conflict.

I said nothing about Americans, deplorable or otherwise. I don't see how the people I think you are referring to constitute a separate nation. Afaik, they're long-settled and recognized American voters with all the rights that migrant populations lack. Whether they have a distinct culture, I neither know nor care, since the determining factors of their grievances are not ethnic, cultural, or even religious.
The comparison to European Jews is that of two discreet - unassimilated and not popularly accepted - nations within larger nations, not of political factions.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby wolfhnd on September 28th, 2018, 7:39 pm 

It goes without saying that BIV is right that propaganda deploys tactics that strips the individuals within a identity groups individually away. I just don't personally read human interest stories. I prefer lots of statistics and third person analysis. If you can get both sides to acknowledge each others humanity that is useful.

That said there remains the practical problems that no amount of goodwill will solve. Getting people to acknowledge those practical problems is also part of resolving conflict. For example my neighbor recently complained to the city that water from my yard was impacting his property. His house is down hill of mine so the only solution would be to install a storm sewer across his property. Since the situation has existed for 120 years and obviously existed when he purchased the property he has no legal complaint. My first reaction wasn't to retaliate with a complaint of my own but to work with him to resolve his issue. How I felt about him has no bearing on the issue even though I have misgivings about his character. The same emotions that lead to empathy often come to play in separating humanity into predator and victim.
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby BadgerJelly on September 29th, 2018, 2:48 am 

Starting from the interactions between two people it is easy enough to see both come to a mutual understanding as well as having an individual opinion on matters of import.

As groups grow society becomes more complex and certain “do’s and dont’s” are bound into a state law. The law exists as a mutual agreement between groups and groups of groups. The “social contract” in this sense is not about the individual at all. The individual can choose to ignore some of the state laws and get anyway with it easily enough. This is more about morality though. We are all free from this “social contract” in the sense that we don’t have to abide by the laws of the land yet we also understand that if we do some things (murder, rape or theft) all “social contracts”, and mutual agreements, tend to shun these acts.

I have to admit that it is hard to get a handle on what you’re really thinking about here Lomax? Seems a bit to vague for me to get my teeth into. What are our thoughts?
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Lomax on September 29th, 2018, 7:03 am 

Rousseau's particular version of the Social Contract argument was that the state's authority over the individual is justified by the individual's tacit consent. He thought that that tacit consent was demonstrated by participation in society. Now it's all very well to say that Traveller encampments constitute their own society, but that's not the society with the state that's moving the Travellers on every day. In other words: when the United Kingdom (for example) serves an injunction against a Traveller encampment, is it really accurate to say that those Travellers have consented to the state's authority? If not, does this render Rousseau's argument invalid? Is the state's authority over those encampments still justified? And if not by the Social Contract, then what? Or do we take the other road and argue that Travellers are in fact social participants (in our societies, not just their own)? What actually is it to belong to a society?
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Re: Roma and the Social Contract

Postby Braininvat on September 29th, 2018, 11:35 am 

Not to be glib but I think anyone who eats farm-produced food or uses tap water is part of society. Or buys clothing, a tent, a sleeping bag. Or receive medical aid. By such simple acts you enter into a relationship with a social order. Only aboriginals who are self sufficient and deep in a wilderness are really separate. Exchanging money for goods and services may not be an overt acceptance of authority, but it's an acceptance of that society. If the Roma need the UK to survive (they don't live out on a moor, subsisting on squirrels and nuts, weaving their garments from wild flax) then a tacit acceptance is made that the UK is a social order that is vital to them. But of course that doesn't mean they must meekly accept injustice and discrimination.
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