• LFranc
    7
    Example: a citizen of a country that commits war crimes. He says: "I am not responsible for the war crimes committed by my country, only the tyrant is". But if the people revolted, the regime would collapse and the people could demand an end to the war. So they are responsible for not ending the war. They are therefore partly responsible for these crimes. (La Boétie's argument)

    (Objection: these people are subjected to terrible repression which prevents any revolt. Answer: They can revolt because there are more citizens than there are places in prison. A revolution is always possible, if many people stop disobeying at the same time, or if a smaller number of people with more power than the ordinary citizen (military, police) rebel at the same time.)

    Widening the problem: if the Indians and Brazilians (for example) boycotted all the products coming from this tyranny, then the economy of this tyranny would become unstable -> probable fall of the regime -> probable end of the war. So the Indians and Brazilians are also partly responsible for the crimes. Although they are not direct murderers, they are guilty of failing to assist people in danger.

    Tempting answer to the problem: it is all true but responsibility comes in degrees: the tyrant is the most responsible, then his police, then his citizens, then citizens from other countries...
    Problem 1: how could we prove this? (I've read several disappointing papers)
    Problem 2: if the tyrant says the war's over, the war stops. If his people disobey, the war stops too. So the latter's responsibility doesn't seem much smaller than the former's.
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    But if the people revolted, the regime would collapse and the people could demand an end to the war. So they are responsible for not ending the war.LFranc

    By this reasoning, everyone is responsible for everything. We are all now implicated in all criminal activity we ever heard of but are right now failing to stop.
  • LFranc
    7
    Yes, exactly. The famous Dostoevsky’s quote: "Each of us is guilty of everything against all." The fact that it is unpleasant to hear doesn't make it false.
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    Dostoevsky isn't writing criminal statutes. He's talking about conscience, or the internal act of taking responsibility. If we put this in practice, then, where do we start? And it is already too late, we are all guilty. We should all just march ourselves to jail. There is no time for revolt to wash us clean of our guilt - we are already guilty of everything.

    Why not start with "Each of us is credited of everything in favor of all" and say we are as good as all the good things in the world because we have not prevented them? Now the unpleasant is pleasant and we still haven't acted.

    Crimes can be by commission or omission. So I agree with the theory. But applied to tyrants committing war crimes and people omitting revolutions. Let's say the right thing to address war crimes is to revolt - what if the revolution fails - are the people still guilty? What about if the revolution takes three months - who is guilty for what during those three months?
  • LFranc
    7
    I need to think about it more. (Hence the fact I asked the question).
    What is your own answer, by the way? Are citizens responsible for the crimes of their leaders? And, for example, is the sergeant's "less responsible" for a war crime than his general? And the peasant who happened to be passing by at the time of the crime, who could have hidden the persecuted people so that they were not murdered, but did not do so, is even "less responsible" than the general and the sergeants? And how could all this be rigorously proven?
  • Tzeentch
    3.3k
    My first question would be: do they consider themselves a citizen voluntarily and do they support their nation?

    If the answer is yes, then they share responsibility.

    If the answer is no, then they are not responsible. After all, one doesn't choose the nation one is born into, and if one is made part of something abhorrent through forces outside of their control, they cannot be held responsible.


    In general I would argue that people are only responsible for their own actions, however our actions can contribute to or enable crimes by others, at which point we may share responsibility.


    For example, countries wage war with taxpayer's money.

    Do those taxpayers pay taxes because they support their nation, or do they pay taxes because if they don't the state will use violence against them in order to force compliance?

    The answer likely differs from person to person, and therefore the question of responsibility differs from person to person.
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    What is your own answer, by the way? Are citizens responsible for the crimes of their leaders? And, for example, is the sergeant's "less responsible" for a war crime than his general?LFranc

    It's a good question.

    Short answer, no. In fact, I would say it would be easier to say a leader is responsible for the crimes of his/her citizens even when that leader did not actually do anything. Easy example is Trump and the insurrectionists. He's guilty even if he didn't want all of those crimes because he was in a position to stop them and chose not to.

    It is hard enough to clarify for our own minds (as much as for the rest of the world and then the government) that we are responsible for our own acts at our own hands directly. Even these acts some people wonder "am I responsible for what I just did?" Responsibility for one's own actions has to be the foundation of all judgments one would even call a "crime" or just "bad" or "wrong". They you want to add judgments of what other people are doing as wrong, and further, make me responsible for those others' actions. Citizens are too far-removed from their leaders to be responsible for what the leaders do.

    Citizens can be responsible for following a criminal leader and doing the leader's bidding. That's a choice a citizen can take responsibility for. When a leader gets charged with a war crime, some hand had to actually do the crime, and those actual henchmen get charged too. Leader tells a pilot to bomb a city, and the pilot bombs the city. Pilot later finds out the leader was trying to commit genocide, targeting non-combatants for no other reason but genocide. The pilot didn't try to commit genocide. Pilot was doing his job. Sometimes cities need to be bombed in wars for all kinds of reasons. But now the leader tells the pilot to bomb another city and now the pilot knows the leader is targeting non-combatants - now the pilot knows the leader is using him to commit genocide. Pilot can then be responsible if he drops another bomb.

    I do think the concept of "levels of responsibility" and being guilty of crimes in greater and lesser degrees makes real distinctions, but there is a trip wire where someone is either implicated in the crime to whatever degree, or not implicated in the crime. No degrees necessary for that distinction. I don't think citizens trip the wire because some leader of theirs applies resources in some horrific manner, nor do I think that those same citizens continue to perpetrate the crime until they topple the leader. They should resist the leader, not contribute to the leader, and these kinds of acts may lead to the leader toppling. But they aren't war criminals until they storm the castle and die hoping to topple the leader.
  • ssu
    7.9k
    I think the German people have had a good and thorough discussion of this.

    Might be good to look at that.
  • unenlightened
    8.7k
    Are citizens responsible for the crimes of their leaders?

    They are, in general, the victims of the crimes of their leaders. That is, to the extent that one's leaders are criminals, one is living under a mafia. Now to live under a mafia is to live under coercion to support criminality, but to support criminality under coercion is still wrong, even though coercion is a powerful mitigating factor.

    There is thus a duty to resist the coercive rule of a criminal government that matches the duty to obey the legitimate rules of a legal government. A duty therefore to speak truth to power and resort to civil disobedience if necessary. These principles were worked through during the Nuremberg trials.

    This aligns also with the principle that if one kills another under coercion - at gunpoint, say - one has still murdered, though with mitigating circumstances, though if one handed over the cash of the bank at gunpoint one would not be committing robbery because preventing one's own murder would be the legal priority.
  • Quk
    24
    Tempting answer to the problem: it is all true but responsibility comes in degrees: the tyrant is the most responsible, then his police, then his citizens, then citizens from other countries...
    Problem 1: how could we prove this? (I've read several disappointing papers)
    LFranc



    As you say ("in degress"), the problem is not a binary yes-or-no thing but it's a scalable matter, I think. Prove? Power is scalable. You can measure the length of the individual knives. The knife of Joe Average is shorter than that of the tyrant. I'd like to learn what exactly was disappointing in the papers you read?
  • LFranc
    7
    I’m a bit confused because you first want to defend that citizens aren’t responsible for the crimes of their leaders, but using an argument that actually seems to prove the opposite:
    Easy example is Trump and the insurrectionists. He's guilty even if he didn't want all of those crimes because he was in a position to stop them and chose not to.
    Indeed, just like the military could stop a tyrant, but doesn’t. The only difference here is that, within the military, the responsibility is shared, whereas in your example it is rather concentrated in one person. The new problem, then, is to determine how big this difference is. Is a shared responsibility a smaller responsibility for each individual of the group? Can responsibility be “diluted”?

    About your pilot example, I do agree that it is necessary to know that you are committing a crime in order to be considered responsible for that crime. I would just add, of course, that the individual must do everything possible to access information about the act he is about to commit. Otherwise, he is responsible for burying his head in the sand.

    to live under a mafia is to live under coercion to support criminality
    . That is a good way to put it.
    if one handed over the cash of the bank at gunpoint one would not be committing robbery
    . But there's an important difference here. The one handing over the cash is almost sure of dying if he disobeys. The military revolting against a tyrant (or a very large number of citizens revolting against a tyrant) are almost sure of putting an end to injustice. But they don't.

    I'd like to learn what exactly was disappointing in the papers you read?
    Sure, here it is:
    "Suppose a charged particle is accelerating at a rate of 15 ms−2 under the joint influence of gravity and an electric field. How much did each force contribute to the particle's acceleration? A natural way of answering this question would be to consider what the acceleration would have been had that force not been present." (Kaiserman's paper)
    My reaction: That's all well and good, but not everything in life (especially politics) can be summed up by just two factors. You can't say: Hitler caused 2.5 times more of the Shoah than Himmler.
    Finally, scenarios such as "What if such and such a historical figure had not existed?" are absolutely unverifiable fictions, unlike the withdrawal of a variable in a closed physical system.

    "Suppose they’re trying to push the boulder down the hill to save a climber’s life who got stuck under that boulder. They are of varying strengths—say, one is a little bit stronger than all the others who are equally strong. But all of them do everything they can to save the climber. And again, none of them are strong enough to push the boulder on their own, and hence each of them is needed for the outcome. They push the boulder down the hill and save the climber.
    If causation comes in degrees, it seems plausible to think that the strongest teen¬ager is more of a cause of saving the climber’s life than all the others. This might in turn imply that she is more morally responsible—i.e., more praiseworthy—than all the others." (Demirtas' paper)
    My reaction: Another example that is too abstract/simplified and cannot be generalised. In this situation, we assume that they all had the idea of saving the climber at the same time and in the same way. But, in truth, there were group effects, and individual wills were to some extent "blended" into the collective... The strongest climber lifted the rock more, but perhaps he wouldn't have done so if the skinnier climber hadn't suggested lifting it. And so on.
    Only quantifiable factors: very problematic because there are 'spiritual' effects that are very important and unquantifiable, such as education or propaganda that would make someone a murderer, for example, and where the perpetrators of this influence would logically be held partly responsible for the crime.

    Generally speaking, the authors of these articles always work in closed systems. A finite set of variables (and what's more, there are never many of them) but in reality the variables are far more numerous or even infinite. Example: one person in particular, and only that person, can kill the Bad Guy to save humanity. And he does. His action was necessary and sufficient and, what's more, of a high degree of necessity, because it was irreplaceable. It is therefore legitimate to consider this person responsible for this act (and to congratulate him). However, it was also necessary for his parents to bring him into the world... and to transmit to him an idea of civic-mindedness and courage... Otherwise none of this would have been possible... and the grandparents etc.

    Or we would have to prove that reality is made up of closed systems, that these are not simplifications of reality. The question of the weighting of causality/responsibility then becomes first and foremost that of the existence of variables really isolated from others to explain an action.
  • Vera Mont
    3k
    All responsibility for such large collective actions as a war must be shared, but proportionately.
    First: How did the leader get to be a leader? Some part of the citizenry must have followed him and supported him. That may have been a bent party apparatus rigging an election or a military junta or a revolutionary movement or a popular vote or a sneaky 3-step takeover as in Hitler's case.
    The more popular support there was in his rise to power, the more citizens are directly responsible for his subsequent actions.

    Second: In order to retain power, the leader must have a strong supporting organization of administrators and enforcers. They don't have to be competent; they just need wield a heavy hand, to get the leader's policies enacted, knock down any legal or ethical impediments, silence opposition and disable potential competitors. At the very least, he needs the military to respect his right to the office, protect him and obey his orders. To the extent that those orders contravene the constitution [or whatever principle] they had sworn to uphold, they are all - from generals down to privates - responsible for any illegal order they carry out. (It's not easy to refuse, as field executions used to be common. Now, at least in the US, they're supposed to get a court martial hearing.)

    Keeping a dictatorship afloat domestically also requires some muscle, usually in the form of law-enforcement agencies. Every member of these agencies has sworn to uphold the law. If the new leader is seen to act contrary to to the law - as in ordering mass arrest of peaceful protesters, or the removal of flags, placards or other devices critical of the leader, or failing to defend the citizens' right to cast their vote unmolested - no police personnel should obey. Those who do are actively supporting him and therefore complicit in all his crimes. (Those who don't will soon be replaced by loyal thugs.)

    Public protest against such a leader is perilous. It's easy to say "If enough people do thus and so..." Sure. But when you march on the street with sniper rifles pointed at you from the rooftops, do mounted cops prancing alongside and a phalanx of black shields ahead, do you know whether the numbers who join you will make up that 'enough'? Do you know whether you will be one of the 10% of protesters jailed indefinitely (beaten, humiliated, given wormy bread, your family not knowing what's happened to you) one of the 2% made an example of with a show-trial and long sentence in a frigid work-camp, or one the 0.5% shot down on the street and never heard from again? You don't: it's risk you take.

    Each of those citizens is an individual, with personal responsibilities, dependents, affections, ambitions, hopes and fears. They're not all equally brave or dedicated to political reform. They don't all have the same degree of animosity to the leader. They don't all disagree with every decision he makes, or feel threatened by his every policy. The smartest, most socially aware ones usually leave the country as soon as such a leader comes to power, or even before, when the mood of the country indicates that he will. But there isn't always a more sympathetic regime that will take them in. So, a lot of ordinary citizens just hunker down, hoping to avoid attention and ride out whatever events befall. I don't think that makes them guilty of the leader's crimes.
  • Quk
    24
    Sure, here it is:LFranc

    Thank you for your detailed reply. I see the problem of gradual "measurements" is very complex, and the required algorithms are nearly incalculable. So I would put this problem into a more pragmatical context: We humans are able to estimate sizes and intensities of things we cannot measure exactly. We estimate and predict issues all the time, and often our predictions lie within a reasonable tolerance; otherwise we wouldn't be able to survive for more than a few years. In other words: I wouldn't put this problem into a binary yes-no context but into a context of probability, similar to quantum mechanics. The fact that something isn't exactly detectable doesn't mean that there is no useable probability corridor within which we can operate very well with a relatively low error quote. How useable this approach might be probably depends on the background of the original responsibility question, I think. Well, what is its background?

    1. Is it a pure epistemological question? ("What is responsibility?")
    2. Is it about the motivation of people? ("Can a little man change the future?)
    3. Is it about guilt? ("Can that little man be blamed for the terrible past?")
    4. ...?
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    I’m a bit confused because you first want to defend that citizens aren’t responsible for the crimes of their leaders, but using an argument that actually seems to prove the opposite:
    "Easy example is Trump and the insurrectionists. He's guilty even if he didn't want all of those crimes because he was in a position to stop them and chose not to." Me.
    LFranc

    Holding Trump responsible for insurrection day and trying to topple him through the courts (for now) is holding a leader responsible for actions of that leader's citizens. You are arguing for the opposite.

    If citizens are to be held responsible for the acts of their leaders, aren't all of the Palestinians responsible for the October 7 attack/murder/rape of non-combatants? If they should all be held responsible since they didn't stop the attackers, then how can we say Israel is committing war crimes or doing anything wrong when Israel just trying to hold the right people responsible by attacking all of Gaza?
  • unenlightened
    8.7k
    The one handing over the cash is almost sure of dying if he disobeys. The military revolting against a tyrant (or a very large number of citizens revolting against a tyrant) are almost sure of putting an end to injustice. But they don't.LFranc

    Sometimes they do. but the point of my example is to illustrate the principle of proportionality. One should not risk one's life for something trivial, and conversely, one should not refuse to risk one's life for something of vital importance to many people.

    But one cannot depend on a very large number of citizens for one's own action. Sometimes the large number need one to be the leader of the revolt, sometimes at the cost of one's life.

    If citizens are to be held responsible for the acts of their leaders, aren't all of the Palestinians responsible for the October 7 attack/murder/rape of non-combatants? If they should all be held responsible since they didn't stop the attackers, then how can we say Israel is committing war crimes or doing anything wrong when Israel just trying to hold the right people responsible by attacking all of Gaza?Fire Ologist

    You are confusing things here. Citizens have responsibilities in relation to the society they live in, and hence for the actions of the government. But 'holding someone responsible' is something that a court does on an individual basis, taking account of particulars. One cannot convict a whole population of any moral failure, but must prove it of each individual, showing that there were things they could and should have done that they did not do, and/or things that they did that they could and should not have done.
  • baker
    5.5k
    The main responsibility is on the one who pulls the trigger. Not on the one giving the command to pull the trigger.
  • Quk
    24
    The main responsibility is on the one who pulls the trigger. Not on the one giving the command to pull the trigger.baker

    What if the trigger puller's mind consists of a heterogeneous mosaic of multiple, different will-vectors? Which of the many will-vectors belong to that "single person"? And when the killer is caught, what part of this person has to get into jail? Of course, the prisoner's body needs to remain in one piece. One may conclude, the vector sum of all differerent vectors in that mind represents that "single person". While we're at it: Could this principle be applied to an entire country as well? Every person in this country represents one individual will-vector. The person itself is sort of a country too, containing many different will-vectors.
  • baker
    5.5k
    What if the trigger puller's mind consists of a heterogeneous mosaic of multiple, different will-vectors?Quk
    Which is often the case anyway. People have all kinds of desires, goals, impulses, and then they choose which one to act on.

    Which of the many will-vectors belong to that "single person"? And when the killer is caught, what part of this person has to get into jail?
    My reply was in response to the dichotomy between the leaders and the followers/citizens.
    In discussing responsibility in terms of war, it tends to be taken for granted that being a soldier is legitimate, and that for soldiers to follow orders is legitimate. But because of such taking for granted, we end up with just the kind of questions the OP does.

    While we're at it: Could this principle be applied to an entire country as well? Every person in this country represents one individual will-vector. The person itself is sort of a country too, containing many different will-vectors.
    What if we were to transcend the notion of country or nationality, and treat people as individuals? Because at the end of the day, it's that individual who pulls the trigger. Yes, the individual is subject to all kinds of pressures and forces and influences and is embedded in a socioeconomic context -- yet it is also the individual who decides whether to pull that trigger or not.
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    One cannot convict a whole population of any moral failure, but must prove it of each individual, showing that there were things they could and should have done that they did not do, and/or things that they did that they could and should not have done.unenlightened

    Completely agree with that. Enforcing moral responsibility is an individual by individual thing. So practically speaking if we held whole citizenry responsible for the acts of their leaders, to be fair about it, they would each have to held accountable one at a time. So if I agreed with the original assertion that the citizens can be held responsible for the crimes of their leaders, then I'd be calling for an impossible administration of justice. But I don't agree with it. I agree with what you said here.

    But I thought this post was about:
    "I am not responsible for the war crimes committed by my country, only the tyrant is". But if the people revolted, the regime would collapse and the people could demand an end to the war. So they are responsible...LFranc

    You are saying the practical implications of holding all the people responsible would be unrealistic to enforce. I agree with that, and also say there is nothing to enforce. Tyrants are the criminals. Their own people are innocent victims. Unless they collaborate. Failing to topple a bad leader isn't a crime.
  • NOS4A2
    8.2k


    Anyone who supports state power, aggrandizes it with their votes, up until and including signing their name on the dotted line come election time, legitimizes state power, and is therefor responsible for breathing life into it and setting it loose on the field. Through these simple activities he becomes the state.
  • unenlightened
    8.7k
    Tyrants are the criminals. TFire Ologist

    Yes, but ... a tyrant always functions with a conspiracy of bully boys, without which he is no more than a hate filled loudmouth and at worst, a possible serial killer. A tyrant always functions with consent, not universal or enthusiastic, but widespread and tacit "because good people do nothing". I am saying if you are an extermination camp guard, you are criminally responsible, but if you are just a close neighbour of the extermination camp and pretend not to notice the smell, you are morally culpable, but not criminally culpable.
  • L'éléphant
    1.4k
    Are citizens responsible for the crimes of their leaders?
    This is a poorly written question and certainly written to arouse the reactionary responses, not the intelligent responses.

    There is accountability. In a representative form of government, the reason why we elect the leaders is to represent the people and to make the decision on behalf of the people, decisions that are beneficial to the people.
    Crimes are not beneficial to the people. If the actions are criminal, then the leaders must be held accountable for those crimes. The people can vote the leaders out of office.
  • LFranc
    7
    I don't have time to answer all messages, so I selected just a few ones. Of course feel free to keep this debate going without me anyway (except if you think this is a "poorly written question").


    Interesting insight thank you.
    (…) one the 0.5% shot down on the street and never heard from again? You don't: it's risk you take.
    Agree. But then, two comments: 1. All the people who didn’t join to make up that “enough” will be held responsible, although just partly and indirectly, of those killed and imprisoned ones. Because, had they joined their peers, the regime would have been overthrown (with limited and/or temporary casualties, and political prisoners freed). This is what I mean: the people who have stayed at home for fear of demonstrating may be friendly and cordial, but they are by no means "neutral". There is no neutral zone, because inaction is always also action. They are definitely not as responsible as snipers on the roof, but their responsibility is not 0 either. Right? 2. It could at least be said that those who stay at home in such a situation value life higher than freedom. Which is understandable, and I'm likely to join them, but morally questionable.


    then I'd be calling for an impossible administration of justice.
    But I thought this post was about
    Indeed I'm first looking for the truth, not the thesis that is most applicable in practice. A good example of this would be denazification in Germany from 1945: in May 1945, there were 8 million members of the Nazi party. In Bonn, 102 out of 112 doctors were Nazis. In Bavaria, 94% of judges and prosecutors and 77% of finance ministry employees were former Nazis... and so on. So obviously these people were guilty, at least partially or indirectly, of Nazi crimes, but it was impossible to prosecute them and put them in prison, for practical reasons.

    you are morally culpable, but not criminally culpableunenlightened

    Yes indeed that's what we're reflecting on.
  • Vera Mont
    3k
    All the people who didn’t join to make up that “enough” will be held responsible, although just partly and indirectly, of those killed and imprisoned ones.LFranc

    And? When the counterrevolution finally succeeds, they'll be lined up against a wall and shot? Sure, some of 'em. Or some who are suspected collaborators/sympathizers/informants and some who are pointed out by spiteful neighbours and some who are standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, because once the mob is on the rampage, anyone can fall victim to its vengeance.
    Can you take all the possible variants of the future into consideration when deciding to join or sit out a protest?

    There is no neutral zone, because inaction is always also action.LFranc

    Absolutely! A profound judgment from the safe high bleachers of history. People on the ground tend to think of their children before their freedom.
  • Fire Ologist
    65
    Indeed I'm first looking for the truthLFranc

    The principal seems to be "Inaction in the face of another one's immorality implicates one in the other one's immorality."

    I’m a bit confused because you first want to defend that citizens aren’t responsible for the crimes of their leaders, but using an argument that actually seems to prove the opposite:

    "Easy example is Trump and the insurrectionists. He's guilty even if he didn't want all of those crimes because he was in a position to stop them and chose not to. - Fire Ologist
    LFranc

    If the principal is "inaction in the face of another one's immorality implicates one in the other one's immorality" then we could apply this principal to Trump and say Trump's inaction during the insurrection makes him responsible for the actions of the insurrectionists.

    I agree leaders should be implicated in the immorality and crimes of those they lead. The other way around is too complicated. I think we are implicated in the immorality of other's actions when we have the power to stop it but fail. I don't think every tyrant gives the world an example of a whole citizenry who had the power to stop the tyrant but failed. There are real victims here. People who topple a tyrant are a pipedream of an example of a perfectly good principal.
  • BC
    13k
    I don't have time to answer all messagesLFranc

    IF you don't have time to reply to your responders then don't bother to start a thread. You don't have to respond immediately -- hours later is fine,

    There are circles of widening responsibility for an elected leaders actions, but the leaders and initiators of crimes are most responsible and responsible first. John F. Kennedy (President 1960-1963) is responsible for the planned (and ill-conceived) invasion of Cuba. He didn't hatch this plan by himself -- there were a few dozen people near the top of the government who were involved.

    I bear no responsibility for what Kennedy did. I was 16 at the time; but I would not have been responsible had I been older. Richard Nixon (President 1969-1974) didn't start the war in Viet Nam, but he did continue and expand it. Nixon had many supporters among the populace, as well as opponents. I was opposed. The invasion of Cuba was secretive. The war in Vietnam was public. Many people voted for Nixon (twice), supported his policies, and so on. Supporters bore some small responsibility for Nixon's actions.

    One thing to remember here is that the public is not CONSULTED in any meaningful way about planned military or other actions that may or may not be criminal. The lack of consultation or ability to intervene in top administration activities severely limits responsibility.
  • Vera Mont
    3k
    One thing to remember here is that the public is not CONSULTED in any meaningful way about planned military or other actions that may or may not be criminal. The lack of consultation or ability to intervene in top administration activities severely limits responsibility.BC

    As does deliberately misinforming the public, or at the very least presenting a situation to the public in a biased way. Propaganda is standard practice in governance, especially as regards selling a war, just as secrecy ("National security") is standard practice in all matters pertaining to the crimes of government and its various agencies. The citizen has already submitted his share of taxes; what's done with it is none of his business. Every military action has its its own sales campaign at the beginning, its cheer leaders during and its apologetics after.
  • LFranc
    7
    I think we're going round in circles, or that people defend what they want to defend before knowing whether they can defend it. I'd also like to think that there are different degrees of responsibility, and that I'm hardly responsible at all for not fighting injustice (because it's up to the leaders to do so, or because the leaders prevent me from doing so, or because it's pointless as long as others don't follow me... etc.). But this would need to be proven.
    Thank you for your answers though.
  • BC
    13k
    During the war in Vietnam there was opposition early on -- initially quite small. By 1969 the opposition was very large. 500,000 people turned out for the Washington, D. C. anti-war demonstration in November of 1969. I was one of them. Across the country there were marches and mobilizations against the war involving millions of people registering their dissent from national policy.

    The net result on the Nixon administration was minimal. The war went on and was even expanded. Those opposed to the war remained opposed but demonstrations proved insufficient to change administration policy.

    The anti-war movement wasn't without effect, however. It did change the way a large number of people thought about war, the government, and national priorities. The majority were not persuaded.

    The long series of civil rights demonstrations running from the 1950s into the 1970s achieved more concrete results and legislative change. Congress and legislatures enacted piecemeal changes which over time significantly reduced the immorality of racial discrimination. "Significantly reduced" but did not eliminate.

    So, people sometimes find ways to publicly rebuke their governments and distance themselves from complicity. But complicity, responsibility, and guilt are difficult to avoid in complex society. For example, one might be in favor of equal rights and opportunity for blacks, but live in a long-segregated white suburb.
  • BC
    13k
    As does deliberately misinforming the public, or at the very least presenting a situation to the public in a biased way.Vera Mont

    Two instances come to mind. The Gulf of Tonkin "incident" in 1964 may have been faked, but it justified the expansion of military action in Vietnam. Another, certainly faked, justification for war was Iraq's alleged purchase of "yellow cake" uranium from Niger for nuclear bomb work by Iraq. This provided one more excuse to invade Iraq.
  • Vera Mont
    3k
    Not to mention the case of the baby incubators, the vial of white powder, aerial photography involving toys trucks, etc., etc., - every government, every country, every war. I don't have time now to dig up each citation, but there are plenty of examples, going back to the crusades and probably much earlier.
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