What is it good for

“A war doesn’t merely kill off a few thousand or a few hundred thousand young men. It kills off something in a people that can never be brought back. And if a people goes through enough wars, pretty soon all that’s left is the brute, the creature that we—you and I and others like us—have brought up from the slime.” – John Williams, Stoner

That’s just, like, your opinion

“There is no such thing as a pure fact, innocent of interpretation. Behind every fact presented to the world—by a teacher, a writer, anyone—is a judgment. The judgement that has been made is that this fact is important, and that other facts, omitted, are not important.” – Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Asking nicely won’t help

“The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass (quoted by Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States)

And that’s the truth

“Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles or gives me any best place. And a’nt I a woman? Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a’nt I a woman? I would work as much and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well. And a’nt I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen em most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a’nt I a woman?” – Sojourner Truth (quoted by Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States)

The poets studied rules of verse, and the ladies, they rolled their eyes

“To say that the Declaration of Independence, even by its own language, was limited to life, liberty, and happiness for white males is not to denounce the makers and signers of the Declaration for holding the ideas expected of privileged males of the eighteenth century. Reformers and radicals, looking discontentedly at history, are often accused of expecting too much from a past political epoch—and sometimes they do. But the point of noting those outside the arc of human rights in the Declaration is not, centuries late and pointlessly, to lay impossible moral burdens on that time. It is to try to understand the way in which the Declaration functioned to mobilize certain groups of Americans, ignoring others. Surely, inspirational language to create a secure consensus is still used, in our time, to cover up serious conflicts of interest in that consensus, and to cover up, also, the omission of large parts of the human race.” – Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Matters of equity

“Seamen are a class of persons remarkable for their rashness, thoughtlessness, and improvidence. They are generally necessitous, ignorant of the nature and extent of their own rights and privileges, and for the most part incapable of duly appreciating their value. They combine, in a singular manner, the apparent anomalies of gallantry, extravagance, profusion in expenditure, indifference to the future, credulity, which is easily won, and confidence, which is readily surprised. Hence it is, that bargains between them and ship-owners, the latter being persons of great intelligence and shrewdness in business, are deemed open to much observation and scrutiny; for they involve great inequality of knowledge, of forecast, of power, and of condition. Courts of Admiralty on this account are accustomed to consider seamen as peculiarly entitled to their protection; so that they have been, by a somewhat bold figure, often said to be favorites of Courts of Admiralty. In a just sense they are so, so far as the maintenance of their rights, and the protection of their interests against the effects of the superior skill and shrewdness of masters and owners of ships are concerned.” – Justice Joseph Story, Brown v. Lull

Landlubbers ahoy

The crews of large ships are distributed into classes, according to their different capacities; and thus the grade of one’s seamanship may be ascertained by the station he may have held. The classification is stated in Van Heytbuysen’s Marine Evidence, p. 9, as follows:

Quarter-masters, Boatswain’s mates, Gunners and Gunners’ mates, Forecastle-men — Best seamen in the ship.

Foretop-men, Maintop-men — Active young seamen.

Mizentop-men — Young lads, and indifferent seamen.

After-guards-men, Waisters — Landsmen, &c.

– Simon Greenleaf, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence

It’s nice when they’re connected

“Intelligence is the ability to solve a problem, to decipher a riddle, to master a set of facts. Judgment is the ability to orbit a problem or a set of facts and see it as it might be seen through other eyes, by observers with different biases, motives, and backgrounds.” – James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

Submission to the lesser god

“There was once a time when most people worried about going to hell if they violated an oath taken in the name of God. That divine deterrence has slipped away from our modern cultures. In its place, people must fear going to jail. They must fear their lives being turned upside down. They must fear their pictures splashed on newspapers and websites. People must fear having their name forever associated with a criminal act if we are to have a nation with the rule of law.” – James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

Busted

“If federal agents burst into a hotel room and find a kilo of heroin piled in the middle of a table, everybody sitting at that table is going to jail. It isn’t open to any of them to say it had never occurred to them that this activity was illegal, or that their accountants and lawyers had reviewed the heroin and concluded it was lawful and appropriate under governing rules and regulations. Nope. Everybody is going to jail. In a corporate fraud case, the challenge was reversed. At the end of the day, the government would understand the transaction completely. We would know who was sitting at the table and exactly what the deal was. But everybody at the table would say they had absolutely no idea this complicated, mortgage-backed, reverse-repo, foreign-exchange-swap transaction was illegal.” – James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

If you can find one

“The Christian is to seek justice. Politics holds the power necessary for the establishment of justice. Therefore the Christian must participate in the political process. The perspective and beliefs of Christianity make the Christian indispensable in a political order intent on seeking justice in a world pervaded by self-interest.” – James B. Comey, “Reinhold Niebuhr and Jerry Falwell: the Christian in politics”

There’s two types of harness

“Society is the sum of social relations, and among these relations we can distinguish two extreme types: relations of constraint, whose characteristic is to impose upon the individual from outside a system of rules with obligatory content, and relations of cooperation whose characteristic is to create within people’s minds the consciousness of ideal norms at the back of all rules. Arising from the ties of authority and unilateral respect, the relations of constraint therefore characterize most of the features of society as it exists, and in particular the relations of the child to its adult surrounding. Defined by equality and mutual respect, the relations of cooperation, on the contrary, constitute an equilibrial limit rather than a static system. Constraint, the source of duty and heteronomy, cannot, therefore, be reduced to the good and to autonomous rationality, which are the fruits of reciprocity, although the actual evolution of the relations of constraint tends to bring these nearer to cooperation.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

The principle of the interest

“It is a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it.” – George Washington, “Letter to Henry Laurens, November 14, 1778″

Always look on the bright side of life

“The human mind is always poring upon the gloomy side of Fortune, and while it inhabits this lump of Clay, will always be in an uneasy and fluctuating State, produced by a thousand Incidents in common Life, which are deemed misfortunes, while the mind is taken off from the nobler pursuit of matters in Futurity. The sufferings of the Body naturally gain the Attention of the Mind, and this Attention is more or less strong, in greater or lesser souls, altho’ I believe that Ambition & a high Opinion of Fame, makes many People endure hardships and pains with that fortitude we after times Observe them to do. On the other hand, a despicable opinion of the enjoyments of this Life, by a continued series of Misfortunes, and a long acquaintance with Grief, induces others to bear afflictions with becoming serenity and Calmness. It is not in the power of Philosophy, however, to convince a man he may be happy and Contented if he will, with a Hungry Belly. Give me Food, Cloaths, Wife & Children, kind Heaven! and I’ll be as contented as my Nature will permit me to be.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 15, 1777, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (emphasis in original)

Go hungry and see how good everything tastes

“Mankind are never truly thankfull for the Benefits of life, until they have experienc’d the want of them. The Man who has seen misery knows best how to enjoy good. He who is always at ease & has enough of the Blessings of common life is an Impotent Judge of the feelings of the unfortunate.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 15, 1777

When the war was young

“I am Sick—discontented—and out of humour. Poor food—hard lodging—Cold Weather—fatigue—Nasty Cloaths—nasty Cookery—Vomit half my time—smoak’d out of my senses—the Devil’s in’t—I can’t Endure it—Why are we sent here to starve and Freeze—What sweet Felicities have I left at home; A charming Wife—pretty Children—Good Beds—good food—good Cookery—all agreeable—all harmonious. Here all Confusion—smoke & Cold—hunger & filthyness—A pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef soup—full of burnt leaves and dirt, sickish enough to make a Hector spue—away with it Boys—I’ll live like the Chameleon upon Air.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 14, 1777

So high, you can’t get over it

“I really am of opinion that there is few of the young fellows of the modern age exempt from vanity, more especially those who are bless’d with exterior graces. If they have a fine pair of eyes they are ever rolling them about a fine set of teeth, mind they are great laughers, a genteel person, for ever changing their attitudes to shew them to advantage, oh vanity! vanity! how boundless is thy sway!” – Sarah Wister, Journal, December 12th, 1777 (spelling, usage, and punctuation in original)

some people think

“some people my dear think that there’s no difference between good nature and good humour. but according to my opinion they differ widely good nature consists in a naturally amiable and even disposition free from all peevishness and fretting, it is accompany’d by a natural gracefulness a manner of doing and saying everything agreably, in short it steals the senses and captivates the heart. good humour. consists in being pleas’d and who wou’d thank a person for being chearful if they had nothing to make them other ways, good humour is a very agreable companion for an afternoon but give me good nature for life.” – Sarah Wister, Journal, November 1st, 1777 (spelling, usage, and punctuation in original)

How to make a democrat

“The essence of democracy resides in its attitude towards law as a product of the collective will, and not as something emanating from a transcendent will or from the authority established by divine right. It is therefore the essence of democracy to replace the unilateral respect of authority by the mutual respect of autonomous wills. So that the problem is to know what will best prepare the child for its future task of citizenship. Is it the habit of external discipline gained under the influence of unilateral respect and of adult constraint, or is it the habit of internal discipline, of mutual respect and of ‘self-government’? It may be, of course, that only those who have gone through the external discipline imposed by a master will be capable later on of any inner discipline. This is the commonly accepted view, but it requires to be verified. The proof, however, would not be an easy one to establish, for considering the large number of people who reject all discipline as soon as they have escaped from school and home ties, or who for the rest of their lives are capable only of external discipline and legal morality, it may very well be that it is in spite of adult authority, or in spite of certain kinds of adult authority, that the best of our young people sooner or later adopt a disciplined way of living.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

Daddy sky-god boss man

“Social constraint—and by this we mean any social relation into which there enters an element of authority and which is not, like cooperation, the result of an interchange between equal individuals—has on the individual results that are analogous to those exercised by adult constraint on the mind of the child. The two phenomena, moreover, are really one and the same thing, and the adult who is under the dominion of unilateral respect for the ‘Elders’ and for tradition is really behaving like a child. It may even be maintained that the realism of primitive conceptions of crime and punishment is, in certain respects, an infantile reaction. To primitive man, the moral and the physical universe are one and the same thing, and a rule is both a law of nature and a principle of conduct. For this reason, crime threatens the very existence of the universe and must be mystically set at naught by a suitable expiation. But this idea of a law that is both physical and moral is the very core of the child’s conception of the world; for under the effect of adult constraint the child cannot conceive the laws of the physical universe except in the guise of a certain obedience rendered by things to rules. As to ideas of punishment and expiation, how could they have become so widespread in the adult community if men had not all first been children, and if the child had not been from the very beginning of his mental development respectful towards the decisions of the adult who reprimands him and punishes him? Under the effects of social differentiation and cooperation, on the contrary, the individual is less and less dominated by the cult of the past and by the forced conformity which accompanies it. He then becomes really adult, and the infantile traits that mark the conformist spirit make place for the features that are the outcome of cooperation. Thus autonomy of conscience takes the place of heteronomy.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

Someone will have to pay

“Every society consists primarily in a collection of beliefs and feelings forming a whole which must be defended. The kernel of these beliefs is the feeling of the sacred, the source of all morality and religion. Whatever offends against these powerful and well-defined feelings is crime, and all crime is sacrilege. A crime that breaks down the social bond takes on, by the mere fact of doing so, a mystical significance. It is a source of impurity and contamination, and its repercussions, visible and invisible, are incalculable. It must therefore be suppressed, its disastrous consequences must be suppressed, and things must be put right. Punishment is the mystical procedure that will effect this restitution. Consequently it matters very little on whom the punishments fall. The great thing is that they should be inflicted and that they should be proportionate to the crime. Thus there is an ‘institution of responsibility’. Moreover, it is easy to understand how the choice of the responsible subject comes to be made. The process takes place in virtue of a mechanism of transference which obeys the usual laws of psychological transference. First, there is an affective transference: the emotions aroused by the crime are carried over to everything that touches it from near or far. Then there is a judgment: the community decides that a given individual is responsible, and this judgment is dominated by relations of contiguity and resemblance. It follows, naturally, that the culprit himself, when he can be found, is held to represent the maximum of relationship with the crime. But failing this, anything that touches the crime must be punished. Thus responsibility descends from outside upon the culprit or any of his substitutes, and transforms them into scapegoats or instruments of social purification.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)