Dubia

September 10, 2018 § 100 Comments

It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Pope Pius VIII and Gregory XVI, and additional rulings by the Sacred Penitentiary, it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound to observe the Church’s categorical and infallible condemnation of usury, deliberately and unrepentantly contracts for profits from a mutuum loan.  Can the expression “in certain cases” found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” be applied to unrepentant usurers and contraceptors?

§ 100 Responses to Dubia

  • Rhetocrates says:

    I suppose whether or not it can depends on whether or not the purpose of the Church is to safeguard and proclaim Christ here on Earth and work for the salvation of souls, or to safeguard and proclaim its own organizational vitality per se come, literally, Hell or high water.

  • Mike T says:

    Pffft everyone knows that opposition to usury is just an anti-Semitic dog whistle.

  • LarryDickson says:

    We have worse problems now. Read the Testimony of Archbishop Vigano, former Papal Nuncio to the USA ( https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4786599-Testimony-by-Archbishop-Carlo-Maria-Viganò.html ). What he personally witnessed (and he is corroborated by others such as Monsignor Lantheaume) indicates the Pope has fallen under the influence of certain Wormtongues, implying his language even in solemn pronouncements may be trimmed and bent to protect them.

    In theory, therefore, the term “in certain cases” may be justifiably applied to people who are effectively insane due to the total domination of their minds by worldly categories (unfought by the Church which is under Wormtongue domination). In practice, of course, the Wormtongues want “in certain cases” to mean “in all cases”, or at least in all cases where the sinner has worldly clout.

    “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68)

  • Zippy says:

    I suppose the list of grave sins in the last sentence of the OP could be expanded almost indefinitely, to the point where anyone’s personal unprincipled exceptions are violated. Everyone wants some things to be forbidden and punished: it is just that lots of modern people – including folks who think of themselves as traditionalists – don’t want particular grave sins like usury, contraception, mass murder by bombs, and digestive-tract sex to be forbidden and punished.

  • ProtegeAA says:

    I understand better the Church’s insistence on usury as a grave sin since reading your FAQ.

    I certainly think a Catholic committing the sin of usury should stop and get to Confession, but the teaching is so little know that while grave, the people committing it are not mortally sinning, as many may be offering mutuum loans near 0% and not understanding the details of what usury is (and isn’t).

    That said, not enforcing usurious contracts might be one of the most favorable laws Catholics could fight for today. Many of those swimming in student loan debt would happily see their APR drop to zero, and society would be better off overall.

  • Zippy says:

    I have lots of experience with vincible ignorance. I managed to live as a cradle Catholic for several decades without knowing that contraception was morally wrong. I literally did not know it, despite spending grades 4-9 in parochial schools, etc. I also had no idea what constituted valid / invalid marriage, etc. The scope of my ignorance was vast, and for a long time I made no effort to correct it.

    As someone with deep experience of ignorance my perspective is that ignorance is almost always culpable. Scripture tells us “if you love Me, keep my commandments.” What those commandments are is there for discovery; and our motivation, our impetus to discover what the commandments require and to embrace those requirements is proportional to the extent to which we really do suspend our own petty egotism and love Him.

    Everyone still knows, to this day, that the Faith enthusiastically condemned usury for millennia. Even I knew that — it is more well-established than condemnation of the Pill, a fairly recent technological development.

    It is our attitude about that well known fact which reflects how much we really do or do not love Christ.

    My own view is that in general, if our attitude about ignorance is one of horror that we might not accurately understand what He is asking of us, combined with an enthusiastic embrace of dispelling it, that kind of ignorance is probably non-culpable. Ignorance rooted in indifference or active avoidance of the truth though can be worse than knowingly committing a gravely wrong act. The latter might be merely a lapse in willpower, a spirit-is-willing but flesh-is-weak capitulation in the face of strong temptation.

    But vincible ignorance always arises, at best, from indifference. Indifference is morally worse than weakness.

  • The hellish irony is that the decision not to disturb unrepentant usurers is that it does not disturb precisely those people most competent in understanding the financial details of usury in the first place.

  • Zippy says:

    semioticanimal:

    If you think about it, that kind of ‘antipattern’ presents itself in many places. Who is better qualified to grasp the soul-destroying self-destructive grave immorality of digestive-tract sex than Fr. James Martin, SJ and Cdl. Theodore McCarrick?

  • ProtegeAA says:

    I remember returning to the Faith and wanting to unLearn the truth of what I needed to change in my life.

    And with that in mind, I agree-ignorance is often willed.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    What those commandments are is there for discovery; and our motivation, our impetus to discover what the commandments require and to embrace those requirements is proportional to the extent to which we really do suspend our own petty egotism and love Him.

    This brings to mind a passage from Sacred Scripture that I frequently think of whenever tempted with sloth.

    These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:

    I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot.

    But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

    Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

    – Revelation 3:14-17

  • Mass murder by bomb is the biggest sticking point I’ve seen.

    You’d be shocked and amazed – shocked, I say! – how quickly someone who considers themselves a hard line conservative believer in objective morality mysteriously comes to the conclusion that it’s just impossible to say if exploding infants is bad or not.

    And dropping the bomb has nothing to do with consequentialism, because bomb dropping the has consequentialism to do with nothing.

    Crystal clear?

    It’s amazing.

  • Zippy says:

    Malcolm:

    Many Catholic folks on the political “right” treat the indiscriminate nature of bombs as a killing device the same way that Catholics on the political left treat ignorance: as a kind of quasi-sacrament which washes away sin and makes it so we aren’t “choosing,” for the sake of moral evaluation, the kind of behavior we actually really are unambiguously and deliberately choosing.

  • Mike T says:

    I always found it to be a full admission of moral cowardice on the part of the right that we allowed torture and shock and awe, but prosecuted troops for fighting according to the very Geneva Conventions we signed. Under no actual, existing international law are a nation-state’s troops required to take unlawful combatants, spies and saboteurs prisoner rather than just shoot them, blow them up, etc.

    How many would have lived if we’d just told the Army and USMC to “kill every last one of those f#$%ers you find until you are told to do otherwise?”

  • Mike T says:

    Let’s also not forget that we hold pilots and the decision-makers who use them to a significantly lower standard of culpability than we do the grunts who are trained to close with the enemy and kill them. Nothing short of deliberately targeting non-combatants is seen as a moral issue in the use of the Air Force, but if a soldier so much as shoots at someone who is acting threateningly, but hasn’t pulled a gun, it’s off to prison for murder.

    We are entering a period of madness and moral cowardice where a would-be dictator or king could be forgiven for ordering people to be publicly, summarily executed for “failure to use common sense.”

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Zippy:

    On the issue of mass bombing, it’s instructive to learn that the first instances of the tactic, from WW1 (I’m thinking of things like the Scarborough raid) were met with horror and moral revulsion because it involved the willful targeting of innocents, and that the father of strategic bombing doctrine, who brought it to acceptance in WW2 (I mean Captain B.H. Liddel-Hart), later considered even during that same war that strategic bombing was horrible, both on moral and, here’s the kicker, strategic grounds.

    There isn’t even a good practical reason to implement mass bombing or civilian bombing, because it ultimately undermines the achievement of your aims. Unless your aim is genocide.

    (The moral culpability of bombing particular targets in a limited and discriminatory fashion when there’s a chance there might be innocents nearby is another question, but now we’re just haggling over the price, as it were.)

  • donnie says:

    My own view is that in general, if our attitude about ignorance is one of horror that we might not accurately understand what He is asking of us, combined with an enthusiastic embrace of dispelling it, that kind of ignorance is probably non-culpable.

    My experience with vincible ignorance is quite similar to your own, so I tend to agree with your view, but it also raises larger questions that I’ve yet to settle on a good answer for.

    For example, should the thought that there is at least a remote possibility that the Roman Church is heretical horrify me? Perhaps Luther, Calvin or Cranmer had it right. Perhaps one of the Orthodox churches have it right. Must I enthusiastically embrace the study of these alternative Christian beliefs in order that I may dispel my ignorance and better assess their truth claims?

    And what of the at least remote possibility that Mohammedanism (or Judaism or Buddhism or Zoroastrianism) is true, should that horrify me as well? Must I also enthusiastically embrace the study of their teachings?

    At some point I have to give up the endless intellectual pursuit and have faith that the teachings handed down to my parents from their parents, which they in turn handed down to me, are true, and just go from there. But then, couldn’t also a Jew, Mohammedan, or Lutheran say the same?

  • donnie,

    Obviously, we can prove very little with 100% certainty. But given what I do now and what I continue to learn I am comfortable with my Catholicism.

  • Mike T says:

    donnie,

    Perhaps Luther, Calvin or Cranmer had it right. Perhaps one of the Orthodox churches have it right.

    And in none of these cases would it matter for salvation is ultimately attained by the Blood of Jesus Christ, not by absolute orthodoxy. The thief next to Jesus would have failed a theology exam set up to just what the disciples knew, and yet what did Jesus do? Assure him that he would not go to Hell.

    Zippy’s explanation for why orthodoxy matters in principle is correct. You should seek true belief and practice to bring you closer to God and not out of fear that God will grade your soul on whatever you did or didn’t know so long as your ignorance isn’t rooted in apathy toward Him.

  • Wood says:

    Mike T,

    I also agree that we are not saved by theology exam alone, and these difficult questions are why – I think – the Church typically eschews formally commenting on the eternal destiny of particular souls She has not canonized. But I think it’s fair to point out that to the ever growing list of grave sins in the last sentence of the OP, heresy and schism may also need to be added.

  • donnie

    Christ appointed St. Peter and his successors as Supreme Pontiffs and the visible guarantors of unity in His Church. In doing so, I believe our Lord was setting up a simple test for heresy: any teaching which leads you to abandon communion with Peter is heretical, and the truth will be found within the Body of which he is the visible head. The Fathers often noted the connection between schism and heresy; as St. Jerome said, schismatics always invent heresies in order to justify their schism.

    Of course, this doesn’t help identify heresies perpetrated by false shepherds within the Church — which are more pernicious precisely because they come from those who seem to be in communion with the Pope — but it’s enough to discriminate between the Catholic Church and her imitators.

  • C.S. Lewis’s brilliant “Man or Rabbit” essay comes to mind.

  • donnie says:

    I think my comment wasn’t focused enough as it seems to have steered the thread into a different sort of discussion.

    My point is that I agree with Zippy that ignorance is, more often than not, vincible and culpable. However, I myself am also culpable for my ignorance of false religions. This doesn’t bother me because I am confident only Catholicism is true and worth learning of. There’s hypocrisy in this though, at least in my case, because my confidence that Catholicism is true does not rest on any kind of firm intellectual foundation. It rests on a faith in the person of Jesus Christ, the Church which He founded with Peter as it’s Rock, and on trust in my parents and grandparents who handed that faith down to me. All of this is fine so long as the faith I received is true – and I fully expect that it is – but the same sort of “trust in what has been handed down” would not be exculpatory for (e.g.) a Jew or a Calvinist who remains indifferent to the teachings of the Church all his life because he chooses to simply place his faith in what he has received.

  • TomD says:

    One key for identifying vincible ignorance is what you’d have to GIVE UP – and that’s the hard part.

    So maybe if you were totally addicted to sung Latin masses, you might want to consider that that addiction is what guides you, not faith; but otherwise it doesn’t seem a large danger.

    Whereas ignorance that lets you continue to do what you enjoy but suspect might be wrong, that’s the dangerous one. And it gets much more dangerous when you begin to cover for others – I doubt many of the digestive usury sex defenders in the Church themselves digest usury sex. But they provide cover for those who are tempted to those sins.

  • Professor Q says:

    Re: atom bombs.

    It might interest you to know that another way of denying reality is to simply declare that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hoaxes perpetrated by The Usual Suspects (ahem):

    https://www.cathinfo.com/fighting-errors-in-the-modern-world/exploding-the-myth-of-the-atomic-bomb/

    I’ve heard of denial, but this goes all the way to psychosis.

  • Donnie,

    We trust to the mercy of God. Again, I myself am confident in my faith. As far as how vincible the ignorance of others is, well, that isn’t for me to judge, and so I won’t. The best we can do is follow the commandments.

    We who were raised Catholic have a special responsibility, and so will be judged more harshly than most, I would imagine.

  • TomD says:

    Denying the atom bombs were dropped doesn’t answer the question of can they morally be dropped, and can you morally support dropping them.

    In fact, trying to argue that they weren’t dropped argues FOR it being immoral to drop them. (This also results in similar absurdities to those who deny Hitler killed Jews, but insist that he should have.)

  • Mike T says:

    This also results in similar absurdities to those who deny Hitler killed Jews, but insist that he should have.

    (Disclaimer: I do not deny that Hitler killed a lot of Jews)

    I did not question the Holocaust narrative at all until I noticed that even asking questions was off limit, and in some countries in the West a criminal offense. That is the behavior of people trying to prop up a “noble lie,” not people who have the truth on their side. So whatever the truth is, it’s likely not the Official Story because the Official Story was put out by the same people who want to unperson/imprison you for questioning it.

    I find this to be an interesting explanation for certain missing data about the Holocaust. It also doesn’t even contradict the idea that Himmler was liquidating Jews left and right. We also know that by the end of WWII Stalin was about on par with Hitler in his view of the Jews.

  • Ian says:

    I did not question the Holocaust narrative at all until I noticed that even asking questions was off limit, and in some countries in the West a criminal offense. That is the behavior of people trying to prop up a “noble lie,” not people who have the truth on their side.

    No it’s not, why do people keep saying this? It’s the behavior of people who believe the claim in question is of utmost importance to society’s self-understanding and stability.

    As Bonald has pointed out, the Holocaust serves as the central legitimizing myth for modern liberal Europe. The legitimizing principles of modern Europe are inclusiveness and tolerance, which are deemed necessary to suppress the sort of nationalistic fervor that gave rise to the Holocaust.

    For a government to allow public challenging of its legitimizing principles is to allow its authority to be attacked and undermined. No society that desires to maintain itself can permit this. Destroy the Holocaust narrative, and the whole raison d’etre for the European Union vanishes. Holocaust denial is thus regarded as an attack on its authority.

    Likewise, medieval Christian kingdoms did not permit the divinity of Christ to be publicly questioned. This isn’t because they had something to hide. It’s because they regarded their legitimacy as depending on Christ’s kingship. Permit attacks on the doctrine, and you are effectively saying that this doctrine is not important.

    Vigorous censorship is therefore evidence that people think the claim being protected is not only true but also important, rather than being evidence that they have something to hide.

  • Mike T says:

    Ian,

    No it’s not, why do people keep saying this? It’s the behavior of people who believe the claim in question is of utmost importance to society’s self-understanding and stability.

    And a noble lie can be part of that. As I said, the Holocaust does not have to be a pure fiction to be problematic. Simply finding that Jews were 25% of the victims, not 50% would create a lot of anger because let’s face it, in mainstream circles the Jews are all but presented as the only real victims.

  • I didn’t think we were talking about POTENTIAL reasons for a massive conspiracy surrounding the Holocaust, I thought we were talking about reasons to believe there is one.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    Yes, a noble lie is consistent with something being regarded as a legitimizing principle of society. But something believed to be true is also consistent with something being regarded as a legitimizing principle of society (in fact, more so). So the fact of censorship is at best neutral between its being regarded as true or false; it is certainly not evidence of there being something to hide, contrary to what you originally stated.

    What censorship of Holocaust denial is evidence for: that the Holocaust is regarded as legitimizing modern liberal authority.

  • Mike T says:

    That might work, Ian, were it not for the fact that liberal authority was entrenched in Europe for well over a century before WWII.

  • Mike T,

    Kind of? The chaos created at the end of WWI lead to the fall of kingdoms and a lot of enmity between the surviving nations.

    The victory of WWII was the proof text we were the good guys and democracy was great, and the Holocaust is what we point to that proves this point absolutely, supposedly.

  • Mike T says:

    malcolm,

    Liberalism exploded onto the scene and permanently scarred continental Europe ~1790. It was already growing meaningfully in the UK at the same time and was firmly entrenched there in the mid 19th century. The Italian revolutionaries were liberals. Most of Bismarck’s social policies were aimed at preempting the social democrats. Right after WWI, the entire Russian Empire went liberal and was trying to go liberal in the 19th.

    Most of Europe was already firmly convinced that some form of liberalism was the way to go before WWII.

  • Mike T says:

    Regarding Official Stories, most of the time they’re simple stories meant to satisfy curiosity in a low-information voter environment. Jeff S blasted Ron Unz here for being a 9/11 Truther and a “JFK conspiracy theorist.”

    I have no strong opinions about most of those “conspiracy theories” other than there are a lot of rather relevant questions unanswered. For example, consider the fact that much of the JFK case is still classified. Why is that? Standard classification guidelines typically put a declassification date ~25 years in the future in which declassification is presumed until review proves it is still a relevant national security secret. Absent such finding, it is supposed to be stamped UNCLASSIFIED and made available to the public upon request. Short of someone dropping something like Q (nuclear weapons) data into the file, what could possibly justify a declassification date so far into the future that many Millennials will be in retirement homes or dead when it’s eligible for release?

    In a post-Christian age, anyone who assumes an attachment to the truth on the part of the clique of sociopaths that dominate the upper echelons is just being a patsy no matter what position they take.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    That might work, Ian, were it not for the fact that liberal authority was entrenched in Europe for well over a century before WWII.

    Liberalism requires new legitimizing myths as it develops. And even if liberalism were a static thing, it could still acquire new legitimizing myths as time went on.

    In the U.S., legitimizing myths include not only the founding, but also later events such as slavery and the civil rights movement. Early liberalism probably used the Thirty Years’ War as a legitimizing myth.

    Atheism and scientism use l’affaire Galileo as a legitimizing myth for their ideologies, but they also use the Darwin-banished-the-need-for-God myth.

    In a post-Christian age, anyone who assumes an attachment to the truth on the part of the clique of sociopaths that dominate the upper echelons is just being a patsy no matter what position they take.

    This isn’t why people reject conspiracy theories. They reject them because it would take superhuman ability to coordinate conspiracies that vast and to keep them secret. Reality and human nature don’t work that way.

    And speaking of a commitment to truth, that’s hardly a virtue that Holocaust deniers could be accused of.

  • Mike T says:

    This isn’t why people reject conspiracy theories. They reject them because it would take superhuman ability to coordinate conspiracies that vast and to keep them secret. Reality and human nature don’t work that way.

    Counter-point: the Clintons. Their crimes are an open secret among everyone paying attention and the media has ferociously defended them despite the scandals being so numerous that any journalist who conclusively proved 20% of them would likely win a Pulitzer (assuming they didn’t commit suicide by shooting themselves twice in the back of the head).

  • Ian is correct about the new liberal myth. The Holocaust narrative is uncredibly important for the post WWII allies, because it allows them to claim moral superiority without anybody asking suspicious questions.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.:

    Different kind of conspiracy. Garden-variety criminal conspiracies such as those involving the Clintons happen all the time.

    The conspiracies requiring the sort of vast scale that the Holocaust being a fiction would require are the type of conspiracies that don’t happen.

  • Mike T says:

    The conspiracies requiring the sort of vast scale that the Holocaust being a fiction would require are the type of conspiracies that don’t happen.

    And I never defended such absurdities. In fact, I was rather clear that I do not doubt that Hitler killed a lot of Jews. What I said is that I don’t necessarily buy the Official Story. This is where people become lunatics due to binary thinking.

  • Mike T says:

    Garden-variety criminal conspiracies such as those involving the Clintons happen all the time.

    Were he brought forward in time and given a full rundown of the Clintons, Al Capone would walk across the street to avoid them.

  • Bedarz Iliachi says:

    MikeT,
    Vox Day is an expert in innuendo. His shtick is, quoting from the link you posted:
    “I’m not saying that this hypothetical Soviet Holocaust was actually the historical case. I’m not a historian, I wasn’t there, and I have absolutely no idea what actually happened.”

    True, we may never find a document with Hitler’s signature ordering the holocaust, but are there no eye-witnesses, even living today?

  • Mike T says:

    Bedarz Iliachi,

    True, we may never find a document with Hitler’s signature ordering the holocaust, but are there no eye-witnesses, even living today?

    Eye-witnesses are not sufficient here. The Soviets could easily overrun a camp, divide the population, exterminate one segment and convince the others they were “liberators” while cooking the books. That sort of thing would be completely in character for Stalin. People forget that the “12M dead” was the count after the war.

    The point isn’t that the Holocaust didn’t happen, but that it could very well be that Stalin finished what Hitler started because he had the means and motivation to do it, and we know as he was dying he was considering his own potential Holocaust in the USSR.

  • Zippy says:

    The factual part of the Holocaust narrative is almost certainly true, in broad outlines. (That it was perpetrated by liberalism or a close modernist cousin of liberalism is an excluded fact in the mythology; but that doesn’t call into question the included facts).

    That the Holocaust is also a justifying myth of modern liberalism (and of Zionism specifically) is also obviously true. Communism (with its disproportionate share of Jewish leadership) and feminism (likewise) have both mass murdered orders of magnitude more innocents than Nazism; but because they are both within the leftist tent they are treated very differently from Nazism as modern iconography.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    And I never defended such absurdities. In fact, I was rather clear that I do not doubt that Hitler killed a lot of Jews. What I said is that I don’t necessarily buy the Official Story. This is where people become lunatics due to binary thinking.

    I didn’t accuse you of doing so.

    However, I will say that the idea that the Soviets perpetrated the lion’s share of the Holocaust rather than the Nazis, as Vox Day is evidently suggesting, is about as ludicrous.

    (It’s unclear to me why people on the traditionalist right take Vox Day seriously.)

  • Mike T says:

    However, I will say that the idea that the Soviets perpetrated the lion’s share of the Holocaust rather than the Nazis, as Vox Day is evidently suggesting, is about as ludicrous.

    The world is a stranger and uglier place than most people want to believe.

    Within living memory, one of the highest ranking officers in the Army put a false flag against American cities on the President’s desk. The few times I’ve discussed such things and brought that card up with “normal people” they are, let’s just say, shocked and left speechless because it is an acknowledged suggestion of “let’s murder our own people and blame that guy.”

    Right now, the Pope is blaming Satan for motivating the people bringing forward charges. The conspiracy theorist view of the world is a secular version of what Paul alluded to: that the world is controlled by a demi-god psychopath, who manages millions of loyal psychopaths and it is the grace of God that holds everything together.

  • Mike T says:

    No small part of the problem with usury is related to the same mental triggers that cause people to dismiss “conspiracies” out of hand. Most people cannot believe that our modern economy is largely built on an evil foundation. It’s also like how they cannot look at a normal, healthy woman and see “murderess” when she says “I had two abortions.” Their minds naturally block the uncomfortable logic from progressing because it clashes violently with the circuitry that wants to believe everything is normal and safe. It’s all Lake Woebegone.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Most people cannot believe that our modern economy is largely built on an evil foundation.

    That overstates the case. Most business debt, and all government debt, is not personally guaranteed. Furthermore probably the largest component of consumer debt – mortgages – while technically usurious in many cases, could function very well as nonrecourse debt.

    Car loans, student loans, and credit card debt are indeed a substantial segment of overall debt. And nobody knows how that would ‘convert’ if the government declined to enforce interest accumulation on personal debts, or declined to enforce deficiency judgments against persons.

    But again it is exaggeration to say that the modern economy is “largely built on an evil foundation.”

  • Zippy says:

    One of the things I’ve noticed when it comes to conspiracy theories and other radical/reactionary discourse on the right is that it often immolates itself because of an apparent fetish for being radical or red pill, if you will, rather than staying focused on what is true.

    With friends like these who needs enemas, etc.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    And nobody knows how that would ‘convert’ if the government declined to enforce interest accumulation on personal debts, or declined to enforce deficiency judgments against persons.

    Given what we’ve seen with mortgage shenanigans, I think it should be assumed that the economy is at least somewhat booby-trapped by the financial sector against such a scenario. When Bank of America moved most of their CDS instruments into their retail banking arm, the clear message was that if they are going to be forced into submission or end up failing they just might detonate all of their depositors with them.

    So I would say that any authority who is prepared to go up against such men should be prepared to make the rubble bounce on Wall St if Wall St gets defiant or is not cooperative in ensuring a peaceful transition.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    The world is a stranger and uglier place than most people want to believe.

    Or perhaps it’s the conspiracy theorists who are afraid to acknowledge uncomfortable truths? Conspiracy theories are congenial to the sort of Manichean worldview one sees in certain segments of the right that permit one to place all the blame on his real or perceived enemies.

    If the Jews (or Masons or Catholics or whatever) are behind everything, all we have to do is get rid of them, and things will be hunky dory.

    If instead, I’m part of the problem, then the problem is much deeper, more pervasive, and more harrowing than the conspiracy theorists are willing to acknowledge, and the solution is, shall we say, rather less flattering to my ego.

    ***

    Within living memory, one of the highest ranking officers in the Army put a false flag against American cities on the President’s desk. …

    That a single Army officer recommended a false flag operation is supposed to suggest… what, exactly? That it is equally plausible that the Soviets bear primary responsibility for the Holocaust rather than the Nazis?

  • Mike T says:

    t often immolates itself because of an apparent fetish for being radical or red pill, if you will, rather than staying focused on what is true.

    Most “red pilled” folks came to that point by noticing that at the very least, many things they were taught–and that hurt them–were lies. Whether intentional or not, they were lies. I can commiserate with many “red pilled men” because like them, I was made miserable for years by the “bluepill” advice on women I was spoon-fed by people who should have (or maybe did) know better. Unfortunately, many of them don’t realize that just because you were lied to here, doesn’t mean you were lied to there.

    Our age is also feeding this with so many countless reasons for ordinary people to prefer guillotining the ruling class to believing them. One of many examples is CNN “proving” that Google’s anti-conservative bias is baseless, and then a Googler leaking a video showing the entire management team telling a townhall meeting how they were planning to defy the election, stymie the new administration and ensure it would never happen again.

    We are now in the era of “fake, but accurate” because even satire like Babylon Bee and the Onion conveys more truth than most purported “truth.”

  • Ian says:

    Zippy,

    One of the things I’ve noticed when it comes to conspiracy theories and other radical/reactionary discourse on the right is that it often immolates itself because of an apparent fetish for being radical or red pill, if you will, rather than staying focused on what is true.

    Right. Another factor appears to be a focus on victory rather than truth: they think that by being more extreme, not punching to the right, and not ‘cucking’ will better lead to victory. The secular right is a seriously intellectually and morally corrupting force.

    It’s also ironic that they’ll accuse people of being credulous for believing the official narrative, yet will believe the most manifest nonsense with nary a second thought provided it purports to undermines the official narrative.

    I wonder also if part of the conspiracy theory phenomenon is simple projection: Holocaust deniers, for example, routinely dissemble and distort the truth, often egregiously. Since this is their modus operandi, they naturally assume that their enemies must engage in the same sorts of subterfuge.

    With friends like these who needs enemas, etc.

    Intentional?

  • Mike T says:

    That a single Army officer recommended a false flag operation is supposed to suggest… what, exactly?

    The trust the masses have in the Official Story is based on a basic trust in the institutions and people who put out the Official Story.

    That “single Army officer” was the Chairman of the Join Chiefs. That’s one of the few positions in DoD where such corruption naturally makes people wonder if it doesn’t speak to a broad cultural failure, not just him.

  • Mike T says:

    Ian,

    I wonder also if part of the conspiracy theory phenomenon is simple projection: Holocaust deniers, for example, routinely dissemble and distort the truth, often egregiously. Since this is their modus operandi, they naturally assume that their enemies must engage in the same sorts of subterfuge.

    In many cases (like Holocaust deniers) it is. However, one should be careful in trusting the militant normies as well because distinctions often don’t matter to them. To a lot of folks, David Irving and Ron Unz are fungible despite the fact that the former is a true denier and Unz simply doesn’t believe that it was the Nazis who did most of the killing.

    I saw a meme that cystalizes the essence of the militant normals: a black man, in a NRA hat captioned his post with “Got called a Nazi, apparently I’ve lived long enough to see the left become truly color blind.” Most intelligent people would be mortified in embarrassment to call a black man a Nazi because it’s like raising your hand to the question “will the dumbest man in the room please announce himself.”

  • Zippy says:

    Ian, yes, pun intended.

  • Mike T says:

    In our field we call them seagulls these days because like seagulls they are good for nothing more than flying in, $hitting all over everything and then flying off. That’s something that really unites most militant normies and the stormpoopers.

  • TomD says:

    To be fair, at least black Wehrmacht soldiers existed.

  • Mike T says:

    TomD,

    A lot of the SS units were composed entirely of non-Germans. A lot of the ones in the East were composed of Slavs like Croats and Albanians.

  • Mike T says:

    Ugh didn’t mean to imply that Albanians are slavs…

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    David Irving and Ron Unz are fungible despite the fact that the former is a true denier and Unz simply doesn’t believe that it was the Nazis who did most of the killing.

    Unz is not a trustworthy source. He doubled down on the idea that Jews are overrepresented at Harvard compared to what their test scores would indicate even after it was brought to his attention that the two methodologies he used to count Jews were not commensurate, and that if one used the same methodology for Jew-counting, the discrepancy vanished.

    Skimming through his Holocaust Denial article (I have little interest in perusing all 17,600 words), I see he evidently relies in part on Walter Sanning for part of his Holocaust revisionism. Sanning is someone I had reason to look into a bit some time ago, and he’s exactly the sort of Holocaust ‘scholar’ I alluded to above who egregiously distorts the facts to fit his narrative. You can look up some of his myriad misrepresentations, evasions, and errors easily enough. Unz appears also to have been ignorant of basic well-known facts that anyone with even just a passing familiarity with Holocaust scholarship would be aware of, and then claims (or feigns) shock when learning the truth (for example, he evidently had not been aware that Zyklon B was used as a delousing agent, and then claims to be shocked at learning the truth). He also trots out the routine Holocaust-denier 4M-killed-at-Auschwitz strawman to knock down: serious historians all the way back to the ’50s never accepted the 4M number in the first place.

    Such obvious problems do not inspire confidence, and incline me to think that Unz is hardly any more sophisticated than your garden-variety Holocaust denier.

    As with Bedarz Iliachi’s comment above on Vox Day, I find that Unz’s whole “I’ve only studied this for a few weeks, I’m no expert, I’m just trying to find the truth, etc.” shtick comes off as disingenuous.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    Most “red pilled” folks came to that point by noticing that at the very least, many things they were taught–and that hurt them–were lies. Whether intentional or not, they were lies. I can commiserate with many “red pilled men” because like them, I was made miserable for years by the “bluepill” advice on women I was spoon-fed by people who should have (or maybe did) know better. Unfortunately, many of them don’t realize that just because you were lied to here, doesn’t mean you were lied to there.

    I think it’s fine to commiserate or sympathize with these men. But too many make excuses for them and join them in their base behavior, rather than trying to elevate them to a nobler discourse and way of life (which would entail, among other things, occasionally rebuking them harshly).

    By the way, regarding having been lied to about women: I won’t comment on your situation of course, but I sense that a lot of these red-pilled men are just making excuses for their own lack of success with women and trying to channel their rage onto some other scapegoat. I was a pretty dorky kid in middle school and I saw all those stupid movies where the nice nerdy guy gets the hot babe, but just from basic observation, it was obvious to me at least by high school that the boys who did well with girls were the ones who acted confident and who teased girls playfully.

    In other words, it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that being a supplicating simpering gelding ain’t gonna do much for your love life, irrespective of whatever blue pill advice you’ve been given.

  • Bedarz Iliachi says:

    MikeT,
    It wasn’t only the camps or Auschwitz. What about Warsaw Ghetto and other ghettos. There are plenty of eye-witnesses from other areas such as killings among large Jewish population of Ukraine –Odessa and Kiev come to mind–Babi Yar.
    And if you begin to doubt the eye-witnesses where could you logically stop?. You will be forced to reject almost all knowledge of the world.

  • Mike T says:

    BI,

    Well because Wiesenthal even admitted he lied for propaganda purposes about the number of non-Jewish dead he “uncovered.” So why should I just believe him that he got it right on the other half? Eye-witnesses don’t accurately testify to large numbers spread over a continent.

    That’s why I said that I have no doubt that the Nazis rounded up and killed a lot of Jews, specifically because they were Jews. How many died is now unreliable because they were caught in a blatant “noble lie” on the other half of the death count.

    (Of course, if you don’t suffer from binary thinking you don’t need to walk into a trap like “Wiesenthal was a liar thus David Irving must be telling the truth.”)

  • Zippy says:

    By all accounts the Communists mass murdered orders of magnitude more oppressor-untermenschen than the nazis. But the mythological character of the nazi atrocities is unique. So it isn’t really about the numbers (despite modernity’s quantitative, utilitarian obsessions).

  • Mike T says:

    It’s also about not noticing that Unz might have a point that since Jews were over-represented in the USSR, that if one tallies these things based on race (which most people implicitly) do that means that the Holocaust and Soviet atrocities cancel each other out morally in terms of being canonized as St. Victim.

  • Mike T says:

    I suspect that on the Day of Judgment, God is going to reveal the real score to mankind and our popular narratives are going to be simply credited as another sin of self-righteousness.

  • Zippy says:

    I take holocaust denial though to be denial that the holocaust actually took place on roughly the scale in which it is widely understood and amply demonstrated to have taken place. In other words, it is a denial of the ‘reverse hatefact’ that the nazis in actual reality committed unspeakable atrocities against Jews on an unspeakable scale. Even if there are quibbles about precise numbers though, the scale of the holocaust, the unspeakable evil of it, and the identification of who did it are very well established.

    That disproportionately Jewish Communism committed its own just as unspeakable crimes on an even much larger larger scale is a true fact (or hatefact, if you prefer).

    What is distorted about Nazism and Communism isn’t the known facts: it is the mythology and iconography surrounding those facts. Modernity creates its false left-right dichotomy, the basis of the Hegelian Mambo, and spins national socialism as being ‘of the right’. Therefore we liturgically celebrate nazism as transcendently evil — which, I should not need to remind you, it in fact was.

    Communism though is ‘of the left’, so its orders-of-magnitude larger and just-as-unspeakable atrocities don’t take on this transcendent significance in our public religion: they are just the effects of dishonest tyrants doing leftism wrong. Real leftism has never been tried, has always been held back by dishonest tyrants. Heil Che!

    Some people blame this on the magical Jews, as if Jewishness per se were to blame. But viewed dispassionately (and apart from the worldview implied by liberalism) we should expect any diasporic ethni with high intelligence and high group cohesiveness to be disproportionately represented among political, financial, academic, professional etc leadership.

    White people, for example, are disproportionately represented among atomic bomb droppers and slaveholders. Some might postulate that there is something unique about white people -qua white- which makes them more likely to drop atom bombs on civilians and to own slaves. It is possible that this is true, but I would not be inclined to take it too seriously until the obvious (but politically incorrect) factors have been normalized out: IQ, ability to organize, etc.

    As Larry Auster once said to me, the Jews are like everyone else — only moreso.

  • Zippy says:

    “Heil Che!” should be a t-shirt.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    So why should I just believe him [Wiesenthal] that he got it right on the other half? Eye-witnesses don’t accurately testify to large numbers spread over a continent. …

    How many died is now unreliable because they were caught in a blatant “noble lie” on the other half of the death count.

    The estimated numbers are not based on eyewitness reports.

    Nor is the 5-6M figure of Jews murdered based on Wiesenthal’s claims. That’s a strawman, and you’re engaging in the same sort of ridiculous shenanigans that the typical Holocaust deniers do.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Being more likely to drop atom bombs and run a slave trade just is (the seedy underbelly of) having greater IQ and capacity to organize, though.

  • Ian says:

    It’s also about not noticing that Unz might have a point that since Jews were over-represented in the USSR, that if one tallies these things based on race (which most people implicitly) do that means that the Holocaust and Soviet atrocities cancel each other out morally…

    Jews were overrepresented during most of Lenin’s tenure, but Stalin purged them (this had already begun happening in the 1920s at the end of Lenin’s tenure).

  • Mike T says:

    That disproportionately Jewish Communism committed its own just as unspeakable crimes on an even much larger larger scale is a true fact (or hatefact, if you prefer).

    As either VD or Unz pointed out, when one considers the disproportionate role the played in the USSR’s decision-making process there, it means that using the left’s own criteria for collective judgment they are one of the most murderous nations in existence in modern times.

    I think it’s a testament to how ludicrous modernity is that acknowledging both hatefacts would effectively cancel them out to many people as though it were a competition and the Jews’ role in the USSR was some sort of own-goal in a great championship contest to become Biggest Victim Ever.

  • Mike T says:

    Ian,

    Nor is the 5-6M figure of Jews murdered based on Wiesenthal’s claims. That’s a strawman, and you’re engaging in the same sort of ridiculous shenanigans that the typical Holocaust deniers do.

    I thought I made it clear that I am not convinced of the Official Story, ie the popular Narrative, rather than that something similar happened. Wiesenthal is not some small contributor to the Narrative. He is to the Official Story what David Irving is to the deniers who insist Hitler was whatever the Germans call a dindu.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    … means that using the left’s own criteria …

    Leftism (and liberalism more generally) is (as I have demonstrated time and again) ultimately just a way to beg the question in favor of the authority structure a particular faction of liberalism prefers. So no, this doesn’t work, because begging the question in favor of a different result is not “the left’s own criteria.”

    The left’s own criteria amounts to construing freedom to mean what they mean, not what you mean.

    “Agree and amplify” against leftism is the height of what the kids call “cuck” these days. And holocaust denial for the sake of the thrill of being a hipster rebel may not be the absolute highest height of stupidity — there are too many contenders for that to be clear — but it is certainly well up there in altitude.

  • Zippy says:

    Rhetocrates:

    Being more likely to drop atom bombs and run a slave trade just is (the seedy underbelly of) having greater IQ and capacity to organize, though.

    Precisely.

  • Mike T says:

    And holocaust denial for the sake of the thrill of being a hipster rebel may not be the absolute highest height of stupidity — there are too many contenders for that to be clear — but it is certainly well up there in altitude.

    It certainly is. That’s why I tried to explain to Ian and others that I don’t doubt that many Jews were murdered. My unwillingness to believe the Official Story in favor of a sort of quasi-agnosticism becomes simply from noting that the more passionately Liberal Authorities tell you you must believe the Official Story the more you can assume something in it is a lie. Why? Because they lie about everything. As a historic event, the mass murder of the Jews certainly happened. The delta between the Official Story and what went on in the camps doesn’t invalidate what actually happened.

  • Zippy says:

    Well, just to be clear about my own perspective, I think that “maybe it really happened but the Russians did it” is well within the category of holocaust denial.

    It isn’t necessary for liberalism (the political expression of modernity) to invent atrocities or the basic facts around them: modernity produces plenty enough actual atrocities to do the job. It is necessary for liberalism to craft a mythology in which the atrocities are committed, not by good authentic liberals, but by the oppressor-untermensch; and to downplay or rationalize atrocities which don’t fit the particular narrative.

    Holocaust denial is just a mirror reflecting back on this dynamic: a camp of volunteers signing up for the job of crazy subhuman oppressor.

    My unwillingness to believe the Official Story in favor of a sort of quasi-agnosticism becomes simply from noting that the more passionately Liberal Authorities tell you you must believe the Official Story the more you can assume something in it is a lie. Why? Because they lie about everything.

    And thus they dictate to you what you are to think, successfully getting you to self-categorize as a “right wing extremist” etc, on their terms, and despite your protestations against binary thinking.

  • Hezekiah Garrett says:

    Ian,

    They likely take Vox seriously because his detractors can’t tell him apart from Ron Freakin Unz.

  • TomD says:

    The whole point of the exercise is to get everyone to take a side, even if one side is currently on the ascendent.

    The only position that’s not permitted at all is to blame liberalism itself.

  • Mike T says:

    Well, just to be clear about my own perspective, I think that “maybe it really happened but the Russians did it” is well within the category of holocaust denial.

    1. I don’t recall seriously committing to the idea that the Russians had a hand it other than to say it is interesting and fits the data without contradicting Himmler being the primary executioner.

    2. Putting any blame on the Russians doesn’t deny the Holocaust per se, as it still is within the range of accepting that an organized mass murder of people, primarily Jews, happened.

    And thus they dictate to you what you are to think, successfully getting you to self-categorize as a “right wing extremist” etc, on their terms, and despite your protestations against binary thinking.

    To some extent that’s unavoidable. However, I would ask precisely what it is about their behavior that merits any trust that at any given time they’re not shamelessly lying.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    If Emperor Charles I had been in charge of what became Weimar Germany, the Holocaust would never have happened.

    Vivat Imperator!

  • Zippy says:

    And again, chin-stroking agnosticism over whether the nazis specifically really and centrally perpetrated the holocaust just is a form of holocaust denial, in the “refuse to accept well-established facts because my ideological enemies believe those facts” sense.

  • Ian says:

    Mike T.,

    I thought I made it clear that I am not convinced of the Official Story, ie the popular Narrative, rather than that something similar happened. Wiesenthal is not some small contributor to the Narrative. …

    I was responding specifically to the passage of yours I quoted, where you appeared to be claiming that the estimated number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust is unreliable because it is based on Wiesenthal’s testimony.
    You also said that eyewitness testimony is not accurate regarding “large numbers spread over a continent”, which is true, but irrelevant.

    And as I remarked above, I regard the idea that the Holocaust was perpetrated primarily by the Soviets as at best only marginally less implausible than the idea that it didn’t happen at all.

  • Ian says:

    “Agree and amplify” against leftism is the height of what the kids call “cuck” these days.

    Exactly. On the one hand, you have the alt right denizens mocking the mainstream conservatives for ‘cucking’ when the latter say things such as: “Dems are the real racists!”, and yet on the other hand, these same denizens will turn right around and insist on “not punching right” or embracing the label racist as an agree and amplify, both of which appear to me to be exactly the same sort of ‘cucking’ that the mainstream conservatives are engaged in with DR3.

    There appears to be a correlation between the frequency of using the word cuck in a non-ironic sense and the likelihood of being a ‘meta-cuck’ oneself.

  • Mike T says:

    specifically really and centrally perpetrated the holocaust

    I don’t question that they did.

    The Official Story, to me, is not a statement of truth. It is a myth, wherein facts serve to support the Narrative, not lead us to truth. Therefore when I say I reject the Official Story reflexively, it should be understood that I am saying I reject it reflexively on almost an ad hominem basis of saying that Liberal Authorities, like their father, are natural liars with no truth in them. The facts aren’t the central issue with the Narrative. The facts are victims of the Narrative. The Narrative is its own end and the facts within it are situated carefully to advance it.

  • Ian says:

    Hezekiah,

    They likely take Vox seriously because his detractors can’t tell him apart from Ron Freakin Unz.

    To which of my comments are you referring?

  • Mike T says:

    I regard the idea that the Holocaust was perpetrated primarily by the Soviets as at best only marginally less implausible than the idea that it didn’t happen at all.

    I agree that it’s ludicrous to argue that they were the primary party, but there is a big gap of possibility between “no involvement” and “primary party.” The Katyn Massacre shows that the Soviets had the character to overrun a camp and set up a massacre of most of the people who survived Himmler. That could be anything from 10k additional dead to a million in the Jewish death count.

  • Mike T says:

    If you’ve ever had the “pleasure” of having a relative who is a pathological liar try to gas-light you, you can relate to my point about the Liberal Authorities and their Narratives. The sane reaction to such people is to stop short of saying “if you said the sky is blue I’d still call you a liar” because chances are anything more complicated than that is partly a lie. It is surreal watching people so bound up in a lying, manipulative nature that you literally watch them lie when simply telling the whole truth would be unequivocally better for their cause.

  • Zippy says:

    I smell the familiar aroma of motte-and-bailey.

  • Bedarz Iliachi says:

    Mike T,
    What is this “The Official Story” that you insist is definitely a myth?

  • Mike T says:

    What is this “The Official Story” that you insist is definitely a myth?

    Any story with explanatory power by a (particularly Left-) Liberal Authority must necessarily be a manipulation on some level because they’re shameless liars on so many things.

  • Zippy says:

    But what specifically, in this case?

  • Hezekiah Garrett says:

    Ian,

    9/14 9:50 is the only time I know of you expressed such.

  • Ian says:

    Hezekiah,

    Well, in the article Mike T. linked to, Vox Day pretty clearly fingers the Soviets as having perpetrated the Holocaust rather than the Nazis.

    That appears to be Day’s own conclusion, not Unz’s, although per Mike T. (“Unz simply doesn’t believe that it was the Nazis who did most of the killing”), it sounds as though Unz might believe it too.

  • TomD says:

    Arguing whether the Germans accepted Liberalism for the express purpose of killing Jews is like arguing whether the Founding Fathers embraced Liberalism for the express purpose of abortions.

    It’s a distraction from the causal reality that lets Liberalism escape.

  • Bedarz Iliachi says:

    The Soviet genocide idea is historically illiterate. The establishment of Israel and its survival in early years owes not a little to Soviet support. If I am not mistaken, The Soviets recognized Israel before the Americans.

  • Th problem I see here is that you are saying “Did you ever consider THIS could happen?”

    I mean, I guess, but why SHOULD we think that?

  • pilgrim says:

    On the issue of mass bombing, it’s instructive to learn that the first instances of the tactic, from WW1 (I’m thinking of things like the Scarborough raid) were met with horror and moral revulsion because it involved the willful targeting of innocents

    To be more clear: the tactic of using large missiles that can (and tend to) kill large numbers at once evolved a heck of a long time before WWII. Cannons in the 15th century, rockets by the Chinese, and catapult / trebuchet missiles as far back as the 2nd or 3rd century BC are examples.

    It matters very little indeed for the analysis of the morality of the weaponry whether the engine of destruction was sometimes not used immorally. For example, cannon balls that are used against mass troops in the field (e.g. our Civil War) are highly unlikely to kill innocent civilians noncombatants. But the same weapon, used on the brigade entrenched in a town, is likely to kill some civilians, even if the civilian population has mostly fled. And the same weapon used against a walled town, even if it is used primarily against the walls and gates, still will cause such destruction inside the town as may well result in civilian deaths, even if such deaths are not the primary purpose. The “indiscriminateness” of the destruction is what is at stake here.

    Yet the largeness of the missile may itself be a red herring. A spear thrown at a soldier charging you is unlikely to hit a civilian 40 yards father away. But a spear thrown at a squad of soldiers standing near a mass of civilians in town may kill civilians. Arrows are even more problematic: you can send an arrow a lot farther than you can throw a spear, and a lot can happen to the landing zone of an arrow between when you release it and when it hits. “Lot” being relative: at least, a soldier can get out of the way and be replaced by a civilian, if the action takes place in town. So even individual archers shooting arrows into a town to try to take out the waiting regiment inside the gate could be assessed with “indiscriminate killing”. The notion that the moral problem from “indiscriminate weapons”
    is new to modernity is an error.

    I for one would be pleased to find earlier popes, theologians, and bishops who even addressed the issue, before modern times. I fear that it was never dealt with as such. And I fear that modern condemnations would have fallen equally on every such ancient and medieval usage, even on those employed by soldier-saints such as Louis IX.

    A second difficulty is the notion that being not in uniform, and not wanting to be engaged in combat, creates a special category of “innocent civilian” that inherently must not be killed. Citizens who pick up the spear when the “professional” soldiers all die are part of the ethos of brave defense. And men who stand apart and refuse to engage the marauding rape-and-pillage enemy (even if the enemy is in uniform), who stand and watch their women being raped, are unlikely to fit the category of “innocent” in any simple sense, so when they pick up the sword out of necessity, does that thereby erase their status of “innocent civilian”? Arguably, the international rules of warfare about who may be killed and who may not, by separation into categories of “legal combatant” and “non-combatant” are, at best ad hoc divisions made in hopes of limiting the evils of war, and not principled divisions that inherently set apart “the innocent” successfully from those who may morally be targeted. For example, non-uniformed specialty scientists who are engaged on devising a better battlefield tank ammunition, whose work is not really applicable to any use other than killing the enemy, might well be legitimate targets in the moral sense when moral responsibility for the killings that will take place with their weapons is considered. Surely they are as responsible as the uniformed clerk who pushes forward the paperwork that gets his own division a supply of the tank ammunition. Surely the uniform does not completely segregate moral responsibility for pursuit of the war in its concrete events.

    But obviously the babies and children and the insane and so on were not personally morally responsible for the war. Killing tens of thousands of these civilians in a major city by targeting them with a nuclear bomb was surely wrong.

  • JACB says:

    pilgim,

    I don’t fault you, of course, for attempting to explore the various nuances of consequentialism; however, you seem to be making this harder than it needs to be. There’s nothing here, as far as I can tell, that hasn’t been covered in previous discussions.

    “…the tactic of using large missiles that can (and tend to) kill large numbers at once evolved a heck of a long time before WWII….It matters very little indeed for the analysis of the morality of the weaponry….”

    Exactly right—the rules that apply today also applied throughout all of history. That doesn’t mean they were as well understood throughout all history.

    “…But the same weapon [cannon balls], used on the brigade entrenched in a town, is likely to kill some civilians,…”

    To understand how the moral imperatives apply, just do the math. If a weapon’s coverage of the intended target includes innocents, double-effect does not apply, and releasing that weapon is forbidden.

    For example, if a cannon had a 50-foot radius range of accuracy, and only the targeted brigade were within that range, then bombarding them with cannonballs would be licit. If something went awry and and the weapon accidentally went wide or a civilian accidentally stumbled into range, then they were not intended targets. But if innocents were within the range of accuracy of a set trajectory, they effectively become *intended* targets, and taking the shot would not be licit.

    You might muddy this up a little with unlikely scenarios, maybe by saying that one of the non-innocents was about to murder a line of innocents—well, heck, wouldn’t it be licit to at least *try* to stop it by sending the cannonballs? The question then comes to the accuracy of the shot and reasonable expectations. *If* you believe you can aim closely enough to hit the murderer, then the range of accuracy is really better than the 50-feet. If not, the indiscriminate shots would include the innocents within their target, and other means, if any, must be used to save them. You wouldn’t save a hostage by shooting a 12-gauge shotgun at that corner of his skull showing above the hostage’s shoulder, but you might use a well-tuned .308 rifle, or even a 9mm pistol, if you were good enough.

    Obviously, death is in the details, and this can be qualified and adjusted ad nauseum. The primary thing to keep your eye on is the *intended* target, which does not correspond with what you *want* to hit (the murderer), but with the effective results of a particular action taken with a particular weapon (the murderer plus all the innocents within the range of effectiveness—you might call it the ‘blast zone’ in modern weaponry).

    This and, I believe, all the points you’ve raised have been handled here if you search Zippy’s old posts. A non-uniformed participant is not an innocent in the sense used by just war theory. He is part of the combatant effort at some level. How these obtain may vary, but that is the general part of it. And, of course, a person can convert to a combatant by picking up a sword, but if he picks up that sword to defend innocents that are being attacked, he is doing so out of need, not to join the combatant effort, and is therefore still an innocent.

    So—kudos for trying to understand the questions more, but don’t make it more difficult than it is. The principles of Just War Theory are not especially difficult in any of the situations you describe.

    ciao,

    JACB

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