Might or Right?

Survival of the fittest.

This is a phrase which implies that you can give yourself the right, or take the right away from a person; so long as you have the might.

Some people however, will immediately question whether or not such an attitude is right.

Surely if you have the might, then you should be in a position to rise above all that?  Surely if you have the might, and you know the difference between right and wrong, then you should not take rights away from others?

For example; Somali fishermen should have the right to catch fish off their coast and feed themselves.

The international community seemingly  allowed fishing fleets from other countries the right to fish off the coast of Somalia illegally, and for boats to dump toxic and nuclear waste off the coast illegally.

The Somali fishermen have given themselves the right to defend their coast and their fish from these illegal activities, and the international community has branded the fishermen as pirates and have given themselves the right to defend their boats against the fishermen.

The international community, despite being far more powerful than the Somali fishermen, seemingly gave themselves the right to do as they pleased and then had taken away the rights of the Somali fishermen to defend their resources.

Is that right? One would think not.

In a world of limited resources and high demand, the consideration of what is right is often overruled by perception of necessity.

Various Somalians then took it upon themselves to drive off or capture boats, and this in turn led to the discovery that there was money to be had by capturing boats and demanding ransom money…hence the piracy.  Is the piracy a necessary evil?  Who else will defend Somali waters?  Perhaps if the defence of Somali waters were a not-for-profit endeavor, then it would be looked upon less harshly.  However, it is profitable and profitable illegal activities such as piracy inevitably have unpleasant consequences for many people.

None of that seems right; neither the piracy or the international indifference to the abuse of Somali waters which led to it.

Another example is available, the little man taking advantage of the big man; by dint of having conversely far more power than the big man (despite all the money, politicians, lawyers and governments the big man has in his pocket).

There was a ‘Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’ made – and it proclaimed that perceptions of property would not apply to the internet.

The music, movie and video game associations of the world disagree (as do some of the artists involved); why shouldn’t people have the right to distribute their work as and when they see fit, and why shouldn’t that include the right to charge for their work and not have their work copied and distributed without their permission?

The big corporations called unlicensed copying theft of potential profit; and successfully persuaded governments around the world to term unlicensed copying as being an act of physical theft.

The result is the creation of organisations, departments and institutions whose job it is to tell you that (according to them), that it is a ‘fact’ that unlicensed copying is the same as stealing a car or a handbag and that this will lead to the funding of terrorism.

Of course, in a different decade in a different century, you might have been funding communism; but that is by the by.

As anybody with access to a dictionary will be able to see, theft is the physical taking of a thing from a person or body of people without their permission, so that the person or body of people are wholly and entirely deprived of that thing.  That thing is no longer in the possession of its original owner, because it has been stolen.

Unlicensed copying leaves the original thing in the possession of the owner of that thing; and cannot be theft since the owner still has that thing and has not been wholly and entirely deprived of that thing.

Nevertheless, the corporations who own the publishing and or distribution rights for these things (which their original creators may or may not still own depending on the contract they signed), have a valid point.

Hypothetically, it is a possibility that if that thing had not been copied without their permission, that a licensed copy may have been purchased from an approved retailer; and that they might have made the profit that is their right.

After all, the corporation has invested money in this product, it has earned the right to profit from its distribution and sale.

One could easily argue that this potential sale is just that – a potential sale – and that this idea is not in and of itself proof that profit has been stolen in actuality.

That scarcely seems to matter in a court where the judge has shares in the corporations, where the corporations have shares in the government, where the corporations have large shares in vast teams of lawyers who are paid to simply make sure the corporations win; by whatever means necessary.

Mothers are sued for their children being caught making illicit copies of things, sites are closed down for providing links to computers which hold illicit copies of things (although Google has not yet been sued for that service).

Glass Chess Set

The internet sees this, and in keeping with that almost prophetic declaration of internet freedom, adapts itself and reroutes its activities accordingly.

Proponents of sites which act as gateways to finding unlicensed copies of things will often cite the fact that such sites have much more extensive and better organised libraries of content that retail sites do.  Retail sites also restrict the number of times you can download that which you have purchased (and therefore should have the right to download).

For every site closed, many more appear and they structure themselves differently from the previous sites; to make sure that the site owners are not sued or jailed as their predecessors were.

Yet, is this anarchy right merely because the internet grants the might?  Should not the corporations be entitled to protect their potential profit (since they have the right to it)?

The corporations adapt to the behaviour of the internet, and select the targets of their ire to try and create the most FUD and to dissuade as many people as possible from making illicit copies of those things which the corporations have the established right to profit from.

The corporations also use the governments in their pockets to make laws and take away rights, even to persuade people that they don’t even need those rights (and that to want them makes you a potential criminal).

They have the might, and see it as right to protect their right to potential profit, using this might; even where others rights are suspended.

There are other phrases used to describe this attitude; ‘needs must’, ‘the ends justify the means’, ‘casualties of war’, ‘for the greater good’.

Speaking of the right to use might in the name of right to acquire that which the mighty feel they have (or feel they need to have) the right to – it would be remiss not to speak of war.

Risk Game MapWar is normally a fight between two or more countries; it involves those who invade and or attack another country, and those who defend that country.  Those who defend that country may be the country themselves or they may be parties who feel it is right to defend that country.

The country doing the invading normally invades in order to seize control of that country and take advantage of at least one of two things; the resources of that country and or the military usefulness of that country as a strategic strongpoint from which to defend or launch further excursions.

Might in war is normally used to either seize or defend a country.

Those doing the invading the first place will justify that behaviour by claiming it is right to do so, either because they have the might, because they were told to by a ‘higher power’, or because they needed to for the good of their own country.

Those doing the defending on behalf of another country will explain their involvement as right because somebody needs to stand up to the invading forces, or the security of others will be compromised.  Those invading a country in order to seize it from despots and tyrants will claim it is right to do so, because tyranny isn’t right; and who else will correct this situation?

Of course, not all countries who are ruled by despots or tyrants are invaded and seized, not all despots or tyrants are removed from power.  Sanctions are made, condemnations are expressed; but there are no moves to invade, there is no immediate threat to other countries’ security which would justify such extreme action.

Terrorists don’t think that way, they don’t attack to seize a country and control it.  They also do not attack on behalf of their native country, indeed the terrorists may be an amalgamation of people from different countries.  They attack out of revenge for a perceived slight, or out of the notion that they are leading a revolution against tyranny, or that they are defending an ideal/country/culture against tyranny.

Terrorists seek to procure sufficient might to cause their target enough damage to cause fear and to attempt to provoke a desired response.  They see this as being right, they fight might in the name of perceived right.

Such behaviour leads to a response alright, it can lead to invasion and seizure of countries.  It can lead to hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths.  It can lead to millions of casualties, millions of people made homeless, millions of destroyed lives.  It can lead to the deprivation of right to life, right to decent living conditions, right to privacy, right to habeas corpus, right to education, right to communicate and express freely, right to whatever.

That is very clearly not right.  As much as terrorists call themselves freedom fighters (and may at one time have been described by others as such), under those circumstances what they have done by attacking people is to provoke a response so extreme that it is not just themselves facing the consequences of their actions, and not just their intended victims; it is millions of people throughout one or more countries or even throughout the world.

Neither the terrorists or the extreme consequences of their actions are right, despite all of the might involved.  No amount of might could make any of that right.

It is with that said that we come full circle again.

Might cannot, when considered from a moral standpoint, always grant the right to engage in a given activity or the seize a given thing or country.

Might does not give the right; it is merely used to seize or exercise a perceived right.

It is a shame that might is so often used, by those pointing the finger of blame at each other, to deprive the rights of others on so many levels.

Might could be used to protect rights, instead of depriving rights in the name of protecting others.


About TheImaginator

35 year old sciolist living in Tokyo. I like swing dancing, Twitter word games, writing, using Stumbleupon.com, reading, and watching movies. I write stuff on my blog occasionally.
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