After recently watching half a season of tl;dw (DenYuuDen/the Legend of the Legendary Heroes), in which Ryner assassinates several dozen soldiers to rescue one kid with an Alpha Stigma, because those soldiers were terrorizing the kid just because he had the Alpha Stigma. This can be considered an act of terrorism (killing so many people to save one), or an act of heroism (saving that one, wrongly accused kid).
In a school assignment parallel to the timeline of my watching tl;dw (my life is an anime~!), the English teacher assigned us to read about Noam Chomsky, in which he degrades American society, counter-terrorism, and propaganda in the media.
Obvious connections were set up – and thus, I present to you, an anime editorial – Noam Chomsky: The Justice of the Powerful Heroes.
“Those who stand at the top determine what’s wrong and what’s right! This very place is neutral ground! Justice will prevail, you say? But of course it will! Whoever wins this war becomes Justice!!!”
-Donquixote Doflamingo, One Piece
Though One Piece may be, Doflamingo’s statement is not at all quixotic, reflecting much of history’s and present-day political situations.
Without straying from the unrealities of One Piece, let us think about two differing viewpoints.
Imagine that you are a pirate. The corrupt World Government, composed of narcissists such as Axe Hand Morgan has been completely overthrown during the Battle of Marineford. People are free to wander the seas, to do what they please; to just enjoy life. Gone are the slave-trading programmes of old, gone are the elitist Nobels, gone are the presence of Noble prizes, gone are my stupid spelling mistakes. The world is free to do whatever they want, the characters are happy, etc.
If you can’t imagine a world like that, then try harder because I suck at adjectifying.
Alright. Now imagine again, that you are a commoner. Those evil pirates, sea-thieves who steal all our precious gold and money have all died away, and finally, an organized government is in control of the world. Public health care and education are provided, and more jobs are being created than ever. The economy is booming after an era of collapse.
In both ways, you can see that the end result (as long as you are on the right side) is ‘favourable’ and ‘justified’.
In this essay/editorial, I’d like to convince everyone about one, simple opinion (fact).
Justice is relative.
“High ideas were besmirched by cruelty and greed, enterprise and endurance by a blind and narrow self righeousness, and the Holy War itself was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.”
Sir Steven Runciman, The History of the Crusades
Now, let us journey back to the past (or is it the future?) from such fanciful surroundings and become acquainted with some of the more… realistic examples of this “duality of justice” – the Crusades.
– Anything controversial is controversial.
This point seems quite obvious, just as 1 + 2 = 1 + 2, or even 1 = 1. Regardless, what I mean is that anything that can be debated, anything that has sides, anything that you can have an opinion on (everything) – is relative to the opinion of the individual.
Here’s an allusion to my second idea about individualized opinions.
Anywho, there are two obvious opinions here – that the Crusades was a ‘justified’ thing to do, and that it was ‘unjustified’. Both have sides. However, as a Christian residing in the circumstances of the Crusades, one can be fairly certain of what you will support; as will it be with a Muslim of the same settings.
Because there are two separate opinions, and both of them are ‘justified’, how will you actually determine which one actually is ‘justice’?
In direct (and perhaps, a bit too anticipated) opposition to Runciman’s speech about ‘intolerance’, Pope Gregory VII has argued (over ten centuries ago) that it was ‘justified violence’.
But just how was it justified?
“I speak in the name of the entire German people when I assure the world that we all share the honest wish to eliminate the enmity that brings far more costs than any possible benefits… It would be a wonderful thing for all of humanity if both peoples would renounce force against each other forever. The German people are ready to make such a pledge.”
Adolf Hitler, October 1933
Since this essay is more about the present than the past, shall we begin the long walk forward? A definite controversial topic currently are the actions of Nazi Germany during World War II.
– The winning side determines the winning argument.
As Doflamingo has put (rather bluntly, if I may say so myself) out, whoever wins automatically becomes justice. Right now, by most (if not already all) of the populace, World War II was a terrible thing, forced by evil, racist, dictators who wanted nothing but to kill and corrupt.
However, was that all just ‘justified violence’?
Approximately 5.5 million German soldiers were killed – just about equal to the people who died in the Holocaust. More than 3.2 million German civilians were killed – and not part of the Holocaust, which means that most of them were killed by Allied soldiers.
That’s still 3,200,000 innocent people killed. Is that still alright?
Taking World War II is a rather extreme example, as more than 25 million other civilians were killed as well, so yes, I suppose it was justified.
However, what if you were in Germany during the war?
You’d be bombed almost daily by foreign soldiers without hope of escape. Wouldn’t you feel hate towards them? If Germany won the war, wouldn’t you think the Allies would get disgraced for their cruel mistreating of right and honest citizens?
“Waging war to eliminate war? You’re contradicting yourself!”
Kiefer Knolles (in reply to Refal Edia), the Legend of the Legendary Heroes
Let’s take another example from this war – the nuclear bombs. If they didn’t drop it, hundreds of thousands of civilians would have survived. If they didn’t drop it, possibly millions of military and civilians would perish in the forthcoming land-based assault as well. But we won’t know. For all we know, Japan might have surrendered before the first US troop set foot on the land.
– Other paths are unknown.
We don’t know that we’ve actually ‘saved’ lives. Maybe, if the Axis won, world peace would’ve been reached and there wouldn’t have been any more war, ever. Maybe, if the Holocaust hadn’t happened, some guy (who had been killed) might release a worldwide epidemic comparable or greater than that of the Black Death.
Thing is, we don’t know.
Thusly, we can’t /say/ that this was the lesser of two evils. We can generalize and say that this is /probably/ the lesser of two evils, but we will never know.
Which means, whether or not something really is ‘justified’ is impossible to determine – we can’t see whether it’s better or worse, because we only have one path to take.
I could steer this in the topic of fate being predetermined, but that’d be straying way off my intended path; let’s continue with…
“We can’t quite decide if the world is growing worse, or if the reporters are just working harder.”
the Houghton Line, November 1965
…media. Ever since the beginnings of logical thought and information processing, people needed some way to relay information outwards; generally towards the general (no pun intended) audience.
– The media distorts the winning argument.
Distorts sounds like a much more negative word than creates, doesn’t it?
Anywho, whilst the powerful rulers may create an argument, the media distorts it to as to make it more presentable for the populace. While the information may be “people accidentally eat poisonous Russian mushrooms and five people die shortly thereafter”, the media may choose to present it as “Russian mushroom kills five people”, causing subconscious sublimal messages evaluating that the mushrooms were poisoned by Russians, intentionally to kill people.
Everything can be opinionated. This essay is strongly opinionated, though I try my best to keep it neutral (that’s impossible though, unless it’s a report). Can you tell it’s opinionated? If you can, you’re smart. If you can’t; don’t worry, more than 5 billion other people can’t either (can’t say the same for the other billion).
After the winning argument is presented in a much more biased format, the populace can be coerced to agree with its terms as being righteous. After anything goes through the media, an intended result is almost always produced.
Anyways, let’s review: Everything has an argument. However, other paths are unknown, so the argument is always biased. The winning side creates the argument for the winning side, and the media further distorts it for the people.
By Sixten (Adrian Ferrer)
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
Lord Henry, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Now, what’s actual morality? Let’s take this into a completely different analogy – manners. Aren’t they defined by humanity?
– Morality is defined by humanity.
Manners are something that all people are expected to have. Being polite, etc. However, even in contemporary society, it varies from country to country. Whereas a burp in Western society would have negative connotations, in China, it can be considered a sign of a good meal.
Are not manners and morality almost synonyms? Moral consequences of one society and another are completely different; showcasing that in all terms, morality is not strictly defined by anyone.
Because it does vary, it means that the morality is determined by the individual, the group, the collective society – by humanity.
Humanity determines morality; something immoral today might as well become common practice in the world of tomorrow.
“…of the people, by the people, for the people…”
Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address
Now, do you see? The information is now highly opinionated and densely riddled with bias. It’s impossible for the population to resist its justifiable urges. Morality is already being determined by humanity, so if all of humanity devours this bias…
– People determine justice.
After people have been fed a highly biased entry from the general media (Russian mushroom murderers!), they can be led to determine what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. From the entry, they can say that the Russian mushrooms are ‘wrong’, and with further distortion, that the Russians are ‘wrong’ and ‘immoral’.
Here’s where Noam Chomsky comes in. Read his books; he’s a self-defined militant Anti-Zionist strongly opposed to the United States and ‘counter-terrorism’ in Israel against the Palestinians.
Now, from his point of view, the United States are really the terrorists; killing thousands of innocent people just to kill one target, with no media consequences, whereas if that happened in the United States (9/11), even the repercussions would incite fear.
From our point of view, the Palestinians are the terrorists, with us (the US, even though I’m Canadian) being the innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire.
This obviously shows that the people determine what is right or wrong.
I conclude this essay here. Hopefully, all of my points have been fully, or at least extensively elaborated upon to deliver an accurate conclusion on the subject.
Needless to say, this has not been extensively researched, as time constraints would limit upon me. However, if public opinion desires, I will expand on this topic in many different directions in the future.
As a final summary: Everything has a side. The winning side will seem more ‘justified’, as the winning side will distort their won to be more biased, and seem more ‘right’. However, at the end, ‘justice’ is merely something determined by humanity, so if the winning side has more people convinced that their side is ‘right’, their side, as Doflamingo conjectured, becomes, justice.
– Justice is relative.