Monday, June 20, 2016

Against retroactive justice

We sometimes see people fighting to correct wrongs done ages ago.

In itself this is ok. But many times it is wrong. And damaging.

1) Not fair. When judging people for something done ages ago, it is easy to forget that the norms of the time are crucial. While one might believe in absolute morality, our current judgement cannot honestly be transposed onto people decades ago.

2) Counter productive.
changing norms is mostly what we want looking forward. We want less corruption tomorrow. Not yesterday.

Absurdly, every time we persecute a fallen dictator, we teach all other dictators to never ever give up power. Lest them be persecuted once relinquishing power.

A dictator that might have otherwise considered to allow an ordered transfer of power and democratisation, will be hugely reluctant to do so, the more retroactive justice in the world. (Lee Kuan Yew noticed this in his memoir regarding South Korea generals who gave up power on their own, and later got persecuted)

In Ukraine, part of the dynamic that caused the Russia involving war, was that Europe and others wanted to persecute the special forces of the fallen president. Fearing this, most of them run away to the eastern border, and they turned later as a great part for Russia instigated war.

Currently, for example in Ukraine. There is a massive fight about corruption, with various oligarchs fighting nail and tooth to block any anti corruption change.

Even if they want to accept future changes, they cannot accept a change that will put all of them in prison for historical corruption.

Allow future change, and I think that the chances for reform are vastly higher.

Why are people adamant to go retroactively?

My analysis was rational. Humans, are moral characters, and are emotional.
Justice is a value. This is why people want justice even in counter productive ways. 

But policy, if we want it to be effective should be designed in rational ways. 

1 comment:

Sarchis Dolmanian said...

There's a catch somewhere in here.
What you mean by justice.