Date: Dec 17, 2012 12:03 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: Would effective gun control laws be 'unacceptable social engineering'?

Lou Talman posted Dec 17, 2012 1:57 AM:
> On Sat, 15 Dec 2012 18:42:15 -0700, GS Chandy
> <> wrote:

> > [Why not work towards creating a world that is
> generally law-abiding
> > instead of generally lawless, which seems to be the
> case today. Ah yes,
> > would that be considered to be 'social engineering'
> by some?]
> Aspiring to such a world is admirable.
> Working toward such a world might even be thought
> saintly.

I would like to sugest that both "aspiring to" create a generally law-abiding world (instead of a generally lawless one*) and "working towards" that end are not "saintly" at all - they are 'necessary conditions' (if we are to hope that we can indeed improve matters). They clearly are not 'sufficient conditions'.
> Believing that such a world can come to be is, quite
> simply, naiveté.

Surely one can 'work towards' creating a more 'generally law-abiding world' without necessarily believing that one will achieve a 'perfectly law-abiding one'. (I personally do not believe in the possibility of 'perfection' of human beings or human institutions and instruments - though I do believe it may be possible to 'improve' human institutions and instruments very significantly indeed). The following are the only certainties:

- -- Improvement will not take place unless there are people actively working towards such improvement.

- -- People will not actively work towards improvement unless they believe there is some hope (however small that may be) of success. (There are a great number of people actively working towards improvement: witness, for example, the sizable numbers of 'non-profit organizations' - a number of them very genuine and honest - thus hopefully working towards precisely such 'improvement').

In general - based on my understanding of history (and do feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken) - I do believe the world is generally 'somewhat more' law-abiding today than it was:

i) five thousand years ago;

ii) a thousand years ago;

ii) five hundred years ago;

iii) (perhaps) even two hundred years ago (see below).

That is the kind of time-frame it may take to make meaningful societal change.

I do understand, for instance, that the US (even in Texas!) may be somewhat more 'generally law-abiding' today than it was in the days of the 'wild West' of the cowboy movies and books - and that was just about a hundred-and-fifty years ago, I believe!

There have of course been quite severe blips during, for instance, the time of Hitler (worldwide) and more recently during the USA's Vietnam war; Pol Pot's time (in SE Asia only); the USA's Iraq war - though it is justifiably argued that that war was launched against a despicable regime. But those are the 'blips', to which human history is subject. Every now and then, we in India do suffer such 'blips' quite severely, for instance when Hindu-Muslim animosity rises to the fore of our societal concerns. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, there was a sizable 'blip' which led to the massacre of several thousand Sikhs in Delhi alone.

iv) I believe that such changes (as 'moving towards a generally more law-abiding world') has never occurred in the past in much shorter periods of time than several decades or even much longer, perhaps centuries. [And a lot of things do need to come together for such change to occur].

However, I believe it may be possible to speed up that 'time-frame for change' quite significantly. Societal change can, I believe, take place in just 5-20 years - see, for instance, the PowerPoint presentation attached with my post at the thread "Democracy: can we achieve it?" - And there **may be** some [very small] quantum of 'change in human nature' accompanying such societal change - though doubtless much of such change would have to be attributed to the change of societal structures (such as laws) that prevent or hinder individuals/groups from indulging themselves in 'uncivilized' behavior.
> No schema for society that is based upon a change in
> human nature can ever be successful.

I believe you are seriously mistaken (if you are claiming that there can be "no change in human nature"). There has clearly been some 'change in human nature' since, for instance, the days of the Inquisition, of Galileo.

A good part of the change is, I agree, occasioned by the development/evolution of societal structures. Probably only the smaller portion of change can be attributed to a real change in human nature per se.

But consider this as a tentative suggestion: perhaps there has indeed been some change in human nature since the days of the 'Wild West', even!

I am NOT claiming that we can construct "schema for society based on a change in human nature". (However, I do believe in the 'possibility' of change in some aspects of human nature - though I must emphasize that I'm not in any way advocating Haim's naive charges of 'social engineering'!)

May I observe that Jesus Christ more than 2000 years ago had put forth the quite admirable suggestion:

"Do thou unto others as thou woulds't have others do unto thee" (words/ideas to that effect). Now, that was surely a call "to change human nature"!

It is quite evident, I agree, that the suggestion has not been understood/ implemented by human beings at large even today, 2000-odd years later (and it's been understood least of all in the so-called 'Christian nations').

Thus, Jesus Christ was, probably, somewhat 'naive'. (I do believe, however, that his 'naivete' should actually be considered quite admirable - and it is based on a very profound understanding of what has come to be known as 'social science').

As noted, that saw is based on a very sound understanding of social science at a quite profound level.

Quite recently, Gandhi in India made practical 'political application' of at least some parts of Jesus' teaching to rouse his people to drive the British rulers out of India. (It is worth observing as a 'side-bar' that Gandhi's favorite song, alongside some Vedic/Hindu chants, was the Christian hymn "Lead, Kindly Light"!!!)

And quite some time before Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha arrived at an even more profound understanding of 'human nature' and the place of humans in the world. I entirely agree that we've not understood those lessons at all in the context of our societal lives. We may not ever achieve adequate understanding.


Message was edited by: GS Chandy