I should add that because there is no such thing as vacuum, 'criminality'
reigns when states or the 'rule of law' breaks down. That is when
'universal' or 'abstract' rules do not hold.
This is the case in all failures of social system building.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Roger Harnden" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 7:53 PM
> Russell, to pick up your and Allenna's 'failed notice' thread. This is
> Roger-speak and is not intended to interrupt the flow of your very
> positive interaction with Allenna. Hence the new thread.
> Did Stafford ever define criminality, Allenna? I never heard him do so,
> and it's pretty hard to do. Unless we define it as something like 'a
> person who undermines the status quo' - which isn't very satisfactory.
> But sure as damnit there's no objective definition. Even 'evil', Russell,
> has problems. It is almost totally relative to a viewpoint or a culture's
> dominant logic. If we take the systems' approach that Allenna writes
> about, then we end up talking about the failure of the system - the point
> I raised in my previous message. All very well if you believe the system
> is not constituted through human actions, but is somehow a reification -
> but then please define it.
> And when, following Ern, we attempt to make a distinction between
> 'ourselves as human beings' and 'ourselves as social beings' we arrive at
> the hub of the issue. It's bloody difficult to make such a distinction in
> practice, though the words make it sound simple.
> However, I believe we can, impeccably, make a distinction between our
> shifting and changing subjective and indeterminate sense of self, and the
> self that we ascribe to others. Hence my use of the terms ethics and
> Of course, outside this territory we have 'systems', but they are
> constituted by human interactions, and I believe, their nature largely
> determined consensually through recurrent exchanges of generalisations of
> mind rather than by the interactions themselves in isolation. In other
> words, they are judgements about what is the case, where the case itself
> can only be the case. They are exchanges at the S5 level of the
> individuals. And, perhaps following Luhmann or Foucault, individual human
> beings can be described as 'relays' for the dynamics of the emerging
> systems. But, if this is the case (and with reference to Spencer Brown),
> the human as a relay has a choice to close or fracture a 'circuit' or to
> provide closure to the system pattern (as did many individuals concerned
> with the concentration camps or the banking crisis. Neither Foucault nor
> Luhmann appear to embrace such an option. In Foucault's conclusions there
> is a fatalistic inescapability to what he calls the 'microphysics of
> power'. No-one can step outside it.
> However, I am deeply suspicious of the notion that we have to leave an
> 'enactive' individual out of the picture. What von Foerster, Maturana and
> others intend by the concept of 'responsibility' is surely correct. Or
> haver I got this wrong? In other words, whatever the system, the
> individual has choice over which relays they open and which they break.
> And the decision taken defines the ethical nature of that individual to
> him or her self, and defines their moral status in their social context.
> The individual may or may not amplify a given flow of power/knowledge,
> through his or her decision about engagement or disengagement from any
> network of social relations.
> I suppose, Russell, that it might be interesting to see 'where'
> criminality exists in terms of the VSM. But I am not sure we would 'find'
> it. The model has been used by a whole variety of people, and attracted
> many, some of whom have an authoritarian perspective, some a democratic
> one. Each extreme fits the model to their own world- picture, in many
> cases quite satisfactorily for their own purposes. Which is probably OK.
> Claims that a model is intrinsically 'moral' or 'ethical' are surely a
> contradictinction in terms. Models are surely, triumphantly, about
> systems, and not about human individuals. What we might choose to do is
> to define that class of individual who seeks to undermine 'our' model of
> reality (whether that model is VSM or something else), 'criminal'. And,
> then. low and behold, we will call them 'immoral'. We could not say
> anything about their ethical being, though.
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