Friday, September 12, 2008

Power Within

Something I think these discussions haven't touched is the power within societies, the way order is imposed within these sovereign nations. The justice system, administration, overwhelming bureaucracies, correctional facilities; how and why did they form. It is interesting the way society in general feels entitles to judge and question the actions of others. Where did this authority come from? Who decides what measurement makes drug possession a misdemeanor or a felony? 

The argument that the needs of many outweigh the needs of one and this is a basic principle the masses of civilized nations accept. There are, of course, those renegade criminals who show us what a world where everyone did what felt best for them would result in. One could make the definite argument that in order for societies to operate those individuals must sacrifice some of the freedoms we consider basic. 

To add some academic merit to this argument I quote an episode of the social mockumentary The Office, in an episode where Michael Scott poses the question, "Who should be the judges and juries of society?" to which Angela replies, "...judges and juries." Is she right? In America, we don't pick our peers and we certainly don't pick our juries; if you were on trial how comfortable would you feel relinquishing your "sovereignty" to total strangers who just happen to be members of your society? 

It is certainly unsettling to think that one may be judged by someone with equal or greater flaws than themselves. Nonetheless, no superior model has super ceded the present one and we are forced to rely on the injustice of our justice in order that order may be preserved.  


DOCTOR J said...

Excellent questions, Cat. I think you will be very happy when we begin reading Foucault, since he raises many of the same questions about the internal (and often hidden) power structures of government and social institutions (like schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.)

Ashley Ladd said...

I think this raises the conflict that almost every problem we have discussed has come to: what would be better? Each time we discuss something, such as the regulation of money spent by candidates in an election process. We tend to disagree, for the most part, in how things work, but we can't think of a way to make them better.
I honestly cannot think of a better way to have a trial and have a number of people as juries and judges. I don't think there would be many to volunteer, and it was done by volunteers, the cases could be biased.
I think that judges and juries is the only way to do it, since people are assigned to serve the country. This works the same as how, if we weren't to write on the blog, we would be assigned to do it. Someone has to.