Why are morals disregarded in war

Here is the German translation of half of Ted Honderich's book Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7 ..., the successor to his widely-known After the Terror. The translation in the Semit edition is by Sigrid Langhaeuser. You can also turn to some more of the book, in English.

Humanity, terrorism, terrorist war:
Palestine, 9/11/2001, Iraq, 7/7/2005 ...


Our questions
Division of labor, the share of philosophy
Negotiations, international law
UN resolutions
Human rights
The Just War Theory
Conservatism and Liberalism
Equality in democracy
Freedom in democracy
Help from democracy
The principle of humanity
The character of the principle
The strength of the principle
The ends and the means justify the means
Definition of the term terrorism
Some conclusions about Palestine
A terrible conclusion on Palestinian terrorism
Understand, approve, instigate
September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001, and a worrying question
Conclusions on Iraq, the killing of the innocent
The bomb attacks in London on July 7th, 2005 and the significance of the horror
7.7.2007 and the question of the enemies of terrorism
Our societies and the war on terror
Uncertainty and the Consequences of Failure to Judge
Postscript on Anti-Semitism


Freddie Ayer, Alasteir Hannay, Timothy Sprigge and
Johnny Watling

Our questions

Was the establishment of the State of Israel in Palestine in 1984 right or wrong? How is the development since the 1967 war of enlargement to be assessed? How was the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in the United States good or bad? What about our subsequent war in Iraq, which brought freedom and the death of many people to the country? What about the horror of 7/7 To say in London in 2005? Were the events on the subway trains and the bus horrific enough, like the events of September 11th, to be evidence in themselves? And what about the right and wrong of what lies ahead in this regard? And there will be more attacks.

Let's think about these things together. Let's try to come to an agreement on reasoned judgments about it. It is generally believed that there is a connection between these events. They are a chain of related incidents. In either case, we want to listen to each other and then come to our own different judgments.

The questions of right and wrong are closely related to the questions of moral responsibility and the moral credibility of the people involved. Indeed, the question of who is morally responsible for something is tantamount to the question of whose injustice it was - or to what extent several people contributed to the injustice. This question of responsibility, the question of who needs to change or who needs to change, is of clear, immediate significance. But our fundamental and common concern is the question of right and wrong, of justifications or the lack of justifications, of what was allowed or compulsory or neither.

And therefore, of course, according to right and wrong in the present. Nothing ever concerns only the past. In fact, it can be said that nothing is solely about the past. At least looking at history is about current curiosity, current feelings. History of the recent past almost always affects decisions and actions in the present.

In our societies we are well armed with judgments, proposals and words, often just the sound of words from our democratic politicians and those who speak to them. These words, as answers to our questions, are well known and familiar, a kind of litany, and we hear them as if in a dream or in some other irrational state. But we can also really do something, namely think and feel for ourselves and independently.

If one wants to find one's own answers to the question of the justification of what happened in Palestine, on September 11th, 2001, in Iraq, on July 7th, 2005 and other such events, about moral responsibility and the question of what to do now has to be done, however, one also has to answer another question. Well-founded judgments in response to certain questions necessarily and inevitably require a general conclusion, or better still, a general view. You cannot look at a thing in isolation, even if it is a whole series of events.

First of all, there is the danger of being illogical, of contradicting oneself and thereby removing the basis of one's own statements, i.e. actually not contributing any thoughts at all. So, in addition to our thoughts on the three questions of our time, we will reflect on the general and fundamental question of right and wrong in the world, which is sometimes considered to be timeless. It can also be called the question of humanity, decency or justice. We'll even begin with that. This should not be an introduction to what comes after, but the basis and structure for everything that follows.

Division of labor,
the share of philosophy

Division of labor is required to resolve all of our questions, including general ones. This certainly applies to the question of the conflict between the Palestinians and Zionism - where Zionism is not seen as something vague, but as the justification, foundation and defense of the State of Israel within its more or less original 1948 borders also the non-identical question about the Palestinians and neo-Zionism, whereby the latter is to be understood as the expansion of Israel since the war of 1967 to other Palestinian lands, with everything that this process has meant and will mean for the Palestinians.

The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001 also requires division of labor to assess right and wrong, perhaps just to prove wrong and to discard irrelevant facts. Did the horror of the attack that crippled an entire nation also answer the question of its nature and the responses required?

The same is true of the related United States and Britain war on Iraq that began in March 2003. Did this war have any resemblance to the September 11th terrorist attack? Was there any justification for that? It does not depend on the honesty and general decency of the heads of state in these countries, Bush and Blair. Nor does it depend on the sincerity of the latter, the leader who followed his leader. Even if he is not a man who cares about truth, if he is unable to see its worth, he may have done the right thing.

The assessment of the attack on three underground trains and a bus on 7 July 2005 in London also requires a division of labor. What moral significance, what significance for the question of right and wrong, had the fact that the British Army was responsible for the killing of considerably more people, people of a people with which the terrorists identified themselves? What was the significance of the British Prime Minister's risking the lives of his own compatriots in the service of a foreign power, as a newspaper article read a week later?

Historians, including those dealing with population figures, play a role in assessing the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians and between neo-Zionism and the Palestinians. How many Palestinians and how many Jews lived in Palestine at what time? There are other questions for historians in Iraq. How many people were killed and in what ways as a result of the war and its aftermath? Were the victims killed by the American and British armies burned and shredded like those killed by the other side? Do guided missiles and missiles always kill that way? Returning to September 11th and July 7th, a more difficult question, have religions always served purposes that were more real than themselves? Has it always been about wishes for this life?

People exploring international relations also have a role to play, primarily those who bring the power of knowledge and judgment to their work. They are not always found in the international relations departments of universities. The linguist Noam Chomsky can serve as an example for our history. Some of the work of judging right and wrong is in the hands of good journalists, and it is not just preparatory work. What were the feelings and attitudes towards us of the people in Iraq whom we supposedly wanted to liberate?

One can even argue that partisans and propagandists, people who are on one side, possibly without any self-doubt, play a role in important questions of justification. They can make a contribution to the knowledge of moral truth, insofar as this is at all possible - even if they feel obliged to this task and to the truth itself only to a small extent and in a deceptive way. John Stuart Mill has argued in this direction in his work On Liberty, the founding document of liberalism, stressing the importance of expressing all opinions, however outrageous and repulsive they may be.

Others, no doubt, can claim to play a role in the effort to distinguish between right and wrong, first in general and then in relation to Palestine and the three other events that followed, and which are at least partially related to it . I can think of lawyers, and I suspect politicians could play a role in the investigation, some of them at least. They have people available to listen to them, which is some kind of affirmation. Political theorists can also claim a role for themselves. After all, we are supposed to be bringing democracy to Iraq.

Economists can help too. How much money has flowed from the USA to Israel and is still flowing there, what has it achieved and what else does it do? International law attorneys also claim a role, which you will learn more about shortly. The same is true of representatives of religions, both Islamic clergymen and rabbis and American Christian fundamentalists, who, to put it mildly, advocate a simple belief in the Bible.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, is less straightforward in considering how faith might find its way through nightmares like 9/11:

Even mean and murderous deeds usually originate somewhere, and if they are extreme in nature there is nothing wrong with looking for extreme situations. This does not mean that those who commit these acts have no choice or are not responsible - at all. But it also takes sentimentality to attribute everything we do not understand to 'evil'. That releases us from responsibility. It allows us to avoid the question of what we can recognize in another's destructive act.

Does that help us a little further? Maybe. Do you recognize yourself a little in one of the July 7th bombing bombers?

In the division of labor to resolve all right and wrong issues, philosophers have the opportunity, and perhaps even the obligation, to make a major contribution. The historical models of the philosophers I am thinking of here are David Hume in Scotland and Immanuel Kant in Germany in the eighteenth century and Charles Sanders Peirce in the United States in the following century, and probably Descartes in France as well. Your thinking is somewhat inadequately described as analytical in the broadest sense of the word.

It is a general logic. It leads to a clarity of opinion, which mostly consists of an analysis of the subject rather than some other kind of understanding. This includes the consistency and validity of thinking and reasoning, as well as general validity, which is what constitutes completeness. This logic is accompanied by skepticism and balance and, if possible, also by a certain self-doubt. It would be wrong to say that historians and others do not seek, and sometimes achieve, this logic. But it is not and cannot be her main field of activity. You have other things to do.

There is a second reason why philosophy has a share in the division of labor. The general question of right and wrong and related questions are the main theme of the part of philosophy called moral philosophy or ethics. It's an important and rich part of philosophy.
It includes distinctions that our leaders claim not to know, that they overlook, or that they have never heard of. This includes the knowledge that the connection between the injustice to kill a person and the moral responsibility of the perpetrator for the act is not easy. Moral philosophy also includes the knowledge that if you hold a political leader in whole or in part morally responsible for a cause, you are obliged or can be to do something - namely to try to prevent him from doing something, even more, or perhaps To do worse than just focus on your past. Moral philosophy knows both the connection and the lack of a connection between character virtues such as honesty in connection with an act and the question of whether it is correct.

Perhaps no moral notion that could be voiced in relation to Palestine, September 11th, Iraq, July 7th, and everything else to come will be something new in moral philosophy. Every type of performance has already been the subject of extensive research and discussion. The demand for consistency and a single standard as opposed to double standards has been defended and studied at all times. Disregarding these considerations would be just as much ignorance as discarding works like The Population of Palestine: Population History and Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate.

About the same thing can be said of that part of philosophy that is called political philosophy. Good philosophical faculties at universities, perhaps the most relevant institutions in this regard, have often expressed themselves more derogatory than political philosophy than moral philosophy. Political philosophy is influenced by actual political engagement. Sometimes she tolerates the intolerable. But in many cases she has also done real research that differs from the statements made by elected Democrats and the ideology of partisan think tanks on the web. To use this philosophy is to make use of something useful.

In this case, too, I am thinking of the more or less analytical part of political philosophy and not of recent French philosophy, if you allow me to say so. The latter is a lot more creative, something completely different. It makes it possible to understand the reality of September 11th as an image heralded by a dream. While that's interesting, it doesn't seem to take the dead into account. Whether or not a brief investigation can contain any significant amount of analytical political philosophy, knowing something about it must be clear to one that it must be treated with caution, for example when it comes to democracy.

Yet, in what we are trying to do, neither my nor your part in our joint investigation can claim to be as detached and impartial as Professor McCarthy's book on the people of Palestine. Neither, if there is such a thing at all, a completely independent military history of the war in Iraq from March 20, 2003 to May 1, 2003, when Bush claimed that the war was over, but that in fact many people were still to die. The same is true of what impartial journalists have written about the personal life stories of the July 7th bombing bombers.

The logic of philosophy, or the pursuit of such logic, when it is pursued within the framework of moral philosophy and political philosophy in general, or when it deals with such questions as we would like to deal with them, is always connected with advocating something specific, with partiality of arguments and judgments. A decent philosopher who deals with moral and political questions is on a higher level than a lawyer in court, but not out of view of that level. If there is something that can be called moral truth, it is not a normal truth. There are always wishes that flow into it.

In fact, there were and are philosophers who are nothing but partisans of the kind described above and who are neither faithful to factual nor moral truth. I believe that one can distinguish between them and those other philosophers who are faithful to their calling, who in what they advocate feel bound to moral truth and the truth to themselves. In our conversation, I hope to be one of the latter.

With regard to your expectations of my part in our investigation, one more thing needs to be added. What you are about to read is not a final communiqué from a World Congress of Philosophy on four specific subjects and one general subject. It is the communiqué of a single philosopher who cannot claim to speak for the majority any more than anyone, and who is further removed from it than many, but who tries to make use of the tools that are commonly available to us.

Negotiations, international law

In spite of everything, could it be that we should follow a different school of thought or practice than philosophy in our philosophical reflections on our topics?

For example, what to make of the idea, commonly associated with pacifism and worthy and well-meaning persons, that peaceful negotiations are always preferable to the use of force? It follows that the right solution in Palestine will be achieved if both sides refrain from suicide bombings and attack helicopters and instead just talk to each other. And that for this simple reason, September 11th, the war in Iraq, and July 7th were nothing but terrible mistakes.

Non-violence as a general principle can hardly be taken seriously. Should a woman who is being raped try to argue with her rapist if she has the opportunity to take him off with a blow to the head? Should I just swear to him to stop? More generally, it is impossible to believe that the right solution is guaranteed to be the result of negotiations and not anything else. From the general principle of non-violence it follows that waging a war, even if it has been started by the other side, is always an injustice - and it probably also follows that it is always an injustice to have a police force, at least until more has been said on the subject, thereby transforming the principle into something else.

Let us return to one of our topics: From the general idea of ​​non-violence it follows that only lengthy negotiations are right for a people who have violent means at their disposal to try to end something that has already begun, namely their annihilation . After all, it cannot be that we should have organized a conference in Geneva instead of fighting for an end to the Holocaust when this atrocity was already in full swing.
It cannot be said that in negotiations between a weak and a strong party one can count on reasons of reason to make them equal partners. Or that the strong always negotiate and not just pretend to negotiate while they make use of their superiority elsewhere on the spot. Another possibility to think about in this context is that a nation that is utterly wrong can plan and act in such a way that the only hope of remedy for its victims is the use of force - and then condemned this violence with great success.

No doubt there are cases, even many cases, when it is right to negotiate. However, it is inconceivable that it should never be right to act otherwise, that it should never be right to use force. This idea, by the way, has in common with some other ideas a kind of pious simplicity, a simplicity that refutes it. We already know that the big questions about right and wrong do not have easy answers. If there were, we would have figured it out by now. Simple answers are wrong.

Incidentally, the answer we are thinking about, the rejection of all violence, is not really the opinion of Ghandi, that great exponent of civil disobedience to British rule in India. As the admirably serene American philosopher Virginia Held explains and the equally serene British political thinker Bhikhu Parekh affirms, Ghandi did not believe that if there is no hope of success in fighting for a good cause, one must limit oneself to civil disobedience . When he has said that the best way to counter oppression is by nonviolent means, he has also said that it is better to use force to defend oneself against oppression than to submit.

Do we find more effective help in our investigation if we begin with the work of some of the other contributors we mentioned earlier? A professor of international law might be able to say with conviction that we should be guided by this. We should be guided by the conventions, principles, precedents, treaties and customary law of international law, for example when assessing declarations of war and waging war.

The idea is fraught with great difficulties. One of them is that we want to find out what is right or wrong in Palestine and what was right or wrong in Iraq and elsewhere, not what is legal or illegal. Obviously, there is a profound difference between what is good and what is legal. This does not depend on the fact that in the past morally indefensible things could be legal, e.g. slavery. The fact that sometimes what is legal is also good does not change the difference. It also remains unaffected if one takes rights seriously and does not completely differentiate between legal and moral rights.

What is actually good and right is not identical to what someone has put into law or what has become law as a result of expansions of decisions, precedents or compulsions. The question of right and wrong simply cannot be answered by law books and the like. When we say something is good, we don't mean that it conforms to national law or the law of other countries. By the way, was the Holocaust legal in Germany? Judgments and agreements on what is good and right come before the law and are the source of the law. They are the subject of discussions for and against existing laws and the cause for legislative changes. Necessarily, then, moral judgments and agreements are something else. They are the basis, however they are expressed and labeled.

So if we were to abide by the conventions, principles, precedents, treaties and customary law of international law, we would not be concerned with our question. But we wouldn't handle our question with that either. It wouldn't go away because of that. In particular, we could not avoid the question of whether the verdict of international law on Palestine, September 11th, Iraq and July 7th is correct.

But there are also other reasons not to start with international law as a collection of standards, principles, etc. One of the reasons is that there is no consensus on what it is. That means that some of it doesn't even exist. More precisely, essential parts of it leave room for interpretations that border on inventions in one's own interest. In the case of the Iraq war, one thing was clear. The heads of state of the invading nations, their lawyers, and others disagreed as to whether the war was in accordance with international law. The rest of the world believed that the attacking parties and their few supporters had made their own law. In fact, it was absurd to even speak of a law. It is no surprise, but an inadequate concession, when a good treatise on international law by a respected lawyer who is no hothead ends with the admission that this law in particular opens up the possibility of changes in the form of a fait accompli Offers nation states that play a pioneering role in creating and making use of its rules, principles and institutions.

Do you think that international law as it stands, whatever it may be and how much of it is actually there, comes closer to what is law than anything else, whatever may be understood by the word law? Do you think a lot of brainwash was put into it? Are you saying that it contains a principle of self-defense that must be right, no matter how often it has been abused? Do you remember that it also includes the Geneva Convention on Warfare, which is believed to be of great value, at least at times?

Well, it is correct that international law contains one or the other part or parts that are perfectly justified, as well as that part of the normal criminal law of a given society which concerns murder and other assaults against the person. It can be said that these laws are as moral as they are legal. They can be very helpful in certain circumstances. It can also be said that the existence of a law, although not a particularly serious argument, suggests that what it prohibits is wrong. But that is nowhere near enough for a general recommendation of international law for our purposes.

In order to be able to make such a general recommendation, you would first have to produce and bring forward considerably more ammunition against a closed phalanx of well armed skeptics. These range from Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic to today's legal philosophers and lawyers. They deal with the fact that justice is or comes too close to the will of the strongest. And in any case, it is absurd to say that one should rely on one part or another of anything legal to establish the legitimacy of anything else. That could go through in an address to retired civil servants, but not in the real world. We need to know the parts and, more importantly, why they are tenable.

Do you argue that the question we are concerned with cannot be separated from another, even more difficult one, namely the question of whether a certain part of international law, which originates from or is advocated by democracies, is good? Well, it is completely unclear which law you are recommending. If it is a law that is consistently advocated by democracies, there are likely to be very few of them. But you change the subject and talk about democracy and no longer about laws. We shall come back to that later.
Is this how you argue? The veracity of the law, including international law, doesn't really matter - what matters is the fact that it is the law. It's just a fact. It is said quite often, but it is unclear. Perhaps that can be said of retired civil servants, of course. But what you seem to be trying to do despite some contradiction cannot be done. One cannot put aside the question of the moral value of the law and at the same time assume that the law is somehow a justified imperative. And if you don't assume that, you've gotten into the wrong discussion. Our subject is the question of right and wrong, the most important subject in connection with four things and a few more, the subject that no one can avoid and that no one wants to avoid.

So get rid of the idea that what is right and wrong in Palestine and elsewhere can be determined by starting with our existing international law - the provisions, customary laws, etc. The law will be useful in some ways, but not crucial. And what is to be made of the more general idea of ​​starting from the so-called legal principle? This is probably to be understood as the idea of ​​always basing one or the other version of international law, which is something other than referring to what can be taken to be international law at a certain time.

This idea is considerably less convincing than that of complying with existing international law. If you think about it, there is a simple answer to this suggestion. We cannot believe that there can be no conceivable law, no matter how monstrous, that it is such that we must obey it rather than break it. Despite tradition to the contrary, it cannot be right that any law is better than no law at all. It cannot possibly be right that every conceivable law must be obeyed in order to preserve the entire institution or structure of the law.

In addition to the idea of ​​the legal principle, there are the concerns described above about starting our investigation with existing international law. If we want to begin with any provision of international law, we must inevitably ask the question of its moral value. In this case we cannot expect any help from the law because we are not dealing with a single body of law. And then there is another problem in a particular form. How are we supposed to be guided by one of many legal works if we do not know which one, and if these legal works are not even compatible with one another?

UN resolutions

Another idea that has something to do with international law comes to mind. It can be assumed that international law contains more than conventions, principles, precedents, treaties and common law. It has become common practice to classify the resolutions passed by the United Nations as part, even a fundamental part, of international law. The question of the legitimacy of our 2003 war in Iraq has been discussed mainly in relation to such resolutions. It is even more promising to refer to the resolutions on Palestine. At least there was more agreement on that. And you can assume that Palestine is important because it plays a role in our three other individual issues.

Since the 1967 war of enlargement, Israel has been the subject of around 65 UN Security Council resolutions. There were resolutions against the project of appropriating more Palestinian land than Israel originally received in 1948 - the project of neo-Zionism. There is no doubt good reason to distinguish between this project and the establishment and continued defense and justification of Israel's existence within its original limits, as we have already done and as the world does in many ways. There is also good reason, for the purposes of our investigation, to name the child and refer to the latter as Zionism, whatever links and continuities there may be between Zionism and neo-Zionism by that definition.

The resolutions condemned, reprimanded, complained or deplored the actions and policies of neo-Zionism and called for their end. The resolutions dealt with the occupation of more and more Palestinian land, killings, massacres, racism, the expulsion of Palestinians who thereby became refugees, the destruction of their houses, the use of their water, the establishment of Jewish settlements, arrests and deportations , Harassment and other violations of so-called human rights.

Almost without exception, these resolutions were approved by majorities between ten to one and fourteen to one by the Security Council, to which a total of fifteen nations belong. These overwhelming majorities were supported by four permanent members of the Security Council, namely China, France, Russia and Great Britain. There were also many nations that had temporary membership in the Security Council.

The only dissenting vote in favor of Israel, the US, was a veto. As a result, the resolutions did not cease to exist as condemnations or whatever - how could it be otherwise with a fourteen-to-one majority? - but as a result of the Charter of the United Nations, the founding document of the organization, they have no binding effect. The resolutions did not lead to any action by the United Nations. The same thing happened to most of the General Assembly resolutions against neo-Zionism because of the Constitution.
There have been no such United Nations resolutions against the Palestinians. In short, this means that the United Nations has consistently condemned neo-Zionism, but not the Palestinians. But their Constitution, or rather, the United States' use of the Constitution, prevented them from taking effective action.

It is impossible to examine the question of right and wrong in Palestine without considering these resolutions as examples of human judgment. It is an almost unanimous judgment from a large number of nations, a judgment from people who can rightly be called representatives of the human race. This fact is certainly of such importance that it refutes all the objections raised against it.

As I said before, some parts of international law are undoubtedly some kind of accepted morality. This certainly includes the resolutions against neo-Zionism that we are talking about here. Assuming that they are making Israel a pariah, which is the case, they cannot simply be viewed as part of the legislation.

But even if we come a lot closer to our topic, the question of right and wrong, and if some people may believe that neo-Zionism is prima facie an injustice because there is an international consensus on this, it is far from being that End of the story. The fact remains that some believe the resolutions are wrong. Ordinary Americans agree. There are also Americans with double loyalty, Americans who are Neo-Zionists. They believe or claim that the resolutions against neo-Zionism are one-sided, testify to double morals and blindness, are an expression of international politics and of course anti-Semitism. A true moral philosopher, even an American, can hardly be put off by this fact. But the fact that these people can make such claims indicates something else.

We have to keep in mind that what is legal, even if it is not possible to clearly determine whether it is legal or moral, is actually no more than legal after all. In addition, the legality of a majority of fourteen votes against one outweighs the legality of the veto power of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Another fact, which you will hear more about shortly, forces us to be cautious. A UN resolution led to the international embargo, which also applied to drugs and which led to the deaths of many children in Iraq. If one takes a selective look at the UN resolutions, it becomes clear that the value of part of them as an argument must be considerably less.

More importantly, most of the readers of this book, including many brave Israelis and many Jews in other countries who partake of the wonderful Jewish tradition of moral and political sentiment and strength, exemplary realism, will be struck by the existence of the Security Council resolutions or have probably been for a long time. A philosopher who no longer responds to the resolutions as affected is a partisan philosopher or worse. Indeed, the resolutions are something like moral data, if not one of several more significant types. But they require at least some clarification, a clarification that perhaps ordinary and other Americans could also think.

What moral foundation or foundations are the resolutions against neo-Zionism based on? Do they have a consistent basis showing that they are in line with other resolutions - and with the lack of certain other resolutions? Do they have a basis that clearly shows why there are no resolutions against Palestinian terrorism? What is the fundamental principle that defines their value - and the value of what they recommend? Or, if you like, what category of idea, view or vision of what is right and wrong do you fall into? What idea of ​​what human coexistence should look like do they fall into?

The resolutions themselves do not answer this question. They do not answer them, despite their moral implications, even if those implications are impressive. They are far from being a complete study of right and wrong in Palestine. They are far from giving a complete and systematic answer to our question, an answer that has the persuasiveness of logic. They are not an answer that a people, even an ignorant and delusional people, cannot easily brush aside. Even if the American people as a whole were suddenly adequately informed and able to start thinking, they probably would not dwell on the resolutions.

As for September 11th, the war in Iraq and July 7th, the situation is no different. The fact that your feelings about all three events, or maybe just two of them, are considerably stronger, or maybe even overwhelming, does not in themselves make these cases any different in relation to our question. UN resolutions give us no answers to the question of right and wrong.

The Human Rights

Shall we try to use another United Nations document? Should we adhere to human rights, perhaps the most important human rights charter in existence? This is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the UN Charter of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

It guarantees life, freedom and personal security for everyone. Also freedom from fear for everyone. Each of us should also have the freedom of movement and be able to leave and re-enter his own country or territory at any time. There should be no exile. Everyone should have the right to a nationality and should not be allowed to be arbitrarily deprived of their property. Everyone should have a standard of living that is sufficient for their health and wellbeing. There must be no discrimination and no attack on the honor and reputation of a person. There must be no racism.

The declaration also contains more general regulations. One of these concerns a problem that arises in any legislative body, the problem of a conflict of conflicting claims over rights, or rights that are actually conflicting. What if there is a conflict between my safety and your freedom from fear and the like? The declaration says the following:

In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone should only be subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by law solely for the purpose of ensuring the appropriate recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others in compliance with the legitimate requirements relating to morality, public order and general Welfare in a democratic society have been established.

Another general provision of the declaration must be considered: In a not coincidentally much discussed subordinate clause, which begins with if, it allows deviations from the legal provisions in the event of a rebellion:

... Unless people are forced to rebel against tyranny and oppression as a last resort, it is vital that human rights are protected by the rule of law ...

One can argue that the right to rebellion is further justified by the fact that there is nothing in the world that is required in another general provision, namely a social and international order through which all the rights and freedoms required in the Declaration actually enforced.
There is another general provision that we should be aware of, in this case a provision of the United Nations Charter. It speaks of territories whose populations have not yet fully received the right to self-government. It says:

The interests of the inhabitants of these territories are of paramount importance.

Such territories must be assisted by the United Nations in developing their self-government or independence. The interests of those who administer or want to annex the territories are not decisive.

Without a doubt, the Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations have been and are all in all useful, especially for many of the world's victims. Like the UN resolutions, neither of them can simply be ignored, no matter how often they have been used in selfish ways. They could be used as a starting point to answer our questions about Palestine, Iraq and terrorism. But are they the best place to start? How much room do they offer to get started?

There is sufficient clarity about what human rights are. Obviously they have a lot in common with their historical predecessor, the so-called natural law. Human rights are the origin and justification of national and international legal texts, i.e. positive law, as it has been written, decided and ratified in a nation state or by nation states. Above all, human rights are the origin and justification of legal rights. They can be invoked if one wants to judge or change national and even international law and the legal rights contained therein. In short, human rights are moral rights or certain moral rights. So we can be sure that we are not on the wrong track.
And what is a moral right to something? If someone has a legal right to something, it means that they can rely on the underpinning or legitimation of national or international law, at least to the extent that the latter exists. When someone has a moral right to something, he has a different kind of underpinning or legitimation of the legitimacy of his claim. Obviously, his claim in this case is underpinned by a moral principle, a principle that is fundamental, binding, irrefutable, justified, generally recognized, and the like. This means, at least implicitly, that the person concerned has the moral support of others, or at least some other people. This point of view regarding moral rights will also be important in other contexts or in other contexts.
If you start from the list of human rights in the Charter, from the right to life to the right to nationality to the right to reputation, you are not referring to a sack whose contents are a shambles of rights, as is sometimes claimed becomes. But obviously it is a sack with very different rights. It is all too understandable if you ask what the sack itself is. What do these rights have in common? What do they have in common? What can be summed up about them? One can read the declaration from the preamble to the end without getting an answer to this question.

It cannot be that nothing connects these rights with one another, that they have nothing in common. We would have a much better understanding of these rights if we had an answer to this question, if we had an idea of ​​their order of precedence. They can't all be the same weight. Surely your life is more important than my reputation? If we had a summary, we could also find out what could and could not be added to the listed rights. Incidentally, no women's rights are mentioned. Nowhere is it said that they have the same rights as men.

Related, but more difficult problems arise when we try to use the Declaration to resolve our questions about Palestine, September 11th, the war in Iraq, July 7th, etc. Something like a principle would not only be illuminating and guide, it is quite simply necessary. This has to do with the fact, already mentioned, that claims to rights and even the rights themselves can conflict with one another.

The first paragraph we quoted says that people should have those rights and freedoms that are compatible with the rights and freedoms of others. What kind of rights are these? This question is of fundamental importance. We get no answer, no trace of an answer. We are here at the heart of moral philosophy and political philosophy, even morality and politics itself, and what we find in the Charter is a big hole. The bare reference to morality in the same paragraph does not help either. What kind of morality? References to the common good and public order in a democratic society are also of little help. What kind of democratic society is that supposed to be?

Do you think that we do not need a principle to solve the question of Palestine with the help of the declaration? Some daring philosophers have claimed that there are no moral principles, but at the end of the day, you can always find a philosopher who said whatever comes to mind. Let's leave that. Do you think that if we add up the rights and freedoms mentioned, starting with the right to life, we can get a reasonably passable idea of ​​a principle? Please, let's make this idea our own.

The Palestinians, like much of the rest of the world, certainly believe that the declaration supports them in their struggle against neo-Zionism. This assumption seems to me quite obviously to be correct. It can be said to be in line with the spirit of the Declaration. Some Palestinians may also believe that they can work out a principle that will help them and give general meaning to the provisions of the Declaration on Rights. On the other hand, however, stands the fact that the neo-Zionists are convinced of the opposite, or at least claim so.

There are also conflicting assessments of the war in Iraq. Some say it was a war for human rights, for the rights of Iraqis. There is also no full agreement on September 11 and July 7. The fact that we consider these attacks monstrous does not mean that they have been banned from the world of argument, the world where arguments for and against are heard. That, dear reader, is the world we are in.

Is there no more convincing path to take, perhaps a path at the end of which neo-Zionism is less credible and less easy to propagate? Just as implausible as the defenders of the terrorist attacks and perhaps the Iraq war? It must be emphasized that the moral principle is not a magic wand. It will not make things easy, it will not shed light on it, or it will not solve all problems. But it will be very helpful and make a big difference.

After all, it is roughly true that generalizations so despised by many are the essence of all inquiry, the stuff science is made of, the essence of intelligence. One recognizes right and wrong in a given case by comparing it with others. And you will have to rely not only on a collection of details, but on what you have concluded from them.

Another point in the Declaration needs to be mentioned - the already quoted general provision on tyranny and oppression, by which we mean ethnic cleansing and much more. What is admitted therein - particularly relevant to our topic - is that people may be forced to resort to armed resistance and the like, even killings as a last resort. What is meant by this great concession?
Of course, this does not mean that the people in question are forced to do something by others at gunpoint. It does not mean that you have as little leeway to make a decision as when someone actually holds a gun to your head or when you are under real psychological compulsion. What is meant and must be meant by this is that the persons in question have a compelling reason to offer armed resistance. So this is about a reason, not just one thing.

What is the reason? Like all reasons, it will be a widely accepted reason. Or, if you boldly assume that the reason in question is clear, then in what way is it compelling? What makes this reason more valid than others? It must be remembered that the Palestinians claim to have a compelling reason for their terrorism and that the neo-Zionists deny it. Opinions also differ with regard to the war in Iraq and the terrorist horrors of September 11th and July 7th. All these representatives of different views, and we too, have to do something else in order to be able to think effectively about our topic.

As you already know, we have to come to a generally valid point of view, a generalization rightly and wrongly, a generalization that also includes something that has not been discussed before, at least not yet explicitly. If you think about what should actually happen, you can think not only about a goal, but also how to achieve it and what to say about certain means. If you think about what should happen, using international law as a yardstick, principle, etc., you start from a certain premise, namely that the goal we want to achieve can be achieved by conventional means, so to speak, i.e. with the help of the law must become. The question here is what advantages this has in comparison to alternative options. In spite of the section on the rebellion, does one have to assume a similar legalistic premise when thinking about Palestine on the basis of UN resolutions and human rights?

A broader answer to our question needs to include general claims about legal and illegal means of attaining an end, through general political methods and practices. The answer will necessarily contain some arguments for and over again one and the other. It will not limit itself to the legality and the like of rebellion, but will deal with means of well-being.

The Just War Theory

You will have read the Just War Theory in a good newspaper or heard from a pulpit. The issue was raised on the occasion of the war in Iraq, as it has been discussed on the occasion of almost all wars.

The theory has its roots in the medieval Catholic Church. The philosopher Augustine was one of its founders. It's still being worked on in the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Notre Dame. The philosophy faculty at the University of Haifa is also working on parts of it, albeit with a completely different objective. It should be called a Just War Theory simply because there is no generally accepted and well-defined theory that could be called the Just War Theory. There is a collection of ideas that have different meanings and weights attached to different people and traditions.

A just war in the intended sense is obviously a just war, a good war that it is not wrong to wage, perhaps also a war that it would be wrong not to wage. The term “just” with its legal associations blurs that a little, for whatever reason and whatever motive. But there is no doubt that this is not just some sort of legal war. What we are promised here is an answer to the question of which wars are not wrong and should be permitted or required by international law. It is conceivable that a just war could violate any provision of international law.

Just war theory traditionally distinguishes between the conditions that must be met to start a war and the conditions that must be met to wage war. We do not need to pay attention to this distinction. It is artificial, in part because when a decision is made to wage a legitimate war, consideration must also be given to how to wage it. The idea of ​​the proportionality between an action and the profit to be achieved appears both in recommended thinking about the entire envisaged war and in thinking about possible actions or operations in carrying out the war, such as those in World War II Bomb carpets dropped over German cities.

A just war is a war that (1.) serves a just cause. Self-defense in the simple sense of the word is often cited as such a purpose or intention. Self-defense in this sense means that you must have actually been attacked first. This type of self-defense is the answer to the aggression of someone else rolling tanks over your borders or firing missiles at you. The just cause in this case can also be the desire for peace. Recently, something quite different from a just cause has been invoked in just war theory - the defense of human rights or the defense of a decent life. A war with such a purpose or intention may be started by you. Technically, you can be the aggressor.

A just war must (2.) create the likelihood that the purpose will also be achieved. There must be a reasonable chance for that. The war cannot be hopeless. It must not appear as senseless suffering.

It must (3.) be led by the right group or person. Originally, this was limited to nation states or their governments. Today, however, it also seems conceivable that the right group or people are a resistance movement or an insurrection or their respective leaders. More recently, it was the anti-apartheid movement that made this change necessary.

So, depending on your understanding of terrorism, there is a possibility that terrorism or terrorists are waging a just war or at least waging justified terrorism. Apparently, until further clarification, we are dealing with a theory of just war and possibly just terrorism. Perhaps the Palestinian suicide bombings and the September 11th and July 7th terrorist attacks also fall into this category.

To avoid the question of a definition of terrorism, which we will return to later, let us first stick to thinking and talking about war in the ordinary sense. As I said (4.), a just war and all related actions must be proportionate. If viewed as a means, war as a whole must be in reasonable proportion to the end it is to achieve. In a certain sense, the remedy must not be too expensive, too excessive. The same goes for the actions, operations and tactics in war.

The war must (5.) not lead to the killing of innocent people not involved in the fight or similar consequences.

Furthermore, he (6th) must be the last resort. It may only be waged when all peaceful means of resolving the conflict have proven ineffective.

To all of this it must be added that a typical just war (7th) must be waged in good faith and not serve any purpose other than the just cause.

This brief account of the Just War theory may convince you that it would be useful to begin with when thinking about Palestine, the war in Iraq, and perhaps September 11th and July 7th as well. I agree with them. However, in this case you would start with a whole range of problems. Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that you are going to start out with a heap of problems.

With regard to demand number 1, the just cause, the question arises whether the idea of ​​self-defense in the simple sense of the word needs to be expanded to include preventive self-defense. Some thinkers have advocated such an expansion, and more recently it has been advocated by two thinkers, our Heads of State, in the context of the war in Iraq. In such a case, where is the dividing line between preventive self-defense and normal aggression? And since any line can always be drawn, what would be the justification for that particular line? And where in just war theory do we find this justification?

But that is not the only problem with today's idea of ​​a just cause. We have already said that a just cause for war can also be something other than simple or preventive self-defense. A just cause can also justify a non-preventive attack, an attack that the other side can rightly call aggression. An example could be an attack to protect human rights where they are violated in ways other than war. A just cause might be an attack aimed at preventing ethnic cleansing, or an attack in defense of a particular way of life. Could a just cause be a holy war? You will agree with me that we have a great deal more to learn about these things.

Because not all ways of life are worth defending, we also need a general method for assessing ways of life. The same is true of conflicts or apparent conflicts between human rights.
We come to demand number 2. It is certainly reasonable to say first of all that a war should not be in vain. This is about something fundamental. Can men or an army fight for the future without being able to hope to stay alive themselves? This is not an unknown situation, and it has never been despised. Such men were revered as heroes and not thought of as crazy. Something like that could repeat itself.

What to say about requirement number 3 that the war must be waged by the right people? Perhaps it turns out that this is really something else, namely the need to serve a certain cause? If we take the crucial step of moving away from the original requirement that the right people be confined to nation-states, then we seem to come to that conclusion about a just cause. Perhaps the right people are people who do not seek private gain and are not aiming for something that equates to the profit of a commercial enterprise? But is it true that any cause advocated by heads of state and supported by the public is also good? Would that also apply to the liberation of a people from a minority that their political leadership describes as filth? So here too we need a description of fair concerns.

If in point 4 it is said that something is in the right relationship to something else, i.e. must be proportional, to what extent should it be proportional? It would be kind to rule out the idea, which is sometimes voiced about the just war theory, that the war or operation must be proportional to the other side's guilt. As with proportionally reasonable or deserved punishment, it would appear that the war or operation that respects the principle of proportionality might be deemed right. That would mean that arguments for the legitimacy of such a war only go around in circles, that what is to be proven is already certain.
Does it get us any further if we investigate, in terms of proportionality, which human rights are violated by the war - those human rights that are in conflict with others and between which we cannot choose in the absence of a yardstick? Is proportionality maintained when 100,000 war deaths face the prospect of the American way of life for another people? If this question worries you or makes you suspicious of your guide, I can ask you less blatant questions. Of course, we need some principle or method if we want to compare two things and examine their proportionality. Without such a principle, do you think it is possible to continue applying this doctrine?

In relation to demand number 5, the question arises who the innocent are. Probably children, but who else? What does innocence mean? Are everyone not involved in the fight innocent? All civilians? How should a war not result in the killing of innocents? Could a just war be a war that is waged with a reasonable or well-founded prediction or expectation or probability calculation that innocents will not be killed? There has never been a war like this. Neither World War I nor World War II were just wars in this sense.

Demand number 6, that there should be no alternative to war, obviously leaves a lot of room for thought. The difficulty of judging this also gives rise to intensive reflection. On one side of the conflict there may be an industry that spreads falsehoods about alternatives in the past that the other side did not accept in negotiations, whereby the negotiations on the first side were real negotiations and not false or pretended. But let's leave that aside. Do we perhaps have to live with this difficulty? Do we have to accept the need to judge under opaque conditions?

Finally, we must ask whether a war ceases to be justified if it is found (7th) to have been started with the wrong intention. Shall we not support an army that is in the process of saving 100,000 or 1,000,000 lives because its commanders and government have unclean intentions, possibly unclean intentions with predictably dire consequences that hardly count in the face of the saving of so many lives ?

Much brains and ingenuity have been invested in the just war theory. It neither justifies all wars that are not considered a violation of international law, nor does it necessarily condemn all wars that are waged in disregard of international law. It goes beyond any legalism. It naturally raises questions that no one can avoid. In the further course of this investigation, we will pay particular attention to it. For example, we will come back to killing the innocent and the need to pass judgment.

The difficulties associated with just war theory can be summed up in certain ways. What guidelines should we follow to answer the questions that arise in connection with requirements (1) - (7) for a just war? We need a guideline and therefore consistency and impartiality, not momentary intuitions. If, on closer inspection, the requirements point in different directions, which can actually be the case, and we have to correct or further develop them to ensure consistency, what means should we do that?

A fundamental principle is absolutely necessary, at least something along those lines. Perhaps just war theorists have tried to answer the many questions that the theory raises, perhaps even the questions we just referred to. I haven't heard anything about them remodeling it by giving it a foundation that is not known as part of its history.

A fundamental justification is also necessary for something else. How else should we choose between contradicting but at least partially convincing demands of the four sources, namely international law and the demand for negotiations, UN resolutions, human rights and the theory of just war? If you only pick out individual topics and mix them up without such a justification, you have nothing informative to say to yourself or to anyone else in favor of one or the other collection of regulations.


Some American, English and other professors and students of international relations still judge derogatory about the theory of just war, the conventions, treaties and what else do I know of international law, the UN resolutions and human rights. Many in the past boasted a keener eye for the nature of the world of nations. This attitude is shared by numerous politicians, diplomats and managing directors of large corporations. They claim to see something they believe others will not see because of their lack of sophistication, ignorance, and hopes.

To be clear, they are replacing the above sources with the cynical or perhaps naive claim that every person and group is guided solely by selfishness and selfishness. Perhaps they add in a sense that international law, human rights, etc. have a lot to offer, or that there are some arguments in favor of not trying to deny one's belonging to the human race. In the same breath, they are likely to be derogatory or denigrating about pure value judgments, subjectivity, emotional meanings, the relativity of morality and things that may be true to you, but ... and the like.

As a result, we hear that we as nations have to adhere to what has been called realpolitik in the past. She has long been associated with Bismarck, Germany's iron chancellor towards the end of the nineteenth century.It is often defined as politics based on realistic and practical considerations rather than moral or ideological considerations or human rights considerations or whatever. It is calculated selfishness. It is also disregard for expressed or apparent positions of the opposing side and the willingness to use force and to go to war, most likely war that is contrary to international law.

It is not easy to distinguish it from power politics, from judging its opponents solely on the basis of their power and observing their demands and situations only to the extent that they are connected with power. It goes well beyond the tenable moral notion that a person, country, or people can take care of themselves to a certain extent, like others do - here we have that useful division of labor again.

The main thing to say about all of this is that no one can prevent themselves from becoming the object of moral judgment just because he or she tries not to be guided by moral ideas - and gets away with it. Neither can a group or a nation do this. Furthermore, no person or nation ceases to be the object of moral judgment just because someone else, such as an army of academics, says they are not.

First, moral judgments of any person or group are essentially thoughts and feelings about that person or group. They lead to some sort of endorsement of perhaps a purpose or a goal and a suggested means by which it can be achieved, or maybe just the purpose or a goal, but definitely not a suggested means. The thoughts and feelings do not go away because they do not please the person or group in question or because they make the life of someone who is studying that person or group easier. One side of our life and more than that, perhaps the foundation of our life, does not cease to exist.

But there is something else. We, at least the vast majority of us, do not keep our own interests in mind in our relationships with the rest of the world. Famine, tsunamis and flooded cities really affect us. Our governments, too, have not always been all selfish. To deny this is to assume that no war has ever been waged for reasons other than what is commonly referred to as net profit - in this case national profit or loss, or, more likely, the profit or loss of part of the nation. namely the leading part.

One of the lines of thought of political realism and of our entire age is the simplistic assumption that there are events on the one hand and their occasions on the other. A match flared up and the ignition surface was rubbed. It is insane carelessness to believe that great human events have a single cause or a single condition. This is as crazy as thinking that drought and oxygen had something to do with lighting the match. Of course, selfishness does play a role in explaining, or the causal links between, a nation's relationship with the rest of the world. But of course it is not the only one. Don't the remaining realists among academics read books that aren't in the libraries of their own faculties?

The statement that we are not easy in our selfishness is a general and fundamental fact. As a species, we are rational in a certain, minimal sense. This means that we have reasons for what we do - good or bad reasons, or reasons that are neither one nor the other. Reasons are general by nature. If G is a reason to do something in a certain situation, it is also a reason to do the same in every other identical situation, and more importantly, it matters or has a purpose in similar but not identical situations restrictive effect. But we are also similar to one another in another respect: We have fundamental longings in common with one another. These two facts make up a large part of what makes us a species. The two facts about reasons and longings, which will be discussed again later, bind each of us in some way and to a certain extent to others.

Do you happen to think that you can always find a reason that is solely for self-interest or the interests of your own nation and does not oblige you to do anything else? Of course, I cannot construct a reason for something that is being done or why something should be done simply by saying “Because I say that!” Or “Because America says that!”. This has troubling consequences for such statements from others. You can say something like that in Iraq, Palestine or Saudi Arabia. Something like that could have been said in the streets of Leeds when the July 7 bombings were planned on the underground trains in London.

Furthermore, it would be of no use if it were possible to find a so-called reason without such consequences. We can see through wrong reasons. We already know what kind of reasons other people or groups actually have. We recognize it when their reasons are not what they claim, when they really care about their longings, which they have in common with the rest of the world.

But it is not just a question of people, peoples and states not being able to evade moral judgment by not being guided by moral principles themselves, by the fact that we have at least a limited compassion for others, that no normal persons or peoples have general Consequences of their causes and that this fact defines our nature as a species.

Even if we had heads of state so stupid, callous, callous, or vicious that they could evade species membership, there is one more thing that prevents them from making use of what is initially considered real. or power politics appears. Real- and power politics appears at first glance as a disregard for decency and morality, especially in a respect that you will hear about. In fact, however callous they may be, it would be self-destructive for our political leaders to ignore any moral concept.

Sometimes it would simply be unreasonable to do so, and in another and more common sense it would not be an effective means to an end worth using. It would not be a suitable means for the utterly selfish end of the political realist. Ignoring moral considerations creates resistance, opposition and attack, maybe even war or terrorism. Sometimes decent behavior, immoral as the intention may be, best serves a country's selfish interest.

Apart from everything else, the realpolitiker, like us, must know what decent action is, at least if there is agreement and a certain degree of agreement in this regard, which is clearly the case. Even the absolute and unrestricted realpolitician cannot move outside of any moral concept. He needs to know what is right and what is wrong, which does not mean that he considers this to be the moral of his own nation. That would be of no use to him in this context.

What is meant by this can be shown by examining unofficial terrorism, which is simply referred to as normal terrorism as opposed to official or state terrorism. We will speak of this distinction later. The New Labor Party in Great Britain often used the slogan "Tough against crime, tough against the causes of crime" in its first year in power in 1997. This summarized her policy on juvenile delinquency, simple theft and the like.

This slogan was no longer heard after September 11th, no doubt in anticipation of a response to the correct policy towards terrorism - tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism. But even our silent democratic politicians have recognized that we need to think about the causes of terrorism. This means that one has to deal with the question of decency and justice. This cannot be avoided even if one comes to the conclusion that no terrorism was ever justified in any way.

Another consideration that leads in a similar direction. One can assume that Realpolitik is inconsistent from the start. In a sense, it gives no legitimacy to the self-interest of others. But then the minimal rationality, or the rationality of the species, comes into play - the fact that we have reasons and that those reasons are universal. An American politician can find out that he is apparently obliged to the Chileans, the Russians or the Iraqis, who also only pursue their own interests. American realpolitik is then expanded to include a moral or ethical point of view so that it differs consistently from the realpolitik of other peoples. This is not easy.

Or the American politician puts forward the much simpler thesis that all people, all countries and all peoples pursue selfish realpolitik. So be it fair and right for America to do the same. Against this supposedly fair realpolitik, among other things, it can be argued that not all parties involved have the money or the power to assert their self-interest to the same extent, that fair realpolitik is in reality unfair, even monstrously unfair. We almost all agree on that. The most important point here, too, is that even the realpolitician must know what decency is. Somehow he has to be guided by his selfish additions to his realpolitik. He can't avoid this subject any more than the people who write books about him.

Conservatism and Liberalism

We can think about a further step towards what can perhaps be presented to us as realism. The questions of right and wrong are the stuff of real or other politics, with which we all have to live - with the great political traditions. One important tradition of this kind is conservatism, and another is liberalism. The politicians of the parties that belong to these traditions let us know often enough that something is just or lawful. Sometimes they use these very words, but more often a synonym that is less likely to cause contradiction. So let us know that something is right or wrong about Palestine. We hear the word angry especially often.

Let us first turn to the tradition of conservatism to see if we can find anything that can give us reasoned answers to questions about Palestine, September 11th, the war in Iraq, and July 7th. We will primarily look for help answering general questions that we are investigating. What we are looking for are answers that can be based on the logic of philosophy - on clarity, consistency, expressiveness and general validity. Maybe skepticism instead of gullibility.

What we are looking for will hardly be explanations that appear in the daily news, not even what the English journalists are constantly lurking for, the great idea of ​​the time. We must look for the proclaimed and unannounced principles of judgment on which the tradition of conservatism rests and which we may be able to use. We can also look for the principle of conservatism, which could also be called its rationale or its best summary. There has to be something like that.

Conservatism is the political tradition represented by the Conservative Party in the UK and the Republican Party in the US. Is it to be understood as the political tradition that is against change but in favor of reforms?

This was said in the eighteenth century by the parliamentarian Edmund Burke, author of the Reflections on the Revolution in France.
The trouble is that even the strong-willed Burke ever failed to explain what he meant by an unambiguous distinction, as he so valiantly and undoubtedly called that manifesto with strong inner involvement. It cannot be the difference between big and small changes because conservatism has advocated, and continues to advocate, major changes throughout its history, sometimes changes to entire societies such as Iraqi. There is a kind of conservatism that wants to change the whole world.

It is often said that what distinguishes the conservative political tradition is that it is against theorizing and for experimentation. Burke came up with good sentences against the theorists of natural law and other things - those half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern that fill the whole meadow with their annoying chirping, while thousands of large cattle lie ruminating in the shade of the English oaks and are silent. Burke received strong support from the American John Adams, who drew attention to what has recently come to be known as ideology. He felt that the more familiar words idiocy and idiotism were not enough to describe their true character.

One of the difficulties in this case is that the tradition of conservatism, which is a fairly intelligent tradition, is actually quite full of theory. Large parts of the theory are attempts at explanations that we all appreciate and need. Part of conservative theory is about international relations, and part of that is about political realism or realpolitik, which we have already considered. You may also remember hearing about the brilliant sociology of the Third Way. This was the uncertain guideline of the New Labor governments in Great Britain, of which it had to be said that they were actually conservative.

To get back to something else, is conservatism characterized by a principle of rejecting violent change such as revolutions, revolts, terrorism and the like, and of course the theories that go with them? If so, and if this mindset is universal and well-developed, then it is conceivable that we can benefit from a well-founded argument for condemning Palestinian terrorism.

But conservatism cannot possibly make such an argument. Its representatives themselves admired, supported, paid for revolutions and, not even particularly covertly, took part in revolutions. You have spoken out in favor of revolutions against the French and Russian revolutions. You were in favor of the revolts against the democracies in Chile and Nicaragua. They have been in favor of resorting to political violence on countless occasions. Depending on how you define terrorism, they've been frighteningly involved in advocating terrorism. That this fact should be reported is a triumph of agreement and useful ignorance in our societies, both important facts that are extraordinarily useful to some in our societies, whether they bring them about or not.

An examination of what constitutes conservatism, supposedly or actually, does not readily lead to insights into its basic principle. Why is it that conservatism advocates some changes, some theories, some revolutions, etc. and not others? No basic principle can be identified in other differentiations either, e.g. enthusiasm for some freedoms that have to do with private property and the rejection of others that have to do with more democracy or the possibility of finding a job. It cannot be that the basic principle of conservatism is a principle of merit, that people should have or should get what they deserve, that which would collapse and become a principle of unexplained legitimacy that everyone on either side of a dispute would seek Could use her discretion.

You, dear reader, cannot immediately turn to the familiar idea that conservatism is the politics of self-interest. Self-interest appears in all political traditions, parties, movements and struggles. Neo-Zionists and Palestinians are also not without self-interest. What can be said about conservatism is different. The verdict, which one has to come to at least on the Republican Party in the United States and ultimately also on the New Labor Party in Great Britain, says otherwise.Conservatism is politics guided by nothing but self-interest, whatever moral or moralistic talk may be involved. It is not based on any discernible moral principle.

And so he cannot help us with answering our questions. Perhaps we can find a promising idea in this self-interest why conservatism as a whole is more positive towards the opponents of the Palestinians than the Palestinians. We can find an explanation for this. But we don't get an answer as to why we should embrace this conservatism stance, no universal reason to do so.
The judgment of conservatism as nothing but a class or classes of people who fend for themselves is, incidentally, confirmed in a dramatic way when we take a look at its former chief philosopher, Robert Nozick of Harvard University. The perfectly just or morally ideal society, he explained, is one in which all good things have a story. You have a story that has to meet certain requirements.

Imagine an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, maybe near Harvard University. Some people managed to be the first owners of the apartment. If they are no longer the rightful owners today, they have sold it or given it to someone else who may have started a long chain of such transfers. If in the course of this process someone got possession of the apartment through occupation or fraud, that was somehow rectified - things were returned to the way they would have been if the first two requirements had been respected.