Saturday, December 12, 2015

Πολύ λίγο, πολύ αργά

του Αριστείδη Χατζή

Καθημερινή

11 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Από το 2001 μέχρι σήμερα ο πολιτικός γάμος των ομόφυλων ζευγαριών αναγνωρίστηκε από χώρες όπως η Ολλανδία, το Βέλγιο, η Γαλλία, η Νορβηγία, η Σουηδία, η Φινλανδία, η Δανία, το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, η Ιρλανδία, αλλά επίσης η Ισπανία και η Πορτογαλία. Δεν αναγνωρίστηκε μόνο στην Ευρώπη αλλά στη Βόρεια (Καναδάς, ΗΠΑ) και τη Λατινική Αμερική (Μεξικό, Αργεντινή, Βραζιλία, Ουρουγουάη), στη Νέα Ζηλανδία και στη Νότια Αφρική. Πολλές άλλες χώρες ετοιμάζονται να τον αναγνωρίσουν, όπως η Αυστραλία και η Σλοβενία.

Η Ελλάδα δεν είναι μέσα σ’ αυτές. Για την ακρίβεια, στην Ελλάδα δεν έχει επεκταθεί ακόμα ούτε το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης στα ομόφυλα ζευγάρια. Εάν ψηφιστεί το νομοσχέδιο που μόλις κατατέθηκε, η χώρα μας θα πάψει απλώς να είναι σε ακόμα έναν τομέα μια θλιβερή ντροπιαστική εξαίρεση. Βέβαια αυτό που θα επιτευχθεί δεν έρχεται μόνο πολύ αργά, είναι και πολύ λίγο. Διότι η παγκόσμια τάση τα τελευταία χρόνια, σε όλες τις θεσμικά ώριμες φιλελεύθερες δημοκρατίες είναι η αναγνώριση πολιτικού γάμου. Δυστυχώς στην Ελλάδα σχεδόν κανείς δεν τολμά να το θέσει ως προτεραιότητα. Ακόμη και τώρα, που το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης πρόκειται να αναγνωριστεί με τόσο μεγάλη καθυστέρηση, συνεχίζονται οι αντιδράσεις. Πολλά από όσα έχουν γραφτεί και ακουστεί τελευταία μάς θυμίζουν πόσο λίγο απέχουν από τον Μεσαίωνα κάποιοι ελληνικοί θεσμοί.

Είναι κρίμα να μην πρωταγωνιστεί η Ελλάδα στο ζήτημα αυτό δεδομένου ότι από το 1983 και μετά το ελληνικό οικογενειακό δίκαιο παρακολούθησε τις διεθνείς εξελίξεις και σε πολλά ζητήματα ο Ελληνας νομοθέτης έκανε σαφώς προοδευτικές επιλογές. Αλλά στο ζήτημα του γάμου των ομόφυλων ζευγαριών θα παραμείνουμε ουραγοί και απ’ ό,τι φαίνεται για πολλά χρόνια. Γιατί είναι τόσο σημαντικός ο γάμος, αν έχει επεκταθεί στα ομόφυλα ζευγάρια το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης; Για έναν απλό λόγο. Διότι μόνο η αναγνώριση του πολιτικού γάμου είναι συμβατή με την ισονομία και την ισοπολιτεία που καθιερώνει το Σύνταγμα στο άρθρο 4. Ο αποκλεισμός των ομόφυλων ζευγαριών από τον θεσμό του γάμου δεν παραβιάζει όμως μόνο το Σύνταγμα. Παραβιάζει τις βασικές αρχές του σύγχρονου Κράτους Δικαίου, όπως αυτές οι αρχές διαμορφώνονται στον 21ο αιώνα.

Διαβάστε το άρθρο στην ιστοσελίδα της Καθημερινής

Κατεβάστε το άρθρο όπως δημοσιεύθηκε (PDF)

Διαβάστε άλλα δύο σχετικά άρθρα μου: στο Βήμα Ιδεών (14/7/2008) και στα Νέα (19/12/2013)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Triumph of Robert Conquest

Wall Street Journal
Editorial
August 5, 2015


Robert Conquest was born in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, so it seems fitting that he outlived the Soviet Union by more than 25 years. The indefatigable historian, and enemy, of Soviet totalitarianism died Tuesday at age 98.

Conquest’s major themes were reality and delusion. The Great Terror (1968) was the first and still definitive treatment of Stalin’s purges, gulags, show trials and secret police, meticulously documenting the enormity of the death toll. Harvest of Sorrow (1986) chronicled what he called the “terror famines” that followed agricultural collectivization.

When sources inside Russia were few and most Kremlinologists were oblivious, these classics contributed immensely to understanding the nature of the Communist project. They also helped shape the response that won the Cold War; Reagan and Thatcher were among his readers.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The End of Nordic Illusions

by Nima Sanandaji

Wall Street Journal

June 24, 2015

Helle Thorning-Schmidt lost her seat as Denmark’s first female prime minister in the general election last week. The result seems to fit the current trend in the Nordic region of traditional social-democratic parties in decline giving way to populist anti-immigration parties on the rise. However, parties on both the right and left have much to learn from debate that the Danish Social Democrats have sparked about the future of the welfare state.

The Nordic model has long been admired abroad. It has been seen as a way of combining economic growth with admirable social outcomes. But the simple idealization is misleading.

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden aren’t set apart only by social-democratic policies but also by a unique culture built upon trust, a Lutheran work ethic and a strong emphasis on personal responsibility. These cultural features, combined with healthy lifestyles, allowed Nordic nations to develop high living standards, income equality and long lifespans during the first half of the 20th century. The success also arose during a period when policies were based upon low taxes and free markets.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Mao’s China: The Language Game

by Perry Link

New York Review of Books

May 15, 2015

It can be embarrassing for a China scholar like me to read Eileen Chang’s pellucid prose, written more than sixty years ago, on the early years of the People’s Republic of China. How many cudgels to the head did I need before arriving at comparable clarity? My disillusioning first trip to China in 1973? My reading of the devastating journalism of Liu Binyan in 1980? Observation of bald lies in action at the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 and in the imprisonment of a Nobel Peace laureate in more recent times? Did I need all of this to catch up to where Chang was in 1954 in her understanding of how things worked in Communist China, beneath the blankets of jargon? In graduate school I did not take Chang’s Naked Earth (published in Chinese in 1954 and translated by Chang into English in 1956) and its sister novel, The Rice-Sprout Song (also published in 1954 and translated by Chang into English in 1955), very seriously. People said the works had an anti-Communist bias. How silly.

In Naked Earth, Chang shows how the linguistic grid of a Communist land-reform campaign descends on a village like a giant cookie cutter. There are Poor Farmers, Middling Farmers, Landlords, Bad Elements, and more. When actual life doesn’t fit the prescriptions, so much the worse for actual life. Make it fit. A “cadre” (a technical term for a functionary in the Communist system) complains that the farmers have “always been backward… . All they ever see is the bit of material advantage right in front of them.” This leaves them “afraid to be active.” Perhaps they don’t want to be active? No, answers the organization, they are reticent only because they fear “the revenge of the Remnant Feudal Forces.” When finally coaxed to complain, they sometimes—oops!—complain about the cadres, not the Landlords.

Eventually the farmers, like everyone else, figure out that their personal interests depend on correct verbal performance. There are certain things you are supposed to say and certain ways you are supposed to say them. “Tell the truth!” is a command that you recite your lies correctly. An unimpeachable exterior becomes everyone’s goal.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Ο Σάββας Ξηρός και το Κράτος Δικαίου

του Αριστείδη Ν. Χατζή

Athens Voice

24 Απριλίου 2015

Ο Σάββας Ξηρός είναι ένας στυγνός δολοφόνος. Το ότι επένδυσε την εγκληματική δραστηριότητά του με βλακώδεις αμπελοφιλοσοφίες και ιδεοληπτικές μπαρούφες δεν μειώνει την ευθύνη του, αντίθετα την αυξάνει. Και αυτός και τα υπόλοιπα μέλη της κωμικοτραγικής συμμορίας του μου είναι ιδιαίτερα απεχθή. Το ότι ορισμένοι από αυτούς τους δολοφόνους, αντί να δείξουν έμπρακτη μετάνοια, κομπάζουν και απειλούν δεν πρέπει να προκαλεί κανένα είδος σεβασμού. Όπως δεν πρέπει να προκαλεί σεβασμό ο αμετανόητος βιαστής, ο αμετανόητος παιδεραστής ή ο αμετανόητος έμπορος ναρκωτικών.

Όμως δεν βλέπω κανένα λόγο να παραμείνει ένας άνθρωπος με τόσο υψηλό βαθμό αναπηρίας στη φυλακή, όταν είναι δυνατό να συνεχίσει να εκτίει την ποινή του με έναν ανθρώπινο και αξιοπρεπή τρόπο. Δεν εννοώ ότι δεν έχω ακούσει καλά επιχειρήματα κατά της ειδικής μεταχείρισής του. Τα άκουσα ή τα διάβασα με προσοχή. Τα σέβομαι, τα ασπάζομαι εν μέρει, αλλά δεν με έπεισαν.

Σύμφωνοι, η κυβέρνηση φέρθηκε ατζαμίδικα, φάνηκε να υποκύπτει σε εκβιασμό, πολλά μέλη του κυβερνώντος κόμματος αντιμετωπίζουν με συμπάθεια ή και θαυμασμό τους εγκληματίες, η διάταξη είναι σαφώς φωτογραφική, έγιναν σοβαρές γκάφες με τους Αμερικανούς, κλπ. Όμως οι λανθασμένες κινήσεις της κυβέρνησης και τα φλερτ με τους τρομοκράτες δεν αλλάζουν βέβαια την άποψή μου.

Ξέρω ότι οι περισσότερες/οι από όσες/ους με διαβάζουν δεν θα συμφωνήσουν, αλλά για μένα τα πράγματα είναι ξεκάθαρα. Το Κράτος Δικαίου δεν εκδικείται. Η ποινή πρέπει να έχει κυρίως δύο στόχους: την αποτροπή και τον σωφρονισμό. Ο Ξηρός δεν θα σωφρονιστεί εάν αντιμετωπιστεί με απάνθρωπο τρόπο. Όσο για την αποτροπή (γενική ή ειδική): δεν θα επηρεαστεί καθόλου από την όποια απόφαση.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

John & Harriet: Still Mysterious

by Cass Sunstein

New York Review of Books

April 2, 2015

John Stuart Mill may well be the most important liberal thinker of the nineteenth century. In countless respects, his once-revolutionary arguments have become familiar, even part of the conventional wisdom. Certainly this is so for his great 1869 essay The Subjection of Women, which offered a systematic argument for sex equality at a time when the inferior status of women was widely taken for granted. It is also true for On Liberty, published in 1859, which famously argued that unless there is harm to others, people should have the freedom to do as they like. A strong advocate for freedom of speech, Mill offered enduring arguments against censorship. He also had a great deal to say about, and on behalf of, representative government.

Friedrich Hayek was the twentieth century’s greatest critic of socialism, and he won the Nobel Prize in economics. A lifelong defender of individual liberty, he argued that central planning is bound to fail, even if the planners are well motivated, because they cannot possibly assemble the information that is ultimately incorporated in the price system. Hayek described that system as a “marvel,” because it registers the knowledge, the preferences, and the values of countless people. Hayek used this insight as the foundation for a series of works on freedom and liberalism. Committed to free markets and deeply skeptical of the idea of “social justice,” he is a far more polarizing figure than Mill, beloved on the political right but regarded with ambivalence by many others. Nonetheless, Hayek belongs on any list of the most important liberal thinkers of the twentieth century.

Mill and Hayek help to define the liberal tradition, but in both temperament and orientation, they could not be further apart. Mill was a progressive, a social reformer, an optimist about change, in some ways a radical. He believed that, properly understood, liberalism calls for significant revisions in the existing economic order, which he saw as palpably unjust: “The most powerful of all the determining circumstances is birth. The great majority are what they were born to be.” Hayek was not exactly a conservative—in fact he was sharply critical of conservatism on the ground that it was largely oppositional and did not offer an affirmative position—but he generally venerated traditions and long-standing practices, seeing them as embodying the views and knowledge of countless people over long periods. Hayek admired Edmund Burke, who attacked the idea that self-styled reformers, equipped with an abstract theory, should feel free to override social practices that had stood the test of time. Mill had an abstract theory, one based on a conception of liberty from both government and oppressive social customs, and he thought that society could be evaluated by reference to it.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

The case for liberal optimism

by John Micklethwait

Economist

January 31, 2015

This newspaper churlishly deprives its editors of the egocentric adornments of our trade. Tragically, these pages include no weekly “editor’s letter” to readers, underneath a beaming, air-brushed picture. Online, there is a weekly e-mail, but that comes from your “desk”, not you. As editor, you spend your time in deplorable obscurity, consoled merely by the fact you have the nicest job in journalism. But there are two indulgent exceptions: a brief mention when you are appointed; and this valedictory leader, which attempts to sum up the world that has hurtled across your desk.

It starts on the first day, and never lets up. There are elections, coups, wars, bankruptcies and tsunamis. Science throws up discoveries and ideas. A pantomime of Putinesque villains and Berlusconi-style clowns force themselves onto the cover. But for the things this newspaper cares about, the past nine years have been a battle, one that has left me in a state of paranoid optimism. Paranoia because so much remains under threat; optimism because, for the most part, the creed this newspaper lives by is strong enough to survive.

That applies first to The Economist itself. One of my earliest covers asked “Who killed the newspaper?” (August 24th 2006), and this newspaper has arguably faced more change in the past nine years than it did in the previous century. On April Fool’s Day 2006, when, appropriately, I began this job, Twitter was ten days old, our print advertising was growing and social media was something to do with a very good lunch.

So any modern editor who is not paranoid is a fool. But my optimism remains greater, both about The Economist and the future of independent journalism. That is partly because technology gives us ever more ways to reach our audience. In 2006 our circulation was 1.1m, all in print. Now it is 1.6m in print, digital and audio. Already half a million of you have downloaded our new Espresso app; we are adding over 70,000 Twitter followers each week. Media is not the race to the bottom that pessimists forecast. People want to read about the Kurds, Keynes and kokumi as well as the Kardashians. Ever more go to university, travel abroad and need ideas to stay employable—and will pay for an impartial view of the world, one where the editor, whatever his faults (or from now on, her virtues), is in nobody’s pocket.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

The Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

New York Times
Editorial
June 16, 2015


For the second time in three terms, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. The last time around, the justices declined to take up the broad question. This time, there is every reason for them to follow the logic of their own rulings over the past 12 years and end the debate once and for all.

On Friday, the court accepted four cases from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan, where same-sex marriage bans were upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in November. All other federal appeals courts that have ruled on the issue have struck down the bans.

Oral arguments are likely to be in late April, but there is little new to be said. Both sides’ positions have been aired out thoroughly and repeatedly for several years.

And as usual, the outcome almost certainly lies in the hands of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has authored all three of the court’s previous decisions upholding gay rights. In each case, Mr. Kennedy wrote eloquently of the dignity and equality of gay people. It is hard to see how, given the combined reasoning in those cases, he could now turn back at the threshold of one of the most important civil-rights decisions in a generation.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Money is the New Morality

by Scott Adams

Dilbert

January 15, 2015

The traditional view of money-vs.-morality is that you want to start with a moral foundation and then you can pursue making money in a way that makes the world better. You treat your employees and customers well, act honestly, and perhaps even donate your wealth to those in need.

That was a good model. I think it served the United States well in its formative years. You can’t have capitalism without some level of trust, especially in earlier times, and morality in the form of religion provided a form of predictable honesty.

But today that situation is flipped because of the Internet and the free flow of information.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Blasphemy We Need

by Ross Douthat

New York Times

January 7, 2015

In the wake of the vicious murders at the offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo today, let me offer three tentative premises about blasphemy in a free society.

1) The right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order.

2) There is no duty to blaspheme, a society’s liberty is not proportional to the quantity of blasphemy it produces, and under many circumstances the choice to give offense (religious and otherwise) can be reasonably criticized as pointlessly antagonizing, needlessly cruel, or simply stupid.

3) The legitimacy and wisdom of criticism directed at offensive speech is generally inversely proportional to the level of mortal danger that the blasphemer brings upon himself.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

The "Dog-Eat-Dog" Delusion

by Gary Galles

Mises Daily

January 3, 2014

When people want to add extra “oomph” to negative depictions of self-owners acting without coercion — that is, market competition under capitalism — they turn to name-calling. One of the most effective forms is describing such competition as dog-eat-dog. When that characterization is accepted, the mountain of evidence in favor of voluntary social coordination can be dismissed on the grounds that it involves a vicious and ugly process so harmful to people that it outweighs any benefits.

Unfortunately, dog-eat-dog imagery for market competition is entirely misleading. It not only misrepresents market competition as having properties that are absent in truly free arrangements, but those properties are essential characteristics of government, the usual “solution” offered to the evils of dog-eat-dog competition. Further, it frames the issue in a way that precludes most people from recognizing why the analogy fails.

To begin with, dog-eat-dog is an odd way to characterize anything. I have never seen a dog eat another dog. I don’t know anyone who has. In fact, some trace the phrase’s origin back to the Latin, canis caninam not est, or “dog does not eat dog,” which says the opposite (and makes more sense, as an animal may try to protect its feeding grounds against competing predators, but it does not eat those competitors). It is nonsensical to rely on an analogy to something that doesn’t actually happen in animal behavior as a central premise toward condemning market systems as ruthless and hard-hearted.

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