NationStates Jolt Archive

Sins of the father and all that

10-11-2007, 01:59
Many people argue that others should apologise, make amends or otherwise accept responsibility for what their ancestors have done (Usually this is on a national level). There are a lot of topics where this has been argued. Slavery or European colonisation are two big ones. Another is of course the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Others as well, such as aboriginal rights, the Falkland Islands, the "We saved your ass in the war" stuff, plus many many more.

So..... where to start? Well I'd say as a rule I'm against the idea of holding the current generation responsible for what went on in the past. Obviously there are selfish motives on my part, but I think it's pretty logical as well.

One question is how long does it take for you do draw a line and leave the past in the past? Let's look at whats going on between Israelis and Palestinians. Many argue that due to the relatively short time the Jews have lived there in the past few thousand years. But what happens in 50 years, or even 100 years, when all the Palestinians who lived in what is now Israel are long dead? Also, there's the settlement question. The building of settlements on Palestinian land is obviously illegal under international law but it still goes on. But what would the situation be in over 100 years time if the settlements are still there? It's hard to uproot people who've been there since before living memory, but the settlements were also built illegally so it's a difficult one.

Then there's the British Empire. Should the current British people be held responsible for what happened back then? Especially considering it was only a tiny minority of British people who were actually participating in colonisation.

Another issue is the Falklands. One time a few hundred years ago some Argentines set up a colony but they were eventually kicked off by the British. A lot of Argentines or pro-Argentines argue that this means that Argentina should get the islands. But that is well beyond living memory and the current lot who live there have been there for generations. It also ignores that Argentina is possibly the whitest country in South America, and they hardly have the best record when it comes to stealing the native peoples' lands. So that argument is only argued selectively.

You could also apply this to a situation with common crime. A wanted murderer dies while on the run from police. You can't get the guy any more, so do you go after the guy's kids? I'm sure the vast majority would say no, but I think it's an appropriate analogy.

Sorry if this post is a bit muddled, jumping from topic to topic, but I'd like to know everybody else's opinions on the issue of ancestral responsibility.
Julianus II
10-11-2007, 02:38
Sins of the father? Hate the very idea. I disagree with it completely. An ethnic group shouldn't feel compelled to make repartions to, apologize for, or even shoulder responsibility for something that happened 50, 100, 150 years ago. I have no intention of ever apologizing for slavery, or using my tax dollars to grant reparations to native americans. Blaming someone else for one's own problems just because they're a member of the ethnic group that began the problem way before they were born is just another form of racism.
Upper Botswavia
10-11-2007, 04:09
Hard to say.

If an individual commits a crime, his children are not held responsible, for the most part. But if an individual steals a large sum of money, do his children get to keep it if he dies while evading prosecution?

If a nation commits a crime against another nation (illegally appropriating Native American lands, in violation of treaty, for instance), should the nation make reparations? Well, if the nation continues to benefit from the violations, then I think yes, they should. But on the other hand, if the USA were to hand back all the land that they agreed to leave alone in those treaties, what would be fair for the people who had, in good faith, made a life on those lands in the meanwhile?

Reparations for slavery... the issue here, I think, is that no one continues to directly benefit from the enslaving of others. In this case, I think that the individuals who were slaves should have been given what they were promised, the land and mules, but no one alive today is now directly suffering or profiting because of that slavery.

It is all pretty tricky, and I don't believe there is a one size fits all answer to the problem.
10-11-2007, 04:11
We are all pretty screwed if we follow that idea.

Best course of action is to make sure nothing like slavery, genocide, etc. happens again.
10-11-2007, 04:40
If blame is hereditary, then humanity as a whole is too guilty to live. It's time for the cockroaches to take over.
South Lorenya
10-11-2007, 04:48
I returned the honorblade to Chorrol and was well-rewarded. Fathis Ules was annoyed, but oh well.