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Source: (consider it) Thread: Ethics of territorial ownership.
Uncle Pete

Loyaute me lie
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When talking about several states dissolving themselves to form a larger union to the perceived benefit of all, you must also consider the British colonies in the north part of North America. First of all the original provinces of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 1867 to which the hold-out colonies of Manitoba and British Columbia acceded in 1870, followed by Prince Edward Island in 1873. Transcontinental union was not completed until the Dominion of Newfoundland joined in 1949, the Northwest territories and the Yukon having been subdivided several times in the last 150 years to form new provinces and territories. Yet the various components of Canada all owned allegiance to the same Crown. Their unions were often fraught but it all boiled down to commerce and security against an increasing expansionism of the country to the south.

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I'm trying to imagine the response were someone to propose the same thing for other lands that have traditionally been occupied by a specific people. How about a law saying that only ethnically English people can own land in England, for instance?

The American Indian reservations are specifically designated by law as the property of the Indian tribe who live on that reservation.

Moo

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:

As in "my family has always lived in this area, going back before William the Conqueror; people from far away, with different faces from us, come here and get jobs and advantages that we never got; and no one is paying attention to what *we* need; and it's not fair".

To get to "Britons" in England, you have to go 500 years before William the Conqueror, and anyone who claims pure Briton descent is AFAIK simply wrong. Saxon settlement in what is now England had supplanted the Celtic Briton culture well before the Norman Conquest. The descendants of the Britons were largely still there, but had been subsumed into Saxon culture.

There is, as Karl points out, more of a point with regard to the suppression of Welsh by the English, which certainly has parallels to the treatment of Native American culture.

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Kwesi
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lilBuddah
quote:


Kwesi: Perhaps you could explain why Scotland does not fit the case.
lilBuddah: I did, though admittedly briefly and with poetry.

" We're bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!"

lilBuddah, thanks for your reply and admission that your case rests on a poem by Robert Burns published in 'Jacobite Relics' where he speaks for a supporter of the House of Stewart defeated in 1715 and 1746. Its sentiments are essentially Highland in character and did not reflect more dominant lowland values. Furthermore, your authority, Burns, was not a Jacobite sympathiser. In 1788 he wrote: ‘That they failed, I bless God, but cannot join in the ridicule against them’; and in 1795: “Be Britain still to Britain true/ Among ourselves united/ For never but by British hands/ Must British wrongs be righted!’ In other words, reflecting preponderant Scottish sentiment, he approved of the Union.

Of course, we can never know what a referendum in 1707 would have produced, and the Scottish political class was very narrowly based, so they cannot be taken as representative of public opinion (as if one existed in those days). What one can say is that there were powerful interests in Scotland that could see benefit in a union. A failed attempt at colonisation in Central America, the Darien scheme, had demonstrated the weakness of the Scottish Banking System and the advantages of being linked to a British-wide imperial project underpinned by the City of London; the Presbyterians secured a deal which protected and promoted their privileged position against Catholics and Episcopalians; and the lawyers were given guarantees that the Scottish legal system would be protected. Moreover, there was the advantage of a common market with England. Thus, while it is true that individual Scottish politicians were personally squared, there were major advantages in the union for critical sections of the Scottish commercial, farming, the religious, and political establishment. It is difficult to believe that bribery, though it took place, can account for the denouement. The gains to England were strategic in that the union was a protection against foreign esp. French machinations on its northern border and generally strengthened its defensive capabilities. Clearly, there were mutual advantages to the contracting parties, which were sufficiently attractive for the Scottish Parliament and administration to call it a day. Of course the outcome was by no means universally welcomed in Scotland but that was hardly to be expected. I am, nevertheless, left to conclude that the curtailment of the Scottish state was as free and as rational a decision as one can reasonably expect.

There also seems to be some confusion in our discussion over the terms ‘state’ and ‘nation state’. States might be defined as territorial political entities over which governments of various sorts rule, and include ‘nation states’ as a variant. What constitutes a ‘nation state’, however, is definitionally problematic. Sometimes it is used as no more than a synonym for ‘state’, at other times as a state based on a pre-existing ethnic group, and elsewhere as a multi-ethnic state seeking to create a new national identity. The objection to my using the emergence of the United States as an example of states surrendering their sovereignty to a new entity was that the former colonies could not be regarded as states because they lacked national identities. For the purpose of this discussion I think it best to stick to ‘state’ rather than to get involved in the debate over what constitutes a ‘nation state’. ISTM that the relationships between the colonies that revolted against British rule moved from a loose co-operation between sovereign entities through confederacy to the the federal USA that emerged from the constitutional convention, under pressure of having to conduct a war of independence and to defend the outcome. In other words, the merging into a greater whole was seen as necessitous and generally desirable.

lilBuddah
quote:
The end of a long time of conquest and bribery more than a nation ending itself.

I'm not be any means claiming that the Scots ceased to be a nation in 1707, simply that Scotland ceased to be a state. Nations can exist without states as the Jews and Poles have demonstrated, along with many others over the course of history.


ISTM that there are numerous examples of states giving up their sovereignty as independent political entities better to defend their interests through a greater whole. I’m not sure whether objections to my position arise from disagreement with my general proposition or from the inappropriateness of my examples. If the former, I see no reason to retreat, If the latter, be my guest: provide your own.

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Russ
Old salt
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quote:
Originally posted by anteater:

So even if you agree that original occupation of where you now live was ethically wrong, does time normalise? Am I really responsible for what my ancestors did, say 1,500 years ago (roughly when I believe the Celts were driven out of England)?

Go back far enough and we're all hunter-gatherers. If you could trace the ownership of any plot of land far enough back into prehistory, you'd find that its first owner became its first owner just by using the land - farming it, building a dwelling upon it. So yes, long enough active possession confers a moral claim to ownership. If it doesn't, how could anyone claim ownership of any land at all ? Because there would be no first owner to legitimately purchase or inherit from.

If somewhere along the line the land changed hands wrongfully - if someone evicted the rightful owner - then clearly at that moment the evicted ex-owner has a moral claim to ownership and the person who holds it by force does not.

The question is - if time spent in active possession confers ownership, does the passage of time spent without possession diminish ownership ?

I don't know.

But, believing in individual responsibility, in forgiveness, and in avoiding endless cycles of violence, I'm inclined to think that whilst the evicted owner is entitled to reclaim possession from the man who has stolen it, the son of the evicted owner is not morally entitled to evict the son of the new owner.

It's a better world if when people die then their debts and claims on the property held by others die with them. You should be able to Will to others what you possess. But not your moral claims to what you don't possess any more. In just the same way as children should not be made liable for their parents' debts.

Not a popular point of view, perhaps.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
lilBuddah, thanks for your reply and admission that your case rests on a poem by Robert Burns

Genuine laugh at that. I used Rabbie Burns to shine poetic light on my case, not make it entire.


quote:
Its sentiments are essentially Highland in character and did not reflect more dominant lowland values.

This is true, though misleading as it implies dominance is by number rather than by power.

quote:
What one can say is that there were powerful interests in Scotland that could see benefit in a union.

Powerful economic interests that did not share with all. The greed I mentioned earlier.
quote:

A failed attempt at colonisation in Central America, the Darien scheme, had demonstrated the weakness of the Scottish Banking System and the advantages of being linked to a British-wide imperial project underpinned by the City of London;

Aye, and we can ignore the collusion of England and the English East India Company in helping with that failure, can we?
quote:

It is difficult to believe that bribery, though it took place, can account for the denouement.

At least £50 million in today's money bought something.
You put forth a very English case. The Scottish perspective was a bit different.

quote:

ISTM that there are numerous examples of states giving up their sovereignty as independent political entities better to defend their interests through a greater whole.

Well, then, please proffer them as you have not yet.

quote:

I’m not sure whether objections to my position arise from disagreement with my general proposition or from the inappropriateness of my examples. If the former, I see no reason to retreat, If the latter, be my guest: provide your own.

My position is that it is possible for a state to voluntarily dissolve but it isn't part of the construct to do so and rarely, if ever, happens.
I see no need to offer any examples, that burden is on you.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Kwesi
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lilBuddah
quote:
You put forth a very English case. The Scottish perspective was a bit different.

Look, I’m not arguing an ‘English’ case but rather pointing out that objectively there was a ‘British’ case and a ‘Scottish’ (remaining independent) case in the events leading to the Union of 1707. That’s an historical fact not an ideological one. For better or worse the side which saw benefits in a union despite the loss of an independent state won out.

quote:
Kwesi: ISTM that there are numerous examples of states giving up their sovereignty as independent political entities better to defend their interests through a greater whole.

lilBuddah: Well, then, please proffer them as you have not yet.

I suspect your objections to my examples are unanswerable to your satisfaction because you take a prior position that it is never in the interests of existing states or political entities to merge into larger ones, so that for its agents to negotiate such a union would by definition be an act of national betrayal, ‘parcel of rogues’ and all that. In my opinion such decisions could be taken in good faith for the general good, and have been, even though others in good conscience might disagree. The wisdom of such decisions can then be tested by their fruits, which are sometimes sweet at other times sour.

If you cannot accept my examples and cavil at finding better ones of your own what about that advanced by Uncle Pete regarding Canada?


quote:
Uncle Pete: When talking about several states dissolving themselves to form a larger union to the perceived benefit of all, you must also consider the British colonies in the north part of North America. First of all the original provinces of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 1867 to which the hold-out colonies of Manitoba and British Columbia acceded in 1870, followed by Prince Edward Island in 1873. Transcontinental union was not completed until the Dominion of Newfoundland joined in 1949, the Northwest territories and the Yukon having been subdivided several times in the last 150 years to form new provinces and territories. Yet the various components of Canada all owned allegiance to the same Crown. Their unions were often fraught but it all boiled down to commerce and security against an increasing expansionism of the country to the south.


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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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I have heard it argued that the union of Scotland and England was bad for Scotland because ambitious, capable Scots could best advance their careers by moving to England.

It is not good for a country, area, region, whatever to export its best people.

Moo

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See you later, alligator.

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Kwesi
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Moo
quote:
I have heard it argued that the union of Scotland and England was bad for Scotland because ambitious, capable Scots could best advance their careers by moving to England.

It is not good for a country, area, region, whatever to export its best people.

“…..by moving to England”…. the American Colonies (later US and Canada), India, Africa (North, South, East and West), Australia, and notably New Zealand. Whether these were the brightest and the best I suppose is a matter of opinion. At least Carnegie remitted a proportion of his ill-acquired gains to benefit public education and similar charitable institutions in his native land, Scotland.

More generally, you raise a pertinent point regarding poor and sparsely populated areas, that retaining their most highly educated is well-nigh impossible because they cannot sustain a significant professional class and a culture they find congenial. I presume this is a serious problem for many of the rurally-based ethnic minorities identified in this thread. Improvements in formal education only makes things worse because it accelerates the sifting out of the more gifted, weakening the quality and competence of local leadership. On a global scale these problems are somewhat offset by remittances which are an important source of foreign exchange for some third-world countries.

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Enoch
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There is quite a persuasive argument that although to make one's fortune, like Dick Whittington, one had to go to the big city, the death rate in all large cities in the era before modern standard of hygiene was such that they were dependent for their economic viability on having their population topped up by migrants from healthier rural places that were generating a continual population surplus that they could not sustain. That was the same whether it was London drawing on Hardy's Dorset or C18 Ireland, Glasgow on the Western Isles, Manchester on the rural North of England, Paris on the Midi or New York on everywhere from Ireland (again) to Southern Italy and the wheatfields of Eastern Europe.

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Kwesi
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..........so what do you conclude from this, Enoch?
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
lilBuddah
quote:
You put forth a very English case. The Scottish perspective was a bit different.

Look, I’m not arguing an ‘English’ case but rather pointing out that objectively there was a ‘British’ case and a ‘Scottish’ (remaining independent) case in the events leading to the Union of 1707. That’s an historical fact not an ideological one. For better or worse the side which saw benefits in a union despite the loss of an independent state won out.
The historical fact is that the people with the power made the decisions, much as today. The decision they made was out of greed and desire for control/power; i.e their own personal interests, not a state abdicating power in its own interests.
quote:

I suspect your objections to my examples are unanswerable to your satisfaction because you take a prior position that it is never in the interests of existing states or political entities to merge into larger ones,

I didn't say never. This is what I actually said.

quote:
Humans have an expiration date. Nothing in the definition or structure of a state contains an expiration date.
quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
so that for its agents to negotiate such a union would by definition be an act of national betrayal, ‘parcel of rogues’ and all that.

As indeed it was. Most Scottish people didn't want the union.
quote:

In my opinion such decisions could be taken in good faith for the general good, and have been, even though others in good conscience might disagree.

Such good faith in the general that the continuing policies led to more Scottish in the Americas than in Scotland.
quote:

and cavil at finding better ones of your own

Really now? And why should I be tasked with making your point?
quote:

what about that advanced by Uncle Pete regarding Canada?

I'm not ruling them out completely, but they cannot be rules in completely either. Thought it was for mutual benefit, the confederation began when they were dependent colonies not true states.
It is a different thing for semi-autonomous regions to bind together than for truly sovereign states to do so.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Moo
quote:
I have heard it argued that the union of Scotland and England was bad for Scotland because ambitious, capable Scots could best advance their careers by moving to England.

It is not good for a country, area, region, whatever to export its best people.

“…..by moving to England”…. the American Colonies (later US and Canada), India, Africa (North, South, East and West), Australia, and notably New Zealand.
But it was much cheaper to move to London. In a pinch, one could walk it. IIRC that's what one of Harold Macmillan's ancestors did.

Also the culture and lifestyle were closer to what the Scots were used to, which meant that their skills were more transferable.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
..........so what do you conclude from this, Enoch?

I'm dissenting from the view that remote, peripheral places are entitled to go on about feeling victimised and hard done by because some of their most adventurous young people are tempted to leave so as to seek their fortunes.

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:

It is not good for a country, area, region, whatever to export its best people.

But it is probably good for the people that get exported.

Speaking as an exportee, I don't really think I'm shortchanging the people of the town I grew up in by having left. You can't do what I do there. There are plenty of careers which by their nature only happen in a few places. It would seem foolish to restrict those careers to people who happen to have been born nearby.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:

But it was much cheaper to move to London. In a pinch, one could walk it. IIRC that's what one of Harold Macmillan's ancestors did.

Also the culture and lifestyle were closer to what the Scots were used to, which meant that their skills were more transferable.

Moo

His grandfather and great uncle left the croft and started the publishing company. I don't think that they walked the whole way though.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
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I think lilbuddha said way back at the start that it wasn't possible to give land back to the indigenous peoples of Australia. There is a new form of title, Native Title, that indigenous people can ask the federal courts to grant them over an area of land that's traditionally theirs. There are some quite difficult tests to meet, including continuous occupation of the land, and that one in particular cuts many indigenous people out, especially down here in Victoria, although I think a claim was successful for the Yorta Yorta people in the north of the State.

The title itself is also different from the ordinary ways of holding land, but I can't be any more specific than that. I just don't know enough.

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Human

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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I have been thinking about this for a while, and sort of half-looking for places to start, but haven't done anything yet.

I have a growing feeling that I should at least try and find out what was done by my ancestors when they came to Australia. The one branch of the family about which I have some information settled on a farm at about the time of the Victorian Gold Rush. That's 1860's. The town I live in was settled in about the 1860's too. Its when many settlers first arrived.

I kind of dread finding out where the blood was spilled, but I think the first step in an ethical response in an Australian context is to try and find out. I'm not sure what if anything I do from there.

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Human

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Enoch
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# 14322

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
... But it is probably good for the people that get exported.

Speaking as an exportee, I don't really think I'm shortchanging the people of the town I grew up in by having left. You can't do what I do there. There are plenty of careers which by their nature only happen in a few places. It would seem foolish to restrict those careers to people who happen to have been born nearby.

Surely you couldn't describe yourself as an 'exportee' unless you'd been 'exported' by somebody else, sent away not of your own free will, as in transportation or in Stalin's deportations?

[ 26. November 2017, 07:10: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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agingjb
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Britain and the USA continue to insist on the displacement of the Chagos islanders. Ethics?

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Refraction Villanelles

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
... But it is probably good for the people that get exported.

Speaking as an exportee, I don't really think I'm shortchanging the people of the town I grew up in by having left. You can't do what I do there. There are plenty of careers which by their nature only happen in a few places. It would seem foolish to restrict those careers to people who happen to have been born nearby.

Surely you couldn't describe yourself as an 'exportee' unless you'd been 'exported' by somebody else, sent away not of your own free will, as in transportation or in Stalin's deportations?
“You left on your own, we didn’t force you away. You could’ve stayed and starved to death.”

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Augustine the Aleut
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# 1472

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quote:
Originally posted by agingjb:
Britain and the USA continue to insist on the displacement of the Chagos islanders. Ethics?

I think it's generally agreed that there are no ethics in play on this one; it is simply a matter that at times great powers will arrange things for their convenience. The Chago Islanders are not seen as important enough to worry about.
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