Saturday, March 14, 2009

Being Objective -- Conciously.

To be very honest, I don't find lawschool in India to be all that interesting. I think students in law school are worse of conceptually than they were at the start of their college years. I just cannot seem to ignore the fact that most students in the fag end of the course cough up such bizarre claims like "majority wins" or that there is a "right to a job" and think that they are self- evidencies and require no further proof watsoever. Some even revel in denouncing India's deregulation policies and write prolific articles in "reputed" journals about how India should "go back to its roots"and create its own "identity". The dumbest of such allegations that pisses me off the most is the claim that "majority wins". I mean, it takes a whole new level of self-control for me to stop myself from saying, "If ten out of fifteen of us agree to murder you, you should have no problems watsoever." The question simply cannot be dismissed: how has lawschool advanced college kids conceptually? Or, has it?

A few days ago, a problem for the moot court was released in college. It was concerned with the field of international law and the threat of Islam. The problem is almost taken out of reality -- an Islamic country actively funds terrorist activities against a civilized nation and the civilized nation retaliates in self-defense. After the attack on the Islamist country, international pressure mounts on a ceasefire and the issue is taken up at the International Court of Justice by both the parties.

A friend of mine told me that one of the main issues in the moot problem was that the Islamic country, which was the aggressor, had a constitution which necessitates their jurisdiction in their country. Although it had funded an attack on a foreign country, international law dictates that any country's constitution takes precedence over international law -- laws which are mutually agreed by both the parties are subordinated to domestic law. In essence, the argument was that even the Islamic country has a constitution, even the Islamic country is a sovereign entity, so one cannot simply launch an attack on their soil.

I started off by shooting a series of questions. Hadn't the Islamic country violated the right of the citizens of the other country by funding a terrorist attack? The respondent replied by saying that although it was true that they indeed did fund the attack, they still had a constitution and in case of any conflict between international law and domestic law, the domestic laws are given precedence. In other words, the constitution truimphs over international law.

I found myself asking: Is the Islamic country's "constitution" a constitution in the first place? A constitutions distinguishing characteristic from all other statutes, its essence, is that it is the only document that places a limit on government control whereas other statutes such as criminal law or the law of contracts places certain restriction on the citizens. If a "constitution" violates this fundamental principle and instead, enumerates that the government owns the lives of its citizens, how can one sanely call such a document a constitution. It is just some piece of paper, not a constitution. Moreover, to call such a document a constitution amounts to an invalid concept; where its essential distinguishing characteristic is replaced with a floating abstraction like "balancing freedoms with restrains"or "the heart of the democratic process" and so on and so forth.

It was one of those moments when I was surprised to see how differently I thought about issues than my peers who went to the same kind of schools and ended up in the same colleges in India. I was oddly surprised and elated that I was learning to apply the stuff I had learnt from Objectivism to my own journey through life. Nothing to say of the pride oozing through my head when my friend stood in full focus, listening intently, to my arguments.

Upon introspection, I realize that what I am trying to do most of the time is to try and apply reason and the tools of objectivism to the stuff around me. My goal, I realize, is to objective -- consciously. Anytime I come across any new knowledge, I try and apply the principles of epistemology in my process of cognition. It's not just limited to new knowledge. I usually have my hands full in identifying floating abstractions and stolen concepts I myself have accepted previously without any proper conceptual investigation. I find myself really enjoying the application of my mind to the particular issues around me. Its not easy but if and when you do realize why you are feeling a particular way and fix the underlying ideas, emotions almost fall in line immediately.

The ideas I have accepted are apparently "extreme" and devoid of any concern for the "public good". It's funny how I have become the guy who holds "extreme" views, when I was simply concerned with reason and its application to the issues around me. Objectivism is something I privately cherish in lawschool. When I hear stupid claims like "majority wins" or "civilian right to life of an agressor country", it is this newfound, private interest in Objectivism, in life that I treasure rigourously. As Ayn Rand wrote in The Fountainhead, "Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched."

No comments: