Independence and Injustice [Radio Readings]

You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm.  The episode is now available to download and stream.

This week’s program is about the systems we build to administer justice, and the ways that these systems lose our trust

fights in good faith

Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, articles, and, (this week) documentaries that I cite on the show. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m talking about this week.

Mental Health Tribunals




Sexual Assault Tribunals







The Promises a Justice System Makes

  • From Yuval Noah Harari’s “The Theatre of Terror” for The Guardian

    the legitimacy of the modern state is based on its promise to keep the public sphere free of political violence. A regime can withstand terrible catastrophes, and even ignore them, provided its legitimacy is not based on preventing them. On the other hand, a regime may collapse due to a minor problem if it is seen as undermining its legitimacy. In the 14th century the Black Death killed between a quarter and a half of European populations, yet no king lost his throne as a result, even though no king made much of an effort to overcome the plague. Nobody back then thought that preventing plagues was part of a king’s job. On the other hand, rulers that allowed religious heresy to spread in their dominions risked losing their crown, and even their head.

    Today, a government may turn a blind eye to high levels of domestic and sexual violence, because they do not undermine its legitimacy. In France, for example, more than 1,000 rape cases are reported to the authorities each year, with thousands more unreported cases. Rapists and abusive husbands, however, are not perceived as an existential threat to the state, because, historically, the state did not build itself on the promise to eliminate sexual violence. In contrast, the much rarer cases of terrorism are viewed as a deadly threat, because over the last few centuries modern western states have gradually built their legitimacy on the explicit promise to maintain zero political violence within their borders.



And your bonus content that I didn’t manage to squeeze onto the program is the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, Canada’s attempt to rebuild trust for an institution that had lost the confidence of the nation.  Rudyard Kipling was hired to create a ritual for graduating engineers to submit themselves to, in order to create a strong sense of responsibility and comradeship, so that they would be careful and avoid a repeat of a recent bridge disaster.  The wiki page I’ve linked is well worth reading.

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