Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, December 30, 2011

Who Would You Save and Who Would You Kill?

You can go back in history and save one person from untimely death, but then in exchange you must kill another person (also now dead) before they managed their mischief, to right the karmic scale. So, who do you choose?

I'll go first!

Save? Bobby Kennedy.

Kill? Alice Rosenbaum, before she became known as Ayn Rand.

Anybody else want to play?


jollyspaniard said...

I think you're being generous to Ayn Rand. There's plenty of other authors who would have occupied that paticular niche. She didn't create the niche, she was chosen by the people occupying that niche.

Perhaps you should go further back and show her how to enjoy relations with other human beings that aren't emotionaly toxic. And perhaps while you're at it you can introduce her to Science Fiction. You might wind up with a female Heinlein. If that doesn't work, strangle the bitch.

jimf said...

> Kill? Alice Rosenbaum, before she became known as Ayn Rand.
> Anybody else want to play?

Surely Mao, Stalin, or Hitler would be a more obvious (recent)
choice than poor Miz Rosenbaum.

But it's too nasty a game for me.

Chad Lott said...

I'd probably push Emperor Constantine down the stairs and do my best to have Freddie Mercury wrap that rascal.

Dale Carrico said...

This is one of mine and Eric's favorite holiday season party games, I don't see what's so nasty about it! I am far from thinking Ayn Rand history's most evil villain (to say so would be almost as patently ridiculous as she was in declaring enlightened Kant as the most evil man in history), although I would cast her as a flabbergastingly effective sloganeer and rationalizer for lowest-common denominator anti-intellectualism, complacency, conformism, meanness, and fraud with a tragically wide reach... neither is Bobby my own personal hero by a long shot. This game isn't about body counts or supermen. I do think Kennedy was uniquely positioned to do more good specifically of a kind that has been left undone without him than anybody else I can think of, in many ways I think the era between the founding of and the Howard Dean campaign was the American left's still incomplete shaking up and re-awakening after the death of Bobby Kennedy. Apart from queers, I think the left was under a blanket or in a cell from 68-98. Anyway, note that the game demands the person you kill already be dead. As you know, I disapprove capital punishment without exception and that would include hypotheticals. This is about making assessments about the role of individual agencies amidst supra-individual historical forces. (Like many party games, this is sounding much lesss amusing now that it is being explained!) Anyway, "the no wishing death on anybody still living" rule isn't only to keep folks from threatening anybody but it registers the fact that one is never in a position to say of someone who is still alive that their life would be better never to have happened, because people can always change things when you don't expect it. Strictly speaking I think it is a nonsensical proposition to say that anybody deserves to die or deserves to live. It's more than impertinent, it's categorically incoherent to say otherwise. That means that the judgments being made in the game are of an actually different character than they might seem. Given the Dreyfus Affair, the European pan-movements, WW1 reparations, the German and World Depressions, the Soviet Revolution, the rise of petrochemical industry I am not confident that killing Hitler would have made the difference one would want -- I incline in some ways to a more Tolstoyan than Great Man view about structural features of history but I also simply don't feel qualified to speak about the German context as I feel I can about the more recent American one. Hence, my own choices. Chad's, very interesting!

jollyspaniard said...

Actually killing Hitler could have made things worse. He made a series of grand strategic blunders, basicaly letting his ego override the thinking of his generals. You might wind up with a fuhrer as shrewd as General Franco in his place.