A Discourse on Nationalism Ethic – Between Fact and Value (Part 1)

It was about several days ago when I read an article posted by one of my friends regarding studying abroad. In the article, an interview was conducted with an alumni graduated from ITB, Indonesia’s very well-known and highly reputable institute in science and technology. What I would like to emphasize in the article is about the nationalism ethic. She actually says that there are many ways you could choose to build your country, either from inside or outside. Thus, this writing would be dedicated to talk about nationalism ethic. As my previous writings, I would not like to insist you on the matter regarding my view. My discourse in this view has been conducted between myself and my inner one in a deep conversation.

Between fact and value

In the treatise, A Short History of Ethics, Alasdair McIntyre says that actually there is a problem that always lingers the ethical issue that is always tried to be solved: between fact and value. The problem can be easily stated as is-ought problem. A simple example that is very often used is: because he is my father, I ought to obey him and another example depicting the problem relating to nationalism ethics is like this sentence: because you are Indonesian, you ought to build this nation. A critical question then arises: why should I obey my father? Why should I dedicate myself to my nation? Is there any plausible reason to justify the act? Generally speaking, the is-ought is a problem that always tries to justify the reason holding a value (respecting parents, nationalism, etc.) that is considered having a correlation with a fact or to reject such a disposition, thus claiming that value is always independent from fact.

To be born as an Indonesian is indeed a fact that I could not dispose of. More specifically, born in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia is also a fact of me. Thus, am I then obliged to serve my nation’s interest? I would like to elaborate my ideas in this writing.

Sartre says that facticity has no correlation with your current situation. What is meant by facticity is the fact that everyone holds. In regard with my case, for example, facticity shows that I am an Indonesian. But if I follow what is taught by Sartre, being an Indonesian is only a fact that has no correlation with my current status as student. Thus, the time when I was graduated, I would be free to choose not working and serving my country. With the sea of possibilities waiting ahead, I will have many numerous better opportunities and leaving Indonesia will be a good choice actually since this country is always lingered with cliché problems: sex and religion. I will then be able to earn as much money as I want, to build my own family, living happily ever after without have to struggle and think hard about the welfare of others. This is my life and since I find happiness and pleasantness by doing this, I will try hard to sustain my current life. Or the other way may also arise. I choose to serve to my country by working as a civil servant, as an example. But, the important thing that should be underlined is: I choose to work as a civil servant because I choose to do it and it has nothing to with my facticity as an Indonesian. As a conclusion, if I would like to live in a Sartrean life, I should treat my facticity as the facticity that stops there. My current situation should be independent from the facticity.

Until this point, the objection that I would like to raise is relating to this condition: if it is the facticity that opens my opportunities, should I leave it behind? Does it mean that the facticity has entailed me a great responsibility? Take another case as this one. I was born as an Indonesian and because the Indonesians are good taxpayers, I then had a big opportunity to get into an outstanding school and graduated with better outlooks. I think that a simple missing link regarding facticity is the abstract connection that actually exists between numerous facts and its consequences.

This will then deliver me to also think that not all values are independent from facts. Some values may be independent and these highest values are indeed what can be said as categorical imperative by Kant where universalization of values could be established, such as you have no right to kill a person without any plausible reason; even if you have any, such an act is indeed objectionable. However, there are values that I think cannot be released from facticity because the matter of choice and consequence. This will be the main part of the next writing where I will explain the matter of choice and consequence relating it to the condition of abstract connection. 

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The Testosterone That Justifies Nothing in Rape Case

Recent worldwide news is overwhelmed by the report of the death of a girl student in India after she had been raped and brutally killed by six men in a bus. This incident then absolutely sparked anger across the country. The latest news reported by BBC also said that India judicial system is to apply a program that can fasten the legal process faces by the convicted.

This nasty condition is not a special case in the whole world. India is not the only country facing rape case. Rape is indeed a worldwide problem and it is often the women who are accused for having provoked men’s mind to rape her. It may be too far to talk about rape in India but it is indeed a good example to start with. What I would like to discuss in this article is then about who actually has to be accused in rape case: women or men?

Accusing women in any rape cases are indeed very natural. They can be blamed for having worn a seductive dress so men are induced to rape her. Furthermore, it can also be correlated with the presence of testosterone hormone in men. As stated by Steven Pinker in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, the presence of the hormone has something to do with sexual desire and the will to power by men. Thus, there is a strong relation between the first and second reason. On one hand, women are said to “invite” or to become seductive and it will then deliver a notion that justifies that rape is something natural to men. It is then very legal to rape women in any circumstance that is considered as seductive by the perpetrators.

But, accusing women in the direction has a contradiction indeed. The contradiction is located on the premise that human beings are actually free agents. By following the logic of accusing woman and the nature of men for having huge sexual desire, it can be concluded that people are not free agents. A person is merely a set of atomic molecule that interact each other, producing testosterone, and the sexual desire is the product of the interaction. And it is indeed an extreme kind of materialism.

But human beings are beings who are endowed by reason and not only desire. Bestowed by reason, human beings can actually rethink about their actions. That is why they can choose and value something: good and bad, legal and illegal, worthy or not worthy. When valuing something, people are actually putting something behind the things valued: it becomes the reason why they value something bad or good, legal or illegal and so on. It is clear then that actually human beings can put their reason behind something. That is the way that justifies why people are free because they are the free agents who are not merely determined by the interaction of atomic molecule in their body. They can put the reasons why they do something.

Back to the rape case, it is then questionable when women are accused as being the true perpetrators of any rape cases. The question to be asked is: if women have worn a burqa and still raped, who should be accused? Is it women for having very seductive or people will get back to the basic of nature saying that testosterone will justify everything?

From my point of view, testosterone is indeed a fact but to rape a woman is a matter of choice. As has been stated above, human beings are indeed free agents and they can actually choose to rape or to not rape. Accusing women as the perpetrators of rape case has undervalued human beings itself because it has no difference by saying that: human beings have been fully determined by the interaction of atom molecules inside their body and they are no longer free agents. Thus, a religious doctrine should also be doubted: why then it is said that God created humans and endowed it with reasons? Accusing women is very wrong because it will negate the notion that human beings can freely choose their actions and put the reasons why they do the actions.

Thus, what is important nowadays is to put a value in any societies, especially unto every boy, that rape is indeed an evil action. I wonder why any societies can successfully put a value stating that it is an embarrassing moment of if there is a boy crying but they cannot successfully put a value stating that rape is indeed an evil case. What I do believe is this value can actually be embedded unto every boy in this world and this will undoubtedly shape their mind when they grow up because choices are made based upon many considerations and embedding value in early childhood is indeed very important.

The second way that can be done is also by strengthening the role of police in every country. They cannot blame the victim as happening in India as reported by several news portals. They should act as the guardian who protects the citizens inside the country. Furthermore, tough punishments can also be applied in rape case because from my point of view, rape case is indeed very unique since it will cause a long trauma and bring stigma for the victims.

If the value has been perfectly embedded, I do believe that even though there is a naked sexy woman standing in front of group of man, she will be very secure because the men will say in their mind that it is wrong to rape a woman. Sexual desire may arise in the circumstance but they can perfectly curb the desire because they realize that they are the free agents who are not determined by their testosterone.