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A Situation Concerning Freedom and Responsibility

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  • Charles Vermont
    Here is another situation which has taxed me greatly over the past year or so. I would appreciate the list s thoughts on it. You are General Violet, head of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 17, 1999
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      Here is another situation which has taxed me greatly over the past year or so. I would appreciate the list's thoughts on it.

      You are General Violet, head of the armed forces of a country called Indigo. Indigo has the following characteristics:

      a.. It is a less developed nation with a GDP per head in the bottom quartile for the world
      b.. Five families own most of the agricultural and industrial companies in the country. These are the Blues, the Greens, the Yellows and the Oranges and your family, the Violets, the richest of the lot.
      c.. The system of government is democratic, but for a member of one of the great five to hold the presidency would upset the delicate power balance between them. Therefore the President is your brother in law, Mr. Red. He has no power base but is also related to all the other four families.
      Indigo is suffering from a period of poor economic performance. This is leading to rioting in the cities. The trade unions are demanding more money and jobs for their members. The President refuses to take any action, afraid of upsetting any one of the five families. As a result the Blues and Greens have formed an alliance against the Oranges and Yellows. Both are training militia men on their estates and have already bought a large amount of weaponry. This rivalry is polarising the country, and even your grandchildren are being jostled at school because they refuse to take sides (as per your instructions). More sinisterly, the various Blues, Greens, Oranges and Yellows who lead the army, navy and air force are plotting against each other.

      The US and British ambassadors have visited. They put pressure on you to act to prevent wide-scale civil unrest. They hint at the possibility of a 'peace-keeping' mission whether you want one or not.

      Overthrowing the democratically elected President and imposing martial law will inevitably mean the detention of hundreds of conspirators and thousands of letters from Amnesty International. Supporting him may mean your ejection from the military high command and the other families ganging up on yours. There is also the possibility of a 'friendly' intervention from Nato.

      Following existentialist principles, what would you choose to do?

      Charles Vermont
      London, England, UK
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