Analecto

29 de maio de 2018

PNVD’s mistake.

Filed under: Notícias e política, Organizações — Tags:, — Yure @ 21:37

The Party of Neighborly Love, Freedom and Diversity (hereinafter ” PNVD “) was a political group in the Netherlands founded by Ad van den Berg, Norbert de Jonge and Marthijn Uittenbogaard . His short existence is full of controversy. In fact, the party lasted four years and never competed in any elections, being a frequent target of the conservative media of the time. Many point out their liberal position regarding age of consent laws as the cause of their extinction, as the party stated that the age of consent should be lowered to twelve. However, in another country, the Communist Party of Great Britain continues in operation despite advocating the complete elimination of age of consent laws. So it was not just the plan to reduce the age of consent to twelve that caused the end of the PNVD, but the propaganda made against that party and a number of other proposals that could be considered scandalous to society at that time, such as reducing minimum age for alcohol and tobacco consumption and the legalization of public nudity.

Introduction.

The PNVD described itself as liberal and humanistic, which means that in its worldview, government should allow harmless human relationships, interfering as little as possible in private life. The government’s main function, in PNVD’s point of view, would be to guarantee the minimum for the human existence, intervening as little as possible in said existence once it was guaranteed . Among PNVD’s good proposals we can mention privacy in telecommunications, non-prohibition of violent electronic games, keeping the state from giving weapons to warring countries (unless they are democracies), non-privatization of water and electricity services, online crime reporting, empowering the population to make referenda through petitions with 100,000 signatures, ending the Dutch equivalent of the party fund and ending political immunity. So far, sounds good.

So why did it fail? Many point their liberal position regarding the age of consent as the cause. For PNVD, the age of consent should be twelve. This same proposal appeared in Brazil, two years after the adoption of the new rape law, which criminalizes, in article 217A of the Penal Code , any sexual relationship engaged before the age of fourteen. The idea was to protect children from adult attacks, but the law, perhaps inadvertently, interfered with teenage relationships, so that in practice, if the difference between friendship and courtship is libidinousness, a teenager have to wait until the age of fourteen to start dating. In Brazil, dating before fourteen is rape. In addition, this law criminalizes a number of harmless relationships , sometimes approved by parents, between minors and responsible adults. At the time of writing, the Penal Code reform has not been completed, and the age of consent in Brazil is still fourteen.

It should be remembered that the age of consent is twelve in some countries (Philippines, for example), with the lowest age of consent in the world being eleven (Nigeria). In Japan, land of the lowest teenage pregnancy rates in the world, the age of consent is at least thirteen , but varies (always for more) depending on the prefecture. In addition, another party, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-PCC, should not be confused with the former party of the same name that ceased operation in the 1990s) lists as one of its immediate demands the complete abolition of age of consent laws, and yet this party remains in operation despite having a much more radical position than that of the PNVD.

Finally, the age of consent in the Netherlands, where the PNVD had been formed, only became absolutely sixteen in 2002, four years before the party was founded. Prior to that date, between 1990 and 2002, the age of consent could be relaxed to a maximum of twelve if the parents or local child protection organizations had no evidence of exploitation. Thus, the idea of ​​reducing the age of consent to twelve, four years after sex at twelve was no longer considered “normal”, probably wasn’t something so scandalous to the point of causing PNVD to cease operation. That being said, we can conclude that the extinction of the PNVD was not caused, at least not exclusively, by its desire to reduce the age of consent to twelve, if we remember that:

  1. The age of consent is very low in other countries;
  2. There are more radical parties in operation;
  3. Sex at age twelve was not forbidden four years before the formation of the party (provided there was no exploitation).

So what was the cause? A good starting point for solving this issue is PNVD’s party programme.

At least one of the founders was openly pedophile.

Marthijn states on his site that he would not want to live his life as a lie. Because of this, he is honest about his desires for minors. In his text on open pedophiles, he cites the other two founders of the PNVD, although without directly saying whether they were open pedophiles or if they are mere activists against age of consent laws.

Pedophilia is the preferred sexual attraction for children who have not started puberty yet, usually before the age of twelve. Being a sexual attraction, it does not imply action: there is an unknown number of pedophiles who have never gotten involved with minors and less than half of all people arrested for sex with minors can be qualified as pedophiles. Thus, if a person is a pedophile, that does not imply that said person has sex with minors and does not even imply an interest in legalization. On the other hand, if a large number of people arrested for sex with minors aren’t pedophiles (they fail at the diagnosis), we can conclude that we can’t guarantee, just from the fact that you aren’t a pedophile, that you will not have sex with a minor within your lifetime, due to alcohol or drug intoxication or because a thirteen-year-old girl who looks like sixteen lied about her age. Thus, Marthijn’s “coming out” about being a pedophile does not imply that he has sexual contact with minors.

The first problem was that he admitted this in the political arena. True, if you keep your integrity and coherence with yourself, without hypocrisy, telling the truth, you are ethically admirable. But politics is unethical: telling the truth, unfortunately, exposed the party to the attacks of the conservative media, which readily dubbed the party as pedopartij . In addition, when you have a party founded by pedophiles and you mix it with the proposal to reduce the age of consent, you are likely to pass the idea of ​​self-interest. Add to this the stigma attached to pedophilia and none of PNVD’s proposals could be evaluated impartially: privacy in telecommunications would be a way to share illegal pornography, the release of all electronic games would enable the moral destruction of youth and so on. It is sad, but political success does not depend on personal ethics ( O Príncipe , chapter XV, in Antologia Ilustrada de Filosofia, page 193), especially in such radical cases. This would explain how the CPGB-PCC continues to operate: as it is free from the stigma of pedophilia, its proposal to abolish the age of consent passes as a mere consequence of its party ideology.

Child liberation.

One obscure concept, but very popular among people opposed to the age of consent, is child liberation. “Liberating” a class means giving to it the same rights as its oppressing class. Thus, child liberation is the equalization of rights between child and adult. The idea seems interesting to critics of childhood. The PNVD had some proposals related to this, but it seems to have handpicked the most shocking.

Firstly, guaranteeing minors the right, but not the duty, to learn a profession and exercise it. Compulsory education would cease at the age of twelve, and the adolescent would have the freedom to choose whether or not to continue studying or to begin salaried work. This was proposed at a time when the world was (and still is) at war against child labor.

In addition, some freedoms that the PNVD would like to give to minors are freedoms that we are trying to caution adults about. We know that the ills of ordinary cigarettes are so many and so intense that there are no safe levels of use. However, one of the proposals of the PNVD was to reduce the minimum age for tobacco consumption. From the age of twelve, the adolescent could experiment with cigarettes, while being aware of the consequences (warnings about the dangers of smoking would be given). Knowing that cigarettes should not be used even by adults, why give it to teenagers? The idea was to allow teens to take responsibility for their actions, but considering the risk-benefit ratio (many cigarette damages are cumulative and permanent), that does not seem enough to warrant plausibility of such permission.

Another freedom would be the consumption of alcohol by people who are at least twelve. There is a law in Connecticut that says that it is okay for a minor to drink alcohol while supervised by parents . However, the PNVD’s proposal to allow adolescents to consume alcohol silences about supervision. The impression that is left is that the adolescent could see the wine in the refrigerator, open it and turn the bottle in his mouth, just like how he already does with soda.

Thus, while the idea of ​​giving minors access to adult rights is tempting, the PNVD, by emphasizing freedoms that are harmful or contrary to the spirit of times, may have alienated potential supporters. Again, this is probably an effect of the ethics of its members, of “not living lies,” that is, they were proposing what they sincerely saw as good for society. The world is not ready to give so many freedoms to its children, which does not mean that child liberation is inherently impossible. In fact, children were once liberated, at a time when the concept of childhood did not exist: you were either a potential adult or an adult in fact, with childhood as we conceive it today being absent.

Would PNVD work in Brazil?

The PNVD made other proposals that would certainly be badly received if made in Brazil, for example. In this section, I present some polarizing proposals that the PNVD has made that may have alienated potential supporters. As I do not know the political climate of the Netherlands at the time the PNVD existed, my criterion of choice is the current Brazilian political climate, which, at least when it comes to evaluating the proposals below, should not be so different. That way, we can see if PNVD could work here, in Brazil, if it existed here.

The first and most important proposal that I would like to comment is the abolition of the minimum wage. The idea here is to increase competition among companies, which could offer jobs at lower wages, so the employee could choose to join the company that offered the highest pay. However, the existence of a minimum wage does not prevent a company from offering wages that are higher than minimum. In addition, in places with little competition, wages would be lower. People would have to seek employment in places where competition is greater, which could cause exodus, making investment in some places unattractive, increasing social inequality. In addition, the PNVD favored the idea of ​​a basic income so that the person could stay alive even without working (plus government aid for having children under 12), not unlike the brazilian Bolsa Família program. If no company offered enough to make work an appealing proposal , the person could be tempted to simply not work until the competition in their area increased, especially if the possibility of employment remained uncertain after moving to another area, which would, of course, require money. Add to that the proposition of allowing adolescents to work and a level of comfort in a region with little competition would require the youngest in the family to drop out of school as soon as possible. This reduces the quality of the workforce, making it cheaper and easy prey for multinationals.

The second is the legalization of child pornography. For the PNVD, this prohibition is censorship and the general situation in the Netherlands was made worse by the ban on possession of child pornography, which was not a crime until 1998. Although a lot of child pornography is produced by children themselves, who take pictures ( nudes ) of themselves or record videos, which turns minors into the biggest consumers of child pornography today, not making the distinction between innocuous and offensive probably scandalized both conservatives and liberals. In fact, some say that the law against child pornography has turned against children themselves, since the classification of any erotic material involving children under eighteen as child pornography criminalizes a safe way of mutual discovery of adolescent sexuality (here talking about sexting). However, if the PNVD wanted to decriminalize child pornography because its prohibition is “censorship”, the voter would deduce that the party also intended to decriminalize the pornography that actually victimizes the minor, which would explain why the PNVD, despite arguing that the ban is censorship , was contrary to commercialization (at least at first). This seemingly random ban would reduce the incentive to produce violent pornography, done by adults at the expense of the child’s welfare. Proposals related to this are permission to broadcast pornography on television at any time and the permission of actors aged sixteen or older to feature in pornographic productions.

The third, and perhaps the strangest, is the legalization of public nudity. For the PNVD, there are no valid reasons to keep a citizen from walking around naked. You could wear clothes if you wanted to, but you would not have to. However, when sitting in public places, you would need a towel, for hygiene reasons.

The fourth is the legalization of discrimination, except when practiced by the government. Thus, citizens could discriminate against each other, but the government would not have this freedom to not hurt isonomy. You could discriminate against someone for being black, but knowing that you would be subject to discrimination for being racist. For the PNVD, this reveals who the people really are. You could also have a discriminating company that only accepts employees with certain characteristics. However, depending on the ideology in place at one time, this could lead to a return to “men’s jobs,” “women’s jobs,” “black jobs,” and other long-term social regressions.

The fifth is the legalization of all drugs. Their legalization would increase competition by reducing their price, so that people would not, for example, need to resort on robbery satisfy their addiction. In Brazil, this would reduce drug traffic revenues. However, a moderately conservative person would find it wrong to allow “soft” drugs to be sold to people who are at least twelve years old. Heavy drugs could only be sold to people sixteen or older. Related to this proposal is the legalization of cigarette and alcohol advertising (cigarette advertising is prohibited in Brazil).

The sixth is the reduction of the minimum voting age. For the PNVD, you should be able to vote from the age of twelve. This is a necessary reflection of their child liberation policy. But this could not occur without a general improvement in the critical education of minors, which should begin before the age of twelve to prepare them for the exercise of their political capacity. Thus, giving adolescents the right to vote implies a change in the educational system as well (the PNVD suggests the creation of a discipline called “skeptical thinking”, which would be mandatory, like philosophy in Brazilian high school), requiring the training of more teachers. The implementation of this education would take place slowly and the proposal could only be effectively adopted much later.

The last proposal I would like to comment is to unify the salaries of civil servants who occupy the same position. This means that two teachers would earn the same salary even if one was in public service for a longer time. All other party proposals can be found in the party’s programme.

To compete in the elections, a party in the Netherlands needs to get thirty signatures in each electoral region. However, perhaps because of the founders’ over-honesty in making proposals that are so far from what the electorate was accustomed to, the PNVD never got these signatures and therefore never ran for any election.

Conclusion.

Considering what I just wrote, my opinion is that the PNVD failed to obtain its signatures because the position of its founders, of whom at least one was admittedly a pedophile, was excessively honest. Machiavelli teaches in his Prince that praiseworthy virtues in private life, such as honesty, can become obstacles to political activity: unless the founders concealed this detail, they would have no chance. I know this is a highly pessimistic view of politics, but, at least in this case, honesty was a problem. This made the party easy victim of the conservative media, which began to advertise negatively, and may have prevented an unbiased appraisal of good proposals.

In addition, there were a number of proposals contrary to the public interest. In a democratic system, you need the support of the majority to do anything, so joining several proposals that would be unwelcome prevents agreements that could be made between the party and the general population. It is necessary to make agreements with the population to make a party work and making agreements with people implies giving to the people what it wishes. After all, the task of a democratic state is to act in the interest of the people from which its power emanates. If you have an unpopular proposal that you see as necessary to the public good, it needs to be accompanied by other attractive proposals. For example: in Brazil, people want jobs and companies want profit. So it is natural that the most popular parties are those who put emphasis on economic matters, such as the Workers’ Party and the Social Democracy Party of Brazil. This also helps to explain how the CPGB-PCC continues to exist even if it wants to abolish the age of consent immediately: several of its other proposals are relevant and attractive, especially to the working class.

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