Applying the Albert Speer case to the Ramkarran controversy
I would like to add my analysis to the ongoing debate on Ralph Ramkarran. I studied philosophy at the university level and if there is anything one learns from a class in philosophy is that it is extremely difficult to pinpoint what is morally good from what it ethically unacceptable.
The danger with fitting moral values in nice pleasant slots and throwing out ones that you frown upon is that the ones you embrace may not be inherently workable at all. One of civilization’s greatest thinkers of all time, the 18th Germany philosopher, Immanuel Kant has done some brilliant work on this topic (see my article in which I made use of Kant’s philosophy; “What is Moral Judgement Stella?” Kaieteur News, Sunday, November 6, 2005; my argument in this 2005 essay where I applied Kant on why Trotman, Ramjattan and Holder should not resign from Parliament because they left their respective parties will vary substantially if Kant is to be applied to Ralph Ramkarran)
If there is any given moment for the intellectual community to polemicize on what is morally good and morally bad is now, this present conjuncture in Guyana’s evolving political culture given the influx of opinions on how good is the character of Ralph Ramkarran. Why is Ralph Ramkarran a man of quality and integrity whose character is one of the best in the PPP? I would like to see the letter-writers avoid broad statements and argue a case using moral philosophy for the open assertion that Mr. Ramkarran is someone that is of sound moral principles
What are the factors that go into making a person someone of good character? What are the variables used when you condemn someone morally? The case of the latter is more easily proved. Moral reprehension can easily be proved when a man has the habit of harassing women for sex in the work place using the power of employment. The grey areas arrive when you as a friend recommend that man for a job where he will have to function with a work force that is predominantly women. Can you be judged harshly for condoning your friend’s deportment?
Let us take another example. A man says he doesn’t like purple people and he will not work with a purple secretary. He fires her unjustly and at the same time used all sorts of subtleties to get rid of a few more purple persons. You are his friend and his superior on the Board of Directors and he jokes with you over coffee that he had to get rid of his purple employees. What kind of moral condemnation we should assign to you if any. After all, you didn’t discriminate against anyone. Your friend did it so why should society castigate you
This is where moral arguments get tangled up in perplexing, esoteric polemics. I believe the people who have labeled Ralph Ramkarran as an honorable gentleman with integrity need to debate the role of moral values in human existence with the intention of deciding if Mr. Ramkarran can be blamed for the terrible governance of the PPP especially under Bharrat Jagdeo and the appalling atrocities that have occurred under the PPP regime.
The seminal case in such a discussion ought to be the Albert Speer trial in the Nuremberg tribunals after the Nazis were charged for war crimes. What the judges had to say about Speer should guide us in judging Mr. Ramkarran. There was no evidence to point to Speer’s involvement in the Nazi practice of human rights violations. In fact, based on evidence of wrong-doing, Speer as a Minister in the Nazi Government should not have been convicted of war crimes. There was simply no proof that he ordered the dismissal, torture, imprisonment or murder of anyone. Speer was not of the same sordid cloth as the other Nazi Ministers
What the Nuremberg judges did in convicting Speer and jailing him was to situate him in the holistic picture of Nazi dictatorship. Here is where philosophy of morality and the morality of philosophy came in.
The Nuremberg judges jailed Speer because they defined the Nazi regime as a depraved dictatorship that was powered by those who were involved in its existence. They argued that Speer had a moral obligation to civilized conduct to de-link himself from a brutal assault on the German people. Not only did he choose not to do so but was happy to participate in a government that was killing people.
If I were to judge Ramkarran, it would be a harsh one using the knowledge of epistemology, and moral reasoning that I learned in my philosophy classes