You know I am always curious about , or rather fascinated by this question of obedience, compliance, adherence , or whatever we wish to call it , to some authority, law, rule , norm , instructions or regulation. Not only the mindset of those who are forced to obey , but others on the opposite end, that are granted the power to interpret and enforce such rules. This situation historically cuts across all quarters ,from the micro levels involving kids ,their parents,and teachers , as well as low end bureaucrats,and therefore transcends to the wider macro levels ,involving powerful leaders, billion dollar conglomerates , and others with huge influences on even life and death situations , for fellow beings like themselves. If you are for example a member of the millions of heavenly , all power God types of believers, then you would be familiar with Adam ,our first ever human on planet earth, and his dear rambunctious , serpent adoring , apple tasting wife Eve, who dared to disobey , even if they allegedly had a free choice, then to the consequential impact for all mankind ever since.
Why am I rambling on about this seemingly inconsequential subject , one might ask? Well like that movie , I too am mad as hell , and cannot take it any more, but yet is powerless to do anything but .... Yesterday in New York Strong Island,with some 15 minutes before closing time ,I went to the public library to borrow a book ,on what to me is a much ignored subject, that deals specifically with the draconian ,racially skewed, profiteering , Prison Industrial Complex ,and it’s direct negative impact on mainly poor low caste ,African folks,as well as similar others of color ,in these United States ,ever since slavery allegedly ended.
Got the book with some 5 minutes to spare, with the help of a friendly Caucasian librarian . Went to the counter,and was told I could not borrow it because I owed a dime ,by a Hispanic young lady trainee. I ran to my vehicle , got the required cash , and returned to collect the book, then thought I have some fun , while getting inside of her head. "You were kidding , weren’t you," I ask? "Oh no," she said , "it’s the rules, "she proudly exclaimed , with two senior female colleagues looking on approvingly , while shaking their heads in ecstatic fashion as to the full compliance of this important rule .
" Is it a good rule ," I further enquired, "and if so why is that so?" "Yes ,"she responded , "because ... it was always the rule." "Are you saying that all rules that existed for a long time, is a good rule," I further pressed? "Yes ,"she said, getting a bit agitated . "How about slavery, do you know at one time it was allowed as a rule ,in this country ,and for a long time , so do you think that was a good rule?" "I won’t answer that," she finally said , glancing at the security , and her senior colleagues for some relief . "No big deal ,and have a nice day to you as well," I said , as I took my book and departed.
Three summers ago , I gave up almost a month of my life to grapple with a study in my educational journey ,that focused on leaders of four particular nations , and their attitudes to one of the most popular, yet controversial international laws, of all time, that most nations grapple with. I am talking about Brazil,Iran, Libya, and North Korea, all of which has made the news repeatedly over the past three months ,and the law, in case you did not know is the Non Proliferation Treaty- the most widely subscribed Treaty in History.
Why I wanted to know exactly ,have 189 states complied , or not? In the case of one time pro terrorist State Libya , some naively say fear of mighty global hegemon America, doing to them what was done to fellow signatory member Iraq.
Iran’s defiance some think, it’s because they see enemies lurking far and wide, starting with the entire Sunni Arab population, Western powers , the Jewish State, global non Shiite Islamists , and the list goes on. For North Korea, her actions too, it is claimed was due to her enemies, far and wide, including thousands of American troops fixated for over 60 years on her border, to aid and protect her southern , more economically sound cousins in South Korea and Japan.
For Brazil , once an ardent , aggressive , dictatorial ,militaristic ,nuclear enthusiast ,with close rival Argentina, but today a major NPT compliance advocate, and no surprise, is fast emerging as a globally forceful , alternative energy, industrial giant, along with it’s recent first female President , all be it ,amidst growing poverty , structural violence ,and other social problems.
The questions remains therefore as to why North Korea , and Iran ,remains political pariahs , for seeming non compliance , while non signatories ,and blatant abusing States, such as India, Israel, and Pakistan , are cuddled ? The way the interpretations goes , is that rules are important, but if you never recognize them in the first place , then you are free to abuse them , or something to that effect. The bigger question, for me was , why states with all the means to defy a law such as this , chose not to , and in the process give up part of their sovereignty , and likely power in the process?
The conclusions were that states ,chiefly in non nuclear developing , and emerging industrial countries comply ,mainly because they feel safe , and protected by more powerful allies ,whose own interest are in turn enhanced- either economically , or politically - for so doing.
Other states, that somehow cower in fear , because they feel threatened ,due to either internal, or external insecurity concerns, would instead defy laws , or seeks to circumvent them , because they are aware of certain historically obvious realities. One is that , no state with a nuclear protected umbrella -of their own -or from another nuclear power , was ever blatantly attacked by another. Power therefor, or lack therefore, remains a central motivational factor ,in every decision to comply with a rule. Since folks , large and small , always seem to want to know , what's in it for me, we should therefore re-tweek our strategies when trying to encourage compliance, or decide ourselves if we should adhere to a rule when on the receiving end- whether opaque or not, and if capable of dealing with the consequences.