On Compromise and Coercion

Дата канвертавання25.04.2016
Памер100.03 Kb.
  1   2   3

On Compromise and Coercion


This paper addresses the concepts of compromise and coercion. When compromise takes place between two or more parties, reciprocity must be present; that is, the concessions are mutual. A relevant distinction is between principled and tactical compromise. A principled compromise refers to a mutual recognition by each side of the other’s rights, which leads them to make concessions to enable them to meet on a middle ground. It is genuinely made in good faith and both sides reconcile themselves to the results. On the other hand, the notion of tactical compromise reflects temporary arrangement reached as a result of constraints related to time. Here, in fact, agents do not give up any of their aims. They do not act in good faith and do not intend to meet their counterpart on a middle ground. Instead, they simply realize that the end could not be achieved at a given point of time, and they aim to reach it stage by stage. The essential component of compromise, namely mutuality, is lacking.

Next, the paper draws a further distinction between internalized coercion and designated coercion. Internalized coercion relates to the system of manipulation to which members of a certain sub-culture are subjected, which prevents them from realizing that they are being coerced to follow a certain conception that denies them basic rights. Designated coercion is individualistic in nature, aimed at a certain individual who rebels against the discriminatory norm. Unlike the internalized coercion it is not concerned with machinery aiming to convince the entire cultural group of an irrefutable truth; instead it is designed to exert pressure on uncertain, “confused” individuals so as to bring them back to their community.

On Compromise and Coercion

Ever since I assumed my present office my main purpose has been to work for the pacification of Europe, for the removal of those suspicions and those animosities which have so long poisoned the air. The path which leads to appeasement is long and bristles with obstacles. The question of Czechoslovakia is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous. Now that we have got past it, I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity.

Neville Chamberlain

Peace in Our Time (1938)
I. Introduction

The aim of this study is to analyze the concepts of compromise and coercion. When the compromise process fails, sometimes one of the sides to a given dispute might resort to coercion. When this happens, tolerance is pushed aside and replaced by domination, by actions that repress autonomy rather than enabling it to flourish.


Part II discusses the concept of compromise, drawing a distinction between principled and tactical compromise. Part III canvasses the concept of coercion, drawing a distinction between Internalized and Designated Coercion. Part IV, Conclusions, speaks of the need to promote civic education through discussions on tolerance, based on mutual respect, and of compromise, based on mutual genuine concessions between different fragments of society.


II. On Compromise

According to the Oxford English Dictionary “compromise” is a “settlement of a dispute by which each side gives up something it has asked for and neither side gets all it has asked for.”1 The settlement may be achieved by consent reached by mutual concessions. It can be reached without any external interference or assistance, or by arbitration.

Slide - arbitration

In arbitration, the parties take their conflict to a third party, conceived by them as impartial, who tries to resolve the conflict through agreement. Here we may distinguish between voluntary and compulsory arbitration. Sometimes parties in conflict will decide to seek arbitration on their own initiative, e.g., a couple who wishes to separate outside the courts and seek arbitration to settle their dispute. In other times parties may commit themselves to arbitrate certain categories of issues. It fits into a previously established framework, and the parties may not choose whether or not to be included. They automatically find their case in arbitration.2 This is the case, for instance, when a person buys a property with the obligations and the arbitration framework of the previous owner.


We may also distinguish between two types of compromise: the directly negotiated one and the third-party compromise. In any event, negotiation is the art of compromise. When compromise takes place between two or more parties, the emphasis is on reciprocity, that is, the concessions are mutual. Compromise is made possible when each side values more the things that can be achieved than the things they are required to give up. People of good will transmit the desirable into the necessary, acknowledging the social, cultural, moral and/or political constraints.

Compromise has preconditions. The discussion presupposes that some forms of communication and cooperation take place between the involved parties (notice that compromise requires some kind of cooperation, but not all forms of cooperation require compromise), and that the parties speak the same language, in the sense that they share some basic norms which form the grounds for potential understanding.
Slide - underpinning foundations of democracy

Here I refer to the underpinning foundations of every democracy: the norms of respecting others and of not harming others. When divergences become so fundamental that they can no longer be compounded, then no compromise can be reached.3 There is simply nothing to talk about. Thus, to reach an agreement or some form of understanding, an appeal to common norms has to be made. Sometimes the appeal also must include norms known to be of value to only one of the sides (say A). This can be done if these norms are not repugnant to the other side (B). B may regard some norms as inconvenient, yet may view them as practical and acceptable, necessary to make communal life possible (for example, accepting A's request to refrain from playing the drums and listening to loud music late at night). Then B may recognize the force or sincerity of the opponent’s view and - while not agreeing with A’s position (B would prefer to play music 24 hours a day) - accept A’s right to hold it.

Slide - mutual respect

Another favorable (but not necessary) condition for compromise is mutual respect. Gutmann and Thompson explain that mutual respect requires a favourable attitude toward, and constructive engagement with, the persons with whom one disagrees and consists in an excellence of character that permits a democracy to flourish in the face of fundamental moral disagreement.4 In compromise, interests are accommodated rather than regulated, and this accommodation should be inspired by the respect we feel for the autonomy of the other.5 When we are sensitive to the rights of the other, then we will prefer settlement to coercion, and we will be more willing to acknowledge the need for concessions in order to reach an agreement.

Cont. of slide

Different types of conflict will generate different sorts of compromise, according to the nature of the diversity at issue, the content and context of the dispute, and the complexion of the groups involved. Political conflicts are usually divided into three categories: conflicts over scarce resources, ideological conflicts involving rival-rights claims and the collision of opposed identities, each seeking recognition. Whereas splitting the difference entails mutual concession, compromises over ideological and identity issues prove more challenging and require constructing a distinctive position to accommodate the various claims, values and ideals at stake.6

Slide - photo of abortion protest

In the United States, people are willing to kill and die over the issue of abortion.

Slide- the deadly dozen

Slide - The Nuremberg Files

When the United States Supreme Court grappled with this highly intricate issue, it seems the justices wished to make a genuine compromise between the pro-life camp7 and the pro-choice camp. Writing for the Court, Justice Blackmun argued that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation. The Court's decision leaves the State free to place increasing restrictions on abortion as the period of pregnancy lengthens. For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Finally, the Court argued, for the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.8

However, abortion is one of those issues on which it might be extremely difficult, even impossible, to reach a compromise.9 Roe v. Wade attracted criticisms from both pro-life and pro-choice activists. The former argue that the decision effectively allows the murdering of innocent children, while the latter assert that the decision does not give due weight to wishes of the woman who is solely responsible for what is inside her body. The State should not interfere.
Slide - sanctity of life

Indeed, a person who believes in the sanctity of life no matter what would principally object to abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. People who take issue with this position may seek a compromise, trying to persuade the opponent to recognize some considerations that, to their mind, play a major part in such grave decisions. For instance, with regard to abortion they would try to persuade that abortion might be available if conducted at an early stage of pregnancy and when the reason is compelling, say rape. With regard to euthanasia they would insist that it should be available when the patient voluntarily asks for that, without any pressure, the prognosis for some recovery is nil, and the patient is suffering miserably. And regarding capital punishment they may argue, quite persuasively so they think, that when vicious serial killers (like Ted Bundy10) are concerned, and where ample and unmistaken evidence from different sources is available to prove the killer's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then capital punishment may be considered as an option. To push the point further, they would ask the sanctity-of-life believer to consider the case of S.S. officers who brutally murdered Jews and gypsies during WWII. Would you then see that even your staunch principle has exceptions?

Yet it might be the case that all arguments would fail to persuade the sanctity-of-life believer. Sanctity of life is conceived in absolutist terms, i.e., it means for her exactly that: sanctity of life, period. This viewpoint upholds an unqualified ban on all forms of life termination. This issue is taken outside the realm of politics. The only power who may take life is the almighty, he and he alone (vitalists will speak of nature instead of God). People should not decide for themselves such issues, and no considerations are ever compelling enough to persuade otherwise.

To explicate this further, suppose that a suffering patient asks her doctor to terminate her life; however, the doctor belongs to those who believe in the sanctity of life and is unable to comply. All he can offer is palliative care. Again, no compromise is possible in this case. The patient will continue to live and will not see palliation as a solution, certainly not as some form of compromise, but as something that is imposed on her, for she feels life as such is imposing on her.11 Therefore, we need to recognize that not on all issues it is possible to reach a compromise. Some issues for some people are black and white, or in computer language 1 and 0, and there is nothing in between, no bridges, no scales, no meeting grounds.

A few years ago I taught a graduate seminar titled "The right to live in dignity and the right to die in dignity" at an American school of law. The first part of the seminar dealt with beginning of life issues, mainly with abortion. Despite my candid efforts to present the complexities of the issue,12 the atmosphere in class was one-sided as five strong-minded, articulate feminist women dominated the conversations. They advanced pro-choice reasoning and dismissed all counter-arguments as "fundamentalist," "religious," and/or "illiberal." For them, abortion is a woman's right and any reason is good for the act even at advanced stage of pregnancy.
Slide - a Caribbean cruise

Thus having a Caribbean cruise overrides pregnancy and if a woman is determined to go on a scheduled cruise she has the right to terminate unexpected pregnancy that interferes with the joyful plan. Interestingly, the men in the class took a silent backseat position and hardly contributed to the discussions.

Slide – teaching abortion

To somewhat balance this one–sided voice in class I decided to present my students a film called "Silent Scream," a propagandist plea prepared by a pro-life organization.13 This film is highly tainted, does not pretend to present both sides of the controversy and consequently it attracts lots of critique. But it shows an actual abortion and I thought that people who advocate abortion so easily should at least know what it involves. I asked the Law School Library to order the film but to my complete astonishment the head librarian declined my request on the ground that the film lacks educational merit. I contested this ruling and provided counter arguments regarding the importance of the First Amendment and academic freedom, to no avail. The scope of tolerance does not extend to a pro-life ideological film at this school of law. I should clarify that limitation of resources was not an issue. In my orientation tour of the library I was told the memorable sentence, "We don't have any shortage of resources."

I was able to find a copy of the film and to show it in class after providing a warning about its highly tainted content and allowing students who wished not to watch it to exit the classroom. All students chose to remain in the room and most of them did not appreciate my efforts to counterbalance the discussion with this film, and subsequently asked me to show a pro-choice film in class. I said that the class is pro-choice anyway, and I do not see any point showing such a film, given that we have a tight schedule and the pro-choice stance was presented in elaborate fashion for several weeks. A compromise was reached that I will organize for those who are still interested to see the film a room with the necessary equipment (TV and VCR) immediately after the seminar. As expected, the wide majority of those who remained to watch the film appreciated, even enjoyed, the pro-choice message.

Compromise is not only a matter of two or more parties dealing with a common subject of concern or resources. Sometimes a compromise is made by one side with regard to its aims, in deciding how to allocate the available means and in determining priorities. Compromise, then, often is required between the different demands, needs, and ideas that are to be pursued and satisfied, and between what is believed in and the circumstances.

Slide - “ought” and “is”

In short, people compromise between the “ought” and the “is,” between what they aspire to, and what is given in reality. In this connection the given circumstances, conflicting goals, scarcity of resources, uncertainty, complexity of the subject involved, availability of means, and pressure precipitated by time may induce a party to compromise in making a decision. A relevant distinction is between principled and tactical compromise.

Slide - principled and tactical compromise

A principled genuine compromise is a mutual recognition by each side of the other’s rights, which leads them to make concessions to enable them to meet on a middle ground. It is made in good faith and both sides reconcile themselves to the results.

Slide – Camp David

A good example for principled compromise is the peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt in Camp David in 1979, thanks to the tireless efforts of the then U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Both sides came to the negotiation table with true willingness to end the hostilities and to make painful concessions. The Begin government evacuated the Sinai Peninsula occupied during the 1967 Six Days War and returned this relative large piece of land to the Egyptian. The Sadat government recognized Israel's right to exist, erected mutual official relationship with Israel and by this put Egypt in a thorny and delicate position vis-à-vis the Arab world, which it led for a substantial number of years. Anwar al-Sadat (1918-1981) himself paid the highest price a person can pay – his life – for striking a deal with Israel.14 Both countries genuine bona fides yearning for peace, and the commitment of their respective leaders, have brought about a lasting peace that withstood many obstacles and tensions.


There can be principled compromise and tactical implementation of the compromise. Two rivals may conduct hostilities over long, troubled years and at one point decide to resolve the differences and reach a compromise in good faith. However, they may feel that a full-fledge implementation of the agreement is inappropriate. Instead, the agreement should better be carried out piecemeal, possibly because all people concerned should get use to the new situation. This is still a case of principled genuine compromise. I believe this was, still is, the case of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

Principled genuine compromise should be sought in many social matters. For instance, the pornography market is the most prosperous market in the world, with hundreds of millions of consumers.
Slide - pornography

In the United States alone, pornography has grown into a $10 billion business — bigger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined.15 If you consider only the Internet, a report by the National Research Council estimates that there are between 2 million and 8 million subscribers to pornography Web sites, and that they paid between $40 and $100 for a year, for a total of approximately $800 million in 2002. Jupiter Media Metrix estimates that online pornography revenues in the U.S. alone will grow from $230 million in 2001 to $400 million by 2006.16 At the same time, some feminists conceive pornography as hate speech against women,17 and religious circles condemn pornography for what they conceive as its immoral content. Liberals urge that we should try to respect both the interests of pornography consumers as well as those of feminist and religious circles.18 Therefore, sex shops should not be opened in religious and (if exist) feminist neighborhoods. We should opt for regulations rather than censorship.

Free speech activists may further argue that no prohibition should be made on the production of books. Yet even they may acknowledge the difficulty involved in the publication of a manual that advises people how to become successful assassins.19
2 Slides – Hit Man, Rice v. Paladin
They may also recognize the need to restrict the sales of Holocaust deniers' pamphlets and history revisionists' publications in neighborhoods that consist mainly of Holocaust survivors. First Amendment scholars may staunchly defend the publication of gay-bashing literature, still may question the need to promote that offensive literature in the gay districts. Consideration for the other may dictate to refrain from opening non-Kosher shops that sell pork as well as from placing billboards advertising bathing suits in Jewish-orthodox districts.20 Public roads that pass solely in such religious neighborhoods should be closed during Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. The case is much more complicated when public roads pass in religious and secular neighborhoods. Then there is a need to strike a fair balance between competing interests, aiming to reconcile between the religious desire to keep those roads closed during Shabbat and hours of prayers in other days of the week, and the free movement of the secular residents.21
Slide - principled compromise

I should further explain that by principled compromise I mean accepting the mechanism of compromise as a matter of principle, genuinely attending the debate with your counterpart with the willingness to recognize the other's interests and together establish a common ground. Both sides respect the personal autonomy, or dignity, of their counterpart.22 This, however, does not necessarily mean that compromise should only be on principled matters, or that the parties compromise only on principles. In this context, a further distinction is in order: between changing one's mind on a given issue, and adhering to the same position but conceding to accept a very different arrangement in a specific situation. Let me explain.

Slide – James and Grace

James may believe that one of the woman's roles is to be in charge of food and of feeding the family. This is how he was brought up, and he lived all his life in an environment where women cooked for their men and families. When he grew up he fell in love with Grace, who happened to be a feminist. After extensive debates, James had changed his mind. He came to realize that there is not a natural mechanism that tunnels women to kitchens, that there is nothing inherent, no sacred bond that connects women to cooking. Some women don't like to cook. Some men love to cook. And, in any event, in Grace's life, nothing short of complete equality in allocating house chores will not do. She made it very clear as a precondition for living together. James renounced his previous stance and accepts a new, equality-based position.

Now consider the case of Colin. Like James he also believes that one of the woman's roles is to cook. Women, he always said, are made for cooking. It is one of their major rights and duties. He fells in love with Karen who has many qualities but cooking is not one of them. At the first years of marriage he insisted that Karen will cook no matter what. Karen had no strong feeling about the issue as did Colin. Still the result was fury, resentment and unhappiness: the kids constantly complained about the food; Colin had to force himself to eat the delicacies Karen prepared, and Karen was unhappy to receive all the complaints and nagging comments. After some time Colin realized that a change should be made: for the sake of their home peacefulness he was willing to do take away, to hire a cook, and to find ways to keep Karen out of the kitchen. Karen, on her part, realizing the importance her husband assigns to "mom's cooking" said she will not mind cooking breakfast during the weekend. Eggs and pancakes she can do. Unlike James, Colin still believes it is one of the women's roles to cook for their families, but this principle is not valid for his wife. Karen is simply unable to cook as he wants her. He does not renounce his position. He acknowledged that it will not work in his specific family. But it should be the case for women in general.

In the first example, James and Grace did not compromise. James changed his mind. Colin and Karen, on the other hand, did compromise. Karen took upon herself a certain cooking responsibility. Colin did not revoke his previous stance and found himself in need to make accommodations in order to continue living with the woman he loves and with his family. Colin still believes in his cherished principle that the kitchen is a place for woman. He compromised with Karen realizing that the principle will not do in their family. The compromise is made in good faith and both sides reconcile themselves to the results.

Slide - Tactical Compromise

Because disputes frequently involve conflicts of personality, of character, and of distinct interests, settlements might turn out to be no more than a temporary arrangement, reached as a result of constraints related to time. This type of compromise is not the result of an effort to bridge the gap between rival groups. Instead it is a compromise which at least one side is forced to accept under given circumstances, or is driven to accept believing no further gains could be achieved in the given circumstances. There is no genuine willingness to give up part of the interests involved but only to postpone the deadlines for their achievement. If any compromise occurs here, it is within one party, and not between different parties. The essential component of compromise, namely mutuality, is lacking.

Slide – two forms of tactical compromise

Here a distinction can be made between tactical compromise that still respects the rights of the opponents, and tactical compromise that is based on deceit. As for the first type, political partisans make tactical compromises all the time. That does not mean they fail to respect their negotiating partners, only that they deem their ultimate goals too important to surrender. Thus, for example, environmental groups make tactical compromises, accepting less sweeping legislation than they desire, hoping that later they can win enough votes to pass a more comprehensive clean air act.23

The second type of tactical compromise involves one side that does not respect the partner of negotiation as rights-bearers. That side would have no qualms about violating the common understanding and trying to gain a further advantage at the expense of its opponent should a proper opportunity occur.
Slide - deceitful tactical compromise

This is what I call deceitful tactical compromise, to which agents resort without giving up any of their aims. It is not reached in good faith. In other words, deceitful tactical compromise lacks respect for the other and it is a form of a lie in the sense that the deceitful person will break the terms of the bargain when the right occasion presents itself.

An example for tactical compromise that was based on deceit is the Oslo Peace Accords signed between the Palestinian Authority, headed by Yassir Arafat, and the Israeli government headed by Yitzhak Rabin in September 1993. Arafat was insincere in his motivations, allowing suicide murderers to continue their attacks on Israeli civilians. Hundreds of Israelis were killed and thousands maimed as a result of those bloody attacks.24 Arafat eventually -- publicly and manifestly -- revealed his real intentions at the 2000 Camp David Summit when he refused to sign a peace treaty with Prime Minister Ehud Barak and to declare the end to all hostilities. Arafat was only playing for time, making tactical compromises to enhance his position vis-à-vis Israel without attempting to strike a deal with his enemy.
Slide - Munich summit

Possibly the best example for deceitful tactical compromise is the 1938 Munich summit. In March that year Austria was declared a province of Germany and Hitler marched into Vienna. Then he set his eyes on Czechoslovakia. Part of that country, the Sudetenland which bordered Germany, was populated mostly by Germans who resented living under Czech officials and police, many of whom spoke poor German. They were excited over Austria's absorption into Germany and demanded political equality and autonomy. The Czechoslovakian government rejected their demands. Hitler wished to rescue the Sudeten Germans, and war between the two countries seemed inevitable. Mussolini responded to an appeal to mediate in order to forestall war, and on September 29, 1938 Mussolini, Hitler, Britain's Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and France's premier, Edouard Daladier, agreed to meet in Munich.25 President Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakia was not invited to the summit.

All of Hitler's demands regarding Czechoslovakia were answered for. Chamberlain compromised with Hitler, or thought he did, by sacrificing the little country. The compromise between the powers coerced Czechoslovakia to succumb to Nazism. Chamberlain brought home a tolerable sacrifice for the British in order to achieve what he called "peace for our time." This, however, was an illusion for Hitler was not sincere in his compromise. He made a tactical compromise, realizing that at that time his troops were not ready to go to war and that he could reach his aims by peaceful means. The compromise was between him and himself. The Nazi leader was encouraged by the weakness of England and France that evidently were afraid of Germany's power. A year later he waged war on Poland and WWII had begun.

Munich is the destructive symbol of deceitful tactical compromise and illustrates the danger that lie when one side is willing to make genuine concessions while the other is stealing for time. Therefore, compromise is not an end in itself. Compromise should not be made for its own sake, just because a need exists to take into account the preferences of others, no matter what these preferences might be. To extol the virtues of compromise simply because it resolves conflicts peacefully and satisfies the interests of some is to exalt means over ends and to judge the merits of the method used in settling a problem rather than its core. Nothing in the arguments for compromise suggests that compromise is a self-sufficient principle that can be divorced from moral or other considerations. Some claims are not permissible either to press or to accommodate, as limits exist to what may be decided democratically.

Thus a fundamental question of moral legitimacy precedes the act of compromise. The issue is whether compromise is compatible or incompatible with integrity and with justice in some sense. Compromise should be considered and reached according to the content of the demands, with regard to their substance and meaning. If the values at stake contradict human rights, inflicting harm on society or part of it, then tolerance prescribes a need to refrain from making concessions just to satisfy the wills of the exploitive parties. Here I refer to acts of appeasement, when one party may be willing to cooperate with another to exploit a third party. The fact that a combined power - joined through the making of compromises with the intent of exploiting a minority - is stronger than that minority does not imply that might makes right. A majority may hold destructive views, and the mere fact that a considerable number of people are involved does not make their beliefs just. It only makes the situation more terrible.

Let me now move to discuss the concept of coercion, when the tolerator decides that toleration is no longer in order and tries to force her perspective on the opponent.

Slide – on coercion
  1   2   3

База данных защищена авторским правом ©shkola.of.by 2016
звярнуцца да адміністрацыі

    Галоўная старонка