Is The Political State Necessary? If So, Why? 32 replies

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Locomotor

in spite of erosion

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#1 9 years ago

First of all: Hey everybody, how's it going? :cya:

I noticed the other day that my brain is getting a little flacid, and I need a boost. This is just the place to get one. :beer:

This is an attempt to get the North Korea thread back on topic or at least to continue the present discussion there more appropriately, in here. From what I read of the last few pages of that thread, the main disagreement seems not to be about the specifics of any particular political philosophy, but merely whether or not civilized life is possible when left alone, and not controlled by the state.

Now I should say that for now the "burden of proof" (I use the term loosely) is I think on the shoulders of political radicals, like myself, by which I mean we have the larger job of justifying our own ideas, as they are indeed radical departures from the status quo. The modern systems aren't perfect, or anywhere ideal in my opinion, but in a sense they work for the moment. They function more or less effectively as regulators of public and economic life.

Many of the political-economic systems that "sound good in theory" have been tried, and have turned out catastrophic for those they were originally intended to benefit. As such, we have a difficult time saying "let's try that again, only a little differently"; in many cases rightly so. So I think for the sake of the world that we ought to have a difficult time convincing the politically "moderate" of the potentials of more "utopian" modes of organization. Not that I don't think it can't be done. :beer:

But, anyway, just as an exercise, I am wondering from what evidence people here have based their assumption on that technological, civilized, organized life is not possible without the modern governing state. Is it from the perspective as humans being imperfect and sinful as the religions have told us, or the perspective that people are by nature "greedy" and selfish because of a drive for the "survival of the fittest", or is it a more reasonable sociobiological perspective, or what?

In short: what exactly is it about "human nature" that ensures that ours is indeed the best of all possible societies? Or not?




Von Mudra

Lo, I am Mudra, za emo soldat!

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#2 9 years ago

The fact that we're greedy, will never all agree, and kill each other because we look slightly different, or believe slightly different things. I don't think much more needs to be said.




Locomotor

in spite of erosion

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#3 9 years ago

Where does your cynicism come from? Have you actually thought about it and come to such a conclusion, or has humanity's bloody history simply jaded you into pessimism?

Do you really believe that we kill eachother for "looking different" because of direct biological impulse though? Isn't it more the accidents of history - religious crusades, resource conflicts, imperialist adventures, etc - that lead us to mass bloodsheds and genocides? What merely has happened in the past does not determine what is possible in the future.

That we are capable of terrible things doesn't mean we are relegated to committing them for eternity. That's kinda the point of the evolution of human civilization. For instance, something like slavery has existed with civilization far longer than it hasn't, but we have grown out of it. Once we grow out of other problems such as religion, nationalism, etc, (as I'm sure we will), I think much more will be possible than it has been or is now.




Gamov

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#4 9 years ago

Well, I have had nothing to do with the debate over North Korea, as politics is not my particular strong point. However, the answer to this question, from my perspective, lies within a more psychological and philosophical approach to humanity as a species and our collective experiences through out history.

Going beyond the ideas that people are just greedy, self obsessed, war mongers willing to do whatever, whenever to achieve their ends, I believe the true question that government has always tried to solve are the problems of morality and ethics. What are they? How are they clearly defined? Many different cultures have set forth varying ideals as to what these facets of human life/experience truly are and how they should be regulated. How do they apply to our daily lives and what is their impact on our decision making process?

Psychologically, humans are capable of great extremes. We can either sway towards more altruistic endeavors and seek to put our best foot forward, as it were, in every event of our daily lives. Or we can lean into the dark side of the human psyche and give into our baser, animal-like nature dominated by the ego. Survival of the fittest and so on. State organized and controlled systems have always sought to address these aspects of the human experience. Be it with a genocide against an "inferior" people who they see as an "impurity" on their land. Or be it through a more fair and balanced system, complete with courts, judges, legal council, etc....

To these ends, the definition of a "civilized" society is largely dependent on one's personal views. If one sees culling the "weak" from society as a viable method towards attaining a stable society, that is their view. Even though it is the improper one when compared to the vast majority of state systems across the globe that tout equal rights as essential to a positive human lifestyle/experience.

And based upon this understanding (even as rudimentary as it may be), a society cannot exist without a governing state body. Simply because people who rise to the top, though they may do so on diametrically opposed terms, will always seek to impose some form of law over the masses to ensure that stability and security remain the rule of the land, so to speak. And we, as social creatures, will accept (either by choice or by force) the terms of these governing bodies as they provide a level of security and consistency in the events of daily life. Even in a world without law, some form of rule system would come about due to a universal realization, either by the populace at large or by the lucky few who have risen to the upper echelon of society, that enforcing a sense of order is paramount to preventing the collapse of the species as a whole. And this fact directly correlates to a civilization and its advancements in technology. It is generally realized, either through pure recognition of the fact or by unfortunate trial and error, that technology brings about an inherent responsibility to use it properly or face undesirable consequences. Thus, laws are implemented to regiment the people into treating these aspects of daily life with respect.

Can we exist as a "civilized" society without government? No, certainly not.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#5 9 years ago

Is The Political State Necessary?

Yes.

If So, Why?

Because people are not, and can never be, equal. There will always be something to be jealous of; prestige, material resources, personal qualities such as intelligence or athleticism; and there will always be people who choose to take or destroy these things by force and those who choose to defend them with force. Conservative, Liberal, Republican; democracy, dictatorship, a system of councils formed out of direct democracy. These are never basic criteria. While the exact form of the political systems may vary people divide into two political groups: Those who want to protect and those who want to oppress.

Most people don’t really do anything about these desires. But even if we assume there would be a way to make everyone play a part in the political system that does not remove the political state, it simply enlarges it.




Locomotor

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#6 9 years ago

I think this addresses both your points Gamov, as well as Nemmerle's.

Major conflicts - from racism to crusades to piracy - in the past and now have arisen because of a self-imposed set of arbitrary material values; I think that is more a cultural trapping than a natural one. If we replace a corrupt and corrupting set of material values with a better one - one that has its foundation in reason and mutual understanding instead of individualism and superstitions - I think a more reasonable way of living follows. And I think we are getting closer to that point all the time.

People don't need to be equal to live peacefully among each other. No one has ever demanded so much. But I think real hate - the kind that makes people steal and murder - is instilled by the ideas of interested men, not by the accidents of reality. As one of the greatest American thinkers Tom Paine suggested, it is by governments (or religions, or whatever) that people war against eachother, not in spite of them. Small resentments and rivals may persist, indeed they are part of our species character, but I think even stateless systems can deal with them, as we deal with them. But when everyone thinks more reasonably - and we do today think much more reasonably about each other than we did, say, even two hundred years ago - and when everyone's material needs are provided, where would the incentive to war arise. War is hard work.

But even if we assume there would be a way to make everyone play a part in the political system that does not remove the political state, it simply enlarges it.

And this is precisely the aim of libertarian socialists like myself. If you call it "bigger" go ahead. I call it flattened. Instead of modeling a government like a pyramid, where all the authority rests unquestionably at the top, we flatten that pyramid out, and give everyone a say in the things that affect their lives, so that political power comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

But really, personally, all I hope for is an economic revolution modelled on the revolution of political democracy. That is, economic democracy. Considering the modern state exists, with exceptions, essentially as the defender of private interests, the two might be mutually exclusive.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#7 9 years ago

Locomotor;4929159I think this addresses both your points Gamov, as well as Nemmerle's.

Major conflicts - from racism to crusades to piracy - in the past and now have arisen because of a self-imposed set of arbitrary material values; I think that is more a cultural trapping than a natural one. If we replace a corrupt and corrupting set of material values with a better one - one that has its foundation in reason and mutual understanding instead of individualism and superstitions - I think a more reasonable way of living follows. And I think we are getting closer to that point all the time.

People don't need to be equal to live peacefully among each other. No one has ever demanded so much. But I think real hate - the kind that makes people steal and murder - is instilled by the ideas of interested men, not by the accidents of reality. As one of the greatest American thinkers Tom Paine suggested, it is by governments (or religions, or whatever) that people war against eachother, not in spite of them. Small resentments and rivals may persist, indeed they are part of our species character, but I think even stateless systems can deal with them, as we deal with them. But when everyone thinks more reasonably - and we do today think much more reasonably about each other than we did, say, even two hundred years ago - and when everyone's material needs are provided, where would the incentive to war arise. War is hard work.[/QUOTE]

When we’re born we irrationally want certain things, food, breath, freedom from pain, etc, due to the biological nature of our lives. These things can be nothing other than irrational for we at that point lack the arguments for why we should or should not continue to exist with which to drive these desires. These are our core motives and our innate reactions to their presence or denial (being either discomfort or pleasure of varying degrees) paired with different situations and the biological mechanism of association goes on to determine what we will value. Value is in its most basic form not a rational thing but a natural thing. Rationality comes later and is given in the form, ‘if you want X then do Y’ and other derivatives of that general statement; it can support other values and create them but they’re always going to be based on those core unreasoning values, an element of chance, both in terms of genetics and initial environment, endures. You can't get a rational value, value systems are inherently irrational.

We learn our values from our environments and as within our more affluent societies we share broadly the same environments over time we’ve created roughly the same value systems with regards to certain things. People look at that and think that it's a more rational system; but it's not. It's a more affluent system homogenised among a certain portion of the human population. The main themes of that learning we call culture.

From my perspective we think no more or less rationally about each other than we did two hundred years ago. We simply think about each other with a greater taint of hypocrisy concerning the violence we intend towards those outside of our own cultural groups.

[QUOTE=Locomotor;4929159]And this is precisely the aim of libertarian socialists like myself. If you call it "bigger" go ahead. I call it flattened. Instead of modeling a government like a pyramid, where all the authority rests unquestionably at the top, we flatten that pyramid out, and give everyone a say in the things that affect their lives, so that political power comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

But really, personally, all I hope for is an economic revolution modelled on the revolution of political democracy. That is, economic democracy. Considering the modern state exists, with exceptions, essentially as the defender of private interests, the two might be mutually exclusive.

Everyone does have authority; it's an innate part of your existence; your authority is ultimately nothing more than your physical presence in the world. But because people are not prepared to live, or die, with the consequences of having to stand up for what they believe in they trade it away to other men in return for safety. Authority does come from the bottom up, that’s the only way it can. Those in power borrow the authority, the physical actions of others, dependant upon a certain social relationship: I follow your orders and in return you provide a stable social system. Just as on here I am provided with certain powers that place me in a position of authority to protect the body politic from the infringements of those who are here for other reasons than us.

Authority is authority entirely because people obey it; it is force. In a state where people do not trade their authority to a larger social group than themselves that authority can only ever be equal, (baring of course genetic differences in strength, military training, etc.) If we all have equal authority then why would I willingly obey any of you when our goals did not coincide? Unless, that is, you transfer your commands into some greater force than mine and by that measure become my ruler.




Adamjames

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#8 9 years ago

Hello everyone! I am Alex's new recruit, and you will probably see me following him around the Pub, having a good time with ideas and drinking his Beers.

Alex's last point is the most important in this discussion: the vast difference in economic power is what allows most of the bad things in the world to continue existing, and I feel that the way this gap has grown over the course of the history of technology is one of the biggest points against technology. It is fairly well established that people don't fight exclusively over ideological issues; religion and nationalism are used as tools to galvanize the populace into fighting over what are really economic and power issues. In Israel, for example, people aren't fighting because they want to destroy the infidels on the other side, but rather because there is a very finite amount of water in that region and the Israelis are taking an unfair share of it and of course the Palestinians, being human, are dying.

No one is allowed to bring up Human Nature anymore in this discussion. Human nature is simply the definition of what humans are capable of, and of course that includes practically everything you could think of. It's certainly not a principle that dictates what is or isn't possible in human interactions.

As for the main question:

Is the political state necessary? Politics, as defined as the structure through which power moves in a society, will always exist. However, a "State" as such has not always existed and is hopefully something we can move past. It may be that it's necessary in some form in order for the modern economy to run, though this isn't a relationship I could claim to understand, but this isn't something going in its favor, for me. To defer to someone more eloquent than I:

“Whether it takes me four weeks or 14 hours to get to Hamburg from Munich is less important to my happiness and to my humanity than the question: How many men who yearn for sunlight just as I do must be imprisoned in factories, their healthy limbs and lungs sacrificed in order to build a locomotive? For me the only important thing is: The more swiftly our thriving economy is completely brought to ruin, the more pitilessly the last remnant of industry is wiped out, the sooner will people have enough to eat and have a small measure of that happiness to which every man has a right.” B. Traven, quoted in Endgame by Derrick Jensen




Adamjames

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#9 9 years ago

doublepost, sorry for the Trooble.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#10 9 years ago

Adamjames;4929227No one is allowed to bring up Human Nature anymore in this discussion. Human nature is simply the definition of what humans are capable of, and of course that includes practically everything you could think of. It's certainly not a principle that dictates what is or isn't possible in human interactions. [/QUOTE]

You can't have it both ways. Interactions are just actions affecting each other. If human nature is what humans are capable of then it inherently limits what is possible in human interactions.

[QUOTE=Adamjames;4929227]“Whether it takes me four weeks or 14 hours to get to Hamburg from Munich is less important to my happiness and to my humanity than the question: How many men who yearn for sunlight just as I do must be imprisoned in factories, their healthy limbs and lungs sacrificed in order to build a locomotive? For me the only important thing is: The more swiftly our thriving economy is completely brought to ruin, the more pitilessly the last remnant of industry is wiped out, the sooner will people have enough to eat and have a small measure of that happiness to which every man has a right.” B. Traven, quoted in Endgame by Derrick Jensen

It's a pretty enough rant but it's not reason.