This is an attempt to capture my current political position, solely for the purpose of seeing how it morphs over time.
First of all, purism is a luxury afforded to immature thinkers. Discussing the concepts of pure liberalism, socialism, or conservatism–whatever those mean to someone–are largely meaningless when all sides in a debate don’t agree on them. My new rule is to avoid these terms until 1) I understand them fully, and 2) I can be sure whoever I’m talking to agrees on the definitions.
We’ve already established that I don’t believe we can pursue ideals (at least right now), but we must at least lay out what I think they are.
Ideally everyone would be highly educated and would respect the two main concepts of doing the following for humanity:
- Reducing suffering
- Increasing happiness
I subscribe loosely to the tenets of Secular Humanism, which are to:
- Need to test beliefs – A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
- Reason, evidence, scientific method – A commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
- Fulfillment, growth, creativity – A primary concern with fulfillment, growth and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
- Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
- This life – A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
- Ethics – A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
- Building a better world – A conviction that with reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.
Dealing With It
The above doesn’t mention how to attain these things–only that they are what I think we should strive for. That’s where it gets interesting. Many believe that their particular government preference is the way to go to get the list above. Others disagree with the list outright.
My thoughts are that in order to have the list above we must have an educated and free-thinking populace, and that currently we’re heading at a brisk pace away from that. Ignorance is creating people who in turn create more ignorant people, and the rate of this catastrophe’s growth is staggering.
The answer is not to let people fend for themselves, or, as Libertarians like to say, “ask the local Churches and communities for help”. That doesn’t work. People help very small groups of people who look and talk like them, not those who look or behave differently from themselves–especially when they’re far away.
And once you start talking about distances you have variation in ideas. Some people want to be pacifists; others want to kill pacifists in order to get to heaven. The notion of leaving people alone to think what they want to think, and to raise their children how they want to raise them is great on paper, but when they’re plotting how to release biological weapons into your water supply, and using your tax money to do it, then it becomes a matter of abject stupidity to maintain that position.
The fact is that humans are largely stupid when they are untrained. And when you add modern weapons to the equation, combined with attractive and hostile ideologies, you have a near guarantee of bloodshed and pain in the future.
Leaving these people alone to hate and build an Army doesn’t solve this.
But neither does putting into place a government that you just “trust” to do the right thing for us, and then surrendering our responsibility for our affairs to it.
The role of government should be to get everyone to a certain level of education and free-thinking ability. Or at least to give them the best possible chance to attain that status. From there the people get to dismantle the government if they are ready to do so. The goal of a government that aims to improve society is to reach a point where it’s no longer needed.
The key to this is transparency and civics. The people must be HEAVILY involved in the government process to avoid the republic-based abstraction that equates to disconnection over time. This is the heart of bureaucracy and waste, as well as the eventual cycle of politicians telling people only what they want to hear while doing something else entirely.
This kind of thing is not possible if the people are highly educated and know their representatives and their dealings. It’s all about transparency, but the people looking through the glass need to know what they’re looking at.
**Transparent Government + Educated Populace = Libertarianism
Opaque Government + Ignorant Populace = Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism**
The Dangers of Too Little Government
Humans are animals. Any time we forget this we get hurt. We’re ambitious, power-hungry, prejudiced, creatures. We cluster into small groups and plot against the “other guy”.
Think about the American Indians.
The Europeans were horrible in their massacre of these people, but look at what they lived like before we got here. Fighting with the Mexicans. Constantly committing massive, bloody atrocities against their fellow tribes. Why? Because that’s what animals do. That’s what we ARE.
Education and reason are counter to us. They are the counterweight against nature. Nature has slavery. Nature has genocide. Nature kills parents in front of their kids. Africa is nature. Darfur is Nature.
And that’s what you get when you downplay a centralized effort to elevate ourselves as humans through reason and compassion. Doing this in a non-centralized fashion works in small pockets, but leaves massive parts of the community/country/world in a state of natural competition.
Question: What’s the libertarian answer to Africa?
Get some churches in there? “They need some personal responsibility.” Fuck that.
They need education. They are children playing in traffic. You don’t let children play in traffic, especially when they’re finding more children to bring with them. Oh, and they’ve all got loaded guns. It’s sickening, and it’s only due to misplaced liberalism that we let such a thing continue.
They need help in the form of saying, “Stop. We’re going to prevent you from doing this. You need to go to school. Yes, we’ll build them for you. Stop having sex if you can’t afford to feed yourself. And no, having sex with a baby won’t cure AIDS. Here, let me show you a science book.”
Sick right? Evil, right? Yes and no. It’s horrible to regulate another human in this fashion, but it’s not nearly as despicable as letting them reproduce uncontrollably only to grow up and kill each other. And we sit around and watch it happen because we’re “above” intervention. Ask yourself what’s worse.
This is libertarianism. This is “letting people find their own way”. No.
An evolved society is fragile and has to be meticulously maintained through population control, resources control, and most of all–education. A failure to properly handle these variables will inevitably lead to suffering.
That’s why the best solution is for the educated and kind in the world to unite and to say to each other, “What is best for the world?” How do we reduce suffering and increase happiness for the entire planet?
That’s the role of government. And that doesn’t mean THEY do it, it means they guide things so that the people can do it for themselves. Again, the most important piece of that equation is education. And as we evolve we’ll simply need government less and less because the people will being doing all of these things for themselves, e.g. regulating conflict and ensuring their own education quality.
Until then, WE (as in the best of ALL of us) will ensure that we don’t produce entire generations of people who will tear the entire thing to the ground, and bring suffering to themselves and everyone around in them in the process.
The Problem With Too Much Government
Fine, so we need government to help. Great. Let’s do it.
The problem there is that some think that the responsibly transfers once you say the government needs to help. It doesn’t. The government isn’t responsible for raising your children. The government isn’t responsible for ensuring you’re educated.
If you don’t take care of your children or get an education it will be the FAILURE of the government (because the government is a representation of society), but it will be YOUR failure first. The key is to not back away from the process. Any time a people creates a government and gives it oversight and power they must maintain full knowledge and transparency of its inner workings. Failure to do so leads to what we have today.
The fundamental problem with too much government comes back to our human weaknesses. Big government without an intensely involved and highly educated electorate leads to a power shift.
Small numbers of people with lots of power.
The incentive of “helping the world” is intellectual. It’s logical. It’s NOTHING when compared to our animal desires. Higher callings fail horribly when up against big yachts, beach homes, and platinum blondes.
So what happens is those people with this power make decisions that will increase their own primal pleasure levels at the expense of the rest of the world. And without an educated and interested population to keep him in check, he will be successful.
It’s the same for bankers or lawyers or whatever. It’s all the same. Stupid animals trying to have sex and feel powerful. Don’t be surprised when it happens. It’s the expected result. Be surprised when it doesn’t.
The purpose of a healthy government is to guide society in a direction that will help everyone nurture their higher, positive selves, while giving them the tools to keep their darker sides in check.
Ok, that was a hapless ramble.
- Reason and compassion
- Reduce suffering and increase happiness
- We need to build a society that’s based on Reciprocal Altruism
- A government that promotes the elevation of the population is the key to eliminating the need for government
- Education is the key to all of the above
In short, Libertarianism is an ideal based on underestimating the weaknesses of humans. Big Brother protectionist government is an opposite but equally deadly direction based on underestimating the abilities of man to use reason and compassion to control its animal nature.
The key is to realize that the system we use to get ourselves out of this primal stage will be a hybrid, and the specific mix will change we as humans change. That’s all for now. ::