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Thread: Socialism

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    I suppose mine would be utilitarian?
    Anything can be justified under the name of utilitarianism. The key to having sufficiently different methodology is to have a different architecture.

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    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfboy View Post
    well, I have a semi intuitive grasp on why cornering an entire market would be impossible, but I can't exactly explain it (my understanding of economics is rather vague at his point and still at a fairly basic level). that being said, the evidence that every monopoly can be traced to some sort of government sponsorship/favorability supports my intuition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Anything can be justified under the name of utilitarianism. The key to having sufficiently different methodology is to have a different architecture.
    Something utilitarian is justified by virtue of the achievement of the indented purpose. It could be that the policy adopted would be entirely Capitalistic or Socialistic, but the determining factor would be how close such a policy achieves the desired goals. Approaching debate by attempting to defend a predefined architecture without sufficient empirical data backing it, and without a clear idea of what the "ideal" would be is not the most affective form of problem solving.

    To your point, anything can be justified, but that would require adjusting the goals, which themselves would first need to be agreed upon and set. So, for example, we couldn't justify raping and murdering all the children around, unless our desired goal was to get sexual pleasure and gratification from sexing up the youngin's and killing them.
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    Some of the real questions are: how do we determine those goals in the first place and what role does the political architecture (and its biases) play in determining such goals?

    Once again, 'democracy' etc will only be one aspect or part of an answer to this question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    I'm not at all trying to pigeon hole the politics of individuals. Quite the contrary. Al Gore was an example of someone who merely sought the presidency and his full intentions remain unknown since he did not get the position. The fact is that society consists of a complex network of individuals who themselves have a complex set of behaviours and intentions. The fallacy is to assume that ones actions, from choice of financial transactions to participation in social organisations (I mean this in a general sense - it includes everything from corporations to voting for political representatives, to religious participation) is fully representative of our intentions. This is because the choice itself is constrained for many reasons.
    Whether a political party/president or CEO plays a role in defining those choices is only a small part of the picture.
    My response to that is that my measure of things is generally more about consequences of action or states of being. I know the complications that immediately follow from putting intention into the definitions I gave, but based on the political trends in the past 100 years in regard to these policies, I felt I could not represent it without acknowledging the involvement of intent. While it is very difficult, or perhaps even currently impossible to know one's intent, we can clearly see that much of argument about socialism and capitalism over the past century has been about what we think people intend to do and what we think people ought to intend to do. Perhaps that entire area of argument is futile, I do not know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Anyway, you mentioned the issue of scale, which is an excellent start. Modern states certainly play a large role in our lives. But is there an inherent reason for this? Or have they defacto assumed control increased over many aspects of our lives due to our submission to the state for its ability to provide (a semblance) of security? How are we to know whether the state is too powerful, or not powerful enough?
    My belief is that human beings, without even planning it, tend toward being a part of larger groups and developing more advance technology. Larger groups and more advance technology are themselves related to each other in an auto-catalytic way. However, there's a third part of that cycle. More people and more technology means more complex administration. Broader in its involvement and division of labor, deeper in it's hierarchy. This is simply a matter of logistics. When you've reached a point where the population of your group is so large that no one's total of secondary relationships is even a small percentage of the whole population, or technology has increased our capacities so much that a person has huge array of professions they can engage in and thus a great deal of anomie, a society cannot be maintained by every one of its members attempting self-arbitration.*

    Now, when it comes to that administration, we are usually talking about the state these days. By most definitions I have read of the state, government existed some time before the state did. A chiefdom is not conventionally considered to be a state, is said to have a government, in that it does have specified system of administration. The definitions given however seem to be based on a level of complexity that means that with our current population, technology, and resources, it may not be possible to have anything other than a state. Which comes to an important point for me. I think a lot of people have too narrow an idea of what a state is and are too attached to the most trivial details of whatever definition it is they give. This certainly comes up with a lot of people who call themselves libertarians, or basically any minarchist. It comes up even more so with anarchists. They fixate on either the minimization or the removal of the state, respectively, but because I believe this society can only exist with that level of complex administration, it will inevitably manifest again, just perhaps as something that is not superficially a "state" in the eyes of the minarchist or the anarchist. Maybe these bureaucratic administrative tasks become the responsibility of a commercial monopoly or a commercial cartel, but something will have to take the role never the less, and in this case I say that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Might as well call a state anyhow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Interestingly, the individual itself can be viewed as a collective and thus political issues can even be discussed with regards to an isolated individual. (isolated from other life anyhow) That is to say that political states exist on all scales. The same fundamental limitations that affect a state on the large scale, also affect states on the small scale.
    In spite of humans being comprised of a huge number of micro-organisms, and having separate, independent parts of the mind, I'd feel confident saying that the system of one human is still far more cohesive than any society has ever been.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    The following question is for all participants of this thread.

    Anyway, given such definitions of politics, what are the fundamental issues faced? Consider a group of people who are faced with issues that may or may not require collective decision making. (the issues themselves are irrelevant for this example. They could range anywhere between an individual of the group having an itchy ear, to should homosexuals be allowed to marry, to how to deal with the threat of war with a neighbouring tribe)
    The actual decisions and structure depend on the issues faced. But how should that structure be determined? I mean this in a conceptual sense, the answer is not merely to choose some form of democracy or autocratic leader (or market based economy). How are the individuals of the group even to know whether that is a good idea or not?
    But as a trivial example, a leader is probably not required to tell you whether you can scratch your ear for example. Actually, for that matter, a market based political structure for the issue of ear scratching is not as ridiculous as it sounds either.

    I struggle with questions like these as I don't know where to reduce everything to 1, or 10, or 20 points. I'm not sure what you are looking for. Since you said fundamental issue, I'll just go the whole way and bring it down to one abstract paradigm. It's about encompassing interest vs narrow interest. Everyone in society is forced to make a calculation about how much they have to invest in someone else to get what they want for themselves. A narrower interest is self-service that depends on less investment in others, an encompassing interest is one that depends on more investment in others. To maximize ones own gain, the rational person exploits the other person (or other people) precisely as much as they can before doing damage to their investment (an aside that's very important to remember is that a lot of people are frequently irrational, and no one is always rational, and the value of rationality is also subject to the extent of ones knowledge. So any system that totally depends on just the rationality of people is going to fail. It is merely a reliable enough to create certain patterns in society). This means that the more encompassing an agent's interests are, the less exploitation he/she can afford to do. As such, the most distinguishing thing about a society is how its structure of government, available resources, and various other factors, affect the degree of narrow or encompassing interest in society, between people on the same level, and especially people on different levels of a social hierarchy. Generic example; compared to an absolute autocracy, a representative democracy makes the interests of virtually everyone involved more encompassing. Other issues involved concerning war, public goods, economic regulation, cultural regulation, and so forth will by guided by the nature of the interests of the decision makers.
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  6. #236
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    I'm not sure if I'll have time to discuss this in great depth before my internet goes down, but...

    I am pleased that you are starting to make some of the points in the direction I was trying to lead this thread towards.

    As you say, some have a definition of a state that is too narrow. Large scale economic organisation necessitates some form of state, hence anarchism isn't actually a real political ideology. The actual nature of that state can vary, but as you say, if it looks like a state and acts like a state...

    An individual is certainly more cohesive than states on larger scales, but the same principles apply - smaller community groups are more cohesive than nations for reasons that might be worth discussing.

    Interest is of primary importance. Without discussion of whom the political organisation is serving, politics is meaningless. But our interests themselves are shaped by many factors. Secondly, regarding the prior point about about cohesiveness, once we are to make decisions for others, the process itself is arguably compromised. Now even for those who we spend a lot of time with, for example our family, although our claims of acting in their interests may be considered benevolent (at least in some cases). But it is always going to be compromised owing to the reduction in cohesiveness. As the scale increases, the cohesiveness reduces and even a democratically administered government, aiming to act benevolently in our interests might not be acting as such in reality.
    But even this example is assuming an ideological position - that the government should work in the individual or grouped interests of its citizens. For that matter, why do individuals or governments care about others? This is a question that must be incorporated within a political model for it to be realistic. Or more precisely, a plastic model of human nature.

    Cohesiveness itself is a subject worth discussing. But even if this cohesiveness itself is fixed (in an exploratory model), there are still other aspects that can be optimised. To give you a hint, in an abstract sense, factors include scale and information flow (which incidentally relates to interest - we tend to care about things that we are exposed to and ignore that which we are not).

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    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Just for the hell of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    "The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort. Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival . . . .
    Survival? Our production stopped being primarily about survival a long time ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t.
    I can actually debate this. Given that our habits, emotional tendencies, beliefs, and cognitive skills are heavily influenced by our interaction with others, particularly in our formative years but even through the rest of life, one can legitimately question to what degree these things are possessed only by an individual. Because the full extent of modern knowledge vastly exceeds what any one person could afford to obtain solely by themselves, a person's knowledge is dependent on what knowledge is made available to them by others, and so one one can legitimately question to what degree that knowledge is possessed only by an individual. It has also been well established that things such as emotional states to physical nourishment actually affect a person's cognitive capacities, and those things can easily be manipulated by others, thus one can legitimately question to what degree cognitive capacities are possessed only by an individual.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind.
    About that. Since no man is omniscient or infallible, his ability to apply rationale is limited only to what he knows, which itself limited. What he knows may not be the same as what someone else knows. This may about one person at a contextual disadvantage in comparison to the other. For this reason, you will sooner consult a heart surgeon about your heart problem than you would trust yourself or randomly pick one of your friends. Not only does the heart surgeon have knowledge you don't, he has knowledge that was quite costly to obtain, and you presumably cannot bother to obtain that information yourself in order to deal with your problem. Furthermore, in going to him, you have also essentially ceded your rationality to theirs since you can only apply your rationale to a useless limited set of knowledge, and thus have to rely on them applying theirs. And because of all of this, you go to him to make possibly the biggest concession ever, you may have put your life or death in the person's hands on the basis of their knowledge. That's authority right there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    It is the basic, metaphysical fact of man’s nature—the connection between his survival and his use of reason—that capitalism recognizes and protects.

    In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions, and interests dictate. They can deal with one another only in terms of and by means of reason, i.e., by means of discussion, persuasion, and contractual agreement, by voluntary choice to mutual benefit. The right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial.
    Technically, if someone tells me to give them my money, or they will shoot me in the head, I have the voluntary choice to be shot in the head. Do you mean voluntary in that sense? If you do, I will agree with you. If you mean voluntary as in without coercion from another or without accepting less than preferred contracts due to circumstantial pressures, then neither the society your propose nor any other could live up to that claim.

    Other than that, the paragraph makes many profound assertions with no backing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    It is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree—and thus keeps the road open to man’s most valuable attribute (valuable personally, socially, and objectively): the creative mind.
    When it comes to private property being the basis for allowing disagreement, what if me and someone else disagrees on the rules of private property themselves? For the matter, what if someone's argument is that private property should not exist at all? How will private property allow them to disagree?

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    Capitalism demands the best of every man—his rationality—and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him.
    You don't have to be a socialist to know this is false. I'd expect any competent free marketer to know this is false. This isn't possible simply because of supply and demand. If, by some chance, everyone in this society wanted to be a painter, than they'd all find themselves screwed. They would all have demands for things other than art that wouldn't be met, and they'd be attempting to supply art in an extremely over-saturated market full of consumers who seriously want other stuff, never mind that everyone you could supply to is in the business of making the same shit you supply. This could not yield an economically viable system, so one is going to be prosperous and successful until a lot of people give up their dream and become something other than a painter. There's no possible world in which everyone can study what they want, make what they want, and sell what they want and guarantee they will not be dreadfully impoverished. You have to pick one.

    And being carried by ability and ambition, here's how I see it. You can take away all the government you want. Maybe the first generation gets by on ability and ambition. The second generation, however, will be climbing up a hill that already has the first generation on top of it. From the second generation onward, your success is going to become more and more dependent on how you serve the interests of people already on the top of the hill, rather than skill or contribution defined by any other sense. This will start to look like a really crude government anyway,

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    His success depends on the objective value of his work and on the rationality of those who recognize that value.
    Well that's a killing one-two punch. Who defines this objective value? If you don't have some kind of central body defining this, I can tell you that you'll never find a measure that everyone is just going to mutually agree on, so it will be quite subjective instead. Depending on rationality alone is certain doom, since as I have said, rationality is highly dependent on knowledge to be valuable, and you can't always rely on people to be rational.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    When men are free to trade, with reason and reality as their only arbiter, when no man may use physical force to extort the consent of another, it is the best product and the best judgment that win in every field of human endeavor, and raise the standard of living—and of thought—ever higher for all those who take part in mankind’s productive activity.
    When reason and reality is man's only arbiter, any social structure would work. They'd probably find some optimal system that doesn't even fit into what we're arguing about. We have things like law solely because we cannot rely on people to be reasonable or to know what reality is. We can't even agree on what those things are. This has nothing to do with socialism vs capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    The economic value of a man’s work is determined, on a free market, by a single principle: by the voluntary consent of those who are willing to trade him their work or products in return. This is the moral meaning of the law of supply and demand.
    Well, that's nice, but I just mentioned some problems that causes for your promises a bit earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    Laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights
    That's a baseless assertion. Maybe based on rights as you define them, but we may not have the same idea of what are or are not human rights. That doesn't mean either one of us doesn't recognize rights. That being said, even if I used the US Constitution as the model, I don't see a particular challenge in establishing social democracy and following that guide at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    and, therefore, the only system that bans force from social relationships. By the nature of its basic principles and interests, it is the only system fundamentally opposed to war.Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth.
    As I said before, I don't believe it really bans force, it only refuses to use it. That being said, if you actually wanted to ban force you'd have no way of enforcing that ban by any means other than using force. What I also don't fathom is why a being acting on rational self-interest would refuse to use force. You seem to be wobbling back and forth between depicting man as totally calculating to outstandingly ethical as it suits you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.
    If this were a laboratory, the scientist must be terrible incompetent for having so few controls. How many things were different between West Germany and East Germany other than one being ostensibly right-wing in socio-economic policy and the other being left-wing? Could it be that some other factor caused the difference? Me, I think the main thing that made the Communist countries suck was not high taxes, regulations on businesses, or the establishment of government provided services. The problem was the extremely rigid and steep power structure. If that same power structure created a country that mostly followed laissez-fair principles in its economics, it would still be a miserable place to live that would inevitably collapse. A place that has more dirigisme, but a government with checks and balances, and ties to the will of the people, will flourish at least much as, and I think more than, it's laissez-fair counterpart.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    If a detailed, factual study were made of all those instances in the history of American industry which have been used by the statists as an indictment of free enterprise and as an argument in favor of a government-controlled economy, it would be found that the actions blamed on businessmen were caused, necessitated, and made possible only by government intervention in business. The evils, popularly ascribed to big industrialists, were not the result of an unregulated industry, but of government power over industry. The villain in the picture was not the businessman, but the legislator, not free enterprise, but government controls.
    With a claim like this, you crucify yourself on the burden of proof. Can you show me these studies? If they do not exist, how can you know that's true? If they do exist, doesn't it seem odd that this idea has not taken a grip on thinking either in academia at large or in political circles, and that in spite of what these studies say not a single society on earth has manifested as a state free nation better in all conditions than the others? Wouldn't this have caught on by now?

    When someone makes a claim like this, I must remind them that it's more plausible that you're missing something than it is that somehow everyone else in the world is missing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    Capitalism cannot work with slave labor. It was the agrarian, feudal South that maintained slavery. It was the industrial, capitalistic North that wiped it out—as capitalism wiped out slavery and serfdom in the whole civilized world of the nineteenth century."
    Hey, slave trade was pretty damn lucrative. Capitalists didn't seem to mind dealing in that when it was a good market. It's merely that technological advancements made slavery a waste of time to the point that it become affordable to morally indict it.

    Also, for 100 years after slavery, with capitalism presumably being involved, we had Jim Crow. That was in some ways better but arguably in some ways worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    I told you I would touch back on your questions.. but I am bored with this discussion and believe Elfboy and I have brought up pretty valid reasons on why socialism, social policy, and even mixed economies are not the way to go. FEEL how you want about it, I really don't care. You asked me how people wouldnt get together and create coersive monopolies under a free market, and this only indicates that you have little understanding of truly free markets. If you had read Adam Smith, or researched much on Alan Greenspan you would understand that in free markets, monopolies can not develop because the only truly co ersive monopolies that have ever existed, existed *because* government involvment and regulation. Bottom line, under a free market somone can't monopolize then hike prices because there will always be room for a competitor to enter and offer quality product at reaonsable rate.
    You don't seem to get what a monopoly is. If an upstart competitor could just appear and give a better product, we wouldn't be looking at a monopoly then. It's tautological to say that's the end of a monopoly. The problem is that once a business can get into a monopolistic position in the first place, it now controls all within the market it has monopolized, meaning people don't have alternatives to what it does. And so great is it's power in the market, that an attempt to make a competing business can easily be squelched in its infancy. At any rate, I was putting more emphasis on collusive oligopolies than monopolies, which are considerably more common, but have similar results to a monopoly. It's also worth noting because collusion is often a very rational thing for business owners to do. Your answers say nothing about this scenario, because this is one in which successfully competitive firms find themselves in a position where they can all increase their own profit even further by collaborating with each other to, say, make cheaper products, charge higher prices, or pay lower wages (along with a lot of more complicated fare), because they'd call gain from making cheaper products from lower paid workers for higher prices, and knowing that, they will agree not to fuck with each other. This provides not one but two problems for a new firm. Like with the monopoly, the new firm may just be squelched by the powers that be. Or, they may simply be inducted into the collusive group. What are you going to do about that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    THe market regulates the economy. You asked me about the socialist countries with high living index and so called stable economies.. first its bullshit.. i don't believe their economies are stable.. many of them have major financial crises,
    You can believe whatever. Can justify it with an argument, though? Many less socialist places have economic crises. Didn't we, the USA, have among the biggest? On the other hand, many other more socialist places were not hit so bad. Greece may be in terrible shape but France not so much. I'd are say any country is bound to face an economic crisis from time to time. Merely having one at some point says nothing special about anyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    secondly-you cant really compare them to the US if your trying to compare socialism and capitalism because as stated before the US is a mixed economy and has been for some time, the more "mixed" we become the more our economy stagnantes. When comparing the US to other countries what is important to rememeber is that originally we were much more capitalistic, it is what laid the framework for us to become a superpower, and the US has been policing and nannying the rest of the world for some time now. What have the socialist countries done for the rest of the world in comparison to us? You don't think that has some baring on our current economic state?
    The comparison thing is actually a problem for you. Because there is apparently nothing on earth or possibly in history we can use as an example for what you are talking. We have to trust that we will get this essentially utopian vision of something never seen before. And indeed, if I point out anything going wrong in any country, the fact that it is more socialist than you want, means you can blame it on the socialist elements, you can blame it on being mixed. And ever still, as I've been saying, if we just base it on being ore or less, rather than a qualitative difference, the world is not reflecting the pattern you seem to imply it would.

    I do believe the USA's military over-extension has an impact on our economy, but I don't think it can explain all the differences. Secondly, we might ask ourselves why the USA is even doing that. There are those who say it's actually driven by capitalist forces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    I haven't *unlearned* crap. I've watched people in social programs for a long time, IRL. Its reinforced that people need to be self accountable. Pure capitalism has never existed.. it probably never will. I think the closer we get to it the better though. Look at what capitalism did for Honk Kongs market.
    Your experience may tell us why you moved to a certain belief, but it is just anecdote.

    So it did things for its markets. In what sense? It because more lucrative, certainly. The territory gained a much higher GDP. That isn't necessarily how one decides if a society is doing well or not. For example, there's a certain threshold between the GDP PC and the GINI, where I'd rather live in the country with the worse GDP PC and the better GINI. At any rate, Hong Kong is an odd case because it has a distinct system all to one city, and it has always been a specially treated property of either the UK or the PRC.
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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Socialism's only ever used in a prejorative sense to describe the evils of bureaucracy and government corruption now, the ideology of capitalism has such a deep, deep root and its pretty much successfully framed all thinking for long enough that people consider it synonymous with nature and ever alternative or deviation from its norms as artifice, aberrance or dreams doomed to fail.

    Personally I see socialism in the same sense as early US socialists like John Spargo or even more idealistic proponents like Oscar Wilde or George Orwell, its a good because it should operate as a bridge to individualism, the same individualism which has universal appeal but which is objectively the preserve of the few.

    Although to realise that vision is going to take some sort of restructuring which actually requires norms of personal responsibility which I think have largely disappeared, people are content with what sovereignty they have as consumers, which is a little like the decision making power of an addict whose supply is running short but anyway.

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    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Finally getting back to this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Interest is of primary importance. Without discussion of whom the political organisation is serving, politics is meaningless. But our interests themselves are shaped by many factors. Secondly, regarding the prior point about about cohesiveness, once we are to make decisions for others, the process itself is arguably compromised. Now even for those who we spend a lot of time with, for example our family, although our claims of acting in their interests may be considered benevolent (at least in some cases). But it is always going to be compromised owing to the reduction in cohesiveness. As the scale increases, the cohesiveness reduces and even a democratically administered government, aiming to act benevolently in our interests might not be acting as such in reality.
    That's true, but we have never the less continued to move in that direction. People still seem to be passively working on the assumption that the benefits gained from having a larger group is worth the costs paid for the strain of a larger group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    But even this example is assuming an ideological position - that the government should work in the individual or grouped interests of its citizens. For that matter, why do individuals or governments care about others? This is a question that must be incorporated within a political model for it to be realistic. Or more precisely, a plastic model of human nature.
    There are two different factors in this, I believe.

    One is again the matter of encompassing interest. Mancur Olson's example of the roving bandit vs the stationary bandit.

    If you are a primitive farmer, it is more in your favor to live under a stationary bandit than to try and fend for yourself against roving bandits. Why? A roving bandit has no long term interest in you, they take everything you have, possibly kill you, and move on. The stationary bandit does have long term interest, because he knows that if he takes just as much out of you as he can before ruining you, you can provide to him yet again the next cycle. This vested interest not only means he does ruin or kill you, he may even do things for you to make sure to preserve his assets. The most obvious being protection from roving bandits. He may however do other things, such as provide some aid in times of famine or drought to prevent permanent losses, etc... And you will likely not be alone, others will come under the stationary bandit, so you will also have your peers creating collecting strength, making the stationary bandit stronger, giving the stationary bandit more ability to provide you more to get yet more for himself. He even works on an aggregate reward, he may get so much from you last cycle that he can afford to not take as much from you this cycle, etc... And all of these things give huge advantages to the stationary bandit over the roving bandit. The stationary gets stronger, the roving bandit stays level until failure, he can only re-roll the dice until he gets a losing roll. So there is incentive for people to become stationary bandits as oppose to roving bandits. Thus, every sing person has a good reason to get involved in this group structure.

    The second reason is totally different. The second reason comes from the ever growing wealth of scientific evidence that humans are just innately engineer for social cohesion. We have honest-to-goodness empathy, we can identify other peoples' feelings and the parts of our brain that control those feelings activate. We compulsively imitate other people. We measure much of our well-being on our position in comparison to other people, and so on... It is in our biological make-up to need to depend on other people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Cohesiveness itself is a subject worth discussing. But even if this cohesiveness itself is fixed (in an exploratory model), there are still other aspects that can be optimised. To give you a hint, in an abstract sense, factors include scale and information flow (which incidentally relates to interest - we tend to care about things that we are exposed to and ignore that which we are not).
    The relation between interest and information is also way those with the highest position in society have incentive to control information flow toward preserving their position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    The second reason comes from the ever growing wealth of scientific evidence that humans are just innately engineer for social cohesion. We have honest-to-goodness empathy, we can identify other peoples' feelings and the parts of our brain that control those feelings activate. We compulsively imitate other people. We measure much of our well-being on our position in comparison to other people, and so on... It is in our biological make-up to need to depend on other people.
    Innately engineered? Or is it due to the plasticity of our brain. Social norms and identified challenges are those which we are exposed to regularly. See the 'raised by animals' examples which anecdotally explain this.

    People care most about problems which they are exposed to. Americans care little about the modern issue of slavery because they are rarely exposed to it. Likewise it is hard to get concerned for specific environmental problems, such as endangered species unless you are a scientist, or have been conditioned in some way as to incorporate the importance of discovering such information through abstract means.

    Those in power certainly do try to control information flow to maintain their interests, shutting down the internet and telephone networks for example in times of crisis. But will such limits on information flow increase cohesiveness or reduce it?

    I'm not so sure about the utility of Olson's example as it appears to be based on a false dichotomy.

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