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Attempt at dialectic political theory

  1. Mar 15, 2004 #1
    to begin with, i have formulated seven precepts that i believe are fundamental to just government. feel free to rip them to shreds but please, can we be spared the reactionary social darwinist and/or social moralist platitudes that so often pass for political discussion? thanks.

    1. creating and maintaining property and exercising free will is an individual's liberty.

    2. a public capital market is a necessary consequence of #1.

    3. creating and maintaining public order and public justice is a society's liberty.

    4. a public government is a necessary consequence of #3.

    5. whenever and wherever the interests of private liberty affect of conflict with the interests of the liberty of society there is always required some form and degree of objective regulation or rule of law.

    6. the mechanism with which this regulation is carried out is called government.

    7. politics is the mechanism by which the form and degree of this regulation is itself observed, affected and adjusted according to the demands of society.

    the sixth rule is well understood in a pragmatic and practical light. private enterprise cannot be allowed to dictate morality to a society, neither can individuals. we would think this patently unjust. individuals cannot impose beliefs, customs or morality upon society at large - this would be in violation of #1.

    but we also see the theoretical and inevitably practical problem of now having given society and it's mechanism for interpreting public will and morality sway to dictate that morality (interpreted accurately or otherwise) upon the private liberty of the individual. one can readily imagine a lopsided scenario where widely held social morality soon trumps individual liberty to an astonishing degree. in fact twentieth century history is hardly bereft of relevant examples - the mechanism may in fact be abused or public morality misinterpreted. public liberty cannot be given unchecked power over private liberty and vice versa.

    however, we must give the authority to discern and resolve apparent conflicts between public and private morality to society at large because society also has liberty to steer itself in a just and moral direction - societal liberty is no more or less important than the liberty of the individual.

    conflicts between individual liberty and societal liberty are perpetual and ubiquitous.

    so what mechanism of government can then effectively resolve or mitigate these conflicts between individual and societal interests on behalf of a society of individuals? how can such a mechanism be said to be an 'objective regulator'?


    any input welcome and appreciated :smile:
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2004 #2

    Njorl

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    One partial solution to the tyranny of the majority - a situation in which the bulk of the populous have beliefs that allow them to democratically oppress a minority - is found in our Bill of Rights, or generally, in the rights provided by the amendments to the Constitution. In essence, they are a definition of our society. They are time consuming to change, so they do not reflect passing moods. They require supermajorities in both houses of congress, and a supermajority of the state legislatures. This ensures that they reflect a broad segment of society.

    It is then a matter of how much should a society impede the will of the majority. Obviously, this faces the problem of dealing with majorities and minorities just in the making of this decision. It is ameliorated somewhat by the fact that we are all minorities in some way. We can all envision a time when we will be glad that minority rights are protected. This justifies leaving this decision to majority rule. If these protections are made enduring, it allows the minorities protected to be assured that they have a place in the society for years to come. Unprotected minorities are also assured that they will not be welcome for years to come, and that they are better off adapting or relocating.

    The "we are all minorities" philosophy has its limits. When this becomes a problem is in cases of stark societal conflict. In Iraq, there are Shiites, and there are minorities. That fact overwhelms all other distinctions at the moment. Shiites have been persecuted as a unit for so long, that they may consider themselves monolithic. Iraqi shiites may see no self-interest in a constitution that protects minority rights. To Shiites, for years, minority rights has meant the rights of secular Sunnis to oppress them.



    Njorl
     
  4. Mar 15, 2004 #3
    Njorl- You're right to say that the Bill of Rights is only a partial solution. While it is a very good and right thing, it is only a piece of paper.

    No political system is perfect, and people are evil. Corruption can be reduced, but it will always creep in at some level. The will of the people, no matter how wrong, is in the end stronger than any imposed system.
     
  5. Mar 15, 2004 #4
    "One partial solution to the tyranny of the majority - a situation in which the bulk of the populous have beliefs that allow them to democratically oppress a minority - is found in our Bill of Rights, or generally, in the rights provided by the amendments to the Constitution."

    Or anarchy or cultural districting. In each case possessing anti institutional-discrimination law.
     
  6. Mar 16, 2004 #5
    njorl, are you saying that the more individuals within a society who consider themselves a minority in SOME regard, the more difficult it is for society at large to impinge upon individual liberties as a general rule?

    one might then conclude that diversity of culture, language, religion, ethnicity empowers the cause of individual liberty within the framework of larger society, or - absolute diversity = absolute libertarianism. perhaps diversity is a tool to apolitically manipulate the perpetual balance between individual and collective liberty.

    i’m glad that we’re talking about the difficulties inherent in the regulation of society because that is the crux of the argument, of course. Let me state my hypothoses –

    I believe that every form of government that has ever existed can be expressed as an elaboration of my 7 precepts. from theocracy to monarchy, from totalitarian socialism to capital republic to fascism. the differences lie in the manner and form of the regulation or the relationship between public and private liberties.

    I also believe that there is something approaching an ideal in relation to the successful regulation of this conflict. i will refer to it as ‘social democracy’. It is foolish to assume that a ‘one size fits all’ political ideology can ever be ubiquitous but i believe that social democracy can at least be logically expressed as a successful regulation of public and private liberties in accordance with public will.

    pseudonym, i prefer not to rely on the fact that people are inherently evil but i am willing to concede to the axiom 'power corrupts'. you're absolutely right that the 'will of the people' is more important than any imposed system but consider that imposed systems are mandated by the will of the people. whether or not the will behind the mandate has been misinterpreted or baldly hijacked or simply ignored is where things get difficult. we cannot sacrifice societal liberty in the name of private liberty. the two spheres must always be in balance and intact. the balance is a negotiation between private and public liberties.
     
  7. Mar 20, 2004 #6
    Private property

    As regarding to #1, what do you consider private property?
    In the ordinary sense, the things each has bought or made themselves individually, this is to be considered an individual right.
    When it comes to owning private means of production, however, there is a problem of course, since this is no longer individual property, but property in a societal form.
     
  8. Mar 24, 2004 #7
    heusdens - of course,this is the fundamental point. conflicts between private enterprise and society are arbitrated by government, that is its role. the question is what is the best mechanism by which we judge public will? the public must make the distinction between private liberty infringing on societal liberty (eg. private ownership of means of production) but in what sense can the 'public' ever take a comprehensive decision? the mechanisms we have now are based around a legislature or congress (depending in which western country you live, and yes this is a presumptuous thread) but what are the fundamental functions of such a mechanism? is it possible to create a flawless mechanism? a perfect form of representative democracy?
     
  9. Apr 18, 2004 #8
    Private property (of the means of production) are a societal conflict within itself, because the means of production accumulate wealth in the hands of the (minority) of production owners, based on the exploitation of labourclasses (majority) on a societal bases (the wage labour system).

    Within socialism, such a conflict is avoided at the bases of common ownership (which under that specific historic conditions was implemented as state ownership) of the means of production.

    But this is realy only helpfull in the sense of formal (juridical) ownership of the means of production, and did not implement sufficient methods of control over the means of production.

    This way of solving the problem has, because of the worldhistoric circumstances (the fall of socialism), been abondoned in most countries.

    Current capitalist world domination does not "solve" the problem either, but merely increases the problem (as in many countries, like the european countries, more and more means of production become "privatized").

    Solutions must be based on increasing the consciousness of workers, and have them act for democratizing and socializing the means of production, and get grip of govt. institutions that put corporations under sufficient control, and also taxate profits and incomes based on taxes sufficiently, so that private interests are terned back into common/workers interests.

    For instance the healtcare system and education, social welfare and housing system, can be subsidized at the basis of such profits, having such private profits work in the general interest.

    To provide "public control" of the means of production, and having them work in the interest of society as a whole, does not necessarily require direct physical or juridical ownership of such means of production, other measures could work as well or even better to serve that goals.
     
  10. Apr 18, 2004 #9
    1. creating and maintaining property and exercising free will is an individual's liberty.


    -------you need to define what 'free will' is, and then seperate free will from 'true will' i.e an indiviudal's role that is played in society and the functions that it governs.

    2. a public capital market is a necessary consequence of #1.

    -----------agree, captilism is the only way to do this

    3. creating and maintaining public order and public justice is a society's liberty.

    -------I dont know what that means

    4. a public government is a necessary consequence of #3.

    ------I guess I do now, you mean that government is neccesary to administer the flow of liberty

    5. whenever and wherever the interests of private liberty affect of conflict with the interests of the liberty of society there is always required some form and degree of objective regulation or rule of law.

    --------yes, legal dialectic, how to arrive at agreeable truths between parties.

    6. the mechanism with which this regulation is carried out is called government.

    _______it sounds like you already said that.

    7. politics is the mechanism by which the form and degree of this regulation is itself observed, affected and adjusted according to the demands of society.


    ------I disagree with your definition of politics, politics is a social norm, it is not a branch of law, it is actually an enneffective and outdated mode of problem solving



    good discussion!

    PS, what's up with these qoute tags? they are not working

    Moonrat
     
  11. Apr 20, 2004 #10
    The main portion of this, it's axiom, that private property, private ownership of the means of production is an individual right, I do not agree on.

    Firstly since that right is aquired in the course of history by the accumulation of wealth of those groups that do not have any private property, and are exploited under the wage labour system. The wage labourer him/herself has no individuality at all, and the welbeing of that individual is only accounted for based on historical conditions, formed by social struggle.

    Posing this axiom therefore comes in conflict with equality, since individuals in a society bsed on private property are not equal, there is a fierce struggle between the owners of capital, and those that do not.

    Secondly, the axiom considers private property an individual right, and assumes such a right as having existence only on the individual level.
    Capital ownership is however not an individual right, but a social relationship, which is based on the wage labour system. There doesn't exist capital, without wage labour, and vice versa. Capital and labour mutually determine each other, they are a dialectical unity of opposites.

    Capitalism needs a certain state form, that protects private ownership.

    With capitalism comes necessarily a division in society between owners of means of production, and those that do not own any means of production, and can only sell their labour.

    See also:
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/preface.htm
    for an introduction to the issue of capital and labour.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2004
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