Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News There is no we

  1. Apr 10, 2003 #1
    There is no "we"

    I'm not from the US and am really not sure how US citizens are treated in their own country or how they live their lives. However, one thing is clear. There is no "we" in any society.

    Some in PF-PaWF tend to use "we" too much. These US citizens say "we should control Iraq" or "we shouldn't have started the war", I don't care. However, I have to remind them there is no "we." The US citizens aren't a coherent body of equal individuals. They're no exception to the Iron Rule of Oligarchy.

    Whenever a society grows big enough (more than 50 inhabitants actually) it will need some sort of central administration which will after later growth turn into hierarchical central administration. The very existence of central administration is equal to giving power to a small group. No matter whether they've been chosen or have got there by force, they won't like to be taken away from their newly found power. They'll build their ways to maintain it.

    That's what makes the "elite." They have the power and they won't give up until the next group of elite sweeps them out. Under the rule of the elite a society may progress or retrograde. It may flourish or diminish but it will surely not be "we."

    Those who use "we" too much, beware! This isn't "your" power, this isn't "your" country and these aren't "your" decisions but it will be "you" who will be held responsible for them.

    In the presence of abundance and growth the elite will feed their sheep quite well. For giving the sheep a 90 percent share of the profit will leave the elite with a fairly large 10 percent.

    The US has never experienced real problems like those of third world countries. A test of such situation will show the loyalty and honesty of US elite. I'm almost sure they won't pass that test just like third world and minor leaders failed. They want their share and 10 percent won't suffice so they'll rob the nation off its true rights.

    I don't wish such situation for the US because they're the beating heart of this world, for now at least. I wish, however, that US citizens will become aware of their great effect on the future of our species and their great luck for being born there and that they don't waste it for the chance won't come again. I also wish they give up this useless pride and hypocrisy that will bring every nation to its knees if practiced for too long a period of time.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2003 #2
    when i say "we shouldn't have started the war" i am referring to my #*@$ing tax dollars that fund the twisted schemes.
  4. Apr 10, 2003 #3
    To me, it looks like we are doing just fine. :smile:
  5. Apr 10, 2003 #4
    It's a world-wide problem if you ask me.

    To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
    -Thomas Jefferson
  6. Apr 10, 2003 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Manual, that is just a clear lack of understanding of the concept of a democracy. American or otherwise, it doesn't work that way. Power is derived from the people. I recommend reading some Locke and Hobbes.

    And clearly this shows why the rest of your thesis is wrong. Our Constitution is what makes that possible.
  7. Apr 10, 2003 #6


    User Avatar

    Where in the constitution is it illegal to economically exploit your fellow man? I'd say it was encouraged for most of american history.
  8. Apr 10, 2003 #7
    well FZ+, i got that out of this part:

    best i can tell that says that you can do whatever the hell you want as long as you do not go taking someone else life, restricting their liberty or infringing on their pursuit of happiness. however, even though it says that right there on top of everything; looking at all the laws we have it is reasonable to assume that the majority of our government could care less about the constitution.
  9. Apr 10, 2003 #8
    1. For BoulderHead:

    You know you always have my respect and admiration.

    2. For russ_waters:

    I haven't read John Locke and Thomas Hobbes (just out of curiosity, wasn't Hobbes a firm defender of Monarchy? seems you like it ) by themselves but I've read about them. I think you missed John Stewart Mill and his explanation of the dictatorship of majority. That sort of dictatorship happens when "we" is used too much. It rises when some think they're the whole. That they're "we." Interstingly enough, this happens when they couldn't have done anything else if they decided to oppose the majority's stupid conclusions. And then they start a free-ride as one head to the thousand-headed monster named the society.

    Then, I suggest you read Anthony Giddens' "Sociology" for it will, at least, give you a minimal understanding of how complicated the human world can be.

    And get a good understanding of the Iron Rule of Oligarchy. Democracy is a dream, a beautiful dream one may presume but it isn't feasible. Democracy won't forbid inter-authority networking, proprietary golf clubs for industry owners, family meetings for the judiciary and the government, the dark program in education system, stupidity of the majority and those who are born privileged.

    The only true representative of the individual is the same invidividual and no one else. That way one will be held responsible for one and see the outcome for one. The decision of the majority can be considered stupid by default for the majority is where the Press and the money rule. I don't think the Press and the money will be good instructors. And stupid decisions made by the majority may for sometime be stood up to until they learn enough not to decide by mistake. Unfortunately enough, the time is too short and too many mistakes have been made already.

    This is a dilemma: without central administration societies can't have more than 50 or so inhabitants thus losing all the benefits of being in numbers, with central administration corruption and Oligarchy is inevitable.

    3. For Alias:
    I'm afraind you're wrong.

    The US is the biggest polluter of the environment.

    The US is the biggest producer of weapons.

    The US is the biggest consumer of energy, to no use.

    The US, with all its resourcefulness, is wasting the chance to colonize space that is our only way to long-term survival.

    The US, with all its love for Democracy, has been the only supporter of several dictators all over the world, Augusto Pinochet for example. For a close-up, read Isabel Allende's "La Casa de los Espiritus" (The House of The Spirits).

    The US, with all its love for peace, has initiated many wars after WW II, Iraq-Iran war for example.

    The US, with all its love for human rights, has to all extents (even militant action, aside from conspiracy) supported several multinational companies to suck up poor people's blood to make money for the US. For a detailed look of the leech, read Miguel Angel Astorias' "El Papa Verde" (The Green Pope) only once. It is well worth it, Astorias won the 1967 Noble prize in literature for his "El Señor Presidente" (Mr. President).

    I don't care if I die of the pollution you, yes you Alias, may have made without a reason (just used a few liters more gas for a vacation). I don't care if I'm killed by a new weapon that you, yes you Alias, have paid tax for its invention. I don't care if I die of cold because you, yes you Alias, have used too much energy for warming up a party. I don't care not because I'm not fond of me but because I know my being here is limited, sooner or later I'll die and disappear in the biosphere.

    I don't care if I or a billion other individuals die but I do care if the species is going to disappear. Do you think it's Sci-Fi? You're dreaming of safety then. This world is close to a verge. Someday in near future all human beings will see the outcome of 200 years of ignorant behavior, when homo sapiens will become extinct.

    I guess a few will live on for they've built shelters for their entire life but you, yes you Alias, won't live on if you aren't one of the rich who've predicted the outcome of ignorance.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2003
  10. Apr 10, 2003 #9
    Thank you for the kind words. For those who may have missed John Stewart Mill and his explanation of the dictatorship of majority here is a taste;

    "…in political speculations "the tyranny of the majority" is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard. Society...practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression,...penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them…" - John Stuart Mill
  11. Apr 10, 2003 #10
    I will agree that word "we" is used too much. Any generalization can be used too much, and "we" (in this threads sense" is a generalization. But, come on now, often times there is a "we".
  12. Apr 10, 2003 #11
    ya i suppose, maybe we should put a stop to it.
  13. Apr 10, 2003 #12
    Well that's all very nice.

    And now everyone shut up for a minute and let's let Mr. Silvio offer some solutions.

    You do have some solutions in mind don't you Mr. Silvio?
  14. Apr 10, 2003 #13
    All right already! I won't use "we" again. Us citizens of the USA are really lucky. Us love our country.

  15. Apr 11, 2003 #14
    1. For BoulderHead:

    Thank you for the quote.

    2. For RageSk8:

    Well, using "we" to reference a coherent group or just as a helper in expressing one's opinion is all good. The problem rises when it is used to imitate coherence or for a part of a discussion to hide her/his fallacies behind the society colossus.

    3. For kyleb:

    You've got a good sense of humor. I like your stance because of those PF posts of you I've read.

    4. For Alias:

    With asking for solutions you've accepted there's a problem, I presume. For a long time, I thought Democracy accompanied with Freedom of Speech and mild socialistic concerns will be the best way to govern a society. I came to know that every known implementation of Democracy suffers similar problems.

    The core to these problems is the human nature. Human nature can't be regulated. Wanting more is one of the most powerful drives in every individual. There's no limit to what one may want. Democracy and other systems of governance are meant to harmonize the struggle for more in order to provide the best for the most. All systems of governance are based on some sort of Utilitarianism, except for that the utility is different in them. A democratic republic sees this-worldly welfare as the utility while an Islamic republic sees other-worldly welfare (eg, some paradise or utopia) as the utility.

    Since every system of governance must be implemented through a group of human beings, that certain group will always be privileged and since no one wants to lose privileges the privileged group will someway stabilize their superior position.

    Democracy is no exception. It will surely cause an "elite" group to rise over the nation. Even worse, the elite won't be those who've, at least, fought hardest and are the best for that position. The elite will be those who can best satisfy the public. Assuming the presence of an open capitalist economy, there will surely be huge concentrations of wealth in the hands of a minority who will surely be able to satisfy the public not by proving their merit but by mass media.

    Other systems of governace are similarly doomed to this situation. Each in its very own way.

    A good simulation of this problem happens on the Internet. All hosts attached to the Internet struggle for more bandwidth. When the designers thought of this problem they first concluded that a set of externally-supported don't-be-such-a-pig rules will do the job. Later they found out this approach won't do. As a result, all new protocols were strengthened with don't-be-such-a-pig rules built "into" every host and forced by all routers so the host couldn't break the rule. In an analogy, the only efficient (yet not true) solution is a built-in lock against the desire for more inside every individual to prevent her/him from a fight for more when the fight damages the society. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this built-in lock is not there by default and no one will ever risk implanting such a thing.

    The one and only backdoor out of the dilemma I presented is individual awareness. Individuals should be aware of the situation and make sure that the elite experience enough dynamism to ensure continual progress in the body of the elite. An elite group who've reigned for a long time without change will cause the corruption of a whole society.

    A true solution to this dilemma can be proven to be non-existent but with enough care there are hopes that a society passes the critical limit with safety. The critical limit is passed when the society is no more threatened by the scarceness of resources and/or usual mistakes of the sheep and the elite.

    In the US situation is even more crucial for the US is the beating heart of this world, as I said before. The US is a relative maximum to human civilization and if its citizens don't care, the fall will come after the local climax has been reached. The fall won't be limited to one country/nation anymore. The new world is unimaginably interconnected and complex. The fall of the US will mean the fall of human species. No one can escape the unpleasant consequence. Absolutely no one.

    Even now, too many mistakes have been made all around the world. The world may never be able to recover from the results but minimization is possible. If US citizens get the right understanding of their important status quo they'll hopefully be able to guarantee the survival of the species. Otherwise, all hopes are gone.

    During the 20th century, the US has had a good blend of governmental and economical consideration whose outcome the US citizens are enjoying right now but the world has changed since then. The abundance, the vast expanse of the world to be conquered is no more there. A new policy that transcends all former ones is needed.

    There's no problem with US doing whatever it pleases (bash 'em, smash 'em, cash 'em, trash 'em) but their current pleasure is decreasing the already small chance of survival. They'd better learn better ways of enjoyment and put down that hypocrisy and pride that makes them believe they're doing the right thing. For the sake of their own survival, at least.

    Saying "we" is disadvantageous in this context for it gives the individual an impression that it is she/he who decides. This is lethal simply because it isn't she/he who makes the decision but it is she/he who will suffer/enjoy the consequence. The heart of individual awareness is that every individual knows her/his position and effect. Saying "we" is an indication of a false impression of one's position and effect.

    5. For GENIERE:

    If you meant that seriously, you're right. If not, I have to repeat that you're really lucky if you're a US citizen. You're enjoying a position unique in all human history and over the entire geographical expanse of Earth. You can live a life that the majority of the human inhabitants of this planet can't even dream of. The richness of life in the US is the most precious gift disclosed to those who live there.
  16. Apr 11, 2003 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The tyranny of the majority is not unaddressed in the US Constitution. It was debated very hotly in the Anti-Federalist and Federalist Papers. The result was the Bill of Rights, protecting the voices of dissent, religious minorities, accused criminals and other unpopular people. Recognizing that this would not likely be adequate, provision was made to amend the Constitution to allow future rights to be added.

    The forces of oligarchy are weakening generally over time, though not monotonicly.

    Political cronyism is less effective now than in the past. The electorate has been broadened, senators are no longer appointed, presidential candidates are chosen in a flawed but democratic primary system. While resorting more and more to the will of the people can actually yield worse leaders in some respects, it does subject the process to a populace that is becoming more aware over time. While pandering to the wealthy is helpful, pandering to the masses is more helpful.

    Economic oligarchs are also weaker. Economic oligarchs in the past used small investors to leverage their own power. The small investor supplied wealth, but had no voice in affairs. Now, smaller investors comprise the majority of total invested wealth in the US, and they are organizing. Representitives of the organizations that represent collectives of small investors were insturmental in the removal of the chairman of the SEC over the objections of the president and most corporate chairmen. "We" are not where we should be, but we're geting there. Bill Gates has nowhere near the power execised by Andrew Carnegie or John Rockerfeller.

    The real question though isn't comparing Bill Gates power to Andrew Carnegie's. It is comparing my power to the average guy from the past. When I was a kid, the police could kill any average person they wanted with impunity as long as they didn't go overboard and were discrete. Homosexuals could not admit to their lifestyle and hope to have a job, friends or a safe place to live. Mixed race couples were arrested. Black people would be burned out for living in white neighborhoods. While these problems still exist to some extent, they are newsworthy exceptions, not the norm.

    The biggest example I can see of the empowering of the masses is the war in Iraq. Compare what George Bush had to do to go to war in Iraq with what LBJ had to do to go to war in Vietnam. Bush went to the UN, presented his case to the American people, got advance approval from congress and laid out a case for technical, moral and security justification. You may not have believed him, or been swayed by what he presented, but he performed these actions. All this, and a modest majority approved of war, but a war that had better be over damn fast. LBJ presented some doctored dispatches to a few congressional leaders, and that allowed him to wage a war that lasted longer than any other in US history. All of this because the opinion of the people matters now, it didn't in the 1960's.

  17. Apr 11, 2003 #16


    User Avatar

    While this is obviously a good thing, the real question is whether it is enough.
  18. Apr 11, 2003 #17
    Let me see if I can break this down.

    Problem: Even free capitalist societies suffer from a stratification of governance that causes an elite group at the top. This is troublesome because power corrupts.

    Solution: Term limits.

    In the US we do employ term limits to varying extents at the State and Local levels of government. And of course, the Presidency of the US is also subject to term limits.

    Periodically, even the US Senate & House of Representatives consider and vote on term limits.

    Even if a Constitutional Amendment were passed that would subject all governmental officials to term limits, the problem would not be solved. The reason is because these positions of power will not change. Only the duration of holding the office would change. Limiting the term causes problems of it's own as well.

    The real solution is for the electorate to pay more attention and elect better leaders.
  19. Apr 11, 2003 #18


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    OMG, I agree with kyleb [runs away screaming in terror].

    [five minutes and a double shot of vodka later...]
    I would however argue that we are getting better and not worse. The exploitations of people by business today are nothing compared to the economic anarchy that we faced as a result of the industrial revolution. Legislation has fixed a LOT of problems. But there is still work to do.

    The beauty of the preamble to the Constitution is it says what the rest of the Constitution can't - government exists to uphold those ideals. And if it isn't, its not doing its job. Thats the measuring stick.

    No, Hobbes disscusses the concept of political authority being derived from the people. Its an early iteration where he talked of "giving up" your right to govern yourself to a person or group, but thats not the same as a monarchy. In a monarchy the people never had that right in the first place. Hobbes also debunks anarchy and discusses rights or "laws of nature." Its an outstanding work of political theory. Again, political theory has evolved somewhat since then, but his work I think got the ball rolling on modern democracy. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/h/hobbes.htm is a good (short) link to get you started.

    That problem is addressed in the constitution. It is one of the primary reasons we have the Bill of Rights.
    The name rings a bell. I probably have read some of it though I can't remember it. I'll get myself a refresher. And I never said these concepts were simple. If they were simple it wouldn't be so difficult to create a decent government.
    I'm sorry, but IMO, the existence of the Constitution proves this wrong.
    So what's your solution (and now I'm a little confused)? You seem to be suggesting we need anarchy. But modern anarchists aren't anarchists, they are socialists/communists. And socialism/communism does NOT protect the rights of individuals it cedes ALL of them to the government.

    Manuel, pretty much everything you said after that is absurd. Particularly your statements on the US's consumption of energy and resources and the resulting pollution. You state this is all "to no use". The US most certainly DOES put our resources to use. We have by far the largest economy in the world. People always rank the US by per capita pollution. But that is an incorrect way to do it. Pollution levels must be compared to the economy. In that regard we are doing reasonably well (thats not to say we shouldn't try to do better).

    All I can say is wow. I'd see someone about that...

    So we're all doomed? I truly truly feel sorry for you. It must be painful believing that.
    Au contraire. The American Dream is free for all. All you have to do is follow our example. The entire westernized world is prosperous for that very reason.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  20. Apr 11, 2003 #19


    User Avatar

  21. Apr 11, 2003 #20


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Damn you, Njorl, you're so concise you beat me to it. :wink:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook