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Why are there more societies where the people are oppressed than free?

  1. Feb 16, 2010 #1
    Why do you think that there are more people throughout human history and up to modern times, you have more people who in societies with oppressive governments and have all of their natural rights not recognized by the authority in power governing them. You would think that f we supposedly have natural rights like the right to pursue the ownership of property as written by people like John Locke,more people would resist having these rights stripped away from them and you would think they be , I would not say rare, but you would think that the world would consist of a lot less people who were not oppressed , and there would be a lot more societies that ether had absolute freedom , or at least relatively free democracies like those in the United States and western europe, that were formed historically recently. But both historically and today, there have only been a handful of free societies and millions of football stadiums of oppressive societies. Most people I expect don't like to be dominated and you would expect that the societies that would formed would be relatively free societies as a result of the nature of the human being not wanting to be dominated by another against there consent. I suppose one explanation would be that most people were ignorant and relied on guidance from another person rather than guidance from there unrecognized rational mind. But then you would have to explain why it took so long for human beings to acquire a rational mind rather than relying on superstitution and folktales to explain why the world they live in operates the way it does. The other explanation for why their are more oppressive societies than free societies is because humans for so long have been relying self-appointed members of the group to lead them to their next destination that they just grown accustomed to group think rather than engaging in any mode of indepedent thinking because in earlier times I suspect that it was a given for humans to be in the groups because of the dangers of traveling alone.
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  3. Feb 16, 2010 #2


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    I am trying to decipher your thoughts but they are not organized. Insertion of paragraphs and elimination of run-on sentences would go a long way towards clarifying them.

    There are a lot of hidden assumptions:

    "...have all of their natural rights not recognized by the authority in power..."

    Natural rights do not come free. They must be defined and recognized by a higher power (such as an international coalition) and then enforced.

    "...You would think that f we supposedly have natural rights like the right to pursue the ownership of property..."

    Might makes right. The stronger tribe tells the weaker tribe what rights it has.

    "...more people would resist having these rights stripped away from them..."

    What makes you think they had those rights in the first place such that they could be stripped away? We rose from dictatorships, so the default is not having rights.
  4. Feb 16, 2010 #3
    I would say that natural rights do not come easily rather than not come freely. I say that people who want to have their rights recognized must put up resistance against forces that want to suppressed their rights. Natural rights are supposed to be universal among humans, no matter what society they are born into and should be completely independent of laws that are created in the country or region they reside in . I think that rights need to be recognized by individuals rather than higher and self-appointed authorities because most likely authorities would want to keep the people that they are governing ignorant of the fact that they are born to walk free as a human being and only subjected to obey their own will because the people in authority want to maintain their power. Ignorance of a bulk of the populace gives advantage to the people in power.

    No, might doesn't necessarily make right. Ignorance allows those being oppressed to give that illusion by those who are trying to be the one at the center of dominance, but it does not make the actions of the ones in power right.

    . Because human beings are self-autonomous and were not born out of the womb to be dominated by other human beings.If natural rights did not really exist, the mind of a human being would not be constructed in a way were all of our actions and are thoughts are derived from the human mind and not some other person . Humans beings control and only control their own thoughts and actions, so it perplexes me that many societies exist where the decisions being made in their life are being made by other people.
  5. Feb 16, 2010 #4


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    I don't know where you have gotten your ideas on natural rights, but natural rights really depend by what "rights" those in power wish to grant you. Although it is argued that humans should have some basic rights, which some refer to as "natural, or "universal" rights, that is an argument that has been around a long time.

    Perhaps you should read up a bit on human rights, you can start here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights then come back to this thread when you have a better understanding.
  6. Feb 16, 2010 #5
    I've read the article and the article supports the premise that I have exactly been arguing for. sure there is much debate throughout human history on what natural rights are, but virtually all of the thinkers on this topic agree that people are born with these rights, and therefore they are universal throughout the world, indepedent of the customs and laws of a given society. Here are a few quotes from the article:
    ,Another quote from the stoics view on nautural rights.
    Natural rights and legal rights are not the same thing . It was philosophers like John Locke and Thomas paine, not necessarily the people in power that have increased our understanding of what natural rights are as opposed to legal rights. I don't know what gave you the notion that I was trying to redefine the meaning of natural rights. There is nothing in any of my posts that contains content that contradicts what is written in this article you have suggested to me that I have read. I really want to understand why there are more tyrannical societies than relatively free societies today and for most of human history.
  7. Feb 16, 2010 #6


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    Of course it doesn't. The point of the saying is that not that it is true, but that it is de facto.

    The farmers delaring their basic rights does little more than get their heads chopped off by the King's militia. That is the default out of which we have to come. Freedom and rights are taken, usually through bloodshed; they're not given freely.
  8. Feb 16, 2010 #7


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    First point, the level of freedom is not boolean, i.e. one is not absolutely free nor absolutely enslaved. You can look for example at the Roman republics which established certain civil liberties to Romain citizens while at the same time had institutionalized slavery.

    The second point I'd say is that liberty is not stable in the same way as tyranny. Power begets and hordes power. In a hierarchical monarchy the intermediate privileged oppressor has a vested interest in the power structure. Power is granted from the top down. Of course being stable it is also stagnant and tends to weaken until external forces topple it. Again look at history especially the Roman empire.

    Free societies are rather quasi-stable maintaining a dynamic equilibrium rather than static stability. The stability of free societies are intentional rather than natural in the sense that they are principle guided.

    You may consider the rough analogy of living organisms vs non-living organic matter. Maintaining life, like maintaining freedom, is a tricky matter requiring constant vigilance on the part of the interacting components to maintain the state of life or freedom.

    Ideally we (freedom lovers) want a diverse community of free states (not a world state except in a very confederate form) in which then the tyrannies are not able to compete nor isolate their citizenry/serfs from the knowledge of freedom and as well where competition between free states leads to group stability in the individual states' recognition of freedoms. The state which begins increasing oppression of its citizens will loose, relative to its neighbors, the economic and power advantages in innovation, prosperity, and public support.

    I foresee the trend toward constitutional democracies continuing into the next century and eventually traditionally tyrannies dying out. This would, I believe, have occurred much more quickly in the middle east had there not been all that oil sitting just under the sands which provided an artificial economic advantage sustaining the medieval monarchies in that region. The battles of the future will be between the degree of collectivism vs individual liberties in the constitutional democracies.

    But again trying to predict the future is always iffy. We may see next century the whole world under the thumb of a theocratic oligarchy or some "emergency government" preserving its power through fear of some artificially inflated threat such as global warming.
  9. Feb 16, 2010 #8


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    Then you will need to throw out you modern notions of natural rights.

    How far back do you want to go? If you go back to early groups of humans, the ones that were stronger and could protect a group, organize them, control them, etc... usually made the rules. If you wanted to be part of the group you followed the rules. If you disagreed with the rules, then if allowed, you could leave the group to start your own group, but that wasn't always an option, if you were more powerful physically, or could sway enough people in your group to overthrow the current ruler, you could take over, but quite often one bad ruler just replaced another bad ruler. Most people simply had their hands full just trying to keep a roof over their head and food in their stomachs and couldn't or wouldn't get involved in changing things.

    You would need to read about the histories of different cultures, ruling classes, and societies to get an understanding of how and why each society evolved the way they did.
  10. Feb 16, 2010 #9
    Thats what I said in one of my earlier posts. Natural rights are not granted or even recognized by authorities freely , people have to put up resistance against those who want to imposed their will on you. We are not in conflict on this subtopic of the topic of the thread. My main contention is that most people allow other people to dominate them instead of putting up a fight to the natural rights they were born with as indicated by how most societies and governments are structured around the world. Defending natural rights is like defending your child from predetators who would pounce all over your child even though the child naturally belongs to your care.
  11. Feb 16, 2010 #10


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    One must weigh the costs. One cannot be home to feed ones child if one is out sharpening farm implements for battle.
  12. Feb 16, 2010 #11


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  13. Feb 16, 2010 #12


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  14. Feb 17, 2010 #13
    Humans are social animals and have a tendency to follow leaders like any other social animal. It creates a more cohesive "pack". Occasionally one must compromise or sacrifice for the good of everyone but if all or most people tended to be staunch defenders of their supposed "natural rights" then far fewer would be willing to sacrifice or compromise. Human society would be far more fractious and more difficult to organize. While people might be more "free" if they were more individualistic and protective of their "natural rights" I think that we might not have necessarily come as far as we have if that were the case.
  15. Feb 17, 2010 #14
    "Natural Rights"...

    is a completely human invention without objective foundation, historically provincial, and of typically human variation in content. The set varies from author to author dependent upon preference and desire.

    It would be better to state what your particular set includes rather than using ill defined structures. I'd recommend, to effectively communicate, use the old adage, "say what you mean, and mean what you say."
  16. Feb 17, 2010 #15
    Yes thats true. But most mothers had a tendency to take care of their children while the fathers would go back and bring home the food and necessities for survival.So, the fathers would have the opportunity and go out keep a watchful eye on those who want to overthrow the society that they resided while gathering food for the family. And The self appointed leaders had children and wive(s) too, so raising their children was not such a distraction in that it got in the way of their plan to attempt to restrict the freedoms that people were naturally exercising.
  17. Feb 17, 2010 #16
    There are more opressive societies than free ones simply because freedom and democracy are very expensive, both in resource and in energy terms.

    Democratic society with broad freedoms is very decentralized structure, thus requiring lot of social interactions to function and make decisions. Each new interaction within society comes at a price in energy and resources. Western Europe, and its historical extension, USA-Canada, had access to wast amounts of resources and food, first domestically, and later in their colonies which gradually led to creation of various democratic institutions during the course of 400 hundred years or so. No other society ever had, or will have, access to such mind-bogglingly amount of resources as Western Europe and USA-Canada had.

    That is why, I believe, worldwide democracy is impossible, and if current demographic and economic trends continue, we will see worldwide trend towards more authoritarian organization.
  18. Feb 17, 2010 #17
    So you are saying that the concept of natural rights is purely relatively? Okay then, so you think that people would not then put up a resistance if a stranger completely came into their habitat , whether it be your hut or house and said that this property is now theirs and that they must leave , you think that in some cultures, people would gladly walk away and find or create some other habitatsto live in?I have a hard time believing this assertion. I think all humans have some fundamental idea, whether it is imprecise or very precise , of what property rights are. I believe that if at least one person from every culture on earth, lets say owned a piece of property they have acquired such as a car and a stranger came up to their car and scraped it with a piece a metal, I believe most owners of the car would produce pretty much the same reaction , which of course would be negative, if there car was scratched up .I believe all humans would put up some form of resistance, if they tried to forced themselves upon them sexually. I believe that most people of the world would not take it to kindly if some try to force you to the ground and proceeded to behead you with a hatchet. Given that there must be some innate tendency to preserved yourself against external forces therefore all humans most have some innate sense of rights that they ascribed themselves. I am aware that the concept of the individual is pretty much a western concept, but then again quantum mechanics was pretty much discovered by western physicists, at least the written records indicate, but that does not make quantum mechanics any less valid in non-western cultures just like the concept of natural rights and individualism is not anymore valid in non-western cultures.

    I don't want this to turn into a discussion on definition of what natural rights are I want to understand why Large masses of people allow a dictator to rise to power even though their are more people being ruled than the people that were propped up to power. Another characteristic of power that I noticed in humans, is that when a so called revolution occurs in human societies , whether it be the French Revolution or the russian revolution or the cuban revolution or the chinese mao revolution,where the main advocates of the push for the revolution to overthrow the ruling elite, they managed to be dictators themselves. Even the American revolution had its flaws because that revolution was based on overthrowing British colonial rule because of exorbitant taxes , but we managed to have a larger tax system than the tax system we had during colonial rule.
  19. Feb 17, 2010 #18


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    Property rights take up a lot of the Roman law code, and also the Germanic, "barbarian" law codes.

    The "haves" in those societies were VERY concerned about regulating the ways "have-nots" could interfere with their own property, or, for that matter, acquire property.
  20. Feb 17, 2010 #19
    That is not a very adequate explanation. Self-preservation are products of human evolution as well as the propensity to want to overpower other human beings. That still does not explain why humans are more prone to not defending themselves against people who want to overpower them and dictate their lives.Other than that humans are too ignorant to know that they are being overpowered and that leaves me with the question of why ignorance is so widespread other than the explanations to they are busy with their personal lives that they are oblivious to what is going on around them
  21. Feb 17, 2010 #20
    I don't know. I suspect that it would be very expensive for one group of individuals to control all of the resources in the area that they are ruling over , and would be less expensive for societies that allow individuals to have access to some of the resources like we have set up here in the United States.
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