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Government: Who Needs It?
Posted: 12 January 2007 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Bias in research?

Brennon said:

Sure, the pendulum has swung from the predominant research focus being on male aggression and competition (Schaller, Wrangham) to studying the elements of other great ape group behavior that involve cooperation, empathy, etc (De Waal and such). But part of this is historical (more women entered the field and female behavir became more of a research focus, and the natural tendancy of one generation to challenge the preconceptions of the previous generation). And part of it involves the political agenda and preconceptions of the researchers, choosing ways of organizing their research to illustrate specific qualities of primate behavior.

Hmph.. why is bias apparant via female or “liberal” researchers (Du Waal, et al), and not in the male, Hobbesian researchers of yesterday?  I think the political influence is on the latter and not the former.

Read “The Human Potential for Peace” by Douglas Fry (www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/he/subject/Anthropology/CulturalandSocialAnthropology/AnthropologyofWarWarandPeaceStud/?view=usa&ci=9780195181784), and “Women, Power and the Biology of Peace” by Judith Hand (www.jhand.com/wpbp_main.html)  ... besides Du Waal, Goodall, DS Wilson.. and check out these websites:

 

 

  - ignore the religious silliness, no one is perfect :evil:

And recall Humanist Manifesto II’s statement…

THIRTEENTH: This world community must renounce the resort to violence and force as a method of solving international disputes. We believe in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the development of the arts of negotiation and compromise. War is obsolete. So is the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It is a planetary imperative to reduce the level of military expenditures and turn these savings to peaceful and people-oriented uses.

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Posted: 12 January 2007 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”][what evidence does exists does not particularly support the libertarian notions of how people would behave in the absence of government.

Only if you ignore the mass of human or primate interaction and cooperation. Chimps, Bonobos and Humans do many (most) things all the time in a cooperative and even compassionate manner without (in spite of ) government.

History is chock full of successful, long lived primates who didn’t have a government. Lets be clear that government as a thing we are now discussing has only been around for a few thousand years. Humans have been around for nearly a million and primates for much longer. All of what government has given us was being solved on an individual and ad hoc group basis for most of our history.

How much more evidence than that do you need?

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Posted: 12 January 2007 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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[quote author=“cgallaga”]History is chock full of successful, long lived primates who didn’t have a government. Lets be clear that government as a thing we are now discussing has only been around for a few thousand years. Humans have been around for nearly a million and primates for much longer. All of what government has given us was being solved on an individual and ad hoc group basis for most of our history.

How much more evidence than that do you need?

I would add to this, that history also shows, in example after example, that government always fails, every time it’s tried.

Isn’t it about time we tried something different, for a change?

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Posted: 12 January 2007 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Quote:
Sure, the pendulum has swung from the predominant research focus being on male aggression and competition (Schaller, Wrangham) to studying the elements of other great ape group behavior that involve cooperation, empathy, etc (De Waal and such). But part of this is historical (more women entered the field and female behavir became more of a research focus, and the natural tendancy of one generation to challenge the preconceptions of the previous generation). And part of it involves the political agenda and preconceptions of the researchers, choosing ways of organizing their research to illustrate specific qualities of primate behavior. 


Hmph.. why is bias apparant via female or “liberal” researchers (Du Waal, et al), and not in the male, Hobbesian researchers of yesterday? I think the political influence is on the latter and not the former.

Barry, you missed my point entirely. Both sets of researchers are biased by their own perspective and political agenda. The change in emphasis as women entered primatology illustrates how the focus of the research, and the conclusions drawn, are heavily influenced by the perspective of the scientists involved. Ethology is still a relatively descriptive science, and less amenable to stgrict controls on bias than other branches of behavioral biology. Both cooperative and competitive behavior manifest in primate groups, and the primacy of one over the other has not been established by a long stretch. Since people feel obliged to try and strengthen their arguments about what humans “natural” inclinations are by referring to the behvaioral studies of other primates, I feel obliged to point out that apart from the inherent danger in extrapolating from one species to another, the data available do not provide anything like a consistent picture, and the conlcusions even about the species being studied are very much subject to the a priori agenda of the researchers involved. So I don’t think this field provides much that is relevant to settling the debate about how human beings would behave when freed from the constraints of governments.


cgallaga,

mckenzievmd wrote:
[what evidence does exists does not particularly support the libertarian notions of how people would behave in the absence of government.


Only if you ignore the mass of human or primate interaction and cooperation. Chimps, Bonobos and Humans do many (most) things all the time in a cooperative and even compassionate manner without (in spite of ) government.

The relevance of what other primates do, which scientists in the field are by no means agreed upon anyway despite the current position of the pendulum in the “peace, love, and harmony” camp, I’ve already discussed above, and I think it is minimal. As for the fact that most people’s do not engage in non-stop competition and violence every day begs the question of what level of competition and violence would obtain in the absence of government and what effect it would have on the overall quality of life for the majority. I know we’ll never agree, unless the experiment of a true stateless society is actually tried in our lfietimes, which I doubt will happen, but I still believe we’re safer and happier with a government tghan without one.

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Posted: 12 January 2007 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Re: crime with out government?

[quote author=“Barry”]Also, what you had in Europe was not any of these things, but statist, totalitarian communistic socialism.

Well, yes and no. The communists had won the (democratic!) election in 1946. It took the country twenty years to realize that it was simply a mistake. They wanted to make it work, but couldn’t. In 1968 the Russians took over and everything went downhill. It was not a “totalitarian communistic socialism” in the beginning but it inevitably became one after some time. It doesn’t matter if you call it socialism, communism, “heaven on earth” or Parpolity. What does matter is that humans are probably more closely related to chimps than to bonobos: we make war, not love. Well, most of us, the rest (the “nice guys”) end up on a cross.

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Posted: 12 January 2007 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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[quote author=“gmgauthi”]Excellent clarification on the question of individuals and groups.

However, I was hoping you could clarify this quoted comment: [quote author=“jonthompson”]Ascribing separate moral codes for the participants [of] organizations (family, government, church - also slippery concepts) based on these labels I believe to be the root of all evil. Arguing the effects of these organizations on society is entirely another matter.

Could you explain why, for example, individuals identified with the group “government” and individuals identified with the group “citizen” should not be judged by separate moral codes? Also, could you explain the (apparently) higher-level principle (or moral code?) that led you to that conclusion?

Thanks!

Certainly. You can simply refer back to my post. If the essential nature of man (self-aware, rational, or however you wish to define it) doesn’t change because of his proximity to another human (remember, we don’t sprout wings or turn into a banana when walking into an elevator with a stranger) than we cannot rationally assign moral codes to different human beings based on quantity. A uniform or a purple robe doesn’t change the nature of man regardless if he is self-ordained or appointed by the masses. If it is wrong for a man to kill someone who is not threatening him in New York, than it must be wrong for a soldier in Iraq. If it is wrong for a teacher to slap a student in her classroom, it is wrong for a mother to do it at home. The amount or proximity of humans (150 million ‘voters’ a thousand miles away or in the latter example, a mother and father under the same roof) who sanction their behavior is thus entirely irrelevant to the moral nature of the action. The institution of government is simply one example of a group of people who use false arguments from morality to control another group of people. We can drop the issue of government entirely and have the same conversation about the church or family and simply switch labels back when we’re done. The lies, immorality, perpetuation of abuse, and exploitation remain the same.

“God” is a mythical creation of man which is assigned virtue. Using the same methodology, so is “government”. The mythology of these fictions is honored by many buildings, statues, and documents designed to lend credibility - to nothing.  In empirical reality, there are only people who interact with other people. In this sense, a politician is nothing more than a preacher. They even have the same gospel: “The way to happiness and salvation is through me”.  Only the preacher passes a collection plate and gives you a scowl if you don’t donate. The response of government is far more brutal. Does this answer your question?

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Posted: 12 January 2007 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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[quote author=“jonthompson”]“God” is a mythical creation of man which is assigned virtue. Using the same methodology, so is “government”.

That’s just absurd!  :shock:

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Posted: 12 January 2007 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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[quote author=“cgallaga”]Only if you ignore the mass of human or primate interaction and cooperation. Chimps, Bonobos and Humans do many (most) things all the time in a cooperative and even compassionate manner without (in spite of ) government.

Well ... first of all, chimps are aggressive.

See here here and here for three quick examples. They cooperate as well, obviously, but to downplay rivalry, competition, violence and killing between them is to falsify the picture.

Secondly, all theoreticians of government have made the point that government only became necessary when we had large populations that were forced to live in close proximity to one another. At that point, my neighbor no longer had the unadulterated freedom to swing his fists as he wanted, since one of them could strike my nose. Or, said more abstractly, people ceased living close to others that they had known since birth and would know for the rest of their lives. People were living more among strangers, which necessitated different strategies than would have been required when living with family and friends.

Modern cities involve, of necessity, living among strangers.

Clearly government is unnecessary if we are talking about a sparse group of nomads wandering around the forest. But if we are to organize such things as grain storage, digging wells, constructing aqueducts, constructing roads, providing advanced health care, providing care and sustenance for the infirm and poor, not to mention punishing theves, murderers and rapists, etc. I simply don’t see how a group of unaffiliated loners is going to get the job done.

In traditional societies, the infirm and poor are taken care of by the nuclear family (and lawbreakers are often murdered)—but the infirm and poor who are without family often end up dying alone. And I doubt anyone on this forum wants to go back to the rigid family structures of traditional nomadic culture. Less the women than the men. Nota Bene!

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Posted: 12 January 2007 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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[quote author=“jonthompson”]Does this answer your question?

Yep! Absolutely. That’s exactly what I was looking for Jon.  smile

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Posted: 12 January 2007 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

Well ... first of all, chimps are aggressive.

See here here and here for three quick examples. They cooperate as well, obviously, but to downplay rivalry, competition, violence and killing between them is to falsify the picture.

You are correct of course, but then I didn’t downplay those features. My statement was part of a refutation to the claim that there is no evidence to expect cooperation without governmental coersion.

And to your example, what government do we know of that has eliminated or for that matter provably improved upon; rivalry, competition, violence and killing? None that I am aware of.

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Posted: 12 January 2007 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]I simply don’t see how a group of unaffiliated loners is going to get the job done.

Never heard of Wikipedia or Linux?  raspberry

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Posted: 13 January 2007 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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[quote author=“cgallaga”]And to your example, what government do we know of that has eliminated or for that matter provably improved upon; rivalry, competition, violence and killing? None that I am aware of.

Er, compare states before the fall of their government with after ... After comes the mayhem, as everyone scrambles to be the next strongman.

Wikipedia and Linux are great ... however, there is something of a government in Wikipedia, a group of people who can lock topics, raise money, etc.

On the other side, has anyone had the pleasure I have of comparing moderated with unmoderated forums? The unmoderated forum is just a forum without any sort of government. They’re fine so long as you have six smart, dedicated people there. But once they grow beyond the most modest level, the results are obvious. They become unreadable. Not to mention the spam!

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Posted: 13 January 2007 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Yes lets look at the bloodless (and very popular to the Thai’s (aside from the ousted)) replacement of the democratically elected Thai Government with a Muslim generals military coup. Or were you more referring to the Iraqi dictatorial government who except for western embargoes had a relatively (to the area) free secular society, being ousted by the representative republic of Americas radical Christian President and then supplanted with an unpopular tribal-based government?  Besides, those states didn’t have governments fall but they were supplanted by other governments. Better or worse maybe, but governments.  Actually most usually the government remains largely intact and only a few governors are replaced.

Aside from that, to discuss the superfluity of government is not similar to condoning the immediate abolition of the same, or even a proposal of anarchy.

On the fora, wiki’s and such I think you are confusing governance (something any good steward of oneself or of a cooperative purpose should do) and government.

Now then…you never did answer the question: what government do we know of that has eliminated or for that matter provably improved upon; rivalry, competition, violence and killing?.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Chimps vs Bonobos

George said:

It doesn’t matter if you call it socialism, communism, “heaven on earth” or Parpolity. What does matter is that humans are probably more closely related to chimps than to bonobos: we make war, not love.


George, first of all, if you read the sources I laid out, you will find that humans are more like Bonobos (in many ways) than Chimps.  Yes, we can be as aggressive as the latter, but I’d argue that 99% of our history (that nomadic hunter gatherer part of our history), we were more like Bonobos.. it was after we built artifical hierarchies (Chiefdoms, Nation-states), that we bacame more territorial like chimps…  As De Waal and others point out, we are more closely related to Bonobos than Chimps.. and I think it was De Waal who said had we learned first about Bonobos rather than Chimps, they would be the primate we would look to to understand human nature.  It just so happens that many of us preferred to compare Chimps to us because we’ve learned about them during our nation-state years.  Chimps help us justify war, greed, violence, captialism and other Hobbesian characteristics.. but these are not the primary attributes of most of human history.. quite the opposite.

Also, the problem with state socialism (the kind Russia brought to your home country OR the type “elected” in before hand), is the state, not the socialism.  Get rid of the state and markets (not just capitalism) - which is NOT what the USSR or most other socialist states were about, of course - and you get a better socialism… a libertarian-socialism… an inclusive democracy.

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Posted: 13 January 2007 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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[quote author=“cgallaga”]Now then…you never did answer the question: what government do we know of that has eliminated or for that matter provably improved upon; rivalry, competition, violence and killing?.

The problem, as you know, is finding a case we can all agree on as one that changed from anarchy to government. I would say that this often happens in war-torn areas, and that government means the return of basic necessities like electricity, water, sanitation, health care, schools, policing, and so on. In that regard, I would say many governments have provably improved on standards of living, and through mechanisms such as the police and courts, they have reduced violence and killing.

Rivalry and competition are—to a greater or lesser extent—human universals, so exist to a degree in every culture. Government, or lack thereof, will have little effect on them. What can have an effect on rivalry and competition is particular cultural practices: more rigid social hierarchies tend to dissuade rivalry and competition. For that reason we see that competitive individuals are less welcome in Japan and in more traditional European cultures (where they are seen as brash upstarts by the landed gentry) than they are in the US, where social mobility is more the norm.

But that said, this has virtually nothing to do with government per se, and a lot to do with culture.

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