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Technocracy
Posted: 10 August 2009 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Maybe you should be a little more open minded? Scientific thinking demands an open mind. You have not demonstrated that…How can you have a rational discussion about anything if you have already made up your mind? I will not even continue this conversation unless you can demonstrate that you can actually give these ideas a *fair chance*, which is what is demanded by the scientific method.

Capital idea, old chap! In fact, I like your idea so much, I’ll do it myself! Bye!  LOL

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Posted: 10 August 2009 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Wow… you’re just sitting there waiting to pounce on the reply button, aren’t you?

If you don’t want to actually go to the source material and refute it, than what you are arguing is essentially your opinion. Have a good one.

I look forward to your refutation of Hubbert. That will be a first, since no one else has yet refuted what was argued in the essays I posted.

[ Edited: 10 August 2009 05:54 PM by PatrickMc ]
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Posted: 11 August 2009 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I’ve enjoyed reading this thread so far.  I think the ideas shared are interesting, and the opposition (per usual) is definite that the idea will not work.  I’ve also seen earlier in this thread that “I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that you are in a very small minority in the US who would agree with that statement.  We like our stuff, for good, bad, or otherwise.  Eliminating essentially all private property is just not going to go anywhere.”  I’m pretty sure that the majority opinion so far is a very elusive sentiment.  I don’t know what the majority of Americans think, and I don’t think the majority of Americans think any one thing for very long.  I am of the opinion, notice opinion is mentioned, that the majority of Americans are not only ill informed in regards to the everyday workings of government; but also, the majority of Americans do very little to consider issues that do not directly effect them.  I don’t think that makes the majority of Americans equipped to make those decisions.  I talk with, drive next to, and have the unfortunate opportunity to shop around the majority of Americans and I wouldn’t trust them to decide anything for me.  I would like to ditch capitalism for a more communal system, but only if we reduce the size of our constituencies and operate a more skeletal government on the national level.  That is just my opinion, but I’m also under no delusion that anything substantial will ever really change in our government.  I like new and alternative theories of government to be batted around.  There is nothing wrong with debating ideas.  I wish more people would be less threatened by discussing ideas.  Maybe then we could have town halls with constructive conversations and clear visions on “majority consent.”

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Posted: 11 August 2009 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Chicken, I agree with you that, as Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst of all possible forms of government”—but he added “except for all the others.” Your problem is, who will decide policy? You maintain that the people are ill-equipped to decide. I agree. But who then should do the job? You? Me? George W Bush? Barack Obama? Patrick proposes an aristocracy of technocrats—only the best people, of course. We’ve tried all sorts of aristocratic systems: hereditary (didn’t work); political (didn’t work); based on passing tests (worked, but badly (Confucianism)). The French have a weak aristocracy based on their educational system. America has a weak aristocracy based on wealth.

The ethical problem you face is that every government will always work badly. If the people run the government, then they have nobody to blame but themselves, and they can always try someone else. If an aristocracy runs the government, eventually the people get fed up with the inevitable corruption and start lopping off heads. Not a good idea.

There is nothing wrong with debating ideas.  I wish more people would be less threatened by discussing ideas.  Maybe then we could have town halls with constructive conversations and clear visions on “majority consent.“

If you are referring to the discussions here, I will remind you that most of the commentators here are very well read and have a strong educational background. They have discussed these ideas at great length. I, for one, grow impatient with the promulgation of ideas that I first encountered many years ago and have long since discarded. When some eager fellow comes along excited about what to him seems like a fresh new idea—but which I have heard many times before—I am happy to explain why that idea isn’t such a good idea. All too often the neophyte is hurt by my dismissive remarks and thinks I am being close-minded. Ah well, he’ll figure it out eventually.

If, on the other hand, you’re referring to American political discourse, I agree entirely that we do a very bad job of it. The level of political discourse in this country is atrocious. But replacing democracy with aristocracy isn’t a solution.

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Posted: 11 August 2009 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Chris Crawford - 11 August 2009 10:27 AM

Chicken, I agree with you that, as Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst of all possible forms of government”—but he added “except for all the others.” Your problem is, who will decide policy? You maintain that the people are ill-equipped to decide. I agree. But who then should do the job? You? Me? George W Bush? Barack Obama? Patrick proposes an aristocracy of technocrats—only the best people, of course. We’ve tried all sorts of aristocratic systems: hereditary (didn’t work); political (didn’t work); based on passing tests (worked, but badly (Confucianism)). The French have a weak aristocracy based on their educational system. America has a weak aristocracy based on wealth.

That seems very defeatist, to me.  My opinion, but I think we need to always talk about ideas, and bring up the areas of concern not as insurmountable road blocks, but historical mistakes that need to be addressed.  When have we ever tried a skeletal national government with smaller constituencies running a communal system?  I’m not familiar with that, but I know you are well versed and if you have the problem with that one, I for one would love to discuss it.  However, this is a technocracy thread and probably not the best place for that.  I actually only have a problem with the masses deciding.  I think if people only made decisions for their immediate communities, then their decisions would not only have more merit, but they are bound to be more appropriate.  That is my opinion, and like I said, I don’t think I’ve seen that at work. 

The ethical problem you face is that every government will always work badly. If the people run the government, then they have nobody to blame but themselves, and they can always try someone else. If an aristocracy runs the government, eventually the people get fed up with the inevitable corruption and start lopping off heads. Not a good idea.

I don’t think “the people” run very much of this government.  I think “the people” are mostly ignorant and make fear based voting choices because of their ignorance.  I don’t think “the people” are currently capable of making any proper decisions, because our democracy is so very removed from our day to day.  I don’t have any issue with the sentiments of communal wealth or some of the ideas outlined here for the technocracy.  I think that history has only shown us that if a select few run everything for the masses, then it will eventually fail.  I think our “illusion” of democracy keeps most of the people apathetic.

If you are referring to the discussions here, I will remind you that most of the commentators here are very well read and have a strong educational background. They have discussed these ideas at great length. I, for one, grow impatient with the promulgation of ideas that I first encountered many years ago and have long since discarded. When some eager fellow comes along excited about what to him seems like a fresh new idea—but which I have heard many times before—I am happy to explain why that idea isn’t such a good idea. All too often the neophyte is hurt by my dismissive remarks and thinks I am being close-minded. Ah well, he’ll figure it out eventually.

I was not inferring anything regarding your knowledge or educational background.  While you feel justified in your impatience, it is not helpful to be certain that you in fact have heard and do know everything.  If some young person just picked up Mao and really liked some of the rhetoric, then sure it is appropriate to give them the proper historical context for Mao’s actions.  However, every person has the right to point out the quality of the intent.  Shutting people down only breeds extremism.  I believe that we shouldn’t rob young people of their experience, just because of the knowledge we have gained from our own experiences and educations.  Therefore, it is a good idea to encourage people to be versed in a thorough historic and philosophic education regarding government and governing disciplines.  I just don’t find it very helpful to dismiss ideas, based on the fact that you’ve already considered and dismissed a particular governing philosophy.  Especially since it leaves you with out the benefit of a new perspective on an old theory.

If, on the other hand, you’re referring to American political discourse, I agree entirely that we do a very bad job of it. The level of political discourse in this country is atrocious. But replacing democracy with aristocracy isn’t a solution.

Agreed.  But talking through ideas and theories is needed.

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Posted: 11 August 2009 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Hi Chicken, Chris,

Since I first started this thread I have come a long way in my research concerning Technocracy and its potential problems. I agree with you that large-scale democracy can be problematic, and that some sort of networked communal system may work better. I am working on the design of such a (technocratic) community right now (EDIT: it actually sounds remarkably similar to your skeletal government + communities idea, Chicken). It directly addresses the common concerns of parasitic behavior, motivation, abundance vs scarcity, transportation, decision-making, and individual freedoms. The article is currently in the peer-review process of NET, and I will be sure to link it here when it is accepted. I value your guys’ knowledge and would appreciate your feedback. smile

[ Edited: 11 August 2009 11:38 AM by domokato ]
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Posted: 11 August 2009 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Chris Crawford - 11 August 2009 10:27 AM

Chicken, I agree with you that, as Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst of all possible forms of government”—but he added “except for all the others.” Your problem is, who will decide policy? You maintain that the people are ill-equipped to decide. I agree. But who then should do the job? You? Me? George W Bush? Barack Obama? Patrick proposes an aristocracy of technocrats—only the best people, of course. We’ve tried all sorts of aristocratic systems: hereditary (didn’t work); political (didn’t work); based on passing tests (worked, but badly (Confucianism)). The French have a weak aristocracy based on their educational system. America has a weak aristocracy based on wealth.

This another of your fundamental misunderstandings resulting from your *assumptions*. Technocracy is *not* an aristocracy, by any definition of the word. Since you show an apparent unwillingness to do any independent research yourself, and base all of your arguments on assumptions, I suppose I will have to briefly paraphrase exactly how positions would be filled in a Technate, even though this information is freely and readily available to anyone who wants it. So, here goes:

First, production would be organized into “Functional Sequences”. In other words, industries would be grouped according to field of operation. There would be a sequence for healthcare, for housing, for communications, transportation, etc, etc.

Second, the process for filling positions is a completely functional process already in use by many of the functional organizations in existence today. Today, when one flips on the light switch or picks up the phone, it works - 99.99% of the time. This is evidence that whatever process those organizations are using to fill those positions is working. If someone fails at their duties, they are quickly replaced, and so service continues with hardly an interruption. What do we know about the process used by these organizations? We know that it is not democratic in the traditional sense of the word. It is based on selection from below and appointment from above.

It is easier to explain by providing an example. Let’s say we have a five level system, with level one being the lowest and five being the highest. If a position becomes vacated for any reason, let’s say in level 3, than those in the level immediately below, level 2, would choose among themselves candidates for the position. This could be done preferably with multiple runoff voting, where candidates are ranked in order of preference. Once this pool of candidates is selected, the people in level 4, the level immediately above the position to be filled, would select from the pool of candidates who to take the job. Positions are kept until retirement or death. At any time, any person can be removed from their position by a two-thirds vote of their peers. With such a system it is virtually impossible for someone to abuse their power, since it would be quickly noticed by their co-workers who would then vote to remove such a person. Most people prefer to not be exploited, so why would they sit around and let someone exploit them when they have the ability to simply remove such a person? Therefore, Technocracy is a system for ensuring that every position is filled by the person *most capable* for the position. Hence the meaning of the word Technocracy which is “rule by skill”.

When I get on an airplane, I don’t care who the pilot is. It’s a functional thing. I know that whatever process is used to select the pilot is one that ensures that the pilot knows how to fly a plane. If, on the other hand, the passengers of an airplane got together and democratically *voted* on who should fly the plane, I would not even get on that plane - I would get off immediately. I don’t care who is responsible for operating the power grids, or the phone systems - I know that the system used for placing people in their jobs within those organizations works, because those services work continuously with hardly an interruption.

Trying to compare Technocracy to aristocracy is a straw man argument, plain and simple. It stems from your own laziness and know-it-all attitude. Your comments and arguments border on dogma.

So you can see that your lack of an open mind has led you to false conclusions and assumptions since all you have to go on are your prejudices. This is a fundamental flaw. As I said before, science demands an open mind, and you have not demonstrated that you have one.

Basically, all I am saying here is “Hey, here is an idea worthy of further investigation!”, and for the most part I am snubbed for it.

[ Edited: 11 August 2009 11:35 AM by PatrickMc ]
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Posted: 11 August 2009 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Chicken, here’s our problem. I’m not really sure that it applies to you in particular, but it certainly applies to most of the people I know who embrace radically different ideas for social, economic, and/or political organization of society. That problem is that the enthusiast doesn’t have the background to understand why this fabulous new idea won’t work. When an old cynic like me sees the idea, he harrumphs and says, “Been there, done that. Doesn’t work.” At this point, the young person has two options: to ask “Why won’t it work?” and get into a discussion of the basic principles with the old cynic. Or the young person can dismiss the old cynic as an old cynic and call him names, at which point the old cynic harrumphs and says, “What do you expect from kids?” and walks away to discuss matters with more knowledgeable people.

Now, I’m willing to explain this stuff, but only if you want to discuss the ideas, not argue them. Patrick just wants to argue, so I won’t have anything to do with him. But you seem reasonable enough. So here’s my offer: I’ll lay out some basics, then you can ask questions, point out gaps, and so forth. So long as we discuss, I’m happy. If you start to argue, then I’ll walk away. Fair enough?

So, here’s my first step toward meeting you halfway: a quickie explanation of why governments fail. The problem is always due to the self-interest and venality of a few people. Even in a society in which most people are noble in intent, it only takes a few power-hungry and ruthless people to ruin everything.

Let’s take an aristocracy based on inheritance. In principle, it can work beautifully so long as the aristocrats embrace noblesse oblige. But if just one aristocrat craves the throne (and there’s ALWAYS somebody like that), then the scheming starts. The ambitious aristocrat uses his wealth and power to gather more wealth and power. Eventually his wealth and power are enough to permit a coup, and now we have a new king. But if Aristocrat A can seize the throne, why can’t Aristocrat B or Aristocrat C? And so we go down the path to perdition.

The killer problem you have to face is the formation of patronage systems, which dominate most human societies. At the top of a particular group is the patron’, the big man with wealth and power. He has a group of loyal followers, each of whom has his own group of loyal followers. Such societies are organized like huge pyramids, with one big guy at the top, working all the way down to the lowest person. Every person owes personal loyalty to somebody above him, and the big guy rewards loyalty with patronage: more wealth or power. So loyalty flows all the way up from the bottom to the top, and wealth flows down from the top to the bottom. The trick, of course, is that each patron’ has his favorites who are more loyal, and so get more wealth. Because they are in a favored position, they don’t want to rock the boat, and they will fight hard to preserve the system.

This basic structure exists in every single society in the world, but some societies have weakened it considerably. Yes, it even works, faintly, in the USA. All the pure dictatorships (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, many African states) operate purely on this principle.

So you need to come up with a system that is resistant to this tendency. Any system that is closed and does not change often will eventually revert to this structure. You need a system that can be shaken up frequently, with new players brought in often enough to keep the existing players honest.

Lastly, I have a reading assignment for you: The Federalist Papers. These essays lay out in great detail the reasoning behind our Constitution. Do not read them as a defense of the Constitution—read them as a lesson in the problems facing ANY government. The authors went through all sorts of possibilities and considered how various governments fail. They ended up showing that the Constitution was the best possible compromise between all the many lessons of history.

And there are a LOT of lessons of history. Are you familiar with how Athenian democracy worked? The fundamental tensions that drove that society? Solon’s resolution of those tensions (for a while, at least)? The fratries? Or how about the structure of Spartan society? How well did that work? Or Roman government under the early Republic, the late Republic, the early Empire, and the late Empire? These were all different systems, and they each had their own weaknesses. How did Caligula end up on the throne—and how did his assassination change things permanently? How did the Romans trade off their distaste for kings against the imperial system? In the late Empire, the Praetorian Guards played a major role—do you know why? Why didn’t the reforms of Marcus Aurelius stick? This guy was definitely full of noblesse oblige, but even he couldn’t fix the government—why not? Are you familiar with the role of the thanes in Anglo-Saxon England, how they implemented a rough and ready democracy? The Normans imposed a pure patronage system, but this was quickly watered down by the uppity aristocrats, first at Runnymede and later in the Wars of the Roses. Do you know how and why this happened? And why was Henry VIII able to concentrate so much power in his own hands? Why was Charles I executed and then how did the noble aims of the Cromwell era turn so sour? Why did the English invite Charles II to take the throne? And what was the Glorious Revolution? What about William of Orange or the Swiss confederation or the Swedish model or Russian autocracy? How did Hitler bring down the Weimar Republic? And how did the Americans convert Japan from a pure aristocracy to a republic in a single decade? How did South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia evolve from dictatorships into democracies? Why has India’s democracy been so stable and yet failed so badly to solve India’s problems? Why did the Philippines jump from autocracy to democracy in a single step in 1986? And why was South Vietnam’s republic an utter failure? What drove the Orange Revolution in Ukraine? Why are the various “Stans” still struggling with autocracy when other ex-Soviet regions such as the Baltic states have implemented democracy pretty well. And Mongolia! How do you explain THAT country’s recent history?

History is a huge laboratory with thousands of political experiments, and if you know about how all those experiments developed and how they fared, you’ll be able to learn a great deal about modern politics.

But don’t take my word for it: read The Federalist Papers.

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Posted: 11 August 2009 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I think it is actually *you* who just want to argue, since you haven’t really addressed any of the points that I’ve made, you’ve just thrown a bunch of straw men at me. I really hope you will actually give these ideas a fair chance by actually *reading* the source material (or at least what I’ve said here) and not just take the easy way out by comparing these ideas to something you already know. You may be surprised to learn that even an old timer like you still has something new to learn. That’s a *good* thing. If you read the post I made immediately before your last post, you’ll see that I’ve already addressed several of the points you just raised.

[ Edited: 11 August 2009 03:55 PM by PatrickMc ]
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Posted: 11 August 2009 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Chris, great post. Do you think Dunbar’s number may have something to do with the hardships faced by governments in large societies? If so, do you think that a smaller, self-governed community may not run into most or all of these problems? And do you think it would be possible to network these self-governed communities such that we may still enjoy the benefits of a large society (mass production, etc.) while also enjoying the benefits of communal living?

EDIT: Also, what do you have to say about Patrick’s post regarding Technocracy Inc.‘s proposed system of “nomination from below, appointment from above”. I, personally, have a hard time seeing much flaw in it.

[ Edited: 11 August 2009 03:53 PM by domokato ]
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Posted: 11 August 2009 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Chris Crawford - 11 August 2009 02:24 PM

Now, I’m willing to explain this stuff, but only if you want to discuss the ideas, not argue them. Patrick just wants to argue, so I won’t have anything to do with him. But you seem reasonable enough. So here’s my offer: I’ll lay out some basics, then you can ask questions, point out gaps, and so forth. So long as we discuss, I’m happy. If you start to argue, then I’ll walk away. Fair enough?

Fair enough!

So, here’s my first step toward meeting you halfway: a quickie explanation of why governments fail. The problem is always due to the self-interest and venality of a few people. Even in a society in which most people are noble in intent, it only takes a few power-hungry and ruthless people to ruin everything.

Let’s take an aristocracy based on inheritance. In principle, it can work beautifully so long as the aristocrats embrace noblesse oblige. But if just one aristocrat craves the throne (and there’s ALWAYS somebody like that), then the scheming starts. The ambitious aristocrat uses his wealth and power to gather more wealth and power. Eventually his wealth and power are enough to permit a coup, and now we have a new king. But if Aristocrat A can seize the throne, why can’t Aristocrat B or Aristocrat C? And so we go down the path to perdition.

The killer problem you have to face is the formation of patronage systems, which dominate most human societies. At the top of a particular group is the patron’, the big man with wealth and power. He has a group of loyal followers, each of whom has his own group of loyal followers. Such societies are organized like huge pyramids, with one big guy at the top, working all the way down to the lowest person. Every person owes personal loyalty to somebody above him, and the big guy rewards loyalty with patronage: more wealth or power. So loyalty flows all the way up from the bottom to the top, and wealth flows down from the top to the bottom. The trick, of course, is that each patron’ has his favorites who are more loyal, and so get more wealth. Because they are in a favored position, they don’t want to rock the boat, and they will fight hard to preserve the system.

This basic structure exists in every single society in the world, but some societies have weakened it considerably. Yes, it even works, faintly, in the USA. All the pure dictatorships (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, many African states) operate purely on this principle.

So you need to come up with a system that is resistant to this tendency. Any system that is closed and does not change often will eventually revert to this structure. You need a system that can be shaken up frequently, with new players brought in often enough to keep the existing players honest.

Your explanation is very basic, and is broad enough to even explain why capitalism doesn’t work.  The old saying, “power corrupts and total power corrupts totally,” or something along that line.  I agree 100% with your analysis.  If anything your commentary explains how necessary discourse on other political philosophies is to our future.  So far, so good.

Lastly, I have a reading assignment for you: The Federalist Papers. These essays lay out in great detail the reasoning behind our Constitution. Do not read them as a defense of the Constitution—read them as a lesson in the problems facing ANY government. The authors went through all sorts of possibilities and considered how various governments fail. They ended up showing that the Constitution was the best possible compromise between all the many lessons of history.

And there are a LOT of lessons of history. Are you familiar with how Athenian democracy worked? The fundamental tensions that drove that society? Solon’s resolution of those tensions (for a while, at least)? The fratries? Or how about the structure of Spartan society? How well did that work? Or Roman government under the early Republic, the late Republic, the early Empire, and the late Empire? These were all different systems, and they each had their own weaknesses. How did Caligula end up on the throne—and how did his assassination change things permanently? How did the Romans trade off their distaste for kings against the imperial system? In the late Empire, the Praetorian Guards played a major role—do you know why? Why didn’t the reforms of Marcus Aurelius stick? This guy was definitely full of noblesse oblige, but even he couldn’t fix the government—why not? Are you familiar with the role of the thanes in Anglo-Saxon England, how they implemented a rough and ready democracy? The Normans imposed a pure patronage system, but this was quickly watered down by the uppity aristocrats, first at Runnymede and later in the Wars of the Roses. Do you know how and why this happened? And why was Henry VIII able to concentrate so much power in his own hands? Why was Charles I executed and then how did the noble aims of the Cromwell era turn so sour? Why did the English invite Charles II to take the throne? And what was the Glorious Revolution? What about William of Orange or the Swiss confederation or the Swedish model or Russian autocracy? How did Hitler bring down the Weimar Republic? And how did the Americans convert Japan from a pure aristocracy to a republic in a single decade? How did South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia evolve from dictatorships into democracies? Why has India’s democracy been so stable and yet failed so badly to solve India’s problems? Why did the Philippines jump from autocracy to democracy in a single step in 1986? And why was South Vietnam’s republic an utter failure? What drove the Orange Revolution in Ukraine? Why are the various “Stans” still struggling with autocracy when other ex-Soviet regions such as the Baltic states have implemented democracy pretty well. And Mongolia! How do you explain THAT country’s recent history?

And here is where you lost me.  You are completely unaware that I have read the Federalist papers as required by my Poli Sci 101 teacher when I was a Freshman at K college.  I haven’t read them recently, but I am aware of the very deliberate process the founders went through in deciding a fundamentally sound Constitution.  I have never debated that their intents weren’t thoroughly researched or well-founded.  However, our current system is severely flawed due to the invasion of our aristocratic elite made supreme by our economic capitalist system.  My senior year in high school I spent my first 3 hours in legislative intern class.  I worked as an aide to then Democratic State Representative Diane Byrum, and I even volunteered after I graduated to work on her State Senate campaign.  I’m well aware of how completely obsessed our elected officials are with “staying elected.”  FYI, I was quickly disillusioned with my political aspirations after my poli sci classes.  I switched my degree to Classical Studies, so I must say the rest of your “history lesson” is far more familiar to me than you would imagine, and it may rival your own.  I do not think it is necessary to know every governmental organization in every country from the dawn of time in order to have a discussion about political philosophies.  I previously mentioned that it would behoove those interested in discussing political philosophy to be aware of their historic counterparts, but I don’t believe it includes the requirement of knowing all governments in all of history.

I’m not here because I’m going to begin a march on Washington demanding Technocracy, but I do enjoy youthful idealism and I hate seeing it snuffed out because you or any one else believes they already know everything.  I’m glad you are well educated. It helps increase the cumulative IQ of our nation.  However, I don’t agree at all with your beginning sentiment that young people must be summarily dismissed for their lack of historical knowledge.  I believe we should encourage the ideals of the young and temper it with the knowledge of the past.  Experience and education does not preclude understanding or a monopoly on “good ideas.”  As much as you know about history you should be well aware that democracy, especially in Classical Athens, has never been an accurate representation of the public will.  We can see that as many examples as we have had in the past, we have never had a government that balanced power with responsibility and accountability.  Government at its best has the illusion of working for the constituency with a group well removed from that constituency exercising the majority of power.

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Posted: 11 August 2009 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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C Crawford-

This basic structure exists in every single society in the world, but some societies have weakened it considerably. Yes, it even works, faintly, in the USA. All the pure dictatorships (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, many African states) operate purely on this principle.

So you need to come up with a system that is resistant to this tendency. Any system that is closed and does not change often will eventually revert to this structure. You need a system that can be shaken up frequently, with new players brought in often enough to keep the existing players honest.

This is interesting and you got me thinking about another factor. What do you think about a morphing of the “system”. One in which the “figureheads” of the hierarchy become static “stations”, in which the ever changing new players fill? Thus replicating the Boss hierarchy, and defeating any chances of subduing this system with a democratic, and ever changing “elected official” system.
I believe that is what is in play here in the US, and is being “used”(?) to devastating effect to continue on with the Boss Hierarchy system.

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Posted: 11 August 2009 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Domokato, Dunbar’s Number is derived from a time when humans didn’t have government. The small tribal groups were self-governing, and anybody who didn’t like the one he was in was welcome to leave—which almost certainly spelled death (unless a large enough splinter group left together). There was no personal property to argue over. Warfare over territory which was frequent and bloody. That’s how the system worked, and it worked very well indeed for that set of circumstances. Once we started farming, however, the minimum size economic unit increased, and we’ve been struggling with the consequences ever since. I do not believe that there is ANY governmental system that can regulate complex social behavior with perfect fairness, because people aren’t perfect.

As to the small community idea, the killer problem is the second level of organization. OK, so society is organized into several million of these “basic unit” communities. How do those communities interact politically? By ascending levels of representative groups? Why on earth would this system of representation be superior to that of the USA, EU, Switzerland, and all the other representative governments of the past?

As to the “nominate from below, appoint from above” scheme, that’s not so different from how a feudal structure works. The Duke of XXX just died, so now we need a new Duke. The Marquesses get together to nominate, say, three of their number. Now the power politics come into play! They ALL want the promotion to Duke, but they have to choose among themselves. After furious politicking, they select three persons based on the promises those persons made (“Nominate me and I’ll take care of you later”) and how much they trust those people to carry out their promises.

So they nominate three candidates. Now the Prince has to select one of those three. Whom does he select? Simple: the one who seems most loyal and least demanding. How deferential are the candidates. Does one bow down to the Prince? Does he grovel and promise to do any dirty deed the Prince needs done? That’s the basis on which the Prince makes his choice.

You may object that most people aren’t so vile, but suppose that we had such a system staffed with noble people who seek only to better the world. Suppose now that one ambitious cad starts at the bottom of such a system and, when nomination time rolls around, promises three of his eight fellows that he’ll take care of them if nominated. That’s enough votes to get nominated. Going before the appointer, he makes grand promises of his undying loyalty and absolute willingness to carry out any task his superior asks. Poof, that gets him appointed. Why? Because of self-interest. Each person in this process acts with perfectly rational self-interest. And pretty soon the entire pyramid is filled with these folks.

Chicken, my explanation doesn’t pertain to capitalism, which is an economic system, not a political one. It is true that capitalism tends to work better in democracies, but it works pretty well in other systems as well.

I’m glad that you’ve read the Federalist Papers. And I agree that our current system has many flaws, the most serious of which is the two-party system, which the authors of the Constitution suspected would be a problem, but they never realized how bad it would get.

I’m well aware of how completely obsessed our elected officials are with “staying elected.“

Political Darwinism at work. If you have a hundred elected officials, and half are obsessed with staying elected, and the other half seek only to do a good job without concern for electoral consequences, how do you think those two groups will do when election time rolls around? If you have enough elections, eventually you’ll sort out the politicians and the ONLY ones left will be those obsessed with re-election.

I do not think it is necessary to know every governmental organization in every country from the dawn of time in order to have a discussion about political philosophies

Of course not. All that is required is a familiarity with enough political history to recognize the basic forces of self-interest and the use of power that make it so difficult to design a workable government. The FIRST question you must ask in designing a governmental structure is “How do we keep the villains from abusing their powers?”

but I do enjoy youthful idealism and I hate seeing it snuffed out because you or any one else believes they already know everything.

Who’s snuffing? You’re welcome to make any statements you want. But I am not required to answer you or encourage you or nurture you. Why should denigrating an idea be less honorable than suggesting an idea?

I don’t agree at all with your beginning sentiment that young people must be summarily dismissed for their lack of historical knowledge.

Not dismissed, ignored. If you want to promulgate an idea, go get ‘em! Write a book, set up a website, hold a demonstration, send out spam (not to me, please), do whatever you want to advance your idea. If you want to discuss it in an open forum like this, go ahead. But remember, it’s an open forum—open to everybody, including me! I can participate or refuse to participate as I see fit, and if you don’t like that, go find another forum. If you say “potato” and I say “potahto”, why is our difference a bad thing?

I believe we should encourage the ideals of the young and temper it with the knowledge of the past.  Experience and education does not preclude understanding or a monopoly on “good ideas.“

The great majority of societies assign leadership roles to old people. Do you think that is an accident? What do you think is at work here?

Young men provide wild energy to society. Untamed, that energy becomes crime—young males are the most dangerous creatures on the planet. Turned towards productive purposes, young males produce an explosion of ideas, most of which are crap. Society spends lots of time rejecting or killing young males whose energy didn’t yield productive results. But creativity requires the generation of lots of new ideas, and young males are often the best producers of new ideas. It’s well-known in the physical sciences that you’re most productive prior to your 30th birthday. Much of our great art is created by young males (as well as tons of junk created by the neighborhood kids’ band). Most great mathematicians do their best work while young. Jeez, *I* was a young rebel once, and I played cowboy and broke the rules and ended up on a few magazine covers. My ideas back then were wild and crazy, and some of them really stank. But a tiny fraction of my creative output was brilliant, and I was smart enough to latch onto the good ideas and dump the losers.

Vyazma, I don’t understand what you’re driving at…

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Posted: 11 August 2009 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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As to the “nominate from below, appoint from above” scheme, that’s not so different from how a feudal structure works. The Duke of XXX just died, so now we need a new Duke. The Marquesses get together to nominate, say, three of their number. Now the power politics come into play! They ALL want the promotion to Duke, but they have to choose among themselves. After furious politicking, they select three persons based on the promises those persons made (“Nominate me and I’ll take care of you later”) and how much they trust those people to carry out their promises.

How does one grant favors to another when everyone is given a non-transferable income that is more than they could physically spend? You’re not thinking through this - you’re jumping to conclusions. This is why you really have to consider “the big picture” of Technocracy to see how it really works. You can’t just isolate one aspect of it, compare it to how it would work in today’s society, conclude that the one aspect wouldn’t work, and then conclude based on that that the entire system wouldn’t work. That’s called a straw man. I suggest that where I say something that doesn’t seem to make sense to you, is most likely just a gap in your own knowledge regarding Technocracy. If a particular aspect of Technocracy doesn’t seem to make sense in isolation, it often will if you consider all the other factors which would *make* that particular aspect work the way it does. Don’t really have time to address the rest now, but I do agree with you regarding Dunbar’s number. See, I’m not just here to argue with you. I hope you will actually talk to me rather than ignoring me and referring to me in the third person. I’m sorry to say, but it seems like you were the one who initially came in with an attitude. I respect your accomplishments, but come on… it doesn’t excuse this kind of behavior. I have a right to demand respect, and you *do* have the right to refuse it for no reason at all, but that just makes you look like a jerk.

Btw, are you the game designer, Chris Crawford?

[ Edited: 11 August 2009 07:20 PM by PatrickMc ]
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Posted: 11 August 2009 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Chris,

I appreciate your responses on this thread.  I’m somewhat like Occam in that I usually ignore long posts.  But yours in this thread have captured most of my thoughts on this subject as well.  As you noted, there are multiple historical examples of all sorts of governments.  All of which have significant flaws, including our own. 
But, there is nothing that I’ve read in this thread or on any of the referenced sites that suggests to me I would want to live within a proposed technate.

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