2013-07-19

The State? Fiction? or Practical reality?

From a note on Facebook.

"The State? Fiction? or Practical reality?"

July 4, 2013 at 3:49pm
(Note to self: migrate to blog later.)

So what I'm going to do is try and prepare the whole thing before hand, and just rattle it off verbatim (if the audience is passive) / hold a discussion (if the audience is reactive).
  • Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/350755121693485/
  • Assigned topic of discussion: Does not seem to be a clear delineation of subjects across speakers, so some content is bound to overlap with the other speakers/discussions. Apologies in advance.
  • Assigned duration of discussion: 8-10 minutes - not a whole lot we can do, so I'll just yell out some points, and you can yell back your reactions.
First off, if this is mostly too dry and boring, you can always try appealing to a more common subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_as_a_model_for_the_state


Here's a classic passage from Thomas Hobbes's book Leviathan (1651):


Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.



He finally gets around to arguing that we cooperate simply to avoid the situation of war. He thinks most people are nasty by nature.

Some fun characters to pit against Hobbes's point of view are Locke and Rousseau: who argue that selfish uncooperative individuals who live near to states (which are cooperative individuals) are at a natural disadvantage. So according to these guys, if you're too much of an iconoclast, the herd will just grab and regress you towards the social mean... (or something like that ;) )

Rousseau in particular wrote variously about how people have already internalised the value of cooperation and have thereby become: nice by nature. In short, by this view, nasty people are literally retards.


So, back to the full topic that was requested for discussion: what are "fiction," "reality," and "practical reality?" Is it just a theoretical distinction? How do we define the differences?
Some (contemporary, and past) plays on the subject (framed as bunches of people marooned on islands - with the forces of nature):
  • Lost
  • Lord of the Flies
  • And in case you were wondering about the "Quake bots achieve world-peace," story - sorry folks, it's a hoax. 
Some contemporary issues of the state, versus individual freedoms. Freedom of information is a hot topic, so:

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