Rebirth of Reason

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread

Post 0

Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 2:15amSanction this postReply

A different perspective of government is the bottom-up approach. Instead of seeing government as a consciously planned organization, it sees it as a product of responses to various needs and conditions.

Whose needs? When government isn't purposely planned to protect rights, it shouldn't surprise anyone when it works to violate rights.

The recognition of individual rights as a precise and detailed concept is not necessary to start with. Instead, we start with a primitive picture of individuals trying to live their lives in peace.

But do these people claim they have a "right" as an "individual" to live their life in peace? And in this picture of individuals... the problem is that some people don't want peace, they want to initiate force.  If a group of people organize purposely to stop the initiation of force, then you are at the issue of rights, regardless of how precisely they are defined.  On the other hand, if the group decides to simply be more efficient gang and do the robbing themselves, then peace wasn't really the underlying purpose.

One need not grasp individual rights as moral ideal or political concept to recognize that the actions of others can be a threat to your life.

But that is the very issue that will come up when others claim they are right to take your stuff. The proper resolution of conflict is by a determination of who holds the right. Then to impliment that which is right as a set of rules, which is a political concept.

It's worth noting that so far we have not referred to government, or an organization within the group. That's because a bottom-up approach does not start with an assumption that we need an organization.

You talk about generating laws and having judges and juries and that this is somehow carried out on behalf of a group of people. That takes a lot of organizing.  Sounds to me like you are talking about government.


I could start with an assumption that I could build an airplane without a commitment to, or much knowledge of aerodynamic principles or even engineering principles.... and if were indeed a brilliant person of exceptional genius maybe I'd have some success.  But I'd clearly be better off to start with a set of assumptions that more closely detailed where I want to end up and a an understanding that it would benefit from an understanding of the subject matter as a set of principles.

The instantiation of these methods are most commonly seen in the form of government, an organization including selective members of the populace. But it's not necessary. A method for determining the guilt of a person and the appropriate punishment could be as simple as grabbing any 12 people as a jury and making a decision.

That has the appearance of an argument claiming that anarchy could work - that a government is not necessary. I've made the arguments against that many times, in many different threads.  Government is the structure you have when you impliment a monopoly of laws for a given jurisdiction. To enforce those laws, it is necessary. Who grabs the 12 people if they don't want to go? If you don't have a government, I don't understand who is enforcing any of this. Is it an adhoc mob rules phenomena with a claim that they will for some reason be reasonable? Is it defence agencies who have made up their own laws?

Countries find ways of resolving the same issues without the need for a world government. They form treaties, they have boundaries to demarcate jurisdiction, and rely on method-based solutions instead of organization-based solutions.

Or they launch wars - as they have throughout history, killing people by the millions.

A bottom-up approach is more flexible and allows for a wider variety of solutions. It is compatible with decentralized enforcement. It is compatible with alternative methods of creating laws.

The solution to the problem of initiated force starts with an understanding that it cannot be done with a moral sanction, that a single code of laws that most accurately codify that moral concept be enacted and enforced. Decentralized enforcement - what does that mean? And who cares about alternative methods of creating laws, rather than the nature of the laws created?


Joe, please tell me if I'm wrong in thinking that you are advocating anarchy as an acceptable alternative to minarchy.

Post 1

Friday, September 26, 2014 - 4:14amSanction this postReply

Thanks, again, Joseph!  Your bottom-up construction was John Locke's approach to explain how government evolved in a state of nature.  To me, the difference between top-down and bottom-up is analogous to how geometry was developed by empirical methods (bottom-up) before Euclid presented a formal theory (top-down). Similarly, carpenters and masons buit cathedrals and astologers set the calendars by methods that Leibnitz (and Newton) later formalized as the calculus of limits. That's all fine.  And I liked your essay.


The problem for me is that the historical record does not support the theory you suggest.  In fact, your construct is itself a top-down approach because you knew where you wanted to be before you started out. Historically, we did not.  In fact, the actual record is that people tended to use ritual gift exchange to ameliorate relations with strangers; meanwhile they were impaling their cousins on stakes for breaking tribal taboos.  


As a historical record of some reliablilty, the Bible supports your theory.  People were anarchic, then patriarchic. The Jews achieved some civilization in the time of Judges.  Samson was a judge.  But that wasn't good enough and the people begged God to give them a king.  God warned them, but did as they asked...  And here we are...  


Aristotle suggested a similar narrative. Individuals live alone at war with each other.  They survive by means appropriate to their nature.  Single farms are ruled by a father who does not act like a man alone; neither do the family members.  When farms come together to form a state, they are not ruled like a big farm, but by a means appropriate to their natures, by the assemblies and their constitutions.  


So, your framework has some precedent.  I just point out that the actual record is somewhat more complicated.  I also have to take Steve's point into consideration.  We are not in a state of nature.  The science of government is known qua science.  We do not have all the answers, but we do know the method.  And it has applicatgions across many institutions and social structures.  You can have a family business and run it like a family.  If you want something more complicated, you need a legal entity that is recognized as a separate individual in its own right -- and whose behaviors are defined by articles of incorporation.  Articles of incorporation are the "constitution" of a large business.  


Compared to Aristotle and the Hebrew judges, we know more now about how people can organize their collectives. ... as Fred will chime in: voluntary collectives...  


Crime is the sine qua non problem of every society: what do you do with the individual who does not want to go along?  How do you deal the employee or stockholder whose goals are corrosive to the collective?  How do you deal with the person who wants to build a skyscraper where you had a view of the sunset?

Post 2

Friday, September 26, 2014 - 6:49amSanction this postReply

For related reading to the top down/bottom up approach, see Isabel Paterson's God Of the Machine...some of this ground has already been covered, there, and was a big influence on Rand and the Objectivist concept of government...


(Edited by Joe Maurone on 9/26, 6:50am)

Post to this thread

User ID Password or create a free account.