13 October, 2002

The Ideal Society


Another day has passed. But nothing has changed. Rarely do things ever change.

Today, I slept until about three in the afternoon. I was tired, I guess. But more to the point, I didn't feel the drive to do anything today. Not much really matters to me anymore, anyway... I'm tempted to say that's a bad thing, but I stop myself before doing so. For how can I judge the rightness of a thing without logical evidence? And I have no logical evidence.

::sigh:: I sigh way too much.

Three days ago, Highroller (one of my online friends) brought up a discussion question: "What is the ideal form of society/government? Would it work in the world of today?" This question was asked in a philosophy thread in the MTGNews.com Forums.

(I am copying the discussion here, just in case anyone would like to read it. This will give you a good idea of how I spend my free time. I will indent my answers and quote his questions.)

Here was my answer:

I'm envisioning a society that is so huge that it is broken up into a seemingly infinite number of sub-societies. These sub-societies act as a loose confederacy, with only a very few number of rules that are common to all.

One could view this as a galcactic society, where each individual world or habitat is populated by a type of society. Each society would be different from the rest; one might be communistic, one might be capitalistic, etc. The rules for each are determined by those who live there; the majority rules. If the majority wish for a monarchy, then a monarchy will be instituted in that society.

The common rules would be something along these lines:

War between sub-societies is not tolerated. If any society performs war-like acts against another society (as determined by confederacy vote), then the offending society will be dismantled and all active members in the war-like act will be immediately banished from all societies and placed in isolation on an otherwise uninhabited world.

Each society must perform a yearly vote from every member of the society to determine if the current governing system is just in the eyes of the population. If most of the people believe the gov't is good as is, then the gov't will stay the same. If the population is split indecisively, then the society must split into differing groups. (These are arbitrary terms; exact percentages would go into the confederation's constitution.) Every year, during the vote, the govenment in place must make sure all of its population is informed of the voting procedure and all other terms of the confederation.

Each society must contribute something of worth to the confederacy as a whole. Contributions are to be determined by the contributors themselves. If a society contributes too little in the view of every other society there (by vote), then that society is forced to reconsider their contribution. (Contributions can be anything from useful minerals to scientific ideas.)

If a person wishes to transfer to another society, he or she is allowed to do so immediately, and there is a common fund that allows people this basic freedom free of charge.

If a person wishes to start their own society, they may do so, but the cost of building the new society is placed upon the members of said society.

The only allowable punishment by any government is banishment. If you don't want to banish the person, then you may not punish them at all in any way, and if you do want to punish them then you must banish them with no other additional punishments on top of it.

No government will be allowed to restrict or censor any information that comes directly from the confederacy. If the confederacy distributes a memo, then that memo must be sent to every person in every society. All other information may or may not be restricted according to the ideals of that society.

All signed contracts are valid forever. If you borrow money, you cannot escape repayment by leaving that society, assuming you signed a contract to do so. If you sign a contract agreeing to stay in a new society for one year, then you must stay for one year.

Violations of rules set by the confederacy will result in forced isolated banishment. If a person breaks the rules of the confederacy, then (s)he is banished from all societies for the remainder of his/her life, and is left to fare on their own on an otherwise uninhabited world.

Of course, this is just the basic idea; obviously these 'rules' would need to be clarified and simplified, but I'm sure you get the gist of what I'm saying.

To answer your second question, no this is not possible in today's world. We would need access to many, many worlds in order to get this to work. Furthermore, we would have to be alone in the universe. If we weren't alone, then every new species we meet would either have to be peaceful with us or would have to join our confederacy. This means that it likely won't even be applicable when we do get to the point where all of this is technologically possible.

However, I hope I've sparked your collective brains a bit by going on about my beliefs on an 'ideal society'. (c;

Highroller: "What if the majority rules that a totalitarian dictatorship should be placed, and that totalitarian dictatorship decides it's going to violate one of the laws that apply to all colonies?"

Unnacceptable. This would violate the constitution of the confederacy, and would result in immediate punishment. The entire sub-society would be forcibly disbanded and any of the population there who actively participated in such a blatant disregard for the confederate constitution would be banished in isolation, according to the terms I laid out earlier.

(What defines 'active' participation would have to be decided in the constitution, of course.)

Highroller: "Who enforces the laws that apply to all colonies?" 

Whoever wants to will do so. If no one is willing to do it as their contribution to the confederacy, then some unlucky subsociety would be chosen (by vote) to undertake this job. I assume that given a large enough set of sub-societies, somebody would find law enforcement a good kind of life.

Highroller: "Are you saying one should be banished from a colony for petty theft?"

If someone steals, then the colony has two options: they can let it go, or they can banish them. They are not required to banish someone for petty theft. But they are not allowed to use any form of punishment other than banishment from that colony. Of course, the theif will be allowed to go to any other colony he or she chooses. However, I imagine that most colonies would have a set rules for allowing new people in; probably 75% or more would likely have a stipulation that all immigrants must have necessarily never been banned from another colony on the basis of theft, or whatever. Banishment is a good deterrent, especially if most of the 'good' colonies have prerequisites to get in them.

Highroller: "Who decides who gets banished?" 

The government of the colony who is banishing the person. If it is a monarchy, then the king decides. If it is a true democracy, then every single citizen will vote on the matter. If the person is to be banished from every colony and placed in isolation, then the decision-maker is the confederacy itself.

Highroller: "Where does this common fund to allow the right of leaving a colony come from?"

I'm sure there would be some space-faring sub-societies interested in taking on this job. This would be the ultimate form of travel, I think. I assume they'd rotate shifts in various locales, and so each member of this locomotion contributing society would constantly be on the move.

If, by some weird twist of fate, there is no colony that is willing to work this job voluntarily, then one would be appointed (by confederate vote) of course.

Highroller: "What if a colony built a vastly powerful army? What's to stop it from conquering every single one?" 

Those that are interested in military might would of course be the militant arm of the confederacy. (To each his own.) But of course, the obvious question begs itself: what if the military itself decides to conquer the rest of the society?

There's really not a good answer for this. I assume that by this point in history, we would have very good automatic defense structures in place for most colonies, as a just in case thing. But if one group looked as though it was going to try and take over all the rest by force, then the confederacy would necessarily have to disband the offending groups.

I'm not entirely sure on how this would be accomplished, though... Perhaps one part of the constitution should dictate that in the event of an emergency, the confederacy can order all the sub-societies to aid in defense against an internal threat?

But putting that kind of statement into the constitution is a bit extreme... Pacifist societies would hotly oppose any such line in the confederate constitution.

I'm not sure how to resolve this issue, but I'm confident that if you had a bunch of intelligent individuals working on the problem, they'd eventually find an adequate solution.

Highroller: "Won't economics be impossible in such an environment?" 

In societies that don't like economic systems, yes. But most societies would probably use a common currency, though some isolationist groups would likely deviate from this. I see no real roadblock against economics in this ideal super-society. Why do you think economics might not be viable in such a diverse environment?

Highroller: "But what higher authority is there? It seems that there is no unity between these colonies. How, then, are we supposed to assign colonies to a certain task?" 

But there is a unity. Every colony has a vote in all confederation decisions, so every colony is constantly in contact with all the other colonies, whether it is by representatives that they send or teleconferencing.

Of course, some colonies might be totally uninterested in the confederation. I assume they would automatically abstain from every vote. These colonies might not even want anything to do with other colonies, period. Perhaps these colonies would go so far as to not allow any immigrants, period. All of this is acceptable under confederate rules.

But they would have to at least supply two things: access to all confederate memos for every citizen there, and access to a way of leaving that colony, if a citizen wants to.

And don't forget that every colony has to contribute something. Perhaps such an isolationist colony as the example I'm using here would not want to contribute at all; maybe they don't like the idea of sharing their scientific data or mined minerals, or even something dumb, like manufacturation of umbrellas.

In this case, the confederation would have to enforce its rules. They would vote on what this colony should conribute, and then they would give them an ultimatum: either contribute this, or something else that is equally acceptable, or we will disband your colony.

If they refuse, then the 'militant arm' of the confederacy would go in and disband the colony.

This militant arm, of course, would be a colony that was interested in being the militant arm.

This example can be altered for other scenarios as well... If the confederacy needs something and no one is volunteering to contribute it, then the confederacy will vote on a colony to supply it for them.

There would necessarily be a measure in place to assure that the vote result would constitute which colony is currently giving the least contribution that can do this new contribution best. This power of assignment should not be used to punish a colony that the confederation does not like, though...

Highroller: "What of colonies that grow dissatisfied because they are contributing physical things whereas some colonies simply produce ideas?" 

First of all, if they're intelligent, then they won't be dissatisfied. Good intellectual ideas benefit everyone. Of course, if the ideas that a colony contributes does not benefit everyone, then I imagine the matter would be brought before the confederacy to vote upon. And if the confederacy agrees that the contributed ideas aren't worth enough, then they will demand more from the offending colony. Thus there is a legal way of going about it that should work, in theory.

The problem arises when the dissatisfied colony isn't intelligent, which very well might be the case, since they aren't producing ideas.

I imagine they'd try it the legal way first, challenging that the ideas are helping the confederacy as a whole. But if the confederacy disagrees, then there really is nothing that the dissatisfied colony can do.

Which means that revolt has already started brewing...

I don't like this, so something must be done to ensure that no colonies could ever be dissatisfied like this. Perhaps a line in the constitution should address this issue?

More on this later.

Highroller: "What if a majority of the colonies want to produce the same thing?"

Obviously, you only need so much of some things...

If multiple colonies want to contribute something that is not needed in that abundance, then a group of uninterested parties* would be appointed by the confederacy to determine which colonies are best suited for contributing that specific kind of goods.

The chosen colonies would get the job, and the rest would have to conribute something else.

Note that this, too, creates dissatisfaction...

Again, more on this later.

(*- Uninterested parties are citizens from distant colonies that rarely use the manufactured product in question.)

Highroller: "You still haven't answered my question about what prevents one colony from conquering all. You have not outlined anything that stops them from doing so. "It's against the law. They work for the confederacy." is not good enough, as history has proven that very clearly. What if the militant arm is violating these confederate laws? Is the militant arm expected to disband itself?"

One possibility is a line in the constitution that says that in just such an event, all colonies must contribute 5% of their manpower for the express purpose of disbanding the militant arm.

However, I don't like this solution... Including any such line in the common constitution would really piss off pacifist communities that don't want to have anything to do with fighting.

Another possible solution is to restrict the size of each militant arm society. For example, say that if a colony produces weapons at a certain power level, even if it does so without intent of use, and even if the colony is producing them for the confederacy's own use, then that colony necessarily may not exceed a hundred million people.

Then you could have multiple militant arms that you could keep away from each other. You could even encourage competiton between them so that rivalry exists.

In this way, they hopefully would not ever unite under a common cause to usurp the confederacy.

I cannot offhand think of any other possibilities of eliminating a possible coups de grace from the militant arm(s)...

Highroller: "And elaborate on the confederacy, how they work, and what their power is? I don't understand." 

Remember: you asked for an ideal society. Not a realistic one.

But just because my idea isn't likely to happen doesn't mean it can't...

Every colony gets to vote on every issue that goes through the confederation. Every colony gets one vote, regardless of size. Furthermore, if multiple colonies always agree on issue after issue, then their votes count as less. This cuts down on 'alliances' in voting. (The percentage of worth on a vote would be formed by a mathematical relationship.) It also fixes the possibility of one colony splitting into two for the sole purpose of getting more votes in the confederacy.

In certain issues, the vote result will affect only a small portion of colonies. In this instance, that small portion gets a higher worth on their vote. (Again, done by a mathematical equation.)

Most issues will be majority rule. Some decisions will require more, though. And some will require less. Definitions of what types of decisions would require what percentage to vote yes in order to proceed would be laid out in the constitution.

The power of the confederacy is limited. They handle all inter-colony matters, and they regulate the super-society as a whole. But they have very little say about who can form a new colony (anyone, unless they're banished from the confederacy and in isolaton), who can join a colony (ibid), and what a colony does within its own borders (confederacy has power to look without interfering (like big brother) and to make sure the colony is informing its citizens and allowing citizens who wish to leave the ability to exit).


Now, I said I'd get back to a previous point earlier in this post.

The way I have this set up right now, some colonies might have resentment. This resentment stems from the fact that confederacy is not always going to vote the same way on an issue as an individual colony will.

Now... How to resolve this?



Good question. (c:

Perhaps some kind of reparations for colonies that voted against what the confederation ruled for?

I know that sounds stupid, but would it work?

I just don't know... I'm a physics man, not a political scientist.

Maybe I'm just too tired to give a good answer on this one question...

I'll post again tomorrow. For now, I'm going to bed.

Highroller: "So wait. You're penalizing colonies agreeing with each other?" 

Yes. Do you have a better idea? How else are we supposed to stop the confederation from becoming a two-party system like the United States of America? How else are we supposed to keep the voting fair for the minority, and not just the overwhelming majority?

Highroller: "Who's to decide if they've agreed too many times to each possess one vote?" 

Everybody would have to agree on it prior to it being written in the constitution.

I would suggest that if out of a group of ten members, 6 voted one way and 4 voted the other, then the voting results should say 50%. This would mean that the 6 of ten that voted congruently would each have a vote equal to 4/10 of a regular vote, while the 4 of ten that voted congruently would each have a vote equal to 6/10 of a regular vote. In this way, a 6-4 split would be congruent to a 5-5 split.

Of course, my example would not be the real system; the actual percentages would have to be hammered out through the constitutional convention.

Highroller: "So wait, you're trying to make a system in which the majority vote matters but you penalize people for agreeing too much? I'm confused." 

Majority vote has to matter.

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

But if you make it where the majority always gets their way and the minority never does, then you end up with a system that rules solely in one group's best interests.

You have to draw the line somewhere.

In the US, they draw the line by giving disproportionate power to smaller states in things like the electoral college.

This was simply my take on how it should work.

Highroller: "So, you're saying the majority has to matter, but only as long as they don't agree too much? Doesn't that contradict itself?" 

You're pretty merciless, aren't you, Highroller? (c:

Compromise itself is a contradiction.

If it is raining and I say that I want to go to MacDonald's, but I don't want to get wet, then what do I do?

I obviously can't do both (short of an umbrella).

If I pick going to MacDonald's, then I must not have hated water as much as I thought I did, right?

If I pick not going out into the rain, then I must not have really wanted MacDonald's all that bad, now did I?

So yes, it is a contradiction.

But it is a necessary contradiction. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Just because I love capitalism does not mean I am absolutely and totally anti-socialism. There are benefits on both sides.

Just because I love playing Lava Hounds sligh does not mean that Fish is a bad deck.

All I'm saying is that you do need the majority to rule. But you also need to put power in the hand of the minority. Both have to be satisfied.

Highroller: "But nonetheless, aren't you undermining your own philosophy by saying that things will be decided by a majority vote but still making the majority's vote not count as much?" 

Not all philosophies have to be extremist, Highroller.

The Pope agress with evolution, doesn't he? Yet he still believes in the truth of God. I woul say that's a pretty good middle of the road philosophy, wouldn't you?

Cheap creatures are good.

Fat creatures are good.

So what is the best kind of creature?

Answer: middle of the road creatures.

You need 3/3s in your deck because they both cost little and they are big and fat.

Compromise, Highroller. Compromise.

Sure, when you put 3/3s in, you're undermining the cheap creatures philosophy. And you're undermining the fat creatures philosophy.

But by using compromise, you get the best of both worlds.

When the overwhelming majority agrees, then the majority wins.

If the majority only beats out the minority by a small amount, then the decision is at a stalemate.

Doesn't this sound like a good way of doing things to everyone else? Or am I the only one who would prefer things that way?

As a note for those who don't play Magic: The Gathering, some of the arguments I presented above might not make a whole lot of sense.

Anyway, this is the kind of stuff I do online. I talk to people about all kinds of things, and I usually end up arguing one or more points with people I hardly know.

Is this a good way for me to lead my life? In constant argument with people halfway across the globe?

Sometimes it seems that the people I talk to in online forums are my only friends. But really, whose fault is that? You could have friends in real life if you wanted them. Why, then, do I stay so very unnattached to people I meet in real life? Am I just stupid or something?

If stupid is as stupid does, then I'm definitely stupid, aren't I?


I hate sighing. So why do I continue to do it? I remind myself of Nietzche sometimes... And yet, I am my own person, am I mot? At least, I think I am. Am I not unique?

So why do I feel so normal?


You know what really eats me up? The fact that in chapter four, Keating knows enough not to allow Katie to introduce him to Toohey... Yet Keating still goes on to use other people. Why can't Keating see that it is wrong? Why can't Keating see that what he is doing is incorrect? ::sigh::

I feel like I am Keating. I feel like I repeat the same mistakes over and over when I know full well that I shouldn't. I feel like there is someone out there reading the story of my life just as I read Keating's, and just as Keating does the same stupid stuff over and over again no matter how many times I read The Fountainhead, I, too, do the same stupid stuff over and over again, no matter how many times I live out my life.


I need a hug. I need someone to care for me, and to tell me that everything will be okay. I mean, here I am, in college studying to be a future professor of physics, and yet I cry at such insubstantial things. I weep at the drop of a hat, simply because I am depressed. I feel like no one loves me, not even my family, though I know they do. I feel like there is no one out there that understands me... Nay, it is worse: I feel like there is no one out there that can understand me.

And it hurts.

Does true love exist? Maybe. How should I know? How would I know if I did find out the answer? ::sigh:: I've had people in my life before. But I never truly cared for any of them. All I've ever done is use people.

Maybe it's not possible for me to love, or for another to love someone like me. Remember The Princess Bride? It was a great movie. But why was the princess such an airhead? I mean, sure she was intelligent. But there were so many parts to her that made me not like her. I would not have been able to love a woman like that. To my biased opinion, she was not worthy of my love.

So who is worthy of my love?

I have never loved before... I've abused others before, but that is not the same thing. I've only ever cared for people in such a limited selfish way.

"All you need is love."


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