Article

Objective Government

Cross-posted at American Chronicle.

A commenter recently asked:

Do you see a sort of "Star Trek Federation of Planets" rising out of our present situation (for this one planet, obviously) operating upon a framework of basic human rights principles, such as: "everyone has the right to live free of violence and coercion"?

I’ve mentioned the United Federation of Planets, even using the fictional flag in a previous post. Other libertarian/anarchist bloggers like the universe portrayed in Firefly better than the Federation. People much smarter than me are involved right now in trying to work politically and diplomatically for incremental change to our existing system. In the medium-term, that is the best we can realistically hope for.

It is easy to criticize governments and nations–but to actually govern? The crushing responsibility of being a head of state could certainly confound the strongest and smartest people. It takes a special breed to even get in the position. Once there, if they can accomplish a third of what they set out to do, they should be very pleased.

We have seen that over time, political realities which once seemed to be set in stone can completely turn around. Some examples:

  1. Japan just voted to reinstate their military to an equal cabinet-level position as it was before WWII. This would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.
  2. The U.S. "war on terror" has involved the open admission that we engage in torture–which would have been unthinkable (at least officially) before 9/11.
  3. At one time, communist countries had the highest prison-camp populations per capita in the world. This was because of their political prisoners. Now, the U.S. has the highest number of prisoners, mainly because of the failed "drug war." How did we allow ourselves–land of the free–to become the prison capital of the WORLD??

Until we tie our laws to objectively definable freedoms and rights, all bets are off. We could propose that objectively, Japan does not need a strong military. They’ve gotten along fine without it since WWII. But their nationalism is re-emerging. Until we get rid of nationalism–the "in-group/out-group" attitude which is a scourge on humanity–we will continue to see nations of the world engaging in buildups, saber-rattling contests, and outright aggression.

The UN has proposed its three pillars of security, development, and human rights. I agree with their framework, but see it more in terms of sustainability, objective politics, and integration of our knowledge of consciousness and human nature.

SUSTAINABILITY: Elimination of poverty and pollution through sustainable development. All manufacturing and human activity must be required to be "closed-loop" processes. Energy must come from renewable resources. Waste should be turned into usable products or rendered harmless. Anything that requires dumping of waste into the environment should not be made. Costs of storing or reprocessing all waste must be included in the price of goods and services. These principles should be included in a binding world constitution.

OBJECTIVE POLITICS: Ray Kurzweil has famously stated that "consciousness is subjectivity." As conscious human beings, we are therefore not likely to ever be capable of complete objectivity or to ever agree with people who have different points of view. The only way we can come close is to form strategies which we can prove will lead to a society based on objective and universal human values. Allowing greater freedom for those with whom we disagree paradoxically gives us more freedom as well. When I call for secular government, I’m not advocating taking away freedom of religion by any stretch. But freedom of religion stops at your front door, or at the driveway of your church, synagogue, or mosque. If you want people to tolerate your nativity display, you have to tolerate the inverted pentacle (or whatever) being displayed across the street.

Removal of religion from politics is a key first step. Candidates should not face a religious or any other popular-based "litmus test." They should instead face a "policy test" which would evaluate their knowledge of issues and their capacity to lead, which would be scored by an independent body and results released to the public. Officials in positions of power should be evaluated on their merits alone, and should face continuous scrutiny of their performance (through measurable criteria). If their score drops below a certain level, they are out–no questions asked. There’s nothing like someone (or a computer) gunning for your job to keep you on your toes. If a person is doing a good job, there should be no term limit. If they are doing a terrible job, they should be tossed out immediately. The public should not have to wait 2 or 4 years.

CONSCIOUSNESS: Further developments in brain science so that we can understand the underlying motivations that drive human interaction. Evolutionary and social psychology have made great inroads here. But we need to take things to the next level of total modeling of human consciousness. This way, there will be no debate about such things as whether or not gay people can be ‘cured.’ Such religious folly will not stand the test of objective evaluation. Similarly, it’s becoming increasingly clear that psychopaths, child molesters, and serial killers are not that different from the rest of us. I know it scares the hell out of some people, but at a certain point, we will all be evaluated for these tendencies, and corrective action applied to our brains. It will be a little like Minority Report, but without the mumbo-jumbo psychic ‘precogs.’ Which is better: letting people rape and slaughter a bunch of other people and then give them the needle–or accepting slight behavior modification ahead of time to correct these cognitive defects?

Understanding human behavior to this level will allow us to repair these flaws, while retaining our individuality. The study and control of human consciousness will allow us all to live lives of freedom, peace, and safety we can’t now imagine–if the protocols can simultaneously protect our privacy and freedom of choice. It’s a really, really big ‘IF.’ Accepting this sort of control on our brains will also require broadening our definitions of what is socially acceptable (i.e. aberrant but non-criminal) behavior.

If we are going to let society or government into our brains, society will have to strike a bargain in return: Accept social protest and dissent, and accept victimless crimes such as drug-use, prostitution, and all forms of non-mainstream (but consensual) sexuality.

It will be a tough road–and we have no guarantee of success. But I’m quite certain that our current era will be looked at as a terrible "dark age" once we figure out sustainability, objective politics, and the reverse-engineering and augmentation of human consciousness.

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Comments (4 comments)

Doris Tracey / December 16th, 2006, 8:01 pm / #1

Hi Blacksun,

Your article makes alot of sense to me and we are all concerned and want very much to eliminate violence from our society and live in peace,but peace has to be accepted and created by us all in a united passionate effort to make this happen.We need to demand as a society to know the truth from the Government and our controlled news media as to what is really happening here at home and abroad. We are all living in a delusional state because we do not know the truth that could galvanize us into crystal clear action. We all have our ideas of what should be,what could be,but that is a poor excuse, we must know the truth!

BlackSun / December 16th, 2006, 8:54 pm / #2

Doris, the only solution to biased media is to get your information from multiple sources. Right now with the Internet, we have more access to better information than at any time in history. It’s just unfiltered. But it is not possible for governments to control the news media, (unless you are talking about a place like China, and even they have a hell of a time).

We have to develop our own discernment of when we are being confronted with blatant subjectivity. This is what open-source is all about. Biases are quickly rooted out in places like Wikipedia, and the articles end up being as objective or moreso than those published by more traditional sources.

Similarly, you are not going to get unbiased news from any of the commentators out there without checking what they have to say against a wide range of sources. You want the truth? Do your own methodical research. Or just use google news which will give you everything on the topic. If you want it bite-sized, then you will get a healthy dose of opinion.

One thing is sure: Famous commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, even Al Franken, Maureen Dowd, or Lou Dobbs cannot be taken at face value. We must compare their opinions against the facts, and they often come up short. To me, most of these commentators have outlived their usefulness. I’d rather hear cogent arguments from a so-called ‘nobody’ than the predictable rantings of the famous blatherers. Time and time again, fans of such “opinion makers” decide which version of the truth they want to hear, pick their commentator, and then shut out all else.

This is the true “media bias,” and it comes from within ourselves–a preference for comfort over truth.

Then we object when other people’s opinions are given voice at all. If we see an article with which we disagree, we decide the source is ‘biased.’ But most papers and websites actually publish a range of opinions.

Then you have your relativists and social constructivists, who mount a philosophical assault on the very concept of any single truth or objective reality. They elevate opinion to the level of fact, and fail utterly to make any distinction between the two.

Nietzsche said “there are no facts, only interpretations,” a statement with which I wholeheartedly disagree. (There could be a book-length discussion here as to what Nietzsche actually meant by this. Whatever he meant, it’s often been used by others as a defense of postmodernism.)

Without going too far into the subjective/objective debate, briefly, relativists and post-modernists get to feel good about their own biases, while at the same time appearing to avoid confrontation with others who disagree–the “nothing can be known” stance. In the end, it’s kind of a passive-agressive position against knowledge itself.

Doris Tracey / December 17th, 2006, 5:21 am / #3

Blacksun,

I don’t believe the government should control the news media or the news media control the government,which is the people. I know there is truth out there if people would capture its essence. People have a right to know what is happening without being blind. It doesn’t help much for some to know the truth and some not the scales are tipped when we all do not have clear direction. Some people are graced to see very clearly, most do not.

Doris Tracey / December 17th, 2006, 5:31 am / #4

Blacksun,

I am beginning to see that people in reality do not want to know the truth, but would rather remain in their comfort zone or delusional state. If thats truth, then we are all lost at sea.

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