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Thread: Does anyone really know anything about how to run a society?

  1. #1

    Default Does anyone really know anything about how to run a society?

    Think about it. How the hell do you know that your political beliefs (assuming you have any) aren't just total rubbish?

    Self-proclaimed empiricists are often on the progressive or social democratic part of the political spectrum. But do those beliefs have any empirical basis? Is it just that empirically and scientifically-minded people have similar personality types?

    At the same time, your stereotypical "Bible basher" is a social conservative. Yet Jesus said that it's nigh impossible for the rich to get into heaven, and that his followers should give all their possessions to the poor. Those are hardly great conservative principles.

    Aren't political beliefs just pointless things for people to bicker over and use as excuses for why society is so shitty, instead of actively trying to make the world a better place? Isn't politics just a childish fantasy?

    "Things would work much better if we introduced more [free market elements/government regulation] thereby making things [more efficient/fairer]. This will never happen, though, thanks to those [liberals/conservatives] in the establishment who want to [take all your money and give it to immigrants/steal candy from poor children and give it to greedy corporations]. Oh, if only everyone thought the same way as me, then everything would be brilliant!"

    That's an oversimplification of the diversity of political views, of course, but often I find in internet discussions that it inevitably comes down to Hayek vs Keynes. And whatever people say, their side of that decades-old debate really comes down to which side makes them personally feel more comfortable. Which isn't really a great way to establish facts.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by x000017 View Post
    Aren't political beliefs just pointless things for people to bicker over and use as excuses for why society is so shitty, instead of actively trying to make the world a better place? Isn't politics just a childish fantasy?
    What constitutes making the world a better place then?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaraRiddle View Post
    What constitutes making the world a better place then?
    Focusing on living a good life, making yourself a better person. Bringing conscience to your actions. Pursuing the goals you've set yourself. Helping others in need. Not being afraid to confront those who seek to manipulate you for their own gains. Making mistakes, but not being afraid to admit to them.

    Doing anything that makes life better for both you and those around you.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by x000017 View Post
    Focusing on living a good life, making yourself a better person. Bringing conscience to your actions. Pursuing the goals you've set yourself. Helping others in need. Not being afraid to confront those who seek to manipulate you for their own gains. Making mistakes, but not being afraid to admit to them.

    Doing anything that makes life better for both you and those around you.
    There's nothing wrong with any of that, and people should do that anyway...

    ...but the problem is if you only focus on yourself, your own life and people immediately around you then
    1. end up ignoring anyone / any social issue that doesn't come into your own sphere of life.
    2. if you aren't any part of politics in the widest sense then you can't have any influence, for your own sake or other peoples, and when you do end up facing a problem you have to face it alone.

    The problem with seeking "the facts" in politics is that it's really missing the point - or part of the point. You can have facts and information about what works and what doesn't with policy, and there are better ways of finding that out than we use at the moment but what should come before a policy idea is a discussion about what you want to achieve.

    Politics should really be a three step process:

    1. What makes a good society?
    2. What is not good about society today? What is missing and what needs fixing?
    3. How do we go about creating the new things we want / fixing the problem?

    The problem with a lot of politics at the moment is that the institutions we have or the way we've been using them haven't allowed for us to have proper discussions that follow the process through.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaraRiddle View Post
    Politics should really be a three step process:

    1. What makes a good society?
    2. What is not good about society today? What is missing and what needs fixing?
    3. How do we go about creating the new things we want / fixing the problem?

    The problem with a lot of politics at the moment is that the institutions we have or the way we've been using them haven't allowed for us to have proper discussions that follow the process through.
    The problem is, nobody can agree on number 1. A utilitarian might say, "A good society is one where there is the least amount of suffering." But then someone comes along and says, "Well, some people deserve to suffer the consequences of their poor decisions, or they should simply be made to suffer because they are bad people." And then you get people debating, "To what extent?"

    Some might value an orderly society with strict adherence to authority as being "good". Others might value a loose social structure with almost absolute individual freedom.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by x000017 View Post
    The problem is, nobody can agree on number 1. A utilitarian might say, "A good society is one where there is the least amount of suffering." But then someone comes along and says, "Well, some people deserve to suffer the consequences of their poor decisions, or they should simply be made to suffer because they are bad people." And then you get people debating, "To what extent?"

    Some might value an orderly society with strict adherence to authority as being "good". Others might value a loose social structure with almost absolute individual freedom.
    That's absolutely true. At every stage in the process there are going to be people who say: "sorry, don't agree with that" and walk away. People have different ideas, and the point of democracy is to create institutions that 1. let people disagree without bloodshed and 2. allow them to create as much consensus as possible so that we can create a society with the greatest possible number of people are living with the least amount of discontent.

  7. #7

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    Honestly, I'm a Social Darwinist, particularly as it comes to intelligence. To me, the biggest problem we have in society is that stupid people breed faster than smart people. Here in the US, we've exacerbated this problem with Ben Spock's idiotic teaching mindset that says everyone is entitled to their opinion and the right to voice it, no matter whether the facts dispute it or not. In this age, where anyone can start a blog and post all manner of random nonsense and draw a crowd, this is not a vehicle to societal harmony.

  8. #8

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sexybait13 View Post
    At least we know communism doesn't work
    A lot of people still have the impression that it does, sadly.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sexybait13 View Post
    At least we know communism doesn't work
    Actually, communism has never been attempted on a societal scale. What happened in the Soviet Union was totalitarian socialism, and it was fraught with corruption. What happened in Cuba actually worked, even though it was also totalitarian socialism, but the crippling sanctions imposed on Cuba ultimately undid her.

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