Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Defining the State

We define the role of the state: To broadly serve the good (public or otherwise). Within the idea of the public good, it is asked to serve most strongly for its citizens, next most strongly for those within its borders, and next humanity in general. An example of a non-public good the state might preserve would be the environment, whereby too tight a focus on the good of the public is a constraint we do not wish. For the public good we define an entity - the "will of the people", as what the people, in aggregate and as measured by some system (electoral or otherwise), bound by constraints that it should be reasonably consistent and sustainable, compatable with and supporting public virtue (as we understand it), and cognizant of but not overly bound by what we are as a species. We understand that society as a whole, partly but not wholly represented by the state, provides all privileges and standards for relations between people, and that absent those guidelines/standards society and the state set for interpersonal relations, no "rights" or privileges are inherent/necessary in the nature of humanity.

The three scales of responsibility, citizens, denizens, and humanity in general are afforded different concerns for a number of reasons. Citizenship discrimination serves the role of permitting different societies to explore different approaches to government without unduly allowing individuals or entire societies to become parasitic on those differences - a society that provide an excellent educational system or has a very low birth rate, for example is open to wide abuse if it does not differentiate citizens from noncitizens. Likewise, nations typically lack the unconstrained ability to perform police action in areas they do not fully control. As presently there are few or no general advocates of the stateless that provide services, and members of other states typically receive care, a state must care for its citizens specially in order to provide reasonable quality of living - were this to change, these distinctions may also change or disappear.

The will of the people differs from the literal result of desires aggregated by some mechanism both through the specifics of that mechanism (with the character it imports through framing and analysis) and through attempts to correct for deficiencies of character/insight of the people. Rule of law, although not to be taken as an absolute principle, is useful in that with universal jurisprudence it advocates a certain consistency in norms and expectations for people. Combined with proper institutions and traditions, it creates a world where all private citizens, regardless of wealth, family ties, or popularity, face the same societal sanctions for actions that harm society. This differs from mob justice, celebrity-immunity, cronyism, and several other failures that may occur with justice dispensed directly by the community without these traditions/institutions. Likewise, not all members of a population are politically savvy or inclined towards long-term thinking, and ideally a state and society would attempt not to let this fact lead it to poor decisions. This is particularly important in fiscal policy, where the traditional concern that people would irresponsibly bankrupt the state for short-term wealth holds. Finally, we put upon society the obligations of enlightenment liberalism, socialism, education, and secularism, bound into an understanding of individual and societal virtue. Framing of issues has always been an avenue of struggle within all forms of government that require significant support from the governed. Use of both this and seperate representation/institutions to respect the interests of the people, academia (which has its own traditional culture and institutions which should not be managed by the state), and guardians of the mentioned obligations separately and through those tensions, forms the foundation for of the state. We note that we hope to limit or eliminate these differences through education and demonstration of the merits of widespread acceptance of this approach, and that while some institutions represent the dual-mandate/responsibility of the state for the Will of the People and the aggregate desires, both these and the institutions would eventually merge under a popular socialist-academic democracy.

Still to work on - work more on sharing in an appealing/cohesive way the concept of virtue I'm using, more details about how these three interest-areas can form a productive "tension of powers" (I don't necessarily like the word "balance", but the basic idea is not dissimilar to how the legislature in the USA is structured as to give special attention to the interests of states and people - I am personally disinterested in that particular conflict - I believe that there should be only two levels of government in most areas, the federal and the city/town/community, but the idea of that mechanism of balance is useful/interesting), and after that, start to work on select areas of governmental and legal structure.

Picked up some Gruyère and Emmenthal cheeses as well as more bread for "Fondue Take 2", which may happen tonight. The smell of flowers and plants is in the air, and it is now very pleasant to be outdoors. I also spent a good deal of time at the 61c having some granola-in-milk (why don't more restaurants serve cereal-ish stuff as meals?) and tea and puzzling over why/how my OLPC got partially reset (the automatic updates occasionally nuke everything outside of /home - maybe that's what happened), both removing all the packages I added to have a more stock linux environment I could switch to as well as making the OLPC browser activity work again. Unfortunately, I can also no longer "su", so I may need to reflash the system to get back to tinkering.

I remember when I administered some SCO Openserver and Unixware systems some time back, scoadmin "impressed" me with its willingness to rebuild the kernel whenever a package needed some parameters tweaked or a new driver. By contrast, most other Unices, both then and now, either provide handwavy-instructions on what needs to be changed (on more traditional Unices like SunOS/Solaris) or almost never need such tweaks (seems largely true of Linux and the BSDs, where static limits are steadily being removed and kernel modules are increasingly used). Given the choice between old-style Unices and that aspect of Openserver/Unixware, I'm not sure which is more desirable - for an experienced sysadmin, SCO's Unices were irritating to manage because scoadmin's functionality was not particularly easy to script and going around it would result in changes that would be overwritten the next time scoadmin was run (or worse, hose the system), although they wern't bad for systems without a devoted sysadmin - presumably a moderately knowledable user could get by managing them. Linux has dabbled with systems like that (e.g. linuxconf).. in the long run should we expect sysadmin-type tasks to be text-y and highly configurable (great for geeks, sometimes good for enterprise users), graphic-y and not so configurable (great for moderately knowledgable users - a la the "Mac level" of management), or should we hope for both and somehow manage the mess when people might want to use the graphical tool for some tasks and config files for another? Doing the latter is not easy, and the more complex or vital the configuration, the worse it can get (kernel configs, sendmail m4 files, etc). It gets amusing when I've seen people try to solve the problem by layering another level of complexity on top - "I'll generate the config with the GUI, and then these perl/python/ruby scripts will go through what's generated and introduce some edits the gui can't do. I'll then move the gui-based generator out of the way so I won't accidentally run it".

Tags: philosophy

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