A few notes about the way I see things in political philosophy:
- A state exists to serve the interests of its subjects/citizens (and, to a lesser extent, humanity). These interests may be construed very broadly or very narrowly, and the details of that are one defining aspect of states in particular. The balance served between its subjects and humanity at large is another defining aspect.
- The interests of the people are not always apparent to or enacted by individuals, and different people in society have a number of different visions for society, some of which define the public good from their perspective and some of which are essentially selfish (don't have anything remotely similar to Kant's categorical imperative). These definitions may be widely different, and various means are used to decide the details of what actually happens. Some of these involve some direct or indirect form of public support, some do not.
- I am considerably less interested in how things are decided than in what is decided. Democracies in their myriad of forms are not a sacred cow for me. Historically, sometimes democracies have worked well, and sometimes autocracies have worked well, where "worked well" is understood in terms of what they tried to do, what their real results were, and to a certain extent the character they engender in their subjects.
- Laws are designed to be a blackboard for society to discuss how things are run so people know roughly how, when interests conflict, how they generally are resolved. They are not intended to be used for people to do societally unacceptable things under their protection. Society should be able to condemn people, perhaps with lesser punative (but equal restorative) force, people who harm the interests of society.
- Both property and contracts are based on general decisions by society to permit such structures for the common good and welfare of its members and itself as a whole. Should society decide to nullify either of them, it may do so, understanding the costs involved. Preserving them in specific cases where there is a competing interest for the sake of procedure is illegitimate, although preserving them to preserve the state of mind and happiness of its subjects in the majority of cases is legitimate.
- Compensation for loss is not mandatory and is often a bad idea when said item is acquired through intent contrary to the interests of society
- Before all other things, the state must be scrupulously honest in all its doings, eschewing all things that might be in the interests of the public that would be based on deceit.
- Second to being honest, and on roughly equal footing with protecting the interests of its people, the state may do what it must to survive
- None of these musts/shalls necessarily are meant to imply what people must/shall do - global coherency of such musts/shalls are not guaranteed.