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Politics: Individual Rights vs Rule of the Majority

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  • Politics: Individual Rights vs Rule of the Majority

    Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth raised the Tea Party and US politics in another thread and it sparked a political discussion, so I am moving it to here: the general and off topic forum.

    Originally posted by Hamish Wilson View Post
    [inequality] is completely unethical unless you believe that every single disadvantaged person did something to justify the treatment they have received.
    Ultimately our disagreement boils down to this: Please correct me if I am wrong, but I am making a genuine attempt to summarize your position in neutral language.

    Your belief which would be categorized as political left is that inequality is inherently unethical because disadvantaged people often don't get the same opportunities as the advantaged. Also, significant wealth inequality creates a dangerous stratification of society.

    My belief which would be categorized as political right is that if people and communities are allowed genuine choice, they will make different choices and get different and unequal outcomes. The solution of the political left is to remove inequality by removing the underlying choice. Concern about disadvantaged groups and the dangers of wealth stratification are completely valid issues, but they shouldn't override more fundamental rights of people to make choices about their own lives and communities. The left's sole justification is majority rule. Majority rule is fine in terms of giving communities the power to rule over themselves, what's problematic is that the left wants to have majority rule over other communities they are hostile towards. Hence, the left's hostility towards state, city, and community rights and push for more federal remote power as that is the only way to enforce left policy on right wing communities. Certain issues can only reasonably be handled at the federal level such as issues related to our national currency, immigration, and defense. However, on other issues such as health care and education, there's really no good reason to have one state enforce their ideas on another state from thousands of miles away. People have much more realistic engagement with local politics. The voice and actions of people have much more say with a local government than with a remote federal government. And lastly, I would like people to have the ability to vote separately on separate issues. Why do you cast one vote for a president that has such overwhelming influence on completely different domains of life such as health care, education, budget, social issues, and military. It seems counter productive to bundle all those together.
    Last edited by DanLamb; 10-30-2013, 05:23 PM.

  • #2
    This is a complicated issue in part because the terminology involved often has different meanings to different people. Further complicating the issue is other words, often with ambiguous meanings, get thrown around interchangeably with left and right, like liberal and conservative, which are related but different concepts.

    If you look at the historical meaning of left and right, the "right" can be divided into two camps: the first believes there should be a certain hierarchy of power and wealth in a society, the other believes there naturally will always be a hierarchy of power and wealth. The "left" can also be divided into two halves: one believes that all inequality is inherently unjust, and the other believes that certain types of inequality are unjust and in general there would be much less overall inequality if certain unjust systems weren't in place.

    I like to think of left and right primarily as perspectives on life, that don't necessarily imply one type of solution or another. There are views from the right and left that advocate large government and centralization of power, and there are views from both sides that advocate total decentralization and voluntarism. This could be described as statism/monarchism vs anarchism. Yet another philosophical divide is individualism vs collectivism. Extreme individualism requires anarchism, but that doesn't mean all anarchism must involve extreme individualism. Similarly, extreme collectivism requires extreme statism, but not all collectivism has to be statist.

    The extreme right (there should be hierarchy) and extreme left (there should be total equality) tend to go hand in hand with more authoritarian, statist approaches. On the other hand, in the broad middle, you'll find views the advocate centralization of power, as well as views that advocate decentralization and individual liberty.

    The media and politicians play on emotions and wedge issues, IMO, to confuse people and control the terms and scope of the debate. FOSS is interesting, because it's an anarchic model with decentralization of power and decision making, completely voluntary hierarchies, and it incorporates some collectivist principles, yet also a strong focus on individualism and total choice.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 4r7lukm View Post
      If you look at the historical meaning of left and right, the "right" can be divided into two camps: the first believes there should be a certain hierarchy of power and wealth in a society, the other believes there naturally will always be a hierarchy of power and wealth. The "left" can also be divided into two halves: one believes that all inequality is inherently unjust, and the other believes that certain types of inequality are unjust and in general there would be much less overall inequality if certain unjust systems weren't in place.
      There are two big points I disagree on:

      Much of the left strongly believes in hierarchy: academia is extremely hierarchical and is the model of choice for the left. The left generally wants much stronger centralized government with a well established power hierarchy with stronger powers of coercion to seize wealth/choice from those that disagree.

      When you reference left support for "equality", you specifically mean wealth equality to individuals and ethnic/demographic groups. This is the opposite of fertility equality. Some groups are reproductively favored by this wealth equality and others are punished.

      Much of the right wants voluntary association of hierarchy. the individual should have direct choice of the power/status hierarchies they participate in. Large democratic elections are the opposite: individual votes mean nearly nothing, the individual has zero meaningful engagement, and the policy of the ~51% dominates the 49% with and suppresses any viewpoint of the loser with extreme prejudice. When I buy products in a store, I am directly engaged. As a non-religious secular person, the classic institution of religion provided a more ideal solution to social services such as altruism/education/health: the individual family has mostly direct choice of the institution or denomination that they want to participate in and other denominations have little powers of involuntary coercion. Today's government solution involves a large class of government types who can tax as much money as they want without justification or voluntary participation on the behalf of individuals as long as they can win political support from ~51% of the electorate.

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      • #4
        These kinds of disscussions don't work on international forums. Left and right mean totally different things in different countries. Also, left and right is too simplistic to encompass the full variety of ideology out there. I prefer the nolan chart, which shows a political spectrum in 2 dimentions rather than 1. In America, there's a political alliance between libertarians in the Liberty Movement and conservatives within the Tea Party. Libertarians hold very different believes and grounding principles. Purists beieve in non-interventionism as opposed to a massive empire, open borders as opposed to immigration restrictionism, abolition of intellectual property laws as opposed to strict enforcement, legalization of everything except harm itself as opposed to legislating morality, tradition, risk prevention, etc. Libertarians, who don't fit into left and right utterly reject majority rule as a "good" system. Some may view it as the best we have available, but they demand very strict restrictions to prevent use of the power on individuals. LIbertarians like to talk about self government, minimal government, or voluntaryism depending on the strain and how extreme or moderate they are. The other ideology that doesn't fit into left and right is authoritarianism, the opposite of libertarianism. Many confuse the people belonging to the two as either being left or right, but they are niether, though many have left or right leanings. It doen't help that most libertarians and authoritarians don't identify as such, especially authoritarians because it's a dirty word.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
          There are two big points I disagree on:
          which are the two points you disagree in the passage you quoted?
          i fail to see how your post actually disagrees with anything in that quote. maybe with what you think he probably meant/implied at best.

          that's not meant as offense. i could speculate what you actually intend to disagree too. but if i also contiune posting my opinion based on a speculation about your intention than this discussion is over before it actually started.

          i beg you, first make exactly clear what are the two points you think he said that you disagree and then explain why and how you actually disagree. so he or others can point out a possible misunderstanding regarding your interpretation of what he wrote.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Prescience500 View Post
            These kinds of disscussions don't work on international forums.
            while i basically agree the reason is not:
            Left and right mean totally different things in different countries.
            we the majority of people any kind of such discussions do not work simply because of the ignorance and stupidity of the maasses. if you have such a discussion with smarter people than your argument also fails because such people already learned about the regional difference of such definitions or know at least that such differences exist in general and are open to learn about it and differenciate.

            so yes, such discussions usally fail, but not because of regional definitions of left and right.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
              The solution of the political left is to remove inequality by removing the underlying choice.
              while this was true for the livend communism in the soviets it is an intensional misinformation about modern "left" ideas. though it is quite common in the usa (but not limited to) to argue like that just to profit from the old fear of the bad reds.

              with all their differences all so called left politic quarters in the modern free democratic world do NOT propagate such a solution. if you ever read anything not filtered by polemics your would actually know that. their basic idea is
              1. give all access to knowledge and education independently of their wealth so that everyone has the chance to make the right choices
              2. to limit the maximum wealth (by giving (forced) something back) because high wealth is an escalating faactor, it allows to dramatically increase your wealth without absolutely any other real work and allows unfair behaviour and corruuption.
              the way how to limit and how much is by far not commonly agreed.

              i tell you that as somebody that is not left, not by the very most lived defintions.

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              • #8
                I appologize for not explaining myself properly in my last post. I'd made it seem more antagonistic that I'd intended. Instead of saying that such a discussion couldn't work, I should have said they lead to confusion for some. You may wish to clarify what region you are speaking of. I stand by what I said about the 1 dimentional political spectrum being too simplistic. For instance, according to it, fascism and communism are at opposite ends of the spectrum (at least in America) even though they are so similar. In the nolan char for instance, they both fall in the extreme corner of the authoritarian quadrant.

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                • #9
                  As a libertarian, I'd like to see a 90% supermajority required to pass and maintain any law in legislative bodies. Only 11% should be required to repeal a law. There should be no presidential veto. That way the threat of a tyranny of the majority over the minority is dramatically reduced and the problem of concentrated benefits and dispursed costs is also dramatically reduced. The only laws that would be on the books are ones in which there is a broad concensus of, like the ones against murder, theft, or fraud.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by a user View Post
                    Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                    The solution of the political left is to remove inequality by removing the underlying choice.
                    with all their differences all so called left politic quarters in the modern free democratic world do NOT propagate such a solution. if you ever read anything not filtered by polemics your would actually know that. their basic idea is

                    1. give all access to knowledge and education independently of their wealth so that everyone has the chance to make the right choices
                    2. to limit the maximum wealth (by giving (forced) something back) because high wealth is an escalating faactor, it allows to dramatically increase your wealth without absolutely any other real work and allows unfair behaviour and corruuption.
                    Those two items _are_ _exactly_ about removing inequality by removing the underlying choice.

                    Specifically, #1: enforcing equal access to education inherently involves removing choice. If one demographic group naturally makes various lifestyle choices that result in high educational outcomes and a different demographic makes lifestyle choices that result in low educational outcomes, those choices need to be neutralized to yield roughly equal educational opportunity.

                    If people are able to naturally make different choices and self-segregate into communities and form wildly differing cultures, they will yield wildly different levels of educational opportunity. Equalizing educational opportunity inherently boils down to eliminating the choices, communities, and cultural differences behind them.

                    Originally posted by a user View Post
                    which are the two points you disagree in the passage you quoted?
                    Specifically, this:

                    Originally posted by 4r7lukm View Post
                    The extreme right (there should be hierarchy) and extreme left (there should be total equality)
                    I disagree that belief in hierarchy is a right-wing notion and belief in equality is a left wing notion. The extreme left definitely believes in powerful hierarchy as seen in academia and government. And the left's belief in equality is a very specific and narrow version of equality.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                      Specifically, #1: enforcing equal access to education inherently involves removing choice. If one demographic group naturally makes various lifestyle choices that result in high educational outcomes and a different demographic makes lifestyle choices that result in low educational outcomes, those choices need to be neutralized to yield roughly equal educational opportunity.
                      So in other words, children should be denied opportunities if their parents made bad choices, or rather if sometime in the past one of their ancestors made bad choices?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TheBlackCat View Post
                        So in other words, children should be denied opportunities if their parents made bad choices, or rather if sometime in the past one of their ancestors made bad choices?
                        You are taking my logic a step further and suggesting a social policy strategy. I was intending to merely argue more basic assumptions. But if we are going to go further into preferred policy then:

                        Yes, absolutely! Some children should have more opportunity and advantage than others based on the actions of their parents and ancestors. The alternative is that the actions of parents and families should have no significant effect on children, and logical people should not invest any effort into children or family if their actions or lack of actions shouldn't have any significant outcomes.

                        I support completely voluntary charity arrangements where one group willingly helps people from another group and are free to set the terms and specifics of how they provide that help. I don't support mandatory government charity, where government seizes from some people and gives to others, with minimal involvement, engagement, or agreement of the people affected.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Prescience500 View Post
                          I appologize for not explaining myself properly in my last post. I'd made it seem more antagonistic that I'd intended. Instead of saying that such a discussion couldn't work, I should have said they lead to confusion for some. You may wish to clarify what region you are speaking of. I stand by what I said about the 1 dimentional political spectrum being too simplistic. For instance, according to it, fascism and communism are at opposite ends of the spectrum (at least in America) even though they are so similar. In the nolan char for instance, they both fall in the extreme corner of the authoritarian quadrant.
                          Ah yes the Fascism misconception, The only reason Fascism is seen as a rightwing thing is because of Stalin saying it was. Which relative to communism (which is separate from communalism) is true, but in terms of the overall actual scale no it's got nothing to do with the political right. The actual left/right line has to do with the question of what is the role of government. The extreme left believes that the government should be deeply involved in our day to day lives, doing things like enforcing equality whereas the extreme right believes that at best government is a necessary evil and at worst that it shouldn't exist period.

                          From there you have Classical Conservatism vs Classical Liberalism (note the classical modifier is very important) which is all about conserving the status quo (whatever that status quo may be) versus allowing people to do whatever they want.

                          Further from there you have the Equality vs Freedom of Consequence sides, the extreme of the former is Extreme collectivism where any nail that sticks up is hammered down, the extreme of the other end is extreme Individualism which is naturally chaotic (note that freedom of Consequence doesn't disallow helping people it just means that it's up to the individual not the community to help their common man).

                          You can argue for additional scales but I think these 3 are the core ones. What's interesting though is while the scales continue to the end of the left side of the left-right bar, they stop short of the right end, because after a certain point all of the opinions converge into one as to how government should be run in spite of the individuals personal views. (A person on the extreme right may see smoking, same sex marriage, or insert other issue here as evil incarnate but they also think that that's not the role of the government and in the furthest extreme case they don't believe in law, and as a result there's only one option for them)

                          Just to give a good walkthrough though let's just take the whole same-sex marriage debate:

                          if you're to the extreme of the right, then regardless of your personal views on whether it's right or not you believe it isn't the role of the government to decide that issue, and instead that it is up to the individual and their own religious views to decide if they want to marry someone of the same sex, their dog, or even themselves. In short getting down to the idea of what separation of Church and State is really about. It's not about removing the ten commandments from a courthouse, or any other such nonsense it's all about scoping the power of the law down to what can be termed secular law, in total exclusion of moral law, and leaving the question of morality up to the individual and their religion. Secular law being defined as protections of Life, Liberty, and Property.

                          If you're to the extreme of the left and classically conservative then you're going to have laws in place establishing the moral law of whatever the status quo is, if you're an individualist then you're probably just going to ban same-sex marriage, if you're a collectivist then you're going to ban sodomy and criminalize being gay. Alternatively if the status quo is it's okay and the individualist would enforce it being okay (In other words political correctness and such) and the collectivist would enforce everyone being bi, churches to marry people despite it being against their doctrines, etc.

                          If you're extreme left, and classically liberal and an individualist, you're going to be creating a white list of activities that are okay as opposed to creating a blacklist of activities that aren't, and you're writing moral law. if you're a collectivist then it's the same as the left conservative collectivist with a status quo of it being okay as then you're going to enforce it being okay.

                          This of course only describes the extremes, obviously most people are actually moderates and lay somewhere in between these, including the ever popular if hypocritical: Everyone is equal but some people are more equal than others. In short the people who are all about freedom and equality for their particular minority but want to limit the rights of other minorities, a perfect example being homosexuals who want to ban zoophilia in places where animals are considered property instead of people, or Feminists who want to curtail the rights of men. (Note before you flame I'm not making a value judgement on any of those I'm simply pointing out the hypocrisy)
                          Last edited by Luke_Wolf; 01-09-2014, 10:45 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Luke_Wolf View Post
                            Just to give a good walkthrough though let's just take the whole same-sex marriage debate:
                            Two clarifications:

                            - The "right" label usually emcompasses libertarians who you seem to be referencing as well as others such as the Christian Right and various provincially minded people which have completely different ideology on social issues such as gay marriage.

                            - Many libertarians would argue that social issues like marriage should not be decided not by individuals in isolation but by communities of individuals that people voluntarily choose to associate within. Those communities should have the collective power to set rules on acceptable behaviors surrounding issues such as marriage and family.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                              Two clarifications:

                              - The "right" label usually emcompasses libertarians who you seem to be referencing as well as others such as the Christian Right and various provincially minded people which have completely different ideology on social issues such as gay marriage.
                              While that is a fair statement, the Christian Right is really not the extreme right despite people's misconceptions to that end. They're moderates on the right side of the scale (Wanting the Church to provide most things instead of government, and not wanting government sticking it's hands into their day to day lives), however they're classically conservative (in wanting to maintain the status quo of their religion across the entire community) and mildly collectivist in that they want a moral law for the community that represents their own moral system.

                              note: I'm not saying with this that Christians can't be to the extreme right but that what is typically referred to as the Christian Right isn't really to the extreme right.

                              Originally posted by DanLamb View Post
                              Two clarifications:
                              - Many libertarians would argue that social issues like marriage should not be decided not by individuals in isolation but by communities of individuals that people voluntarily choose to associate within. Those communities should have the collective power to set rules on acceptable behaviors surrounding issues such as marriage and family.
                              Oh absolutely I guess I didn't make that properly clear, but my point was that even if they view it as something to be made as a community decision, they don't believe it should be a decision made by the government and applied to everyone, but instead up to non-governmental organizations (such as their church or local neighborhood) that the individual chooses to involve themselves with.
                              Last edited by Luke_Wolf; 01-10-2014, 05:07 PM.

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