Saturday, August 28, 2010

The science of human corruption?

Andrew D Atkin

The New Zealand government has introduced laws that strengthen the power of its police force. Maybe this needs to be done. But it is a fact, as we know, that police can at times be (and world over have been) shockingly if not brutally corrupt. The latter is a given. So what? So the best question to ask the New Zealand Prime Minister is: "What provisions have you introduced to protect the New Zealand public from the threat of a corrupt police force of which, as we know, could always develop"? A totally legitimate question in response to a demonstrably legitimate concern - right? Of course!

I find it funny how people in positions of power generally put their hands on their hearts and say: "Corrupt? Who me? Not a chance!"..and as though we are supposed to automatically believe them, and as though we are wrongfully insulting them to even express that concern or suspicion. But the fact is that we don't generally know who these people are who run so much of our lives, and of whom we depend on to do the right thing. And the fact is that corruption is a real and prevalent threat/reality within so much of our world of which can be and obviously has been so catastrophically problematic to humanity.

So what does this mean? It means that we should be as coolly objective about the 'disease' of human corruption as we are about cancer and heart disease. If it is a statistical fact that your local politician has, say, a 35% chance of being moderately or maybe even seriously corrupt, then shouldn't we be developing systems (and sciences) to accommodate for this reality? Isn't that the rational thing to do?

....You can see where I am coming from: Where are those systems? Where are the "department of human corruption studies" in our universities? Why don't we study and deal with human corruption in essentially the same way that we study and deal with cancer? Is the topic not worthy of our time? Of course it is - it is deadly important.

As a society we need to stop asking our politicians (and others) to put on a "Mr integrity" show...ahh, too cheap and pathetic. We instead need to insist on the development of the science of human corruption, and the progressive development of systems for human corruption management. Over time it could do a lot to help clean things up, and would prove to be especially important if we want to develop some kind of world government body.

I conclude that when it comes to corruption we need to stop being emotional and defeatist about it, and instead get scientific. Bitching won't solve anything much - study might!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The difference between Me and "Camp Libertarianism"

Andrew D Atkin

I think people come to question libertarianism when confronted with the raw truths of the [current] human condition, and the logical realities of where the human condition can take us, and what our alternatives are or may be in dealing with it.

The issue of child abuse:

Libertarians believe that bringing up children is the parents responsibility and the state should therefore butt out of it. In principle they are right: bringing up children should indeed be the parents responsibility. But in the real world 25% or more of parents are using their young children as sex toys. Want to talk liberty? Nothing much more imprisons a child (and later adult) into a lifetime of pain, severe repression, and emotional problems than trauma on the level of incest with young children. I am sure that anyone who has grown up in a nightmare childhood would see the world through a different view than that of a typical libertarian who, from my outlook, tends to believe that most parents are wonderful loving people. The latter is what we all want to believe, especially the parents themselves, but it is not quite true.

But does it really contradict the libertarian position for the state to demand "warrant of fitness's" for couples, before they can be awarded their reproduction licences? Not really. Libertarians do believe that the state has the right to impose itself so as to control unacceptable fallout from individual actions. An emotionally destroyed child must surely qualify as an unacceptable fallout, so maybe the difference here is just a lack of understanding?

The reader can look here for more information:

National boundaries and human rights:

Libertarians also generally believe that sovereign nations should not impose themselves on other sovereign nations.

Take this scenario: I get locked up by the New Zealand government and tortured because of my political views (for you non-Kiwi's - that would be extremely unlikely). Australia, say, then tells the New Zealand government that they are being naughty and should let me go. The New Zealand government then tells Australia to "butt out" because it is not their country and therefore none of their business. My response? As a sovereign individual I do not declare myself the property of the New Zealand government. The New Zealand government does not, by my authority, own nor represent me.

In this scenario, and as far as I would be concerned, the Australian government has every right to act in my defense if they were to choose to do as such, and regardless of national boundaries of which, ultimately, are just geo-political/economic abstractions.

Libertarians believe in "leaving other countries alone". That sounds good on the face of it, but what is the difference between not sticking up for the humans rights of the guy living down your street, and not sticking up for the rights of someone living in another country? Ultimately, the difference is nothing but the abstraction of physical distance.

I for one believe that there is a place for "moral arrogance" when dealing with nations and cultures that are so backwards that they do things like cut off people's nose and ears for trying to escape an abusive household (I won't labour the point). I believe that national boundaries should be respected but only insofar as a nation can respect fundamental human rights. Before anything, humanity is a collection of sovereign individuals - not sovereign nations. I feel we have the right to defend our fellow man, whether our political abstractions like it or not.


Problems associated with over-population, mass-neurosis and the proliferation of WAD (weapons of absolute destruction) etc. are profound and must be addressed. Libertarians, to be respectable and relevant, need to confront these problems and propose tangible solutions from the liberal outlook. Because the need to surmount the "big problems" is beyond question--practicality may ultimately have to come before the pure representation of liberal ideals.

This is where I am at. Fundamentally I am a libertarian, but I do not turn my back on the fundamental problems of the modern human condition, and likewise I ask libertarian idealism to answer to how it would and could fit into the grand scheme of things. Again, this is what I think all Libertarians should do. Libertarianism needs to be problem-focused to test itself and be relevant in our current world.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The danger of political ignorance

Andrew D Atkin

In my view, at least 95% of the voting public has only superficial interest in politics (at best) until they are hurting; that is, real hurting like: "I'm living in a tent and where is my next meal coming from?" This is the point where the masses start to take politics (and political mismanagement) seriously. This is the point where they look for new leadership.

And this also is where a potentially very serious problem can develop: If people don't have a basic grip on rational public policy, and are not in the habit of well-considered analysis of public policy, then they could too easily vote for just about any megalomaniac who may say nothing more than "Change!" and "Hope!" etc., for when the public is feeling desperate for change.

The Famous Trends forecaster, Gerald Celente, recommends that people think for themselves because if they keep on asking for leadership, they will then end up following a leader who will lead them off the edge of a cliff [not directly quoting]. I agree with Mr Celente, because if people are too ignorant to be able to know what to vote for (and usually they are) then how could it be otherwise? When you don't have understanding you can (and will) only go by image.

People need to be broadly educated in politics, and more importantly they need some basic education in civil operations and the dynamics of market economies. An intelligent relationship to public policy should be encouraged so as to reduce the public's vulnerability to misleadership. This is what high-school "social studies" should really be about.

At the moment we have a society made up people who could be described as "street wise". They learn how to play the game on their level, but they don't learn much else - they don't learn about the guys who control their game, so to speak. They generally have nearly no understanding of how their society works on the macro-level nor why it works the way that it does, as a total system. This especially applies to what you might call the lower-middle and working classes of society. In an effective democracy, this situation cannot be acceptable*.

So not only should people be educationally prepared to work, they should also be prepared to vote. Unfortunately, and as I have stated elsewhere, modern education is controlled by interests who only want people to work well (for them)--not necessarily live well. Our schools first serve commercial interests, not public interests. If only people could at least understand this much.

*One of the effects of public political ignorance is that our politicians learn to play us for the fools that we are, as they must to gain power. This is turn, I would bet, teaches them to have contempt for public opinion and the democratic process, and understandably.