Intro To Philosophy 6: Politics #2

Intro To Philosophy 6: Politics #2

Hi everybody. Hope you’re doing well, it’s
Stef. It’s time for the next round in the gripping world of our plunge into the exciting
life of understanding politics. We’ve gone horizontal. You see, this is the
kind of variety that you can expect from quality shows such as this! What I’d like to do is to talk about how we
can begin to understand the process of what is called or meant in the realm of “democracy.”
The first thing to understand is that democracy is, let’s just say, a bunch of people (always
three [in the drawing]) who have the option to choose, the possibility of choosing, another
person (politics, we will put in blue) who is the titular head of this thing which is
called the government. I’m sorry to be so obvious, I just wanted to go over the basics
here. So there’s a possibility of choosing a person who represents the government. Now, you don’t get to choose the government
itself, you don’t get to choose the bureaucrats or the teachers or anything like that. The
real question is, What does this process mean wherein some voters, and I think in some democracies
these days, it’s like a third of eligible people come out to vote in various situations.
What does this mean when we break it down using the ethical theories that we’ve put
forward so far in our analysis? What does it mean and how does it occur? Now, the main thing to understand is that
we have to look at this from a contractual standpoint. There are several problems with
this from a contractual standpoint. The first problem is that nobody asks you
whether you would like to have a government at all. This is a fairly important criterion.
Nobody asks you whether you want a particular group of people who have exactly the opposite
ethics than you do, and get to use the Aggression Principle while you are bound by the Non-Aggression
Principle, and they are bound by the Non-Aggression Principle when it comes to their private lives
as well. Nobody asks you fundamentally whether you want the government to do what it does,
but you are (supposedly) allowed to choose the leader who represents particular claimed
ideology or claimed perspective, a leader who represents that, that may or may not occur
when he/she gets into office, and you are then bound by the decisions of the majority
for four years. There’s a number of things that I think would
have to occur for a democratic vote to be legitimate. Now that we’ve had a quick look
at that, let’s erase our magic colors of deep philosophical analysis and let’s look at what
would have to occur in order, I would say, for a vote to be considered morally valid.
In other words, for a vote to have the same moral criterion as something else, like getting
into a contract to buy a car or something. Let’s say that Person A is the politician.
Politician=Blue, so we have this politician who wants your vote and who says, “I’m going
to do X, Y and Zed.” (Zed I think is an intern) What happens then is, you say, “Yep, I really
like X, really like Y, Zed’s kinda hot, so I’m going to go ahead and give this person
my vote.” Now what has to happen is that your contract,
so to speak, your vote is for this particular person, Person A, and you give him your vote.
[writes on board] In order for that to be valid, then obviously (it seems to me) you
would have to have the choice to not have X, Y or Z or anything that it represents. So for instance, if we were to say that you
have a daughter, she’s of marital age, and you go to her and say, “Daughter, Sue, you
have to choose between these two fine young gentlemen, one of whom is a landowner, the
other of whom is a factory owner. You have to choose between one of these two fine gentlemen,
and you will have to accept their rule over you.” (This is not exactly feminist times
that we’re talking about here) Then, of course, your daughter would, I think
quite reasonably, have the right to say to you, “Well, Daddy, what if I don’t like either
of them?” Well, then of course, you as a father, taking
the political metaphor would say “No, I’m sorry, you have to choose between the two
of them, and if you don’t choose, then I’m going to make the choice for you.” There’s
not exactly a free situation there. “You can choose, but if you don’t choose I’m going
to choose for you, and you don’t have the capacity not to choose.” If you go into a
showroom to buy, or if you’re even vaguely interested in buying, a car, and the salesperson
locks the door [to the showroom] behind you and says, “You can choose either the minivan
or the sports car, but you’re leaving here with a car.” And you say, “Well, I’m just
curious, just looking, maybe don’t want to buy.” And he says, “Sorry, you don’t have
that choice. You have to buy one of these two cars. You can choose not to, but then
I’m going to buy it for you and send you the bill.” Well, we would probably have some problems
with a showroom that operated like that. We would have some problems with a father who
forced his daughter to marry one of the two men, and if she didn’t choose he would choose
for her. The first thing that you would have to have
is the right to say, “I don’t want Person A. I don’t want this person to represent me,
I don’t want to be represented by anyone.” If you choose someone to represent you, like
a lawyer in court, or an accountant in a tax dispute or something, you at least want to
have the choice to… You can choose whoever you want to represent you, you should of course
have the choice to represent yourself. The first thing, in terms of a vote, is that
you have to agree with X, Y and Z. You have to have the option not to have anybody provide
the services, and then in order for that vote to be valid, then this Person A has to be
able to deliver X, Y and Z. So you vote for this person because you want X, Y and Z, and
you have the perfect right not to vote for this person and to provide X, Y and Z yourself,
to farm X out to one person, Z out to another, Y to another, and so on. But if you do vote
for this person, you say “I do want X, Y and Z,” then the vote has to be for that particular
person, you have to want X, Y and Z as provided by that person, you have to have the right
not to vote for it, and last but not least, this person has to be able to provide X, Y
and Z. If you go online and you order from a grocery
store eggs, milk and bananas, then you kind of expect when you hand over your order that
the grocery store can deliver X, Y and Z. Of course the politician has to be able to
deliver these things. Now, in a democracy, of course, we have a
separation of powers, judicial, executive, legislative, and so on. So there’s no politician
who can guarantee X, Y and Z. So let’s say that a politician says, “I’m going to introduce
vouchers for education into your system.” I’m not saying I approve of that, but let’s
just say that’s what he says: “I’m going to let you take these credits and go and apply
them to whatever school that you want.” And if you vote for that person, then that person
has to be able to — for it to be a moral transaction — either to give you your vote
back, so to speak if they can’t deliver what they said they would deliver in order to get
your vote, but of course there’s no guarantee that this person is going to be able to deliver
what he/she says he/she is going to deliver. So it’s really not the case at all. They can
say, “Well, the thing’s out of my hands,” and so on. It’s like you order something from
the grocery store, and they say, “Sorry, the banana shipment was late, we can’t ship them
to you, it’s out of our hands. But we’ve already got your money, so… we’re not going to give
you any refunds.” You can’t get your vote back if you vote for someone and they end
up not delivering what it is that they have been expected to deliver. Now, of course, the vote, fundamentally, is
secret. This is a fundamental thing. It is a secret vote. So the politician has no idea
whether you voted for him or her or not. A fundamental thing. So there really can’t be
any direct contract between you and a politician, because the vote is secret, and of course
in some democracies you vote for the party rather than the person, and so on. So there’s
no possibility for direct contract between you and the politician, because the politician
doesn’t know whether you have voted for him or her. For these and many, many other reasons (the
fact that it’s a length of time, as well, four years between votes,) the longest that
it could conceivably be that you would vote even for a particular politician would be
four years, and if you then withdraw your vote because you don’t like what he’s done,
but other people vote for him, then your contractual obligation to that politician no longer would
be valid. Now we’ve just talked about a particular politician.
But if we look at a system as a whole (Lysander Spooner has a lot more to say on this than
I do), but if you look at a particular system as a whole… If we look at something like
the Constitution of the United States, or this is more of a common law tradition in
England, or the Constitution in Canada, then the people who voted for the Constitution,
of which I think only one sixth were able to vote in the United States in the late 18th
century, the people who voted for the Constitution should have, of course, a clear idea what
it was about, and of course, given the constitutional wrangling over the past two centuries, we
can be fairly sure that the Constitution is not exactly a clear document that is easy
to interpret. If you talk to 10 people, they’ll come up with 10 different things: “It’s a
living document,” which is of course the death of liberty. The people who voted for the Constitution,
who were the one sixth of people who bothered to get up and vote, who we don’t have any
idea who their identities were because it’s anonymous, those people long dead, lost to
history, unknown to anyone, have no right to bind those who come after them. I have
no right to go and buy a car and send you the bill. I have no right to pass on any obligations
(I as an individual, not talking about the State with public debt) to my children’s children’s
children, and to sign a contract, and then have them be obligated to fulfill it. Within a particular political environment,
we have a problem with the longevity and non-specificity of any contract between voters and individuals,
because you have to take the whole package, you have to vote for the person, they have
to be able to deliver it, and of course given that we have checks and balances and the separation
of powers, there’s no guarantee that the politician you vote for is going to be able to deliver
what you want, even if you did want the complete package, and the politician has no direct
relationship with you. There’s really no validity to the individual
politician and his programs, but in a larger sense, there’s no validity to the system that
is inherited from prior generations. Because the Constitution that was ratified and voted
on by an unknown minority several hundred years ago is in no way, shape or form binding
in any moral sense upon people in the present. Because there’s nothing special about that
generation. Again, we have universally preferred behavior. You can’t say that this particular
small group of white, middle-class intellectuals in America, and the people who voted, perhaps
maybe to some degree, for that measure based on their possible understanding of what the
Constitution actually meant, that those people can bind subsequent generations to anything,
because slavery was legal in the founding of the United States. Did that mean that to
get rid of slavery is now…? We have no problem breaking that particular rule, which I think
was a damn good one to break. There is no real validity in saying that subsequent
generations are bound to the particular rules that may or may not have been voted on by
an indeterminate number of somewhat educated people which we can’t identify in the past.
The politicians are dead, the people who voted for them are dead, and so it seems impossible
to fathom why it is that rules set up a long time ago in the past would be binding to the
point of violence. To the point of, if you disobey certain things, that you end up getting
shot, or thrown in jail, and so on. We do have a significant problem even in the
realm of democracy. It also seems rather impossible to understand
why a plurality of people would be able to impose their will on the minority, other than
sort of in a brute force scenario. So it seems hard to understand why 100 people can impose
upon 99 people, because morality is about an individual. It’s not about a group. The
group doesn’t change the moral nature of each individual. The moment that you have a rule
by a majority in a governmental sense, then you have broken universally preferred behavior,
and now you’re in a state of nature, as we can see with modern political systems, where
everybody just grabs at everything that they can, etc. Let’s have a look at what actually happens,
because there’s a lot of talk in politics about the ideal (voting for democracy, having
a say, if you don’t like the system you should just run for office, and this that and the
other). Well, let’s have a look if you don’t mind for just a minute or two at the basic
reality of all democracies throughout history, what has occurred. Let’s say that Person A, again, is interested
in running for office. He’s Joe Politician, Person A, he’s interested in running for office.
The government, as we’ve talked about before, is this big cloudy concept which runs on the
Aggression Principle. People who are in the government claim the right, and of course
enact quite violently that right, to force people to do what they don’t want to do or
to prevent people from doing what they do want to do. The government fundamentally is
a big hunkin’ gun. I don’t want to put it too frankly, but I think it’s important to
understand that the government is the group that claims the legal right to initiate the
use of force against usually legally disarmed citizens, or at least who has such overwhelming
military force that even if you have a pop-gun, it’s not going to help you against the nuclear
subs and the aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons, and so on. The government is the group of people who
claims the right to initiate the use of force against citizens, and the way in which that
force is almost universally deployed is the transfer of resources from the majority to
the minority. What happens is that the gun is pointed at
each citizen, and the citizens, in order to avoid the kidnapping and incarceration that
the State permits itself, or is required, to do, the people basically hand over dollars.
Sorry to be so North-American-centric, but the dollars are handed to the people in the
government. You pay your taxes, and so on. The money is handed to people in the government,
and people in the government use some portion of that, and it goes to a minority of people.
The money which then accrues within the State as a result of pointing the gun at the citizens,
accrue to a minority of people we will call B. This is all fairly, I think, well understood.
You can call this Military Industrial Complex, you can call this Mercantilism, but basically
guns are pointed at the citizens, each citizen is threatened with force by people within
the government, and to avoid the consequences of that force, the kidnapping, the debt, and
so on, they hand money over to the government. The government then takes this money, and
part of it is used to pay the people who hold the guns: the police, the military, etc. And
then part of it is farmed out to a minority, people who have politicians in their pockets,
etc. I’m sure this isn’t too surprising to you, you just have to think about it for a
moment. Without a doubt government is a group that claims a monopoly of a right to use force
in a particular geographical area. You could call it a gang. But basically the government
is a group of individuals who claim the right to initiate the use of force against usually
disarmed citizens, and then they take all this money. And I know that they provide certain services
back to those citizens, so I’m not saying everyone in the government is evil, but we’re
just talking about the institution as an ethical proposition. It certainly violates universally
preferred behavior to have a certain number of people who are able to use violence to
take out guns and point them at innocent people in order to get money from them. It doesn’t matter that people choose the leaders
because they don’t, even if they did. Because if you’re a slave, it doesn’t matter if I
come to you and say, “Well you can choose from Slaveowner A, Slaveowner B, Slaveowner
C, which one do you want?” It doesn’t really mean much. It doesn’t make a slave free to
let them choose his/her slavemaster. Now, let’s just say I am Politician A. I come
in and say, “I want your vote.” Who is it that I’m actually talking to? Well, of course,
as we know, a political career requires a huge amount of money. Always has, always will,
until we make changes. So you need an enormous amount of money in order to be able to credibly
run for office. Where are you going to get this money from? Well, you could be independently
wealthy, but most people need the money from fundraisers. They will get some money from
the people who believe they will be able to provide the X, Y and Z, and so on. But a real
question comes from these people who benefit from the flow of money within the State, they
want to maintain this flow of money. There are competing groups within society who want
money from the State (Republicans, Democrats, and whatever) and they have different agendas,
and they want money in different ways. For example, the Republicans are traditionally
associated with wanting money for the military, and Democrats want more for social programs
and unions, and so on. There are different groups, and they compete for this. What you do, if you are an aspiring politician,
is you go to particular groups and say “I want to run for office.” And then they say
that they will give you money. And yes, sometimes I’m sure it’s out of idealism and the pure,
noble, democratic goodness of their hearts, but I would say that by far the vast majority
of people who get significant sums of money from business, or unions, or particular social
concerns, get that money because they are going to provide favors in return for the
money. (Let’s see, it’s getting lower-intestine complicated
here) So you come to this group and you say, “I
want to run for office,” and they evaluate your chances, and so on, and they say “Okay.
We will give you the money to run for office, on the understanding that when you get into
the government, that you will keep this money flowing from the taxpayers to us, through
the coercive mechanism of the government.” This is all fairly well understood, and I’m
sure fairly non-controversial. So the reason that you get somebody running for office is
because they have already made a commitment to these people to continue to guarantee them
the flow of money, or it could also be to prevent the flow of money from going somewhere
else, or to prevent regulation or licensing or some form of government licensing and control
to enter a particular industry (this might be the case for something like the software
industry). But, you know, pharmaceuticals and insurance companies, etc. This is like
old-style mercantilism, as we talked about two podcasts ago. What they do is, they give money to potential
politicians, in return for… Like it’s an investment, right? They give $100 here, and
they hope to get, you know, $10,000 here, continuing to maintain this flow of money. The interesting thing is
that the potential politicians, the illusion
is that the individual voters are looking at the politicians who just sort of emerged
out of their own altruistic goodness like, I don’t know, geysers erupting from the ground,
that these politicians have just appeared, and they believe that the politicians are
beholden to the voters. And we’ll talk about what the voters actually want. The real question, of course, is How do the
politicians get the money to run for office? And of course, they get the money from the
people who are basically giving them the money with the spoken or unspoken understanding
that once the politicians gain control of the gun of the State, once they grab the gun
of the State, that they’re going to point it and the money that accrues will go back
to these groups who fund the politicians. Of course, this is a fairly important thing
to understand: that the voters are not getting to vote for anyone who’s not already bought
and paid for. This is a very important thing ot understand. By the time someone hoves into
view for you as a voter, they only are in view of you as a potential candidate because
they have already made an enormous number of backroom deals with people who are going
to profit from the resource re-allocation that is the basis of the State. The State
is just this massive, evil bag of guns that sprays out and points at people, gathers resources,
and kicks it back to the relatively few who profit from this excess of force and this
right to initiate violence within society. This is just something important to understand
about democracy. The primary relationship is politician to benefactor. Politician to
mercantilist organization. This could be public, such as the bureaucrats that run government.
It could be semi-public or unions, private-sector [or] public-sector unions protected by the
gun of the State. It could be private, in that it’s a relatively private industry that
still wants beneficial regulations or at least to avoid an excess of poor or destructive
regulations. The primary relationship is here: it’s between
the politician and those who are going to benefit from the politician’s nominal control
of the weaponry of the State. The voters are not choosing objectively between people who
have different policies. They are choosing people who have already been bought and paid
for, and that’s fairly significant. When you go to your doctor, you kind of wanna
know if the prescription the doctor is giving you is being given you because he’s getting
paid $1,000 per prescription from some pharmaceutical company. Similarly, of course, you know that
the excessive amount of money that it takes to run for office must come from somewhere,
and it’s not people who have just some sort of massive idealism; it’s from people who
expect that the politician is going to return the favor in many, many ways and many-fold
over. (It’s not his money!) It’s a mere investment, to a return that the
politician is going to provide. It’s an important thing to understand about democracy because
we really do want to start stripping off the nonsense that surrounds the basic transactions,
so that we can begin to make a little bit more sense of them, which we’ll go into more
in the next podcast. Thank you so much for listening. I will talk to you soon. Bye.

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14 thoughts on “Intro To Philosophy 6: Politics #2”

  • Yes he and many other including me advocates that. Rich would have as much to say about their life as you would. He would be able to exchange more property but that can never be fairly distributed as people are born different to begin with in question of talents and so on.

  • But diversity is not a bad thing as we exchange property with each other it all cycles and we all get advantaged from exchanging property it's not a lose-win situation but a win-win situation. You don't need to be jealous because someone is richer than you because there are options to choose from who you want to exchange property.

  • So you don't have an unchecked system. You have a system where each and every individual is reliable of his actions against everyone else and everyone competes which each other for everyone's interaction with you. Making it substantially better not for the rich but for the poor. Because the rich prefers a system without competition where he can accumulate wealth.

  • Have you been paying attention to the video series? The constitution is just a piece of paper, and it has no magical powers!

  • that diagrams are great, they helped me so much to understand the relationships. And I know you made those vids six years ago, but I felt I have to commend you for it anyway :3

  • i agree with what you say ,i just dont like how you say it, your exaples are horible, they dont have to be this long and complicated.

  • So, from your show, your theory, UPB is in direct conflict with government.  Since governments have been around since people have learned to harness fire, UPB must be an incomplete theory (does not reflect reality).  There were civilizations that had minimized government (like native Americans) but they were quickly eliminated.  Regretfully, the strongest societies will conquer the weakest societies (I'm sorry, but that is just the way it is).  Since UPB also does  not take this into account, again the model must be flawed.  Lastly, you have talked about the evils of government, but you have proposed no solutions (or practical solutions).  Again, UPB does not reflect reality and as such must be incomplete.  Please revise UPB to reflect reality and re-submit, otherwise you are just discussing the architecture of castles on the clouds – pretty, but irrelevant.

  • @21:00 "Well, you could be independently wealthy…"

    How many bitcoin would it take to change the license of this video to creative commons?