↑ comment by Daniel_Burfoot ·
2012-12-07T00:40:03.161Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
As a general point, your counterarguments seem to be based on the idea that "value-based self-organization" of human societies is infeasible. But it can't be that infeasible, since an approximate form of it exists today. The current organization of human society runs up against all the same problems you listed - for example, many Americans feel that the current US government is illegitimate, mirroring the feelings of Redland's serfs against their Duke. Modern countries have to interact on issues of trade, pollution, boundary disputes, etc - and those negotiations often break down, with disastrous results.
In other words, I am not saying that we should radically restructure the political order. Instead, I am saying that we should take incremental steps in the direction of more smaller societies that are governed by a more diverse set of values, and which compete to attract citizens. In the resulting world, individuals could select a society to live in based on how closely a society matches his/her personal values.
It is generally not possible to make different values compatible in this way just by splitting off into smaller societies.
Human values will never be perfectly compatible - indeed, they might not even be approximately compatible. But by creating many small diverse societies, and allowing people wide liberty to move between them (this notion of "exit rights" is a key element of the idea), we can guarantee that each individual's values matches up relatively well with the society she inhabits as well as with her neighbors' values. In the case of Redland, the serfs indicate their acceptance of the Duke's hegemony by the fact of their inhabitance of Redland. If they don't like the society the Duke has established, they can always move somewhere else - again, the notion of exit rights is fundamental to the whole proposal.
I'm living in my little society, you're living in yours, each one reflecting our conflicting values. But our societies still have to interact.
This critique seems particularly out of touch with historical reality. Societies with wildly different values can and do interact to solve problems. The Saudis have been selling oil to the West for decades in spite of the vast differences between the two moral systems. The Soviets bought grain from the US during one of their state-sponsored famines. Maybe your point is that with more societies there is a greater need for extensive negotiation and interaction, but that seems like a technical point and can be solved with technical innovation (for example, we could establish central bodies like the WTO, so that each individual society negotiates with the central body instead of with every other society, resulting in a O(N) rounds of negotiation instead of O(N^2)).
Even if the "Outsiders" critique has force, it only implies that there must be global rules governing inter-society relationships; it says nothing about intra-society relationships. It is entirely possible that a society will decide to govern itself based on principles of collectivization, but still enter into capitalist trade with the outside world (the Israeli kibbutzes did this). Most ethical problems involve coordination with your immediate neighbors, so there is still a huge potential here. For exapmple, Christians who are strongly opposed to adultery could very effectively prohibit it within their own society without having to coordinate with or depend on Outsiders in any way.
Suppose I want to live in society C. Then I change my mind, and I want to leave.
Again, exit rights is the key concept here. Finding a workable solution about how to define and guarantee exit rights is not easy, but it doesn't seem unachievable. In the case of Society D, you are no worse off than you are in the modern world - all modern countries assert, more or less absolutely, the right to restrict immigration and keep out undesirables. Regarding Society E, nothing I've said requires that the small societies be undemocratic (though I hope there would some undemocratic ones, as some people have reactionary/anti-democratic values). So Society E could simply vote to change whatever rule was holding them back.
But on the issue of change, I believe that my system will be much more adaptable and dynamic than the current order. Change will be spurred by immigration - societies that lose citizens will have to adapt to make themselves more attractive. At the same time, the benefits created by the smart rules of successful societies will be delivered to an ever-larger group, as more and more people move to well-run societies. Indeed, this system will benefit even people who never choose to relocate, because governments will be under pressure to continually improve themselves.
Ultimately, I worry that your proposition is a way to evade the problems of politics, rather than solve them
Certainly - every good engineer knows that it is better to avoid a problem than to have to solve it! Seriously, though, any political system which forces people with widely differing moral systems to live together under the same set of rules is bound to run into intractable problems - as I think all Americans today are keenly aware. The principle I've described allows us to avoid having to figure out the precise set of optimal moral rules (such a thing probably doesn't even exist), and instead focus on developing a framework within which diverse societies can peacefully coexist.
If you aren't already aware of the literature, you might be interested in reading about anarcho-capitalism, which is similar to what you're talking about.
I certainly disavow any claim to originality; I am just repeating what people like Patri Friedman have been saying for years, though I think it is a good way to frame the idea in terms of a human right to live in a society that reflects one's own values.
Replies from: ChristianKl
↑ comment by ChristianKl ·
2012-12-07T14:47:32.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
The current organization of human society runs up against all the same problems you listed - for example, many Americans feel that the current US government is illegitimate, mirroring the feelings of Redland's serfs against their Duke.
According to the current idea of the self determination of people it's the responsibility of those Americans who hold the US government to be illegitimate to overthrow it.
It's not the responsibility of another country like France and help with overthrowing the US government. It's also not the responsibility of France to accept those American's who hold their government illegitimiate as refugees.
If they don't like the society the Duke has established, they can always move somewhere else - again, the notion of exit rights is fundamental to the whole proposal.
Do you think that all African citizen's should have a right to move to the US?