What should be the primary purpose of a government

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Re: What should be the primary purpose of a government

Post by Scott »

Scott wrote:May I ask another follow-up question; As you use the word, does 'government' necessarily entail non-consensual non-defensive violence (e.g. murder, rape, slavery, etc.)? In other words, would it be a contradiction for one to specify that they subjectively desire only for a 'government' to exist that does not engage in such non-defensive violence (e.g. murder, rape, slavery, etc.)? If it's not a contradiction, then roughly speaking that is what I want. If it is a contradiction, then I can only say that I do not desire any kind of or amount of non-consensual non-defensive violence (e.g. murder, rape, slavery, etc.).
marigold_23 wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 1:40 pm To answer your follow-up question, (to the best of my understanding) government is always a semi-permanent constitutional arrangement of some kind (written or spoken). As I understand it, government is, at minimum, any "societal" arrangement...even a family structure could be described this way... an arrangement or organization implies some internal restriction, as opposed to total freedom... in any relevant social structure, members are not absolutely free as we assume that they have a communal or hierarchical system which is reactive (with members reacting to one another) and limited within that scope...
If the word government is defined so loosely that it includes organizations between humans that are consensual and nonviolent, then I think it may too broad for me to answer your question.

For instance, I have personally served as unpaid President and in other unpaid volunteer positions on what could be called governing board or just board of multiple registered 501(c)(3) charitable organizations--namely formal local PTAs--which involved going to formal training in "corporate governance" as part of the on-boarding training and ongoing training during those years. Generally, the purpose of any such organization is whatever its bylaws state, as voted on by the members who join consensually and pay membership fees, which in that way makes it an extension of human purpose. Whether it is a non-profit or for-profit corporation, ultimately the corporation is just an abstract way to describe the behavior, goals, and purposes of the humans behind it. Thus, at least if the word government is defined that broadly such that it does not necessarily entail non-consensual violence, but includes essentially any corporation, human organization, or club, then I think it may be reducible to the following questions: What do I want the purpose of humans to be?

Would that be a proper re-phrasing of your question that maintains the general essence?

marigold_23 wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 1:40 pm However, as if I understand correctly, you want to increase cooperation, empathy, and decrease the opposite characteristics.
Sort of, maybe. My overall philosophy, particularly in a spiritual sense, has me only worry about what I can control, namely my choices. So, for example, I wouldn't look at a rabid dog and say to it, "you should be nicer; I resent you for being mean! I hate you, doggy, for being the way you are!" Likewise, if I walk outside one day and notice it is raining when I was preparing to go to beach, I wouldn't look up at the sky and say, "It shouldn't be raining; I resent this weather. I hate rain! Living in this world is like living in a world run by a sadistic god!"

Instead, I find that for the sake of inner peace I worry only about my choices, and then I don't worry about those either since I can control them and always get exactly what I want when it comes to my choices, 100% of the time.

To your point, what I would more confidently say is that I want to choose to be cooperative, empathetic, loving, and compassionate insofar as I have that choice, and I want to choose to promote consensual cooperation, empathy, compassion, and love in the world insofar as I have that choice.

But that doesn't mean, for instance, that I want rabid dogs to be nicer or such. I believe in the principle of cleaning my own backyard first, and, since one's own backyard is never entirely clean, logic means I only clean my own figurative backyard, and unconditionally love my neighbor and his backyard (or the rabid dog). What I cannot change is not mine to worry about changing but mine to accept as it is.

marigold_23 wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 1:40 pm Realistically, I think you could try to reduce non consensual, non defensive violence but in a society with any freedom of interaction, you could not remove it completely.
As I see it you could envision a government that does not practice murder or rape. Depending on your definition of slavery (assuming their is a valid social contract, which is certainly rare), you could also envision a society without slavery though it would probably look like slavery from without, in the same way that an ant colony appears like slavery when one sees it's hierarchical structure. Though, if there is a valid provision that members can leave, no internal power dynamic is necessarily non consensual... I'd leave that to the one answering to work out. But from my view, you could theoretically have a government without these elements. I hope that answers your question.

Would you say an ideal government's "function" should be to reduce non consensual, non defensive violence?
Thank you for asking. Typically, I personally wouldn't say anything that involves the word should or ought. That's simply because, in my philosophy, there are no shoulds or oughts; and there is no try. In my philosophy, there is can and cannot, and, from can, there is do or do not. In terms of what I can do, I choose whether to do or not to do. Everything else is what it is.

With that said, anytime I have the option between committing non-consensual non-defensive violence (e.g. murder, rape, slavery, etc.), I choose not to, or do my best to build a habit of choosing not to. Humans (including me) are great at making and writing diets, but bad at following them. Of course, that is part of why following the policy of figuratively cleaning one's own backyard first (before over-imposing on another), ultimately logically works out to only cleaning one's own backyard ever, and never excessively imposing on another. Except in the ways that we are all inexorably perfect, not one of us is perfect, and in that sense our backyards are never fully clean. The same thing that makes it so easy to rationalize storming into one's neighbor's backyard and playing benevolent dictator is the thing that makes it foolish, but many among us would rather storm their neighbor's yard even if just to distract themselves from their own yard. All yards are dirty.

If I am put in charge of deciding whether to burn the witch at the stake or not, I won't. If given the choice to make it or not make it, I would not choose to make a government or other organization that engages in non-consensual non-defensive violence. Whether it calls itself a "government" or a charity or something else, I am happy to donate money to an organization that genuinely works to reduce non-consensual non-defensive violence. I'm not familiar with many of those, but I have donated to charities that serve victims after the fact such as RAINN. But I would be very eager to donate to a charity that is effective at prevention. The same thing goes for other things like cancer; I'm happy to donate to help those who are inflicted and unable to be cured, even if it is a comfort measures only situation, but I am also very interested in donating to organizations that are working on finding cures or preventing the cancer from even occurring. I have donated to the charity METAvivor before; I don't know much about it, but it's my mother's favorite cancer charity, and she is a stage 4 cancer survivor, so I take her word on that one, even though--as it's probably not hard to believe based on my opinions about government, freedom, and authority in general--I was a very rebellious disobedient child in my younger years. Granted, I still am rebellious and disobedient, but I'm just 34 now, so I'm not technically a child, at least if you go by age. :lol:
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: What should be the primary purpose of a government

Post by marigold_23 »

If the word government is defined so loosely that it includes organizations between humans that are consensual and nonviolent, then I think it may too broad for me to answer your question.

For instance, I have personally served as unpaid President and in other unpaid volunteer positions on what could be called governing board or just board of multiple registered 501(c)(3) charitable organizations--namely formal local PTAs--which involved going to formal training in "corporate governance" as part of the on-boarding training and ongoing training during those years. Generally, the purpose of any such organization is whatever its bylaws state, as voted on by the members who join consensually and pay membership fees, which in that way makes it an extension of human purpose. Whether it is a non-profit or for-profit corporation, ultimately the corporation is just an abstract way to describe the behavior, goals, and purposes of the humans behind it. Thus, at least if the word government is defined that broadly such that it does not necessarily entail non-consensual violence, but includes essentially any corporation, human organization, or club, then I think it may be reducible to the following questions: What do I want the purpose of humans to be?

Would that be a proper re-phrasing of your question that maintains the general essence?
Hey Scott, thanks for your response. (Your mother sounds like a really amazing person)

That's an interesting question... by asking what the primary purpose of government should be, I was considering the "function" of government as essentially a mechanism or a tool, such that it has a purpose other than itself... usually, I consider the function of government must necessarily be considered as "of" or "to" the population over which it presides... A tool of whatever society manages the apparatus or ever takes advantage of its workings in that instant.

By asking "what do you want the purpose of humans to be" I feel like that's already quite a different question. It would be like asking "what do you want the purpose of rocks or birds to be?" You could answer that by treating them as functional... (to eat worms for instance or to erode)...but really that answer would eventually reduce to this: "their true function is to exist freely under the constraints of the environment they are in."... In other words, simply "to be"... in other words, "to be in itself", or: "the function of humans (rocks, birds, in themselves) is to be anti-functional", such that the question becomes absurd (assuming we consider "purpose" as synonymous to "function").

If you ask: what is the function of the bird to the worm or within the bird worm relation, then describing its act upon the worm makes sense as an answer, but it is not the same as simply asking "what is the bird's function?"... it must be the bird's function in it's conjunction with the worm or "to the worm".

By asking: "what do you WANT the purpose of humans to be." as a subjective, hypothetical future reality where your answer is different than "To be as they are." or "For humanity to be as it is." you would still need to include in the question another similar entity or organization with which humanity interacts within shared constraints by which to discuss humanity's function at all.

You could ask: "What do I want the purpose of humanity to be to:____ or in it's relation with :____ (so long as it's not to/with the total reality or universe in which it exists [the constraints], because in that instance your answer would still be limited to: "it's function is to be free within those constraints.")

However, whatever you would fill in the blank with, I'm not sure it could be relevant to the initial question which really was concerning the society over which the hypothetical government presides... the blank here is meant to be filled by "the society under that government or constitution".

Perhaps:
"What do I want the purpose (function) of a civilization to be to its members?"... (what is your ideal civilization?)
"What do I want the purpose (function) of a societal constitution to be to its members?"...(what is your ideal societal constitution?)

You may say the question is impossible because people are all different and a constitution may have a different function to certain members belonging to the same society... but, the bird is not just singular any more than the people are... it is made up of parts (feathers, cells, atoms, all individuals), yet we treat is as a single thing relative to the worm... you can do the same thing with the concept of a population as a singular entity.
For instance (and I don't want to answer for you, this is just an example) you could answer: the primary purpose of a constitution should be to preserve it's society (referring to the composite of all members of all ranks in all positions), and yet in certain instances that same constitution could directly result in the death of some individual member as it carries out the function of preserving the composite of all members)

PS.
Although, it seems to me that by beginning the question: "What do I want: ", you're suggesting yourself in the second blank in the model: "What do I want the purpose of ___ to be to ____."... Because you want it. But that's unavoidable, and if I had to guess, the answer is always reduceable to: "to resolve my wanting without destroying me." (if that makes sense)

I'm sorry this is long and if it got off track, I had a bit too much fun with this. You can answer with your proposed question, I'd be interested to hear any opinion you have!
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Re: What should be the primary purpose of a government

Post by LuckyR »

marigold_23 wrote: April 25th, 2021, 9:26 pm
LuckyR wrote: April 25th, 2021, 3:08 am
marigold_23 wrote: April 24th, 2021, 9:04 am
I think I understand what you're asking. Simple really, the purpose of government is to provide services that are important but not profitable (profitable services will be provided by corporations). A good example is the difference between the post office and FedEx. The post office provides service to every address in the country, no matter how rural and unprofitable it is. FedEx goes to large markets. Similarly, the highway system provided great value (wealth), but was too unwieldy and had too much upfront cost to be a money making enterprise for decades. Thus it was built by the government. Same with the education of children of nonwealthy parents.
Hey Lucky_R,
Thanks for the clarification.
I see, and what would you say qualifies a service as important for a society? For instance, must any "important" service by a government contribute in some way to the longevity of the society over which it presides? Or should we conclude that importance relative to society is not determined by the greater longevity of the society as a result of the service but instead, say, the general reduction of discontent(?)

If you agree with the former case, would you also agree that any government under which a society is most likely to persist longest is to that extent preferable to (and more successful than) any government under which the society would not be expected to persist as long (indicating importance is directly related to the science of social sustainability)

If you think the importance of any service is determined by the reduction of discontent (or greater happiness) that results from it, then may I also ask, at what point should the greatest reduction of discontent (or the greatest happiness) for a society not also correlate to the greatest longevity? Would a society ever, in sound judgement, prefer self destruction to hardship and discontent?

Or do you disagree with both of these qualifications for importance?
Are you referring to Utopia or here on planet Earth?

I'm not referring to a utopia. I am referring to your subjective ideal government. As I understand it, "Utopia" must refer to a perfect society and is also only ever considered as fictional for that reason...it is only ever useful as a model, but usually it oversimplifies problems and sets unrealistic expectations...perfection is rarely achieved anywhere, much less in such a complex organization as a human society...
My question is hypothetical in that I'm asking what "should" be the primary purpose of government, but I'm only wishing to know why you would think any issue would in the first place qualify as an important issue such that it would warrant the attention of an ideal government in your view.
Many would call ideal and perfect synonyms. Regardless, important is in the eye of the beholder. That is, to a scientist, scientific research is important. To a general, defence is important. To a social worker social services are important. Ultimately, the vast amount of current routine (let alone ideal) government spending is important to someone.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: What should be the primary purpose of a government

Post by marigold_23 »

LuckyR wrote: April 26th, 2021, 2:15 am Many would call ideal and perfect synonyms. Regardless, important is in the eye of the beholder. That is, to a scientist, scientific research is important. To a general, defence is important. To a social worker social services are important. Ultimately, the vast amount of current routine (let alone ideal) government spending is important to someone.
Hey LuckyR, thanks for your response,

You're right, I should have chosen a different wording. Sorry to be so confusing. I suppose it is very similar to the hypothetical idea of a utopia except a utopia is generally associated with an objectively perfect society.... the concept of a utopia is under no obligation to be within the limits of a person's conceptions and personal experience. By asking for your subjective ideal society I was not asking for objective perfection... you could have told me your subjective ideal government is one which requires everyone to be on fire all the time or something very non utopic and that would have been acceptable so long as you really believe that it would be an ideal government (as far as you can conceive, and according to your own experience).

I would be interested to know if you would agree or disagree with the following definition of importance, (while we're on the topic). I will return to the topic of the Original Post:

Definition: "Importance is only ever ascribed by a beholder to a thing or characteristic with the intended or unconscious function of reducing discontent for the beholder by positive or negative association to that thing or characteristic."

(I tried to prove it below, you're free to skip it if you agree.)

1. Importance is only relative to the beholder (as you implied earlier)
2. Importance is the ascription of value by the beholder to some characteristic/behavior (of an object or object(s)).
3. Things are not ascribed with importance in themselves... an apple, for instance, is never important in itself to the beholder. The beholder may ascribe importance to the apple as it is conceived as an interactive object associated to the relief of discontent... that is, the beholder may say the apple is important but we must assume what he or she means is that the apple's characteristics (opposed to the absence of those characteristics) are important... ie: nutrition, sweetness, beauty, any positive association.
4. Importance is ascribed to active characteristics, or behaviors...even characteristics which are seemingly inactive (like color or odor) are really active and perceived as behaviors... if the behaviors we conceive as important are subtracted from the object itself, the object is not thought of as important in itself, and probably is not noticed at all. If the action of the object were changed such that it increased discontent to the same degree that it decreased it with the previous behavior, then as much as that object was ascribed with positive importance (according to the previous behavior which reduced discontent), it is now ascribed with negative importance. If the object has no effect on discontent, either in reducing or increasing it, then it cannot be ascribed with importance.
5. Any ascription of Importance has a positive and a negative connotation as it is ascribed to a behavior. The behavior is important, where there is a positive value associated to the experience of that behavior and (therefore) always a theoretical negative opposite value associated to an opposite behavior (where the opposite behavior, here, is the behavior which would have an equal opposite effect on discontent in increasing it rather than decreasing it).
6.The ascription of value by a beholder is only possible as the beholder experiences reactivity and unrest... (referred to here as discontent, or the capacity to experience an increase or an opposite decrease in discontent)
7. Importance is only applied through ascription in thought or in action (although thought is technically also action) as the beholder is presented with a situation he or she perceives as imperfect... the feeling of imperfection is traceable (and technically the same) as reaction by a beholder to negative or positive stimulation, or the increase / decrease in a beholder's discontent / unrest.)
(By this, I mean that the experience of an increase in unrest and the experience of a decrease in unrest both imply unrest and imperfection itself (or a state other than absolute contentment or absolute rest)... so any reaction to unrest (either its increase or decrease) would have the unconscious or conscious function of resolving that unrest... or the function of achieving rest / contentment... or in the case of an imperfect situation, the "function" of reducing that imperfection (which to the beholder is synonymous to his or her own discontent).
8. Since the ascription of importance is a reaction to unrest, it must have the intended function of resolving unrest by decreasing it.
9. Importance is either positive or negative importance, and it must have a corrective intention...
Such that: importance (as you say) is relative to the beholder and importance has no relevance in any instance where there is no present or imminent conflict according to that beholder.

Now let me try to rephrase my original question... if you don't like the questions feel free not to answer :) Or if you think they don't make sense.

If you lived in a society where the government had the permanent, exclusive, express function of reducing your discontent (as though it had a positive importance exclusively for you), how would you have it carry out this function (the reduction of your discontent)? What would be the second most important function it should carry out (after we say it should serve the first primary function of reducing your discontent, and all other subsequent specific functions are to serve this primary function).... In other words, what are the things you want most from society within the limits of society's existence and it's ability to provide... what is the first and foremost conceivable state that you would ask it to preserve for you, in order to reduce your discontent?--(that would be the second function it carries out after the first)... and then, (out of curiosity) what is the third function it should consistently carry out for you?

Or, if there were a society where the government had the express function of reducing everyone's discontent (as though it held a positive importance for everyone over which it presided), how would you have it carry out this function?...And, at what point would it be possible for the function of government in reducing discontent to be different between members... in other words, as we agree that the first function is the same for everyone in this hypothetical, wouldn't the second and maybe the third function also be generally if not absolutely the same amongst the members of that society?

Do you have the same answer to the second question as you do to the first? In other words, would it be possible to live in a society that truly served you exclusively with the cost of its own destruction, even if that meant the cost of all humanity being destroyed? Is there any hypothetical circumstance you can conceive of where the event of humanity or society's destruction also serves the function of your greater contentment, such that society or humanity (their inherent characteristics which you ascribe with importance) would ever have a negative importance to you?
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