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Jace, Basilissa

Freedom: What's it worth?

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2 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I'm not asking what you're talking about, practically; I'm asking you to define what the fuck you mean. Because you're using words like tyranny as if it's a standard value. Is the Hungarian government a tyranny? Is Singapore? Both are effectively dictatorships now. I don't want to squabble about definitions; I'm not Scot. I'm asking you to specify what YOU mean by it, because my suspicion is that examining your own viewpoints with even a small amount of critical thinking will show you that you're fairly wrong in your scope. 

 

We have a lot of evidence counter to this as well. Both prior democracies (like Weimar Germany), theoretical ones (like Russia), hopeful ones (like China), and even supposedly superior ones (like the US) - all have moved further away from more equality and less democratic norms and actual laws. 

And a well-educated populace has not helped Iran one bit. Or Singapore for that matter. 

Furthermore, the number of 'new' actual democracies in the world is decreasing. We had the big group of democratic states after the Eastern Bloc fell, but that was the high watermark, and a number of those countries are falling into undemocratic views - while the rest of the world continues to slide into less democratic viewpoints as a matter of course. At the very least democratic views are not increasing over time. 

What evidence we have is that democratic principles and ideals don't last forever anywhere, and short of external invasion they don't come back when they are lost. 

Jesus, Kal. Yes, Hungary and Singapore are pretty goddamn tyrannical. And so I'll take this shit back to ABC's.

Pretty much all of our governments have some degree of anti-democratic elements. It's an exercise in nuance, pal. I'm not happy with the U.S. system, I don't think we're a city on a hill, I know we don't live in a perfect society. Again, why don't you define these terms and tell me how you feel?

If you want a definition of Tyranny and Freedom go to dictionary.com, if you want to tell me whether you have an opinion on what you or dictionary.com considers 'freedom' and how much it's worth, I'm very interested to hear your thoughts.

I KNOW we don't live in a world where the right people can make the right decisions. If I wanted to talk about the folly of man and our animalistic need for authoritarians I would have started a thread about that.

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Posted (edited)

It's a question that weighs on me a lot.  The US represents less than 5% of the global population.  What's our responsibility to police the rest of the world?  Why do shocking pictures of dead children, whether Syria now or drowned en route to Europe last year, deserve more response than all the suffering/dying people who don't get photographed?  Does the US owe Venezualans humanitarian support when they gleefully and recklessly created their problems for themselves over decades while heaping vitriol on America in the process?

The unfortunate reality is that good governance -- from the perspective of US culture -- with low corruption/exploitation, high competence, high individual freedoms and tolerance for all sub-groups (whether women, ethnic, religious, LGBTQ, etc) represents a small minority of the global population.  Some foreign countries would even criticize the US for being pretty bad on some of these measures: high incarceration levels, a large pool of intolerant religious people, racial inequality, low state support for the impoverished, etc; so who are we to project what governance others should have?  Should Canada invade the US to protect black men? 

Good governance is mainly a privileged enclave within the western world and is strongly influenced by a cultural commitment to Enlightenment ideals; although it's hardly a surprise that the region of the Enlightenment believes those ideals to be superior, but not else everywhere agrees.  Many "bad" governments are quite popular in their country, e.g. Russia, China, Turkey, Hungary.  Many bad governments when overthrown result in a violent power struggle.  And regardless of artificial boundaries from colonialism (which I think is a poor excuse), there are too many people in this world who will attempt economic dispossession if not actual genocide on their neighbors when the opportunity arises.

It's intolerable to sit here in the US and be safe, free and wealthy while so much of the world is not.  But there is very, very little we can do to actually make them safe, free or wealthy.  5% of the population cannot police and support the rest for very long.  Just look what 15 years of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan achieved.  And the other wealthy countries offer even less of their resources to intervene in humanitarian crises; they're happy to rely on America's military budget while criticizing them for spending so much on the Pentagon rather than social benefits.  

I want a feasible solution.  It makes me dispirited when I think about it.  I am heartened by the huge and ongoing reduction in global poverty, and yet so many people still live under exploitative, corrupt and/or brutal regimes.  My best hope is that the emergence of an educated middle class in the developing world will eventually lead to political reform or revolution.  That was historically the path to good government, and it has been hard to skip that step and have it imposed by foreigners.  The bourgeoisie are reviled by revolutionaries but they are the core foundation to sustaining good government. 

Edit: to insert a missing "B".  No offence intended by omission.

Edited by Iskaral Pust

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9 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Jesus, Kal. Yes, Hungary and Singapore are pretty goddamn tyrannical. And so I'll take this shit back to ABC's.

Okay, let's stop there. Singapore is also one of the happiest, well-off, well-educated, well-fed and healthiest countries on the entire planet. Far better in basically every way than the US is. And you want to eradicate that, and you want the US - the fuckups that we are - to do that in such a way that they are now free. Free to do what, starve to death or not have medical care?

9 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Pretty much all of our governments have some degree of anti-democratic elements. It's an exercise in nuance, pal. I'm not happy with the U.S. system, I don't think we're a city on a hill, I know we don't live in a perfect society. Again, why don't you define these terms and tell me how you feel?

I think freedom as a concept is too amorphous to fight for and anyone who says they want to fight for freedom I hold in the same regard as people who want to go to war on terror or drugs. 

I think tyranny is great until it sucks. There's a lot to be said about a smart person who has a lot of power to get things done getting things done. And I think that personal happiness and even a lot of personal rights do not necessarily get thrown out the window just because one lives in a dictatorship.

I'm also coming to the realization that there are a whole lot of people who gravitate heavily towards authoritarian viewpoints and values, and that appears to just be something humans do. Getting rid of it without a plan just means even shittier people will come and replace it. 

9 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

If you want a definition of Tyranny and Freedom go to dictionary.com, if you want to tell me whether you have an opinion on what you or dictionary.com considers 'freedom' and how much it's worth, I'm very interested to hear your thoughts.

I KNOW we don't live in a world where the right people can make the right decisions. If I wanted to talk about the folly of man and our animalistic need for authoritarians I would have started a thread about that.

There's a whole lot of evidence that when we give the choices to the people - the freedom to decide - they fuck it up, bigtime. 

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7 minutes ago, Iskaral Pust said:

It's a question that weighs on me a lot.  The US represents less than 5% of the global population.  What's our responsibility to police the rest of the world?  Why do shocking pictures of dead children, whether Syria now or drowned en route to Europe last year, deserve more response than all the suffering/dying people who don't get photographed?  Does the US owe Venezualans humanitarian support when they gleefully and recklessly created their problems for themselves over decades while heaping vitriol on America in the process?

The unfortunate reality is that good governance -- from the perspective of US culture -- with low corruption/exploitation, high competence, high individual freedoms and tolerance for all sub-groups (whether women, ethnic, religious, LGTQ, etc) represents a small minority of the global population.  Some foreign countries would even criticize the US for being pretty bad on some of these measures: high incarceration levels, a large pool of intolerant religious people, racial inequality, low state support for the impoverished, etc; so who are we to project what governance others should have?  Should Canada invade the US to protect black men? 

Good governance is mainly a privileged enclave within the western world and is strongly influenced by a cultural commitment to Enlightenment ideals; although it's hardly a surprise that the region of the Enlightenment believes those ideals to be superior, but not else everywhere agrees.  Many "bad" governments are quite popular in their country, e.g. Russia, China, Turkey, Hungary.  Many bad governments when overthrown result in a violent power struggle.  And regardless of artificial boundaries from colonialism (which I think is a poor excuse), there are too many people in this world who will attempt economic dispossession if not actual genocide on their neighbors when the opportunity arises.

It's intolerable to sit here in the US and be safe, free and wealthy while so much of the world is not.  But there is very, very little we can do to actually make them safe, free or wealthy.  5% of the population cannot police and support the rest for very long.  Just look what 15 years of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan achieved.  And the other wealthy countries offer even less of their resources to intervene in humanitarian crises; they're happy to rely on America's military budget while criticizing them for spending so much on the Pentagon rather than social benefits.  

I want a feasible solution.  It makes me dispirited when I think about it.  I am heartened by the huge and ongoing reduction in global poverty, and yet so many people still live under exploitative, corrupt and/or brutal regimes.  My best hope is that the emergence of an educated middle class in the developing world will eventually lead to political reform or revolution.  That was historically the path to good government, and it has been hard to skip that step and have it imposed by foreigners.  The bourgeoisie are reviled by revolutionaries but they are the core foundation to sustaining good government. 

See, I just need to get you to write this shit for me. Good post. I'm not calling my congressman telling them to vote for war. I'm sharing the way I feel.

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Self-determination over 'freedom' may be a better term - that solves for Singapore and some other ... restrictive ... regimes which may not be entirely democratic and also supports the rights of folks like Kurds.

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Just now, Kalbear said:

Okay, let's stop there. Singapore is also one of the happiest, well-off, well-educated, well-fed and healthiest countries on the entire planet. Far better in basically every way than the US is. And you want to eradicate that, and you want the US - the fuckups that we are - to do that in such a way that they are now free. Free to do what, starve to death or not have medical care?

I think freedom as a concept is too amorphous to fight for and anyone who says they want to fight for freedom I hold in the same regard as people who want to go to war on terror or drugs. 

I think tyranny is great until it sucks. There's a lot to be said about a smart person who has a lot of power to get things done getting things done. And I think that personal happiness and even a lot of personal rights do not necessarily get thrown out the window just because one lives in a dictatorship.

I'm also coming to the realization that there are a whole lot of people who gravitate heavily towards authoritarian viewpoints and values, and that appears to just be something humans do. Getting rid of it without a plan just means even shittier people will come and replace it. 

There's a whole lot of evidence that when we give the choices to the people - the freedom to decide - they fuck it up, bigtime. 

I agree with everything you said. But we keep circling back to the fact that I'm discussing non-facts here.

Me, I am ideologically committed to the concept of democracy and individual liberty. So to me, those goals are worth whatever cost it takes. Like I said at some point today, I don't give a fuck if it's Christ in Wakanda, I DO NOT ACCEPT tyrannical government as a valid institution. I understand that other people feel different and that our lizard brains like knowing who to show our bellies to. I understand that.

And thank you for responding. I get your point of view, I disagree, and we just made lemonade :)

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Just now, Pony Queen Jace said:

I agree with everything you said. But we keep circling back to the fact that I'm discussing non-facts here. 

I'm still fine with you discussing what your feelings actually are, but at least that's a first step. 

Just now, Pony Queen Jace said:

Me, I am ideologically committed to the concept of democracy and individual liberty. So to me, those goals are worth whatever cost it takes.

Why? Again, I'm fine with you discussing your feeling here, but it is not an obvious statement that either of these things are inherently good, at least not to me. And certainly not 'whatever cost it takes'. I'm a lot happier fighting for people than fighting for ideals. 

Just now, Pony Queen Jace said:

Like I said at some point today, I don't give a fuck if it's Christ in Wakanda, I DO NOT ACCEPT tyrannical government as a valid institution. I understand that other people feel different and that our lizard brains like knowing who to show our bellies to. I understand that.

I'm a pragmatist, personally, and I don't give a fuck if it is a dictatorship in name and practice if it means that the society is happy, people have individual rights that aren't trampled on, and people aren't starving or getting sick because they were born to the wrong family in the wrong place. I've also seen the incredibly stupid decisions people do make in a democracy and how easily they will go towards fucking over other people if they get a slightly bigger piece of the pie. Life is beautiful and life is stupid. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I'm still fine with you discussing what your feelings actually are, but at least that's a first step. 

Why? Again, I'm fine with you discussing your feeling here, but it is not an obvious statement that either of these things are inherently good, at least not to me. And certainly not 'whatever cost it takes'. I'm a lot happier fighting for people than fighting for ideals. 

I'm a pragmatist, personally, and I don't give a fuck if it is a dictatorship in name and practice if it means that the society is happy, people have individual rights that aren't trampled on, and people aren't starving or getting sick because they were born to the wrong family in the wrong place. I've also seen the incredibly stupid decisions people do make in a democracy and how easily they will go towards fucking over other people if they get a slightly bigger piece of the pie. Life is beautiful and life is stupid. 

 

See, that's the difference. I'm of the opinion that the Queen of England and all of her ilk should be drawn and quartered for the sin of elevating themselves above the people and stealing from them.

That's why I openly admit I have no policy goals or broader initiative. I understand that my feelings on this matter are not shared by many.

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1 hour ago, dmc515 said:

This question has already been definitively answered.  Freedom is valued at a buck o' five:

 

Lol dammit I came in here to post that!

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My list of priorities goes something like this:

1) Prevent genocide

2) Avoid war

3) Export democracy 

That is, to stop an ongoing genocide, we can invade all we want. However, living in a country ruled by a dictator is often a lot better than in a country at war. I think we are right in promoting democracy and freedom by diplomatic means, but not by military means.

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32 minutes ago, Iskaral Pust said:

It's intolerable to sit here in the US and be safe, free and wealthy while so much of the world is not.  But there is very, very little we can do to actually make them safe, free or wealthy.  5% of the population cannot police and support the rest for very long.  Just look what 15 years of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan achieved.  And the other wealthy countries offer even less of their resources to intervene in humanitarian crises; they're happy to rely on America's military budget while criticizing them for spending so much on the Pentagon rather than social benefits.  

With regards to Iraq it has to be said that you unseated a realtively safe and stable goverment/state more or less on a whim. I'd be curious of whether Iraqis think they were better off under the dictator Hussein, than they are now. As for the 5% of the population, a part of me feels the urge to point out that those 5% burn up around 25% of the worlds fossil fuels. Make of that what you will.

23 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Me, I am ideologically committed to the concept of democracy and individual liberty. So to me, those goals are worth whatever cost it takes. Like I said at some point today, I don't give a fuck if it's Christ in Wakanda, I DO NOT ACCEPT tyrannical government as a valid institution. I understand that other people feel different and that our lizard brains like knowing who to show our bellies to. I understand that.

I didn't know you had a little Bush warrior within you. Anyway it sounds ideologically awfully close to that operation Enduring Freedom nonsense. Well, if you leave out the fabricated WMDs, that is.

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1 minute ago, Notone said:

 

I didn't know you had a little Bush warrior within you. Anyway it sounds ideologically awfully close to that operation Enduring Freedom nonsense. Well, if you leave out the fabricated WMDs, that is.

Yeah! I totally do! The difference is that I actually respect my own value and recognize that it is not shared by the majority. Therefore it is not an appropriate policy to promote. Hence my attempting to not promote by getting into specifics. Although Kal drew me in a little just now in the politics thread, I saw that as explaining a methodology rather than advocating an action.

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38 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

See, that's the difference. I'm of the opinion that the Queen of England and all of her ilk should be drawn and quartered for the sin of elevating themselves above the people and stealing from them.

That's why I openly admit I have no policy goals or broader initiative. I understand that my feelings on this matter are not shared by many.

Rightly so given how hypocritical it is to hold up the US government as somehow less tyrannical and more valid than my government when the US has done both the things you accuse the Queen of.

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Just now, TrueMetis said:

Rightly so given how hypocritical it is to hold up the US government as somehow less tyrannical and more valid than my government when the US has done both the things you accuse the Queen of.

Yeah. That's what I just said.

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1 hour ago, Kalbear said:

We have a lot of evidence counter to this as well. Both prior democracies (like Weimar Germany), theoretical ones (like Russia), hopeful ones (like China), and even supposedly superior ones (like the US) - all have moved further away from more equality and less democratic norms and actual laws. 

And a well-educated populace has not helped Iran one bit. Or Singapore for that matter. 

Furthermore, the number of 'new' actual democracies in the world is decreasing. We had the big group of democratic states after the Eastern Bloc fell, but that was the high watermark, and a number of those countries are falling into undemocratic views - while the rest of the world continues to slide into less democratic viewpoints as a matter of course. At the very least democratic views are not increasing over time. 

What evidence we have is that democratic principles and ideals don't last forever anywhere, and short of external invasion they don't come back when they are lost. 

Yes, there are many conditions for a given society to move toward democracy, and even when they are met there is no guarantee that it will happen.
And democracy itself can be a fragile thing (however who define it).
There have been tons of books written about this. My GF was just telling me about "Why Nations Fail" that she's reading these days.

The main problem is, imho, that even if one is a democrat, one should not be too quick to see democracy as necessarily being the "best" or the "strongest" political system of government. I also agree with you that one can be happy in a dictatorship - and I think we should not forget this.
Especially since the dominant socio-economic system throughout the world (capitalism) is itself hierarchical in nature, making the emergence of real democracy unlikely in the short term. Beware of the pot calling the kettle black: democracy is not synonymous with good governance (and vice-versa). Hence why we should be careful about promoting it, even through diplomacy: you never know what you'll get.
As I was writing one of my previous messages it occurred to me... Perhaps the progress we saw in the West in the 20th century was only thanks to the fact that humanity came so close to the abyss. In my darkest moments I think that our species will only manage to move beyond the current paradigms after WWIII.

All this being said... Democracy is still the best we in the West can hope for today, and I think it's far more resilient than the news would have us think. Not because humanity has any special love for it, or because history necessarily moves toward progress... But simply because when the conditions are met, it's not so bad at offering solutions to real-world problems. On the surface, strongmen might be good at solving some socio-economic problems... But in the long-run, democracy has the means to solve them more permanently, if it can endure the strains that such problems put on it. So I'll remain cautiously optimistic for the time being, and keep hoping that the Iranian, Chinese, or Russian societies can move past their current predicament. I also have this... hunch, that different societies "democratize" differently, and that we can expect some surprising developments in the next decades, because even if some peoples develop an aspiration for "freedom," that freedom might be quite different from the Western kind. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time I retire we had once more several competing ideologies and systems of government, each with their advantages and disadvantages...

 

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Jace, I understand your rage and desire for people everywhere to be freer than they are under tyrannical regimes. It just is that any attempt to  beat the shit out of those that are tyrannical to help those who are less fortunate ends up running afoul of the Law of Unintended  Consequences. Maybe we need Special Circumstances and AIs to really help us out. I wish I could give an answer that did not have the potential for making stuff worse. We could then be on the front lines together.

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5 minutes ago, maarsen said:

Jace, I understand your rage and desire for people everywhere to be freer than they are under tyrannical regimes. It just is that any attempt to  beat the shit out of those that are tyrannical to help those who are less fortunate ends up running afoul of the Law of Unintended  Consequences. Maybe we need Special Circumstances and AIs to really help us out. I wish I could give an answer that did not have the potential for making stuff worse. We could then be on the front lines together.

I know :(

I'd be in a rowboat on my way to Syria (or Yemen, or Burma, or 'X') right now if I thought I actually could help. And if I thought I had good ideas I'd have run for office and tried to help from there.

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1 hour ago, Erik of Hazelfield said:

1) Prevent genocide

2) Avoid war

3) Export democracy 

I like it!  Put that fucker on a t-shirt!

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6 hours ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

This should be fun.

So we all know I'm me. Crazy, not too sharp, angry, yells a lot on the internet.

With that in mind please understand that I am well aware of the fact that my opinions regarding this subject are in the minority, but I want to talk about it anyways.

Y'see, I am of the opinion that inaction in the face of totalitarianism is abetting the subjugation of innocents. I don't give a fuck if it's Jesus Christ who's the King of Wakanda, I do NOT accept the presence of repressive regimes as a legitimate government. If it was me (and it's not), I really would use the nation's considerable resources to hunt down every one of these people and hang them, their families, and probably their extended families. Root and stem.

Now that doesn't mean military action, necessarily, but every tool of Democracy should be focused on the elimination of dictators the world over.

That's how I feel. I know it's not being a 'good liberal' and that the executing the families thing is pretty fucking sick, but there it is.

I just can't sit in a free society, with my daily comforts, and think that every person on earth doesn't deserve the same opportunity.

I don't have the answers, all I have is that I know I cannot abide tyranny.

And once again I think it bears mentioning that I am not someone with decision making power so these opinions really only matter so far as this conversation.

So how about it? Is the entire consensus that free societies have no obligation to topple the structures that prevent freedom of our brothers and sisters, or do we have shades of grey?

At some point you will become the oppressor.

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9 minutes ago, The Anti-Targ said:

At some point you will become the oppressor.

That’s my concern.  Once you are beating on someone “for their own good” when have you become what you are fighting against?

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