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Jace, The Sugarcube

Freedom: What's it worth?

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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?

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We are unwilling to topple the structures in our own society that prevent freedom of our brothers and sisters. 

  • Death penalty
  • Cash bail
  • Militarization of police
  • Lack of competent public defenders
  • About everything about immigration courts
  • etc. etc.

edit - I say this with knowing A) Jace you would generally agree wtih the above and B ) I hate 'whataboutism' but this is one where there is so much mess and cleanup in our borders that we are not a city on the hill to dictate anything to anyone. Strictly in consideration of present day and not getting into the CIA's historic support of dictators and the like.

Edited by Week

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3 minutes ago, Week said:

We are unwilling to topple the structures in our own society that prevent freedom of our brothers and sisters. 

  • Death penalty
  • Cash bail
  • Militarization of police
  • Lack of competent public defenders
  • About everything about immigration courts
  • etc. etc.

edit - I say this with knowing A) Jace you would generally agree wtih the above and B ) I hate 'whataboutism' but this is one where there is so much mess and cleanup in our borders that we are not a city on the hill to dictate anything to anyone. Strictly in consideration of present day and not getting into the CIA's historic support of dictators and the like.

I do agree. And that's why I won't share what I think this country needs to see happen to fix our own injustice factories.

I'll give you a hint though, it's WAAAAY worse than you think. :P

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3 minutes ago, PsicoNny said:

i agree up to a point, but,  is the US to immpart the justice?, in my humble Chilean opinnion i think not. (sorry for the short answer but i got a lot i wanna say but dont have time right now)

Good question. I have an answer!

There is no legitimate reason why an alliance of democratic nations should not be exporting the only legitimate form of government around the world. I don't mean missionaries or YMCA's or whatever either. I mean focused attempts to modernize and improve underdeveloped states through civil engagement with exactly 1 string attached.

The benefits go to the people, not the strongmen and the gangsters.

If you want to promote peace abroad, the best way to do it is through the spreading of values that everyone can benefit from and giving people the tools to hold their governments accountable.

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44 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Good question. I have an answer!

There is no legitimate reason why an alliance of democratic nations should not be exporting the only legitimate form of government around the world. I don't mean missionaries or YMCA's or whatever either. I mean focused attempts to modernize and improve underdeveloped states through civil engagement with exactly 1 string attached.

The benefits go to the people, not the strongmen and the gangsters.

If you want to promote peace abroad, the best way to do it is through the spreading of values that everyone can benefit from and giving people the tools to hold their governments accountable.

Every society has some level of "tyranny" if a government exists.  We accept control and grant people power that can and is abused in order to facilitate "law and order" in large heavily populated States.  That directs us to the harder question... one person's "illegality" is another's "tyranny" who determines what actions by government are and are not tyrannical?  One person's "religious freedom" is another person's "hate speech".  One person's "platform denial" is another person's "suppression of free expression".  

When we can't agree on what is and is not truly tyrannical is it not dangerous to empower the State to stamp out "tyranny" somewhere other than within our own political borders?  

Further, what cost is acceptable in fighting "tyranny"?  As Maithanet and I both pointed out in the US politics thread this fight, if it gets large enough, has the potential to threaten... everything. 

As PQJ has already answered this question with a "yes" I pose it to everyone else, is a massive die off or potential extinction of the human species worth a global fight against an abstract and difficult to pin down idea like "Tyranny"?

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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Ugh.

 

edit, to add a bit of substance...pony, the family thing alone is grossing me the fuck out...this reminds me of Carlin’s into to the Roman Holocaust eposide. He starts off by asking what you would be willing to die for. Like make a list of things you would actually die for. And then he starts listing off the uncontroversial things ‘most people’ would be willing to die for.

*your loved ones. (My reaction: yeah.)

*your country. (My reaction: uhhhh...maybe? Depends on a lot of factors. If Nazis were invading, yeah. If we were aggressively expanding our influence or exporting our ideology (these two are generally indistinguishable from one another) no. But, ok, maybe.

*your possessions. (My reaction: what? Fuck no. Is he serious? No, I will not die to keep my possessions. I can’t imagine a more useless act, really. I mean, when younger and stupid I fought a few guys trying to rob me, but I was young and stupid at the time. Anyways, Dan Carlin, I expected better if you.)

Edited by James Arryn

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10 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Every society has some level of "tyranny" if a government exists.  We accept control and grant people power that can and is abused in order to facilitate "law and order" in large heavily populated States.  That directs us to the harder question... one person's "illegality" is another's "tyranny" who determines what actions by government are and are not tyrannical?  One person's "religious freedom" is another person's "hate speech".  One person's "platform denial" is another person's "suppression of free expression".  

When we can't agree on what is and is not truly tyrannical is it not dangerous to empower the State to stamp out "tyranny" somewhere other than within our own political borders?  

Further, what cost is acceptable in fighting "tyranny"?  As Maithanet and I both pointed out in the US politics thread this fight, if it gets large enough, has the potential to threaten... everything. 

As PQJ has already answered this question with a "yes" I pose it to everyone else, is a massive die off or potential extinction of the human species worth a global fight against an abstract and difficult to pin down idea like "Tyranny"?

It is not difficult.

Japan

China

Russia

Scotland

Which 2 do you think I'm thinking of as tyrannical governments? You can have your little libertarian 'me me me' attitude all you want about all governments being tyrannical but this is actually something I'm pretty passionate about so I would appreciate if you allowed a conversation free of nonsensical slights at the concept of a just rule of law. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

It is not difficult.

Japan

China

Russia

Scotland

Which 2 do you think I'm thinking of as tyrannical governments? You can have your little libertarian 'me me me' attitude all you want about all governments being tyrannical but this is actually something I'm pretty passionate about so I would appreciate if you allowed a conversation free of nonsensical slights at the concept of a just rule of law. 

 

 

I do think China and Russia have much more tyrannical governments than Japan and Scotland. 

My point is not that China and Russia aren't tyrannical it is that there is no universal agreement on what is and is not "tyranny". 

You can think others are wrong but the problem arises when you want to use force and are willing, if you had the power to use that force, to literally burn the planet to impose your view of what is and is not tyrannical upon everyone else who may or may not agree with you.  I'm saying this is harder than "I know tyranny when I see it."  When you want to stamp it out at the cost of the human species itself. 

I am under no illusions about how China and Russia would react to an attempt to force them to abide by your view of tyranny.  They would fight and fight hard to prevent others from imposing their view of how they should run their States upon them.  

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1 hour ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

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?

I swing in the very opposite direction (to you). Therefore I'm a "bad liberal" too.

I've come to the point where not only am I sadly aware that our Western countries are not truly democratic (though Switzerland comes pretty close) but also where I'd easily question the assumption that democracy has any inherent value.
I think I'll be preaching to the choir here if I say that we really live in oligarchies/plutocracies and that "the people" has little actual influence on decision-making.
Then there's the matter of what is "totalitarianism." There is some level of indoctrination in most of our Western societies, starting with the way the word "democracy" is misused. Once you understand this you also understand why people living in "totalitarian" societies can be far more lucid about the defects of their political system and ours than we tend to be - and why "undemocratic" systems are surprisingly popular throughout the world.
Finally there's the matter of "democracy." I'm starting to think egalitarianism is a more important political principle than democracy, because democracy often translates into majority rule, which is really a terrible rule to live under (especially in countries that are ethnically diverse). Ultimately, democracy is something to strive for, but only if the population is educated enough to exercize political power ; otherwise it might be just as bad as the alternatives.
Ironically, real democracy might require a form of education which could be viewed as indoctrination or even "totalitarianism" from the outside.

I'm not even sure I believe in "freedom" anymore. Actual "freedom" would require the people to have political power, which in turn would require so many duties on a daily basis that it would hardly be felt as "freedom" by those who have it. That's why the vast majority of people like the current system: because it's not demanding. In fact, voting itself isn't mandatory in most Western countries, and the abstention rates speak volumes about how people really feel about "democracy" and "freedom" (i.e. most people don't give a damn).
Freedom is far too demanding. Most people are perfectly content if they can have material comfort and some form of entertainment. Oh sure, people like to think they are free because of some basic individual liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of religion... etc) but don't realize that individual liberties are supposed to be means, not ends, and are thus close to worthless without actual political and economic power.

I think in our day and age happiness and quality of life are much better indicators of the merits of a political system than abstract concepts like "democracy" and "freedom" that very few people are genuinely interested in.
A corrupt "democracy" can be far worse than a dictatorship.

Not that there wouldn't be merit in helping other peoples improve their political system to obtain greater happiness... But that kind of discourse tends to be used to hide the defects of our own political system... Combined with nationalism it's been preventing change rather than promoting it. The West stopped its march toward democracy about half-a-century ago.

All this being said there are two things the West should do, if it was the shining beacon of hope that it pretends to be:
- Provide much needed economic assistance to developing countries. That is, cut the bullcrap on "free trade" and allow them protectionism. Give them back the management and profits of the exploitation of their natural resources. Eliminate their national debts. Share technological innovation. ... etc. That's the stuff that really matters. The whole discourse about "democracy" and "freedom," by comparison, is just ridiculous and makes the West look hypocritical and arrogant.
- Actively act to prevent crimes against humanity. Starting by stopping the manufacturing and selling of weapons. Also, don't recognize illegitimate or terrible rulers (even those who are "elected") and don't help them build socio-economic structures that will cement their rule. Again, this is what truly matters.

Of course, doing any of that would probably require a few revolutions in the West to begin with. Which means a lot of work.
And sacrificing quite a few comforts too.
I very much doubt many people really want "freedom" for them and their brothers & sisters. If that were the case, well, the world would be a far better place to live in.

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TL;DR version:

1 hour ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

There is no legitimate reason why an alliance of democratic nations should not be exporting the only legitimate form of government around the world.

What form of government would that be? The one that got Trump elected to the most powerful office in the world?

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10 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

I swing in the very opposite direction (to you). Therefore I'm a "bad liberal" too.

I've come to the point where not only am I sadly aware that our Western countries are not truly democratic (though Switzerland comes pretty close) but also where I'd easily question the assumption that democracy has any inherent value.
I think I'll be preaching to the choir here if I say that we really live in oligarchies/plutocracies and that "the people" has little actual influence on decision-making.
Then there's the matter of what is "totalitarianism." There is some level of indoctrination in most of our Western societies, starting with the way the word "democracy" is misused. Once you understand this you also understand why people living in "totalitarian" societies can be far more lucid about the defects of their political system and ours than we tend to be - and why "undemocratic" systems are surprisingly popular throughout the world.
Finally there's the matter of "democracy." I'm starting to think egalitarianism is a more important political principle than democracy, because democracy often translates into majority rule, which is really a terrible rule to live under (especially in countries that are ethnically diverse). Ultimately, democracy is something to strive for, but only if the population is educated enough to exercize political power ; otherwise it might be just as bad as the alternatives.
Ironically, real democracy might require a form of education which could be viewed as indoctrination or even "totalitarianism" from the outside.

I'm not even sure I believe in "freedom" anymore. Actual "freedom" would require the people to have political power, which in turn would require so many duties on a daily basis that it would hardly be felt as "freedom" by those who have it. That's why the vast majority of people like the current system: because it's not demanding. In fact, voting itself isn't mandatory in most Western countries, and the abstention rates speak volumes about how people really feel about "democracy" and "freedom" (i.e. most people don't give a damn).
Freedom is far too demanding. Most people are perfectly content if they can have material comfort and some form of entertainment. Oh sure, people like to think they are free because of some basic individual liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of religion... etc) but don't realize that individual liberties are supposed to be means, not ends, and are thus close to worthless without actual political and economic power.

I think in our day and age happiness and quality of life are much better indicators of the merits of a political system than abstract concepts like "democracy" and "freedom" that very few people are genuinely interested in.
A corrupt "democracy" can be far worse than a dictatorship.

Not that there wouldn't be merit in helping other peoples improve their political system to obtain greater happiness... But that kind of discourse tends to be used to hide the defects of our own political system... Combined with nationalism it's been preventing change rather than promoting it. The West stopped its march toward democracy about half-a-century ago.

All this being said there are two things the West should do, if it was the shining beacon of hope that it pretends to be:
- Provide much needed economic assistance to developing countries. That is, cut the bullcrap on "free trade" and allow them protectionism. Give them back the management and profits of the exploitation of their natural resources. Eliminate their national debts. Share technological innovation. ... etc. That's the stuff that really matters. The whole discourse about "democracy" and "freedom," by comparison, is just ridiculous and makes the West look hypocritical and arrogant.
- Actively act to prevent crimes against humanity. Starting by stopping the manufacturing and selling of weapons. Also, don't recognize illegitimate or terrible rulers (even those who are "elected") and don't help them build socio-economic structures that will cement their rule. Again, this is what truly matters.

Of course, doing any of that would probably require a few revolutions in the West to begin with. Which means a lot of work.
And sacrificing quite a few comforts too.
I very much doubt many people really want "freedom" for them and their brothers & sisters. If that were the case, well, the world would be a far better place to live in.

Ripp,

I don't know that I agree but that is a fascinating and well stated thesis.  Thank you for sharing.  :)

And in response I must pose a question; has there ever been a State that didn't have some form of aristorcracy?  Whether the power of that "ruling class" is measured by wealth, family, or simply political influence it seems to me that almost every human society stratifies and a formal or informal "aristocracy" maintains control.  

I'm not saying this is a good or a bad thing but something that seems to be a feature in human societies.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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2 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

I swing in the very opposite direction (to you). Therefore I'm a "bad liberal" too.

 

I don't disagree with anything you wrote regarding attitudes and the current state of our political systems. In fact I am of the opinion that the world in general could use a bit of a French Revolution in order to cleanse the remnants of oligarchy you mentioned.

And yes, Scott, I've considered the Step 1 of evaluating any personal held belief and know that my stance of impressing Democracy upon the world can be construed as a dictatorial effort, particularly when combined with the lengths to which I am willing to go in the pursuit of it. 

But I keep saying that I'm not in charge and the things I would want to do are not on the table. That's not what this conversation was supposed to be about. I know that my solutions are both not realistic and dangerous. Once again though, I'll point out that it doesn't matter because they won't happen.

I am curious what people think is a price worth paying in the pursuit of freedom (as we understand it in our unjust societies). Because like Joffre I would sacrifice a generation of Frenchmen in an instant to stave off the triumph my ideological enemies.

But I'm not interested in my feelings, I'm interested in what the rest of you think it's worth. Rippounet, I understand that you think the whole game is so far rigged that we might as well be talking about monopoly money and I understand your reasoning. But I would argue to you that if we can recognize a problem then we can solve it and not to give up the ghost of equality and government by the people.

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11 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

I don't disagree with anything you wrote regarding attitudes and the current state of our political systems. In fact I am of the opinion that the world in general could use a bit of a French Revolution in order to cleanse the remnants of oligarchy you mentioned.

And yes, Scott, I've considered the Step 1 of evaluating any personal held belief and know that my stance of impressing Democracy upon the world can be construed as a dictatorial effort, particularly when combined with the lengths to which I am willing to go in the pursuit of it. 

But I keep saying that I'm not in charge and the things I would want to do are not on the table. That's not what this conversation was supposed to be about. I know that my solutions are both not realistic and dangerous. Once again though, I'll point out that it doesn't matter because they won't happen.

I am curious what people think is a price worth paying in the pursuit of freedom (as we understand it in our unjust societies). Because like Joffre I would sacrifice a generation of Frenchmen in an instant to stave off the triumph my ideological enemies.

But I'm not interested in my feelings, I'm interested in what the rest of you think it's worth. Rippounet, I understand that you think the whole game is so far rigged that we might as well be talking about monopoly money and I understand your reasoning. But I would argue to you that if we can recognize a problem then we can solve it and not to give up the ghost of equality and government by the people.

Fair enough.  I simply think the cost you posit being willing to pay is far too high.  If there is no one left alive to reap the rewards of the banishment of tyranny it seems rather pointless to me.  

I think we do need to figure out what constitutes a "proper" democracy if we are going to seek to spread it and I'm willing to accept it isn't what we have in the US.  It has been far too easy for our Government to be incapacitated by people who want to incapacitate it.  Shryke was right when he said that the US cannot function with two ideologically opposed political parties in control of the means of power and as such, attempting to spread our method of governance seems like a very poor plan. 

If we are going to spread something it should be something more stable and workable that US style government.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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As Stonekettle says: show your work.

What are you defining as tyranny? A dictatorship? A non-representative government? Action actions against the populace? What?

What are you going to replace it with? And how are you going to replace it? 

Why is tyranny innately bad, especially given the alternative of removing it?

What freedoms are you stating are required? 

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1 minute ago, Kalbear said:

As Stonekettle says: show your work.

What are you defining as tyranny? A dictatorship? A non-representative government? Action actions against the populace? What?

What are you going to replace it with? And how are you going to replace it? 

Why is tyranny innately bad, especially given the alternative of removing it?

What freedoms are you stating are required? 

As I already wrote upthread, this is not an exercise in Jace searching for the answer. I know my feelings are untenable in the global reality. I'm curious about what people think freedom is worth. And no, I'm not going to sit here and define freedom thereby opening a tangent where we squabble over what counts and doesn't count. Take some initiative, understand what the word means, respond. Or don't. You're free. ;)

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25 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Ripp,
I don't know that I agree but that is a fascinating and well stated thesis.  Thank you for sharing.  :)
And in response I must pose a question; has there ever been a State that didn't have some form of aristorcracy?  Whether the power of that "ruling class" is measured by wealth, family, or simply political influence it seems to me that almost every human society stratifies and a formal or informal "aristocracy" maintains control. 
I'm not saying this is a good or a bad thing but something that seems to be a feature in human societies.

Indeed.
This is where I go back to being a "good liberal." Stratification (to use your term) has indeed been a feature of almost all large-scale human societies throughout history ; there are some counter-examples to be found here or there, but as far as I'm aware they were either small-scale or short-lived.
However... I would argue that time and again societies do move toward more equality and -as a consequence, I believe- toward more democracy. The West in the 20th century was a pretty good example of that, I think, though it's hard to say for certain considering the huge impact of the two world wars, nationalism, and the threat of totalitarianism (causality is impossible to ascertain in that mess).
This is a long-winded way of saying that although human societies do tend to be hierarchical societies, I nevertheless think that this can be mitigated and thus that we can hope for more democratisation in the future. For starters, we do have better educated populations, which have at least the potential to exercize more political power, not to mention the technology (especially information technology) to create functioning large-scale democracies.
On the other hand, according to my theories, I was expecting China to slowly move toward more democracy in my lifetime. With the rise of a middle-class and quality education for the masses, I expected the Chinese people to ask for and be given a greater share of political power. So far this is not happening, so maybe I'm completely wrong about everything.

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7 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

As I already wrote upthread, this is not an exercise in Jace searching for the answer. I know my feelings are untenable in the global reality. I'm curious about what people think freedom is worth. And no, I'm not going to sit here and define freedom thereby opening a tangent where we squabble over what counts and doesn't count. Take some initiative, understand what the word means, respond. Or don't. You're free. ;)

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. 

 

4 minutes ago, Rippounet said:


However... I would argue that time and again societies do move toward more equality and -as a consequence, I believe- toward more democracy. The West in the 20th century was a pretty good example of that, I think, though it's hard to say for certain considering the huge impact of the two world wars, nationalism, and the threat of totalitarianism (causality is impossible to ascertain in that mess).
This is a long-winded way of saying that although human societies do tend to be hierarchical societies, I nevertheless think that this can be mitigated and thus that we can hope for more democratisation in the future. For starters, we do have better educated populations, which have at least the potential to exercize more political power, not to mention the technology (especially information technology) to create functioning large-scale democracies.

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. 

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43 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

But I'm not interested in my feelings, I'm interested in what the rest of you think it's worth. Rippounet, I understand that you think the whole game is so far rigged that we might as well be talking about monopoly money and I understand your reasoning. But I would argue to you that if we can recognize a problem then we can solve it and not to give up the ghost of equality and government by the people.

Hey, don't worry, I respect the sentiment. I just think the problem is more complex than you describe.
In a nutshell, I think "democracy" can be seen as a spectrum or a continuous movement toward an unattainable goal (a form of mathematical limit) that is linked with many socio-economic factors (most importantly, the average level of education within a society). Therefore I don't think outside interference in the process is easily constructive ; I even think most forms of interference could easily be counter-productive.

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