An Introduction to Philosophy Part 6 Politics 1 - Transcript

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Introduction: Setting the Stage with Sunglasses and Philosophy

[0:03] Hi, it's Stef. Hope you're doing well. Sorry about the sunglasses.
I'm not trying to look cool or be pretentious. I think the philosophy geek in me would recognize that that's relatively impossible.

[0:12] As you can see from the glare from the sunglasses, I'm trying to get the right lighting for the board.
Sorry also about this little glowing thing.
That's actually the magic elf which gives me good ideas, but we'll get to that in the philosophy podcast entitled titled, Sorry, I'm Actually Insane.
So what we're going to do now is dip into the gripping and exciting world of politics.
And we're going to start with some sort of definitions around politics.
Politics, of course, is the art and science and logical analyses of governments.
The governments are particularly singular aspects of social relations.
And so I'd like to talk about about how we can sort of understand governments, begin to fathom their processes and procedures and characteristics and definitions, because they're a fairly significant factor in society throughout history and, of course, in the present world in ever-growing ways.
So we're going to have a chat about the exciting world of governments, and through all of that, we hopefully will come to some moral understanding of what a government is, its ethical legitimacy based on all the theories that we've been putting forward so far.

[1:28] And I think that will be quite useful in terms of really and fairly clearly understanding the modern world.
I was going to do something on public school education, but I think if you look at the amount of ground that we've covered over the last couple of videocasts, that may speak for itself in terms of what's possible for people to understand.

[1:46] Philosophy, not really that difficult.
I mean, there's some areas that are difficult, but the stuff that we've been talking around so far, it's difficult to figure out if nobody nobody teaches you, at least it certainly was for me.
And yet, once you understand it, it's really quite simple. It's like the scientific method, right? The philosophy is just the form.

[2:06] Of examining thought in a rigorous logical and empirically verifiable manner and in that way it's of course very much like the scientific method it's pretty easy once you figure it out and then you can do a whole lot with it but the first thing that you need to do is understand the structure of thought in order to make sure that you're not just randomly throwing opinions around and thinking that they're facts right because as we mentioned way back at the beginning in metaphysics and epistemology the human mind is capable of error reality is not so in any contradiction between the concepts that are formed within the human mind and the logical and tangible evidence of reality the human mind must always give way which of course we touched on with religion and now we will talk about that other of the great modern faiths the government so let's start by having a look at the government as it stands just to to give it a sort of clear a clear definition or a clearer definition than is generally commonly talked about.
So we have this conceptual entity, right, and we'll draw our big concepts.
I'm a little further away now, so I'll try and make it and see how does that show up. Not too bad.
So we have this conceptual entity calls government.

Government as an Idea vs. Physical Reality

[3:26] It does not exist in the real world, right? The White House, for instance, exists. 10 Downing Street exists.
24 Sussex Drive exists. These are physical locations in the world, bricks, mortar, and people.

[3:39] And so all of these things exist in the real world, but government as an idea is just that. It's an idea.
It's like the scientific method. It's like logic. It's like ethics.
It doesn't have any reality in the real world.
Now there have been some things that we've talked about so far in these video casts which are actually quite helpful we have talked about and i'm not going to recap because i just did that in the last video cast but just as a 10 second refresher we've talked about a concept formation being that concepts are derived entirely from things in reality things outside of our consciousness and they must conform either to sensual reality or to the logical syllogisms and logical sequences that we know are valid because of their reference to empirical reality and so when we start looking at something called government the first thing to recognize like countries like gods like forests rather than individual trees that governments simply do not exist governments simply do not exist they exist as ideas in the minds of people but of course as ideas within the minds of people, they are going to be subject to error in a way that physical exterior reality is not, and logic is not.

Error in Conceptualizing Government vs. Physical Reality

[5:01] So you have this group called the government, and of course within the government you have the old people.

Government Officials: The Sequences of Their Day

[5:13] These are the people in the government. Now these exact same people, of course exist outside the government as well right so the prime minister or the president or el presidente or mugabe dictator he is the guy who says okay from for i sort of wake up in the morning at like this is the sequence of somebody going through their day uh sort of uh as as a government official and we'll just say it's the government official who has the rights or bear or policy or whatever, right?
So person A, he sort of wakes up, let's say 6 a.m., let's say he's a crushingly early riser.
So he wakes up at 6 a.m. and he is what we technically call J-S-G.
J-S-D, G stands for just some...

[6:12] Guy or a gal girl girl gal so jsg is just some guy just some gal right so bob wakes up and at six o'clock in the morning he gets up and he showers and he shaves and he brushes his teeth and so on and he is just some guy he's got the same moral properties as every other citizen and then what he does is he drives to work on public roads so of course it takes forever and And then he gets to work at 9 a.m.

Transition: Bob Transforms into a Government Member

[6:45] Right? Now, he's no longer just some guy. Now, he is a member of government.
Mog. He is a member of government. Right?
So he has some pretty particular powers.
If we assume that he is the prime minister or something like that, he has some particular powers that simply don't occur for the average citizen.
Right? So this is all very important. And we'll list some of this particular government's powers that don't accrue to the average citizen so that we can make some sense of what it is that we're talking about.
So as a member of government, from JSG to MOG, this guy, and I know that it's more complicated than this, but we'll just talk about it, some powers that governments have.
So he can tax.

[7:38] I sadly don't have the power to tax. He can declare war.
He can say, Afghanistan, Iraq, you people are very naughty, and in order to set you free, we're going to blow you up.
So he can impose taxes.
He can start or declare a war.
He can impose regulations.

Government's Power to Impose Regulations

[8:06] Right so he can say if you want to run a um a daycare in your house you have to have if you have more than five children you have to have a social worker a come by and that social worker has to be sort of trained and official and she has to be present you have to have a nurse you i mean you can have six kids if they're your own family and raise them yourself of course but but if you want to run a daycare center for profit, you have to follow all of these regulations.
Now, I can't do that. You can't do that unless you're currently the prime minister, who's supposed to be working, in which case keep watching this and probably you'll quit your job if you really understand it.
But he can, she can, as a member of government, can impose regulations.
The regulations can do with industry, health and safety, environmental protection, so to speak, although I don't really think the government achieves that.
So, tax, war, regulations, and he can arrest, right, as a result of all of these things.

[9:10] Are we still on screen here? Oh, look at that. Just about.
Okay, so arrest. Now, arrest is an interesting word, and of course you want to make up a word that's not so volatile as something like kidnapping, but the power of arrest really does sit with the government itself. So you can't...

Consequences of Disobeying Government Regulations

[9:30] Let's say that you're running a daycare in a sort of totally free society.
Let's say you're running a daycare, and you have six kids in your daycare and your neighbor, who's also running a daycare, is taking away all your business, has seven kids.

[9:46] You can't deliver a letter to your neighbor and say, sorry, but the regulation is now that if you have more than six kids, you have to hire a full-time nurse, which would make this guy go back to six kids or put him out of business or something like that.
And if the guy basically says who the hell are you to tell me how to run my daycare the kids are happy, the parents are happy it's a voluntary interaction, what does it have to do with anything and you say well I appreciate that you have this opinion but sadly, I, Bob, am the government and so I'm going to tell you that this regulation has to be, obeyed right and then your neighbor says well sorry but I'm not going to obey it And you say, well, as the government, you sadly leave me no choice.
Because you are going to continue running your daycare with seven children rather than six, you must either cut back to six and pay me a fine for my trouble and time, or you must cease running your daycare.
If you do not perform either of these two actions, I am going to call up some friends of mine who are very good with weapons.
We are going to come by and we are going to take you to a warehouse and we are going to lock you up until you agree to do what it is that we're telling you to do.

Contradiction between government and individual rights

[11:14] Now, that doesn't seem quite right.
I mean, it's not exactly self-defense, right? If somebody's got a daycare with seven kids rather than six, not exactly self-defense.
So something doesn't seem quite right about that.
And so we do have a dichotomy between what somebody is allowed to do when they are a mog, a member of government, versus what they're allowed to do from the terms of JSG, the just some guy or gal phenomenon and so these ideas that you can impose taxes declare war create regulations arrest imprison prosecute and all of that kind of stuff the idea that a human being has the right to perform these actions is a huge contradiction to absolutely everything else that that we've been talking about.

[12:13] So what that means, perfectly valid question, maybe we've made an enormous mistake in our theory. It certainly could be the case.
And we have, in the rigors of developing our metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and now into politics, we've made some massive mistake because we have said that universally preferred human behavior behavior can't be specific to locale right so it can't be if you're sitting on on this street street a you can do x but if you're sitting on street y you can't do x or you must do the opposite of x so it's not specific to locale it's not specific to time right and here of course we have you know 6 a.m guy does not have the right to uh tax uh to wage war uh to create regulations to arrest and so on but 9 a.m joe von a head of state ends up with those rights is it is it 859 is it like when he walks through the door that his moral nature changes and now what is formally barred to this human being i.e the right to go out and take money by force from other human beings who are not aggressing and do not owe you money to take money by force to fund a group of people to go and kill basically whoever he points at to create regulations, which obviously have pretty significant effects on the business world in terms of favoritism.

[13:43] To arrest to kidnap to incarcerate so 6 a.m he doesn't have these rights because if he did this in the capacity of a private citizen then he would be arrested right so if even if i'm the head of even if i'm the head of state if i say i i'm the head of state so i have the power to impose a tax upon my neighbor just as the head of state sitting at home then obviously that's illegal right you you can't do that.
But, you know, I step over here, and I suddenly walk through the door of my office, and I have the perfect right to do that.

The government's powers and capacities vs. the individual's rights

[14:15] Now, I know that there's all this stuff to do with, in a democracy, to do with, you know, division of powers, checks and balances, and so on, but we're talking about an individual rather than the government as a whole.
The government as a whole, without a doubt, has all of these capacities to tax, to war, to... But, of course, the government doesn't exist.
The government is simply a conceptual label that we create to to describe people who actually have or claim to have these rights.
So this is sort of a very important thing to understand.

[14:44] The government has the power to tax, to initiate war, to create regulations, and to arrest anybody who disagrees with what's going on.
And yes, I know that there's voting and so on, so all of that could be, you could make the case for that and say, well, it's not taxed because we vote people in, but of course the problem is that we don't actually vote for taxes that would be a fine theory but we don't actually vote for taxes taxes get imposed by politicians and we of course do get to vote politicians in and we'll get to that in the next podcast but I just sort of wanted to point out that government represents an extraordinary.

[15:25] Opposite situation from what we've talked about as far as universally preferred behavior goes government government simply has powers and obligations and rights and capacities that are directly opposite.

[15:42] From the capacities of every individual within that government, right?
So, if you may remember in the last podcast, we talked about you had a bunch of blue trees, which you call the forest, and then you included within that a tree that was upside down and floating or a red dot. Well, here we have exactly the same situation.
There are certain people who, in the theory of the moral validity of government, say that I have the right to wage war, impose taxes, basically to initiate the use of violence to arrest people for keeping certain vegetables in their car or smoking certain plants, to arrest people for refusing to pay for tax increases, for unilaterally charging people property taxes based on my assessment of the value of their property and thus charging them more and more even if they're not selling their house based on an unrealized income stream, that I have the right to force citizens to pay for an army or a group of other people to go and shoot foreigners or sometimes domestic people.
So we do have a conceptual aggregate here.
The government, this sort of blue circle, we have a conceptual aggregate that has the power, nay, and sometimes even the pure responsibility.
It has the aggression principle, right?

The Aggression Principle: Using Force for Personal Gain

[17:07] And the aggression principle is to get people to do what I want them to do, it is perfectly moral for me to use force.
So in the example of the daycare, if I want the guy next door to me to not have seven kids in his daycare, but rather to have six kids in his daycare, then it's perfectly valid for me, in fact it's a good thing for me, to use force to compel my neighbor not to have seven kids in his daycare.

Individual's Right to Set Up a School

[17:36] If I wish to provide education for everyone on my block, for their children, I don't, as a personal individual, I don't have the right, based on our understanding of ethics so far, I don't have the right to set up a school and to say to the parents, you must pay me $10,000 a year for every child on the block.
And if you don't have children, you still have to pay me $10,000.
And if you're an old retired couple who has no children and who are never going to have any children then you still have to pay me ten thousand dollars and if you are a family with ten children you still only have to pay me ten thousand dollars that everyone on the block has to pay me ten thousand dollars a year for me to run my school and i will choose the curriculum and i will choose how the kids get educated and i will choose the hours and i will let them off for two months in the summer because 100 years ago they needed the kids for the harvest.

[18:33] So I will do all of this as an individual. I'm going to send a bill to everyone for $10,000.
And if they don't pay me the money for my school, and if they don't send their children to my school, or if they choose to homeschool, they still have to send me the money, then I can go and demand the money from them.
And if they don't pay me the money, then I can drag them off and lock them up in a warehouse until such time as they do pay me the money.
And if they resist me trying to drag them off and lock them up in a warehouse until they pay me the money if they pull a gun on me then I have the right nay the obligation to shoot them down.

Moral Contradiction in the Education System

[19:10] Again, we kind of recognize that there's something wrong with that.
Because, of course, based on the universality of ethically preferred behavior, of universally preferred behavior, then, of course, everybody has the right to say to every single one of their neighbors, pay me $10,000 because I'm going to set up a school and you have to hand over your children, or if you don't pay me or hand over your children, then I'm going to come and take them from you, and if you resist, I'm going to shoot you.
So if everybody has that right then we have a morally contradictory situation everybody's handing ten thousand dollars to each other they must immediately give it to the next guy.

[19:47] Everybody's setting up a school and so nobody has ten thousand dollars and of course people who are not capable of running a school for whatever reason they don't speak the language they're mentally substandard they're in a coma can never possibly be moral so using our universal standards standards for ethical propositions, we can very quickly see that the giving everybody the right to force other people to send them their children and to force them to send them the money to educate those children would be morally contradictory and, you know, pretty much evil, right?
Now, of course, this is how everything works in the public system, right?
So the government claims the right to use the aggression principle to fund things like public schools and and roads, and wars, and welfare, and health care, and all this kind of stuff, and we can talk at some point, and I've got lots of podcasts in this, we can talk at some point about how did this come about, is it right, sorry, is it efficient, and so on, and there's, of course, lots of arguments against the efficiency of the government providing services based on money it extorts at the point of a gun, but the government here has the right to use the aggression principle.
If it raises taxes, taxes, it can just pass a law. People don't have to vote on it.
And if they don't pay their increases in taxes, then they get dragged off to jail. And if they resist arrest with a gun, then they'll get shot.
I don't have that right. You don't have that right. No individual within the government has that right.

[21:12] But the government has that right. But of course, the government doesn't exist.
There's only people and things in the world.
There's only matter and energy. There's no fabric of reality called government there's no huge semi-visible net that goes around people that alters their behavior so we have 6 a.m just some guy wakes up and then he steps through this membrane this membrane into this alternate universe this up is down black is white of government so from his standpoint he is subject as we all are to basically the non-aggression principle and property rights As we sort of said last time, two sides of the same coin.

The Illusion of Government's Existence

[21:55] So, this gentleman, just some guy, wakes up, he's subject to the non-aggression principle, and he has to respect property rights.
He steps into this membrane of the political world, and suddenly his entire moral nature has completely reversed itself, and he now is subject to the aggression principle.
So, he can go and initiate the use of force, or command for the initiation of the use of force against people for whatever he thinks is the right thing to do and yes i understand he gets voted in and so on and we'll deal with that in the next podcast but i just want you to sort of understand the moral logical and fundamentally philosophical challenge that the existence of a state represents that we have universally preferred behavior property rights and non-aggression principle.
And then we have this bizarre alternate universe called the state, where every human being is still subject to the same moral commandments as individuals, but when they gang together, they have completely opposite properties.

[23:01] I mean, in physics, this would be equivalent to saying each individual rock is bound by gravity, but then when you pile rocks in a certain formation, they magically float in the air and turn into fireworks and doves.
They completely have the opposite properties when you get them together.
That would be ludicrous in the realm of physics and I will submit that it is pretty ludicrous when it comes to the nature of the state.

The Non-Aggression Principle and Property Rights

[23:26] So what does this mean in terms of allowing us to understand the nature of government and how the ethical theories that we have been working on relate to the question of the state?
Well, we know for sure that somebody does not have the moral right to initiate the use of force against another human being.
We've proven that one before based on its universally preferred status and pretty much how people live.
I'm debating with you rather than pointing a gun at your head.
So we know that human beings are subject, the universally preferred behavior must be the non-aggression principle and property rights.
Because they're the only things that make sense from a logical standpoint as far as ethics goes that can be applied universally and so on.
And there may be more, right? These are just the ones that I've come up with.

[24:16] And we also know that once people step into the realm of the state that the state is considered to have properties as a conceptual aggregate that completely contradict the properties of everything that it describes right the state is simply composed of people people have a non-aggression principle as as a universally preferred behavior the state has the aggression principle as universally universally preferred behavior.

Democracy and the Question of Complicity

[24:42] So, we've got a few minutes. Let's talk about democracy very briefly, because the question of complicity or agreement with what the state is doing is the sort of central question around democracy.
So, let's put our handy-dandy blue circle around, right?
And let's just say, demos, from the Greeks of people, if I remember rightly.
This is our democratic situation now and that's sort of the government and then we have Joe hapless taxpayer over here and we have Joe.

The Fundamental Relationship: Citizen vs. Politician

[25:21] Joe aspiring politician down here.
Let's see, are we on screen here? Yeah, that's not too bad, you can see that, right?
Okay, so the question is, is there this thing called democracy which changes the fundamental relationship between green guy and red guy?
We'll call him P for politician and C for citizen.

[25:47] Now remember, politician, citizen, democracy, democracy government these are all just conceptual labels and are only as accurate as the properties that they describe of each individual and their consistency with those properties so let's say that public schooling i have kids and my education is the the question then i as a citizen can go to this guy who is a politician just to say he's a guy so i can go to joe and i can say to joe joe i'd really like you to educate my kids and joe's going to say it's going to be five grand a year or in a free market world probably about two grand a year and I'm going to say that sounds good what are you going to teach them well I'm going to just play them these videos from free domain radio over and over again I'm like boy you really couldn't ask for anything better than that and we decide to come to an agreement now that's a voluntary agreement and then I hand over my children and I can break that agreement outside of the contract that I come up with with Joe I can choose not to send my kids back if I'm dissatisfied or if there's problems within the school or whatever right Right?

Voluntary Transaction: Citizen, Politician, and Education

[26:44] So that is something that we can legitimately call a voluntary transaction between citizen and politician or between me and Joe.
So then the question is is there this thing called democracy which allows for me to make decisions for other people, right?
Because this is the very important thing.
So let's say that we have two more people here.

[27:14] And they both really like this guy's educational system, right?
So they definitely voluntarily, these two people, want to give their children over to Joe's political haven of pure education, but I don't like it.
I think it's poor education.
I think it's indoctrination. I think they're not teaching rationality.
I think they're teaching people just to obey Joe politicians, so basically I think that the education is not good.
Now, the question then becomes, in the realm of democracy, do the two votes of these people trump out one vote so that these people can then force me at the point of a gun to send my children to Joe's school?
That's a very sort of central question around democracy.

Individual Rights vs Group Preferences

[28:06] If two people prefer shopping at a particular grocery store, but I don't, I prefer to grow my own vegetables, let's say, do those two people have the right to force me to shop at that grocery store?
Well, what we talked about in the last video cast was the fact that a group of people getting together does not change any of the moral contents of its members, right?
So you get, you know, these two markers, I sort of hold them up here.
We've got these two markers. because they have particular properties, gravity, color, and so on, right?
When I start to move them closer together, do they change, right?
This is back to the banana question, right?
Do they change natures once I get them closer together, right?
If I put three together, right, do they change their properties?
Do they become something fundamentally different? Well, of course not.
All they are is closer to each other.
They haven't changed their fundamental natures. It's not like they suddenly will burst into flames when I move them closer together or develop sentience or fly into space or anything like that, right? They're simply what they are.
They're just closer together in space.
And I guess you could say time if you want to get fussy about it.

[29:10] So the fact that human beings gather together in groups doesn't change the moral nature or requirements or universally preferred behavior for any of the members of those groups.
So the fact that these two people prefer this particular gentleman's educational plan, doesn't seem logically at all to involve that I must agree with these people and send my kids to this person's particular educational area.

Brute Majority Rule and Continuing the Discussion

[29:34] That's called sort of brute majority rule, or rule by the majority as a whole.
And we'll talk a little bit more about that as we start to move along in this continuum.
I hope that you will stay tuned. We really are going to get to some very juicy stuff, and we're going to finish up with the family, which is perhaps the most juicy of all.
But we will continue to chat about this as we move forward. Thank you so much for listening. As always,

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May 2024

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