Us and Them

By Neil Lock

This is the final essay of six in in a re-appraisal and re-working of my philosophical system. I am calling the new version of this system “Honest Common Sense 2.0.”

Today, it’s time (at last!) to offer some thoughts on how we might seek to move from where we are today towards a better world. Some of these ideas, I’ll warn in advance, may seem radical to many people. To some, even scary.

I’m going to try to make this essay as stand-alone as I can; so that even those who haven’t read the preceding five parts should be able to appreciate my points of view. To that end, I’ll begin with some brief summaries culled from the earlier essays.

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The “We” Dimensions

By Neil Lock

This is the fifth essay in a six-part re-formulation of my philosophical ideas. It covers, at a similar level to the previous essay, the fourth and fifth dimensions in my system, which in classical philosophy correspond to Politics, and to Economics and Aesthetics, respectively. I call these two the “We” dimensions. For the questions, which must be answered in these dimensions, are phrased in the first person plural. “How should we organize ourselves for maximum benefit to all?” And “What are we here to do?”

Today, I’ll be looking to outline a new system of governance, to supersede the states and bad politics under which we all suffer today. I call it “just governance.” I will deliberately try not to map things out in too much Utopian detail. For I expect just governance to evolve organically, getting better as it goes. So, what I will try to do is merely lay down some guidelines, and give a flavour of how the system might work. This is also, I think, a good moment at which to issue a plea for feedback on my ideas; particularly from those who share my pro-freedom views, but have different expertises.

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Two World Systems

By Neil Lock

This is the third part of a six-part re-formulation of my philosophical ideas. Today, I’ll give an overview of my updated framework, which I am calling “Honest Common Sense 2.0.”

My title alludes to Galileo’s famous work, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Now, he compared his heliocentric model of the universe to the prevailing geocentric model. But I shall instead compare my bottom-up model of humanity and human interactions with the top-down model, that prevails among the political classes, their hangers-on, and other enemies of humanity today. This top-down model I call Downerism, and its practitioners I dub Downers – short for “top-downers.”

Further, I’ll introduce and discuss three common-sense ethical and political principles, which I have built in to the foundations of my system. I call them: ethical equality, voluntary society, and common-sense justice. You may be surprised at how radical these simple, common-sense ideas turn out to be, when contrasted with today’s received wisdom!

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Six Thinkers

by Neil Lock

Back in 2014, I wrote and self-published a short book called “Honest Common Sense.” In it, I sought to explicate “a brief, radical Philosophy, starting from first principles and aimed at non-academic people.” I diagnosed what I saw as the root of the problems we good people face today: “that we are in a war of the political means versus the economic, the dishonest versus the honest, the state versus Civilization.” And I made some suggestions as to how we might set ourselves to win that war.

But as a friendly thinker, who calls himself Jason Alexander, has told us: “Ideas that are alive, grow and change.” And my ideas are certainly no exception to that rule. Ten months ago, I determined to re-visit my philosophical thinking, and to put it in context with the ideas of others from whom I have drawn material; including Jason Alexander himself. The task has been long and hard. So much so, that this essay introduces a set of no less than six. And all six are long; representing, as they do, the product of ten whole months of hard mental labour.

But I have found the work worthwhile; for in the process, I have found several new insights. New to me, at least. And I’ve gained a clearer grasp of some areas I had thought I already understood. The major new and clarified ideas are all in the areas of ethics and politics; and particularly around the dividing line between them. Happily, these are good areas for thinking people to be looking into in the current, parlous state of human civilization. I hope that these ideas may, perhaps, help to suggest some fresh possibilities for how we humans might go about re-claiming our rights and freedoms, and bringing to the enemies of humanity the justice they deserve.

One observation before I begin. We are living in a strange time, in which virtually the entire intellectual class in Western countries has become corrupted. The reason is not far to seek. Academics and other intellectuals are, with only a few exceptions (and most of those are in their 70s or older), all bought and paid for by the state. So, we cannot expect today’s professional thinkers to do anything to help human civilization or human freedom; for they cannot, or will not, go against their paymasters. That means that amateurs like me have to step up to the plate.

Six parts

In this, the first essay of the set, I’ll review some of the ideas of six thinkers who have influenced me. In chronological order of their births: Aristotle, John Locke, Franz Oppenheimer, Ayn Rand, Jason Alexander and Frank van Dun. In the second part, I’ll seek to put our situation today into historical context, and to draw out some rhythms of human history. I shall be making particular use of the ideas of Jason Alexander in that exercise.

In the third part, I’ll give a broad outline of my updated philosophical framework, which I’m provisionally labelling “Honest Common Sense 2.0.” I’ll also compare and contrast my approach with the philosophy of our enemies; the political classes and their hangers-on, that collectively I label the “Downers.”

In the fourth and fifth parts, I’ll describe my system in more detail. And I’ll sketch out a possible future system of minimal government. I call it “just governance,” and I describe its remit as: “to enable people to live together in an environment of peace and tranquillity, common-sense justice, and maximum rights and freedom for every individual.” Finally, in the sixth part, I’ll offer some thoughts on how we might seek to move from where we are today towards a better world.

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On How to Pay for Convivial Governance

This is the last of four essays which, taken together, outline my proposed system of minimal governance, called convivial governance. Today, it’s time to ask the thorny question: how should all this be paid for? Again, while I aim to make the general principles of how convivial governance should be paid for as clear as I can, the details may end up being very different from what I have envisaged.

Payment for protection

How to pay for government has been an issue for centuries. John Locke, in his Second Treatise of Government, wrote: “It is true governments cannot be supported without great charge, and it is fit everyone who enjoys his share of the protection should pay out of his estate his proportion for the maintenance of it.”

From which, I deduce two things about Locke’s view on this matter. First, an individual’s payment must be his proportion of the total. Second, it must come out of his estate. That is, from his wealth, not from his income, or from a cut on transactions he makes. What I think Locke is saying is that an individual’s payment for the “protection” functions of government should be in direct proportion to his wealth. That is similar to what happens with home buildings insurance, where (assuming the risk is constant) the price is in proportion to the amount insured for. And it seems very reasonable indeed, to me at least.

So, the amount each individual must pay each year for the “protection” elements of convivial governance ought to be a (small) percentage of the individual’s total wealth. Once this is achieved, to support these functions there will be no need for any taxes on income, or on transactions, or on anything else. Continue reading

On the Institutions of Convivial Governance

This is the third of four essays outlining my system of minimal governance, which I call convivial governance. Today, I’m going to take a look at some of the institutions, which I think are likely to make up convivial governance.

This essay will be far more speculative than my norm. This is because what I am describing will be a bottom-up system, growing organically and adapting, as all organisms do. I believe that I have correctly diagnosed many of the reasons for the failure of current political systems, which is leading to the need for this new approach. So, it’s likely that I will be along the right lines in many of my suggestions; but the details may turn out to be very different.

The structure of convivial governance

Convivial governance will be a bottom-up system. It will focus on the individual, and on small communities of people. It will be networked; closer in concept and structure to the Internet than to a top-down hierarchy. Thus, convivial governance will be organized to serve a network of individuals and small communities.

I foresee, most likely, just two levels of community. One, sufficiently small that those in the community can know each other personally. The other, sufficiently large to be viable as an economic unit in a free market; but not significantly larger. Only when absolutely necessary will these communities make alliances on a larger scale. Continue reading

On the Principles of Convivial Governance

This is the second in a set of four essays outlining my system of minimal governance, which I call convivial governance. Today, I’ll discuss the four fundamental principles, on which it is based: Equality (moral equality), Justice (common sense justice), Rights and Freedom. And I’ll introduce what I call the Convivial Code. That is, the core list of ethical principles, which constitute the rules of convivial conduct.

I’ll also describe the “agreement to vary,” which allows societies and individuals, by mutual agreement, to add to or to deviate from the Convivial Code in their dealings with each other. And I’ll ask: From where will convivial governance, and the Convivial Code which represents its ethical core, get their authority and their right to claim obedience? Continue reading