Category Archives: Ideologies (Minimal-Statism)

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. Read more

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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. Read more

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? Read more

On Convivial Governance


Over the last two years, I’ve written twenty-six essays on political and ethical philosophy, government, and the ills of the political system under which we suffer today. The first twelve covered the philosophy, with side trips into science and environmentalism. The second group of seven were mainly about economic matters; though I did also discuss property and borders. The third group of seven led towards my diagnosis of the problems we face.

I’m just about done with the diagnosis. So today, I’ll embark on my search for Cure.

This essay is the first of a set of four, in which I aim to outline a new system of minimal or, as some say, “minarchist” governance. I call this convivial governance. This system will be bottom-up and de-politicized. That is: First, it will focus on the individual, and on small communities. And second, it will not allow any political ideology or agenda to be imposed on any of the governed against their wills.

In this, the first of the set, I’ll give an overview of my system. I’ll look at its aims, its functions, and its general design. The second essay will address the ethical principles on which it will be based. These are: First, moral equality, and the Convivial Code which encapsulates it. Second, common sense justice. Third, human rights. And fourth, maximum freedom for every individual. The third essay will sketch out some of the institutions which might implement convivial governance. And the fourth will discuss the thorny matter of how it should be paid for. After that, I’ll fill in some of the remaining gaps in a number of follow-up essays.

I’m sure that many people will find my ideas crazy, unworkable or both. But in that case, it’s up to them to tell me where and why I’m wrong, and to suggest better solutions if they can. Read more

The proper functions of governance


I haven’t been writing much new “serious” stuff lately. This is mainly because I’ve been going over what I’ve written in the last couple of years, trying to fix some inconsistencies and clarify things that didn’t come over quite right. In the process, I’ve written six new, or substantially revised, sections. I’ll try to publish them over the next week or so. Here’s the first.

* * *

The first step towards solving the political problems we face today, I think, must be to understand what the valid functions of government (or, as I prefer to call it, governance) actually are. In my view, proper governance has a total of six functions; three principal and three subsidiary.

The first function of governance is to maintain peace. This includes the defence of the governed against external attack or internal violence.

The second function of governance is to deliver justice. This function includes the just resolution of disputes. Justice, as I put forward earlier, is the condition in which every individual, over the long term, in the round and as far as practicable, is treated as he or she treats others. And governance must be fair, objective and meticulous in all its decisions.

The third function of governance is defence of the rights of those who respect others’ rights. Those rights, as I discussed earlier, include fundamental rights like life, property and privacy; and rights of non-impedance, such as freedom of speech, religion and association.

All these three principal functions of governance can be seen as different aspects of a single whole. Namely, the delivery of peace and justice to all individuals.

There are further functions of governance which, while not as important as the first three, are nevertheless necessities. The fourth is co-ordination of the building of infrastructure. This is needed because, although infrastructure must be created and maintained at the local level, some degree of co-ordination is required to ensure that the infrastructure forms a coherent whole. For example, that a new road doesn’t suddenly dead-end at some arbitrary community border. But these functions must always be delivered and paid for in a way that is just towards every individual.

The fifth function is the maintenance of good relations with other, friendly communities.

The sixth and final function of governance is quality control of itself. It must maintain a constant ethical watch on the actions of governance as a whole, and of the individuals who constitute it. It must assure that the functions of governance are being performed as they should be. That those whose job is to maintain peace are indeed doing so to the best of their abilities. That the justice system is, and remains, just, objective and fair to everyone. That no-one in governance violates the rights of innocent people. That any decisions governance needs to make on behalf of those under it are made objectively, fairly, and taking into account the costs and benefits to every individual or group. And that governance – including the quality assurance function! – keeps meticulous and publicly accessible audit trails of all it does, and of the reasons behind every decision it makes.

In my view, these six are the valid functions, and the only valid functions, of governance. It is not a function of governance to impose any particular political or religious ideology. It is not a function of governance to try to cure perceived social ills. It is not a function of governance to pick winners and losers, or to re-distribute wealth from one group of people to another. And it is not a function of governance to provide education, or insurance, or any other good or service which can be effectively provided by individuals and groups in the free market.

Whodunit? Who “Meddled” With “Our Democracy”? (Part 1)


By ilana mercer

Republicans have revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on. I’d expect nothing less from a Court created and perpetuated by George W. Bush and his Republicans.

But, what do you know? Following Barack Obama’s lead, President Donald Trump and his Republicans have renewed FISA Section 702, which, in fact, has facilitated the usurpations the same representatives are currently denouncing.

Also in contravention of a quaint constitutional relic called the Fourth Amendment is Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has taken possession of “many tens of thousands of emails from President Donald Trump’s transition team.” There is no limit, seemingly, to the power of the special counsel.

Look, we’re living in a post-Constitutional America. Complaints about the damage done to our “democracy” by outsiders are worse than silly. Such damage pales compared to what we Americans have done to a compact rooted in the consent of the governed and the drastically limited and delimited powers of those who govern.

In other words, a republic. Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

The destruction is on display daily.

Pray tell where-oh-where in the US Constitution does it say that anyone crossing over into the US may demand and get an abortion? But apparently, this is settled law—a universally upheld right, irrespective of whose property and territory it impinges.

The only aspect our clodhopper media—left and right—deign to debate in such abortion-tourism cases is the interloper’s global reproductive rights. So, if abortion is a service Americans must render to the world, why not the right to a colonoscopy or a facelift?

Cannabis: The reason it’s not in the Constitution is because letting states and individuals decide is in the Constitution. That thing of beauty is called the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

That’s right. In American federalism, the rights of the individual were meant to be secured through strict limits imposed on the power of the central government by a Bill of Rights and the division of authority between autonomous states and a federal government. Yet on cannabis, the meager constitutional devolution of power away from the Federales and to states and individuals Republicans have reversed. Some are even prattling about a constitutional cannabis amendment, as if there’s a need for further “constitutional” centralization of authority.

After 230 years of just such “constitutional” consolidation, it’s safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter; that the natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute that would fill an entire building floor. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders’ original intent remain buried too deep to exhume.

Consider: America’s Constitution makers bequeathed a central government of delegated and enumerated powers. The Constitution gives Congress only some eighteen specific legislative powers. Nowhere among these powers is Social Security, civil rights (predicated as they are on grotesque violations of property rights), Medicare, Medicaid, and the elaborate public works sprung from the General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Clauses.

The welfare clause stipulates that “Congress will have the power … to provide for the general welfare.” And even though the general clause is followed by a detailed enumeration of the limited powers so delegated; our overlords, over decades of dirigisme, have taken Article I, Section 8 to mean that government can pick The People’s pockets for any perceivable purpose and project. Witness a judiciary of scurrilous statists that had even found in the Constitution a mandate to compel commerce by forcing individual Americans to purchase health insurance on pains of a fine, an act of force President Trump has mercifully repealed.

So you see, Rachel Maddow, it’s not the Republicans who’ve ruined our system. Sean Hannity, it’s not the Democrats. It’s not even “the Russians.”

At root, they all did. It happened over time and is a fait accompli. The reality today is that there’s simply no warrant in the Constitution for most of what the Federal Frankenstein does.

 

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube.

The Manifesto of the Live and Let Live Party


(Author’s Note: Tom Rogers recently made a comment, on a thread about the forthcoming UK election, asking for “plausible and realistic ideas that can be put into action and that will appeal to ordinary working people.” Despite my strong aversion to politics as it exists today, and to politicians of all stripes and all parties, I thought it might be good to set down my best stab at exactly that. Hence this draft outline of a “party manifesto,” intended to spark thought and discussion.

I thought of several possible names for the party – the Good People’s Party, the Sanity Party, the Peace and Justice Party, perhaps even the Zero Agenda Party. But I eventually settled on the “Live and Let Live Party.”)

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