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The Real Role of the State

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Killer300
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Post: #1
The Real Role of the State

Okay, I've decided this needs another thread. Now, before we begin,

You know, something else I think you should all consider is this, the state is basically a corporation. Seriously, we pay money into it expecting services and while it doesn't seek profit per say, it does seek resource gain. The difference between the United States government and Exxon is really just that the former has more functions than the latter, and even that is actually started to blur with companies investing in each other and stuff.

With this in mind, we should perhaps re-examine the functions of the state, however perhaps this should be for another thread. Tell me guys if you think it should or shouldn't.

Okay, if the basic function of a state is to protect its citizens against foreign and domestic threats, it would still go beyond police, courts, and military. You see, a corporation that causes damage to a society's water supply would technically be a domestic enemy because it causes harm to the citizens and comes from our home. Also, a disease is a foreign threat to the people, in this case a non-human one, yes, however if we are limited to human ones then the government couldn't defend against invading aliens! Therefore, you could at least justify under this context that the government has to regulate food industries food wise and has to freely give out vaccines/antibiotics too. Not to mention surgeries to get rid of things like parasites.

Anyway, on that note, it means part of the state's necessary functions must include both corporate regulation and healthcare service. The latter to fight diseases because they are a foreign threat, and the former against enemies that use economic force.

Another thing to keep in mind is things that aren't necessarily essential to the state. Many on the right wing basically claim that private property, copyright, and even subsides are "natural" things. This is obviously not true, and property is not necessarily an essential function of the state. If the justification for the state is to protect its citizens against enemies both foreign and domestic, that doesn't include their property. If someone was causing harm by buying up private property, the state then has the duty to confiscate that property and re-distribute it. Copyright isn't either, it doesn't physically harm its citizens if they can't impose patents or intellectual copyrights. You could say it does financially, however than you would have to include hundreds of other types of financial harm which would at least give you a Welfare State.

Subsidies aren't necessary to the state either. Now, this is obvious hopefully, however lets note something. Military spending, economically speaking, is basically a massive subsidy to the high tech sector, not to mention manufacturing at times. That's why the Fascist Nations before World War 2 were able to do so well economically speaking. Therefore, lets keep in mind that military spending is a form of economic intervention. This means that the state, by just existing basically, is a form of economic intervention.

With all of this in mind, what we define as a minimalist state needs to change. Another thing to keep in mind is that what those on the right is really just economic intervention that causes money to flow upwards. A real minimalist state won't protect property rights, won't protect intellectual copyright, and won't have any sort of subsidy. That state couldn't exist, because of the third. The closet you could get to it though would be less then what the right wants, and actually still be closer to a left wing vision, sort of. Assuming it protects against physical harm, it would regulate for health and would regulate industry practices regarding toxic waste disposal. It would also give out free vaccinations, free antibiotics, and do surgeries to remove parasites. It would also regulate the safety of work places because that poses physical harm to workers who are citizens. On the other hand, it wouldn't protect private property, wouldn't protect copyright, and would probably try to keep military spending as low as possible to reduce the subsidy effect it has.

Hopefully all of this has at least been funny, and more importantly, educational. A real minumalist state wouldn't be what the right or left wants really. Well, the left yes with progressives sort of, but not at all with the right. Using the physical protection clause, you can justify everything from universal healthcare, because it does have to protect their lives therefore would actually have to perform surgeries that reflect your physical health too, and corporate regulation to not protecting property in any form at all. With the health one actually, if you had a life threatening condition that required medication your entire life, they would have to give it to you free too. So really, you would basically have universal healthcare under such a system.

Sorry, but all of this is important to start things off. Besides that, something else to keep in mind is that not only is the state like a company in its functionality, but also in its seeking growth. We see this with imperialism in it trying to gain resources, just like a company seeks a growth in profit. That same imperialism gives the state access to more labor, which it can use and abuse. This is similar to a company wanting for there to be excess labor to keep wages down.

The reason why, I think, people don't make this comparison more often is because the state on the surface seems so different. However, it's also because we assume corporations aren't as powerful, and also because we assume corporations are more focused. Well, when they're small this is true, but when you have companies that have GDPs larger than most nations, the differences start to blur. Also, now you have states trying to almost, "outsource," functions in a sense with liberalization and hiring companies to do stuff. This is very similar to a company outsourcing tasks it has to other companies to increase profits.

Now, excuse the ludicrously long post, but I'm hoping this starts things off well.

06.03.2011 05:05
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Commissar
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Post: #2
RE: The Real Role of the State

I think you have provided a description behind your rationales, which is helpful in understanding your concepts, such as state, corporations, and subsidies.

Let me start with a Theory on State.
Human beings are naturally more productive when they are stationary and cultivated, rather than roving and hunting/gathering. When people recognize the advantages of division of labor and specialization, the society is more productive. For example, a person can choose one task that he is interested in and that benefits society. So the entire society has divided its tasks based on assigning roles to individuals who are highly motivated in their work.

All people are aware of life and death. Some people build weapons as a form of survival. They killed animals for food. But some of these armed people recognized the value of stationary cultivation. But instead of growing crops and building irrigation, they recognized a faster and simpler way to accumilating desired goods: threats, coercion and violence. They would raid villages but they would have to leave because a united village tended to have defensive advantages for warfare.

Then these armed bandits realized their power of coercion and advantages of being stationary cultivators. Bandits as a class were not unified. Many different bandit clans existed and were rivals. These rivaling clans used violence to establish de facto boundries of dominion. Land, livestock and people were fought over.
The violence perptuated by rival clans implicated everyone. So people in villages had to choose sides for protection. Clans offered protection to villages for a price. The clans would glean value from the work of the villagers as payment; simply put, taxation.The most successful clans accumilated much taxation and created larger city-states.

City-states were stationary and it's infrastructure provided accomodation for protection. The city-states had high walls for protection, specialized warriorship, markets for barter and advanced technology access. Later, rulers imposed coined money to demonstrate control and command allegiance of peasants. Coined money became the standard of taxation because people would have to trade actual goods to recieve the coin. The coin would be adjusted in value. For example, peasants one day would pay only 1 sheep for 1 coin. Another day, the ruler could demand 2 sheep for 1 coin. This sophisticated manuever to accumilate and manage societies resources is known as money changing. The rulers, used rival city-states as a justification for money changing taxation.

The coin could also be exchanged for goods. So the people believed the coin became as valuable as the goat, wheat, clothing. The city-states would issue more coins in circulation for people, realizing that rulers in other city-states don't accept coins as much as actual goods.

Reflection on this theory
It demonstrates the nature and also the violent historical development of State. The use of threats, coercion and death became operating procedure and innocent bystandards were caught in the middle of it. Society advanced by creating more sophisticated strategies. But since violence attached itself to society, and the concept of society grew bigger, the stakes of threats and danger also grew. Today we now have standing armies and nuclear weapons in the Game of Nation (States).
I attempt to use logic in my explanation that all may agree with. But I am sure some will disagree. Although, historically speaking, the concept of State has been characterized by violence and coercion, there was still a mutual benifit. Warriors provided protection and Peasants provided surplus goods. So I am not neccessarily rejecting the concept of State. But there has been a lack of morality of State affairs. If the State is suppose to perserve Law and Order, then history shows the opposite. If people are not protected by States, then there isn't a mutual benefit. Thus, the neccesity for us is to gain awareness of State and Class and define it's role.
Right now its late. Tommorrow I will provide some ideas of defining State, Corporations, and subsidies. I'll reserve this post for editing later.


"...while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5:10-11)
06.03.2011 09:26
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Triniteras
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Post: #3
RE: The Real Role of the State

Ha ha ha! The state was founded because it was more productive for someone OTHER then the farmers. Agriculture is strenuous, and wheat products, the main crop, are not even that healthy.

06.03.2011 10:08
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Lord Weasel
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Post: #4
RE: The Real Role of the State

Commissar Wrote:
I think you have provided a description behind your rationales, which is helpful in understanding your concepts, such as state, corporations, and subsidies.

Let me start with a Theory on State.
Human beings are naturally more productive when they are stationary and cultivated, rather than roving and hunting/gathering. When people recognize the advantages of division of labor and specialization, the society is more productive. For example, a person can choose one task that he is interested in and that benefits society. So the entire society has divided its tasks based on assigning roles to individuals who are highly motivated in their work.

All people are aware of life and death. Some people build weapons as a form of survival. They killed animals for food. But some of these armed people recognized the value of stationary cultivation. But instead of growing crops and building irrigation, they recognized a faster and simpler way to accumilating desired goods: threats, coercion and violence. They would raid villages but they would have to leave because a united village tended to have defensive advantages for warfare.

Then these armed bandits realized their power of coercion and advantages of being stationary cultivators. Bandits as a class were not unified. Many different bandit clans existed and were rivals. These rivaling clans used violence to establish de facto boundries of dominion. Land, livestock and people were fought over.
The violence perptuated by rival clans implicated everyone. So people in villages had to choose sides for protection. Clans offered protection to villages for a price. The clans would glean value from the work of the villagers as payment; simply put, taxation.The most successful clans accumilated much taxation and created larger city-states.


As an archaeologist I'd just like to correct the first part of your argument. Clans, as you call them, came into being not because of roving bandits, but because of the nature of human procreation. One village is not enough to build a sound genetic resource, this makes intermarrying between villages essential to prevent inbreeding.

The resulting interchange would take the forms of patrilocal (the men stayed in one place), or matrilocal (the women remained in one place), societies. In either all of the members of one sex of village A would relocate to villages B, C, D, and E etc. This creates political and social ties between each village and mutual assistance in times of need, particularly in matrilocal societies. Thus through family ties an area can become bonded together and slowly through intermarriage and trade form closer and closer bonds.

Specialisation had already come into being in the hunter gatherer period and just became more pronounced with settlement. The ability to produce a surplus becomes important which means these newly formed sedentary communities slowly adopt farming technologies. It is important to note that it was possible for these communities to produce much food through hunter gathering without the added labour of farming, in fact there is skeletal evidence that people in Europe became more malnourished after the adoption of farming. Farming became desirable because it gave the producer the ability to gather social status through greater surpluses. The larger the feast, the larger the surplus, the more status and political power the host could command.

This surplus also allowed for specialisation as it enabled us to have people who were freed from the need to produce food, their labour could be used to produce pottery, metal work and other status items.

Let us not also forget that the early clan came into being through trade, villages centred on one larger village or meeting point would become affiliated simply through meeting at the one point to trade, allowing the chief of that meeting point greater access to wealth and thus power over other villages.

Where would this farming leave hunters and hunting? Hunters who had commanded social status in previous times because they had brought back meat through their bravery. Hunting became a ritualised practice for young men to prove their worth, and as the modern state seeks to control greater amounts of resources through imperialism, these hunters began to raid villages they were not aligned with to bring home resources and other goods for status. The more they bring, the higher their status. I think that because becoming stationary robbed the hunters of their use in society it facilitated the creation of the warrior class, who in turn made it necessary for villages to engage in mutual protection.

And so status becomes inseparable from material wealth and classes of people emerge. This allows some people to manipulate existing political processes and a warrior elite to form with whom producers form a pact. You protect me and I'll feed you, to simplify it. This meant that a chief and his warriors based in a larger settlement central to villages A,B,C,D and E extracted goods from all of the villages in order to protect them from the chief of the next clan. However it was necessary for all of those villages to already be affiliated strongly enough to want to protect one another for this to happen. Often this central military point would be near to the existing trading points, or would replace it, as smiths service the warriors and the warrior leaders become the most powerful civic administrators.

It is only later that some chiefs of clans would overpower others and start collecting dues from other areas of land, enlarging the tribe. This enlargement could again equally come from the need to trade and intermarriage.

I do agree with your analysis, I just thought I'd be pedantic and point out that early clans came into being more through the need to procreate and trade than the need to defend one another. Mutual defence was just one factor.

This post was last modified: 06.03.2011 16:57 by Lord Weasel.

06.03.2011 15:07
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Killer300
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Post: #5
RE: The Real Role of the State

Thanks for the history of the state, because it is necessary for disproving social contract.

Anyway, with how interpretation works with the basic state, maybe that would be a better minimalist state. Granted, how in the world it would fund itself is questionable, because any tax, regardless of what type, has an economic effect, and a pretty big one too. A sales tax encourages people not to consume products as much, an income tax we already know pushes people together, a specific tax like a carbon tax has its economic effects obviously, so therefore, the state has to fund itself by manipulating the economy. Therefore the so called, "laize-fair," is once again, completely impossible. The state has to fund itself, and actually probably has to have decently high taxes to do so. It doesn't just get money out of thin air, which is why it has to have some sort of tax. Therefore, the only taxes it could really do would be the ones related to the protection clause, which would be taxes on things like toxic waste, or gas to protect people from toxic waste and gas fumes respectivily. They could also actually impose a tobacco and alcohol tax using this method because those are both things that cause physical harm. Granted, they could also justify more easily banning those and arresting said companies that distribute them, however perhaps the state would settle for this to make money. With all of this in mind, we once again see how the minamalist state is either impossible, or would actually have to eco-friendly taxes, and perhaps health friendly taxes, to fund itself.

I use the minimalist state as an example because it's what both capitalist libertarians and what the rest of the right espouses. Granted, the rest would want high military spending and/or various types of morality based laws but that's different. What my analysis is showing is how completely ridiculous such a state is, and a complete ignorance of how a state needs to fund itself. On the other hand, "bigger" governments can actually fund themselves much more practically with taxes that also have the side benefit of improving social condition.

With that out of the way, time to analyze the next justification/purpose of the state, which is to utilitarianly improve conditions for its citizens. This has severe problems because most states would fail this miserably. Right now, the only nations that really do this consistenly to me are the ones in Northern Europe, like Sweden, Iceland, and Norway. With this in mind, the United States has failed with the Guilded Age, the abuses committed during the Cold War that include MKULTRA which put the United States on the level of Nazis almost literally, and the recent events with the Patriot Act, all of this doesn't include the lack of proper healthcare and education being put aside budget wise for military spending. A utilitarian state has to not only improve its citizens condition, it would actually HAVE to be at least heavily socialist, because of the necessary intervention required to help these people.

With all of this in mind, I have two ideals to attack, nationalism and survival of the fittest in society. The state can not justify itself with either of these, and both of these cause the state to disqualify itself from being justified. The first, nationalism, is an interesting case of the government hijacking a feeling that really doesn't have anything to do with the state. Nationality is really just feeling close to home because of the CULTURE you grew up in. A culture doesn't have to have anything to do with the state, and actually doesn't. However, the state will frequently hijack this feeling to create nationalism, which is also the basis for fascism. Nationalism is frequently used to justify horrible conditions, like religion is. At times, it practically is a religion, and it all comes from hijacking a feeling of mutual good feeling between people because of the area they grew up in.

The second one, survival of the fittest is well, unfit for two reasons. A. Evolution isn't that simple. Not only does co-operation play a huge role, but also, sheer chance is really the biggest decider. I could have the best genes ever, but it doesn't matter if I can't spread them. I could also have the most useless genes ever, but if chicks find me hot for some reason, then I can spread the genes around. Therefore, evolution isn't so clear cut. Not that Darwin is wrong mind you, but rather that people just intrepret a lot of what he said the wrong way. A lot of evolution is actually increasing one's survivability by making yourself more likeable to those around you. This could be turn through kindness, empathy, and similar abilities to make one's self likable. A species of sociopaths would die out very quickly compared to a species of empathetic vegans, even if the latter would have a harder time getting food.
B. With that being said, the point of society, at least partially, is to rise humanity above the conditions it used to have. That means ABOVE survival of the fittest and ABOVE such pointless competition. Do we have to take human nature into account? Yes, however someone basically banning human progress because of said nature should just return to the wild. Society needs to improve conditions if it's to justify itself, and that doesn't just mean through technology. That also means rising above our nature to improve society.

06.03.2011 16:25
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Post: #6
RE: The Real Role of the State

I'm sorry Killer, but the social contract theory is what gives power and legitimacy to the people when they want to change something in their society or its fundamentals. Social contract also exposes tyrants and their afferent policies and ensues the guidelines of a good government and the civil ends of society. The idea of law and order is embodied in the public authority which was created by community of people in order to progress from barbarism, where law was created ad hoc by the the most powerful, was changed as easilly and as frequentlly. Barbarism had no written law or reasonable law, only customs/traditions... Those who enforced the law were held accountable by the mases. It was their responsability to enforce it as the law prescribed, unless civil unrest would stir up. (also every officer/milita/soldier had a family and if their families were subjected to ruthless injustice, the monarch/despot would step down or be killed. Corruption is what makes a system collapse on itself. What did Lincoln say? "Make the revolution not to overthrow the constitution, but to overthrow those who pervert it!".


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06.03.2011 17:06
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Lord Weasel
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Post: #7
RE: The Real Role of the State

But the history of the early state is proof of the evolution early social contract. One of the key points is that the food producers agree to give their goods up willingly to warrior elites in order to enjoy their protection, and the warrior elites agree to protect (and serve) them. The fact that the workers only need that protection because of the existence of warrior elites in the first place is beside the point. This is just one of many contracts that the early state involved, by voting for an elder to lead your village you agree to abide by his judgements. By granting food to your shaman/druid you are obligating him to administer to your religious/medicinal needs.

It could be argued that our interpretation of human nature needs to be changed. It is often used to justify the very worst of acts, but is it not also human nature to be altruistic, or to work together. Humans are a product of their environment and therefore so is human nature, humans today are naturally more greedy because we live in times when it is encouraged to be greedy. It should be the purpose of the state to encourage the best of human nature whilst discouraging the worst. This puts law and order high in the agenda, but also corporate control and education. It is only through enlightened education and strict anti corruption/exploitation laws that human nature can be encouraged to be closer to a group of empathetic vegans. I do recognise that in this there is an orwellian potential for manipulation of the thoughts of the masses through education but in a perfect world that would not be an issue.

This post was last modified: 06.03.2011 17:23 by Lord Weasel.

06.03.2011 17:21
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Killer300
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Post: #8
RE: The Real Role of the State

Helsworth, what I'm saying against social contract theory doesn't really affect you because I don't have a problem with it being used to justify getting better conditions or what have you. Rather, my problem with it is when people use it to sugar coat the founding of the state. Now, true, the early state did embody some elements of it, yes, however brute force enters the equation constantly. Okay, I'll concede this, which is we had semi-social contract theory. However, there wasn't exactly an open contract per say, and this isn't really a normal contract. The way the deal is made, it would be like if someone chained a TV in my house and said I had to pay rent on it as long as it's there. I now understand that the theory is supposed to be more symbolic than anything else, which is why I say we were in a state of semi-social contract theory.

As for human being psychology, well, the Nurture Assumption and the Blank Slate are both good books on this. Yes, we can be products of our enviroment, however our genes provide the personality that is shaped in the first place. With this in mind, in the nature vs nurture debate, the nurture comes from social institutions, not parents. Your parents could be die hard Socialists who take care of homeless children but you could still grow up to be a a business man who starves millions daily for profit if the culture is one of greed. On the flip side, your parents could be abusive fascists and yet you'll still rise from that to become a Pacifist Vegan who wants the end of violence of any type.

As for what a state should do, well, I haven't totally decided myself. I know a lot of what I want, but I'm not sure what justification the state should use, perhaps the utilitarian one? Hell though, because of how my ideals work, maybe I'll end up completing the Marxist dream of a transition state that fades away (slight sarcasm).

06.03.2011 17:28
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Post: #9
RE: The Real Role of the State

That TV chain and rent also gives you back something in the form of guaranteeing of freedom, environment in which to exercise rights, security, education etc. I for one don't think perfection can be defines by being vegan Hehe I had a family friend who didn't eat meat during her pregnancy. Her kid had a lot of problems in terms of developing her legs, luckally she managed to get pass these problems, how? By introducing meat into her diet along side healthy stuff and crap food (snaks and candies). During pregnancy the absence of meat can lead to a lot of problems for the fetus. Heck our ancestors ate a lot of meat, either via hunting or via husbandry.


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This post was last modified: 06.03.2011 19:31 by Helsworth.

06.03.2011 19:28
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Killer300
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Post: #10
RE: The Real Role of the State

Don't worry, Vegan thing just being used to show extreme pacifism.

As for the TV chain, well, again, not until later. I agree you could justify it NOW in countries like Sweden, but not in the past. Or at least, not as much.

06.03.2011 19:30
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