J Thomas on March 27, 2011, 09:37:42 am
The entire reason governments exist is so that the big picture decisions can be made by representaives of the people who are elected. 

Historically, the entire reason any particular government exists is usually that some bandit made himself supreme, became a bandit king, for example William the Bastard, or Romulus.

<snip complex explanation of Randite theory of government>

You have a theory there which is reasonably logical. But it does not fit all the facts. Sometimes governments form from bandit gangs. Sometimes governments form around something else.

Half of my family spend a lot of time in the Appalachian mountains. The tax collectors didn't come around much, and neither did the mailmen. My grandfather's little brother was shot by revenuers. In the early days there was no government at all. The colonial government just didn't reach that far. They tended to organize around churches. All the people who went to one church would meet each other every week and discuss whatever there was to discuss. Some people went to two or more churches and shared the news. The church elders decided most of what there was to decide. You respected them or you didn't go to that church. And if they decide against you, you can go to a different church provided they disagree with your church's elders enough to accept you. If you don't have a church then you're a hermit.

There were stories about some bandits. They never seemed to last very long in the stories.

Sometimes they'd raise a militia, when there was need. Everybody who was going would pack his weapons and food and go. I don't know how they got a leader. The guy who called out the militia might be the leader because he was the one they showed up for. He needed some prestige to even do that. The shopkeeper might be the leader if he wanted to -- he had bullets and gunpowder and flour and beans, if they were going to be gone long they needed him. The most prestigious veteran of the last time might be the leader. I don't know.

For them it wasn't bandit gangs. I strongly doubt that it's always bandit gangs. Probably it is, sometimes.

In the Old Testament, the story is that people thought they wanted a king so they went to Samuel the priest to ask him for one. Samuel tried to talk them out of it, but they insisted. So Samuel picked somebody he thought would be a bad king. A younger son from an undistinguished family, who'd shown no special aptitude. Saul hired a palace guard and started collecting taxes. When there was an invasion or something, Saul and his palace guard went out and arranged a skirmish they could say they won. Then the reserves would pour out and fight the enemy. But if the palace guard lost the first battle then the people would stay home and accept defeat. Whoever won would appoint a new king who would give them tribute until he was ready to fight them. This is my interpretation, it's been awhile since I've read it and I may have some details wrong. Saul did not start out as a bandit, he was appointed to be a bandit-king. The next king, David, did start out as a bandit. He and his men were mercenaries who bandited elsewhere until somebody who conquered Israel chose him to be king there.

Where does this idea come from, that all or even most governments started out as bandit gangs? Did Rand make it up out of thin air? No, I think it has very old roots. In the old days, when one kingdom conquered a smaller one, doesn't it make sense that the conquerors would spread the story that the losers started out as a bandit gang and never got very far from that? That they oppressed their people until the conquerors came in to liberate them and give them a better life? Of course it does. And who among the conquered people will deny it? "No, Massah, them old guys they oppressed us something horrible. We only pretended to support them because we had to. You are soooo much better that we kiss your feet cause we're grateful."

I expect it went every which way. Likely many governments started out as consensual arrangements, and turned ugly when they needed quick results and chose to oppress small minority holdouts rather than convince them.

But the clear simple story is so easy to believe....

quadibloc on March 27, 2011, 09:58:28 am
So, relax. We might at get into a situation where we have implacable enemies who are actually dangerous in the short run. We might have to kill them. We might leave it off until it's almost too late and there's a serious chance they'll kill us instead. That's all stuff that can happen. But for now, in the USA, you're about as safe as you can be. If you waste the good times being scared the bad times will come back. what good does that do you?
Taking common-sense precautions, like having a military, doesn't seem to me to be wasting the good times. Reacting to imminent threats is not that either.

I think we can expect to convert most of the Islamic world to "progressivism" - not the silly version of it, but the same more sensible version that most Americans share - over time, though. Most Muslims do just want to live their lives in peace.

Right now, though, the terrorists are people they have to live with, while we're just strangers far away. This is the same sort of thing that explains why in a small Canadian town, a woman of Native American origin was brutally raped and murdered, and it was claimed that the "whole town", more or less, knew who did it, and yet it took years for the police to complete their investigation, and bring the perpetrator of this heinous deed to justice.

Exterminating the Muslims of the world for the crime of being no better than us seems a bit unfair. Which is why I'm looking for a way to avoid it that I can sell to the people of the Western world... if major terrorist attacks, followed by quagmires on a larger scale than Afghanistan and Iraq, start making that option look attractive, given our high standards of comfort and safety.

sam on March 27, 2011, 04:50:55 pm
Takes two to make peace, only one to make war.    No point in persuading me, you have to persuade the mob that raped Lara Logan.

Well, no. You are taking a messy situation where everything is blurred, and turning it into something with crisp sharp lines.

There are occasional gang rapes, sometimes even when society hasn't particularly broken down. It isn't always political.

Gang rapes in the US do not take place in times square.

When they yell "Jew Jew", do the gang rape in public, and there is not the slightest prospect of any of them being punished, it is political.

When they do the same thing over and over again to people less prominent than Lara Logan, and still none of them get punished, or are likely to get punished, it is political.

But this might have been political. It might for example have been by government employees who were trying to cause trouble, as the "reformists" were accusing them of doing for some time.

The reformists also say that the Jews did it, that it was not done at all, and that Lara Logan had it coming.

The government had fallen at the time, and if perhaps it had not entirely fallen at the time, it has fallen now, so if it was government employees trying to cause trouble, they would now be dead or imprisoned.

Further, this is just the sort of stuff the reformists do, have been doing for years, and are now continuing to do to coptic Christians on a bigger scale.  They are rapists, mass murderers and terrorists, and this has been perfectly obvious to everyone except you lot for a decade before they took power in Egypt.  Progressives have been in stubborn denial ever since 9/11, which denial is now turning into full on psychotic delusion.  It resembles the progressive reaction to Major Hasan presenting a powerpoint presentation on why he is going to murder his audience, and your reaction to the victory mosque at ground zero celebrating 9/11.  You are fucking insane.  These guys intend to kill me, but they want to kill you first because they hate progressivism most of all.

They said that the secret police were posing as civilians and breaking into buildings and stealing stuff etc so they could claim the reformers were violent and justify suppressing them,

The government had already fallen at the time, and the police, let alone the secret police, had made themselves scarce - and any that did not make themselves scarce, would have been hanging from the lampposts.

Plus, these guys are still at it.

sam on March 27, 2011, 05:48:07 pm
I think we can expect to convert most of the Islamic world to "progressivism" - not the silly version of it, but the same more sensible version that most Americans share - over time, though.

Yet observe.  The high points of what you would call sensible progressivism in the Muslim world were during the crusades, and during the colonial era - and during the colonial era, they got their progressivism from rule by the likes of Lord Cromer, who most Europeans in 1907 viewed as horrifyingly reactionary.

And since the days of Lord Cromer, Muslims have been becoming less and less progressive.  What makes you think this trend, displayed most recently in the mass rape and sexual mutilation of Lara Logan, and similar treatment of large numbers of Coptic Christians while the world averts its gaze, is going to reverse?  Female circumcision and so on and so forth is increasing, not decreasing, and has been ever since the colonial tide receded.

The underlying forces driving this trend is that sensible progressivism is not sensible, but vicious and suicidally crazed - most people in 1950 or so would have considered the sensible progressivism of 2000 or so as completely insane, and most people in 1910 would have considered the sensible progressivism of 1950 or so as completely insane, and most people in 1840 or so would have considered the sensible progressivism of 1910 as suicidally insane.  It was the people in 1840 whose sensible moderate progressivism successfully influenced the Muslim world, and if you want to succeed in moderating Islam, you have to return to what people in 1830 or so considered moderate progressive.

This is the same sort of thing that explains why in a small Canadian town, a woman of Native American origin was brutally raped and murdered, and it was claimed that the "whole town", more or less, knew who did it, and yet it took years for the police to complete their investigation, and bring the perpetrator of this heinous deed to justice.

Perhaps because the whole town did not know who did it, and it is probable that the guy who was scapegoated for the deed did not do it.  That story is a load of baloney, similar to the Duke rape case and the "lynching of Emmet Till for whistling at a white woman"

Exterminating the Muslims of the world for the crime of being no better than us seems a bit unfair.

When we had the upper hand, during the colonial era, there was peace and justice - or there was once Muslims submitted, though the means employed to obtain submission were apt to be drastic.  When Muslims had the upper hand, for example 1400 to 1700, there was mass state sponsored rape, widespread enslavement of white Christians, and frequent mass murder.  Compare the treatment of Muslims in Egypt when Christians ruled, with the treatment of Copts in Egypt today.

And supposing, as good progressives believe, that there was no peace and justice during the colonial era, that we are no better than they.  Then they would be bad enough that it would necessarily be war to the knife.  Whether or not we are better than them, it is better for us that we win than that they win.


sam on March 27, 2011, 06:10:45 pm
Where does this idea come from, that all or even most governments started out as bandit gangs? Did Rand make it up out of thin air?

The Kings of Israel were supposedly appointed by God, but they acted a lot as if they were bandit kings.

Romulus was a bandit.

The government of England started out with William the Bastard, who, as the declaration of Arboath says, was a pirate and bandit, and most governments in the world today are descended from the government of England.

From time to time there are revolutionary movements, whose leaders claim, with varying degrees of plausibility, appointment by the people.  Robert the Bruce was appointed by the Scottish people - he was, however, also appointed by the King of England, before he turned on the King of England and denounced the King as a descendant of a bandit.

The best post colonial governments are those, like the government of Singapore, who can trace their founding to some British bandit, rather than to the guys from Whitehall.  This is consistent with the theory that government gets steadily worse and worse, the longer the duration between it and the original founding bandit.

Scott on March 27, 2011, 10:12:36 pm
Alright, this thread has drifted so far from being about Escape From Terra that I'm shutting it down. If you guys want to mix it up over politics in general, take it to Talk Amongst Yourselves.