General Question

Jiminez's avatar

Does civilization have a right to oppress you?

Asked by Jiminez (1248points) March 25th, 2009

Likewise, do you have a right not to be oppressed by civilization?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

76 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I guess it depends on what, exactly, the civilization is trying to oppress. Basic human rights? No. A murderer’s decision to kill? Yes. As to whether or not we have the right to not be oppressed, the same applies.

*edited for clarity.

YARNLADY's avatar

Civilization has whatever rights are conferred upon it by the citizenry. Wherever you live, you confer the right on the government to govern you. If you don’t like it, you can move, unless you are prevented from leaving, in which case, it is no longer a case of right, is it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

You always have the right to relocate to a society where you won’t be oppressed and I do not think it is acceptable for any leader or governing body to force oppression on anyone. That’s cruel and inhumane, in my opinion. Like in North Korea for example.

Jiminez's avatar

@Bluefreedom Like America, for example. All of Western civilization is very oppressive and restrictive in my opinion.

kevbo's avatar

This article is a favorite of mine, because it can be applied to so many questions outside of Repub & Dem politics. I think it lends some insight to the root of your question.

(I’m a live and let live kind of guy.)

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Jiminez. You think America and western civilization is very oppressive and restrictive? Like compared to China or North Korea or Cuba or various countries in Africa?

I believe that America has more rights and freedoms than any other country in the world. We do have our problems here but they are a far cry from the countries I listed above.

psyla's avatar

@Jiminez, love your icon!

allen_o's avatar

I don’t feel oppressed, then again, thankfuly, I don’t live in “the land of the free”

Jiminez's avatar

@Bluefreedom It’s because you’re not thinking holistically. You’re not comparing the current situation to an ideal situation. Ideally, you would have more days off than days working, as technology should have given us the opportunity to do by now. Ideally, you’d have the opportunity to travel more. Ideally, you wouldn’t be restricted to doing only what your amount of money can afford. Ideally, police officers wouldn’t want to make you afraid of them. Ideally, you would have more of a political voice. Many people in civilization haven’t been thinking in these terms, because philosophy has ignored the topic altogether. I think all of civilization is restrictive, and it shouldn’t be that way.

Jiminez's avatar

@psyla Thanks! Love yours, too. Though I’m not too fond of hierarchies. Hence, the question.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Jiminez. True, I didn’t look at any of it holistically. Still, when reading over your responses and making a comparison to America, we are still much less oppressive and restrictive than several other places in the world.

In an ideal world, everything you described would be like a Utopia and much more desireable than how things are now but we’re never going to see that because things don’t work that ideally in the real world. I wish they did, though.

Jiminez's avatar

@Bluefreedom There are many places that are less oppressive and restrictive than America; most of Europe, for example. But that’s because they still actually fight for their freedom. They still go on labor strikes. They demand liberation. Here in America, we don’t.

I’m not talking about creating a utopia. I’m talking about always keeping an ideal reality in mind and always striving for it instead of just automatically accepting a flawed version of reality, as we’ve grown accustomed to doing. People let civilization oppress them. It has no right to do so. In any way.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Depends which side you voted for in the elections. If you voted totalitarian dictatorship and they win, then yes you deserve everything you get.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Jiminez. I do believe that some European countries are probably better in some ways than America but I’ve been here all my life and served in her military for 21 years now so my bias is more towards America than anything else. I have to go with one of my previous statements again. America does have her myriad problems but it is a very nice place to live and I love it here with all my heart. It will never be perfect but it will always be home and one of the very finest countries on the globe.

I knew you weren’t talking about creating a Utopia before. That was just me formulating an example to go along with my thought processes. We can all keep an ideal reality in mind all the time but no matter how pleasant and perfect we would like it to be or imagine it to be, it will never fully develop into that and people have to accept that.

qashqai's avatar

What if you voted against the totalitarian dictatorship and they lose?

Jiminez's avatar

@kevbo Thanks, man. That was a good read. I’m in agreement that conservatives favor the hierarchical moral model. I just disagree that social liberalism isn’t what he referred to as “morally superior”; although I kind of think of that phrase as somewhat of an oxymoron. I think the hierarchical moral model is deeply flawed and is more of a model for immorality.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Within a civilization, the right to act upon free choice comes with the responsibility to choose wisely and responsibly. This downfall is that when choice is made either without forethought as to consequences or how the choice may impact others, then common good supersedes the individual right. What happens is that as rules are put into place, there is a tendency to want to “buck the system” and find the loophole. This usually results in more rules to close the loopholes, and before you know it, a myriad of regulation is in place.

Jiminez's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock Very poignant. So you’re saying our error is in trying to gain the system in some way? I certainly agree, but what drives us to this end, do you think?

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Perhaps it’s a need to be the exception to the rule; rugged individualism. But that poses an interesting question as to how acquiesence to the concept of “common good” comes about. Other countries do a better job of this than the US, but perhaps it’s because the individualists in other countries migrate to the US.

tonedef's avatar

Let’s get back to oppression. The United States, and especially those of us from below the Mason-Dixon line, enjoy a rich history full of oppression and bigotry. Am I glad that it’s not the year 1830? Yes. Would I rather live up north, where individual freedoms are respected and observed? Yes. Would I rather live somewhere where I wasn’t being monitored by the federal government without any probable cause to believe I’ve committed a crime? Is Canada full?

Jiminez's avatar

It’s possible that a turn toward communitarianism is needed. I think it’s rugged individualism that’s to blame, yes, but also our concept of morality. We always look for what we’re allowed to do, rather than what we should do. I’m told it’s less like this in other countries. For whatever reason we think it’s right to teach children to respect authority and always do what the culture asks of you. So, it’s a weird kind of collectivist acceptance of only a certain type of individualism.

Jiminez's avatar

@tonedef Heh, good stuff. I agree. I’d rather live there, too. I live deep in the heart of Texas, so you can only imagine how ass-backward things are where I am. Luckily, I live in Austin—what’s referred to “an isolated island in the Redneck Sea”. But, like you said, let’s get back to oppression. We have to zero in on any and every way we feel we are oppressed as human beings. If we have a working moral compass then we won’t focus on things like “progressive taxation” as a form of oppression. That’s not oppression. Much of our oppression is woven into the social and cultural fabric of our society (and therefore, our minds) so that we don’t even recognize it. We have to get to a place mentally where we can recognize it all again.

cwilbur's avatar

@Jimenez: perhaps this would be more useful if you defined what “oppression” meant to you.

Because it seems to me that what you’re advocating sounds like being required to do the moral thing, for the good of society, and that’s a lot more oppressive, under my definition of oppression, than being left alone and allowed to do what you want—the rugged individualism that you seem so down on.

And it seems that you’re at the same time in favor of doing “what we should do” instead of “what we’re allowed to do”—but opposed to children automatically respecting authority or doing what they’re asked. Is it possible that people are doing what they think should be done, but that this doesn’t line up with what you think should be done? And if so, isn’t trying to get them to do what you think should be done instead of what they think should be done rather oppressive?

Jiminez's avatar

@cwilbur Well you can say that people should be required to do the moral thing or not permitted to do the immoral thing. I choose the latter. But, again, I rather not people be forced into doing anything. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work; if it did then our prisons would be empty.

And it seems that you’re at the same time in favor of doing “what we should do” instead of “what we’re allowed to do”—but opposed to children automatically respecting authority or doing what they’re asked.

Correct. No one should respect authority. There’s nothing respectible about it. We should respect each others’ minds and each others propensity for defiance, as it is defiance which makes living things so amazing. But we should also value true communication and true communication is impossible in a punishing situation.

Is it possible that people are doing what they think should be done, but that this doesn’t line up with what you think should be done?

Possible, yes, but also unlikely to be the case across the board. Many people are doing things they feel in their gut is not the “right thing”, but are disallowed from following their own moral compass. I’ll not be able to explain here just what’s wrong with peoples’ moral compasses right now, as it would take much too long, but it has to do with respect for authority and using other peoples’ moral compasses instead of our own; even if we think they are our own.

And if so, isn’t trying to get them to do what you think should be done instead of what they think should be done rather oppressive?

No. It’s only oppressive if it’s done by oppressive measures. What’s done now is done through oppressive, subversive measures; such as businesses lobbying lawmakers to pass business-friendly laws that are oppressive of workers’ rights. I think trying to get them to do what I think should be done instead of what they think should be done is educational. It just happens to be what the majority of people think should be done, but they aren’t at liberty to follow their own convictions.

ubersiren's avatar

Any nation with a leader is oppressed. Including the US. Any government that “votes” is taking away freedoms from someone. The only difference with the US is that we are kept fat and oblivious. We don’t question our authorities because we have faith in them to coddle us and fix our problems (you know, the ones it created). It’s ridiculous how much we are brainwashed.

The answer to your question is YES. Civilization has the right to do what they please. But once the oppression starts, using the word “civilization” to describe that group is in question. And we have the right to fight that oppression.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Jiminez's avatar

@ubersiren I’m a firm believer in democracy. It’s the only just system possible. If you really think about it, what else is there?

That being said, I’m not a believer in representative democracy; I support direct democracy. So, yeah; any nation with a leader is oppressed. If the population as a whole is the decider, then maybe there are some oppressed insofar as their will does not translate to policy, but there is such thing as right and wrong, and agreeing to disagree will get us no closer to the truth, so it’s everyone’s job to figure out who is right. Maybe those in the minority are wrong. This is often the case. It’s also the case sometimes that those in the majority are wrong, so any just society will give the minority a voice so that they can make their case.

I don’t think civilization has a right to be oppressive. I think we each have a right to live in a liberating civilization; which is far from the case right now.

cwilbur's avatar

@Jimenez: So, you think people should do X. It doesn’t matter what X is. Other people themselves think they should do Y, which is incompatible with X. Both of you claim to be doing what you think is the right thing. Right now, Y is winning, and so you claim that it’s being done by an oppressive system. Suppose you manage to convince Congress (or some other source of authority) that X should be done instead. Don’t the people who think that Y should be done have an equal claim against you for being oppressive?

And you have a problem with people using other people’s moral compasses, but isn’t what you’re proposing that everyone would be happier if they had your moral compass? This is just as oppressive, only you’re the oppressor.

Jiminez's avatar


So, you think people should do X. It doesn’t matter what X is. Other people themselves think they should do Y, which is incompatible with X. Both of you claim to be doing what you think is the right thing. Right now, Y is winning, and so you claim that it’s being done by an oppressive system. Suppose you manage to convince Congress (or some other source of authority) that X should be done instead. Don’t the people who think that Y should be done have an equal claim against you for being oppressive?

That’s assuming no one is right. Someone (either X or Y) is right. How we go about figuring that out is what’s most important.

If you got rid of politicians altogether and turned law-making over to the people themselves, what do you think would happen? Do you think progressive taxation wouldn’t increase? It would. Socialism would manifest itself; because the majority of people feel an injustice about their material inequality. That’s why capitalism is dependent on representative democracy so that popular will can be subverted and the guise of democracy can be formalized.

So, what would be oppressive about that situation? The one I outlined above? Why would that be oppressive to that minority (who are taxed) instead of it being oppression right now; what’s happening to the majority—their will not being done by their government?

There’s a difference between a moral standard imposed on society by a minority and a moral standard imposed on society by a majority.

cwilbur's avatar

I don’t think socialism would manifest itself. I think people would try to vote themselves free money and wonderful benefits from the collective purse without paying taxes. And I think if you think that 51% of people agreeing means something is right or moral, you are seriously deluded.

Representative democracy is by design a drag on the whims of the people. What happens when there’s no more representation, and as long as you can find 51% of the people to agree, it becomes law? In the antebellum South, 51% of the people thought anyone with black skin was property. In modern-day Florida and Arkansas, 51% of the people think gay people should have restricted civil rights. This does not seem like a recipe for less oppression, as far as I can see.

wundayatta's avatar

What do rights have to do with it? Does an ocean have the right to be at the seashore? Does a mountain have a right to block my road? Does the sky have a right to blaze with stars at night?

I don’t get it. If you feel oppressed by civilization, good for you. Civilization is. There’s nothing you can do about it, or it can do about you. Bang your head against the wall if you like. Civilization won’t notice.

Jiminez's avatar

@cwilbur Minority rights are protected by a Supreme Court. I happen to think they should be chosen by drawing lots from a predetermined body, so there is no bias in their selection.

Jiminez's avatar

@daloon The ocean and the seashore and the mountain and the road and the sky and the stars are not conscious. Civilization exists as the result of the interaction of conscious entities. It’s not a property of nature.

So, how am I not asking if a huge supergroup of humans has a right to be oppressive towards me? Does a huge supergroup of humans have a right to be oppressive towards me? Is that better? Do you prefer I phrase it like that? “Rights” is a valid context for thinking about this issue…

Stop trying to stop yourself from thinking.

cwilbur's avatar

@Jiminez: Okay, so all laws are made by simple majority rule, and justices are chosen completely at random. You think this will be an improvement? You think minority rights will be protected under such a system, and that overall it will be less oppressive?

“Delusional” may be too weak a word for it.

wundayatta's avatar

@Jiminez: Society may oppress various minorities, but you can’t make society take responsibility, because it is made up of individuals, and not all individuals sinned as you describe. Civilization is more like a natural function than a mindful function, and thus more like the ocean than a person. In fact, it is a property of nature. Man is not separate from nature, and therefore, everything we do is natural. Individuals have the ability to choose actions, but a society does not.

Rights are granted by societies. We all seek to work together to protect them, but there are no natural rights. Rights are abstract things, not a phenomenon of corporeal life.

The question about rights is a question that says, “do I get to whine about this, or not?” If you want change, you have to fight for it. Sure, part of fighting is winning the battle for rhetoric, but the “rights” argument doesn’t do anything any more. Practicality is the name of the game, these days. If you show the harm that oppression does to the oppressors (and it does cause them harm), then you have a much better chance of winning your “rights” in a felicitous manner.

zephyr826's avatar

Are we defining “civilization” as community? Because if we are, than the definition of “civilization” is some form of “oppression”. When you buy into the social contract, you are giving up some of your individual freedoms to be part of the group. If you want to opt out of the social contract and live outside the community, that is your prerogative, as long as you don’t harm the society (at which point, they will reach out and crush you. teehee)
However, I personally feel that it is easy to live within the confines of civilization without feeling oppressed. As long as you are able to make your own decisions and think for yourself, you can never be truly oppressed.

Jiminez's avatar

@cwilbur I guess this is the part where I ask you why it would more more oppressive and prolong a conversation with someone who is already calling me names. Don’t expect me to do this very long.

Jiminez's avatar

@zephyr826 My God! Someone who knows about social contract theory! Thank you for being informed. It makes these conversations so much less tiring.

I guess we’re defining “civilization” as a body unto itself. It is as a community, but more like a legal person. Citizens give up their natural rights to buy into the social contract, but this is just (more or less) turning over the right to be oppressive if you do something wrong. Does civilization have the right to oppress people that are completely innocent? I would say no. People should have the right to not be oppressed by civilization, even while operating within it. Of course I’m talking abstractly here, not legalistically. You can’t sue civilization, after all.

I disagree that it can’t oppress you if you don’t let it. I’m a firm believer that peoples’ conditions are the result of events out in the world, not some sort of flaw within them. This latter philosophy is what the pharmaceutical-industrial complex is pushing, but it’s bogus. It may be the case in some rare situations, but not on the whole.

ubersiren's avatar

@Jiminez : England isn’t technically a democracy, and I think they have as much justice as we have, here in our democracy. And I don’t agree that democracy is very just at all. It’s only just to those who are in the majority (or the rich who can buy special interest votes from our leaders). And it’s not even as simple as that! There’s one majority, and many many other minorities. No issue is simply 2 sided. How is that fair or even productive?

You’re right that nobody can tell who is right and who is wrong. That’s why I don’t understand why one President and a Congress, which is just a few hundred people, get to make decisions for a country of such vast differences. That doesn’t make sense.

I’m a very passionate anarchist. That’s how I want to live- by my own rule. I don’t want Obama telling my friends that he won’t allow them to be married because his religion doesn’t condone same sex marriage. How is that fair that the man in charge of our lives gets to make decisions based on the religion of his choice? It’s not fair! But if that’s the most just we can be, that’s really sad. I don’t want anything to do with a government like that. Like the one we have.

I’m an anarchist, but that doesn’t mean I want to overthrow the government. (WHAT?) I do believe that our country can peacefully live as a combination of democracy and anarchism. I think anarchist communities could thrive along side the rest of the democratic nation if we had cooperation (not assistance) from the US government. Just as there are Amish communities who live among other Christian and non-religious communities. Traditional Amish don’t use electricity, so they don’t pay an electric bill. Anarchists wouldn’t use US government programs, so we wouldn’t pay taxes.

I’ll leave it at that. I know most people have questions, so if someone is serious about learning more about just how this would work, please message me and we can chat!

SeventhSense's avatar

Life’s a bitch.

ubersiren's avatar

@SeventhSense : I second that shit.

Jiminez's avatar

@SeventhSense Is that like saying Life is suffering? I disagree. I think life is great. I just think some aspects of it suck a fat one. If you’re saying civilization is a bitch, I would agree with you. You might find a comfortable philosophical home in the anti-civilization movement. I’m more of an alter-civilization person myself.

zephyr826's avatar

@Jiminez First of all, lurve to Mr. Bartolai, my 11th grade European history teacher for making us read Rousseau.
I think I may not have clarified my position as well as I could have. I see your point that peoples’ conditions are, at least partially, a result of the conditions around them. I also agree that physical and legal oppression can and do occur in all societies. My thought though was that mental oppression has to come partly from within, because we still have the right to think our own thoughts.

Damn the Man! Save the Empire! (sorry for the flippancy, but it seemed appropriate)

SeventhSense's avatar

The premise that life is suffering forms the basis of civilization because it drives us to form solutions. To imagine that there is not suffering though is to deny the experience of the vast majority of its populace. Far from negating civilization, I just think it points towards our potential as of yet unfulfilled.

Jiminez's avatar

@ubersiren I’m an anarchist myself, but I don’t think of anarchism as a form of society, per se. I think of anarchism as an ideal. As absence of hierarchies is what I strive for. I don’t think statism and anarchism are incompatible, necessarily. I think “state” is an arbitrary label. I guess I’m a libertarian socialist, or even an anarcho-syndicalist. I just think leaders should be abolished. People can vote on laws for themselves. I’m sure we’ll parse out each others’ ideas sooner or later. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. :)

Good to see so many freethinkers everywhere I go though. I’ve actually been feeling somewhat proud of our generation lately. <—-that’s me assuming we’re from the same age group.

ubersiren's avatar

@Jiminez : I think we’re a lot a like. I’m an old lady of 27.

Jiminez's avatar

and I’m an old man of 25.

SeventhSense's avatar

Young whippersnappers. :)

wundayatta's avatar

@Jiminez: I’m just wondering that, assuming we could (which is probably impossible), what you think would happen if we abolished leaders. How would things get done in such a situation?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Jiminez: It is not possible to do without leaders, and here’s why. The majority of people simply do not want the responsibility of making choices and decisions for themselves. They automatically look to those who are the natural leaders of any group. The “leaders” you are referring to are those who have the ability to sway the opinion of others (politicians), and are not necessarily natural leaders.

wundayatta's avatar

@Yarnlady: I don’t think that’s what causes leaders to emerge. Just think of any group of people. How will it organize itself? We don’t choose leaders because people are sheep. People most decidedly are not sheep. We choose them because we need a way to stay on the same page, with everyone pulling together (Jeruba, if you’re watching, that’s my mixed metaphor for the day). Most organizations find the most efficient way to do this is with a leader selected from the group, or who takes power through an application of strength.

There are other models of governance, where everyone can play a role in decision-making. Quakers prefer the concensus process. Most folks find concensus too difficult and time-consuming to be worth the trouble. But if you think buy-in is important for decisions affecting the group, then you better make damn sure everyone has a say, preferably an equal one.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ dabloon: In small, self selective groups, what you say can be true. However, this discussion is about civilization, as it is known today, as a whole. In a true civilized society, where all members are properly educated and live an equal life-style your suggestion would work. We do not live in a society like that.

wundayatta's avatar

@Yarnlady: You said a mouthfull, there!

ubersiren's avatar

@Yarnlady : You make a good point that leaders (not necessarily politicians) are inevitable. And you’re right that most people don’t want to deal with every day stuff that has been left up to government for so long. I think that’s just because we’re so used to it though. I personally would like to keep my tax money and find my own road builders and teachers and police protection, etc. It’s a shame that I’m not allowed to do that. Fail, I may, but at least I would be free and a slave to nobody. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself!

Those who need government in their lives should have it. Those of us who don’t need someone to decide for them, to hire someone to build their roads, who don’t want their tax money to be spent on stuff they disagree with would probably benefit more without government. It’s not about taking away leadership from people who want/need it. Nobody wants to live in a society where there safety net has been ripped from them. That’s not what anarchy is about (at least my brand). Anarchy indeed would not work if it was forced on people who don’t want to live that way. I believe anarchists and democratic people can live and benefit from each others’ communities.

@daloon: What does government organize for us that we can’t do privately? Any government service can be achieved like any other business. The biggest question I get from people is, “But who will build our roads?” or similarly, “Who will pay the teachers?” or “how will we have a police force or repair bridges?” The answer is simple. We pay school teachers just like we would a piano teacher for our kids. We send our kid to school and pay the bill. If we don’t like the service provided, find another teacher. If the teacher really is terrible, he or she won’t be able to keep enough students to make a living and will be forced to be better or quit. Same for a police force. We pay them like we pay a roofer. Those who need police services will call and request it. The police performs the duty, and collects the debt. If they gain the reputation of being horrible, people will go with another police service. There will be no city or state police commissioner to cover their asses.

Instead, I’m forever trapped in my cage and made to dance in a tutu for peanuts my whole life. It’s hell to be in my brain.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ubersiren: I grew up in a small town where people were allowed to do exactly that. The ones who paid had a sidewalk in front of their house, and the roads were extremely difficult to travel, because whoever didn’t want to pay the fee, didn’t have the road in front of their house. If they didn’t buy fire protection, they didn’t have it, and their children didn’t have to go to school, unless the parents wanted them to.

The result was a horrible mess. If the house next door to you burned down, yours was in danger, if you wanted to walk to the store, part of the path was mud, where there was no sidewalk. Some children grew up unable to read and write, through no fault of their own. There has to be a point where the needs of the community outweighs the needs of the individual.

wundayatta's avatar

@ubersiren: Ironic, isn’t it. You just reinvented government. In a corporate form, responsible, in theory to the customer, but in actuality, to no one. The larger a business grows, the easier it is to hide corruption from people. People will inevitably band together to gain the power they need to counter the power of monoliths. People will inevitably band together to cooperate on some expenses.

In your system, there would be no insurance. A person who suffers damage, would be on their. For, to have insurance, would require a fairly large organization. Insurance spreads risk among a group of people. The larger the group, the less risk there is.

You want everyone to take total responsibility for all their actions with no help from anyone else. Responsibility—cool. No help—not cool. When people help each other, or cooperate in any organized way, you have government. You can call it whatever you want—business, community, coop, whatever. It still does the same thing government does.

So you have two choices: force everyone to be on their own, or allow government to form. We’ve got a government that allows you to be on your own, so long as you don’t hurt anyone else. If you go to Alaska, you can pretty much be sure there aren’t enough people to make government helpful. Although, you do have one point. Government is the system that allowed people like Sarah Palin to arise. Perhaps we should outlaw it. At least, in Alaska.

ubersiren's avatar

@Yarnlady : That’s very interesting to hear. Did you grow up in the US? I’m just assuming you did. It seems like education was the problem in your town. From the very root. Children need to be empowered at a young age to be survivors. Parents need to be sure they set examples that inspire their kids. If that is never given to them, then they simply don’t know any different. But, if their parents didn’t set examples, and those parents parents, and their grandparents didn’t set the example, that’s the very recipe for communities to fail.

I would also attribute this type of social recession to being closed off. If they have no influence other than themselves, then this creates problems of several kinds. One is that they have nothing to compare themselves to, so they don’t know that what they’re doing can be improved on. Another is that, when a people has no reason to feel they’re doing anything wrong, they won’t change without an outside influence. Unfortunately, many small communities in America resist any outside influence because of religion or tradition.

I grew up in a small town in Western Maryland. It is the very picture of poverty in most areas. Homes are simply falling apart as you drive through it. Around election time, there are signs everywhere. It’s an extremely politically charged town. I went to school with people who are now running for house of delegates. My best friend’s dad is the sheriff so I was always notified of local politics. BUT- even with all the government involvement in the town, even with all the enthusiasm for great leadership, the town has had the SAME officials since I was in kindergarten. My friend’s dad has been the sheriff since 1988. Even though having home insurance is mandatory, and even though there are codes, and city maintenance of streets and sidewalks, people ignore it, abuse it, and can’t afford to avoid the very same tragedy that strikes your hometown. There’s homelessness, poverty and horrifying education standards all around. The cancer rate in my county is one of the highest in the entire country. Everyone smokes, drinks and goes to church.

What was once a booming town in the 1800s is now a very sad place. Business have failed because they refuse to keep up with the times. People collect welfare in alarming numbers. It’s not because there are no regulations or governing bodies, it’s because the whole town is extremely closed off and stubborn.

ubersiren's avatar

@daloon : Those businesses are responsible to the customer, yes, but also to themselves. It would be in their best interest not to give poor performance if a whole community is breathing down their necks.

I’m against insurance because it doesn’t allow for whatever is being insured to participate in the free market. If someone’s house burned down, they could use their savings (say, the amount they would be paying in taxes if they lived in a democracy) to pay for a new home. And just like there are charities in our communities now, there could be charities in the imaginary town. It would also be in the best interest of the town to help people who need help. Help is remembered and rewarded. Nobody is on their own if they don’t want to be. In our world now, if you can’t afford the insurance and tragedy strikes, then you’re really on your own!

I don’t know that I agree that cooperations, businesses, communities are the same as a government. Nobody is being elected and paid to make decisions for that community. Individuals can seek advice, guidance, aid, etc. from anyone they please, in this imaginary town. They are given that option as opposed to being told how to live before they have the chance to think about it.

I don’t believe our current government allows us to be on our own as long as we don’t hurt anyone. They don’t allow gay marriage. They don’t allow my 14 year old to drive to the store for some milk. I can’t smoke pot walking down the street… or even in my own home! They don’t allow women to walk topless in public. It is required that you I can’t just open a business if I want- I have to get permit after permit, and obey zoning laws and pay taxes, etc. They own you, this government does. Any time a victimless crime is committed that means a law was passed at some point that declared judgment and discrimination. Ex: Women’s breasts are obscene and men’s aren’t. Gay people destroy the American family. That 14 year old can’t possibly drive more responsibly than a 15 year old with a permit. Building your house in any other way than the specified dimensions is tacky and obstructive. Etc.

I respect anyone’s choice for a government. I just can’t get behind it. I can’t go on anymore because I won’t stop.

wundayatta's avatar

@ubersiren: Don’t forget that democracy isn’t the only form of government. In fact, it is a very recent development. For the longest time, governmental leaders were selected the same way they are in business: by virtue of birth, or of talent. Don’t forget, also, that there are democratically run businesses.

As to “victimless” crime; you acknowledged that different people have different ideas of what is harmful. You and I might not care about bared breasts in public, or pot smoking, or gay relationships, but, for better or for worse (mostly worse) the majority of the electorate does care. As to the arbitrariness of driving ages—we might just as easily raise the age, as lower it. In fact, some states are doing so.

ubersiren's avatar

@daloon : A friend of mine says, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others.” I have to laugh, because I just don’t see much of a difference between it and the others. I’m not opposed to a democratically run business. If a store owner wants to operate that way, that’s great. His employees, though, have the choice of whether to participate in that type of business.

And again, if I wanted to walk around topless, it would be in my best interest to do it only where I am welcome. I would respect areas that I know are opposed to it. It’s not about forcing everyone to be ok with your choices. It’s about living your choices for yourself, and allowing everyone else to do the same. There’s much to be said about respect. You can recognize differences without assuming some are right and some are wrong. But it isn’t fair to just say that if you’re in the minority, you have no rights whatsoever.

I love you all, by the way. I think nearly everyone I talk to on here is very kind, thoughtful and smart.

SeventhSense's avatar

I’m not a believer in representative democracy; I support direct democracy.
Like these guys? They all voted.
And I respectfully request that you respond to my post. I have an idealistic streak in me but I’ve become more pragmatic as I’ve grown older. Maybe you can show me how your ideas would solve the plight of the mass of humanity.

You just reinvented government. In a corporate form, responsible, in theory to the customer, but in actuality, to no one.

How is this different than the corporate form of government we already have? Actually it’s responsible to private banking interests as demonstrated by this latest “bail out”.

ubersiren's avatar

@SeventhSense : That’s another good point that I like to bring up. Even with government intervention, companies and people are highly corrupt. Taking away the veil the government puts over our eyes by hiding the fact that businesses are failing would let us see who is causing the problems, then we can decide for ourselves who sinks and who swims. I’d rather decide which businesses stay or go based on their performance, rather than the government keeping “the big ones” afloat to continue anally raping our tax money.

laureth's avatar

@ubersiren – Have you ever heard of “buying clubs,” where, say, a few families will go in on something like a side of beef or a CSA subscription and divide it up amongst themselves, because they can (1) get a better deal than each family buying that item separately, and (2) reduce waste, because no family needs to buy a whole case of something and then throw out the part they didn’t use? It’s good for the families (who get what they need and save money), and it’s good for the supplier, because they have a more reliable, centralized way to distribute their goods than by delivering (if they deliver) to lots of single destinations.

You seem to be in favor of the free market. Would you be in favor of clubs like these?

Assuming you are, then you can think of the government as playing the centralized role in distributing the bulk purchases to the individual families. Only, instead of beef or vegetables, it’s roads and schools. Yes, it’s harder for you to opt out that way, but I’m willing to bet that you went to school and travel the roads just like everybody else. The governmental system (in this case) simply assures that (1) fewer people freeload on everyone else’s road and school payment, and (2) most folks have basic necessities, even if they’re poor.

kevinhardy's avatar

it shouldnt oppress me i did nothing wrong

ubersiren's avatar

@laureth : That’s exactly how I think of the government! I think of them as a third party distributor of my tax money. And I think it’s crap because I have no say in what it’s spent on.

Buying clubs are fine. They’re basically like Costco down on the farm. I fail to see your point.

Of course I went to state funded schools and traveled state roads. I was never given another option. If I didn’t have to pay taxes, I might pay to build and travel my own roads. Oh wait, no I wouldn’t because the state effing OWNS all the land and that would be illegal.

laureth's avatar

You have an indirect say. You can vote for the people you think would be the wisest with your money. You can also campaign for those people, or run for office yourself.

If people have to put roads in front of their house, they’re not going to want to do it for free. This is why we have things like toll roads, so the cost of travelling the Ohio Turnpike is mostly shouldered by those providing the wear and tear. If, instead, each neighborhood decided to pave or not pave, I suspect we’d have more tollbooths, perhaps on each corner. I can’t picture that being more convenient than our current system.

Ergo, we all band together and buy roads – like Costco, up in the Beltway.

ubersiren's avatar

Indirect isn’t good enough for me. The people whose representatives aren’t elected are not going to be represented. And a portion ( anywhere between 0–100%) of the people who did vote for that representative are going to be unhappy with the way he/she votes in Congress (or general assembly). Voting leaves people out, which is crummy. How is giving no rights to the minority right in any way? The pledge of allegiance doesn’t end like, “with liberty and justice for the majority only.”

I’m all for toll roads. That’s perfect. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s like road business. There could even be competitors. The Barnes and Noble road vs. Borders road. Which ever provides the shortest route, best maintenance and lowest toll gets my dime. It doesn’t have to involve government in any way. It’s a prime example of my ideal free market and anarchism all in one! Brilliant!

wundayatta's avatar

I wonder, @ubersiren, do you vote?

ubersiren's avatar

@daloon : I do vote, begrudgingly. It’s pure strategy when I do it. The biggest reason is to say, “Yes, I voted.” I’m just being honest. Because for some reason, if you don’t vote you get dirty looks and called names and stuff. Even if you don’t like any of the candidates. Even if you learn as much as you can about all the candidates and still don’t like any of them, you’re the fuckhead for not voting. So, I vote. It’s against everything I stand for, and I vote. I choose the lesser of all the evils, and it makes my skin crawl, but I do vote. Even though the candidate I selected last year was the closest to what I could tolerate as a president, it made me sick. Someone once told me that if I don’t vote, I can’t bitch. So, I vote. The second biggest reason I vote is to counter one other vote some dumbass who is voting and doesn’t even know why. I vote and I hate it, and I make sure to tell as many people as possible. I like people to know that they’re getting exactly what they are asking for. For everyone to vote!

SeventhSense's avatar

TO ALL- I should have pointed out the shocking nature of the lynching photo, but I think that it’s a powerful example of Mob Rules mentality.

That’s exactly how I think of the government! I think of them as a third party distributor of my tax money. And I think it’s crap because I have no say in what it’s spent on.

But you can start a business and decide how your tax money is spent by paying it towards your business expenses and deduct those expenses. I own a business and I pay little in taxes after I finish writing off my expenses. Even if you form a DBA I would suggest that anyone form a business. When I pay 8.625% sales tax and 10.00 to go over a bridge I feel like that’s enough of a contribution! And if I made significantly bigger profits I would claim significantly bigger expenses.
Maybe I’m an anarchist and don’t know it.:)
Meanwhile I’m still trying to find out why I’m the anticivilization because I notice hurting people. Maybe I just lost my copy of the Power of Positive Thinking?
<><><><><:>~ Heloooo.

laureth's avatar

Can you imagine if every bill that Congress votes on were voted on by the people instead? My head is spinning with that thought. It assumes that everyone in the country (of voting age) is (1) keeping track of the bills and what they mean and all the implications they hold, and (2) everyone is smart and interested enough to do so, on top of their day job.

Not even Congress can keep track of them all anymore, and we pay them to do it as their job. That’s why they have committees. Direct citizen participation is possible only in really small situations, like some town meetings in New Hampshire where they are still a direct democracy, bless ‘em.

Direct citizen voting for the entire U.S. would be a bureaucratic trainwreck. The founders knew it in 1777, and it’s several hundred times more true now.

YARNLADY's avatar

@laureth It boggles the mind. People who have no idea what a democratic republic is or that there are three branches of government, or that nuclear power is not blowing up a bunch of bombs to generate electricity get to vote on how to run this country.

ubersiren's avatar

Hahaha… if something is so complicated that the people we pay to figure it out and organize can’t even make heads or tails of it… doesn’t that strike you as odd at all? This is why less government is better. We don’t need all those bills! If nobody in the country has any idea what most of them are, then why do they exist?! It’s ridiculous! my head is spinning at the notion that we allow this! I wish I had a say in it, but I don’t! Isn’t that a shame? I know plenty of people who would like to have their own say in what goes. Nobody should be required to participate in a vote if they don’t want to, but I would love to have more of a say in my life. I’d gladly take one evening a week and go to a committee meeting to vote on some issues. Bills are often so complicated in Congress because it’s easier to get away with stuff that way. Hiding smaller bills in great big wordy ones… I’ve gotten plenty of arguments from people saying, “Well you can’t blame Obama for voting for such and such a bill because he was really only voting for this other bill that was attached to it.” What kind of bs is that? If the public was able to view in plain sight what was really going on, it would be far less complicated. It would have to be. We are far too trusting of our government.

I do agree with you that this is only possible in smaller communities. I think this idea of “We are ONE” is like some fantasy. There’s no way we can be one. We are divided on every issue and there is no pleasing everyone in the nation under laws that blanket everyone. It’s ridiculous. Having a Federal government is ridiculous. They accomplish very little.

@Yarnlady: So, people are too dumb to vote on how to run this country, but it’s ok to let them elect officials to run the country?

laureth's avatar

We never should have watered down the Electoral College, it appears. That was supposed to allow people to vote on which person they trusted enough to vote for a leader.

If things were simpler – if we hunted and gathered, say, and there weren’t enough other tribes around us to make much trouble, then we wouldn’t need as much government. However, we now have much more complexity in the world: everything from agricultural policy to defense to energy to immigration to where to set interstate freeway speed limits. Doing away with a Federal government would not eliminate the need for the legislation to happen.

We used to have a much weaker Federal government under the Articles of Confederation, which was the first experiment that the Founders tried. It set the most power at the State level. For example, foreign powers who wanted treaties with the newly-formed United States had to sign them with each state independently. The Federal government couldn’t even raise an army or generate funds. It was a disaster. So they wrote the Constitution, which has stood for a couple hundred years since then. While I agree with you that the Federal reach has been stretched further than it should be, running this nation with no Federal government is a failed experiment.

Can you imagine, say, if we were attacked? And we put the vote up to the people on whether or not we should go to war, and if so, how and where to call up troops, to see to their training, their funding, and the like? Before we got everyone to their “weekly town hall meeting,” we’d all be singing a different Anthem.

The nearest thing I can think of to the system of government you seem to be advocating is the non-system that Somalia is using. I wouldn’t want to live there, but you’re welcome to try your luck there, if you like.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ubersiren Electing officials to represent the people at least gives the possibility of getting someone who has the best interest of a larger number of people at heart. It doesn’t always work that way, but it removes the decisions one degree of separation, or more.

Coloma's avatar

Civilization can TRY…so far it hasn’t oppressed me.
But hey…you can’t keep a good woman down…for long anyway! lol

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