onsdag 31 juli 2013

How To Construct a Political Ideology - Summary

This last week I've been writing on how to create a political ideology in a constructive manner. The goal was to create a guide which lets one think about the most important questions in politics while not first deciding that one is a conservative, social-democrat, feminist, libertarian, or any other political identity with a certain script to follow.

The essence of the tutorial is to make lists on the most important topics in politics. Here is a summary of all the lists one should make:
  1. The most important political goals you want to achieve, without stating what particular means are best appropriate for them (e.g. world peace, prosperity, freedom).
    (Choose That Which is Most Important to You.)
  2. All societies/political systems.
  3. Those beliefs you have which explain most about human behavior and how our societies function.
  4. Those beliefs you have which dismisses most political systems as not being best suited to your preferences.
  5. Those ideas which, if they were true, would dismiss most political systems.
    (Consider the Most Important Facts.)
  6. All political strategies.
  7. Those beliefs you have which explain most about how we change our behavior.
  8. Those beliefs you have which dismisses most political strategies as too costly to reach your goal.
  9. Those ideas which, if they were true, would dismiss most political strategies.
    (Change the World in the Most Efficient Manner.)
  10. All frequently asked questions about your political choice and your answer to them.
  11. Thoughts experiments showing that someone might not really want their highest valued political goal.
  12. The most important facts which dismiss a particular political choice.
    (Discuss the Most Important Points.)
Every list is necessary to get a complete ideology but 1 to 5 are, by far, the most important ones. Because, by solving these points you are able to tell which type of society is the best.

Besides writing down these lists one should also consider the different benefits and costs of striving towards a political goal. If the best societies one can think of are reached by means which make it harder to reach another good society, it could be that the second (or third) best society is better than the first, if the cost of reaching them are sufficiently low. (Strive Towards the (Second) Best Society.)

I have also written a little bit about alliances (A Digression on Alliances) and what I mean by politics (The Domain of Politics).

In the next post I'll show my own political perspective, which is only partially complete, using this framework.

tisdag 30 juli 2013

Discuss the Most Important Points

If your political strategy calls for you to convince others* that your cause is just and right, you should be able to present the most compelling arguments for your case. This means you need to be very familiar with your own reasoning, with those values and facts you believe to be the most important for shaping your political choice. This does not mean that the best way of convincing someone is by stating propositions, although I believe it has a positive appeal for 10-90% of the population.

At best you shouldn't discuss the solution, the society you want, but focus on the facts which support it. Because, you will maybe need to shift your position if the one you debate with shows that one or several of your beliefs are mistaken. And that is probably easier when not feeling such an attachment to the ultimate society. But, this is probably impossible because most people will want to know about this society, and how it functions, from you. So, you'll need to learn how to discuss questions about it. That is, you'll need to create a list of F.A.Q. on your own politics.

It should also be necessary to discuss other political choices and why they are not as good as your own, to those you wish to convince. This can be done in two ways: influencing someone's goals or influencing their most important factual beliefs about the world. The first one can possibly by done by thought experiments to show someone what their true preferences are. The second by reasonings on how a particular society will not achieve the objectives sought after. And these lists need to be multiplied by the number of seriously considered alternatives.

For this post I don't have any list at all since they are entirely dependent on what debate one engages in.

* This might not be important at all for several reasons. You might be in a political group with a division of labor where someone else is comparatively better at communication. You might be able to reach your goal already. Your other political actions might speak louder than words.

måndag 29 juli 2013

A Digression on Alliances

For most political strategies to work, it's necessary to cooperate with others. Here I'll discuss what the members of alliances can have in common, how the alliances can be structured, and how secret they can be.

Alliances of Preferences, Perspectives, and End Goals
There can exist at least four types of alliances, those of:
  • preferences, where everyone cares about roughly the same values;
  • perspectives (on society), where everyone has the same model on how societies work;
  • perspectives (on strategies), where everyone believe that a certain was of action is the best one to follow; and
  • end goals, where everyone wants to achieve the same society (albeit maybe for different reasons and with different strategies).
The ultimate alliance would then be between those who share the same views on all of these questions. All the others will either have the potential to become ultimate alliances or not. When would some alliances never become ultimate alliances? Or, when would two individuals never join in that alliance?

That seems to only be possible when they share different values, when some member's values restrict him/her from from using some source of information or method of reasoning, or when the members don't have enough time to discuss a matter. Because, if everyone who believed in the same basic rules of reasoning (which most people do, although not for all problems) they are bound to reach the same conclusion, if they discuss the problem long enough.

Alliances between representatives and non-representatives
I believe alliances can be structured in at least four ways:
Non-representatives   - These, who gather for some purpose, only represent themselves. When they say ”I agree” they mean just that, that their own process of thought have led them to the conclusion that what someone said is true.

Constrained representatives  – These represent someone else's opinions and can be in the alliance only because they do so. If they step out of bounds their principals will select another agent to represent them.

Empowered representatives – These have some principals who give them their strength but they have faith in their representatives and will simply acquiesce in their decisions.

Similar representatives  – These have principals but they all think more or less the same. So if this representative takes a controversial stance, when the principal learn of the reason for it they will agree that it was the most prudent action.
The last three groups are probably difficult to differentiate in practice. No one would consider themselves to be principals of the first kind, but that might just be what most voters are.

Why is this important? Well, because large alliances probably needs to consist of representatives. Otherwise there would be too few decisions per meeting. If they need representatives to function effectively, it should be necessary that the representatives know enough about their principals, and vice versa. Because only then can members of an alliance select representatives who will reason and act just as they would, which seems to be the ideal.

Open and secret alliances
An alliance might have secrets they do not share with the rest of the society or they might be open about their intents and views. How open/secret an alliance is might be measured on a scale from one to ten. On the one end no one except the members of the alliance knows about its existence, its views or goals. On the other they post everything they do and think on twitter. In the middle people don't acknowledge they are part of any political alliance, or they keep their perspectives, strategies, or preferences a secret.

söndag 28 juli 2013

Change the World in the Most Efficient Manner

If you know what political ideal to strive towards, what then is the most efficient strategy to pursue to achieve that goal?

To gain an understanding of this goal it might, again, be best to not list proposals and search arguments for them. Instead one should list facts which should be on one's mind when forming the optimal strategy. What sorts of facts are then important to know about?

They will probably have to do with how others change their behaviour. That is, people act according to pattern X today, and you want them to act according to pattern Y. What does one need to know when planning for this?

Similar to when trying to figure out what society best fits your ideal, you should now (1) list all possible political strategies, (2) list the most explanatory facts regarding how people change their behaviour, (3) list the facts that disparages most strategies, and (4) list all ideas which, if you knew them, would settle the matter or damn a whole many other strategies. (Also, saying one thing necessarily means saying the entire theory which supports that statement, which needs to be remembered when discussing with others.) 

Next are some examples for illustration:

Political strategies: Winning elections, the many forms of starting a revolution, secession or establishing a new society on uncontested lands, and some general techniques.

The general method (advice from Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard):
  1. FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS. Investigate what's working and clone it.
  2. SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don't think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors.
  3. POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you're going and why it's worth it.
  4. FIND THE FEELING. Knowing something isn' t enough to cause change. Make people feel something.
  5. SHRINK THE CHANGE. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.
  6. GROW YOUR PEOPLE. Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset.
  7. TWEAK THE ENVIRONMENT. When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation.
  8. BUILD HABITS. When behavior is habitual, it's "free"-it doesn't tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.
  9. RALLY THE HERD. Behavior is contagious. Help it spread.
  10. Direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path.
(The authors use the metaphors the rider and the elephant for our minds, originally from Buddha, recently written on by Jonathan Haidt and Daniel Kahneman. The rider is the self-aware part of the brain and the elephant is everything that does stuff automatically, sort of.)

The specific method:
  1. "There are three main sources of influence that shape political orientation which creates long-term effects. [Family, teachers/instructors, and peers.]" (Theories of political behavior)
The search method:
  1. "What will it take to get the necessary number of people to engage in one massive action, or series of actions, that will change the world into society/societies X/YZ?"
  2. "How large is the necessary number?"

lördag 27 juli 2013

Strive Towards the (Second) Best Society

Now, that you have written down your most important political goals and the most important facts which your world view consists of, it should be possible to determine what your most preferred political order should look like. Maybe it is futarchy? Or a social-democratic order? Or a transhumanistic world confederation?

Whatever you have calculated to be your best solution it may not be what you should be aiming towards. If the society you most want to live in is very different from your second preferred society, and working towards establishing one will decrease the chances of establishing another, there is potentially a dilemma here. (Such as, if one would either want a capitalistic or communistic society.) On the other hand, if working toward any society is a step towards any other you prefer, there is no conflict. Here, I'll assume there is one.

Let us say you have five particular political orders which you would say are each adequate, but that you can rank them clearly from good to better. Now, try and determine how easy it should be to reach these goals, let's just say in how many hours of work you need to put into it. To illustrate:
Rank    Option Difficulty
1 Atlantis      1,000 years
2 Eden 1,500 years
3 Lemuria 50 years
4 Ultima Thule 500 years
5 Status Quo    Instant success
For the hypothetical person who have these societal preferences, the question is whether to pursue either the #1 or the #3 choice (#1 is, for these variables, superior to #2 and the same with #3 to #4). It could be solved easily enough, if all goals and costs were measured in the same nominator. Neoclassical economists do this by assuming everything can be nominated in monetary terms, even though it's not correct, but because it seems to be better than nothing. To illustrate, let's put some numbers to the societies above:
Option Value ($) Cost ($) New Rank
Atlantis 5,000,000        4,000,000      2
Eden 4,500,000 6,000,000 5
Lemuria 4,000,000 100,000 1
Ultima Thule   3,900,000 5,000,000 4
Status Quo 1,000 0 3
So, when everything has been calculated for, this person should strive towards establishing Lemuria. After having followed the same logic you should be able to discover what your efficient political goal is.

How to make this calculation, then? To do so it is necessary to think about the most efficient strategy that can be used to, together with others, reach a certain society, This will also be useful if the most adequate societies you know of are very similar to each other, such as walking towards on is walking towards all, more or less. I'll discuss the question of best strategy in the next post.   

fredag 26 juli 2013

Consider the Most Important Facts

Followup to: Choose that which is most important to you

After you have written down what your own fundamental political goals are, the next step in creating your political ideology is to get an understanding of all possible societies so you can see which one is best. And by best I mean that society which comes closest to meeting your criteria of what you find most valuable.

So, to construct a model for thinking about this issue two things are needed. First, a list of all possible societies. For that I'll use, as a proxy, Wikipedia's list of economic systems and how they might vary with what culture is most prominent in that system.

Secondly, some lists of those facts which would seem to rule out the largest number of possible societies as not being best. My reasoning for that is the following:

Before considering any facts that has an impact on how you view a society, all societies should appear to be equally probable of being the best. This starting point may seem strange to some. It means that one should not dismiss even the policies of Nazi Germany out of hand. That is just the starting point however. After one accumulates more and more data some societies will appear less and less probable to be the one that best fulfill your criteria.And, since you don't have time to read everything, it is necessary to construct a model of how humans (and other beings, for post-singularity issues, which i'll skip discussing) function and interact, that first only considers the most important facts.

This could be done in several ways.

One could begin by just following normal science and ask what general facts can explain most of observed behavior and then see what those facts would predict about all societies. That seems wise to do, in and of itself, because it forces the discussion (which will ensue with others who follow the same method) to be very methodical and well grounded in a rich theory. One's own viewpoint will also be more likely to be true. This can be called the general method.

But this path is not the quickest, since these general facts would probably not damn enough societies to be unsuitable to your goals. A much faster way, but which will give a more sketchy painting, is to just list those facts which will rule out the most societies. These facts may be thought of by thinking on what assumptions certain systems rely on to work adequately and trying to figure out what facts disprove most of these assumptions. This can be called the specific method.

Then there are statements which you are uncertain about but if they were true, it would become really obvious what society is best. So, not facts actually, but those ideas which you believe are worth learning more about. These potential facts should be the ones you are pondering or those which are the root cause of many debates among those with similar goals. This can be called the search method.

So, for the first two method you'll write down what you already believe and for the third you'll write down what you don't know, but would like to know if they're true or not. Here's an illustration of them, using information from Wikipedia's articles on humans, society, societal collapse, war. I only took three examples for the specific method and search method.

The general method:
  1. "Human societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent members."
  2. "Humans are distinguished from other primates by their bipedal locomotion, and especially by their relatively larger brain with its particularly well developed neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes, which enable high levels of abstract reasoning, language, problem solving, and culture through social learning."
  3. "Humans are adept at utilizing systems of symbolic communication such as language and art for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization."
  4. "Virtually all societies have developed some degree of inequality among their people through the process of social stratification, the division of members of a society into levels with unequal wealth, prestige, or power."
  5. "The human brain, the focal point of the central nervous system in humans, controls the peripheral nervous system. In addition to controlling "lower", involuntary, or primarily autonomic activities such as respiration and digestion, it is also the locus of "higher" order functioning such as thought, reasoning, and abstraction."
  6. "Humans are generally diurnal. The average sleep requirement is between seven and nine hours per day for an adult and nine to ten hours per day for a child; elderly people usually sleep for six to seven hours. Having less sleep than this is common among humans, even though sleep deprivation can have negative health effects. A sustained restriction of adult sleep to four hours per day has been shown to correlate with changes in physiology and mental state, including reduced memory, fatigue, aggression, and bodily discomfort."
  7. "Humans are one of the relatively few species to have sufficient self-awareness to recognize themselves in a mirror."
  8. "Motivation is the driving force of desire behind all deliberate actions of humans. Motivation is based on emotion—specifically, on the search for satisfaction (positive emotional experiences), and the avoidance of conflict."
  9. "For humans, sexuality has important social functions: it creates physical intimacy, bonds and hierarchies among individuals, besides ensuring biological reproduction."
  10. "The sexual division of humans into male and female has been marked culturally by a corresponding division of roles, norms, practices, dress, behavior, rights, duties, privileges, status, and power."
The specific method:
  1. "Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis; both individual and social (common) benefits can thus be distinguished, or in many cases found to overlap."
  2.  "Common factors that may contribute to societal collapse are economic, environmental, social and cultural, but they manifest combined effects like a whole system out of balance. In some cases a natural disaster (e.g. tsunami, earthquake, massive fire or climate change) may seem to be an immediate cause. Other factors such as a Malthusian catastrophe, overpopulation or resource depletion might be the proximate cause of collapse. Significant inequity may combine with lack of loyalty to a central power structure and result in an oppressed lower class rising up and taking power from a smaller wealthy elite. The diversity of forms that societies evolve corresponds to diversity in their failures too."
  3. "There is no scholarly agreement on which are the most common motivations for war. ... The one constant factor is war’s employment of organized violence and the resultant destruction of property and/ or lives that necessarily follows."
The search method:
  1. Political system X will best achieve my goals.
  2. Political system X leads to the best incentives for everyone to produce the most important collective goods.
  3. Political system X leads to the best incentives for everyone to not hurt anyone else.
Now, these facts are not simply facts. They are the tip of a theoretical ice-berg; they are interpretation of reality. As such they will not by themselves explicate what system they damn. For oneself they should be clear what they mean, but if one should discuss it with others it might be necessary to write down the points and their theoretical point of view explicitly.

In any case, if you've followed my steps you should have one candidate which seems to be best. Or at least a few which seems equally good. If not, then consider some more facts and/or search for more knowledge. This step might, of course, take years. Next step is to estimate how much a political action towards these societies might cost.

torsdag 25 juli 2013

Årsmöte med Ofuss

Ett år har gått och det har därför blivit dags igen för Ofuss att ha ett årsmöte. Den här gången blir det i Göteborg och det blir av på Liseberg! Så häng med, den 31 augusti!

Vad kan man förvänta sig av mötet? Niklas Wiklander skrev en bra sammanfattning:
Notera att det här årsmötet inte är som något årsmöte du någonsin varit på. Inga sega genomgångar av årets budget eller valberedningar eller så. Vi bara snackar lite (eller mycket) om ungefär vad vi ska göra med Ofuss fram till nästa sommar, sen åker vi berg-och-dalbana, sen kanske några (eller alla) går nånstans och dricker öl eller nåt liknande. Ju fler likasinnade vi är desto bättre! Så även om du inte varit med i "ledningen" för Ofuss alls, kom och ha kul på Liseberg! Bor du i Göteborg finns det ingen bra anledning alls att inte gå dit.
Hur tiden fördelas mellan diskussion, berg-och-dalbana och att gå på krogen bestäms efter vad folk tycker är rimligt. Ifall du har ett förslag på en kampanj eller något i den stilen skulle det vara jättebra att bara skriva ned några tankar om den, så att folk kan läsa på om det innan. Ta upp det i Ofuss-gruppen på fb eller i eventet.

Choose That Which is Most Important to You

To create your own political world view you need to know about societies and your own political goals/values. In this post I'll discuss the latter, and in the next post the former.

What sort of goals? Those which you wish to achieve for their own sake, and not because they simply are a means to an end. That is, those goals you value intrinsically. Or, if you believe that there exists only one ultimate goal or value, then think of those means which are not that far removed from being intrinsic goal. That is, a birthday party might be just of instrumental value but most would agree that it is more far away from the intrinsic value than, say, good tires. I will for the rest of the post assume that most people value a lot of things intrinsically, and by values I will denote intrinsic values.

So, I'd like to draw a line between values and that which achieve those values. The latter is what we're trying to figure out what they are, without first proposing what they are. Those are political systems, or parts of them; they are institutions and laws. This is not to say that these things cannot be valued for their own sake – I put value on a system, possibly for aesthetic reasons – but those values should be disentangled from the other benefit a system produces.

With that in mind, you should now list all the things you value in ranking order. To rank them is necessary since we live in a world of scarce resources, so you won't necessarily achieve all your goals, but you will want to achieve those that are most important to you.

There are three things to keep in mind here. First that goals can change, but they are still important to know about, even if changing. Secondly that a large incremental step towards completing your fifth political goal might be worth more than a small step towards your first.

To illustrate, here are some examples:
  1. "I wish for world peace."
  2. "That there is no more hunger."
  3. "That every child, everywhere, gets a good education."
  4. "That future generations will be more prosperous or happier than us."
EDIT: Maybe this part of the tutorial is too fast. Instead of just saying what one's preferences are, maybe one should try to discover them in a roundabout manner. This could be done by making a few more lists:

1) All possible systems of preferences. That is, all ways one can arrange every goal one wants to achieve. It should be theoretically limitless, but maybe ethical theories can serve as proxies.

2) Note all reasoning (such as thought experiments) that you are most certain of are true - that is, they yield a result of how you should act which is how you really want to act.

3) Note all reasoning which dismisses the most systems of preferences as not being true, not being what you want.

4) Note possible reasoning which would decide what preferences you really have, if you can determine the question correctly.

Doing this should give you the list above.

onsdag 24 juli 2013

The Domain of Politics

Followup to: How To Construct a Political Ideology

Related to: What Do We Mean By "Rationality"?

Politics is the art of the possible.

The word 'politics' is derived from the Greek word 'poly', meaning many, and the English word 'ticks', meaning blood sucking parasites.

Politics can be inspiring; there have been several groups that have organized to achieve wonderful ends now and in the past. Such as ending slavery, the subjugation of women, and the censorship of ideas. (None of these have, however, been brought to their full completion yet.)

Politics can also be irritating. As when some politician or bureaucrat wastes money or lies in a particularly annoying way, or when the supporters of that politician or that bureau talk about the wonders of politics while ignoring all its bad parts. (Politics can also be horrible and devastating.)

Predictably, some of us who find politics today to be more irritating than inspiring will define politics somewhat differently. For some, politics is ”a relic of a barbaric past” because politics always entails the threat of violence, and if we should ever find ourselves in a better state of affairs, politics will have had nothing to do with it. But many others would contend that wherever there's civic life there's politics – for some that's true even in a stateless society.

So, there's a little disagreement on the definition of politics. For my part, I will use the latter definition, which contends that politics deals with certain areas of life – regarding civic life, elections, war, fund-raising for a cause, influencing cultural norms, establishing alliances and so on. This is almost the same as the definition used by Wiktionary, but it seems to have a broader focus than the one used by Wikipedia. The goal of political action can then be said to be to act rationally in this domain, just as one would act rationally in any other domain.

That definition isn't too detailed, so let me try and give a fuller definition. I will do that by introducing a hypothetical scenario which explores some fundamental political strategies:

You live in a village by a river, and you are interested in building a bridge across it.  But a fisherman also lives in the village and if you'd build the bridge it would make it difficult for him to fish during that time. No one else will be directly effected by this project. You bring up the issue with the fisherman and ask what he thinks about all this.

The fisherman could then have two basic attitudes towards your project: it would  either be a concern for him or it wouldn't. If it is the latter, then you are not in any conflict, but have a (weak) harmonious relationship. All that remains is for you to build the bridge, which I'll discuss later.

First, let's assume that the fisherman opposes your plans. Let us assume that he is willing to physically prevent you from building the bridge. What can you do then, given that you still want to construct the bridge? It seems only these seven general strategies are available:

Persuasion  – You can try to convince the fisherman that it is in his best interest that the bridge be built, or that the construction will not disturb him so much as he believes. That is, convince him that the project will not become problematic for him.

Deceit – You can try to convince the fisherman that the construction won't be problematic, while lying.

Trade - You take his stated preferences, true or not, as given and you offer him something in return for letting you build the bridge.

Threat – You offer to give him something/do something to him which he does not want, if he doesn't let you build the bridge.

Bypass – You ignore the fisherman and try to build the bridge without him knowing about it.

Force – You can try to physically stop him from preventing you to build the bridge. As in, hitting him on the head, poisoning him or locking him up.

Submission - You don't build the bridge.
(There might be other strategies I've missed, but for now it's not necessary to know all fundamental strategies.)

Suppose now that the fisherman doesn't mind at all that you build the bridge. Well then, what happens  now?
Well, either you  want the help of others in doing this or not. If not, there's no more politics. If you do want the help of others, and they are willing to help you, then everything is also settled. But, if they do not want to help you right away, then you can use persuasion, deceit, exchange, threats and force to get them to help you. Or you simply have to acquiesce in them not helping you. Bypassing is not an option here, since that would be pointless.

Each option entails costs, and they could all have too high a cost so that there's no point in going forth with anything.  In that case, it's time to do something else. On the other hand, the cost for each mode of action might be so low that any option is advantageous. In that case the only prudent move is to choose whatever has the lowest cost, the one which let's you pursue and reach the largest number of your most highly valued ends. The point is that not only does an option have costs in money and time but it can also affect any further actions in, at least, two ways. First off, if the action should fail, some, or all, of the other options might become totally improbable to succeed. And secondly, even if the action succeeds, it might have some negative effects in other non-political circumstances, making it less likely to achieve your goals. Thus, the costs worth pondering are the opportunity costs of an action - the loss is what you otherwise could have achieved.

It seems  that every political problem can be seen through the lens of this framework. Both for, loosely speaking, dealing with conflicts and producing values. What about upholding laws that support certain property rights? Well, you can persuade or force those who disagree with the norms to accept them. You can even bargain with them. What about helping those who are addicted to drugs? Same thing, you can either get their consent or choose to force them. Everything can ultimately be seen as how you interact with others.

What does this then tell us about the goal of political action? Well suppose you need to interact with others regarding the bridge-project (either with the fisherman or someone else). You will need to perceive the effects of each path and compare their effects to choose whichever is most beneficial to you.  After that has been solved, that should be the end of politics. But, what does it mean to solve the problem? Well, what goals will be harder to reach if you choose to trick the fisherman into letting you build the bridge? That depends on a lot of circumstances, but, for most villages, I'd guess you lose any chance of being on really good terms with the fisherman, and you'd lose favour with most people in the village (if you weren't already dominant in the village). And what if you'd traded with others to get their help in constructing the bridge? You'd only lost the money, probably.

Now, maybe this doesn't feel like that hard of a problem. But let's suppose that you will face one thousand such scenarios in your life, every one of which are intertwined with each other. That is, you will want to build a bridge, but you may also want to be friends to friends of the fisherman, be on good terms with everyone in the village, be secure in your property rights, help fund the building of a local town hall, change the current law on building-restrictions, support the abolishment of the Bakers' guild, do a whole lot of ordinary things and so on. Now your choice in one area will have to fit with every other area. Or, at least those you care about the most.

All of this calls for you to create a meta-strategy; a grand plan plan so all those small plans are compatible with each other and will produce the most benefit to you. How to make that plan and follow it through is the essence of political choice, it's an essential part of your goal in politics.

To know what plan to choose you need to know two things: (1) what your political values/goals are and (2) what sort of political system (society) would be best in promoting your goals.

If you know everything about your preferences, but nothing about societies, then you can't support any complex system without running the risk of supporting something which is totally detrimental to your values. If you, on the other hand, know everything about how societies function but are, somehow, unable to know what you really want, then you cannot decide what society to strive towards.

The next two posts will discuss these two issues - first goals and thereafter means.

tisdag 23 juli 2013

A Tutorial on Creating a Political Ideology

Jag har tänkt ett tag att man skulle kunna göra politik mer ordnat genom att bara fokusera på de viktigaste frågorna när man väljer vilken politik som verkar bäst och vilka punkter man diskuterar med andra. Målet borde vara att skapa en rationell politisk ideologi som man lättast når sina mål med. Så, jag tänkte jag skulle skriva det här på LessWrong diskussionssida, vilket jag också gjorde. Men, olyckligtvis blev de inläggen utbuade, och därmed får inte jag heller skriva något mer där. Så, de nästa sju inläggen eller så kommer att handla om en ny modell för att tänka om politik. De blir på engelska för att jag redan skrivit ned det redan och för att några lesswrong-are kanske kommer hit och läser. Efter det skall jag ta och presentera min egen politiska filosofi i det här formatet, som då kanske blir mer enkelt att ta till sig och förhoppningsvis kan tjäna som en utgångspunkt för debatter. Kolla även in min sammanfattning av det på Flashback.

How To Construct a Political Ideology
Politics is sometimes hard to discuss. Partly since most of us seem to unconsciously take political matters with the same degree of seriousness as our forefathers used to, because we use the same mode of thought as they used to. Back then, a bad political choice or alliance, could mean death, while the normal cost today in a democratic society might be ridicule for having supported the losing team or position.

Nevertheless, politics should be taken seriously. Bad politics means that it'll take longer for us humans to reach world peace, an end to hunger and disease, and favourable conditions so that no one will create an unfriendly AI. Therefore, discussing  politics is vital so that, someday, some collective actions could be performed to alter the political course for the better.

But what should that collective action be? - what should the new course(s) be? - and who should do it? - and what does "for the better" imply? To engage in politics one needs to be able to give some (implicit or explicit) answers to these questions. This can be done, and in so doing one has constructed a political ideology - which might be similar to existing ideologies or it might be different
A political ideology might be constructed in various ways. In this and a few more posts I will propose one way of doing that. These posts might be seen as a tutorial in constructing a political ideology. In these posts I will not suggest an answer to what the best political system should be, nor will I follow my own instructions. But if one should follow these instructions I believe that one can answer the questions mentioned above.

Political ideologies might be constructed in various other ways. The one I discuss in my following posts is based on two principles: (1) that one should not propose an answer until one has thought about the question extensively, and (2) that one should consider the most important questions first.

Before writing the next post, here are the points I will discuss in each of them - I will write the posts as an instruction manual so I'll address you, dear reader, through them out:
  • what is politics, what is the goal of engaging in politics?
  • what are your most highly valued political goals?
  • what facts (and interpretations) can explain most societal features, what facts/interpretations will damn most societies as not ideal?
  • how much does it cost to engage in political action?
  • what are the most important facts concerning political strategies?
  • some thoughts on alliances, representatives and conspiracies.
  • some thoughts on discussing politics generally.

måndag 8 juli 2013

Nu händer det saker med Ofuss

De senaste tre veckorna har jag skrivit tre artiklar för Organisationen för frihetligt utträde ur svenska staten och snart kommer vi förhoppningsvis att kunna få en debattartikel publicerad som når ut till svenska folket. Tills dess, kolla in de här artiklarna som tar upp lite om hur ett utträde skall fungera och varför det är bra:
"Det finns fler potentiella problem som folk kan se med utträde. Dessa behöver dock inte vara verkliga utan kan komma ifrån en ofullständig analys av samhället.

Vårt gemensamma mål, både vi som stöttar utträde och de som är emot, borde vara att ta reda på ifall dessa potentiella problem verkligen stämmer, om de är allvarliga och om de då är värre än alla fördelar som följer av ett utträde, och, om allt tidigare stämmer, dessa problem går att undvika genom en kompromiss som stat och utbrytare når genom förhandling."

"Om frihetligt territoriellt utträde blir inskrivet som en lag i Sverige innebär det att det finns två sätt att göra utträde på.

Antingen att folk gör det enhälligt, att alla som bor på ett område och de som äger marken tillsammans förklarar att området inte längre lyder under svenska staten. Eller att enbart en majoritet av alla invånarna förklarar det som sin åsikt i en folkomröstning.

I båda fall måste invånarna acceptera att de som bor på området skall ha samma rätt att gå ut ur deras politiska ordning, likt invånarna hade rätt att gå ut ur Sverige."

"Politiska institutioner kan alltid göras bättre. Ett uppenbart sätt att förbättra dem på är genom att importera lyckade institutioner från andra länder. Detta är dock svårt att göra i dagens system, då det är så segt, men skulle vara lätt ifall folk fritt fick experimentera med vilken politik de skall leva under.

Några områden där svenskar skulle kunna lära från andra länder är bland annat i skolfrågan, kärnkraftsfrågan och näringslivspolitik. Vi har alltid mycket att lära av andra och vi borde satsa på att låta folk försöka skapa bättre former för samarbete."

torsdag 4 juli 2013

Väljare som vänder kappan efter makten

Pew polls reveal that switching from a Republican to a Democratic president causes Republican enthusiasm for NSA surveillance programs to fall by 23 percentage points – and likewise causes Democratic enthusiasm for NSA surveillance programs to rise by 27 percentage points.
Samtidigt så ökade stödet för övervakningen bland "Independents" med 9%, vilket skulle kunna vara för att fler där gillar Obama, men också för att läget i USA blivit mer övervakningsvänligt. Om vi utgår från att alla som ändrat åsikt gjort det oavsett vem som var president så får man dra av 9%-enheter från demokraterna och lägga till samma summa på hur många republikaner som ändrade åsikt bara för att en annan person var vid makten.

I slutändan är resultatet, oavsett vad, rätt bedrövligt. Men, politik handlar inte mest om praktiska frågor utan nog mer om att signallera sitt stöd till den grupp man ser som sin egen.

tisdag 2 juli 2013

Special Economic Zones - En rapport från Världsbanken

Shenshen, arketypen för en lyckad ekonomisk frizon.
2008 skrevs rapporten Special Economic Zones: Performance, Lessons learned and Implications for Zone Development av FIAS, en del av Världsbanken. Titeln är rätt självförklarande och innehållet är väldigt positivt för oss som önskar ha mer decentralisering och frihet. Detta då dessa zoner (SEZs) har varit väldigt bra ekonomiskt sett.

Så, hur bra då? Jo, det har gjorts ett stort antal undersökningar hur det har gått för dessa zoner i u-länder och enligt rapportens sammanfattning har utvecklingen av dessa zoner lett till:
  • Ökad sysselsättning, särskilt för kvinnor som precis börjar arbeta.
  • Ökade exporter.
  • Ökade kapitalinvesteringar från utlandet.
  • Högre löner och bättre jobsituation än i vanliga ekonomin, dock har vissa anmärkt på att dessa ändå skulle varit dåliga.
Detta gäller forskning om zoner som utvecklats av staten, men det finns områden som utvecklats av privata intressen. 62% av de 2,301 zoner som finns i utvecklingsländer runtom världen är privata. Överlag har dessa varit billigare att driva, mer lönsamma och har lett till bättre sociala och miljöskyddande resultat än de statliga zonerna. Zonerna som drivs i sydost-asiatiska länder utgör ett undantag från den här regeln.

Vad kan man då lära sig ifrån de experiment med SEZs som gjorts? Rapporten listar några saker som inneburit hinder för många zoner:
  • Dåligt läge, vilket medför höga utlägg.
  • Politik som sätter konkurrensen ur spel.
  • Dålig uppbyggnad av zonen.
  • Subvention av hyra och andra tjänster.
  • Betyngande regler och kontroller.
  • Dålig administrativ struktur eller för många myndigheter som är involverade i administrationen.
  • Dålig koordination mellan de privata utvecklingsentreprenörerna och den statliga administrationen av infrastrukturprojekt.
Rapporten menar att dålig koordination i allmänhet ligger bakom många av dessa problem. Om en zon undviker dessa problem verkar det dock kunna gå rätt så bra. Rapporten tar upp lite god politik som gör det mer troligt att en zon lyckas:
  • Tillåt SEZ-företag och vanliga företag att finnas på samma plats.
  • Se till att styret av zonen är flexibel och att den tillåter en rad sorters kommersiella aktiviteter.
  • Uppmuntra privat byggande istället för statligt byggande av zonen.
  • Ha goda rättsliga strukturer.
  • Frihandel och mindre regleringar för att få göra handel.
Så, frihet och decentralisering är riktigt goda saker. Slutligen går det att nämna att dessa projekt i regel verkar vara positiva även för statens ekonomi. Det är i sig inte något positivt, men det är positivt för att andra stater skall kunna etablera dessa zoner.

Rapporten tar upp tre scenarior där en SEZ inte är lönsam för staten: om bygget av zonen kräver massa statliga utgifter, ifall zonen inte drivs med åtanke att återbörda kostnaderna och ifall den får stöd för el eller andra tjänster. Så, lite briljerande skulle man kunna säga att statlig framgång kommer genom att inte stötta medan framgång för zonen kommer av att staten inte stör den.

Kolla annars in utvecklingen av Shenzhen från fiskeby till metropol på bara drygt 20 år.