Short & Simple 1 – Government as a Means of Cooperation

Many activities require cooperation at the society-wide level.

As a community, we need to agree upon a set of rules and regulations, and arrange for their supervision and enforcement.

Questions that arise include:

  • Who has access to land and other natural resources, and on what terms and for what purposes?
  • To what extent are property rights transferable, and what are the appropriate procedures for transferring them?
  • Under what circumstances is it acceptable to employ fellow humans in production, and what are the minimum rights and obligations of employer and employee?
  • What limits should be placed on the use of animals in production and what protections should be in place to safeguard their well-being?
  • What ethical, safety and quality standards should apply to products sold in markets?
  • When is market exchange appropriate and when is non-market provision to be preferred?

In large-scale societies, the formulation and enforcement of society’s regulatory framework is carried out by a government executive, legislature and judiciary along with police and defense forces.

In addition to the regulatory framework, key public services need to be provided according to the political will. Likely candidates include universally accessible public education, health care, child and aged care, a fire department and emergency services, along with many other possibilities.

Modern societies seek to provide themselves with social infrastructure, such as road networks, public transport systems, utilities and communications technology.

There is a need for mechanisms of social inclusion and a social safety net.

Societies put in place government to attend to these and related matters in a way, and to an extent, that is hopefully representative of the collective will.

6 thoughts on “Short & Simple 1 – Government as a Means of Cooperation

  1. When human beings moved out of Africa they were mainly subject to the laws of Nature, and their simple tribal response (just like a pod of dolphins hunting) evolved cooperation to underpin their existence. Individuals were on the lunch menu for a lot of animals, and sticking together was good practice. That hasn’t changed other than the predators to worry about these days are mostly human. We call this progression!

    It was not necessary then to have a monetary system to ensure cooperation and it is still not existentially necessary today. Human beings at the core of their nature are compassionate and cooperative. Not because external circumstances forced them to be that way, but because it was in their nature in the first place – they reached in to this resource within them, and used it to survive. Today, we still need to survive, thrive, learn and grow. We have always had a choice. In 200,000 years on the road, we have always had a choice.

    It’s what we do to turn that natural state on its head is the problem. The people we allow to turn humanity on its head the problem (so it’s us + them = together).

    So, the rules and systems can spring from this inner human resource or from its absence. Absence is another way of saying Ignorance (ignoring). In a human being, ignorance is a vacuum into which arrogance and hubris surely rushes. We all know this. Ignoring has created the world we live in today. For me, no matter how complex the systems become, the fundamental choice is between the good that is in the human being and everything else. A lot of folk think this view is incredibly naive; out of touch with the modern world; but no one has ever shown me how it is not real and true, and in practice – workable. Nothing else has ever had a track record of working, except temporarily, through coercion and sly manipulation, which is always resisted, painful, and deadly.

  2. Good thoughts as always, jr.

    It was not necessary then to have a monetary system to ensure cooperation and it is still not existentially necessary today.

    I very much agree with this, even though the very next “short & simple” post (already in progress before seeing your comment) is about government-issued currency. 🙂

    While understanding the present monetary system is important IMO, hopefully there will be little need, other than out of historical curiosity, for such an understanding some time in the future, though I won’t be holding my breath …

  3. Human beings are remarkably co-enabling for survival purposes yet biologists are beginning to realise that viruses that destroy life to release carbon and oxygen particularly in the ocean’s are also as a life form co-enabling planetary life as a whole.

    http://academy.asm.org/index.php/browse-all-reports/5180-viruses-throughout-life-time-friends-foes-change-agents

    Most life forms are sentient and make choices for survival purposes. They do a great deal of this by communication (even viruses) with other life forms which creates the co-enabling aspect of life. Money at base is just a communication device which “enables” us to contract with each other for the goods and services we all need. The task for human beings is to become clear how this “communication device” can best be used for “co-enabling” purposes that allows all human beings to flourish in a sustainable planetary environment.

  4. Very interesting, Schofield. Thanks.

    And agreed. A currency, well used, can definitely serve as an effective coordination.mechanism.

  5. Oh, I think the monetary system is incredibly important.

    We have the human being at one end and the monetary system at the other: – and I really like the work you are doing at your end of the stick Peter. You and Bill Mitchell (Ayers Rock with a pulse) are great in that regard, although I soon get lost in some of the complexities! But people like me are relying on people like you to work out a good system. I just feel more comfortable at the human end, but of course we need both. I too cannot imagine a time when human beings are so evolved in sharing (and what I call the realities of being alive) that a monetary system will be unnecessary. But it will always be existentially unnecessary. Thinking like this allows me to go back to square one and start again – this time without losing sight of the human being.

    I like the idea of money as a ‘public good’ meant to minister to real human need (not wants). I think this distinction between needs and wants, should be a well documented part of a philosophy of money, and be rooted in the idea of public good. Business and empire too often choke this good, throwing a net of lies and deception over it. A lotus on a pond cannot flower choked by weeds. This idea of money as a public good needs fight its way up into sunlight. Money needs to have a noble purpose, before noble planning and noble construction (following noble destruction to clear the deck) can become more real and focused. Capitalism seems to be receiving spear thrusts from all sides these days.

    Like fresh air, clean water, food – that doesn’t choke and poison our physical system are needs – we need money in our time, to minister to collective human need, because cooperation has such powerful results. I look at money as an agency to provide those conditions of well being, where the human can more comfortably focus on the reality of his or her existence. I still think of money as a symbol, of consolidated human energy. This energy needs a noble purpose.

    This public good which goes into just about every household on the planet, is wasted in so many ways, pissed up against walls while kids starve; and does so much harm in so many other ways. In the hands of Govt. and business it actually does even more harm, and yet has the potential to do so much good. It is incredibly handicapped by the idea (from where I am standing illusion, collective hallucination) of empire building, dominion (dumb male traits), instead of human potential building. In this sense, the leaders of China and Russia, if they are sincere, are more perceptive than the West. The West is fast becoming a dysfunctional sociopathic family as a result of the choices we make.

    So from my end of the stick, I think about ‘Well, what is human need’?

    To live, thrive, learn, grow, enjoy the gift of being alive – to experience the peace that emanates from within to fill and fulfil the heart – if you want to – to expand the consciousness; these are human needs and like air, water, food, sleep, are also mandatory as far as I understand them. They are not a luxury. If we are going to evolve as a human race, we need peace like we need oxygen; but people don’t realise it. Their noses are kept to the grindstone, fulfilling ideologies, fighting, or chasing wants. Our outer needs involve the monetary system and society, and these should support our inner needs in my understanding. We are human beings and we must fulfil our nature. There is something within us all, that wants to expand and grow, towards the good. At the very least the public good should be protected and evolved.

    We allow our institutions to so condition the human being we lose sight of ourselves – what it actually means to be human as opposed to a number or social cog.

    So my thing is, we have worked necessarily at the monetary and political end of the stick throughout human history, trying to solve our problems, and creating more and more as we go along (although they aren’t new). So the human end is also important, and both are required for the whole to work. In the esoteric literature, these two ends of the stick are viewed as different energies – humans are users of energy – active intelligence at one end and love-wisdom at the other. We need both. One involves thinking, the other feeling.

  6. I think I missed saying the obvious so wish I could delete my previous comments.

    Govt. is about power (a lot of people shy away from discussing it). It is a part of human existence. But power applied selflessly to the public benefit. For me, this involves those other two aspects of human existence – love and intelligence; without them power goes astray. Power is required because of its guiding purpose – it’s quite difficult for human beings to cooperate with one another. Crikey – a lot of us have trouble cooperating with ourselves! The essence is in understanding human need: hope, gratitude, love, knowledge of the self (inner power) – a list compiled by Desmond Tutu and Prem Rawat. The rest are wants (outside power). Both are necessary because of our human nature.

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