Society 2 (by )

Conventional nation-states with incrementally improved structure

But what about us land-lubbers stuck to bits of continental shelf? Can a large, modern, nation state be governed according to principles I like? I've a plan for that, too, but it's much more complicated. Here is its constitution.

The Constitution

  • An entity is a person, a foreign entity, or a corporation.
  • A person is any self-aware being capable of making their own informed decisions.
  • A foreign entity is anything declared to be recognised as such in the law.
  • A self-aware being not capable of making their own informed decisions (for example, small children, the severely mentally handicapped, and living beings inherently incapable of informed decision) are not legally entities, but instead fall into the class of Dependent.
  • A corporation is an abstract entity, with a unique identifying number, a unique name, and a charter defining the procedures by which is exercises its rights. A corporation is either a statutory corporation or a regular corporation.
  • All corporations are listed in a public register; their registry entry gives them a unique number, a unique name, a copy of its current charter, a number of cryptographic public keys, and a timestamped history of changes to the name, cryptographic public keys, or charter. The register keeper is a statutory corporation.
  • A statutory corporation exists due to it existence being declared in the constitution or in law. Its number, name, charter and public keys are declared in the constitution or the law that declares it. Its name and charter may be updated by changes to the law.
  • A regular corporation exists due to it being created by applying to the registry keeper. Its charter, public keys and name are provided when it is created, and its unique number is assigned by the registry keeper. The registry keeper will refuse an attempt to create a corporation with a name that is already used. A regular corporation is owned by shareholders, which are entities owning a share of the corporation. A regular corporation has the right to sell shares in itself to shareholders, or purchase them back. It must notify the registry keeper of any such sales or purchases.
  • An entity may sell shares in regular corporations it owns to any other entity, but must notify the registry keeper.
  • The owners and sizes of the shares comprising every regular corporation are part of the public registry.
  • A regular corporation may order the registry keeper to modify its name, list of public keys, or charter. The registry keeper will reject a request to use a name that is already used.
  • A statutory corporation may order the registry keeper to modify its public keys.
Rights of self-aware beings
  • In general, every self-aware being has the right to live happily and pursue their goals, of their own choosing, via whatever means they deem suitable, except where doing so would or might impinge on the rights of other people.
  • In order to prevent impingement of rights, some rights of entities are conditional on that entity holding a licence to exercise that right. The licence may carry restrictions, and may be revoked.
  • Rights that require licences are declared in the constitution or law, along with the procedures for the issuing of those licenses to entities.
  • The public register contains a list of persons, giving their names, dates, and places of birth, cryptographic public keys, and assigning each an arbitrary unique number. A person may be added to the register by applying to the register keeper with their name, at least one public key, and satisfactory evidence of their date and place of birth.
  • A person may alter their name and list of public keys by applying to the register keeper, providing sufficient evidence of their identity.
  • A person may be marked as dead in the public register by providing the register keeper with evidence of their time and cause of death.
  • Unless declared to be a secret licence, the list of licences held by an entity is stored in the public registry. The issuance procedure for each licence explains how the register keeper is notified of issuance and withdrawals of the licence.
  • A self-aware being that is not a person can have one or more appointed Guardians. A Guardian is an entity licenced to be the Guardian of a specific self-aware being. This makes them responsible for the active care of that self-aware being, making provisions for them to exist happily and comfortably, to protect them from harm, and to prevent them from impinging upon the rights of others.
  • Guardianship licences are issued automatically to the biological parents of a child, making them legal guardians unless that is revoked by a court.
  • When a person is unable to exercise their rights fully due to a potentially curable mental illness and cannot seek help voluntarily due to the nature of that illness, the law may create ways to temporarily deprive them of some of their rights in order to attempt to provide medical aid, until they are able to make informed decisions again.
  • An entity may impinge upon the rights of others in a good-faith effort to prevent a greater impingement. They must attempt to make the smallest impingement they can, sufficient to prevent the greater impingement.
  • Every entity has the right to own property, and to use it as they wish.restricting
  • Every person owns their own physical body.
  • An entity's property may only be unwillingly taken from it if doing so is required to prevent an impingment upon the rights of an entity, or if so ordered by a court, or through taxation. In any case, no property of a person that they require in order to live their life in safety and reasonable comfort may be taken from them, and no property of any entity which that entity requires to perform their duty of care under a guardianship relationship may be taken from them. No person's body (or parts thereof) may be taken from them unwillingly under any circumstances.
  • Every entity has a right to privacy. The information protected by this right are information within their minds or represented physically on their property. If an entity stores information on behalf of another, it is protected by this right unless explicit permission to share it is given; otherwise, that information is known to the entity it is shared with, but that entity does not have any right to share it (whether the sharing was deliberate or accidental). Sharing it without that right is a crime, the details of which shall be described in the Law. However, should information become publicly available, for instance if it is distributed indiscriminately to a large group of people, it is no longer private information and is no longer subject to privacy protections.
  • An entity's rights may be temporarily limited, in order to protect the rights of others, if that entity has shown an inability or unwillingness to avoid impinging upon the rights of others. This can be done by a court issuing a sanction declaration against that entity. Such a sanction declaration lists the exact rights that are removed, an expiry date beyond which the sanction ends, and a review date after which the entity may apply to a court to have the sanction removed. The sanctions upon an entity are listed in the public register; the court's sanction declaration is issued to the register keeper and to the entity being sanctioned.
  • Natural resources such as space, land, air, the sea, rivers, etc. are not property, and cannot be owned by any entity. However, a self-aware being may temporarily use any natural resource required for their existence (for example, space for their physical body, and the use of air and water from the natural environment). For an entity other than a person to use natural resources, or for a self-aware being to use more resources than are necessary for their existence, they must obtain a licence to do so and pay the National Resource Agency a fee for so doing. The fee due is a function of the resources used, the time period for which they are used, and any damage or other changes made to the resource during its use (including property generated from the natural resource, such as mined materials). The definition of natural resources and the licences and fee schedules for their use are defined in Law, and the licences are issued and withdraw by the Natural Resources Agency.

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  • By Faré, Fri 8th Jan 2016 @ 8:42 am

    The big mistake many engineers make is to believe they as philosophers are somehow outside and above society and government is a magical tool that can mold society whichever way they want, for free.

    The one thing libertarians understand is that, no, nobody is either outside or above society, that government is not the tool of philosophers above, and not the tool of people below, but is a natural phenomenon with laws of its own, derived from its principle of unaccountable violence; and before to dream of what it "could" or "should" do, realize that not only its action isn't free (as in, it has a dear price), its action isn't free either (as in, it's constrained in what it WILL do — if it doesn't propagate its own survival through domination, it doesn't survive and is replaced by a conqueror that will do what it takes).

    See e.g. "The Calculus of Consent" by Buchanan & Tulloch on how democracy does work in practice (though with very favorable hypotheses), or "The Myth of the Rational Voter" by Caplan on how these favorable hypotheses do not even hold.

    Once you understand what government is, a lot of things change as to how you approach social engineering (if at all).

  • By alaric, Fri 8th Jan 2016 @ 12:27 pm

    I'm approaching the design of a government as a collective body to handle collective issues; I do agree that governments which become entities in their own right, whose interests may not align with the interests of the populace, then You Have A Problem.

    I've yet to see a convincing blueprint for how humanity can manage collective issues (dealing with emergencies, managing shared resources, dealing with disputes about stuff, etc) without forming some kind of forum to discuss it and agreeing to go along with the outcome of those agreements even if you don't like them - and making those agreements useful even if some people refuse to go along with them. Perhaps I am being too broad in labeling that as a "government" of sorts, and damning the whole concept by association with stagnant Western democracies...

    No, I'm not convinced my "second society" wouldn't also fall foul to the attractor of a power-hungry government propagating its own existence at all costs; I have merely tried to discourage it from going down paths I can think of that lead to that. It is my best stab at a model for a government in the traditional-nation-state sense; I would really like a few of those to be competing for citizens with each other, along with an ocean full of seasteads evolving their own forms of little micro-nation and competing with each other for citizens, and we get to see what wins out... As long as there's enough overall consensus that people should be very free to move to a different society, it should be hard for any despots to do a North Korea and lock their populace up without anybody noticing and doing something about it...

  • By Faré, Sat 9th Jan 2016 @ 6:16 am

    But that's the thing: the notional "government" that you're talking about has nothing to do with the institution of territorial monopoly of violence usually known as "government". If you define it as whichever "kind of forum to discuss it and agreeing to go along with the outcome of those agreements even if you don't like them" — then the closest common notion is market, not government.

    And yes, competition between "governing" entities via free association is the one and only force capable of preventing the otherwise non-competed entity from turning into tyranny.

    In any case, a lot of criticism against libertarianism boils down to confusion between these opposite notions, whichever names you use to denote them (society, government, market, etc.)

  • By alaric, Mon 11th Jan 2016 @ 10:45 am

    I do worry about how to stop "governing entities" from (a) absorbing each other, not necessarily through traditional military expansionism but maybe even just through all signing treaties with each other that make them interchangeable in the name of "standardising for the benefit of free trade", or through simple cultural hegemony; and (b) going North Korea and inhibiting flight of disaffected citizens!

  • By Faré, Tue 12th Jan 2016 @ 5:04 am

    (a) Indeed the Habsburg gained power through alliances and weddings (and ended up highly inbred for it). As long as citizens and landowners have an "exit" option, it doesn't matter how much the entities merge. If they don't then it's indeed guaranteed eventual doom as empires merge together and/or collapse.

    (b) All governments have already reserved the right to inhibit the flight of disaffected citizens: that's what border controls and passports are for. It's the other bad aspects of North Korea that they happily haven't copied (yet). "Citizen" control is precisely what government monopoly consists in.

    The idea that "governing entities" should NOT have a monopoly on either territory or citizens is what libertarianism is about.

  • By alaric, Wed 11th Oct 2017 @ 7:43 am

    Here's some more interesting insights into the problem of government:

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