Re: WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get Afghanistan...)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Nov 27 2001 - 15:13:48 MST

On Tue, Nov 27, 2001 at 08:25:09AM -0500, wrote:
> Certainly the United States was a "republic" in the years prior to 1861, but
> it surely was not a democracy; with large segments of it's population being
> enslaved, and the American Indian being evicted from lands and denied rights,
> etc., (no plaudits to the Bubba Clinton speech in Georgetown).

Yes, and as Tony and Philip also pointed out by our current
understanding of the meaning of democracy they would not be very
democratic. In many ways democracy is a moving target.

In any case, the conclusion seems to be that even nominally democratic
countries can go to war against each other, but the probability
decreases quickly as they become more free.

> My own term for this political condition is called "rump democracies" or
> better yet; "rump republics". I have no way yet of answering Anders request
> for some kind of indices' on how to measure democracy. Politics is certainly
> more of an art, then a science. There are questions to be answered, as
> always, on definitions.

I also think we should not rely too much on indices - methodological
difficulties abound with them. And freedom and citizens influence are
definitely multidimensional - in the US you have far more economical
freedom than here in Sweden, but at least in some respects it seems we
have a more accessible government. Indices are just a convenient
shorthand, and sometimes revealing.

> If the trend is, despite Orwell's warnings on technology and dictatorships,
> toward using technology to liberate people economically and financially, at
> least, then are we are really headed towards a democratic plutocracy? Or is
> that a democracy with all members having an investment stake? This last
> sentence puts me in mind of Moravec's Robot, is which his suggestions that a
> world in which robots manufacture all goods and most services, produce "lazy"
> democracies.

Could be, although I am always suspicious about computer scientists
talking about economics and sociology (yes, I'm one of them). The trend
seems to have been towards giving all humans rights, and extending their
freedoms, so taking this to the extreme would be giving rights to nearly
anything (maybe not just rights for AIs and posthumans but partial
rights to animals and even some "rights" to non-sentient objects) and
with maximal freedom (freedom is obviously limited by the freedom of
others and material constraints). Sounds like some libertarian utopia or
Bank's Culture to me. But we should not stare to much at imaginary
futures when we have a nearby future to shape...

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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