Re: One Unity, Different Ideologies, all in the same universe

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Thu Dec 27 2001 - 11:45:29 MST

Consolidated Reply to this thread

<< The "federation" simply consists of the communities that agree on the constitution. This constitution contains penalty clauses
and likely some mutual defense clauses against outside threats. If a community violates the constitution, it has to pay the penalty.
If it refuses, then it clearly isn't part of the federation. In addition to clauses guaranteeing free emigration, it doesn't seem
unreasonable to include clauses about free
travel or even inspection from the other communities. >>

Yes, this explains the core concepts rather well. Perhaps I should emphasize again that we should not fall into the "one size fits
all" thinking when thinking about such important but complex phenomena known as societies.

I think some kind of inspections will definitely come into play, but perhaps visits of convoys from other communities recuiting new
members may have more effectiveness. For instance, one can run some kind of neutral armed shuttle service to visit each community
and shuttle potential applicants to and fro between colonies. let us not try to judge for others, but let them judge for themselves
if they can leave freely. Bear in mind that this only consists of one idea that may work.

<< Being thrown out would likely be a fairly serious punishment, which unlike penalties cannot be avoided. >>

Yes, this would consist of the most serious penalty under the treaty. Of course, if the person in question breaks the treaty (such
as by forcefully returning despite the ban), then harser punishments can lie in wait. I consider this a better trade-off, than say,
the death penalty or life imprisonment.

I consider life imprisonment as worse than death, by confining one to a non-meaningful existance in an enviromnent controlled by

<< Whether the consitution would be about sentient rights or human rights is of course important in the long run, but setting up a
system somewhat like the above federation is something we can do in the near future. This system can then adapt to new developments,
and if the constitution update process is not unnecessarily rigid it wouldn't be too hard to include general sentient rights as
people become more aware of their possibility. >>

I think that the treaty would have as little clauses as possible. While it seems good to add such additional safeguards, we should
err on the side of saying too little instead of saying too much and converting the flexible treaty into inflexible red tape.

In programming, such things like adding fancy features have caused often more harm than good, like Microsoft's drawing "legs on
snakes" (to quote a Chinese idiom) by adding such irritating things like "Personalized Menus". Likewise, we should take great care
to avoid this problem when we draft such a treaty. The future communities may hate us for this if we don't. :)

<< The important thing to remember about systems like this is that we do not have to get everything perfectly right at the first
try. Good political solutions are flexible and can be adaptive. >>

Well said. It would perhaps not deviate too far to say that they should get the most useful work done with the least amount of

While existanistial risks may cast doubts, we can probably add the consideration and prevention of such risks into the above
definition. Having people set up communities in outer space greatly reduces the chance of such preventable risks.


<< IMO, the right of transit and hospitality are missing. You would need this to go from community A through B to C, where A may be
a green-socialist community and B klingon-warriors. >>

The (loose) federation proposal, in its simplest terms, does not address this directly. I presume that the actual federation
implemention will also place some kind of rules to cover this, such as by requiring every community to provide an isolated facility
(much like a hotel) for travellers. This could also take in incoming refuges without compromising the internal security of the

<< Will community A survive when B decides they need more space? Who could possibly hinder them? >>

The treaty should have a provision that the other communities cannot enter the terrorities of the colony first claimed (and proven
by patrols) without permission. This means that the other community will consider any entry as invasion. An invasion would mean
interfering in another terrority's affairs and thus the breaking of the treaty.

In space, thanks to the observation of Charles Champion who commented on this a few months or a year ago, we would have problems
delineating territory in space due to the difference between absolute and relative movement. If other people come to your land
without permission, then they invade you. If your land moves to their feet, then who invades whom?

Unless we can use antigravity to stop all movement in the solar system to obtain a fixed frame of reference, we would find this
troubling (especially when people of different orbital extents) have orbital claims that move into your claimed territory.

Considering this from the viewpoint of an interstellar civilisation, the problem would only worsen (though it would take a longer
time for terrority to conflict). We better start figuring out how to solve this problem, or how to *transcend* it by figuring a more
elegant method than the static, two dimensional maps of the world we have in our minds.

<< Most of us already live in such a system. Pluralistic societies consist of many different subcultures. They only share the same
room, but one can easily live in only one world without seeing much of the others. On a higher level, the Charta of the United
Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and several other international conventions go exactly in your direction.
Unfortunately, both plans only work when everyone observes the rules... >>

I tend to disagree with this because apparently the United States has a habit of interfering on other nation's affairs for the
purpose of "National Security".

In addition, important differences lies with the Federation Proposal and our current system:

1) Countries can still retain people within themselves against their will, such as to jail or kill them.

For instance, in Singapore I cannot become a citizen of another nation or leave without permission unless I serve my military draft.
No matter whether you can justify if I should serve or not, under the federation, if I do not like to do so and I choose to leave, I
should have no obstacles in my way.

Refer to:

2) Countries today do not have enough "ideological competitiveness".

They still remain stuck in the old ways and don't give others real choices. Governments around the world still seem to subscribe to
red tape, older political systems (such as monarchy, oligopoly, democracy) and conservative thinking (to the detriment of extropians
of course).

They don't seem to have any purpose other than some very vaguely defined "politically correct" items or just some items that do not
satisfy to population as to whether the nation actually wants to achieve such. Often in many parts of the world, it seems that the
government officers have more concern to their salary and pension than to their citizen's affairs or whether they help to fulfill
the goals of their nation.

3) The UN seems far from non-interventionist. Even if the UN does not intervene, some other forces (like NATO) may do so.

Imagine some not too politically powerful nation proclaiming that they will embark on a dedictated research project on, of all
things, human cloning. Imagine that they sound serious enough to promise results by 2005. Despite promises of ethical research, I
think the other nations will not just sit still and watch. "Ban human cloning! Its immoral and goes against God!"

If they can make such fuss about mere human cloning, what would they think about the creation of an AI Singularity (especially when
AI in one to two decades get serious enough)? You might think faster than all the humans in the world, but when it comes to the
power plug in an isolated lab (i.e. no Internet or network to hack), you have a great disadvantage. Of course, they could also shut
down the power grid or station if they feel desperate enough.


'2) They can restrict the people they take'

<< what if none will take you, or the only one to take you is undesirable? >>

That could cause some problems (especially if you had murdered a group of other people in cold blood), but genrally the Federation
proposal does not aim to solve this directly. It only aims to provide a framework of choice and non-intervention, protecting both
the weak and the powerful communities.

You might not know if one day, someone sets up a "Muderer's Colony".


<< Compare this to my earlier discussions of having a minimalist universal ethics in a society to guarantee rights, with the ethics
of individual put on top of this; in this case the inter-community constitution would be similar to the minimalist ethics and mainly
deal with guaranteeing the rights of people and communities, but not prescribing their internal structure - that is left to their
internal rules. >>

I see a major problem here with this thinking.

What if there exists a better way to solve our social problems than using "rights", or at least, a better implementation and
definition of "rights"? If you base your treaty on such concepts, it might actually restrict other's freedom even if you seek to
guarantee freedom. Gödel's Theorem does not let you off so easily here.

In my opinion, we can define a better guide to decision making than "rights" due to the highly flawed nature of "rights". The only
"rights" I might grant consist of the right of non-intervention (but not to life, liberty and others "God granted" or inherent
rights), but even this has serious flaws defined in this context. A new vocabulary and way of thinking has to arise to explain this

As such, the treaty should not aim to cover all bases with "rights" but more with some sensible systems-based rules that also happen
to discourage the problems associated with lack of "rights". For instance, the core rule that others can leave freely will prevent
supression of freedom (as most people define it).

<< There isn't any need to try this across the entire world at once, but it can be started on a relatively small scale and then
develop (both by more communities/nations joining, and possibly by the creation of smaller sub-communities if it appears promising
locally). >>

I think the current world situation does not seem encouraging in this aspect because many nations and people still feel unprepared
for it. For instance, one sometimes hears jokes on the political apathy in Singapore, and it seems like Singaporeans do not have
enough maturity to accept a full-fledged democracy (though many might disagree). Nations also seem very much attached to their
histories and current ways of life (read Israel vs. Palestine, China vs. Taiwan, India vs. Pakistan).

I suspect that a great shock must occur to underline very clearly the problems of the current international political systems before
even a minority of the nations will consider this. Even so, if the largest, most powerful nations (who would lose the most with this
great shift in global political power) influenced the UN to outlaw or seriously deminish the power of the Federation (such as by not
allowing dual membership), this can cause a great set-back.

The anti-Federational people can accuse the federation of many things to justify their policies, from encouging the stealing of
"intellectual property" to the lack of adequate "human rights").


<< One difficulty though: where is evolution (personal and social) if one interacts only with people sharing the same ideology? >>

I think we would find it for the positive rather than the negative. If every nation in the world subscribes to this:

Firstly, we would abolish "ideology slavery" where people force others to accept their ideology. To regain their freedom the unhappy
people must subscribe to the ideology. (If we consider capitalism this ideology, then I dare say it seems to apply).

Secondly, it will abolish the petty struggles between the people of the world so that they can make peace with each other. China and
Taiwan need not fight over the Taiwanese land, neither does Israel and Pakistan fight with each other. The Cold War would not need
to happen.

If you want to live a way of life, then you can do so as long as you don't interfere with others. China would not "lose face" if it
let Taiwan have independence, because they would offer two ideologies. If Stalin tried to starve poor peasants to death, someone can
go in and rescue them to another place that they can go. In fact, countries as we know it might crease to exist and solve the
problems of excessive government control of citizens once and for all.

This will seem more practical when we can have low cost space travel and can colonize the huge emptiness of outer space.

Thirdly, it would greatly amplifying the power of those who share the same ideology by bringing them together. These people can live
the way of life they like without conflicts with different fractions of different ideologies who argue over seemingly irrelevant

We should recognise that while conflicts in theory sounds good, conflicts in reality do not fit such an assumption. In the real
world, people can exercise sabotage, deceit and other "dirty tricks" to get what they want.

Lastly and very importantly, it would not diminish the ability of others to join different ideologies. One can always tour (if the
other community allows) other communities, read about them and even apply to join them. The original community cannot stop them (in

The problem of Saddam peeing into the broth comes to mind, but for such people military action undertaken by some sympathetic
communities would do nicely. Those who live by the gun die by the gun, or so the saying goes. If Saddam likes war so much, then he
would get war then.

Of course, I do remember Shakespeare's play "Macbeth", in which a young child kids with his mother shortly before Macbeth's (the bad
guy) men arrived to slaughter the entire family that (in my words from my memories) 'the good man will not hang the bad men, because
there are more of them around. Instead, the bad men will hang the good man'. For this, sadly, I can offer no solutions yet.


<< The cost in sentient suffering in a single non-federation community, under the framework you present, could enormously exceed the
sum of all sentient suffering in history up until this point. This is not a trivial error. >>

The Federation cannot, and does not seek to cover all bases (refer to Gödel's Theorem). When a community does not have any
outstanding treaties with another non-Federation member, it can send out its own humanitarian missions and even invade this member
to do what it feels right to. The same goes for these powers to invade Federation members.

In short, this defaults to the old thinking of "might is right". It has serious implications, because we can expect any nation that
wants to practice slavery (directly or indirectly) to strongly oppose this Federation. This could even cause the disassembling of
the Federation just as it began to start establishing itself if they have enough power to do so.


<< No, but that is not something the federation was supposed to solve either. The fact that there is awful suffering and tyrrany in
some countries doesn't invalidate the political system of the US. The federation is not
based on an utilitarist ethical perspective where the goal is to maximize global happiness. >>

Well, I consider this more of maximizing global choice. Whether the choice brings happiness or not, it remains for the individual to
choose to make it so. We should allow people to choose things that would go against happiness too, if we consider choice the
ultimate denominator of existence.

<< I distrust the search for global optima and solutions that solve every problem. The world is complex, changing and filled with
adaptation, making any such absolutist solution futile, or worse, limiting. I prefer to view every proposed solution as partial and
under revision as we learn more. >>

I strongly agree with this. If only the Libertarians, Communists, and many others stop insisting that *only* they have the *only*
right solution...

Just a thought: We might even consider the ideology of having no ideology as an ideology (but of course, that would make Gödel's
Theorem angry).

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