Thursday, July 30, 2009

What to govern an information society?

In Texas, when I fail to casually express agreement with someone's expression of a conservative shibboleth, my less tactful friends and acquaintances will often interrogate me about my political views. Recently, some conservative friends of mine, still bitter and resentful from the 2008 election, have asked me if I still lean to the conservative side of political issues in general or not: "You aren't a liberal now, are you?" and, "You didn't vote for Obama, did you?"

Who I vote for is not your business.

Of my government I demand representation and reject constituency pandering. Political activism and party-alignment is just as filthy and foul as media bias, thinly-veiled bribery by lobbyists of public officials, and long-term office holders.

The other day someone said to me, "Everybody wants to think of themselves as independent." His point was that nobody is ever entirely free from bias or from the influence of their world or political views on their expressions and decisions.

Conservatives mostly insist that when it comes down to brass tax, everyone picks one side of an issue, and eventually their political bias is revealed. The notion that anyone can be without bias is a myth, to conservatives. This is a delusion -- the result of an egocentric refusal to set aside one's own selfish convictions and see the world from other perspectives. Of course many people let their political views affect their judgment, but this cannot be true of everyone. There are many who refuse to champion, let alone settle for, a single side of an issue or parrot the go-to focus group study conclusions paid for by political think-tanks, and instead choose to consider multi-faceted solutions that work under a myriad of circumstances for more than one group of people. Real-world social-economic problems rarely have a single best solution and yet our current system insists upon it and segregates those who suggest otherwise and labels them spoilers, "third-party" candidates, dark horses, independents.

Our political system is broken, so I reject it. You should too, and demand an actual meritocratic democracy. This of course requires metrics and endless careful and costly analysis and monitoring of the results of government programs and initiatives. Political theory is great, but until there are actual studies, experiments, and data, it's just some schmuck's fantasy.

Attempting to clarify what it is that I mean by "meritocratic democracy", a conservative friend of mine has asked me, "So, no electing presidents because they are black, right?" He had obviously bought into the conservative editorial rhetoric that Obama has been elected as the President simply because of the color of his skin. This is an employment of a logical fallacy known as a red herring, and it is a common tactic of the conservative media. The question is a leading one, and is designed to divert attention from the plenitude of good reasons why Obama might have been elected President other than his ethnic heritage.

Perhaps voters were fed up with a President who unprecedentedly expanded the power of the executive branch. Perhaps the American people were weary of a President who went to war without consent from Congress. Perhaps the public was tired of being lied to repeatedly about some very important things like the intelligence on the Iraq nuclear program, global warming data, torture of detainees, and warrantless wire-tapping. Perhaps the American people wanted to send a message of rejection to the Republican party in order to communicate just how disappointed they were with George Bush. Perhaps, just maybe, the American people believed Obama when he promised them change. Who knows.

But the suggestion supplanting those considerations with the idea that somehow Obama was nothing more than an affirmative action President, is twisted. It is a verbal slight-of-hand trick at best, and blatant racism at worst.

The democratic republic in which we live is a failure, not only because it fosters this kind of language, but because it is characterized by immobility, rigidity and is crippled by an inability to represent our citizens at a high resolution. Our democratic republic has proven that any asshole can get elected and stay elected if they just provoke or charm the right people.

The social democracy is in error because there can never be enough stopgaps and waste prevention criteria to prevent massive inefficiencies and missteps. Social democracy also fails at both the electorate level, and also at the bureaucratic level due to the fact that there are tons of people in any population who simply don't give a shit. Social democracy only works for small, invested communities with lots of transparency and accountability, but it doesn't seem to work very well for large organizations.

The foundation of any correct form of government and economy is information. Therefore, I am not a liberal, or a conservative. I am an informationist.

Education. Education is the only path to a valid government. Only a population capable of educating itself and critically assessing information can be capable of governing itself. Self government is the only true government. Therefore, the bootstrapping of the new information republic -- a republic where everyone is their own representative -- will be accomplished through the complete and universal reform of education.

But how can a government with such a shift in focus towards education and communication of information ever be brought into power when the voting system in the United States only reinforces the two-party system? My friends Greg Lange and Cory Burkhardt both support a voting system based on multiple candidate ranking. Many people that I have spoken with who are interested in an alternative voting system are inclined towards the preferential voting system. Arrow's impossibility theorem, or Arrow's paradox, states that such a system would never be perfect and would never represent the wishes of every constituency, but if engineered carefully, it could come pretty close.

It's how the best restaurants in the world are compared. It's how the Godfather is selected as the best movie ever made at the movie database website, So what if the Godfather isn't really the best movie ever made? Well it's pretty damn good.

The only way our elections will ever support a ballot that uses a multi-candidate 10-point rating scale is with a public that is smart enough to understand how such a system actually works. Such voters must also be adequately informed and have an ability to accurately assess the true nature and aptitude of candidates. Public intelligence or stupidity is entirely a function of the efficiency, flexibility, tenacity of the education system and the commitment of the people in its ranks to be successful at an individual level. An education system undermined is a society that undermines its government's effectiveness.

Honestly, anyone against a universally educated and thoroughly informed public, should be considered a traitor. In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone who fosters confusion by creating false information or attempts to limit the communication of legitimate information should be condemned as a terrorist.

Of course, this raises the question, how is information determined to be legitimate? What is the litmus test for information? Testing. Experiments. Confirmation. Corroboration. Understanding. Usefulness. And most importantly, Karl Popper's test: falsifiability. Information should be redundantly verified, peer reviewed, and rated-by-reputation.

We need to move away from the democratic-republic/social-democracy mixed government form, and shift to an informational democracy. Information, and its accuracy is the cornerstone of all freedom. Liars and mutilators of fact and truth should not be tolerated.

People will inevitably reject these ideas saying things like, "That is too difficult." Or, "That will cost too much money." Or, "My tax dollars should not go towards educating someone else's child." Or, "Those who can't do, teach."

Other objections can be made as well. Someone might say something like, "So-and-so is poor, and cannot afford to be educated. Their parents should have worked harder." Such a person apparently values money above information and believes that obfuscation and confusion has a price. Such a person should be considered a traitor to our nation.

If someone says, "So-and-so is lazy, or refuses to be taught," they are only making excuses. Such a person is simply too lazy or too selfish to make the sacrifices necessary to help another person overcome their personal defects or obstacles and be educated despite those challenges.

People often tell me that things will never change because we are stuck with what we have.


The choice of our government is in the hands of the informed population. To be against an informed population, in any way, is to be against the choice of government. Revolution comes from the ground up. Not through internal secession.

It all starts with yourself and your family. It is the movement of self-actualization and transcendence found reiterated innumerable times in eastern philosophy. First, master yourself. Then your family. Then your community. Then your state. Then your nation.

Absorption. The old generation will be eaten by the new. The stupid, old, doddering politicians and representatives will be displaced by the mass of the new informed populace.

There is no stopping it. Critical mass will be reached, and then there can be no reversal.

Information is unstoppable. Ideas cannot be killed. Truth cannot be subdued. Reality will destroy the actors and fiction writers that make up our government and media.

Information, education, and understanding is the new monarch.

The next generation is growing up with the Internet in their playpens.

The status quo "representatives" and legislators will be unable to pry this source of universal information access from the hands of this next generation. The technology to prevent tampering with that information is crystallizing into a perfect shield against meddlers and liars.

Soon all the liars will be silenced and muted. No more fiction. Only history.


Guest said...

have you seen the Coffee Party USA yet? seems interesting, seriously. this isn't an endorsement, just sharing

Guest said...

some people don't want to be educated and are happy being thugs or killers, that is when government intervention might be useful, keep bored serial killers and violent child rapists away however that is. but I agree that knowledge is power, around the world too many especially girls are denied education and are kept in slavery and domination by brutal husbands, especially when situations like they are 7 or 8 and given in marriage to a much older man. but even in america failing schools that have shootings (which I have been to personally) are more common than one might think, and I believe that is why we can't abandon the government institution as a counterbalance, it is just part of society, but too many expect the government to change their diapers rather than do their part too. interesting points nels even if we may not agree on everything, take care