We are living in a time when politics intrudes on our lives from everywhere. As soon as we turn on the radio or the TV, we immediately hear politicians complaining about the state of affairs and promising to solve all problems if they could get the power. Periodically adult citizens have an opportunity to vote in an election to decide which candidates will get into power. Therefore, it is very important to consider the role and the function of the government, to evaluate, judge and to respond intelligently to what is going on in the world of politics.
Government of people .therefore need to understand what it is to be human. Good understanding of human nature the basis of all good theories of government. Theories which have led to disaster based on faulty theories.
Aristotle said this 2500 years ago. Still repeated and still quoted because he was right. Rings true. Makes sense. He didn’t discover it just articulated it because he had an accurate understanding of human nature. Wisdom. So many cruddy theories been discredited. Raises questions What is it that brings happiness. Turn again to the master Important to have an accurate unerstaning of human nature. Realistic. Not idealistic. Tailor instituions to suit people, not people to suit instituions.
The first question we should ask ourselves is this: What is the purpose of government ? To answer this question we have to look back at history so as to understand the origin of society. Was there ever a time when the society did not exist and people lived separately from each other? Hardly, as Aristotle noted a long time ago:
This is based on Rev Ahn's lecture
Why the tribes of Israel wanted a king like other people War is the mother of government
The family is a natural institution based on the conjugal love and sexual attraction between a man and woman and their desire for children who are the fruit of that love. Because they are so emotional, the bonds within the family are very strong and we naturally feel that there are ties of duty and obligation that link us together. These ties we feel not only for our immediate family but also for uncles, aunts, cousins, and other relatives even if we have never met them. Naturally, the more distant a relative is, the weaker the attachment becomes; yet it is not for nothing that we say 釘 blood is thicker than water. The most fundamental social relations we have are familial. In fact there has never been a society which has not had the family as its smallest and most basic unit. Love between a man and woman. Marriage. Conjugal love. Children as fruit and expression of their love. Parental love. Siblings. Family. Lineage. Grandkids. Balance between public and private individual/whole Drinking famly money ‘ Manners make the man’
1948 Britain was still in pretty good shape! What would Elliot have said today?
There is only a certain amount that an individual can achieve by himself. It is possible to survive by oneself, grow one's own food, build one's own house, make one's own clothes etc. But much more can be accomplished by cooperating with others. Naturally people prefer to work with their relatives because usually they can trust them more. So one of the earliest and most important functions of the family was economic which is why in most traditional societies parents, children and other relatives worked together to secure all they needed to survive.
The most fundamental social relations we have are familial. In fact there has never been a society which has not had the family as its smallest and most basic unit. Love between a man and woman. Marriage. Conjugal love. Children as fruit and expression of their love. Parental love. Siblings. Family. Lineage. Grandkids.
As time goes on families expand gradually becoming small societies. As they do so the strength of affection between people declines as the distance between them increases. In favourable circumstances through intermarriage and friendship these small societies merge into a larger society. Usually they helped each other one way or another, they feasted together and celebrated important occasions and shared products of their work as far as they thought it just. In a closely related society traditions and customs developed which explained who should do and what they should do, and which role is assigned to everyone.
The first of these is stability of possession. People naturally share what they have within the family, with those for whom they have a natural affection. Scarcity though leads to envy and conflict. People want things for themselves and their family. But at the same time everyone wants to be left undisturbed in the enjoyment of his proper possessions. People want to own , not merely possess, goods. So the rule that "every man no matter how we happen to feel towards him, be left undisturbed in the enjoyment of his proper possessions" develops, and is followed because people believe it to be useful. They know their own desires, and through feeling sympathy for others, extrapolate that everyone feels the same way. Through this ownership relationship exists, not just between the person and the thing, but also between people, because that ownership is acknowledged. So ownership is defined relationally. It is an artificial social convention. But once everything is owned by someone, the contention is stopped as long as everyone abides by this convention. The de facto qualifications for ownership (Hume is not interested in abstract de jure ones), are present possession, occupation, prescription, accession and succession. These are the correct rules, because they are the ones most natural and in harmony with human nature and inclinations. Thus they are least likely to be questioned. The benefit of the institution of property is that the short term outlook of most people is replaced by a long term view. For example, if people can pass things on to their descendants, as is their natural inclination, they are more likely to be industrious and frugal. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (Oxford: Oxford University Press: Press, 1978), 501f. Hume's three Principles of Justice are comparable to the three Great Blessings in Divine Principle. This one, stability of possession is like the third blessing, to have dominion over the creation, to be Lord of Creation, co-creator with God and perfect one's creativity through this.
However it is not enough for people to have stability of possession. Since people have different goods there has to be a way for people to be able to exchange their property. The second principle is therefore, the convention that rights over goods may be transferred by consent, and only by consent. This means that trade the consequent division of labour becomes possible so that goods can be produced which are available to all. Hume, 514f. This principle compares to the second Blessing, the establishment of a family which is based on the give and take relationship.
Again, it is very inconvenient to have to barter and have simultaneous direct exchange of goods. One person's crops may be ripe in the spring and another's in the autumn. So the third principle is required, performance of promises. If people make promises which are directed towards some future performance, they should keep them. Otherwise there can be no trust, no trade and no society. Ibid., 516f. This compares to the first Blessing, that a person should unite mind and body centred upon God. The words and deeds of such a person would be the same. They would be trustworthy and keep their promises.
Jane Jacobs, Systems of survival
Principles of Good Governance
Principles of GoodGovernanceIn the family, economy, civil society,education, and religionUniversal Peace Federation
What Do All People Want?In view of the fact that all knowledge andevery pursuit aims at some good, what isthe highest of all goods achievable byaction? Verbally there is very generalagreement; for both the general run ofmen and people of superior refinement it ishappiness; they identify living well anddoing well with being happy. Aristotle
People Are Social Beings."It would be strange to representthe supremely happy man as arecluse. No one would choose tohave all possible good things onthe condition that he must enjoythem alone; for man is a socialbeing and one whose nature is tolive with others; accordingly thehappy man must have society, forthen he has everything that isnaturally good." Aristotle
How Is Happiness Attained?When our desires are fulfilled. For example: Hunger > eating food > satisfaction Missing someone > seeing them > warm relationships
Cautions Some desires are unrealistic. Some desires are immature. Some desires are excessive. Some desires are wrong.Therefore, focusing only on desires leads to unhappiness.
Religions Recognize This. Christianity – “Wretched man that I am!” (St. Paul) Judaism – “The heart is corrupt.” (Jeremiah) Buddhism - All suffering is caused by craving and focusing on extinguishing cravings.Paradox: The fulfillment of desire can lead to both happiness and suffering.Therefore, desires need to be channeled and controlled so their fulfillment brings happiness and not suffering.
Core Desires To eat, sleep, and have a home To experience love To achieve social position or authority To gain knowledge and skills To worship
Supportive Structures to Satisfy Desires SUPPORTIVE SOCIALDESIRE SYSTEMTo experience love FamilyFor material things EconomyFor position and authority Civil society, politicsFor knowledge and skills EducationTo worship Religion
Core Purposes of GovernmentDefense To protect a country from invasion which would destroy people’s way of life and prevent them from being happyJustice To maintain the laws necessary to create a realm of freedom in which people can live a moral and meaningful life and thus be happy and fulfilled
The Family SystemFulfiling the desire for loving relationships
Family as the Locus of Meaning Dwelling place of God: “The family that prays together stays together.” Cultivating the spiritual life creates hope for the future. Enduring relationships give meaning. Family offers reasons Shabbat prayer to live and multiply.
Family as the School of Love Place for love between husband and wife Reproduction and love between parents and children Socialization and education into the manners, customs, and traditions of one’s community Transmission of culture and the good way of life
Family as the Cradle of Culture“By far the most importantchannel of transmission of cultureremains the family; and whenfamily life fails to play its part, wemust expect our culture todeteriorate.” T.S. Elliot: Notes towards the Definition of Culture, 1948
Family as a Key Economic Unit Members work together to create wealth to support the family and community. Develops a sense of responsible ownership. Encourages creativity. Teaches a culture of giving and sharing.
Family as the Ground of Being Love Life Lineage
Crimes against the Family Adultery: the chief cause of divorce and family break up Unmarried mothers: every child has the right to a mother and a father Child neglect and abuse (especially common among step-families) Neglect of parents and grandparentsCaution: Government should not supplant the role of the family in education, health, welfare, and finances.
Helpful Government Policies Laws that protect family and marriage Tax system that favors marriage and children Inheritance laws that favor the build up of generational wealth and responsibilityCautions: Social security system should not subsidize unmarried mothers. Social services are best provided by the voluntary sector.
The Family and SocietyFamilial collapse leads to social collapse.Society is more than families; it includes social structuresand institutionsDistinctions between family and society: The family is based on affection and forgiveness. Society based on justice.Cautions: Narrow affection in social relations > corruption(nepotism) Legalism in family relations > can hurt people’s hearts
The Family and SocietySociety is an expansion of the family.However, affection declines as distance increases.Cautions: what happens when resources are scarce? People are less generous, especially to those whoare not part of their family. Scarcity of desirable goods leads to destructiveconflict.Therefore, a framework of commonly accepted rulesis needed.
The Economic SystemFulfilling the desire for goods to be able to live a comfortable life
Respect for OwnershipRelationship between people and possessions: Ownership of property as a social convention Resolves disputes Ensures stability of possession
Transfer of Ownership Rights over goods can be transferred by consent. Can give things to someone. Can sell things to someone. Markets: Where ownership is transferred by exchange Origin of money: Convenient unit of exchange Division of labor and specialization Cautions: Freedom should be accompanied by responsibility. Freedom should be exercised within the bounds of the law.
Performance of Promises “My word is my bond.” Society as moral Self-limitation - don’t be greedy Natural, rational expectations Trust people including strangers Enables free trade between strangers
Economic Crimes Theft, robbery, stealing, fraud Denial of private property - nationalization without compensation Unreasonable and punitive taxation Reneging on agreements - not paying salaries or invoices Breaking promises
Helpful Government Policies Establish and maintain a simple legal framework for the free market. Set up laws regarding contracts and guarding against theft and fraud. Maintain an independent judiciary. Keep central banks independent. Limit taxation. Minimize bureaucracy and corruption.
2 Incompatible SyndromesCommercial moral syndrome Guardian moral syndrome Shun force Shun trading Voluntary agreements Exert prowess Be honest Be obedient and disciplined Collaborate with strangers Be exclusive Compete Respect hierarchy Respect contracts Be loyal Use initiative and enterprise Adhere to tradition Be open to novelty Treasure honor Be efficient Be ostentatious Promote convenience Enjoy leisure Dissent for the task Deceive to achieve tasks Invest for productivity Take vengeance Be industrious Show fortitude Be thrifty Dispense largesse Be optimistic Be fatalistic
Civil SocietyFulfiling the desire for social position and power
Civil Society Offers opportunities for people to make a difference and offer a unique contribution. Includes many types of institutions: Politics, businesses, charities, local government, religion, schools, hospitals, etc. Abides by laws. Allows for freedom of speech, movement, living, career, Honors people based on merit.
Crimes against Civil Society Achieving position illegitimately Murder, coups Nepotism Cronyism Corruption, bribery Discrimination in the public sector Totalitarianism
Helpful Government Policies Maintain an independent judiciary. Maintain roads, electricity, water supply, sewers. Provide for national defense. Offer a safety net.Caution: Government should protect people’s way of life but not engage in social engineering.
Educational systemFulfilling the desire for knowledge and understanding of the world we inhabit
What Is Education? Transaction between the generations that initiates children into the world which they are to inhabit Transfer of knowledge and skills Most fundamentally, learning to live humanly
Two Types of EducationEducation at home: How to behave How to live a spiritual life How to think, but not what to think or believe Skills such as swimming, gardening, house maintenance, money managementEducation at school: History, literature, language, religion Specialized knowledge and skills More complex thinking
Educational Crimes Failing to pass on the wisdom of the ages Dumbing down information Indoctrinating students Graduating students who lack qualifications and skills Giving information without values, purpose, or meaning
Helpful Government Policies Independent and self-governing, not controlled by the state Financed by fees, scholarships, vouchers Free to specialize and set curricula Not for indoctrination - religious or political Prepare students for exams set by universities and other professional bodies
Realm of Religion Acknowledgement of dependence on a superhuman being expressed through rituals and worship Concern with questions of meaning of life, right and wrong behavior, salvation Rituals to give meaning and sanctification to rites of passage such as marriage
Religious Crimes Idolatry Mistaking the relative for the absolute Sectarianism Bigotry Militant fundamentalism
Helpful Government Policies Allow religious freedom. Enable religious communities to be involved in law making, education, and values.
SummaryHuman desire Supportive Crimes in this social system realmExperience love Family AdulteryMaterial things Economy StealingSocial position and Civil society MurderauthorityKnowledge and skills Education Falsehood, indoctrinationWorship Religion Idolatry
Principles of Good Governance Related to Spiritual PrinciplesSociety of owners Blessing of dominion over creation Do not steal/misuse public moneySociety of market relationships Blessing of ethical relationships Do not have immoral sexual relationsSociety as a moral realm Blessing of mind/body unity Do not hurt a person’s heart
Adapted by Joy Pople from a presentation by William HainesUniversal Peace Federationwww.upf.org