What Are The First Things One Should Know In Political Theory?

  1. The first question of ethics is ‘Why don’t I kill you and take your stuff?’.
  2. The first question of politics is “Why don’t me and mine kill you and yours and take your stuff?”
  3. The first question of group evolutionary strategy is “How can we either kill them and take their stuff, or prevent them from killing us and taking our stuff?”
  4. The answer to all three questions is the same: “Because cooperating in a division of labor is productive and can continue to produce mutual returns while conflict is costly and and results only in net consumption. Over time those who cooperate have more numbers, are healthier, have better industry, technology, and warfare than those who don’t.
  5. So, how do we organize group evolutionary strategy, politics, ethics, production and reproduction, so that we can out-compete, or at least say at pace with, competitors, given the people, their abilities, the territory and its resources that are at our disposal?
  6. Answering this question requires facing a very unpleasant fact, that the problem we face is human capital (talents) and that every person at the bottom of the curve drastically reduces the effectiveness of every person at the middle and top of the curve. In other words, it matters more that you don’t have impulsive, aggressive, idiots than it does that you have calm geniuses. So by and large nations in colder climates were more successful at killing off the undesirables through winters and starvation, than those in the warmer climates.
  7. So we see many different group evolutionary strategies dependent upon human capital, territory, and resources.  The most obvious are
    • the hierarchical and authoritarian irrigated flood-river valleys
    • the aggressive tribal steppe and desert regions
    • the egalitarian forest and river regions.
    • the equalitarian polar peoples
  • Each of these main groups produce different political systems in order to make use of the territory and means of production available to them.  Those that do not make good use of territory and means are displaced, conquered, or exterminated by those that do.
  • All groups require:
    • A method of organizing reproduction (usually marriage)
    • A method of organizing production (an economy)
    • A method of organizing norms (usually religion/education)
    • A method of producing commons (government)
    • A method of holding territory (army)
  • There are two economic poles available and all make use of one part of the spectrum or another, and all economies resulting in some variant on the mixed economy:
    • Propertarian / Libertarian / Capitalist / High Trust / High Innovation – Why? No corruption in theory.  Incentives work. But no competitive commons are produced, so it doesn’t work.
    • Mixed Economy of Consumer capitalism with some authoritarian commons production. Incentives work and commons possible.
    • Authoritarian / Totalitarian / Socialist / Low Trust / Low Innovation – Why? high corruption, no incentives, and it doesn’t work.
  • All governments are corrupt but if a people are successful at implementing rule of law it is possible to protect the economy using the courts from excessive interference by the government monopoly.
  • The method of deciding  ( making excuses for ) which commons is produced rather than some other commons is a matter of local dispute. But it is actually a question of competition with other states, and it is only very wealthy states that choose luxuries rather than necessities.
  • That is about all there is to political theory.


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