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Local Autonomy vs. International Government

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Left Coast, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    This stems from a recent conversation @Augustus and I had that meandered into discussion of political philosophy.
    The question arose whether a greater degree of international governance would actually be preferable to more local control.

    Since WWI and II, there has been increased international cooperation between countries (NATO, EU, UN, etc.), including formation of international bodies whose policies govern member nations to various degrees. This has led to speculation of whether this trend will continue, up to formation a single global government.

    On the other end of the spectrum, some would prefer a return to more local autonomy in government, minimizing the authority of even national governments (or perhaps abolishing nations altogether?) in favor of systems of autonomous locally governed cities or states.

    Which would you prefer? What are the pros and cons of each approach? Do you predict the world will move in one direction or another?
     
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  2. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    What kind of government, socialist or capitalist? :)
     
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  3. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    At the very least, there would have to be some kind of global agreement on human rights and equality, otherwise it won't really work. People won't cooperate if they believe they're getting a raw deal or that other groups/regions are receiving greater benefit at their expense. People also tend to resist unwarranted and unnecessary micromanagement from a centralized, distant government or corporate headquarters.
     
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  4. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Both.

    The idea of a hierarchy is that decisions are made at the level which is concerned with the problem. We have that in every republic (where it functions more or less).
    We, as humans, have given authority over some aspects of our lives to the various levels of our government, I see no reason why adding just one level more should be a problem. But those who would prepare (or make) that decision would have to give away some of their power, that's why they behave less rational then children in kindergarten.
    It did work (barely) in Europe. It didn't work in the UN (though it is still a good idea but the veto power of only some members makes the UN technically non functional).
    The same power struggle re-appears when contemplating more local autonomy. People won't give up their power. But like a micro managing boss, it isn't productive as it is.
     
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  5. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    The main problem with ever larger political units is that scale increases complexity, abstraction and fragility of the unit.

    At a basic level, problems become exponentially harder the bigger they become. This can be called a diseconomy of scale.

    Political units require some kind of force to unify them and create common bonds between members so that they are willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

    At a local scale, the unifying force is tangible, you live in the same place and thus have a common purpose in improving it.

    It would be much easier to get people to agree to pay higher taxes to support their own local schools, hospitals etc. than to get them to increase taxes that are distributed to far off places in the nation or internationally.

    The larger the scale, the more we need to rely on abstract notions to unify, such as nationalism, religion or other ideological construct.

    Abstract identities are more subject to manipulation and division as they require people to subscribe to an identity rather than a more direct tangible purpose.

    Local identities, while not perfect, better tend towards inclusivity as they are less reliant in ethno-nationalism, religion, etc.

    They are also more robust. Something like the EU only lasts as long as it can maintain the perception it provides benefit to people. Finding 'one size fits all' policies is harder the larger the unit you have. The balancing act can only carry on so long before people rebel. Brexit happened as it was unable to do this. This leads large political units subject to fracture or failing in times of crisis (or boredom). They also become the target of both legitimate criticism and demagoguery, and may thus contribute to the problem they aim to solve: unifying people. The rise of the far-right across Europe is certainly not unconnected to the existence of the EU.

    People generally want to exercise as much control of their own affairs as possible, the larger the unit the more distant the power elite are from the average person. This means they can isolate themselves from the consequences of their decisions while playing divide and rule. It is no surprise that in almost all countries around the world, people have zero faith in political institutions and see them as out of touch and corrupted by special interests.

    Increasing the distance between the people and the decision makers certainly won't solve this problem. When people feel powerless they are attracted to ideologies and beliefs that empower them. We've seen the problems that this can create.

    Localism combined with partial sortition would empower normal people in a more positive way though.

    Also to note, localism still requires cooperation between groups and is not the same as autarky or isolationism.


    I'm not sure, but in the modern technologically mediated world, the larger the political unit, the more it will have to curtail people's freedoms to endure.

    Modern technology facilitates decentralisation, but also facilitates government and institutional power.

    A modern totalitarianism would not be easy to escape from.
     
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  6. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    It depends.
    These international organizations are controlled by great philosophers or by bankers?
    It's noocracy* vs plutocracy**.


    Noocracy: aka sophocracy, government of the wise.
    Plutocracy: government of the wealthy.
     
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  7. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    If we first assume that a government is free of corruption and able to make decisions on policy effectively, then the world would profit by giving it the power to implement its decisions as a central authority.

    Those who rail against a centralized government having too much power are blind to the fact that the problem is that we humans haven't, as yet, invented a government free of corruption and capable of making sound policy decisions. Instead, they blame the centralization of power and argue for decentralization.

    Decentralized systems lack the power to implement decisions. In the USA, Law Enforcement and Education are decentralized. The federal government has very little power over the more than 4,000 local school systems and 17,000 law enforcement agencies. That's why education and law enforcement have always operated in a failure mode.

    There is power in the hierarchy. If it's used wisely, we can make a better world..
     
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  8. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Local autonomy without some sort of international support network only makes small communities more vulnerable to violence, intimidation, and capitalist autocracy. My ideal model would be a free international association of autonomous communities with common goals. Naturally, you'd have to neuter the power of centralized nation-states and imperialist regimes first.
     
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  9. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    That would likely depend on whether they were capitalist societies.
     
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  10. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    A lot of countries have constitutional backing and others will never release their power and be subjugated to any world authority.
     
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  11. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Sadly, yes. And while people insist on their national power, they don't even realize that they are ruled by international corporations.
     
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  12. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    That would probably make a good thread. How much influence do corporations have over governments?
     
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  13. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    I think it's an interesting question because it calls us to face a most ugly truth about ourselves as humans. And that is that there are a significant number of us that want to control as much of our environment (including each other) as possible, and are willing to use force to gain that control. Which then forces everyone else to band together to protect themselves from these would-be despots, who will also band together with each other to gain the upper hand, if they can. This is as true in a village of 50 people as it is in a nation of 50 million. And it has been true since the dawn of humanity, itself.

    So for me, the question isn't do we live better in clans, villages, cities, states, or nations; it's how do we stop those among us, that wish to subjugate us, from gaining the means to do it. And although size is an obvious issue, it's not really the issue that matters. Because there will ALWAYS by someone, somewhere, that's bigger and more powerful. And sooner or later they will get around to subjugating us.

    This is not a problem that we humans have managed to solve, yet. We band together to form governments, and internal police forces, and we build armies to try and protect ourselves from the marauding outsiders, AND the marauding insiders, but so far they have all failed within a few hundred years. The marauders always manage to overcome them, eventually. Usually from the inside. We don't know the histories of smaller independent clans and villages, but I think it's a safe bet that they rarely survived 5 generations before being assimilated, disbanded, enslaved, or otherwise subjugated/annihilated by others. And it is this careless obsession with gaining maximum control that has always been and likely will be humanity's undoing in the end.

    So the real question, I think, is how do we learn to identify this toxic desire within ourselves, and within those living among us, and mitigate it before they/we find the means to subjugate, enslave, and destroy us all?

    And I do not know the answer.
     
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