Sunday, 26 April 2015

Things which most people accept as a given...

… but which are actually a result of lots of self-reinforcing least-bad decisions taken collectively:

- The nation-state with fixed borders
- Land ownership
- Taxation
- Currencies/money
- Democracy
- Banking
- Government spending
- Peace
- National identity and immigration control.

You can't really have any of these without the others.

For example,
- the nation-state with fixed borders and land ownership are more or less synonymous;
- autocratic nation states/dictatorships are inherently less stable than democracies;
- democracies are less likely to wage war on each other than dictatorships or autocratic states;
- democracy isn't much use if there isn't a defined area within which the rules will apply, to be defended;
- there can be no taxation without government (even though the reverse is just about conceivable);
- democratically elected leaders like to be seen to spend money for the benefit of the masses;
- more spending/redistribution means higher taxation;
- peace is cheaper than war, enabling higher spending for a given level of taxation;
- nation-states themselves are a bit of a confidence trick, they require a national identity/sense of collective, which in turn means some brakes on immigration.
- tax and spending is more or less synonymous with currency;
- which people then use as a unit of measurement for everyday trading;
- which banks then use as a unit of measurement for creating debts i.e. money in the narrow sense;
- but banks are a huge confidence trick, they can only work as long as there is a government to enforce debts for them.

And so on and so forth.


Random said...

Correct Mark, it is all a big scam, but it works. In the end it comes down to they have guns, we do not.
Also there is some legitimacy e.g. democracy but voters are easily mislead and believe propaganda.
See also the illusion of e.g. royalty.

Random said...

"democracy isn't much use if there isn't a defined area within which the rules will apply, to be defended; "
Agreed. See e.g. the Greek elections Jan 2015.
The Greek people just don't matter until they regain their own currency.

Mark Wadsworth said...

R, "royalty" is just one of those confidence tricks which is provably not in any way necessary as there are plenty of Western democracies which are republics.

And agreed re Greece.

Bayard said...

"as there are plenty of Western democracies which are republics"

However, it still boils down to having one person in charge and one figurehead. In "monarchies" the Prime Minister or the PM equivalent is the PIC and the "monarch" is the figurehead. In republics it can be either the PM or the president (in Russia it seems to depend on which one is Mr Putin). If you are going to have a figurehead, does it really matter if they are elected or not?

A K Haart said...

Good point. It makes debate difficult because unless people recognise their own assumptions they can't understand contrarian arguments.

Lola said...

I actually don't think that there is anything extra-ordinary about all this. Democracy works reasonably well UNTIL SOME IDIOT INVENTED 'SOCIALISM' (or however you wish to brand your particular favourite version of authoritarianism), and realised that by smoke and mirrors and, well, deceit he/she could buy the votes and allegiance of Lenin's 'useful idiots' - which brings us round to Indian Bicycle Marketing.

Random said...
A "northern powerhouse" based on ever rising house prices, just like London. Yippeee! No control over levels of VAT though, that would help the evil non-rentier businesses.

Random said...
Tearful over the "mansion tax."

Random said...

Sol Campbell KLN.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, the point about royal families is that they underpin the whole class structure and underline the fact that landowners are better than ordinary peasants.

An elected president does not (necessarily) do this - some European presidents are posh and some are chavs.

Bayard said...

I disagree: the class structure is part of our national psyche and would easily survive the removal of the monarchy. The Scandinavian countries are mostly monarchies and seems a lot more classless than the UK. Rentiers will always outclass workers, because rentiers don't have to work, and not working for a living is better than working for a living in most people's eyes.

Random said...

"not working for a living is better than working for a living in most people's eyes."
Unless they are poor and require welfare benefits.

Bayard said...

If you can call welfare benefits "a living".