Civility and Freedom
Optimists with little understanding of human nature will look forward to
continuing social progress in the 21st century. The hope is that rapidly
regenerating social problems are solvable by improving social policy and
allocating money to social programs. The hope is that authoritarian regimes will
be transformed by inspired citizens into fully functional and secular democratic
states. The hope is that inspired politicians will be elected to office and
will, by some administrative magic, do better than previously elected
administrators. However, meaningful political changes emerge slowly and are
built from the bottom up rather than imposed from the top down.
A civil society is built from many constructive organizations that thrive in
local communities. Citizens of the 21st century can be quite sure that top-down
solutions will not work and the tendency toward centralized political and
economic control will need to be modified or abandoned. The realist will
recognize that "social progress" is not a progression of rational responses to
problems, proceeding toward some ultimate solution for human deficiencies and
aberrations. The realist recognizes an unchanging human nature expresses all its
contradictions in a turbulent, often violent and recursive manner. A
knowledgeable realist will assume that governments are inherently unreliable.
This is axiomatic and not a critique of individual participants.
Each citizen in a free, civil society does have a responsibility to protect
his or her freedom and right to life by insisting on bottom-up solutions to
problems. This means that the local community decides what is in its best
interests; not a distant and autocratic authority. When central authority
becomes autocratic, it should be replaced, but often armed insurrection is
required that may lead to persistent conflict over decades with deplorable acts
of destruction and killing. The best way to replace bad governments in truly
democratic countries is to vote against politicians who formed the dysfunctional
Humans do need rules. Police are a requirement for civility when populations
exceed 150 people, since conflict-reducing group dynamics tend to fail as groups
get larger. Impersonal rules are weak without conspicuous enforcement. In some
jurisdictions, policemen and policing strategies have become more friendly and
intelligent. There are opportunities for advances in policing strategies. One
strategy is community policing which works best when combined with the
intelligent restoration of true communities. Community police integrate with
their neighborhoods, enlist the cooperation of good citizens, study local
criminal behaviors and create preventive strategies. Heavily armed,
authoritative police who tend to be secretive are to be deplored. Swat squads
are a regressive step toward military control of civilian populations. The
universal challenge for all societies is to achieve civility and freedom without
the use of weapons. Disarmament of homes, policing agencies and military
organizations is a priority. Can you imagine unarmed policeman and soldiers?
In my discussion of Universities, I argued that students and faculty are
smarter and better informed than other humans and have an extra duty to provide
leadership toward realizing liberal and rational humanitarian means and goals.
In doomsday, I suggested that US Presidents and their administrations often act
irrationally and arbitrarily without compassion or remorse. Belligerence in
government is least likely to be constrained by ordinary political processes and
must be opposed by citizen's coalitions who are committed to rational and
peaceful solutions to world problems and are willing to act with courage and
determination close to home.
Constructive citizen advocacy requires protection at all levels in the
society, starting with the local media. Police need to protect citizens' rights
to speak, to meet and discuss and to engage in peaceful demonstrations. Some
principles of monitoring government action must be clearly understood and always
advocated by freedom-living citizens. For example, you need a common
understanding of the essential characteristics and tasks for a President of the
USA, indeed for all leaders of all countries. The performance of leaders must be
evaluated carefully according to well-established criteria.
Requirements for a free society
Diversity among individuals and groups is good. Local control is good.
Distant control is bad. Competition is good. Monopoly is bad.
Rational thinking and free access to information are good. Dogmatic belief is
bad. Propaganda and coercion are bad. Freedom of speech is good.
Religious beliefs are properties of local groups and individuals. Tolerance
for different beliefs is good. Imposition of personal beliefs on others through
government agencies and law is very bad.
Obedience to charismatic and dogmatic leaders is bad.
Support for equal rights is good. All claims of superiority and special
privilege are bad. Equality of opportunity and equal treatment under the law is
Special rights and privileges to minority groups for any reason are bad, even
if the minority group appears to be privileged or disadvantaged.
Some, but not unlimited redistribution of money and resources is good.
Economic constraints on or punishment of successful, creative people and
innovative groups is bad.
Private property, the protection of privacy and security of the home are all
good. Violation of the sanctity of the home is bad. Government surveillance and
interference in the private lives of individuals is very bad.
Intelligent regulation of the public behavior of citizens is good.
Unregulated policing is bad.
Domestic activity of military forces is extremely bad, except for disaster
Free and permissive education is good. Science is essential. Restricted and
autocratic education is bad.
Restoring the natural environment is good. Harming the environment is bad.
Controlling population growth is good. Unregulated reproduction is very bad.
Community support of children with generous provision of food, shelter,
nurturing communities, health care and education is essential.
You should require a country's leaders:
to be properly qualified by education and experience
to be healthy, sane and morally beyond reproach
to protect, advance and not threaten civil liberties
to transcend partisan politics and represent all citizens equitably
to be honest and forthright in public discourse, not deliberately deceptive
to form meaningful alliances with other countries and to avoid conflict
to support education, science, arts, and equitable economic development
to protect and restore natural environments
to avoid war and sustain the intention to seek the well-being of all citizens
of planet earth.
to act on a special duty to dismantle the remaining
hydrogen bombs that are poised and ready to kill other humans in a genocidal
extravaganza that planet earth may only witness once.