[ExI] size of polities

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Feb 17 17:36:44 UTC 2008

Stathis wrote

> Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
>> ### By contrast, the state writes the laws, with
>> no or almost no input from you, without freely given
>> consent and goes on to enforce them against you,
>> without an impartial protector on your side.
> The state writes its own laws *with* input from you if it is a
> democracy. Unfortunately, even if you live in Lichtenstein,
> the large number of club members means that one vote
> doesn't count for very much.

One obvious idea that emerges from this is that most nations
are too large to properly reflect the desires of an individual
citizen. The U.S. in effect tried to solve this problem by
having numerous states with separate laws, but eventually
most regulation was taken over by the federal government.

More people would vote if the representatives they were
electing could effectively represent them in much smaller
legislatures, too.

> Moreover, in a democracy and in theory (if often not in
> practice) even in an autocracy there is an impartial body that
> enforces the laws, namely the courts. It's the principle of
> "separation of powers".

Courts that rule over very large regions containing very 
many people tend to embrace very abstract ideals at the
cost of local knowledge. A good example is the American
Supreme Court's boldness in trying to address schoolroom
conditions all over the vast nation. Why should whatever
is true about some small school in South Carolina be true
of a California school in the middle of Los Angeles?

> This usually breaks down when one state attacks another
> state: the US can do things to foreigners on foreign
> soil that it would have difficulty doing to its own citizens
> because there is no world government or world court
> with any teeth. And I assume a body with such universal
> jurisdiction and power of enforcement would be a
> libertarian's worst nightmare.

Wouldn't it be a bad nightmare for everyone? Imagining
what our laws would look like with respect to, say, whether
honor killings can be done in public or not, illustrates very
well this same problem of trying for "one-size-fits-all" laws.

It is best to allow the smallest groups possible to set their
own laws, except that for purposes of efficiency nations
probably will want to be of some minimal size at least.


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