[ExI] size of polities

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Feb 18 00:44:34 UTC 2008

Jef writes

>> One obvious idea that emerges from this is that most nations
>> are too large to properly reflect the desires of an individual
>> citizen.
> ... 
> A broader view might restate your assessment in terms of information
> technology..., recognizing that while historically "obvious" that a nation
> could not effectively represent, let alone model, the fine-grained
> values-complexes of its constituents, we have now at hand [a new]
> technology...

Well, yes, but this perhaps does not address the main point that
no matter how accurately we aggregate desires or values, the
larger the number of inputs, the further will be the expected
outcome from the desires or values of any particular person.

For example, if my town-house complex, or at least my community,
could replace Sacramento and Washington as having the most
effect on my life, then not only would I have greater say, but
the chances are that the result would be far closer to my own
desires, and in accord with my own values, simply because
the conditions that the other people live under here would
obviously much, much more closely resemble mine than do
those of the people of a vast nation.

> capable of representing, modeling, aggregating
> our values in **better** detail than we previously could know even
> ourselves, c.f. amazon, lastfm, pandora, etc.
> Your other implicit assumption, again correct within historical
> context, is that our actions, whether at the level of the individual
> or the group (nation), normally reflect our **desires**, rather than
> express our **values**

Even reading on, I don't quite see why that distinction is important.

> The significance of this distinction is twofold: (1) action at the
> level of the group... is an expression of a maximally coherent
> comprehension of the group values-complex, functionally
>  beyond the comprehension of its constituents,

Whew!  I always have to read many of your sentences two
or three times. Okay, this sounds like the people themselves
don't really grok the resultant group-action, to which they
individually contributed, and that that group-action is actually
consistent only with some higher level values of the
group-as-a-whole.  It sounds scary, really:  on this note a nation
might invade another country, or pass a lot of legislation, without
any individuals really wanting to...   :-)

Do you read French fluently, by the way?

> and (2) to the extent that specific outcomes within a complexly
> evolving environment are unpredictable, it is better to discover
> the future by creating it,

But surely the results of the *efforts* to create the future are
equally unpredictable?  "Discovering the future" didn't work
so well following Lenin's announcement atop the railroad 
platform at St. Petersburg:  "We shall now proceed to build
the socialist order."  And later as Malcolm Muggeridge tried
to report "We have seen the future, and it works", trying to
direct future evolution is pretty chancy.

> than to attempt to build to a
> preconceived specification within an incompletely conceived context.

> Apologies in advance for the density of my comments. I am in fact quite dense.

Well  :-) no, not really.  Only your writing.  Egad, but you might 
pause right after completing some very complex sentence (representing
a complex thought), take mercy upon the reader, and then try to
restate just the VERY SAME THING in other words, soasto give
more clues.


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