[ExI] Cosmopolitanism, collective epistemology and other issues

Tara Maya tara at taramayastales.com
Sun Jul 10 15:06:46 UTC 2016

You may have heard of the Bootlegger and the Baptist? (Hint: they both supported Prohibition.) In an old shoe box in the garage, I found a dusty, type-written version of that parable that I thought I’d share. It has no relation to any current issues, of course.

A Parable (With Nothing To Do With Brexit)

Once upon a time there was a tiny Little Village, which, though rather isolated from neighboring villages, was a pleasant and prosperous place to live. In fact, this village was so tiny there were only ten adults of voting age in the entire village. Yet, small as was, the village was a liberal democracy (with a Majority Party and an Opposition Party). True, the Opposition Party had but one voter, the man who was running against the town mayor. The nine other voters were all happy with the current Mayor, including the Mayor, if she did say so herself.


One contentious issue did divide the villagers: alcohol. One of them, you see, was a Teetotaler, who held liquor to be the root of all evil, and this fellow constantly harangued the others about about the sins of drink. The rest of the village tolerated his intolerance, since it did them no harm, even though they continued to enjoy a glass of wine at home over dinner or a beer with friends at the pub.


Only two other people in the village supported the Teetotaler. One, strangely enough, was the owner of the pub. He convinced the Leader of the Opposition Party that they could ally themselves with the Teetotaler by proposing a compromise: Strict Regulation of Alcohol. How about a law that one could only drink in the pub, and each customer must report the number of drinks consumed, the kind of drink, and the hours spent drinking? The Teetotaler supported Regulation because it came closest to outlawing alcohol; the Businessman supported Regulation because it would give him a monopoly over selling booze; and the Politician supported it because he now had two more potential voters than he had before. Everyone else, though, hated the idea, and still outvoted the proposed Regulation by seven to three votes.


The Politician now happened upon a fantastic idea. Whereas the Little Village had always been isolated in the past, technology now made it easy to visit other villages. Neighboring villages were, on the whole, much larger—and their people much poorer—than the Little Village. The other villages weren’t all democracies, and even those that were didn’t have as many liberties as the Little Village. But some other villages did have large numbers of people who hated alcohol, although for slightly different reasons than the Teetotaler in the Little Village.


The Politician invited three newcomers to live in the Little Village. Of course, there weren’t houses for them yet, so the Teetotaler did his part by asking one house owner to take in a newcomer as a Refugee; the Tradesman did his part by asking one house owner to rent a room to a newcomer because the new fellow had a job in the pub and it would benefit everyone economically; and the Politician told a third house owner that he ought to take in a guest because he might be a guest in another village some day, and the free movement of peoples was a great thing.


The Opposition Party began agitating for Strict Regulation of Alcohol. They now had six supporters in all and the other side realized that their seven voters were in danger of losing their majority; not because a majority of the original Little Villagers had been convinced to change their minds after debate and discussion, but because the immigrants had swelled the ranks of what had once been a minority position. There were now six (potential) voters for Regulation and only seven opposed. Furthermore, the Opposition Party proposed to bring in even more immigrants. All of whom, coincidently, were likely to be in favor of Strict Regulation of Alcohol.


The Mayor also noticed this trend. But instead of opposing the immigration of more Teetotalers, she announced that she—supported it! Why? For the most altruistic of reasons, naturally: to free trade, to open boarders, to help refugees. And also, it had not failed to catch her attention that the proposed new Regulations would give her much, much more information about the voters than ever before, and she began to plot how she would use her new knowledge to manipulate voters. Of course, the Majority Party would now support the Regulation agenda.


The other original Little Villagers objected to the situation and demanded the right to vote on whether new immigrants should be allowed to settle in the village. But by now, with the defection of the Mayor, they had indeed lost their majority. The Little Village voted seven to six to bring in more immigrants, and seven to six to make some original homeowners (but not the Politician or the Tradesman, of course) share their homes with the newcomers. And soon enough, as more new voters poured in, every vote became eight to six, then nine to six, then twenty to six, and then a hundred to six.


For the Politicians of both parties had discovered that whenever they wanted to win an election or impose a new Regulation that increased their own power, all they had to do was import more voters who would keep voting them into power. The Politicians could buy as many new voters as they liked by giving away the houses, food, jobs and even daughters of their neighbors. That was the beauty of combining "open" borders with an ever more-powerful, regulatory, welfare state. Until it finally dawned on the Politicians that—since so many of the immigrants didn’t come from democracies in the first place—these new denizens wouldn’t miss it when it was gone, and the Little Village (which was now a rather Big Village) voted democracy right out of existence.

No one was more surprised than the pub owner when alcohol was banned completely and he was taken out into the square and beheaded.

The moral of the story: At least they weren’t racist.


Tara Maya
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