[FoRK] Misunderestimating "The" Tea Party

Jebadiah Moore jebdm at jebdm.net
Sat Mar 20 14:26:29 PDT 2010

On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 8:29 PM, Russell Turpin <russell.turpin at gmail.com>wrote:

> Except I'm not arguing that bigger always leads to more individual
> liberty. I'm objecting to the notion that smaller necessarily does.

One point in favor of bigger -> more liberty is bigger governments must deal
with more varied cultures, and that it's often in the interests of keeping
the peace to be as liberal as possible, to avoid favoring one group
and angering another.  Of course, this doesn't apply as much in situations
where you have a clearly dominant group.

Of course, the common argument for more localized government isn't about
increasing individual liberties.  Local government implies a
more homogeneous culture, which can allow for/encourage culturally specific
laws, which sometimes restrict "freedom" in ways that would be at best
outlandish elsewhere.  But if you are in fact a normal member of the locally
dominant culture, this is probably in your (nominal) interests, because it
means you don't have to deal with people or activities or ideas you don't
like.  And it's hard to establish a really rational argument against this,
even though for a lot of people it's instinctively a bad thing, because to
say that any particular instance (or indeed, the practice as a whole) is
wrong is based on non-universal moral criteria, which are derived from our
own particular backgrounds, and which the dominant groups in relevant areas
obviously don't agree with.

So, other factors notwithstanding, it seems that wider-ranging governments
would tend to exert less social pressure over time, while smaller-ranging
governments would tend to achieve a greater level of social satisfaction.
 So you'd have to pick a balance. Of course, there are a number of
complicating factors: bigger governments tend towards bureaucracy and
totalitarianism, tend to be culturally homogenizing, etc., while smaller
governments tend to get bigger, or merge with other governments, or lose
power, or become unstable, and at the same time democracy can be more
effective within them, and democracy tends to encourage/rely on individual
liberties.  Not to mention the effects of international trade, travel,
national identity and associated class rifts, etc.

Jebadiah Moore

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