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[ontolog-forum] Offlist re: Self Interest Ontology: Emotions in animals

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 03 Jan 2012 19:16:23 -0500
Message-id: <4F039A57.60401@xxxxxxxx>


Rich Cooper wrote:
>
> Dear John,
>
>  
>
> You wrote:
>
> Things would have been far better for the Afghan people, Pakistan, the 
> US, the Russian people, and the entire world if Reagan and the CIA had 
> done nothing. 
>
>  
>
> Yes, in generalized form, the conclusion I draw is that organizations 
> err on the side of doing *too much*, especially as suggested by the 
> ideas of Isaiah Berlin as documented by Curtis, and as supported by 
> the numerous examples which he shows. 
>
>  
>
> So more generally, the consistently human error is in doing *too much* 
> when we think we are in the right.  That has held true for so many 
> examples in history that it can assumed that every organized plurality 
> of people with a common self interest will eventually go too far if 
> not stopped.
>    (01)

Tell that to the missionaries, the Crusaders and Jihadists.  The 
consistent human error is thinking you are in the right.     (02)

> The notion of checks and balances is sometimes thought to limit just 
> how far the organization can go.  Jefferson was the architect of the 
> American system of checks and balances.  In Brittain, Cromwell hanged 
> the then king for treason.  There was a period of time when England 
> did without a king, but the upper classes, I am told, wanted to cement 
> their roles as ruling class, and reinstated the royal line after 
> Cromwell's death.  Britain's political structure of parliament and 
> elections were intended to provide checks and balances there, I am 
> told by historians.
>    (03)

Well, it took two tries, and the motives of the nobility were largely 
constant.  Cromwell was raised by a newly powerful middle class, 
supported by elements of the nobility that were on the wrong side of 
Charles I, who staunchly believed in the "divine right" of kings.  
Charles used his power to create taxes on those who could afford them 
and were not his friends, mostly to pay for his military mistakes.  When 
that begot an uprising, he tried to squash it in the Syrian style and 
created a revolution.  But the revolution produced a disorganized 
representative government and then a dictatorship.  On Cromwell's 
fortunately timely demise, the middle class and the nobility restored 
the monarchy, after getting Charles II to promise to get Parliament's 
support for any actions he might take.  He walked on eggs for 10 years 
and then died.  His son, James II, was just as much a divine right 
monarch as Charles I, and he actively ripped off properties (and heads) 
from nobles and merchants who crossed him.  That begot a second 
revolution, in which it quickly became clear that the king had few 
friends.   The revolution put his cousin William III (whom James had 
exiled) on the throne and resulted in formalizing the deal they made 
with Charles as a new constitution -- the constitutional monarchy.  It 
made the king the executive of Parliament's will.    (04)

The other problem was that the two James and the two Charles were 
Scottish Catholics ruling a land dominated by English wealth and the 
Church of England.  The divine right "papists" were starting with a 
negative rating.  Elizabeth I might have gotten away with the stuff they 
did -- she was just as much a divine right monarch 50 years earlier -- 
but she didn't have to contend with a wealthy middle class or the 
"Scottish papist" label.  So the definition of "gone too far" depends on 
a lot of factors.    (05)

You also have to realize that the English Civil War and the divine right 
subjugations of wealthy Englishmen led to the creation of Maryland, New 
Hampshire, Connecticut, and the Carolinas, and the interests of the 
merchant class led to wars that bankrupted Cromwell's treasury but added 
New York, New Jersey and Delaware to the British colonies, along with 
assorted islands in the Caribbean.  So, the "13 colonies" benefitted 
from the mess in England.  Charles' problem was trying to conquer 
Ireland and fight France and Sweden, and he lost across the board, while 
Cromwell took on the Netherlands and won, although at similar cost.  The 
political result of winning is usually better than losing -- what you 
did is "too much" if you lost.    (06)

> Dictatorships of all persuasions seem to appeal to the self interest 
> of the dictator and those few forces that keep him in power.  The word 
> "dictate" from Latin simply means to state, much like dictation 
> machines in the old technologies of the fifties.  The connotation is 
> that the dictator has the power to make his statements become real.  
> The rest of the citizens can dictate until the llamas and camels come 
> home, but there wonít be a reality that corresponds to their 
> dictations.  Syria is the most contemporary example I can think of.
>    (07)

The Roman idea of a dictator was the consolidation of executive 
authority in the hands of a single individual for one year in a time of 
national crisis.  Unlike the consuls, who ruled jointly, and proposed 
actions to the Senate for approval, the word of the dictator was law 
when it was spoken.  Consuls consulted the Senate; the dictator simply 
stated his decisions.  So you are right about the term "dictator".  Rome 
had a dozen dictators between 411 B.C. and 49 B.C.  Several of them held 
power for more than one year, but all but one voluntarily relinquished 
the dictatorship when the threat had vanished.  Julius Caesar was the 
first to simply hold power, and even he thought he was just finally 
putting the state in order when he was assassinated.  But he was using 
the office to his personal ends and for his personal aggrandizement -- 
so he was the paradigm for modern dictators, most notably Mussolini.    (08)

>
> Democracies spread the base of power somewhat by letting citizens 
> express their choice through voting within a limited set of options.  
> That means the self interest of the electorate has a greater voice.  
> But it doesnít mean democracies are any less subject to Isaiah 
> Berlin's warning.  Athens warred on other city states, forcing their 
> own self interest to be realized.  The North invaded the South in the 
> American civil war to enforce their economic interests.
>    (09)

And for many other reasons.  The looms of New England cared about the 
availability of southern cotton.  But the shipping industry didn't 
really care what flag flew over the harbors as long as they were welcome 
and could make a buck.  And the rest of the North had little economic 
interest in the South at all.  There was a strong anti-slavery push from 
the Northern populace, and an equally strong belief in "the sacred 
union" -- that America was destined to be a united land, and a divided 
U.S. would be economically and militarily overrun by European powers.  
But you are right -- it was the Southern oligarchy that caused the 
secessions, and the Northern populace, not the leadership, that drove 
the North to war.  (But Lincoln was a staunch unionist, so he was willing.)    (010)

> So the only concept of which I am aware that can limit the power of 
> any organization is some kind of well constructed set of checks and 
> balances, but even that is not sufficient.  It is only a step in the 
> right direction until we can come up with a better way to limit 
> organizations more effectively. 
>
>  
>
> But there will always be zealous advocates who persuade organizations 
> to do too much.  Sad, but true.  I donít see a way to stop said 
> organizations from doing too much.  But by modeling self interest, we 
> may be able to learn how to detect, perhaps even automate the 
> detection, of when the organizations are going too far.
>    (011)

As I said above, the problem is:  too much for whom?  "Too much" is a 
judgement made by the other side.  And it follows Churchill's 
observation that history is written by the winners.    (012)

-Ed    (013)

>  
>
> JMHO,
>
> -Rich
>
>  
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Rich Cooper
>
> EnglishLogicKernel.com
>
> Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
>
> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2
>
>  
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
> [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
> Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 1:38 PM
> To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology: Emotions in animals
>
>  
>
> On 1/3/2012 1:58 PM, Rich Cooper wrote:
>
> > But the very righteousness that drove the revolutionaries,
>
> > they felt, justified taking inhumane steps to force people
>
> > to be in line with their plans, since they felt their plans
>
> > would bring good.  Instead, their  convictions turned out
>
> > to be the cause of their downfall.
>
>  
>
> Fundamental principle:  never trust anybody who claims
>
> to know the will of God or anything else that is too
>
> complex for anybody else to understand.
>
>  
>
> > The Sandinistas, for example, which even Reagan supported.
>
>  
>
> Reagan also funneled money through the CIA to support
>
> Osama bin Laden in the fight against the Soviet Union
>
> in Afghanistan.  He even sent money to the Taliban to
>
> recruit and train more fighters against the USSR.
>
>  
>
> That was another example of people who thought that they
>
> were doing what was right.  Things would have been far
>
> better for the Afghan people, Pakistan, the US, the
>
> Russian people, and the entire world if Reagan and the
>
> CIA had done nothing.
>
>  
>
> John
>
>  
>
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>  
>    (014)

-- 
Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800    (015)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (016)


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