Social Challenges: Politics

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When we look at politics, it is hard to separate the challenges from the solutions.

Many people seem to look down on politics, but it is the only tool we have for reshaping society.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” [1]
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men” [2]

Engagement in party politics is difficult for many people, in part because each party has some policies you like and some you dislike: sometimes there is one major issue which outweighs all the others, but at other times it may be a question of choosing the party which you most agree with.  There are many issues which underly our political debates and decisions, which are rarely acknowledged in the debates (see Politics: Some underlying Issues).

Another reason why party politics is difficult for many people, is that it is deeply tribal: party members are supposed to support their party and oppose the other parties, partly because (it is assumed) they agree with their party's position, and partly out of basic loyalty.  Until you are within such a tribe, it can be very difficult to imagine yourself behaving in such a way. From the outside it can often look very petty, while on the inside it can feel deeply important (we are under attack!), and the tribal behaviour of all the parties can look very unattractive from the outside.

Our political parties are deeply flawed institutions, but they are still the only legal tools we have if we want to change society; and while we can criticize them from the outside, the most effective way to make them less flawed is from the inside (see Politics: Can You Retain Your Integrity?).

You can stop worrying about the danger of Artificial Intelligence taking over the world: it has already happened. The world is run by organizations - businesses, multinational corporations - which operate according to their own systems and logic. Many of them are legally people but, despite the many people working within them, they are - quite literally - not human. They are inhuman creatures, entities which we have created but cannot control, and they run the world (see What Controls the World?).

Brexit is possibly the most divisive political event in the history of the UK. The fallout from Brexit has left almost everybody hurt and feeling cheated. This is an attempt to understand how we achieved such an unhappy outcome. If we can agree about what happened, perhaps this will help us find a way forward (see Brexit: Understanding What Happened).

A central part of politics is economics.  Among the solutions to our problems here is Universal Basic Income, which is an important part of the Post Scarcity movement seeking to change our mindset and behaviour (see the Vox article, A utopian strand of economic thought is making a surprising comeback).



(Note 1) This quote is usually attributed to Edmund Burke, but is more probably derived from John Stuart Mill's 1867 address at the University of St. Andrews.

(Note 2) This is the usual form of the quote from Plato, The Republic, Book I. Another translation says, "Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself."


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