Aspirations and Principles

The IParty will be guided by a set of aspirations and principles. This set of competing virtues will be followed internally, and promoted externally, as part of any system with which the IParty interacts. What follows is a rough draft of those principles and aspirations, to be embellished and pruned over time.

A.     Effective Feedback

Complex dynamic real-world systems with a particular utility often use feedback. Feedback, at minimum, takes information from the output of the system and provides it to one of the inputs of the system. Typically, the system has a means to compare the fed back output information with a reference or desired output, and adjust the inner workings of the system to change the current output to more closely match the desired output.

Voting, polling, and reporting are examples of feedback in real world political systems. The IParty should employ systems engineers with real experience designing complex systems with feedback to design better polling and voting systems. We have people in this country who have designed systems using Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) systems for our cell phones, with incredibly complex feedback between the base station (cell tower) and mobile handset. Yet, we still limp along with political systems which have barely evolved since the eighteenth century. We need to put some of our great engineers on this problem.

We must also not forget history, and believe that the lessons of history are not relevant because of our new technology. History is a great source of cultural feedback for long term lessons and wisdom (or in technical terms, design rules for a republic). For example, we must never forget that people, in general, crave power over other people even more than they crave freedom. History has shown this again and again. Freedom and democracy must always be guarded against tyranny, or they will be lost. In this way, history can be used to provide feedback to maintain a system which prevents people’s craving for power from creating a tyranny.

For a great exposition of the lessons of history, see Rufus Fears “The Wisdom of History”, which can be listened to as a series of audio lectures published by the Teaching Company. Also see Rufus Fears “The History of Freedom”. Anyone with a long commute or other tedious tasks can make those tasks more enjoyable listening to this entertaining professor.

B.     Division and Balance of Power

Power should be divided among specialized organizations which have an expertise in a particular function, and a power to maintain control of that function, where the function is recognized as vital to the overall function of the system. The divisions within society must get signals from each other to regulate their inputs and outputs.

C.     Accounting for Human Nature

Much of our good fortune is due to the wisdom of a few people who formed our system of government. One of the best explanations of the rationale for a constitutionally divided democratic republic comes from James Madison in the Federalist No. 51 of the Federalist Papers. It is written in the language of the age, but remains relevant.

“But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

What Madison said in 1788 remains true because human nature has not significantly changed. We do not have, and never will have, a government of angels. Yet because ordinary people acting as government officials have made the rules, they have made themselves literally and practically immune from the normal system of restorative correction when these non-angels perform poorly. The system should be reformed to correct the current imbalance of power where government officials are given greater power and protection while being held to lower standards than non-government citizens.

History shows again and again that individual people will put their own interests in front of the interests of millions of others if they are capable. This happens every day. Every system must be designed to prevent a devolution into a rank dictatorship.

D.     Stability

While no human progress can be made in a perfectly stable system, stability is the essence of having a system. Unstable systems generally cease to operate.

i.) the system should be resistant to destruction by plague and disaster

ii) the system should be resistant to sabotage, subversion and corruption. This generally means that the system should have a governing set of morals to which the people within the system agree. The proper functioning of a system depends on the people, their education, and their code of conduct. A system cannot function well if it is run by a bunch of corrupt saboteurs, or if the voting body is fundamentally corrupt.

Sabotage, subversion and corruption usually operate using fear, violence, deception, lies, greed and bribery. The vast majority of the party and government actors need to reject the use of fear, violence, deception, lies, greed, and bribery as anything but tactics of last resort used only during times of open warfare waged for the continued existence of freedom and democracy. These tactics should never be used to subvert a foreign democracy, and leaders and representatives should make an oath never to do so. Using these tactics to subvert any democracy, foreign or domestic, is fundamentally immoral and wrong. Their use should be shunned and punished by members of the IParty.

Further, a code of conduct and a set of morals should be developed by the IParty to guide the actions of members and representatives.

E.     Simplicity

This means avoiding unnecessary complexity which harms the overall system. Complexity makes a system difficult to understand, operate and repair.

F.     Transparency and Openness (Honesty)

Secrecy is at odds with democracy. In order for everyone to vote on an issue and determine the course of events, the issue must not be secret. Secrecy is also unstable, and easily destroyed by accident, foreign opposition, or by one individual revealing secrets. The desire to keep a secret often leads to dishonesty. Transparency is more stable if the majority will is to maintain transparency. A few people keeping secrets will not destroy the general transparency of the system.

G.     Self-Governance

This is the essence of democracy, that people first choose what system of government they will have. Self governance cannot happen without democracy.

H.     Freedom of Choice for Individuals

Personal freedom- for example freedom to go where you want, eat what you want, be with who you want– is vital if the system is to be desirable by the general populace.

I.      Accounting for General Welfare

Marie Antoinette. Enough said. Almost. The general welfare means that you live in a country where you don’t get mugged or kidnapped walking down the street. Your neighbors are interesting, educated folks who don’t cause unnecessary problems, and vote intelligently. When the differences between rich and poor become too great, the system begins to break down, and neither the rich nor the poor are better off.

J.      Rewards Good Behavior

While good behavior is often its own reward, this may be due to prior experience and training. A system which does not reward good behavior is substandard.

K.     Punishes Bad Behavior while Sparing the Innocent

One technique of punishing bad behavior is punishing a whole group of people to ensure punishment of one or a small number of bad actors. This technique can become oppressive and counterproductive. Example 1: violating the U.S. Constitution by spying on everyone to catch a few terrorists. Yes, terrorism is bad. Unlawfully taking away the general public’s freedom is worse. Example 2: trying to take away everyone’s weapons because a few people killed a few other people. The system should instead catch the few perpetrators and put them in jail. The system must not take away the general public’s freedom.

L.     Equality– Treats All People the Same

Similarly situated people should be treated the same under the law. Rich people shouldn’t be excused for “affluenza” (e.g. Ethan Couch) or because they wouldn’t “fare well” in the prison system (Robert H. Richards IV).

M.    Appearance of Participation

The system must convince most people that they are participants and what they do matters. It helps if this is not only true, but also apparent.

N.     Appearance of Fairness

This is probably a composite of the above qualities. People have an almost instinctual need for fairness. Many people will take pains and efforts to prevent people from getting an unfair deal. It’s generally called “revenge”. This is human nature, and must be embraced. If people perceive a system to be fair, they are much more likely to support and preserve the system.

O.     Power Through Democracy

Freedom and power are competing forces in human affairs. Monarchies and dictatorships have only a few powerful people, and therefore are weaker than democracies. With democracy, all people in the system have power. Democracies are inherently stronger than dictatorships. It is a fallacy and historically inaccurate to believe the reverse.

In the past, the United States has helped dictatorships, believing that certain dictators may be more friendly to US interests. This type of short term thinking must be resisted and rebuked. The US should always respect and support democratic systems of government in other countries, even when they are perceived to be less friendly and more of a competitive threat both economically and militarily.

P.       Flexibility

General principles will conflict. A principle of supporting foreign democratic governments may at times conflict with other principles. For example, a foreign democratic government may decide to set off a nuclear weapon above a city in the United States. This would conflict with a general principle of not having nuclear weapons go off above US cities. When general principles conflict, we must have some flexibility with one of the principles. The “no setting off nukes above US cities” principle is pretty firm, and doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. The “supporting foreign democratic powers” principle would need an exception in this case.

Q.     Golden Rule

The golden rule transcends any one religion, and is a simple moral principle which is appropriate to use between free people in a democratic society. Too often, people have an urge to press their advantage in a given situation beyond what is appropriate. The golden rule should be used to create the good will and charity necessary to a well functioning society

R.     Long Term Thinking

Successful organizations often must sacrifice short term gains for long term value. Creating a good brand embodies this value. Shoddy products which could turn a quick profit must not be released. High quality products preserve customer base and build brand value.

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