Wednesday, 9 December 2015


"Briefly there was sorrow in him, an enormous pity for the millions of mankind. They did not know themselves, they fought themselves like wild beasts, tied up in knots, locked in nightmare. Man could be so much if he had the chance."
-Poul Andeson, "The Sensitive Man" IN Anderson, The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981), pp. 131-198 AT p. 155.

Time Patrol training makes Manse Everard the man he should have been. We face the inner nightmare in meditation. A Zen monk told me, "There is a swamp inside. We need to drain it."

Both as a species and as individuals, we were active organisms long before we became reflective subjects. By the time we became able to reflect, we were already:

living with the consequences of past actions;
strongly inclined to continue acting in the same way even if that had been problematic;
lacking in understanding;
attached to inadequate ideas, e.g., blaming scapegoats for social problems.

"'I take it you favor libertarian government...In the past, it's always broken down sooner or later, and the main reason has been that there aren't enough people with the intelligence, alertness, and toughness to resist the inevitable encroachments of power on liberty.'" (p. 173)

The Psychotechnic Institute tries to change individuals and society. I suggest that, if the population are empowered, then power cannot encroach on their liberty. Suggestions:

election and recallability of all public officials;
no elected official to earn more than the average wage or salary of the electorate;
no standing army or professional police force;
the entire population self-organized as a militia for security and defense as long as these functions remain necessary;
conscientious objectors to drive ambulances, fire engines, lifeboats etc instead of carrying weapons.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But even Time Patrol training does not prevent agents from simply making MISTAKES, as we see over and over in the Patrol stories. And the mere fact that some specialization and division of labor and leadership was practiced shows that not all its personnel were equally capable.

But, more fundamentally, I am extremely skeptical of any schemes for Utopian perfection because I believe mankind is imperfect and FALLEN. That is, prone to sin, error, evil, etc.

Let's briefly run thru your list of political suggestions. And I hope you will forgive my skepticism!

Some states of the US have practiced election and recallability of all officials, or at least have it on the law books. Hard, real world practice has been WHOLLY mixed at best. Such methods have NOT prevented corruption and abuse of authority. Nor have recall elections always succeeded (in my opinion, rightly, because some recall elections were inspired by partisan bias).

I'm totally skeptical of the value of having extremely limited salaries for public officials. That has been tried in the past and has never worked. It merely made corruption and abuse of power for personal gain MORE likely.

And I absolutely disagree with your suggestion about no standing armies or professional police forces. In a chaotic, strife torn, competitive world, any nation which insanely disarms itself merely opens the way for it to become prey for aggressive and ARMED neighbors. And you WILL need a police force for preserving internal order and controlling crime.

(Some might object and point to the long continued existence of small, virtually disarmed nations like Andorra, Luxembourg, Bhutan, etc. But that is because such nations are no danger or threat to anyone. And because bigger, more powerful nations have not thought it necessary or desirable to devour them.)

I have no objection, of course, for a militia. But, many nations, including the US, already has that. Most often used as reserve to be activated when needed.

And conscientious objectors will have to be examined rigorously, on a case by case basis, to make sure they are not slackers trying to dodge military service.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
I'm not enough up on the topics to discuss the pros and cons of election and recallability, or of salary limits for public officials (though Sean's argument against it strikes me as making sense).

"No standing armies or professional police forces." I agree entirely with Sean. The complexity of modern weapons systems requires a level of training that can't be fully maintained with a militia system. As Fehrenbach said in *This Kind of War* (non-fiction about the Korean War), the days of Minutemen taking the musket down from over the fireplace and going out to defend their land are LONG gone. (Who's going to store and maintain an Abrams tank in their barn?) And only countries which either have NOTHING anyone wants or are too well-armed to overwhelm are safe from aggressors.

If you don't have a professional police, you've got amateurs trying to do the police job, possibly without understanding rules of evidence. That means cases getting thrown out of court because of contaminated crime scenes, etc. It may also lead to vigilantism and lynch "law." Yes, the cops have to be monitored to keep them from going "us vs. them" against the rest of us, but the alternative isn't likely to be much better.

I have to question Sean's opinion about slackers trying to dodge military service, though. That really applies only if there's conscription ... and the U.S. military at least views conscription as more trouble than it's worth. Draftees typically do NOT want to be in uniform, so extra effort is needed to make them do their assigned jobs. I'm not aware of anyone at the Pentagon who wants to bring back the draft.

Be it noted that a conscientious objector named Desmond Doss won the Medal of Honor for service as a combat medic in WWII. No John Wayne movie ever portrayed a single man being more heroic.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Thanks for your comments! As for public salaries, I had the example of the Roman Empire in mind. For a LONG time civil servants had only very limited salaries. That led to them demanding "fees" from citizens before they would carry out their functions. Eventually it led to them getting real salaries.

I think you are retired from the military, so you would understand more than I can the technicalities of a complex modern army/navy and the long training needed for effective combat.

I agree with your comments about police forces. It takes TRAINING to properly investigate crimes. And to do so in ways that shows respect for the rights of accused persons. Yes, police forces also need to be monitored to guard against abuses.

I yield to your comments about conscientious objectors. The problem of fake ones only arises when conscription is used.