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volume II: Synopsis

section V: Applied Divinity

page 36: Politics

'Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good. . . . Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal.' Aristotle, Politics I, 1.

Politics is for us the process of creation, operation and annihilation of human communities. Aristotle noted that we are political animals because we cannot live well except in communities. Our communities are effectively communication networks that enable us to harmonize our activity for maximum productivity.

The world has infinite variety, but it also has physical constraints. We can only do one thing at a time, so we must choose between the possibilities. This process of choice is politics. We may see politics as the interplay of reality and desire. Like other features of the universal network, it operates at all scales but here we concentrate on our human layer. Politics - Wikipedia

A principal question for politics is getting people to work together. History exhibits a spectrum approaches ranging from absolute monarchies with the monarch (like Stalin) having power of life and death over everybody, to a an ideal democracy which distributes power equally to everyone. Power (philosophy) - Wikipedia, Monarchy - Wikipedia,

Neither extreme is very practical: no single person can manage all the details of a large community. A monarch must leave some discretion to subordinates. On the other hand, the need to make quick decisions that affect the whole population (like going to war) or dealing with a disadter, require that sovereign power of the people be concentrated in a quasi-monarchical executive.

The best solution to this dilemma which has evolved to date is a constitutional democracy which distributes power between an elected parliament which enacts laws, an executive constrained to act according to the laws, and a judiciary to maintain quality control over the parliament and the executive. Implementing this solution is not easy. Although the democratic ideal is slowly spreading, military dictatorships are still very common and even in the most democratic of countries the military, with its monopoly on violence, often enjoys disproportionate power. Democracy - Wikipedia, Spanish transition to democracy - Wikipedia

Although we are inclined to decry violence as irrational, evolutionary theory suggests that it is just a reasonable to die fighting for a larger share of the resources available than to die of starvation. To prevent violence, therefore, a political system needs to address all human needs, not just for food, but for housing, health care, education, freedom and self esteem.

Monarchical systems tend to maintain order by violence. As history reveals, rational monarchs usually need to kill all pretenders to their throne if they wish to keep their own heads. Democratic systems, on the other hand, maintain order by giving people what they want (within the constraints of reality) by maintaining a dialogue with the population and explaining the reasons behind their policies.

Those of a despotic bent ('the right wing') may fear that democracy is dangerous because it gives power to 'ignorant' people rather than the traditional elite. This problem is solved by education. Despots often seek limit education and kill the intelligentsia. Democracies seek universal education, since they are guided not by belief in the divine right of kings, but by trust is the world revealed by common experience and passed on by education.

Every political grouping must have both an 'interior' policy and a 'foreign' policy to deal with its own survival and its relationships with its neighbours. A government must raise sufficient funds to pay for its operations, usually by taxing its people and trading with its neighbours. When taxes are unfair and collected by violence, and trade turns to plunder, people are inclined to revolt. Democracy calms this violence by giving the taxpayers a say in how the taxes are spent and by promoting fair trade as the legitimate source of wealth.

Natural theology suggests that dictatorship is unstable and that any succession of regimes will evolve toward a more complex and more peaceful situation, ie the entropy in the human space will increase. Furthermore, it suggests that it is possible identify and control the root causes of the starvation that drives us to war.

These causes include overpopulation, overconsumption and more generally, anti-social behaviour, often caused by perceived unfairness.

We deal with overpopulation with population control, coupled to health care. For much of our history it would seem that the mortality rate, particularly among infants, was so high that survival required people to breed as fast as possible. Now with adequate health care, housing and other services, it is possible to maintain population size with slightly over two children per woman. There is no further need for those religious precepts that emphasize reproduction over communication in their attitude to sexuality. Human population control - Wikipedia

In the early days of human existence there might have only been about a million of us, and our basic material requirement was adequate food. Now there are about 7 billion of us, each consuming about one hundred times as much energy and material as we did in our original state. Our 'ecological footprint' on the earth has increased by a factor of about a million. The conflict arising from the struggle for resources can be abated if we can learn to maintain quality of life which reducing our load on the Earth. Ecological footprint - Wikipedia

Overall, an important determinant of our survival is how we act. It is the role of education to instill in the newborn the habits of action that will fit them to survive in their community. Theological science seeks to guide education toward insights believed to maximise the satisfaction of human existence. Our health will be maximized when we can all agree on a sound basis for cooperation. Education - Wikipedia

Good religion precludes such political expedients as killing everyone who does not fit some dictatorial version of social suitability. Murder is certainly out, but so are all the subtler methods of social exclusion like legislated inequality, and the promotion of discord in the community based on language, occupation, race, ethnicity, religion, football or anything else that breaks human symmetry. Genocide - Wikipedia

Our world is creative: entropy has a tendency to increase. If we are to fit the Universe, we too must enter this flow and design our political systems to allow creativity. By maximizing the entropy of the political space in which we live, we maximize the meaningfulness and value of each of our lives, since the information of a point in a space is equal to the entropy of that space.

Justice works to organize all the human niches in the world to give their occupiers equal chances, making life fair. Perceived fairness increases freedom and reduces tension. Justice incorporates the notions of truth, equality and freedom that contribute to the maximization of communication and the minimization of social errors that threaten stability. By stability here we do not mean the absence of change, but controlled change, moving to suit our changing environment. Navigating the ship of state is exactly analogous to driving a motor vehicle. As young drivers learn, it is dangerous to lose control as disaster often follows. Justice - Wikipedia

The ancient religions evolved during periods of monarchical control and often assume that their system of governance is divinely ordained. No doubt the divine ordinances upon which these religions are based are the product of long tradition, and have proven their fitness for the multitude of people who follow their guidance. Their fundamental difficulty is that they lack the bandwidth to deal with the rate of change imposed by the modern environment. Religion - Wikipedia

From a formal point of view, a democracy is a network of peers. The processing power of such a network is greater than that of any individual processor within it, so that we expect a community of peers to be much more flexible than a monarchy and therefore fitter in the evolutionary sense.

We are in a period of continuing political revolution characterised by the breakdown of despotism. There is a need for parallel development in religion. The ancient religions assume that societies can be made stable by maintaining ancient traditions in the face of a changing world.

The approach to religion favoured here is based on the recognition that the Universe is divine, so that the God we must satisfy is around us and in us, open for all of us to see and feel. Our religious foundation (and its political consequences) can thus be built on our local, distributed, direct vision of God. We no longer need a central authority to keep us on the straight and narrow. Instead, it is we who need to keep the executive under control so that it will respond to our desires.

The safe exploitation of our planetary habitat requires global political harmony built on a true practical religious foundation. The unity of science is based on evidence and the unity of the world we study. We expect the theological unity arising from the exploration of one visible God to lead to religious unity. Given religious unity, we have a hope of political unity, that is a political network with protocols and bandwidth sufficient to cope with all the issues arising in communal life on earth.

(revised 27 May 2013)

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Further reading


Click on the "Amazon" link below each book entry to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)

Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, W W Norton and Co 1997 'Diamond's book is complex and a bit overwhelming. But the thesis he methodically puts forth--examining the "positive feedback loop" of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation, and on and on--makes sense. Written without favor, Guns, Germs, and Steel is good global history.' 
Diamond, Jared, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Viking Adult 2004 'As suggested by its title, this book is about societal collapses - past, present and future - and the factors that cause human societies to fail. ... [Diamond's] primary mission is to determine the ecological, political and cultural conditions that lead to collapse and to contrast these with the conditions that favour success. ... Collapse is based on a series of detailed case studies. ... Diamond then provides a fuller exploration of the many rich parallels between these historic cases and select modern societies. ... What emerges most clearly from [his] analysis is the central role played by environmetnal decay in undermining human societies. ... In the end, [his] painstaking toil in the deep mines of history rewards him with sufficient nuggets of hope that he emerges 'cautiously optimistic' about the human prospect. ... The most important lesson to be drawn from Collapse is that resilient societies are nimble ones, capable of long term planning and of abandoning deeply entrenched but ultimately destructive core values and beliefs. This, in turn, requires a well informed public, inspired leadership and the political will to go against the established order of things. ... ' William Rees, Nature 433:15, 6 January 2005.  
Forsyth, Muray, and Maurice Keens-Soper (editors), The Political Classics: A guide to the Essential Texts, Oxford University Press 1992 Jacket: 'This book aims to make the classical writings of Western political philosophy accessible to the modern reader. It provides a lively and informed introduction to some of the greatest works of political thought, starting with Plato's Republic and ending with Rousseau's Social Contract. The other works examined are Aristotle's Politics, Augustine's The City of God, Machiavelli's Discourses and The Prince, Hobbes's Leviathan, and Locke's Second Treatise of Government.' 
Gaddis, John Lewis, The Cold War: A New History, The Penguin Press 2005 Jacket: 'Many will remember what it was like to live under the shadow of the Cold War: the ever-present anxiety that at some point, because of some miscalculation or act of hubris, we might find ourselve sin the middle of a nuclear holocaust ... How did this terrible conflict arise? How did wartime allies so quickly become deadly foes after 1945 and divide the world into opposing camps, each armed to the teeth? And how, suddenly, did it all come to an end? Only now that the Cold War has been over for fifteen years can we begin to find a convincing perspective on it. John Lewis Gaddis's masterly book is the first full, major history of the whole conflict and explains not just what happened, but why it happened ... Gaddis has synthesized all the most recent scholarship, but has also used minutes from Politburo meetings, startling information from recently opened Soviet and Asian archives, ... and above all the words of the leading participants themselves -- showing what was realy on the mind of each, with a very dramatic immediacy. ...' 
Larsen, Egon, A Flame in Barbed Wire: The Story of Amnesty International, Frederick Muller 1978 Jacket: 'This book tells the story not only of [Amnesty Intyernational's] phenomenal growth, but also of the various personal and policy crises that have rocked the movement. But the main subject is man's inhumanity to man in our time of violence; it is a tale of human suffering and heroism, of torture and of ordinary people's idealism in one of the great causes of today.' 
Popper, Karl Raimund, The Open Society and its Enemies (volume 1) : The Spell of Plato, Routledge 1966 Introduction: 'This book ...attempts to show that [our civilisation] has not yet fully recovered from the shock of its birth - the transition from tribal or 'closed society', with its submission to magical forces, to the 'open society' which sets free the critical powers of man. ... It further tries to examine the application of the critical and rational methods of science to the problems of the open society.'  
Popper, Karl Raimund, The Open Society and its Enemies (volume 1) : The Spell of Plato, Routledge 1966 Introduction: 'This book ...attempts to show that [our civilisation] has not yet fully recovered from the shock of its birth - the transition from tribal or 'closed society', with its submission to magical forces, to the 'open society' which sets free the critical powers of man. ... It further tries to examine the application of the critical and rational methods of science to the problems of the open society.'  
Popper, Karl Raimund, The Open Society and its Enemies (volume 2) : The High Tide of Prophecy, Hegel, Marx and the Aftermath , Routledge 1966 Jacket: '... "a work of first-class importance which ought to be widely read for its masterly criticism of the enemies of democracy, ancient and modern. His attack on Plato, while unorthodox, is in my opinion thoroughly justified. His analysis of Hegel is deadly. Marx is dissected with equal acumen, and given his due share of responsibility for modern misfortunes. The book is a vigorous and profound defence of democracy, timely, very interesting andf very well written".' Bertrand Russell 
Reynolds, Henry, and (compiler), Dispossession : Black Australians and White Invaders (The Australian Experience), Allen & Unwin  
Walker, Geoffrey de Q, The Rule of Law: Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, Melbourne University Press 1988 Jacket: 'The author argues that the survival of any useful rule of law model is currently threatened by distortions in the adjudication process, by perversion of law enforcement (by fabrication of evidence and other means), by the excessive production of new legislation with its degrading effect on long-term legal certainty and on long-standing safeguards, and by legal theories that are hostile to the very concept of rule of law. In practice these trends have produced a great number of legal failures from which we must learn.' 
Aristotle The Internet Classics Archive | Politics by Aristotle 'Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good. . . . Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal.' back
Democracy - Wikipedia Democracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia '. . . According to some theories of democracy, popular sovereignty is the founding principle of such a system.[4] However, the democratic principle has also been expressed as "the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given… and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known."[5] This type of freedom, which is connected to human "natality," or the capacity to begin anew, sees democracy as "not only a political system… [but] an ideal, an aspiration, really, intimately connected to and dependent upon a picture of what it is to be human—of what it is a human should be to be fully human." . . .' back
Ecological footprint - Wikipedia Ecological footprint - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population consumes, and to mitigate associated waste.]' back
Education - Wikipedia Education - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In its narrow, technical sense, education is the formal process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, customs and values from one generation to another, e.g., instruction in schools.' back
Genocide - Wikipedia Genocide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars.[ While a precise definition varies among genocide scholars, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."' back
Human population control - Wikipedia Human population control - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Human population control is the practice of artificially altering the rate of growth of a human population.' back
Justice - Wikipedia Justice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.' back
Monarchy - Wikipedia Monarchy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication, is most often hereditary, and usually accords official pre-eminence to members of the reigning dynasty. . . . back
Politics - Wikipedia Politics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Politics (from Greek πολιτικός, "of, for, or relating to citizens") is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the corporate, academic, and religious segments of society. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power" and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.' back
Power (philosophy) - Wikipedia Power (philosophy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to humans as social beings. In the corporate environment, power is often expressed as upward or downward. With downward power, a company's superior influences subordinates. When a company exerts upward power, it is the subordinates who influence the decisions of the leader (Greiner & Schein, 1988). Often, the study of power in a society is referred to as politics. back
Religion - Wikipedia Religion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.' back
Spanish transition to democracy - Wikipedia Spanish transition to democracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The Spanish transition to democracy was the era when Spain moved from the dictatorship of Francisco Franco to a liberal democratic state. The transition is usually said to have begun with Franco’s death on 20 November 1975, while its completion has been variously said to be marked by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the failure of Antonio Tejero's attempted coup on 23 February 1981, or the electoral victory of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) on 28 October 1982.' back
Tax - Wikipedia Tax - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'To tax (from the Latin taxo; "I estimate") is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities. Taxes consist of direct tax or indirect tax, and may be paid in money or as its labour equivalent (often but not always unpaid labour).' back is maintained by The Theology Company Proprietary Limited ACN 097 887 075 ABN 74 097 887 075 Copyright 2000-2018 © Jeffrey Nicholls