What Level of Social Control is OK ?
Monday 9 November 2020, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Venue: Cafe Brunelli, 187 Rundle St · Adelaide (Please buy a drink or something. We are 'renting' the chairs).
About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding
1. How important, worldwide, has social control been in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic? The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that cultures vary widely in how much personal restriction people will tolerate in an emergency.
2. China is running trials to replace physical money with online government crypto-currency (block chain model). The idea is that every transaction by everybody could be tracked by the government. What are the pluses and minuses of this proposal?
3. What, actually, is freedom? Americans are famous, or infamous, for resisting government intervention in their lives. That is, personal freedom has priority. However, per head of population (and absolutely) the United States has more people in prison than any other country (5 times more than China, per capita), and large numbers of workers are paid too low a wage to live, even working full time. Is USA a 'free' country?
4. Many Australians are uncomfortable with what they call 'the nanny state'. That is, government laws & regulations restrict their behaviour in many ways. What are some examples of these nanny state restrictions? What is an acceptable compromise?
5. Australia has (more or less) free universal health care. However health care resources are overwhelmingly swallowed by that part of the population who have done least to look after their own health. They have used their 'freedom' to destroy their own bodies, then expect everyone else to pay for them, especially as they age. Can anything be done about this imbalance, or is it inevitable?
6. When should a government be allowed to conscript young adults for military service? Should conscription be limited to men only?
7. The largest expense in most people's adult lives is actually taxation. Tax is compulsory on pain of prison because it makes possible all the infrastructure and services we need to live. Which governments, and what kind of governments, use tax most efficiently to help with good living?
8. What kind of social control works best for various kinds of people in shaping their behaviour?
9. How fair is it that social controls are often applied differently to men, women and children?
10. In places where religions or ideologies are strongly enforced, some people feel comfortable and safe that their lives are controlled by strict rules. Others are very uncomfortable or rebellious. This is an eternal struggle. What ways have individuals and societies found to manage such conflict?
Extra Links and Reading
Dilawar Sherzai (March 19, 2013) "How to Curb Social Behavior?" Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper @ http://www.outlookafghanistan.net/topics.php?post_id=6897
Sentencing Advisory Council (2020) "International Imprisonment Rates". Sentencing Advisory Council, Victoria, Australia @ https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/statistics/sentencing-trends/international-imprisonment-rates [The United States has a per capita imprisonment rate of 655 prisoners per 100,000 people. The Australian rate is 170 prisoners. China has 120 prisoners, Japan has 39 prisoners, India has 34 prisoners per 100,000 people].
BBC (undated) "World Prison Populations". BBC news @ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm [The USA has a total prison population of 2,193,798 from 328 million people; China has a total prison population of 1,548,498 from a population of 1.4 billion people; Australia has a total prison population of 25,790 from 25 million people]
=> ian beutler comment - The best comment re " social distancing", (aside from those i normally make, way above the normal head), was seen by me on a notice board at Stirling shopping mall: Why describe it as "social distancing"? Why not "physical distancing"? The entire exercise, I believe, was a faceless & souless-bureaucratic-experiment to discover just how much repression & suppression will any People-sheeple tolerate? ( Love tha cartoon, b.t.w.. )
Amartya Sen (27 October 2020) "As India drifts into autocracy, nonviolent protest is the most powerful resistance". The Guardian @ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/26/india-autocracy-nonviolent-protest-resistance
Jon Henley and Caelainn Barr (28 Oct 2020) "Global survey shows widespread disapproval of Covid response - People in most of 25 countries think governments failed to act well or quickly." The Guardian @ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/27/global-survey-shows-widespread-disapproval-of-covid-response
Francesco Sisci (28 October 2020) "Economy and Nationalism in Covid-free China". Settimana website @ http://www.settimananews.it/informazione-internazionale/economy-nationalism-covid-free-china/
Mike Toole (October 29, 2020) "COVID-19 gap widens between Australia and the rest of the world". Brisbane Times @ https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/asia/covid-19-gap-widens-between-australia-and-the-rest-of-the-world-20201029-p569ub.html [Quote: "For Australia, the lesson of what’s happening in Europe - and of Victoria’s second wave - is that we are just one bad decision, one slice of bad luck, away from a new COVID-19 bushfire. We must not be complacent or self-congratulatory. Leadership, science and unity got us and our Asia-Pacific neighbours to this place. And it’s these things that stand between a "zero COVID" life and the devastation of a new wave."]
Cate Blanchett (Thu 29 Oct 2020) " 'Covid-19 has ravaged the whole idea of small government' - In this extract from her essay collection Upturn, the actor considers the disruptions of the pandemic and the renewed fervour for social and economic justice". The Guardian @ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/29/cate-blanchett-covid-19-has-ravaged-the-whole-idea-of-small-government [Thor, comment: Highly recommended article] [ Quote: "It was amazing, though: the opera singers belting it out on their balconies, the dancers doing their solos in their living rooms, the DJs setting up on the verandahs of their apartments. Communication is definitely a need and not a want. And talent has to express itself. That need is like the roots of a tree seeking space and nutrition ... Covid-19 has made one thing terribly clear – government is not the same as business. The role of government is to regulate and guide the increasingly complex social landscape. Business is only a part of that landscape. Health, infrastructure, the legal system, education: these are not businesses. First and foremost they are part of society ... ". ]
=> ian beutler comment : hey ! ! ! she has intelligence as well .. erm, i mean, beauty, & a social-conscience, too. Hope she takes up politics, as an M.P. back here in Aust, WE NEED HER ! !.. even if she is in the labor party ... can't think of a better place for her actually. Come back here, Kate! WE NEED you !
Thor May (2014) "What will be the dominant ideologies of the 21st Century? - The 20 th Century revolved politically around competing interpretations of Capitalism, Communism, Socialism and Fascism. These are all ways to organize the lives of people on a large scale. Are real alternatives or new interpretations likely to emerge in the challenging years ahead? What might they look like?". Academia.edu website @ https://www.academia.edu/5681348/What_will_be_the_dominant_ideologies_of_the_21st_Century [popular article: over 22,000 views]
Thor May (2016) "Politics and Politicians : a volatile mix? - Politics is like medicine: sometimes useful, even necessary, in small amounts, but fatal if taken in an overdose. Politicians can be a useful species but are prone to going feral. Democracies often elect either mediocrities or confidence tricksters because large numbers of electors share similar qualities. In practical terms, is there a better way to manage national affairs?" Academia.edu @ https://www.academia.edu/22119983/Politics_and_Politicians_a_volatile_mix
Thor May (2015) "When does security become insecurity?". Academia.edu @ https://www.academia.edu/19764883/When_does_security_become_insecurity
Thor May (2013) "The Democracy Problem" Academia.edu @ https://www.academia.edu/3997584/The_Democracy_Problem
Thor May (2008) "The End of Capitalism is Announced". Thor's New China Diary @ http://thormay.net/ChinaDiary2/archives/15[Quote: "As for those blips on history’s radar, capitalism and communism, and shandy socialism, well they are like the inflatable colossus of George Bush. Poke them with a pin and they expire with a sigh into ageless properties of the human character. Laughter and tears, generosity and greed define each other as surely as black and white. Capitalism and communism are spokes in the wheel of every culture. Smash either and the wheel rim of dreams will collapse, the hub of pragmatic living will no longer turn. There is a felicitous middle way between extremes that our forefathers wisely called the golden mean".]
Hayley Henderson (3 November 2020) "Uruguay's unified response to COVID-19 has helped it avoid the same fate as its neighbours". Australian Broadcasting Commission @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-03/uruguay-unified-response-to-coronavirus-latin-america/12838608 [Thor, comment: Here is a paradox. Uruguay and Cuba have the equal best outcomes for Coronavirus-19 in South America (1.9% case fatality). Cuba is a communist dictatorship & highly controlled. However it is famours for its doctors who work throughout the 3rd World. Uruguay is the most free, democratic, liberal and equal country in South America with a good free health system and a decent standard of living (i.e. a good place to emigrate to). So what do Cuba and Uruguay have in common? At least on this health matter, they share high levels of public trust and cooperation (unlike, for example, the USA).
Nicola Davis (13 Dec 2016) "'High social cost' adults can be predicted from as young as three, says study". The Guardian @ https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/dec/12/high-social-cost-adults-can-be-identified-from-as-young-as-three-says-study [Quote: "20% of population uses the majority of public services, research shows, indicating long-term importance of early years investment for disadvantaged children ..... The study, which followed around 1,000 children from birth, found that at 38 years of age ... the same 22% of the cohort accounted for 81% of the group’s criminal convictions, 77% of fatherless children, 36% of injury insurance claims, 78% of prescriptions, 66% of welfare benefits and 40% of excess obese kilograms, as well as more than half of cigarettes smoked and nights spent in hospital. It was possible to predict which of the children were most likely to grow up to become part of this high cost segment of society ... the team also discovered that a rating of “brain health”, based on the combined results from a 45 minute-long assessment of motor skills, understanding of language, social behaviour and IQ at three years of age, was ... accurate [as] a predictive tool".
Amy Davidson (27 February 2017) "Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds". New Yorker magazine @ http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds
Umair Haque (March 26 2018) "Why Capitalism is Obsolete And Why Humanity’s Future Depends on What’s Next". @ https://eand.co/why-capitalism-is-obsolete-d10197b5bca2 [Quote: " The great challenges of the future — we’ll come to precisely what those are in a moment — aren’t like those of the past. They are more complex, demanding, constrained, risky, and, perhaps most crucially of all, they are more risky. The world’s future depends on getting them right. The stakes are infinitely higher. If we get them wrong, we perish — whether through war, extinction, self-destruction, folly, thirst, famine. If we get them right — then and only then do we go on. ... Capitalism can’t process, manage, compute, respond to any of that .... It can’t absorb the risks. It can’t invest the (ironically) capital, time, effort. It can’t manage the complexity. It won’t let people have the ideas. It can’t structure the processes. And it can’t share the returns." ]
Stan Grant (22 October 2020) "The virus of tyranny is alive and growing — and there's no permanent vaccine". ABC news analysis @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-25/the-virus-of-tyranny-not-just-coronavirus-is-growing-no-vaccine/12806778
Stan Grant (18 October 2020) "The tyranny of merit' is tearing America apart". ABC news analysis @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-18/us-tyranny-of-merit/12774726
Richard Ogier (4 November 2020) "Germany is moving back into lockdown, but it hasn't suffered the same fate as Europe". ABC News @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-04/germany-coronavirus-lockdown-avoided-same-fate-as-europe/12843140 [ Thor, comment: This is kind of interesting. The virus cares nothing for politics or cultures, but the way politicians and cultures handle the virus has a big effect on human deaths. It is not a simple equation, but some trends are clear. Fast, competent, determined government action, clear messages, people's trust in institutions, and cultural habits of self discipline are all important. Australia (with a huge mix of cultures) has done well: 907 deaths from 25 million. England has suffered much worse: 47,250 deaths from 66.65 million (terrible government, confused messages, bad social class divisions causing low trust). France has lost 37,000 from 67 million and Italy has lost 39,000 from 60 million. Germany has 'only' lost 10,500 from 83 million. Why is Germany doing better in Europe? Angela Merkel is one of the world's most experienced and able leaders. Germans believe in her (and with Covid a science issue, she happens to have a PhD in quantum chemistry). German administration is efficient and mostly non-political. The health service is excellent. Germans themselves, amongst Europeans, have a reputation for logic, competence and self-discipline. ]
Thor - Here is my comment on a very messy election in a country ideologically allergic to the social control of individuals : --- Character, intelligence, competence? None are even remotely relevant to becoming president of the Disunited States of America (and most of the world's other 195 countries). So what gives? The fairy floss notion of what democracy can actually achieve, especially when it's not actual democracy (4%, yeah 4%, of the laws the USA Congress actually passes are an expression of public will. The rest go down to the lobbying and influence money of private interest groups) . Uh, what is actual democracy? The real contest in governance is between compromise, bribery and dictatorship. In every collection of humans there are irreconcilable differences of interests and values. Forever. So you can cut a deal, buy the opposition off, or you can smash the faces of the other bastards and sit on a pile of bodies for a while. If your particular culture sees compromise as weakness, then you are condemned to those piles of bodies, literally or metaphorically. In America's case nearly the whole of popular culture is tilted to shoot-em-up, so why do they complain when a geriatric rambo like Trump actually sweeps the board? He has held a mirror up to a huge part of America, and no scrap of paper like their constitution is going to change that game. So what if Biden wins? It's back to the charade of a deadlocked Congress and the stacked Supreme Court. Like so many shithole countries (to borrow the elegant terminlology of Trump) the place will remain ungovernable ... Unless there is a change of culture. And the rest of the world? ... in one exit poll, just 1% of Americans said the rest of the world was important to their vote. If only we could ignore them like they ignore us. The day will come, if the planet doesn't expire first.
Index of past discussion topics & questions: http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm
Convenor : Thor May firstname.lastname@example.org Personal website (legacy) http://thormay.net
Articles http://independent.academia.edu/thormay (.. about 147 articles by Thor)