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The Alternative Draft



> Well: In order that we understand each other better, and know what
> are the key differences, please put forward the entire section on
> 'free citizen/ etc.' (call it what you will) in your own words. That
> such a firm and clear perspective is essential is clear: because
> without it we have no yardstick to evaluate other - lower level - of
> policy.

Dear Sanjeev:

By now it is quite clear to me that formulating the policy is infinitely 
more difficult than it is to find parts of it one does not agree with. 
So, lest you think I am merely stating my dissent, let me acknowledge 
that there are definitely parts of the draft (as it now stands) that 
appeal to me. To facilitate better reconciliation of disparate opinions, 
I will quote from your text and provide an alternative where I have one 
to offer.

<< "Our existence is separate

         I (being born a citizen of the Blue Planet) arise on this earth 
from a chain of events unrelated in any way to the political boundaries 
I see today. The chain relates me to the society through my parents and 
my family. But ultimately, I am an independent link of the chain, that 
will one day break away like a leaf falling from the tree, existing 
today for reasons best defined by me and understood by me, alone. I 
alone can actually feel pain when I nick myself, not my nation, nor even 
my family. I alone can think for myself. Not my nation, nor even my 
family." >>

The basis for individual choice is well-stated here, and aside from the 
first sentence, I wholeheartedly endorse everything else. However, the 
first sentence, at the very least, is inaccurate. It is evident, for 
example, that if one is born in a refugee camp among the Chakmas, one's 
inclusion in our "model Indian" society hinges ultimately on the 
political event that has brought the parents within its fold. Immigrant 
families (I include movement both within and across national boundaries) 
everywhere know this to be readily true. Perhaps your main purpose is to 
affirm that at the time of one's birth, no matter the events leading up 
to it, one cannot be considered to have either endorsed or renounced any 
of those events. This is done quite well in subsequent sentences. I 
propose that we drop the first sentence and reword the second as 
follows:
         
"The chain of events leading to my birth places me in the environs of a 
particular society, to which I am related through my parents and my
family."

<< "My compact with society, government, nation

         I had powers of existence defined unto me the moment I was 
born, and my parents through the society had protected this power 
through a contract, restraining those who would diminish this power in 
any way, so that I was safe while I grew into myself. That contract was 
for the creation and support of a government and consequently of a 
nation, through transferring my task of self-defense to other free 
citizens in lieu of payment. The nation was created by us, through our 
joint acquiescence, thus, to protect ourselves, and its sanctity remains 
as long as this fundamental compact is honored." >>

I feel that this is where we begin to diverge. I do not see the contract 
(if indeed there is one, and I realize I have questioned even this!) as 
being necessarily protective. For example, where you say "restraining 
those who would diminish this power", I would add "and enabling those 
who would cherish and further it". Also, I do not find that we 
"transfer" the task of self-defense in any way. Instead, I take your 
underlying meaning that the "division of labor in our society is 
mutually arrived at to protect those interests which we, acting on our 
own, would be individually unable to accomplish creditably". That's what 
permits the armed forces to fight and the farmer to grow crops, I sense 
that we are in agreement about the end result, anyway.

<< "Loaning additional powers

         Further, all of us, jointly, through mutual discussion and
debate, decide which other powers of ours to loan out temporarily to the 
government from time to time to do what we consider as being "good" for 
us and our families, such as providing common services and goods which 
we cannot profitably provide as individuals to ourselves. But those are 
not part of the essential, inter-generational national contract and such 
additionalities are subject to review based on new information and new 
technology. >>

Rather than "loan" any powers to the government, we merely authorize the 
government to exercise them on our behalf. Semantics, perhaps, buy 
clearly the distinction is that the government, in itself, does not 
possess these powers either through its own entity or by "borrowing" 
from others. Instead, it merely acts to protect or enforce the mores we 
have mutually agreed on. I move also that we strike the last sentence 
entirely from this section, since I do not see it to naturally continue 
from the previous one. It is a useful point, nonetheless, and let's work 
it in someplace else.

In sum then, we are born with certain interests, we empower family and
government to protect and further these through mutually acceptable
processes each of which must represent either a direct act on our parts 
or a clearly authorized one on our behalf by recognized and replaceable 
agents. We also willingly accept our own roles, to be mutually 
determined, within this framework. We don't necessarily need to state 
this, I am merely pausing to gather my thoughts.


<< "Fair Society:

         I work toward a society where able bodied fellow-citizens work 
in legally and socially acceptable occupations for their self-interest 
and are rewarded for their contributions in proportion to the quality, 
and effort expended, the measure of which is the mutually determined 
demand for that labor through bidding of services in open competition. 
That society is called a "Fair"  society since it is equitable in terms 
of reward being fully and mutually determined >>

Excellently stated. Although I posed several questions earlier 
challenging this, I accept its foundation in good measure. May I 
recommend (and by way of doing this, I will answer the questions I 
raised as well) that we make the following changes"

Change "fellow-citizens" to "persons". This is more consistent with 
universalism, from which we hold our inherent rights to be self-evident.  
If we have them, then so must others, it is another matter that they may 
live outside the boundaries of our society. This also fits nicely in 
with the fact that it is possible for those living outside the society 
to compete with those in it. The free trade idea, loosely. I also 
realize that the "able-bodied" is not discriminatory in any way, it 
merely recognizes that those who are not such MAY NOT be able to compete 
fully.  To that extent, we should add a sentence at the end of the 
paragraph, espousing the view that "those that are not able, by virtue 
of their physical or mental limitations, nevertheless are equally 
deserving of the merits of the efforts in comparable proportion to that 
which they might reasonably obtain if their
limitations were removed".

I take it that the length of the text is not a limiting factor in our
draft. I sense also that we are making a subtle distinction between
equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes without stating it
explicitly, but perhaps that is not needed.

Here is another integral part of the fair society, which too I think we 
should add. "Subject to specifically stated exceptions, such as the 
above one for persons of limited physical or mental abilities, every 
mutually determined part of the agreement amongst members of the society 
shall apply in equal measure to each member.

This leaves open the possibility that we might need to make exceptions
later on under special circumstances. This is sort of like having   
articles, and if a particular idea is in there, that achieves much by
itself.

<< "My obligation and method to review these arrangements

         Everything that existed in the past existed without my
permission. I can do nothing about it. But any existing arrangement that 
desires to exist while I am aware must get my permission to exist from 
that moment, either explicitly, or, as is more common, implicitly. If I 
do not wish to permit it to exist, I can use the powers of voice to 
challenge it, and with mutual consent of my fellow sojourners, change 
it. That is my chosen obligation and the only mutually acceptable method 
available." >>

Here is another rider - "Should my efforts, and those of other 
like-minded persons, fail to achieve such change, I remain obligated to 
maintain the existing arrangement without losing the right to continue 
my efforts to get it changed". This says, essentially, that I am 
required to uphold the law as it stands, whatever be my opposition to 
it. At the same time, I retain the right to challenge it within the 
framework outlined above.

<< "My obligation to others

         I have no obligation to tend for other humans in my nation once 
I have paid the dues mutually determined. That does not mean that I 
become uncivic. I retain the right, as a free citizen, to contribute in 
cash or in kind, over and above the taxes I pay, to help causes which I 
believe as being good for the society in which I wish to live" >>

Perhaps we should add "within the boundaries of the method established  
above" to the last sentence. Also, I wonder what you mean by "uncivic". 
Surely, you do not mean that not contributing over and above one's 
obligations is uncivic?

<< "My right to exit

         Notwithstanding anything stated above, I retain the innate 
right, as a Free Citizen of the Blue Planet, to not only change my 
contractor (the government)  but the contractual entity (nation) if I 
believe that my interests are not reasonably being catered to despite my 
voicing my concerns amicably. " >>

I think this whole thing comes straight out of left field. Before we can 
discuss this, we need to say something about entities that lie outside 
the society we are defining. If one is to change citizenship, for 
example, it is natural to define citizen first. So, I will offer the 
following replacement.

"The boundaries of my society -internal considerations"

All persons who are born to member(s) of my society whether or not 
within its geographical boundaries are vested with the right to reside 
in it by choosing to do so at the time they are capable of making such a 
choice. Should they choose to remain part of the society, they assume 
the rights and responsibilities already inherent in existing members. 
Until such time, all mechanisms created by mutual determination shall 
regard such individuals to be de facto members of the society, even 
though they have themselves yet to exercise such a choice. Remaining 
within the boundaries shall constitute such a choice.

Members of the society who wish to exit the boundaries of the society
cannot be prevented from doing so, subject to proceedings in criminal 
matters. Members may leave either temporarily or permanently. Members 
who wish to exit the boundaries permanently acquire the status of a 
person born outside the society. Those who leave the geographic 
boundaries temporarily nevertheless retain the same obligations and 
rights as those within the boundaries, although constraints of 
operational efficiency may preclude the full expression of these.

External considerations: (note that I have placed the departure of
existing members within the internal considerations section)

All persons who are born outside the geographical boundaries or to 
non-members within the boundaries are vested with the right to petition 
the society to be included in it provided they have acquired the 
capacity to be aware. If, according to the existing members or their 
representative deciding groups, there is merit in such a petition, such 
others may be included in the society. They then assume the same rights 
and responsibilities as existing members.

Non-members in my society are subject to reasonable government by the
entities created by the society while they are within its geographic
boundaries. Non-members also implicitly accept that they shall conduct
themselves in accordance with standards that protect the interests of 
members. Such others are discouraged from participating in matters that 
members normally determine mutually, but are not precluded from doing 
so. Despite this freedom, they do not acquire any of the rights 
necessary to make choices themselves.

Note: One of the big differences from what is normal both in India and 
here in the US is the lack of membership in the society merely by virtue 
of birth. Parentage is prefered, since this assumes that the values 
agreed upon by members will be transfered to the off-spring. However, 
the opportunity to become members is presented to everyone.

OK, that's a start. Reconcile the differences further when you can, and 
I'll take it up from there again.

Cheers,

Ash

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