Imagine a world where you have no federal, state, or county government that tells you how to live your life. When you want to start a business or build a house, you get together with your neighbors and decide the best way to go about it. You can hire a consultant or private company that will check and verify all aspects of the business so that it suits the community, and the person who starts the business takes the risk with their own capital on how they want to run it. Your house is built with the least intrusion possible, with no costly fees or building or engineering permits. The most modern, cutting-edge building construction at the least possible cost to the homeowner can be implemented. You can hire the best architecture and engineering firm, and the money otherwise spent to pay homage to the local government can be used towards building a better house. At each and every step of the build, you can show certifications by reputable firms that sign off that the build is optimal. No waiting for government officials to sign off at every juncture, who take their sweet time to approve projects, whether it is because of short staffing or a power trip.
This book is about so many things, but starting a new way of governance cannot start with the status quo. Trying to come up with patchwork solutions to the current system is futile. We need to reach deep to get to the roots of the causes of our societal dysfunction. Otherwise, we will only be desperately plugging the holes in the current system. When our current empire fails, as it inevitably will, it will be because we are enforcing whole solutions that are not anti-fragile, ala Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A force reset will ensue, and it will only be painful, prolong suffering, cause shortages, and cause more deaths—wholly unnecessary if only we would start acknowledging our problems now. At the same time, I do realize that the principles and solutions that I put forth will require an overhaul of the whole system, from nation-wide governance to daily practices.
I am not here to propose a perfect global system of governance. I am looking at the status quo and saying we can do better than this. As a libertarian, I adhere to the principle of non-aggression. However, this principle certainly doesn’t preclude me from acknowledging an exchange of mutually beneficial care and protection we can all afford each other. As with all things in life, this does necessitate the giving of some measure of control, but never the ultimate control, which is the freedom to exit a situation where any future contract has not been entered into yet.
As a humanist, I seek to put systems in place that promote the long-term continuation of the human race. Complexity calls for a nuanced framework. To do that, I would have to work with the complexities of our human nature. My impetus to help our older generation is the raison d’être that drives my passion to seek change. Those that know me have heard me say, “If a horrific idea such as communism that works against human nature can take hold of the imagination of hundreds of millions of people, why not good ideas?” To help our future most vulnerable population, good governance has to begin now.
To posit long term solutions, I will need to lay out the necessary framework for ideas based on the inner workings of our human psychology. As a gerontologist who has always placed value on our older population and a passionate student of economics, long term solutions to a better way of governance mean a whole-scale shift to one that works with and not against our baser human nature while inspiring our more enlightened parts.
In the short term, we all need sustenance and shelter. However, my call, as paradoxical as it might seem to ensure the longevity of the human race, is that we need to focus on ideals that promote meaning for living first. When people have a purpose beyond themselves, that’s when humans can then begin to dream beyond striving for the basic necessities, and those then in turn become mundane needs that will be fulfilled as a matter of course.
Striving for something greater than ourselves is a basic principle that I consider a priori to our discussion. Unfortunately, whole volumes can be written to support the many a priori claims I will be putting forth here. And thus, acknowledging my hubris with much bravado, I can only list these principles out as such.
At the heart of this new way of governance is community-based governance, hence the name of this book. With finite resources and an eye always towards the long-term viability of any governance, the most efficient and effective is one that is not based on strict rules written on thousands of pages, such as our current system. The ideal way is one that is the most gentle and yet uses the tightest and strongest ties that bind us together. Those ties are our relationships with each other.
This is the power of community-based governance. It establishes a positive feedback loop that motivates people to uphold the social standards of the community and generates a sense of belonging, thus overcoming anomie. However, as with all things new—not so new as there is nothing new under the sun—this political framework is different in that it necessitates everyone’s participation in order for it to succeed. However, this framework works with human nature, not against it. It calls out all the noble, forgiving, tolerant, and magnanimous traits in all of us to participate in this journey called life.
Any system that tears down these ties does so at the peril of waste, inefficiency, and ineffectuality. Worse, bad governance steals our livelihood, dreams, and resources and stymies innovation, which is often the springboard to the next extraordinary level of standard of living beyond our current imagination. That is how much I see the government stealing our future.
Here is the essence of community-based governance, to put it personally: no one has the authority, amongst other things, to execute me, levy taxes on me, penalize me, direct how I should run any of my businesses, direct how I should develop my properties, or imprison me unless they have a personal relationship with me.
For the many objections that I foresee forthcoming, give me a chance to elaborate on the beauty and advantages of community-based governance and have it stand side by side with the current dismal political non-solutions we currently live with. We have already ceded our freedom and lifeblood to our present government and local authorities, with us having little control on an individual level.
The key to making community-based governance work is a framework of supporting principles that surround the core of community-based governance. Quoting Ayn Rand, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual.” Let each and every one of us decide what is best for us. However, that profound concept presupposes a citizenry that has been taught what is best. And besides having a moral society, the foundation upon which a blossoming society necessarily rests is trust. As strong-willed, independent, autonomous individuals, we do not naturally trust except when pushed to, even though putting the effort into creating trust is paramount to efficient transactions on every level.
When community-based governance is practiced, it has the ability to inculcate trust between all vested parties, without which all talks of compromise and cooperation become short-lived when finer points of contention arise, as they invariably will in any complex, multi-layered societal situation. Trust is truly the bedrock of any functioning society; it is the oil that lubricates every transaction and interaction; creating efficiencies and leveraging relationships. The impetus to develop that trust is where the power of community-based governance comes into play. At every step, all parties willingly and mindfully reach out to their community to grow that trust.
Thus, inbuilt into community-based governance is the impetus that encourages, nay, necessarily insists upon, closeness to the people and community with whom you claim to be a part. The solution is always through relationships. Communism only works within the immediate family unit because there are already blood and familial ties. Community-based governance seeks to widen the net of these human ties that bind.
This framework also encourages us to build that strongest and most powerful human trait, which is really the two faces of one coin: the overwhelming need to love and be loved. To love is a conscious decision and commitment to bending one’s will through all objections. For parents who adopt a baby who has none of their DNA, the lifelong vow and pledge to provide sustenance, shelter, and affection is ideally a reflected, intentional, and purposeful call to be family regardless of blood or previous familial connection—such is unconditional love. And thus, community-based governance also calls out to one to extend, to be part of a community that should have your best interest at heart, and vice versa. All that is intertwined with self-worth, within which is pride of work, standing in society, familial affection, and the lessons learned in overcoming adversities, brings a sense of accomplishment in being able to fulfill that deepest of longings.
If we all had the above, surely that would solve the majority of human woes. Where does striving come from? The urge to devour and attack when we do not feel safe. Each community’s landscape is unique to its circumstances and familial structures. For this reason, community-based governance provides a platform for creating trust and a testing ground for experimentation on how to be better humans. It would also solve the growing isolation we are each feeling in this internet-connected age where technology has lessened human in-person connectedness, leading to an increasing epidemic of feelings of loneliness.
We all have a very finite time on this earth; any political structure that places more burdens on our resources and time, needs to be eliminated. I don’t use a weaker tone than that because the freedom to live life to the fullest is everything. And thus, it all begins with education that passes on morality and emphasizes supporting creativity and play for our young, which I will be elaborating on in future posts. The below principles might seem disparate, but they are all vital in creating a new way of governance for human flourishing. These principles seek to mitigate the majority of our human misgivings:
The necessary component of close proximity, as in physical distance
Taught morality and the dangers of mass formation psychosis
Skin in the game
A swift, effective, and efficient justice system
A sliding scale of oversight for the individual
The necessary freedom to fail and grow from adversity
Built trust as the bedrock for all our interactions and transactions
The acknowledgement that the digital world is not conducive to human interaction
The acknowledgement that even with quantum computing and AI, they are not good servants at predicting our vagaries, intentions, emotions, and physical and spiritual needs
We need to protect the weakest minded and physically disadvantaged members of our society. But apart from these, following the Pareto Principle, leave the other 80% of our population alone.
With wealth and prosperity, we can then begin to build a cleaner, more beautiful world. However, if we seek to do it in reverse, we will find that we will quickly run out of wealth and end up with no prosperity. We have to free our citizenry of the shackles of increasing governmental oversight; this is the necessary order of things. And then we can do all things with aplomb and style. Life is too short not to have beauty in it.
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