China's social credit system?

Nov 2014
382
ph
#11
How is a state supposed to be formed without people forming it? Values schmalues. We are social animals, there will always be values. The question is what kind of values they are and for what kind of society (or societies) those values will be adapted.

Also, ancient Greece, just like Europe historically was very decentralized, bordering on anarchic. I think there were over 1500 Greek city states recorded from antiquity. If you read the Iliad and think about what kind of society that made those poems, then it doesn't seem too much of a stretch to say that "your immediate family and drinking buddies" is the only kind of strong community (look up the concept of philos if you are interested) that actually existed. Most Greek city states were quite small even in the classical era, I think the average size was 5000 free adult male citizens...

One thing I sometimes think about when I want to be really depressing is if political freedom is only possible in this warlike, half-anarchic context. As soon as you make something bigger then you end up with all sorts of problems.

I'm afraid I don't understand what the roman censors have to do with this.
I think you may be right. If material interest is all you have then you are very easily manipulated...

What scares me most about the Chinese political system is the fact that I fear it might actually work very well in the purely functional and economic sense - compared with other older and more obvious forms of unfree systems like the Soviet Union. No doubt the Chinese will even be conditioned to like it as much as possible, humans are malleable and the Chinese do not seem naturally predisposed to free government (even though Taiwan seems to work very well, so I have no doubt they can pull it off if they want to).
From a philosophical point of view, why should freedom be an end in itself, rather than a means to an end, of course all of us wants to be free, in accordance to what our personal view of freedom is, but that has nothing to do with whether intrinsically freedom as an end in itself is a good or bad philosophy.
 
Nov 2014
382
ph
#13
I don't think freedom is an end in itself, I think it is instrumental in creating the good life.
I do not think that unlimited freedom is good in practice, you can argue that even the emperor of China is not truly free, in the sense that he is answerable to Heaven for his actions, which will reflect on the events of his rule, so there is no such thing as freedom anyway, and there will always be limits on your actions. Even a hermit is not free of the laws of physics.
 
Aug 2010
16,044
Welsh Marches
#14
I think you may be right. If material interest is all you have then you are very easily manipulated...

What scares me most about the Chinese political system is the fact that I fear it might actually work very well in the purely functional and economic sense - compared with other older and more obvious forms of unfree systems like the Soviet Union. No doubt the Chinese will even be conditioned to like it as much as possible, humans are malleable and the Chinese do not seem naturally predisposed to free government (even though Taiwan seems to work very well, so I have no doubt they can pull it off if they want to).
In a sense we were lucky in the past in so far as the more totalitarian systems were inferior economically to liberal democracies, and thus failed because they could not deliver the same standard of life; but it at least possible that Chinese system may work quite well for the Chinese in that regard. The encouraging thing, however, is that it does not represent a transferable ideology in the same way as communism (or fascism) did, almost no one at all who lives in a western democracy wants to live under a system that is at all comparable to that which has been developed in China since the abandonment of Marxism, it is regarded as a purely Chinese peculiarity which is unsuitable for export. (I am quite sure that the Chinese would be capable of developing a stable form of free government, they have arrived at the present situation as a result of historical contingencies, and supposed Chinese exceptionalism rooted in past history is merely put forward as a form of justification for an unfree system.)
 
Nov 2014
382
ph
#17
Maybe the problem with freedom is that we conflate what we desire with what is intrinsically good, each of us desires some amount of freedom, so therefore it is good?
 
Nov 2014
382
ph
#18
Absoultely, it is merely that we have been lucky the West in recent times that freer societies have tended to be much more successful economically, so that the desire for freedom and desire for material comfort have been aligned with one another.
Why is it philosophically immoral to trade security for freedom? What do you call government then?
 
Nov 2014
382
ph
#19
I mean finding the optimal amount of freedom is like finding the optimal tax rate, like 100 percent of too high, but 0 percent is obviously too low. Of course this is all just a thought experiment.
 
Apr 2018
966
Upland, Sweden
#20
I do not think that unlimited freedom is good in practice, you can argue that even the emperor of China is not truly free, in the sense that he is answerable to Heaven for his actions, which will reflect on the events of his rule, so there is no such thing as freedom anyway, and there will always be limits on your actions. Even a hermit is not free of the laws of physics.
You are asking questions that through their very nature presuppose the existence of a free society of some kind. I'm not saying you have to live in a free society, most societies have not been free historically. However, there are perhaps some modes of being that are only possible in a free society. Like this debate for example, once again. ;)

I suppose part of what I really want is decentralization of power and decisionmaking where those who make decisions have some kind of personal risk, live in the real world and are held accountable. I also want a society where you can get recognition for your actions from others. For such recognition to be meaningful it obviously has to be given to me by my peers. All this encourages competition, variety and adaptability which I think helps society survive and thrive in the very long run. I also think work and contact with reality rather than living in a palace, alone with your concubines and Mandate of Heaven is good for our souls. The feeling of facing a problem and overcoming it is exhilarating, and builds strong and hopefully also good people. A society where as many as possible live like this will be a sounder society. All this seems, to me, to require freedom of some kind.

I won't lie and pretend this is totally 100% "objectively true" whatever that would mean. I'm sure there is a culturally conditioned component to this for me. But similarly I also think there is a component in many people (and not just Westerners) that is something like a drive for freedom, and perverse consequences when that drive cannot find an outlet - such as in totalitarian regimes.

One thing which struck me when I was in China was that many people were quite rude. I later met a Hong Konger as well as a Taiwanese person who could back this up, and made the case that many "mainlanders" simply don't seem to care about others than themselves and their "drinking buddies and immediate family" (to quote you). I have lots of friends and relatives from Eastern Europe, and honestly, not to generalize, but there is a similar kind of unproductive "**** everyone but me" anarchism, less common now than a decade ago but still. Why should they care about society, when everyone is just after themselves and only cares about maximizing their security and material comfort and the government can do what it likes? Freedom and civic mindedness are not enemies, rather the opposite.
 
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