In prior posts, I’ve mentioned that my politics run toward the libertarian. By libertarian, of course, I don’t mean any one party much less the Libertarian Party itself but rather the belief that the most limited form of government possible to secure the most rights effectively is the best form of governing.
Contrary to some claims otherwise, this is hardly anarchy.
I believe in a government with police powers. I believe in a government that can jail its citizens for crimes they’ve committed. I don’t believe that a person can be assaulted as they walk down the street. But I do believe that if someone is assaulted, they have the right to an armed self-defense.
In crafting the Unified Republic of Stars, I built in these principles for several reasons, and they are because:
- I needed a reason to have people want to leave Earth. – “How do you make someone want to get off a submarine. How do you make someone want to get off a nuclear subma…” – Hunt For the Red October. Simply put, I wanted a reason why people would give up the security of their jobs, homes, and nations for a place that had none of that. Much like the Puritans escaped England because of religious “persecution”*, it seemed to me that an overbearing state might be one reason why people would leave.
- I don’t see the nations of Earth becoming any less powerful over individuals than we are today. – In fact, I see them becoming much more so. Love or hate the health care law passed in the United States with the health insurance mandate. The rationalization for it was the inactivity in the system is activity with effects that affect everyone else. The same is said for passing dietary laws to prevent people from getting fat. Because fat people are a burden on the health care system and through insurance premiums, we all pay to support their being fat. Taken to the extreme, it wouldn’t be hard to see a law passed one day limited the number of hours of television watched or video games played in an effort to encourage people to go outside to be healthy and, thus, to reduce the health costs “associated”.
- It’s an interesting thought exercise. – We don’t live in a “libertarian” state, none of us, whatever nation you might be reading this in. Could the ideas work and could they work if instituted early on. I’m not so locked into my way of thought that I can’t conduct an experiment and see the positives and negatives.
Which is not to say that the world of the Unified Republic of Stars is some libertarian paradise. I see it as something rather the opposite. Take Rugged Individualists, for instance. It may start as a story about homesteaders attempting to set up their new lives away from the laws of Earth. But it’s really a story about anarchy, in which a family is terrorized and property rights are not respected precisely because there is no government to help secure those rights from thugs.
Matriarchy is a story in somewhat the opposite direction. Attempting to right the wrongs of the society they left, these settlers instead use the power of their “authority” to institute the same problems as before but in reverse leading to their own problems. And because neither settlement respected the others right to peacefully exist (a basic requirement, I’d think, for anything that wishes to respect liberty) they destroyed each other.
But even when a government is established within the Unified Republic of Stars, there’s always the hardship of maintaining liberty while balancing societal good. The New Age of Morality Act is a storyline I created in the history of the world specifically to address this.
At what point does solving a societal “wrong” override the liberty of a person to ingest a particular substance or engage in certain activities? (Anyone seeing a parallel to the “War on Drugs” here would not be wrong.)
This is asked, particularly in the context of the second point made above, the broad reach of the government.
To expand on the idea even further, over at a blog self-described as “bleeding heart libertarians“, the question is asked about whether parents should be licensed:
That is, there is no moral right to raise a child, and we would do well to think of it as a privilege that the state grants and can refrain from granting to certain individuals. If you don’t like that way of putting it, I am comfortable with a weaker claim: whatever moral right to raise a child there might be is defeated when the parent-to-be is significantly likely to cause the child substantial and avoidable harm, or, of course, if the parent does cause the child such harm. Those that should be refused a license to parent a child are those who are likely, in parenting, to harm the child.
I’m uncomfortable with this line of thinking because at what point do children “damaged” by their parents become such a problem that the state should consider all people unworthy of being parents until proven that they are? Is one child too many? Ten? A hundred? A million?
Some might say, “Yes, one child being harmed by their parents is always too many.” But that state puts us in a place where the vast majority of parents who do their best and their children grow up to be just fine are now suspect until they pass what would have to be a fairly arbitrary test.
In terms of the storyworld though, this provides good motivation for a character to want to move themselves and their children to a planet where their children can’t be taken away. And when one considers the zero tolerance policies in place and continually being put into place, a logical, though extreme, conclusion in the future might be that parents might live in a constant state of fear that their children will be taken away.
So yes, the basic premise of the Unified Republic of Stars is that of a general libertarian mindset. People want to be secure in their property, rights, and children. But before independence, when self-government was illegal, these things were not secure because there was no government and, after the founding of the Republic, a constant balancing of liberty was being done in the name of finding societal harmony.
Essentially, within the Unified Republic of Stars, the world is no more perfect than it is in real life.
Real helpful there, aren’t I?
* I put quote marks around the “persecution” of the Puritans because, depending on one’s point of view, it might actually be seen as more of a retribution. The “puritan” movement, after all, was responsible for beheading a King of England. It wasn’t like they were just a bunch of nice people who liked turkey and Indians. They had a fairly significant amount of blood on their hands.