Week 8 - Governance and Power

Week 8 - Governance and Power - 3/3 Governance and Power...

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3/3 Governance and Power How do we solve the problems of collective action? We need to get around the problems of conflicting incentives? In large scale societies we need to have a way of making us act collectively Government Government solves collective action problems in several ways A set of rules for resolving conflicts of interests Mechanisms for resolving disputes over these rules The ability to coerce compliance with the rules What type of government This is a very real problem and one that has no definitive answer The ancient Greeks fretted over this enormously During the Enlightenment, Europeans thought about this a great deal Their thinking permeated the world through the spread of these ideas during colonialism Our modern sense of this question is the product of this period, specifically two key visions of the state: Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan One absolute monarch to rule everyone Force everyone to go along with monarch's view John Locke: republicanism Minimalist state Protect liberties Religious toleration Leviathan People are bastard coated bastards, with bastard filling Life is "nasty, brutish, and short" To control our natural tendency to kill each other over disagreements, we need to have an all powerful state that will impose law and order This is one of the seeds of modern totalitarianism: We need the state to direct us in service to a larger good - that is the only way out of the problems of the state of nature If we are left to our own devices we will tear our societies apart Individuals should accept this control as the price of safety and peace In this view the individual achieves security through surrendering of freedom Hobbes saw this as the individual seeking their best feature under the protection of a powerful leader Later leaders will turn this to a concept of the collective that will subsume the individual into a larger entity and justify the enslavement of the individual to the state republicanism People are blank slates In the state of nature, we muddle about nicely, but we can't coordinate or agree on how to do things. .. so we get into conflict Without a state, we can only resolve our disagreements through conflict
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We never achieve our potential The way around this is that we create a government that has the bare minimum of power needed to make us work together The individual retains their critical rights (essentially those of life, liberty, and
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Week 8 - Governance and Power - 3/3 Governance and Power...

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