It amuses me sometimes to think what I would do if I were the absolute ruler of a country. I thought I’d post the findings of these thought experiments in a long post called “How To Rule A Country”. (Photo Credit)
I decided on that name because it was the most search engine-friendly way of putting a title to my ideas. Apparently 320 people a month search for the keyphrase “How to rule a country”. That’s a lot of confused dictators who need my advice. In fact, the statistics seem to show that some of the world’s dictators are so confused that they search for “How to rule a country” more than twice a month.
Have no fear, Sophia is here. I don’t charge anything for my world-changing work, but if you like you can donate a couple of million from your Swiss bank account to keep this humble site going.
First of all, what is the place of government?
Before we get into how to rule a country we’re going to have to get clear on this matter.
I think government is a lesser of two evils on the one hand – and an inevitability on the other hand.
On the one hand, government is a lesser of two evils. It’s better to control certain people or organisations than to let them act destructively.
Controlling people isn’t pleasant and requires the use of threat. I really kinda wish it didn’t need to be done. I would hate to be controlled for whatever reason, because I have a very strong sense of free will and personal dignity. Also because I’m clear that a threat, even if it’s in the name of justice, is still a threat. It’s still violent, fear based, low vibration, you name it.
So justice is not an end in itself. It’s not ideal. But it’s better than having powerful organisations running even more amuk than they are already. Government, it seems, has a role in preventing this.
On the other hand, government is inevitable. With the sort of people that populate the Earth today, struggle for control of the people is inevitable.
Were there no official government, there’d be unofficial mafias collecting tax to protect you from other mafias anyway. But then again, what is a government but a mafia protecting you from other mafias?
So, it’s almost twisted to say this, but if we’re going to have a mafia extorting us for a questionable service, we might as well have a good one. A good government has the role of filling the power vaccuum and preventing worse governments from appearing. A government that is at least nominally influenced by the people it serves, and which has at least a small inclination to actually serve people rather than just extort them, is a large step up from other sorts of mafias.
The best sort of mafia would be no mafia at all. The best government, then, would be no government at all; just people who are looking out for each other. A certain amount of organisation would be needed, but 99% of the government’s job would disappear if people just started genuinely looking out for each other.
But in the meantime, while humanity is evolving towards that stage, we have a dilemma. Do we act like a mafia and control people – or let worse mafias control people for worse ends?
Lets assume that you’ve decided that the best answer is to take absolute control of your country and rule it in the most benevolent way possible.
Now let’s learn how to rule a country.
Ruling a country is about controlling people so that their own actions don’t hurt each other and themselves.
In the latter case, I personally think it’s mostly better to give people free choice on what they do to themselves. I would be for the legalisation of non-addictive drugs like marijuana, for instance. People can do themselves damage and learn to stop doing it at their own pace, and I think it’s actually a kind thing to grant them freedom to have this learning experience.
Hurting others is a learning experience too – you can eventually learn that you don’t enjoy it and that it doesn’t pay. However, that might be lifetimes away, and if your actions get destructive enough we might not have a planet for you to keep learning on. We also want to assure the free will of others to interact with you as they see fit and not just fall victim to your actions.
So we’re going to have to govern a few actions which have a larger impact.
While making laws bear in mind the golden rule of law making:
There’s nothing romantic or even real about justice.
Laws are not absolute. They are not meaningful in and of themselves. Laws are tools, and the only meaning they have is in the result to bring about the desired end.
For instance, marijuana is a damaging drug. It shrinks your brain. But the interesting thing is, that until it was made illegal it was only used by a very few. As soon as it became illegal, its usage shot up to the level it’s at today, and criminal organisations found a new way to fund their activities. Huge amounts of government resources are now being used to fight marijuana and will never be enough to get it used less than it was before it was illegal. As you can see, the intention behind making marijuana illegal was good, but the result was very much not worth it.
A general rule for law making is that less laws are much better than more laws. Laws have some fundamental drawbacks in themselves; they bring attention to an act and make doing that act attractive to someone who is resentful of being controlled. And controlling, in itself, creates resentment.
Laws should be brought in only when they are worth it – and more than that, they need to be worth it enough to pay off the inevitable costs of any law.
The hurt caused to people who have to be controlled. The resentment and subsequent rebelliousness. The inconvenience the law might create to people who are trying to do positive things. The negative energy, the “downer” that the mere existance of a law creates.
And, of course, the costs incurred by government for law enforcement.
Having gone over the negative aspects of law making, it should be clear that law making is the worst tool you have for ruling a country. Actually, if you’re just embarking on improving your subject country now, the most likely thing is that you’ll have to go through a backlog of previous useless laws and try to change them.
Minimalist government makes a lot of sense to me. I think we should aim to have as little beaurocracy, as few laws, and as little governance as possible. If people don’t need to be controlled, don’t control them.
I think if I were elected to rule a country my first few years would be dedicated not to adding anything to the system, but just letting obsolete governing slip away.
I think a lot of good could be done through the minimalist government design. Think of how much damage is being caused by subsidies nowadays. The meat subsidies, for instance, promote no good but rather make a very unhealthy, expensive and un-ecological food seem better than it is. If there were none, meat would cost about 10 times more*, and positive goal for government (prevent people hurting animals and the environment) would be largely achieved by not really doing anything at all.
*Robbins, Diet For A New America
As you can see, there are a few much better ways of getting favourable outcomes when ruling a country than making laws.
Removing destructive laws has already been mentioned. It’s a Zen way of making your country better without adding extra laws. There are some other ways, too.
Most of these ways regard using the government resources for the common good. This is, after all, the stated purpose of taxes. In practise it may not always be, but if you are ruling a country, you can make it be.
I think good information is a very overlooked public service that could be done with government resources.
In the information age, marketing and Public Relations is a significant influence over how people live. Industrial interests have done everything from making fluoride known as a non-toxic substance to getting chemotherapy passed as a medical treatment as opposed to a form of torture. A good government could counter these terrible lies simply by making sure the truth gets more well known.
I’m thinking a system of government-sponsored messages about things that matter to people, getting out there where people will see them and being overwhelmingly more clear and viewable than the negative messages.
On a similar note, we could also remove misinformation from people’s consciousness simply by making it illegal or highly taxed for cigarette companies, chemotherapy companies and so on from doing certain sorts of publicity (the sorts which are controllable through law making: which I think are also currently the most important for them). If a company champions a cause which you deem for the public benefit, you can also subsidise their publicity efforts.
For instance, I believe that it’s the role of any benevolent dictator to stop people harming other creatures and the environment through the barbaric practise of eating animal foods. The first thing I would do would be to cut all subsidies on animal foods so that the prices would multiply by ten. Then, I would spend a relatively small fraction of the saved tax money. I’d use it to subsidise publicity for vegan alternatives to animal foods for a while so that people could realise that equally tasty cruelty-free foods exist.
I don’t think much more would need to be done here. The law of demand and supply would come into effect like the little b*tch it is.
Still, I could do one more thing. I would use government money to make sure that the internal workings of the animal foods industries are made well known. I think that the number of people who went vegan after that would skyrocket.
Doing all of this creates comparitively little resentment. I’m not forcing anyone to eat a certain way – I’m just making the consequences of people’s actions more clear. The resentment caused by raising the prices of meat is likely to be countered at least as much by the joy which people will experience over being able to pay less taxes – and I’d make damn sure they’d know where that tax cut was coming from. Want to have meat cheaper again? Pay more taxes.
You can use government resources to wake people up to lots of things. The great thing is that it’s not necessary to do “propaganda” or brainwashing – just use government money to hijack some of the publicity space that would otherwise go to the highest bidder, and use it to remind people of the truth. Don’t force people to believe something – just offer information which they can choose to believe in or not. Nothing more, nothing less.
I wrote an article before called “A New Leadership” which I think is relevant to what I’m going to write now.
If you’re a dictator of a country, you won’t just want to be using the resources of your country to shape it and help it grow. You’ll also want to get out there and use the influence you have as a leader to inspire people to follow your good example.
I think this is the best way. Maybe some people need to be controlled by government, but it’s best for everyone’s growth if we can keep government most of all on the side of true leadership rather than control.
What’s true leadership? True leadership is inspiring people to follow, inviting people to follow, but not forcing people to follow. It’s saying, “Look at this,” or “Could you do this,” rather than “Do this.”
For instance, I think you it’s hard to force people to pay metro tickets and not skip the fare (and that this is too petty a thing for you to use law making on – as I said before, the benefits of a law have to outweigh its costs). But you can talk to people. You can say, “Please think of your part of the responsibility for keeping this transport going.” You can say, “Without your contribution there would be no transport.” You can stick up posters all over the transport system, perhaps with your face so that people connect with you on a personal level, and some personally selected words. You can do this sort of stuff.
When we’re talking climate change, you could get on television and make an appeal to your people. You could say what’s going to happen if things don’t start moving in our society. You can compile the best information our scientists have to say about the matter and leave it at a convenient website so people can be informed.
Cause the power really is in the people, and I think people respond well when treated like they are powerful, rather than objects to be controlled. I think the best way to rule a country includes a leadership who talks with the people, appeals to the people, and shares information with the people. When the people respond, a good government should listen, even if it isn’t to bend to selfish whims.
There would be such a different vibe if our governments took an attitude of ruling their countries together with their subjects. Working on maing the world better, together.
Getting back to reality now, the power really does lie in our hands. Government is pretty much a thing of the past – it’s something to be grown out of. Even if the government isn’t doing a good job of leadership, we don’t have to be an officially appointed leader to lead. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m leading right now. You can too.
We’re technically in a democracy, which doesn’t really guarantee total power to decide in the hands of the people, but it does mean more power in the hands of the people. It means more power for individual leaders and groups to make a change. You know guys, if you and me got ourselves decided on something we wanted to change in our government, we could do it. We’d need the support of the people to do so, so we’d need to raise consciousness. But if we can manage that, we can effect change.
I’m doing this with my website now. I have a few hundred dedicated, influential readers already – but what if I had 10,000? If all of those dedicated readers were interested in creating serious change in the world, don’t you think we could do something incredible together?
That’s kind of my plan. I’ve seen Avaaz.org create massive change. I’ve seen other writers make waves. This stuff can happen.
We don’t have to be a benevolent dictator, and control isn’t even the most important tool anymore. We can rule our countries – each and every one of us, the joint rulers of our countries – together.
Love n’ Light,
My “How To Rule A Country” article on Hubpages