1: Perspective And Summary
Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Democratic Peace page
one man's beauty another's ugliness;
one man's wisdom another's folly.
----Emerson, Circles, Ib
"People of Earth. You have all heard our message. We will now convene the Global Convention of Minds. To be sure you understand the Convention's framework and rules let us repeat. All of you will be involved, as able. Each of you may anonymously propose any principle to govern your new society and present any argument. Voting will be secret. We will take as many votes as necessary to develop a consensus. For those who are to live in the New World, agreement on the principles must be unanimous. You have no time constraints on your discussion, each of you can be fully involved mentally regardless of your physical activities."
"We will telepathically organize proposals and arguments to reduce them to their major patterns upon which you can focus in developing a consensus.
Second, even were such a meaningful matrix specifiable, there is no global or even national consensus about acceptable risks. Would Yemenese, Ugandans, or Vietnamese prefer to minimize the worst that could happen in the New World, or maximize the best? Or would they prefer the best average of risks across a range of choices? What about those slowly dying in concentration camps around the world? Would they not take any risk to escape their lot?
Regarding sociopolitical institutions, the question is often not about how to increase personal gain, but rather about what is Right or Just. To fix this point, consider the Convention as involving the militant Moslems demonstrating in the streets of Tehran in 1979 for Ayatollah Khomeini; the communist guerrilla leaders fighting in the northeast jungles of Thailand to overthrow its government; or the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church meeting to select a new pope. To minds fanatically dedicated to a religious or ideological cause, or to minds that believe deeply in the moral-legal framework of their society, questions of personal gain or loss would enter only after the principles of a new society are settled. But these are the principles at question here. The choice is among diverse social systems, not risks within a given system. What is engaged at this level are different views of social justice, and many would not knowingly accept fundamental social injustice or social evil in exchange for, let us say, a guaranteed minimum income. However, many minds will be of the starving, destitute, and exploited of the world; of the jailed, tortured, and enslaved who lack the comfort to be altruistic. They can be expected to define social justice in very personal ways related to their dire situation. My point is not that personal advantages will be ignored in determining a New Society, then, but that we cannot define a universal criterion of choice. A cross-culture utilitarian calculus is not available. Even the idea of such a calculus would not be generally accepted.
Third, although participants can calculate simple probabilities, their interpretation and use depend on cultural, social, and political perspectives, not to mention philosophical views of probability itself. Of course, participant i could apply this simple formula: given y participants in the Convention of Minds and group x of a specific age, religion, race, ethnicity, class, then the probability of i's mind ending up in the New World in the body of someone in group x is x/y. Although the underlying probability of any mind being matched to any body may not be equal (English minds may more likely take over Bulgarian than Chinese bodies, or French minds more likely to stay in French bodies, depending on the transporter's "circuitry"), in ignorance of this the simple x/y equilikelihood model will do. However, although many may subjectively or objectively calculate such outcomes in the New World, these are of little use in computing personal, cultural, or ideological advantages for possible principles of justice that would achieve consensus. Indeed, these probabilities become enmeshed in the very sociocultural perspectives we are trying to escape.
For example, we are, by the simple x/y probability, more likely to be young than old in the New World. But some cultures prize age; others, youth. In some societies age means power, status; youth means obedience, dependence. Let us say, however, that most people would still like to be young. This, coupled with the probability that more will likely be young than old, is still of no help toward a consensual principle of justice. Similar problems arise with probabilities that one is more likely to be Chinese than Algerian, American than Japanese, Moslem than Protestant, and so on. These probabilities are unhelpful because we cannot estimate how large groups will be intermixed or what will be their resources and the associated social environment. Moreover, what is involved here, as with any such probabilities, utilitarian calculations, and the like, is that they all are interpreted along the Convention's major cultural and ideological divisions, which I will discuss below.
How, then, will the participants bargain? I do not believe any complex or mathematical bargaining model is appropriate or necessary. As the bargaining situation has been defined and constrained, minds would simply present their ideas and proposals about social institutions and government and their reasons and evidence to support them. They would argue against proposals, also using reason and evidence. Since all minds are autonomous and invisible (all communication is mental), threats, force, bribes, are foreclosed. No one will even know who in the New World took what position in the Convention. Agreement will emerge from such a debate, as it does in a town meeting, by clarification, persuasion, evidence, authority (some minds obviously will be more knowledgeable, articulate, reasonable). In this situation, however, consensus is necessitated by the impending disaster.
How then can we define what consensus will emerge from the bargaining? First, we need to determine what likely alternatives will emerge from the debate, an apparently impossible task for the several billion human minds involved. Second, given these alternatives, we must consider whether one or some combination of them could achieve consensus.
But can we first define alternatives? In answer weigh this. The Convention is not composed of free-floating, purely logical and reasoning mentalities. Each mind is a personality, with a perspective, interests, self-esteem, expectations. Each has been acculturated and socialized. Each has a language, a history. The meanings, values, concepts, proposals, and feelings of each mind therefore reflect its own individuality within a particular sociocultural system and sociopolitical ideology. Proposals and debates in the Convention will reflect the life situation of each participant. To put this baldly, the bargaining will reproduce the major global divisions among cultures, societies, and political systems; these divisions will demarcate the major alternative principles to be proposed.
Of course, this Convention will provide opportunities to present utopias and idealistic systems of all kinds, but recall that consensus is the aim, which the Conveners will facilitate by focusing communication and debate on the main patterns of proposals and arguments. Lest one feel that thereby I am excluding desirable alternative futures to those now existing, I hasten to say that in due course there will be a place for such visions.
What I now must do to determine the bargaining alternatives in the Convention is clear: to assay the members major present and historical sociocultural and political divisions. As I do this, recall that the Conservers will be reducing the scope and diversity of communication among minds to their major underlying patterns. Remember also that each mind will be a fully engaged personality, with its own stock of ideas, perceptions, understandings, knowledge, and so on. Finally, remember that the only assumed ignorance (in this social contract model) is of the mind's future physical and bodily habitat in the New World. Considering all this, then, I will argue below that the Conservers will find and communicate a tripartite organization of sociopolitical ideologies in the concepts, proposals, and arguments among the several billion minds; and an underlying bipolar sociocultural system of meanings, values and norms. I will discuss the latter first.
Buddhist Asia, truth and ethics are believed absolute, given authoritatively by revered ancestors or God. Art and philosophy are spiritually oriented, manifesting fundamental and holy principles. Law is God-given or traditional--unbreakable principles that bind ruler and subject together.
Therefore, ideationally oriented minds will emphasize an absolute truth about the world given in their holy books, traditional sayings, and passed down from revered ancestors. Their view of justice will be uncompromising, deontological, and most likely theocratic. They will stress that justice is basically spiritual, an inner balance and an outer relationship among people, their ruler, and God. Subjectively, the empirical world will have great structure to them, manifesting clear explanations and simple principles. Overall, their meanings will be abstract, other-worldly, and spiritual; their values, and norms will be authoritative, hierarchical, and strict.
In sharp contrast, in the sensate sociocultural system (examples are modern Europe, Russia, and America), truth is sensory; ethics are relative and hedonistic; science is mechanistic and empirical. Art is eclectic, "modern," or realistic; philosophy is materialistic, analytic, or pragmatic. These sensate minds will therefore be fundamentally hedonistic or utilitarian, emphasizing freedom or equality and supporting their arguments by reference to the sensual world.
Ideational and sensate minds will divide the Global Convention; no single sociocultural system will dominate; no consensus on either is possible. Of course, there is, as always, a middle system. This is the idealistic sociocultural systems, which comprises elements of both sensate and ideational ones. However, such systems represent unique historical forces and evolution, as in contemporary Japan, Thailand, and Israel, and it is most improbable that Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, and Catholics on one side and atheists, utilitarians, empiricists, and dialectical materialists on the other would agree to some baroque combination of the two--especially since they would be evaluating any trade-off from the perspective of their own system of meanings and values. Of course, ideational and sensate minds still must choose between death and agreement. But there is an escape, as we will soon see.
First, there should be a group of ideas and arguments supporting an authoritative type of society and authoritarian political system. Considerable emphasis will be placed on moral and religious foundations and the traditional or inherited legitimacy of a ruler. Attempts to limit civil rights will be made, and the virtues of a natural and properly prepared political and social leadership will be argued. Many will declare that there is an absolute social and political right and wrong, good and evil, and that the institutions of the New World must embody what is good and true. These are not matters of public debate and voting, it will be argued. Democratic majorities cannot be trusted to vote what is right. Their interest is immediate gratification, whereas the responsibility of government is to secure the traditional values, embody the spirit of the people, and administer God's laws. In sum, a major pattern of proposals and arguments will define a society of traditional and religious values and an authoritarian government to maintain these values. It would be a society whose rulers are selected by birth, status, or caste and who rule through traditional or holy law. Clearly, those proposing such an authoritative society and associated authoritarian political system would reflect ideational sociocultural meanings, values, and norms.
Second, there will be a pattern of concepts, proposals, and arguments defining a society mobilized through government planning and controls to create a better world, an ideal life. It will be argued that society should not show great inequalities of wealth, class, and power; government must satisfy peoples' needs and regulate the economy to ensure fairness and distributional justice. The government is therefore an instrument toward meeting society's responsibility and achieving humanity's betterment. True democracy will be seen by many of these minds as a classless society of equals and not necessarily as civil rights and majority votes. The will of the people will be expressed by knowledgeable leaders and experts who provide the necessary planning and controls and have the proper vision. In this view society will be unfortunately coercive, but for the good of the people. And government will have to be totalitarian until the ideal society is created. Communist minds of whatever shade will manifest this pattern of ideas and policies. Moreover, these views will be significantly shared by democratic socialists, national socialists, and fascists (who will also agree with some authoritarian ideas).
Third, there should be a pattern of proposals and arguments asserting the values of the free market, of individual freedom and exchange, and of civil and human rights.
Both those desiring a free--exchange--society and those wishing for a governmentally managed, equalitarian society (both libertarians and socialists) have a sensate world view. Both see human needs and welfare as fundamental; empiricism, materialism, utilitarianism, pragmatism, relativism are basic underlying "isms" influencing the proposals and arguments of both. They sharply diverge over the value and functions of freedom, the nature and desirability of equality, and the role and danger of government.
Figure 6.1 shows these major types of sociopolitical divisions the Conservers will find.
The political triangle defines a political space within which there is much ideological variation, with the extremes at the points of the triangle.
Here I wish only to establish the sociocultural and sociopolitical divisions in the bargaining over the New Society. For this, Figure 6.1 serves as a summary. Now for the solution.
* Scanned from Chapter 6 in R.J. Rummel, The Just Peace, 1981. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.
1. Game theory was used by Rawls (1971) to deduce his principles of justice. He claimed them to be the maximum solution to his bargaining game, when participants' knowledge about themselves is severely limited and they are ignorant of what their positions and status will be under the principles they choose. For devastating criticisms of his use of game theory, see Harsanyi (1975) and Fishkin (1975). For the reasons mentioned in the text, I reject both Rawls' use of game theory and the suggested revisions of his critics. I do not believe game theory or, alternatively, utilitarian calculations are applicable to this situation.
2. Somewhere in Gulag Archipelago (1973-1978) Solzhenitsyn points out that some political prisoners suffering the daily cruelties of their camps hoped for a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union that might bring release through death or defeat of the communist system.
3. For example, try convincing a Moslem that the laws of his Islamic society should be utilitarian: maximize pleasure and minimize pain. He would respond that the laws must be based on or derived from the Qur'ãn. This is the World of God, given through His Prophet, Muhammad. We can only obey. I find Rawls' (1971) analysis of the bargaining involved in his social contract (which is meant to be any society) curiously blind to such beliefs.
4. There is philosophical dispute over the meaning of probability, the interpretation of particular models, and their appropriateness to particular situations like this one. None of this really need be addressed or decided here, for any of the major positions or models under the given conditions would not significantly affect the outcome to be discussed below and in Chapter 7. This is because of the reasons given in the text, which, to be sure they are clear, I will restate: (1) the knowledge of probable race, ethnicity, religion, age, and class is seen through a perspective which varies along the major divisions in the Convention; and (2) the resources and larger social context of these groupings are unknown. Even power, wealth, and prestige cannot be correlated with these groups because of their dependence on sociocultural and political factors and the unknown distribution of resources.
5. See Section 7.4.1 and Section 8.3.3.
6. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 24) and Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Part IV). These volumes also show the relevance of the psychological principles presented above to sociocultural systems.
7. Another set of labels might appear to be "Oriental" versus "Western." While roughly correct today, these labels would be misleading. Historically, both Western and Oriental cultures have fluctuated between sensate and ideational systems.
8. These types have been described in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 30 and Chapter 31) and empirically supported therein (Chapter 33 and Chapter 34).
9. I am trying here to be general and basic in describing the sociopolitical divisions. We could, however, narrow this down to the core issues dividing libertarian, socialist, or authoritarian ideologies, which are over freedom, equality, and rights. While ignoring the sharp and deep dispute over what is right or legitimate (as between Hindu and Moslem) and underlying sociocultural differences, Niebuhr does capture one ideological division that would appear in the Convention:
There is a special irony in the fact that the primary differences in the conceptions of justice in the world do not spring from religious and cultural differences between East and West. They can, therefore, not be resolved by elaborate efforts at cultural syncretism between East and West. The primary differences arise from a civil war in the heart of Western civilization, in which a fanatical equalitarian creed has been pitted against a libertarian one.
10. In this pattern would be included anarcho-libertarianism.
11. Figure 6.1 reproduces Figure 31.3 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix.
12. This triangle is not only theoretical, but also has been empirically substantiated. See my National Attributes and Behavior (1979c: Sections 5.2.2-5.2.3).