[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Sun Jan 30 13:32:48 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


On Sat, 29 Jan 2000, Marian Griffith wrote:

> In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Fri 28 Jan, Geoffrey A. MacDougall wrote:
> 
> > Lovecraft wrote: 
> > > What is an example system that is less corrupt than the tyranny of the
> > > majority?


That largely depends on your definition of corruption. If you believe that
government exists to serve the present whims of the masses,then tyranny of
the majority is the way to go. I believe that government exists to serve
not just the present day population, but the future population too, and in
this, the masses are horrible. Witness the lack of popular interest in
perhaps the most important long-term issue currently facing the human
race: diversifying our 'portfolio' of habitable environments. Inevitably,
whether through our own efforts or a cosmic disaster, earth will become
uninhabitable. The masses do not care, however, as they don't see it as
being likely in their lifetime (or, particularly in the nearly inevitable
case of nuclear war, just don't want to think about it).

Further, while I do not wish to get into this argument here, I think you'd
find very serious and very valid arguments from various anarchist-oriented
political groups that their proposed systems are less open to the sort of
corruption I think you are talking about (See David Friedman's The
Machinery of Freedom, for instance).



> A far simpler, and fairer, system is one where the majority rules but is
> obliged to compensate the minority whenever a vote goes in a way that is
> harming them.
> The problem is  that it is impossible to make a decision on an important
> subject that does not 'hurt' somebody in some way.  E.g. when planning a
> new highway it must run through some people's backyard. Even if you plan
> it so that it inconveniences the least people,  there will be people who
> have that highway in their backyard.  Regardless how you arrive at  that
> decision.  So, I would suggest to make the people who 'win' the vote, or
> decision, or whatever,  compensate those who 'lose' it.  Maybe that will
> give them an incentive to  both minimise the damage,  and reconsider any
> action that will cost them more than in it gains them (e.g. is that high
> way really necessary?).

That's a bit simplistic. Who decides what adequate compensation is? The
system you describe in terms of highways already exists. It's called
eminent domain, and it allows (in the US at least) the government to seize
your land, and then pay you what it feels your land is worth. Of course,
the system is uses for determining the worth of your land is ludicrous,
and does nothing to compensate someone who is emotionally attached to his
land, above and beyond the "fair-market value". 

Or, what about if the majority votes that said minority will be going to
war to defend the majority. There is no possible compensation you could
give me to make up for having my legs shot off that I would view as
compensating me in any significant way.

As Isaiah Berlin pointed out in his essay (which I previously referred to
in this thread, I believe), "The Pursuit of the Ideal", there is no reason
at all to believe that a system such as you describe, that aims to satisfy
all parties involved in a large population, exists even in
theory. People's fundamental goals and ideals differ, and some of them are
completely incompatible, so that achieving one necessarily means
disappointing another, and adequate (defined by whom? the person being
compensated I assume) compensation is not always possible.


> Of course, this is hard to achieve in mud terms where there is neither a
> true form of power, nor a true form of cost.

I would disagree with this. Power resides in the ability to enforce your
will upon others, and I am certainly capable of doing that in a mud that I
run. It's an extremely trivial form of power compared to an emperor or
what not of course, but I do believe it's power nonetheless. I think there
is a true form of cost too. Power over others is really in the mind of the
beholder. If you believe someone has power over you, that person does, and
if you believe there is a cost to you to from some action, then there
is. If there is no true form of cost, I'm not sure how some players ever
get reduced to tears by actions performed on them by others in a mud.

--matt




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