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  Exploitation: The Driving Force of Politics?
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romanov
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Exploitation: The Driving Force of Politics?
« on: 2004-09-02 17:35:27 »
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I'm interested in hearing all of the community's views on this. I'm looking to stimulate a little debate.

Is the fear of exploitation the single most important factor in political choice? Is it an innate drive/faculty that dominates our thinking? I'd like everyone to give their opinion.

First, an introduction.

I've always been fascinated on the factors that drive us to make choices. In particular, I've always been fascinated on what separates those of us who consider themselves of the 'left' of politics with that of the 'right', and the libertarian with the authoritarian. I've always believed myself that political ideology is about trading off complex (and sometimes conflicting) values. Is it really much simpler than that, however?

It recently occurred to me that perhaps the fear of being exploited by others is such an integral part of our psychology that perhaps it is the primary factor behind all our views, differing as they are.

The right, I believe, is primarily concerned with being exploited by those individuals with equal or less power than they, who might en masse seek to deprive them of status or resources. The left, on the other hand, sees the greater threat in those with (usually much) greater resources and/or status.

Taken from that starting point, is that enough to explain all politics? Or do other social instincts or cultural memes have a greater influence?

I'll post more on this subject over the coming few days. I'm thinking of expanding the topic slightly, as I believe that anti-exploitation instincts influence more than just politics, but also profoundly shape the media and the arts too.


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Re:Exploitation: The Driving Force of Politics?
« Reply #1 on: 2004-09-03 12:25:39 »
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Fear of exploitation is quite probably one of the founding drives behind social cohesion, or, government.

People in voluntary organisations always group together for a common purpose. Governments, broadly speaking, embody two purposes:

1. To prevent the group from being exploited by others.
2. To provide a basis for working towards other common goals.

The second function could be anything from building homes, roads, infrastructure etc. to providing welfare or achieving things only a large group could accomplish.

I'm not a conservative, so it's difficult for me to comment on what their common goals might be, but I think the distinction between the political left and right is essentially a contemporary phenomenon arising from the cultures that develop within group structures. The memes of each side must be more or less equally successful, seeing as modern society is apparently polarised.

It could simply be though, and I think it is indeed likely, that the far left and right are the ones who most vehemently express and defend their standing, and in fact the distribution acorss the entire scale is fairly even, with those ever further from the extreme positions on either side becoming increasingly quieter, creating the illusion of a polarised culture.

We often hear liberals and conservatives arguing their cause, but for the most part the centrists don't get involved, or, if they do, it is in defence of their opinion on a particular issue as opposed to their political orientation in general.
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David Lucifer
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Re:Exploitation: The Driving Force of Politics?
« Reply #2 on: 2004-09-09 14:53:24 »
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Quote from: romanov on 2004-09-02 17:35:27   

I'm interested in hearing all of the community's views on this. I'm looking to stimulate a little debate.

Is the fear of exploitation the single most important factor in political choice? Is it an innate drive/faculty that dominates our thinking? I'd like everyone to give their opinion.

I think that is a large part of it, but I would generalize a bit. The most important factor in political choice is how one approaches the problem of unfairness in the world. The universe (contrary to popular opinion) is neither fair nor unfair, it just unfolds according to mindless laws. Justice is only in the minds of moral agents such as humans. We wish the good to be rewarded and the evil to be punished, and perhaps more importantly, we hope that good people avoid being punished and evil people avoid being rewarded. The fear of exploitation encompasses both because presumably the exploiter is rewarded for their evil and the exploited is punished through no fault of their own. The exploitation encompasses both kinds of unfairness, I'm not sure that it exhausts the possibilities.
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romanov
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Re:Exploitation: The Driving Force of Politics?
« Reply #3 on: 2004-09-09 15:54:34 »
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I personally would venture that the (what I believe to be innate) human sense of justice (separate from that of overall morality) is an evolved set of instincts set to prevent us from being exploited.

In any case, do you think it accurate that the traditionally left wing is concerned with the possibility of exploitation by the few and powerful, and the right wing by the many and needy?



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Re:Exploitation: The Driving Force of Politics?
« Reply #4 on: 2004-09-09 16:09:38 »
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Quote from: romanov on 2004-09-09 15:54:34   

I personally would venture that the (what I believe to be innate) human sense of justice (separate from that of overall morality) is an evolved set of instincts set to prevent us from being exploited.

Yes, but the same sense of justice also prevents us from exploiting (which I suppose in a round about way prevents us from getting lynched).


Quote:
In any case, do you think it accurate that the traditionally left wing is concerned with the possibility of exploitation by the few and powerful, and the right wing by the many and needy?

This wikipedia entry on Left-Right politics lists many ways to distinguish between the two sides. I agree that your characterization was accurate for the original meaning:
Quote:
Support for the economic interests of the less privileged classes (left) or of the more privileged (right). Originally, this meant the rising bourgeoisie (left) vs. the aristocrats (right), but it rather soon came to mean, more commonly, the working class and unemployed (left) versus all wealthy and/or aristocratic classes (right). As discussed in the next section, this issue of class interests was the original meaning of the dichotomy.
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