Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lessons in the Reformation

Last night I watched Martin Luther: The Reluctant Revolutionary*. The story contains precautionary lessons for free-nation activists.

Caveat: I am no authority on this history.  I see only that a person better educated in this history might have valuable insights pertaining to the dismantling of a social order which, although corrupt, was long established.

Civil law broke down after Luther's preliminary accomplishment in discrediting particular aspects of law which emanated from the Church in Rome.  There were massive uprisings.  These followed, I would guess, from individuals' suppositions that most of their unsatisfactory bonds were now open to challenge.  Luther opposed the bulk of these uprisings.  Brutal suppression of the uprisings came from local political authorities and cost 100,000 lives, as I recall the video.

I am struck that this unexpected revolution in civil order might be partially explained by Timur Kuran's book,  Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification. Kuran tells how people have private preferences which often differ from their publicly-expressed preferences.  Social pressures influence an individual's publicly-expressed preference.  But these social pressures are themselves a consequence of publicly-expressed preferences.  The consequence is that an entire population can be near a tipping point without this nearness being evident to anyone in the population, assuming I have understood Kuran.  Private Truths, Public Lies gives valuable insights.

Sequence matters.  I often think of a change-of-law scenario which seems to work: a cruise ship or an airline.  When you enter onto a ship or an airline, you understand that you are entering a different environment of law for the duration.  You understand that the Captain sets the rules, but usually you are happy enough with this arrangement.  You can see that it makes sense.  Normally, you willingly defer to the judgment of the Captain and the Captain's representatives, the crew.

On the scale of a tiny free nation, I propose that a similar change-of-law scenario might play out.  When the bulk of the population have picked themselves up from their prior situations and voluntarily moved themselves into a new environment, I suppose that they enter with an expectation that they do not yet know all the new local laws, that they will need to be cautious till they have learned the new local laws.  I sketched this further in Why Not a New Hong Kong?  But of course this is only one conjecture.  Spencer MacCallum's The Art of Community offers another useful view.

We need much more respectable and scholarly work in this line.

* A 110 minute video produced in 2002 by PBS, in its Empires Series.  I got it on DVD from Netflix.  But apparently it is also available for free in streaming format on the PBS website.

Statement of Purpose

This blog will offer occasional posts which continue the work of the Free Nation Foundation.

The focus is the FNF work plan, as first sketched in the founding prospectus Toward a Free Nation. I also intend to admit a blurry area around the focus, as appropriate for the FNF antechamber. But the intended audience is definitely limited to people who are already libertarian.

A few others, who are unfamiliar and unsympathetic with the FNF work plan, will probably find and read this material. But, if I succeed, my awareness of those other readers will not tempt me to address them in my writing here. I aim to host a discussion on an advanced level. Participants should have previously mastered some basic material.

Comments are moderated and will be held to this standard.