Feb 03, 2023 8:39 AM
the governor of ira sani in radiant
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"Well, I don't remember much about it, but a big theme was the harshness of the justice system and revolutionary ideals, right?"

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"...Hm. Yes, everyone was making mistakes like that. Slavery for the first offense, and having a revolution, and being unrighteous, and dying. Except the person who gave Jean Valjean silver."

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"I'm not- Oh, the priest. Real kindness and humility is hard to find these days, huh... Do you think a highly authoritarian regime is good? Or just that revolution and war is bad? Am I on the right track here?"

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"My home is highly authoritarian and I like my home. Uh, but it isn't... like this place. People can learn the news even if the government doesn't want them to know it. I like our false advertising laws. I think... your authoritarian home is not as good as my authoritarian home. I think everyone thinks France is bad. And - France is bad but - the revolution in Les Miserables does not make France good. I hope that your revolution makes your home good."

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"I hope so too. I... They rarely are, but we're doing it anyway." He laughs, then sighs. "'France is bad'. They got better... Eventually. Not that it's relevant to anything here and now. And yeah, some revolutions don't make anything good. When it's over, if we win, we should all get involved in politics. What a nightmare."

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"Sometimes politics is lonely and tedious but I do not think politics at my home is a nightmare. Why should you all get involved in it?"

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"When only a few people are politicians they inevitably start thinking about their own incentives and not everyone else's."

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"I don't know if elections work for you but I think someone told me they worked in America."

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"Maybe for a little while. It depends a lot on how you set up your elections. People start scheming to win the elections, and if you do it wrong the way to win the election is not to be the candidate that best serves the people, right? Gerrymandering's an easy one, fuck with the state boundaries so you get 51% of the vote in some regions and the places you lose the vote you lose by 90%, but it's still just one vote- Sorry, that one's a bit of a twelfth grade reading level, I can draw it out if it seems important."

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"...I don't think I understand it and I want to understand it."

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Alex will explain gerrymandering! He sketches on a tablet app to demonstrate.

So, the let's say Animal Kingdom wants to have elections. They decide to split the kingdom into five states, and each state will appoint one person, and the five people will rule the kingdom together. There's forty lions and sixty monkeys, so each state has 20 people in it. If you draw the boundaries so that each one contains random or even distributions of people, there will be five monkeys on the council and no lions. Not very fair. And if you draw the boundaries another way, you can get three districts with 12 or 13 lions, and then two districts that are all monkey - so three lions get elected, and only two monkeys, even though the monkeys outnumber the lions. Also not very fair!

"That's the basic idea, anyway. Lots of details, lots of fussing and arguing. Election design is hard stuff."

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"Um, I have questions. Why don't all of the lions and all of the monkeys vote together for one person? Why don't any of the monkeys implement policies that are popular among lions or any of the lions implement policies that are popular among monkeys? Do lions and monkeys do different jobs?"

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"This is super simplified. It just - shows the idea. In reality it'd look like, concentrating poor people in one district when you want to raise regressive taxes like sales tax, that hurts the poor more than the rich, or concentrating certain ethnic groups who you don't think will vote for you there. Uh, gerrymandering was a huge issue with the old American two party system - that's also got complicated reasons for why it existed - and it still dominates some political thought today. Uh, the idea is that the monkeys don't trust lions to implement monkey-favorable policies and vice-versa. A lion candidate would accuse his monkey opponent of not understanding lions. We have a concept called 'class warfare', which um... Okay, I didn't expect to go through a full theory lecture today but I can try."

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"I want to hear it if you want to tell me the lecture." He seems to struggle to phrase this and says it rather slowly.

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"...In socialist theory, the notion of a class is a specific category of people with specific sets of interests, desires, and incentives. When splitting people into classes the division will never be perfect because people are complicated, but you could say that land-owners and non-land-owners are two different classes. You would expect without knowing anything else that those two sets of people are going to react to things differently, and want different laws and policies. You could also consider classes of people who live on a planet and people who live in space- Spacers and grounders. Or people who farm food and people who manufacture things and people who work in stores and distribution- Farmers, factory workers, and retail workers. Class warfare, is the act of... Coordinating to benefit the class you belong to, often at the expense of other classes. The people who are rich and in power are a class, and they use class warfare against the poor. It's not always actual violence. Disinformation is class warfare, and limiting opportunities with economic incentives is too. Am I making sense so far?"

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"Yes. Um, do all the things - are all the things - do you not have people who own land that farm food and people who own land that don't farm food and, uh - I don't know if this question makes sense. Also, what is socialist theory."

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"You sometimes have people who can belong to multiple classes, yes. They're a tool for understanding politics, not a fundamental truth. Socialist theory is the philosophy of socialist schools of politics. The main tenet of it is shared ownership of things like land, or intellectual property - or just not enforcing any kind of intellectual property - and giving support to every member of a community. Free food, free housing, free healthcare. It's mutated a lot, it's been around for centuries, though. It's one of the common revolutionary schools of thought. The other common ones would be anarchism- No government at all, or a government that does almost nothing- And democratic federalism, which thinks the defunct Democratic Federation was great and wants to try the same thing again. You mentioned America? DemFed was the successor state to the United States of America."

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"Is the socialist school of politics related to the Church of England?"

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"...Er, no. What even is-"

He looks something up on the phone. 

"Oh, pre-DemFed Christian schism, huh. No, it's not particularly religious, though Black Catholics do espouse charity and kindness still, so it's sort of related."

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"...I think I might have heard the word 'Catholic' before one or more times?"

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"It's a religion. I, uh, don't really feel competent to give you an unbiased overview of that but the 'net might have something."

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Shrug. "If it's not newer than the nineteenth century, I will be able to learn about it at home."

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"No, it's definitely modern. But like, all the stuff you're referencing is 19th century, and there's a lot of gap between here and there. Lots of history. People change what things mean, on accident, on purpose."

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"...Yes. I do not know how to ask good questions about that."

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"I guess the best way to put it is... Back in the 16th, 15th, earlier, they had lots of schisms, right? Catholics broke off into Protestants, Church of England, Anglicans, all that. But in the 20th, 21st, religion kind of became less of a big deal. Not a life-defining thing to most folks. Lots of people became agnostic - believing we can't tell if there is a God. Then it started getting popular again once we colonized other planets, with the DemFed's rises... Catholicism was still the big dog in town, the most important. And Hermes-Ishtar bought the Pope. Just like old times. You can buy forgiveness for your sins, you can pray with your money. Worship the altar of prosperity and greed. That's the White Catholic church. The Black Catholics are the people who said 'Martin Luther said it and I'll say it, fuck that and fuck the pope for betraying God'. They're all about freedom, mercy, neighborliness - but they can be violent too, stealing shit, killing rich people. Or so I've heard, maybe that's vicious propaganda. I'm a homicidal anarchist according to H-I's propaganda machine now, I bet!"

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