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Civilized (Civil) State
This site's second most important (#2) essay

        DEFINITION OF CIVILIZATION OR OF A CIVIL STATE (the necessary formal realization of civilization):
        Civilization should be a MECHANISM, in the form of a state, of course, through which people do together those things that they can't do apart, or that they can't do as easily or as well apart, that they need to do to live together in a cooperative and civilized way and to provide and maintain as good a life for every participant as is practically possible

        The purpose of civilization or of a civil state should be to provide all cooperating participants a good life, including (very obviously) access to a comfortable death (which, as far as I know, NO coutry provides, including Cuba), and (throughout their lives) dignity, social and economic equality, and all the goods and services and infrastructure they need to be comfortable and happy:  good housing, including essential appliances; more than adequate food and clothing; economic and social equality; education; health care; recreational facilities, creative opportunities, and environmental beauty; public transportation; protection from each other, from outsiders, and from ecological deterioration; retention of all personal freedoms and human rights that don't need to be curbed or forfeited so that the state can effectively function; and (IF they have the intellectual ability to do so constructively), opportunity to participate in the state. A civil state should be as effectively organized as it needs to be and have the reasonable authority it needs to have, but its authority should never exceed its purpose, and it should never be an idol, a deputy deity, a super parent, or a means of controlling participants for the benefit of any elite faction.

     A civilized civil state should never be a religious domain, since, by definition, civil affairs are community and not religious affairs, and since civilization itself must be defined as a state of affairs evolved away from and risen far above the old state of primitive barbarism to which superstition and the church belong. Religious commandments or taboos have no place in the laws or the Constitution of a civil state.
     Furthermore, a civilized civil state should not become a religion. It should be regarded not as a political totem but as a practical mechanism (a tool) with realistic community purposes (not mystical or sacred purposes) and should never be saluted or sung to or sacrificed to or in any way idolized. The only state related obligation participants should have, not actually to the state but to themselves and each other as cooperative users of the state, should be an obligation to keep their state working properly so that its purposes may be achieved. That obligation should include responsible participation in the state but obviously not patriotic adoration of or dumb submission to it.

        A civilized civil state cannot be a business domain. Since a state has to be a joint venture depending for its success on the voluntary and equal commitment of all participants, and there is no reason for participating in a state other than the expectation of an equal share in its benefits, all citizens should share both the obligations and the benefits of any truly civilized state - its work, responsibilities, products, services, and privileges - as equally as organizational requirements and individual capabilities permit and individual needs require, i.e. fairly.
        Yes, that does mean a civilized civil state should be, economically, a communist state. In fact, you'd do well to put this parenthesized passage in red (Nobody can live in a civilized state unless everyone lives in a civilized state.) on a banner and start saluting IT instead of some of the silly slogans that too many people (maybe you) have been saluting. I don't like most people. I'm basically self interested and otherwise interested only in the welfare of my daughter and my known and unknown friends. But whether or not you've ever thought of it before, and even if you've been taught to reject it, THIS is a rock-hard truth: I can't live in a civilized state unless everyone lives in a civilized state. And that's that! True - irrefutably true - FINAL!

        Obviously, a civilized civil state has to have the reasonable authority needed to achieve its purposes. An effective state cannot exist in a state of anarchy. It should be based on a blueprint and the blueprint should be facilitated and maintained by sticking to that blueprint's specifications. The simplest social contract entails at least one rule, i.e. that each participant must abide by the agreement: I won't harm you if you won't harm me. A civilized state should be considered a civil extension of the social contract with an economic dimension (I won't take more than my share if you won't take more than your share AND if you'll do your honest part to ensure the production of goods and services needed to provide everyone a good life, so will I),  i.e. a membership-wide social/economic contract, which entails, besides the social/economic contract commitment to restraint, a commitment to undertake some obligations. This means it should have limited but clearly relevant and reasonable authority and rules, and participants in a civilized state should reasonably expect to participate seriously, to follow rules and accept responsibilities TO THE EXTENT NECESSARY TO ENSURE THAT THE STATE WILL FUNCTION SUCCESSFULLY, I.E. ACHIEVE THE PURPOSE CLARIFIED AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.

        BUT a civilized civil state should never overstep its logical authority. Marx's idealization of a "stateless" condition strikes me as vague, if not downright mystical, maybe because I don't get it, but this is what he should have meant. A civilized state has certain important purposes but not all purposes, and since its purpose is to make life better, it should not have merely bureaucratic rules or bureaucratic enforcers of rules or the kind of oppressive cops that would make it a nuisance. Neither the authority of the state nor that of its delegates should ever exceed the purposes of the state or its functional requirements. No citizen should be asked or expected to sacrifice any existential rights or freedoms that don't need to be sacrificed or to modify any existential rights or freedoms more than they need to be modified TO ENSURE THE FUNCTIONAL SUCCESS OF THE STATE, I.E. THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE PURPOSE CLARIFIED AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE. And that's all. A civilized state cannot logically have laws that are not based on the social/economic contract of which the state is a civil extension.

        Civilization has to walk a very fine line between the participants' concession of rights that need to be conceded so civilization will work and the state's vigilant respect for all the existential freedoms that individuals have the self-bestowed right to retain. I've just perfectly defined that line, i.e. THE MAXIMUM CONCESSION NEEDED TO ENSURE THE FUNCTIONAL SUCCESS OF THE STATE. The honest and consistent recognition and guarding of that line is as much a part of the definition of a civilized state as is the function of a civilized state clarified above.


        ADDENDUM #1 - While it may have to start the way it is has to start, a civil state cannot remain the regime of any kind of hero. Heroic leadership by someone like Fidel Castro, or Nelson Mandela, or Thomas Jefferson IS just about certainly always needed to initiate and stabilize a civil state, but once the state's format (it's blueprint actually) is secure, just as no church or priest should dominate it, neither should any celebrated hero or hereditary king or elected president turned hero. A WORKING CIVIL STATE DOES NOT NEED A HERO IN CHARGE; IT NEEDS A PLAN (A FLEXIBLE BLUEPRINT) EXECUTED BY A WORKING MANAGEMENT TEAM, and none of its managers should be idolized or have privileged status, extraordinary living quarters, exalted titles, or elevated salaries. This does not mean they should be arbitrarily limited in their terms of office. A civil state should be continuously managed by the best qualified managers, very logically possibly including some of the still reliable heroes who started it (especially for as long as a not yet educated populace cannot be trusted to democratically protect their own interests).

        ADDENDUM #2 - the purpose of a civilized civil state is NOT freedom (which is largely outside its purview) or democracy but to provide humanity a comfortably civilized enclave at peace with but separate from and not (at least within the enclave) subordinate to nature's naturally uncomfortable laws, so the emphasis on the concept of civilization here rather than on the normally celebrated buzz ideal of pseudo-philosophical blabberers, freedomanddemocracy, is NOT a mistake.

-#2(A) Freedom, the allowances for and limitations of freedom (and the limitations on those limitations) in conjunction with a civilized state are clarified repeatedly above, and the concept of freedom(intelligently limited) is accorded an appropriate level of importance and respect here, because freedom that does not disrupt civilization is obviously an important human need. But there are all kinds of freedom, and not all of them are good, not all of them are even important, and not all of them are compatible with an effective state of civilized order. Review the three paragraphs on authority above.

-#2(B) Democracy, which is usually disruptive and most often just convenient to greedy insiders who thrive on chaos, IS NOT a necessary adjunct to a civilized state. In fact, as a committed truth teller I have to interject that, whether it's politically correct to say it or not, it would always be smartest if anything needing to be run were run by those smart enough to run it. Of course, I can conceive of specific scenarios in the context of which a democratic procedure may be circumstantially (not religiously) helpful in achieving some of the ends of a civil state. But this is reality: the majority is NOT always or even usually right, and to base the procedures of a civil state on majority approval or disapproval makes no sense and, if it becomes the norm, will certainly lead to a state of chaos (now existing, as a matter of fact) expedient only to unscrupulous opportunists, which is why the promoters and beneficiaries of barbaric, dog-eat-dog free-enterprise work so hard to encourage you to virtually deify democracy.
        Taking a vote may work in a club meeting, though even there, consensus always works better, which is why the most effective clubs have steering committees. Relative to the national political level, certainly in America, pro-democracy advocates who think they're working with "the people" for progressive state level change virtually always end up installing the same familiar breed of demagogues as before and unconsciously supporting the same rich fascists they think they're opposing. See If not democracy, what?

-#2(C) Term limits:There is NO necessary philosophical connection or any likely causal connection between the successful achievement and management of a civilized state and the regular rotation of its management team. Democracy and elections are means, not ends, and, on a large scale, democracy and regular turn over of managers seldom lead to any civilized end.

-#2(D) Political equality: Social and economic equality are essential to a civilized state, but political equality is not only NOT essential, it is almost inevitably destructive because it almost always turns out to be more expedient to greedy, manipulative insiders than to the general population. Like to admit it or not, civilized states are more likely to be set up by benign dictators who stay in office long enough to get the setting-up job done, and (whenever that actually happens) they should be best managed by hardworking militant bureaucrats guided by a blueprint drawn up by benign geniuses with the philosophical depth and organizational skill it takes to do that.