Anarchy (a PCT analysis)

[Martin Taylor 2000.04.13]

I'm afraid I haven't had time to read all the messages on tha
"Anarchy" thread, but I've read enough to be reasonably sure that the
point I want to make hasn't been brought up. Unfortunately, I'm
leaving for a month this afternoon, and won't be able to participate
in follow-up discussion, which makes this intervention slightly
unfair. But here goes, anyway...

In what follows, you may find that there are jumps in the argument,
but that seems to me to be inevitable in a short communication such
as an e-mail message. For related material, see



Assertion 1. All actions have side-effects, which are defined as
effects on the environment that do not influence the perception the
action is to control. Some side-effects may disturb perceptions in
other people.

Assertion 2. Some perceptions are easier to control through the
actions of another person than by ones own direct actions. One's own
actions are intended to disturb the other person's perceptions in
such a way that the other person's controlling actions influence
one's own controlled perceptions appropriately (to the other person,
that influence is a side-effect).

Assertion 3. The power of one person to influence some aspect of the
environment is ordinarily less than the power of that person
coordinated with the power of another, both influencing the same
aspect of the environment in the same direction.

Assertion 4. Persons differ in their individual power to influence
any particular facet of the environment.

Local Consequences

Consequence 1 (from A1 and A2). If two people find that each can
control a perception within themselves better through the actions of
the other, a "contract" can be made between them. Both control better
when the contract is executed as agreed.

Consequence 2 (from A1 and C1). In some cases of "contract" one or
both of the partners may find that the contracted action has
side-effects that disturb another controlled perception, or worse,
that executing the contract induces an internal conflict.

Consequence 3 (from A1 and C1). All contractual actions have
side-effects that affect the environment. In particular the
side-effects may disturb controlled perceptions in people not party
to the contract.

Consequence 4 (from C1 and C2). Contracts are likely to be broken, if
the contracting parties incorrectly perceive the likelihood of
conflict in the other partner (i.e. do not perceive correctly what
perceptions the partner is controlling that make the partner desire
the contract).

Consequence 5 (from C3). Persons outside the contract will attempt to
influence the actions of the contracting persons.

Social consequences

Consequence 6 (from A3, A4, and C5) Persons outside the original
contract will contract together to influence the actions of the
originally contracting persons. (Argument: the original contracting
parties have contracted because the contract enhances their power to
influence the environment. This makes it more likely that their power
to disturb others is greater than the power of a random other person
to resist the disturbance).

Consequence 7 (from A1, A4 and C5) Persons will contract together to
influence the actions of powerful people.

Consequence 8 (from C2) Persons creating a contract may also contract
with outside persons to influence each other to perform according to
the terms of the contract.

Consequence 9 (from C6 and C7) Powerful people and contracting
persons are likely to oppose the actions of the external persons who
contract to influence their actions (Argument: this is often a
conflict situation in which the "external persons contracting group"
tries to reduce the side effects of the actions of the original
contracting parties (or powerful person) by opposing the actions that
generate those side-effect. Opposing the action that influences a
perception is equivalent to attempting to control in a opposite
direction the environmental variable corresponding to the controlled
perception. That is "conflict" in technical PcT terminology).

All the preceding "consequences" seem to follow directly from a
straightforward application of PCT. Even though I have not written
all the steps in the derivation, I think I could defend each in
detail, if pressed.

Consequences 6, 7, and 8 do not say "law and regulations" but they
come very close.

Consequence 9 seems to reflect the historic and ongoing struggle
between democratic government and aristocratic government, whether
the latter be monarchic, military dictatorship, or corporate

Consequence 8 suggests the likely evolution of laws, regulations, or
at least customs, that make the breaking of contracts unprofitable.

Consequence 7 suggests the likely evolution of laws, regulations, or
at least customs, that restrict the abilities of powerful people to
distress weaker people.

Consequence 6 suggests the likely evolution of laws, regulations, or
at least customs, that restrict the kinds of actions that can be
contracted by individuals.

Nothing in this says who wins the conflict implied by Consequence 9.
In some periods of history, it is the powerful, in some it is the
mass of weaker people. What seems usually to happen is that the
powerful gain control of the law-making ability and gradually modify
the laws to reduce the restrictions on their abilities to make
arbitrary contracts. At some point, the effects on the general public
become so bad that a revolution occurs, and there is a period of what
we might term "democratic" government. But that rarely lasts very
long--perhaps 200 years after the Athenian revolution, maybe 50 years
after the American revolution and again for a generation in the USA
after the second World War. Even less after the French revolution.

Nevertheless, it does seem that over the long term (measured in
thousands of years) the tendency is toward more democracy rather than
more dictatorship,
and one might ask why this is, and whether it is to be expected from
the principles of PCT. One might also attempt a PCT analysis of why
it almost always happens that the powerful individuals are able to
take over the construction of the laws, regulations, and customs so
quickly after a democratic revolution. Such an endeavour would be
beyond me, at least at present.

The preceding argument from the basic principles of PCT seems to
suggest that anarchy is an unstable social structure. An initially
anarchic society will quickly evolve laws, regulations, and customs
that inhibit the ability of powerful persons to act, and that
regulate the formation and execution of contracts.

Less solidly supported by analysis, it seems that the dynamic may be
an oscillation between dictatorship (by individuals or powerful
groups such as corporations) and democracy, in which democracy
appears usually in short bursts after revolutionary explosions.

See you toward the end of May.