Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A basis for modern society?

Its funny realizing that sovereignty is the basis of most of our existence, or the way we live. At first sovereignty seems to be just a way of governing or ordering society, but as you read and learn more about it, it slowly reveals itself to be largely responsible for all our modern technology and science. Without sovereignty, it appears humans would not have been organized enough to make break through after break through. Sovereignty provides protection to the individual from the masses of outsiders. Moreover, it protects the communities that these new ideas and ways of thinking sprout out of. Without this base of order, man would have fallen into a simple pattern that did not promote growth. Coming to this conclusion, one thinks of the native peoples of countries that were colonized by these new sovereign nations. Those natives, in most cases, were living simple lives that fit them into the natural order of life. Once these peoples' nations became sovereign, they were usually stripped of their way of life and forced to change (i.e. Native American's). Now even though sovereignty has promoted the new ways of life, it is seen here to destroy a simple existence to promote growth. On the one hand we have sovereignty helping a nation and people grow, and on the other we see how the more simple people are abused and pushed below the more "advanced" ones. This is not always the order of things, and it is not that way now, but that is only because most of our world is now divided up into sovereign nations, but the ride up to that point was a bumpy one. In fact, we can see today where unclear borders are still a cause for war, yet when people stay within their own territory, there is no cause for alarm. Yet before sovereignty caused this great evolution, man was a simple creature that did not shape the world around him and life was governed by nature. It begs one to ask weather losing that natural order was worth all we are offered in modern society, especially when looking at what our way of life is doing to the environment around us.


Allison Fish said...

Jackson lightly brings up the idea that inevitably sovereignty will be abandoned, abolished, or forgotten eventually down the line, as all other human institutions are. I don't think until this end of sovereignty is reached can we judge whether utilizing it as a practice was worth it or not. Sure, idealistically life would've remained simpler had sovereignty not come along, but I firmly believe something else would have been established not too shortly after and tainted our "natural order". But who's to say what sovereignty holds for us in the future? Only once that future is nonexistent can we assess the value of sovereignty on our society.

Beth said...

Historical documents give us a clear picture of what life was like when different types of government were in place. Even from the time of Adam and Eve, people were breaking rules set out for them by people in control. We can simply look on the streets of the city we all currently live in or turn on the news and see people that are not following the laws set out by our government. I think the real question we need to ask is: why aren't we all following the rules set out by our sovereign government? Is it because the rules do not give us enough freedom to live how we please or simply because we do not like to be dominated by a powerful figure?

rcarroll said...

I disagree with the statement about the world's technology deriving from sovereign nations. Technology comes from research done by the great minds of our world. These people did not do research based on what sovereign country they were from, but instead a personal interest, idea, or epiphany. I understand that competition plays largely into technology, yet there is always competition regardless of sovereignty. Researchers from Stanford will always be in competition with researchers from Harvard and Princeton. If anything, sovereignty has placed a burden on scientific advancement, diluting scientific advancement with politics and capitalism. Yes, the United States got into space through competition with the U.S.S.R. but was the stockpiling of millions of uncatalogued weapons worth a three day trip to get some rocks from the moon? To me, it seems that it would make more sense that the leading experts from Kenya, England, and the United States research together for the good of mankind rather than being split for the glory of their particular government.

Having said that, I feel it necessary to link it to your final question of whether it was worth it, and, in my opinion, I find it ridiculous to think that people would even consider that the near genocide and displacement of a people would be worth an iPod. I am not saying that you are implied that, because you seem skeptical of its environmental and ethical costs as well, but I just wanted to comment on the modern connotation regarding simplicity as primitive. Life is not about how many songs we can store on our iPods or how fast we can get our cars to go. It is just about living happily and freely which in no way requires externally complex.

Ryan Carroll said...

And in my comment, I meant to say "are implying" and "requires anything externally complex". Sorry for the typos.

DOCTOR J said...

Interesting post, Kip. You seem to lay a lot of credit (and blame) at the feet of "sovereignty"! My question would be: how much does your story here (of the "evolution" of human society) depend on an exaggeration of the causal link between "sovereignty" and "progress"?

For example, you say: Yet before sovereignty caused this great evolution, man was a simple creature that did not shape the world around him and life was governed by nature. But according to Jackson, sovereignty was a concept/practice developed in (roughly) the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods of Western history. I think it would be difficult to claim that human beings were "not shaping the world around them" or were entirely "governed by nature" at that time!

I think your basic point is a good one, i.e. that "sovereignty" greased the wheels of modern technological, cultural and political "advancement." But we should all be careful not to assume that life before sovereignty was the life of cave-men and -women. The remarks near the end of your post seem to indicate this a bit, when you suuggest that what we consider "advancement" may not be all that "advanced"... but you still frame that in a "natural order" vs. "civilization/sovereignty" way, which I think many people may want to contest.

Good (and provocative) post, though!