TED Conversations

Phillip Beaver

Citizen, Humankind


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What are your essential requirements of humankind—what do you need to live in peace with your fellow humans?

Anticipating my eighth decade, I am one in 7 billion; a minnow in an ocean. Yet, I feel humankind includes me and needs me, much like a hand needs its fingers (borrowing from Ralph Waldo Emerson). Neighbors and people in other countries make me feel important; but members of political regimes seem a threat.

Humankind seems preoccupied by diverse nations. Yet, when I meet people in other nations, they seem like me--simply wanting to live in peace as “I” see it. Each “as I see it” does not seem as far apart as our nations influence us to feel.

I wonder if it is because we have no forum to share what we, individual humans, would like to receive from the rest of ourselves: humankind.

Often, when people propose peace or unity, they invite “the truth,” faiths, reason, prosperity, conformity, an ideology, and other objects that 7 billion people just cannot address. I invite thoughts about what it takes to live in confidence, despite the un-knowns humankind faces.

I think I need:

Enough rest and sensible food supply
Exercise, talk, reading, and writing
Use of most of my earnings and confidence any taxes are used for humankind, not an elite few
Security to care for myself and loved ones
Opportunities to meet with other humans who want to visit with me.

Perhaps “security” is the broadest of my five concerns. It involves many issues, such as, the rule of written law, lawfulness as common as obeying traffic signals, freedom of thought, ordinary protection of my home and property, medical care according to the risks I choose or take, environmental protection, and work opportunity commensurate with my contributions.

Without attention to your nation's governance, what would you require of humankind? How could you feel confident that you are as independent and significant as a finger on a hand--so essential to humankind?

Revision 1. July 2, 2012, Rev 2 in last paragraph July 8.


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    Jun 28 2012: I think that the constitution had it right.

    I like the concept of thinking of it as a corollary the stronger the government the weaker the individual the stronger the individual the weaker the government.

    The irreducible minimum would be a rule of law and a national defense, which would be infinitely smaller than what we have now.
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      Jun 28 2012: If there are no objections, it seems to me your items include rule of law, national defense, economic viability (comment on another question), and otherwise weak governance. I could agree with your items. Let's see what other humans say.
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      Jun 29 2012: just for the record, i'm positive that this is not irreducible. the irreducible is zero state. and it is quite achievable.
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        Jun 29 2012: Can you explain further?
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          Jun 29 2012: basically you ask me to describe rothbard's entire legacy in a comment. he elaborated in many books that the state is not necessary for anything. the free market solves everything better, including law enforcement, security, defense, and so on. of course, free market can not provide "national" defense, since it does not operate on national level. but in fact we don't need national defense, we need any kind of defense that works. whether it is country, city or continent level, we don't care. rothbard claims that the state solution is worse than the free market solution in all cases.
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        Jun 29 2012: Interesting, I read a little about Anarcho-capitalism.

        After yesterday and SPOTUS putting one of the final bricks over the doorway of liberty for the individual, could Rothbard's ideas on the rule of law possibly be any worse? Me thinks not.

        I like his ideas on banking and that the more the government meddles with the economy the more it has to meddle with the economy.
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          Jun 29 2012: rothbard has fantastic books on banking and money. alas, i'm not aware of book of him about defense or security, nor private courts or such. pity, the guy should have lived 20 years more.

          however, he has some followers, and they explored into the idea. some of them: hans hermann hoppe, walter block, robert murphy.
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        Jun 29 2012: In a nut shell are they saying that in order for an exchange to take place both parties must be in agreement otherwise there would have to be an element (to greater or lesser degree) of force as with government?
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          Jun 29 2012: exactly. only when mutual consent is present, can we be sure that both parties are benefited. if the government believes that i'm benefited by its actions, offer me the choice, and i will certainly choose it if it is beneficial, won't i? and if offering is not enough, but force is needed, we immediately know that not everyone is benefited.

          the simple logic applies not only to economic affairs, but everything, including legal systems.
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        Jun 29 2012: It seems to me that with the legal system is generally after the exchange which is different from economics as that is generally previous to the exchange. Can you explain further?
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          Jun 29 2012: might be after one exchange, but before another. suppose you agree before the exchange how will you reconcile any difference. but then the other party refuses to follow that protocol. how far this behavior gets him? after a while, nobody will make any business with him.

          basically what will happen is private courts and private judges take the place of a state appointed system. and as we know, competition is good, monopoly is not good.
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        Jun 29 2012: That is the way it has gone anyway (indicating choice) as many contracts anymore have a binding arbitration clause because of the inefficiency in the court system.
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        Jul 1 2012: Kristian,

        As you may know, I propose TED dialogues to learn, and I am always grateful when you contribute.

        I had never heard of Murray Rothbard, but want to read everything he wrote plus opponents’ positions, with the goal of becoming an activist for Libertarianism.

        second edition. After three essays. I am moved by this quote of the author:

        The basic reason for one's libertarianism should be a passion for justice, for sweeping away as quickly as possible the tyranny, the thievery, the mass murder, and enslavement, which Statism has, for too long, imposed upon mankind. It is only such a concern for justice that can inspire the Libertarian to try to abolish, as quickly as he can (and far from the Marxian sense), the exploitation of man by man.
        Murray N. Rothbard, 1974

        It seems to me, he advocates both the rule of law and war only in self defense. More than anything else, he asserts that national regimes convince the people that other nations and therefore people in other nations are enemies. Thus, the State convinces the people to go to war for their personal interest, when really it is for the interest of the elite in the regime.

        I think Rothbard would encourage us humans to by-pass our national regimes to talk about what we want from each other.

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          Jul 2 2012: i'm very grateful for your kind words.

          exactly, man-to-man relationships are not the most important kind of relationship, but the only one. and it is not even a goal, it is reality. "state" is just a term that describes how people act, and what they do to each other. when we plan to change things, we never want to change the "state". we want to stop people doing evil things and accepting/encouraging other people to do evil things for benefits. very precisely speaking, we don't want to abolish the state. we want to abolish aggression and coercion.

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