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  • Bob Armstrong
    Originally published in Manhattan Libertarians  SerfCity logov4i1 ( mirror )
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    Topology of Political Space

    I saw a quote I really liked something like "any course of study which has 'science' in its name most likely isn't one" . If any reader knows the source, please let me know. A case in point is Political Science. I never even thought of taking such a course when in university; I naively thought that if one just lived an honest life in our "land of the free"  the rest would take care of itself.

    But, perhaps at least at MIT at least the tools of science are taught. David Nolan . MIT, '66 , PolySci , co-founded the Libertarian Party and created the Nolan Chart which I discussed in SerfCity vol 2 , issue 2 which unfolds a freedom-authoritarian dimension from the more simplistic traditional left-right spectrum. I consider this the first example I can think of of Political Science being worthy of the term .

    I've been thinking of discussing the interesting issues intrinsic in the quantization of any continuum . An example is the splitting of the life cycle ( sort of a saw tooth from dust to dust ) into such as the age of consent or adulthood - or for that matter the "beginning of life" itself . These sorts of issues are a tiny corner of the branch of mathematics named topology. I have only a dilettante's knowledge of the subject having only sat in on one topology class near the end of my decade in grad school . But those basic ideas of sets , relations , mappings and neighborhoods proved to have immediate use . Having lost my tenure in grad school , I shortly thereafter sped up Xerox's global forecasting data base by a factor of 3000 using my new understanding that a relation may be defined simply by a boolean array specifying which members of various sets are "related" to each other . APLs with roots in that era had highly optimized operations on ( bit-packed ) boolean arrays .

    It all starts with sets . The political universe is the large but finite set of the approximately 6.6e9 of us scattered around the planet . On this , 2 ^ 6.6e9 subsets can be defined . That's a lot of potential constituencies .

    <!-- For me , the only consequential theologian of the 20th century was Kurt Vonnegut, Jr who in his masterpiece Cat's Cradle defines some important relationships or sets of common subsets among people . In particular , a karass is , to quote Wikipedia "a group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God's will" and a granfalloon - a false karass , eg , "and any nation, anytime, anywhere" . These geographical force monopolies are the most basic political subsets . -->

    It all starts with sets. The political universe is the large but finite set of the approximately 6.6e9 of us scattered around the planet. On this, 2 ^ 6.6e9 subsets can be defined. That’s a lot of potential constituencies. The most basic political subsets are the geographical force monopolies called states.

    Representation mapping

    I've included here what must be considered a loose sketch of the basic political relationships of an individual in the U.S. to the subsets which presume power over him . THEM is the rest of the world . The relation between one individual and his congressional representative and senators and the president is indicated , and from the president to the UN . Their decisions affect him whether he voted for them or not . The UN which , as with all political entities has a constant bias towards increasing its power to tax and control , is only indirectly selected thru the president . This is similar to the structure of the EU whose structure shares much in common with the old Soviet Union .

    Of course this is only one set of relationships between the individual and the political entities regulating his life . It's common to cover a space with hierarchies of neighborhoods and political structures reflect this with a hierarchy of entities from the precinct , township , county , state and country or their equivalents common thruout the world .

    Many libertarians imagine a world without a body at the apex . I think that's a hopeless hope ; the question is how to keep this state of all states toothless . Perhaps the best chance is to form a competing direct peer to peer global internet based directly elected forum .

    Getting back to the problems intrinsic to quantizing continua will have to wait till next time . Suffice it to say the US is particularly screwy with the age for voting at 18 and having a drink the highest in the world ( where not totally prohibited ) at 21 .

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