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Two POVs on state and society

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(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

When matters of the legitimacy of state, government, taxes, welfare state and similar are discussed, there appear to be two points of views the proponents of which, at least among people who choose to participate in Wikipedia (and certainly those in #wikipedia), are often geographicaly defined by whether they come from the United States or Europe. This, however, doesn't imply that all Americans and Europeans share the respective POVs, although surveys like [1] suggest that the majority do.

The misunderstanding is manifested in the different POVs of how terms individual, public, state, government, business and work are related to each other.

Both POVs agree that the individual is at the centre of the debate and that all other concepts are desirable only if they do not limit the freedom of the individual. That's where the similarity ends.

If you have discussions of this type and the other side seems to seriously hold views that you find completely illogical, reading the following might help you understand what they're talking about and thus make Wikipedia articles more genuinely NPOV.

View A[edit]

Public is made up of individuals, who have the right to work in their own interest, which is done through business. The business, which is only an extension of the individual, is a part of the public along with the individual. The more wealth is acquired by individuals and businesses, better off the public is. What's good for the business and thus for the individual is therefore good for the public. Rich and powerful members of society conduct business which helps many people who work for them further their economic interest. Work is a form of business.

There is little concept of state apart from the government. The government is made up of the politician and administration castes, which live off the taxes provided to them by the public. The government has useful purposes, but it should not do things which can be accomplished through business. The government should be as minimal as possible and participation in it should be as voluntary as possible. The relationship of the individual (and his business) with the government should essentially be business-like. The main purpose of the government is to enable the individuals to engage in business and thus further their interests.

View B[edit]

The individual has two distinct types of roles - the economic role, pursued through work and business, and public role (pursued through participating in the public life and government). Both of these are tools to enable the individual to persue personal interests, which are pursued through free time - private, family and social life, as well as education, culture and arts. The failure to pursue personal interests leads to misery, which is to be avoided. The less misery there is, better off the public is.

Business and work are distinct. Work is what most people do in their economic role. Ambitious people also engage in business, which provides work for others. For this reason, businessman are allowed to aquire much more wealth per hour of time invested.

The state is an extension of the public, which enables the individuals to pursue their personal interests and avoid misery. The government is made up of officials, entrusted to manage the state for the public good. The sphere of business and work is inherently unequal, therefore business models aren't appropriate for government and services which are necessary to all individuals. The main function of the government is to protect the public from powerful individuals and businesses, and to keep individuals and businesses from becoming powerful enough to control the state and thus the public.