Throughout history, civilizations have formed around different guiding principles or philosophies. Different types of states utilize different methods of maintaining political stability, governing birthrates and resource consumption in order to facilitate social and economic progress. Yet, usually, one method is dominant and thus forms the basis of state power. Over time, civilizations may take on different attributes of each type, or move from one form of state to another. These types include:
- The Warfare State -- Help your friends. Harm your enemies. Plunder the countryside.
- Monarchies tend toward the Warfare State.
- Prerequisites: resource scarcity, economic dependency
- Examples: Roman Empire, Imperial Britain, Imperial France, Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Imperial Russia.
- It works because: You either win and get more resources or you lose and have fewer mouths to feed.
- It stops working when: You run out of enemies who are better-off than you.
- The Welfare State -- Re-distribution of wealth. Equal poverty for all.
- Democracies and oligarchies tend toward the Welfare State.
- Prerequisites: wealth disparity, strong central government
- Examples: USSR, 20th century Britain, USA & Europe, some ancient Middle-Eastern societies
- It works because: Non-starving people have fewer children.
- It stops working when: You run out of wealth to re-distribute and/or the economy implodes.
- The Eugenics State -- Survival of the fittest (in theory, at least).
- Republics tend toward the Eugenics State.
- Prerequisites: cultural diversity, economic austerity
- Examples: Sparta, Roman Republic, Nazi Germany, Colonial America
- It works because: You can have as many citizens as you want if they are all hard working.
- It stops working when: People find out how it works.
- The Education State -- Big Brother sends you to re-education camp.
- Technocracies tend toward the Education State.
- Prerequisites: resource abundance, economic stability, diffuse government structure
- Examples: 19th century USA, China, 21st century Africa?
- It works because: Educated people work productively in their own self-interest to support themselves.
- It stops working when: You run out of new technologies or resources, and growth stagnates.
This thread is primarily to recognize the existence of the Education State as a thing and to discuss its properties. Though all discussion is welcome.
So what properties make the Education State superior? Education is ultimately just information transfer, which theoretically has a zero bound on cost. Education is ostensibly meritocratic, hopefully avoiding the unfortunate economic results of the Welfare State. Compulsory education has relatively few downsides in terms of human rights. Furthermore, unlike some others, the Education State can be global, egalitarian and completely decentralized.
What are the downsides of the Education State? These include the downsides of any state, including corruption, abuse, and perversion of ends. As social critics have pointed out, perverse consequences of the Education State can be especially nefarious due to its cloak of benevolence, which can be used to hide ill intentions. One generally unrecognized potential downside of the Education State is a downside of any centralized technocracy or meritocracy, namely technological economic centralization, leading to magnification of risk and likely systemic failure. Another downside of the Education State is that it tends towards utopianism, and thus fails in natural competition with more realistic alternatives.
Where is the Education State today? With the internet and computing revolutions, the increasing tenuousness of the Welfare State in developed Western economies, and the opening of sub-Saharan Africa to development, much of the world is currently moving toward the Education State model. At the same time, however, resource conflict, advanced propaganda techniques and information censorship are pushing the world back toward the Welfare/Warfare States.