Universal Self-Determination: A Big Deal
An expected recurring idea within Inclusion Economics should be that of universal self-determination. Universal self-determination is the needed detail any economic system requires in order to provide universal economic opportunity. Without that detail, there will always be poverty resulting from a lack of opportunity, with insecurity not far behind.
What is Universal Self-Determination?
Universal self-determination means being able to make self-impacting choices while allowing the same right for others. The adage “live and let live” reflects the idea that self-determination begins with you being free to make life choices. These life choices include actions, beliefs, identities, work choices, and much more. Just as importantly, “Live and let live” also means permitting others to make their own life choices. Likewise, your ability to make life choices results from others granting you that right. It has to work both ways, otherwise, no one can truly self-determine.
How Would Universal Self-Determination Work?
Universal self-determination requires setting a barrier between differing parties’ rights. A person, groups of people, governments, and businesses all require some key rights in order to make choices for themselves. But, just as with “live and let live”, each party should not be able to make choices for others. Thus, the barrier should enable self-deterministic choices and disable other-deterministic choices by setting key rights and defending them.
In the real world, many choices bring results that are both self- and other-deterministic. As such, these choices require further consideration. In fact, many of today’s conflicts arise because they involve choice options that are both self and other deterministic. Such instances require that we explore the nature of essential rights so as to reconsider existing choice options and perhaps even create new ones. But, in order to do that, we need to identify what essential rights are needed for realizing universal self-determination.
What are these Essential Rights that Self-Determination and Opportunity require?
Physics tells us that events and processes need access to four things in order to happen: time, space, matter, and energy. That holds true whether we’re talking about the physical or social sciences. This includes economics. Each of us needs to access time, space, matter, and energy in order to create value for exchange. Once we’re able to create value for exchange as we see fit, then we’re able to make a full range of life choices.
The Four Essential Rights are:
The Right to Control of your Time through Emancipation. Namely to own oneself and to spend one’s time to do as one sees fit. The enslavement of people is all about controlling the enslaved’s time. And by controlling their time, their masters would also control the slaves’ ability to create exchangeable value.
The Right to Access Space as Places to Live, Play, and Work. All of us require places in order to self-determine. And limiting places is a very effective way of limiting the beliefs, lifestyles, and actions of others. For those seeking to curtail others’ freedoms, limiting others’ choices of places to live, play and work would be a great place to start.
The Right to Access Matter for Modifying into More Useful Forms. We require access to matter to make tools, facilities, and goods for the purpose of creating value. As such, permitting access to matter enables an expansion of economic choices and opportunities. Which then expands the volume of life choices people could then make.
The Right to Access Energy to Enact Change upon Matter. It takes a lot of effort to chop wood, mine metals, grow corn, transport goods or fix a car. As an example, this article didn’t write itself. That’s because energy is the very thing that enables change to happen. We need to access energy in order to modify, convert, create or transport matter. Creating value becomes impossible without access to energy. Thus, access to energy permits a whole range of economic choices and opportunities.
Any sustainable economic system must enable access to time, space, matter, and energy. If any of these essential rights are denied to any people, then such people become unable to control their own lives.
How can we manage time, space, matter and energy so that everyone can have access?
Understand that having access to these things doesn’t mean that they’re free of cost, but rather that the cost should not act as a barrier to basic access. Instead, the cost should, instead, act as an agent towards preventing any party from hoarding either time, space, matter, or energy. That’s because when one hoards time, space, matter, or energy, they’re preventing others from accessing them. Which makes hoarding access to time, space, matter and energy an absolutely other-deterministic choice by taking away the essential rights of others. Thus, permitting hoarding to take place makes both universal self-determination and universal economic opportunity impossible.
If the cost to access time, space, matter, and energy is too low, hoarding may still happen. Likewise, if the access cost is too high, access becomes impossible to far too many people. Thus, balancing the cost to access time, space, matter, and energy is the key towards establishing essential rights.
How can Essential Rights resolve choices with Self- and Other-Deterministic parts?
Knowledge of the essential rights allows us to figure out which party in a given conflict is the most aggrieved. Remember that we all require access to time, space, materials, and energy in order have a full range of economic and life choices. Thus, any choice that infringes on even one of the essential rights of either party is simply not an option. For many of today’s conflicts, it becomes necessary to develop new choices in order to maintain essential rights for all. And by understanding essential rights and their importance, we can then seek alternative choices that serve to maintain those rights. Only then can universal self-determination become possible.
With these essential rights in place, everyone then becomes able to fully self-determine, which is exactly what universal self-determination looks like. In such a world, everyone can have whatever they each deem as enough. And when everyone has enough, many conflicts become unnecessary and, thus, undone.
What’s not to like about that?