It matters enormously to insist that what governments do isn't a matter of providing "services" like firms do, or at any rate, to realize that when one assumes the vantage from which it appears that this is what they are doing one inevitably loses sight of key ways in which governance differs from other organizations…. Legitimacy simply is not a service in this sense. Providing nonviolent alternatives for the resolution of disputes in the scene of nonduressed consent is not a service, it is the establishment of justice, it is the opening of the space of freedom as such.
The comment proposes, very plainly: You pay taxes, and you get order/justice.
Again, I do not deny that one can assume a perspective from which that is all one sees in governance. But my point is that you lose much more than you gain from such a reductive perspective.
By yoking taxation to representation one ensures that the institution defined by its exclusive legitimate recourse to violence (with all the vulnerabilities to corruption and abuse inhering in that monopoly) is beholden to the people in whose name it exercises that recourse in order to gain the revenue it needs to exercise that function in the first place.
As I pointed out in this piece, already trying to explain the inter-implication of the democratic and p2p ethos in our own historical moment:
Progressive taxation of property and income provides the means to meet the basic conditions on which the doubly foundational scene of consent depend, while at once providing a popular check (no taxation without representation) on the dangerous policing authority of government as well as a check on the tendency of individual stakeholders -- especially those who happen to be momentarily invested with conspicuous wealth, authority, reputation, or attention -- to forget or disavow their ineradicable social and historical inter-dependence in the always collaborative project of creative expressivity and problem solving peer-to-peer.
If you just assume a dumbed down reductive vantage on governance from which all you can see are people pushing coin into an organization and finding a service popping out, your grasp will have become so impoverished as to constitute an essentially prepolitical take on the political. You may as well try to explain what is happening in a voting booth in terms of the average calories expended in filling out the ballot, and imagining the resulting insights adequate to the phenomenon at hand.
Again, as I discussed in yesterday's post:
"The essence of p2p systems is their facilitation of equity in diversity -- which is also precisely the work and effect of democratization.
"Most p2p projects are inaugurated by small groups or even single individuals and thereafter the bulk of their work is done by very few -- even if it is true that they 'out-compete' non-p2p formations because in their openness they also cheaply solicit the participation of endlessly many other one-time and small-time contributors as well. This could quite superficially be treated as 'centralized' in its effects however truly open it remains, if one squints as one looks at it.
"Actually-existing democracy functions rather similarly in its solicitation to participation in the actual processes of representation and administration. It is open to the participation of all, but usually attracts only the participation of the interested where they are interested and to the extent that they are interested. What undergirds this participatory expressivity, administration, and oversight, of course, is the democratizing virtuous circle of taking up violence always only to repudiate it, organizing the ineradicable capacity for force inhering in plurality always only in the service of the provision of alternatives to the violent resolution of disputes and for the maintenance of the scene of informed, nonduressed consent (the violation of which is always legible as violence: keeping the peace and protecting the scene of consent are essential correlates).
"Law is code, code is law. What the architecture that facilitates p2p is to those who experience the emancipatory substance of the p2p ethos, the law that facilitates the scene of informed nonduressed consent is to those who experience the emancipatory substance of the democratic ethos.
"The test and the sign of p2p is precisely the same as that of democracy -- whether it actually facilitates equity in diversity….
"The task of legitimate democratic governance is to make and then preserve the peace and to produce and then protect the scene of consent (and yes it assumes legitimate recourse to violence in facilitating permanent alternatives to violence in so doing, with all the risks and costs and benefits inhering in this paradoxical gesture). …
"In a nutshell, democratic government should ensure that consent is informed by providing free life-long education and free universal access to reliable knowledge, and protections against fraud and deception, and that consent is nonduressed by providing universal healthcare and a universal basic income.
"This provision produces freedom, it produces peers (social stakeholders with actual equity in their actual diversity), it produces the substance of open collaboration and contestation….
"For me, the poles that count are participatory democracy against elite incumbency… I see neither pole as an ideal, but both as ongoing processes of interested and interminable struggle, one the struggle to ensure that ever more people have ever more of a say in the public decision that affect them, the other the struggle to ensure that the incumbent interests with whom one most identifies control as much as possible (sometimes, they rationalize, for the good of all).
"p2p is democratizing in its effects, which would remain just as true even if these effects were facilitated through the administrative implementation of the scene of informed, nonduressed consent by way of a mandated basic income guarantee and access to reliable knowledge…."
Almost none of this substance is visible from a reductively prepolitical vantage.