Hamlet got me thinking …
So, over on New World Notes, Hamlet Au posted the results of a survey of Second Life residents about U.S. presidential candidates. Spoiler: Hillary Clinton won by a wide margin. But that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is an offhand comment Hamlet made about Libertarianism: “I guess I’m most surprised by how few in Second Life support Gary Johnson, since Second Life itself is more or less a laissez faire libertarian virtual world.”
Well, OK, but … no, not really. My response to that was “As to Libertarianism appealing to Second Life residents because there’s no law or structure to our world, I’d like to point out that this isn’t really by our choice! I’d love for Second Life to be a place with some governance and stability, and living in a world where things appear and disappear and the authorities are rarely involved in resolving disputes and injustices does not make me at all more enthusiastic about societies without constraints!
In fact, that makes me really interested to imagine what a virtual world that did have some governance would be like…”
What would a Second Life government do?
Of course, when we think of “Second Life government,” we think of the Lindens, because they have the power–but they aren’t a government at all, really. Actually, they’ve worked really hard not to be a government, avoiding responsibility for all but the absolute worst problems, like the plague of griefers long ago, or the plague of billboards a while after that. Even when they intervene, all they do is change the terms of service and the physical laws of the universe. They don’t really get involved in group action or personal consequences or anything like that. It’s a bit of a shame, but I can understand that they’re they’re trying to provide a platform and not a society. If it were me, of course, I would have wanted to provide a society!
Anyway, that’s exactly what a Second Life government, if there were one, could do. They could work on addressing questions like vast, empty spaces or problem behavior, the difficulty of disentangling sex-focused venues from non-sex-focused venues, and things like that. They couldn’t really be a good go-between between the resis and the Lindens, since they wouldn’t have much leverage to make the Lindens do anything, but perhaps they could obtain some powers in some cases so that there could be actual enforcement if they were to come up with laws.
Since this kind of thing wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, I think the way it could work the best would be for someone to pay for some sims in Second Life and invite people who want to live in a structured society to live, sell, shop, and play there. The sim owners could sponsor elections (or I suppose simply annoint a monarch if they wanted to go that way), and there could be representatives to help work out laws and perhaps even a judiciary. Of course, laws would vanish at the borders of this area, but if it were successful, the governance could grow to encompass other sims, even if they weren’t adjacent, and without the original sim owner or sim owners needing to do anything.
And yet, maybe not
However, I don’t know if I think a Second Life government is realistic. Does anyone care that much? I’d find it fascinating, but I’m hardly normal. And can you have a working government when not just your citizens but your elected and appointed officials keep winking in and out of existence? Still, it’s a fascinating idea, isn’t it?
^^^\ Kate /^^^