Everything should be legalized and law should only protect the individual. Groups should be protected in the political arena, not the legal one. Using the political strength inherent in a group in a legal contest causes most of the inequities we see in modern legal practice. The system of law and the system of government should exist side by side and be simple, direct, of minimum size and understandable by all. People should defend themselves when on trial, the people victimized should be the prosecution and a neutral third party should arbitrate.
Any trial should require three citizens to negotiate. No one should make money "interpreting" law. A political dispute is arbitrated by numbers of the electorate, a legal dispute is more complicated but of limited scope, affecting only one individual and resolved by individuals on a case by case basis. Whereas political decisions affect the societal landscape, legal decisions affect the personal experience. The result of all of this would be enhanced personal rights on a micro level and greater freedom of choice on a macro level. It would also preserve regional differences in social behaviour (itself an evolutionary advantage) while maintaining individual rights.
Education should be a primary focus. The basis of a successful society should be the maximization of its human resource. The fecundity of this process would be self evident, but waiting for the returns on this kind of investment is unfathomable to the immediate gratification/short term return myopia of modern business/government. Current political entities have little interest in enhancing their electorate in any case. Their primary purpose is to support their own power structures through their brokers: the media and established money. Maximization of their electorate is paid lip service by these mock democracies, but the real power brokering benefits only the elite and the status quo.
An empowered, educated electorate would be dangerous to this system, and so aboriginals are kept on reserves, minorities are given minimal support in order to inflame racist tendencies and cause unrest and the media trains all who listen that they are helpless before all the ills in the world but for the status quo power brokers who benevolently protect them. It will take a paradigm shift in thinking to place people at the focus of social effort. Big money and government have no interest in relinquishing their power.
The current educational system is at worst a holding area for young people and at best a producer of cogs for the industrial social machine. Before education can take its place as a pillar of social infrastructure, it must become not just vital, but essential. Education should not produce graduates; it should produce citizens. Education should be integrated into social infrastructure at its foundation and its primary responsibility should be to produce people who have had the opportunity to learn a broad range of material and the chance to sharpen their expertise. These educated people are also fully trained in their responsibilities as citizens. Courses such as Fecundity, Altruism, Ethics and Nasty Human History would be the sorts of things that would expose future citizens to ideas that would be central to their functioning as fully enabled members of society. A dramatically wider range of material would be had in school.
When people graduate from this education, the final testing (which shouldn't just be academic, but also ethical, physical, environmental, psychological and emotive), would confer upon them citizenship. Being a citizen allows you to vote and gives greater personal freedoms and privileges. That would be motivation enough for just about everyone to take schooling seriously. If you don't pass citizenship, you don't get to vote and you don't enjoy the extent of the freedoms enjoyed by citizens. You also don't get to judge legal disputes (though you could defend or charge someone).
If you do pass citizenship it's a dangerous world you find yourself in. You can do just about anything you wish, but you make the choice with an educated mind and if your choices infringe on the rights of another, the judgement is quick, fair and personal. Should you choose to get high on heroine and kill a busload of children, the response to it should be absolute and immediate, but your freedom to get high (or do anything else) in the first place would be preserved at all costs. The best possible human is an educated, fully actualized one with the freedom to exercise that actuality.
Through all of this my goal is simple, I'm a humanist at heart. I have the survival and prosperity of the species as my ultimate goal. This should be the goal of any form of governance. I see capitalism as an interhuman conflict, which is damaging and detrimental to the growth of the race. I see overpopulation and ignorance as a cancer that needs to be removed. All people have the potential to enhance the human race with their presence. Physical or mental disability often produces exceptional individuals, all of whom would be able to pass citizenship standards given that they don't just test arbitrary academic skills, but rather the full range of human ability. Different cultures bring different strengths to the table, and likewise enhance the human race as a whole. Each would bring these strengths to their citizenship experience.
So that's how I cunningly mix social Darwinism with Marx' best ideas. Marx's problem was that he trusted in the goodness of human nature. I don't think humans are good or bad, but I do know that a poorly trained animal is the worst kind of result. If we train humans to their capacity and give them an opportunity to use their individual abilities in an organized fashion, we would tread more lightly in the only home we've got, develop technology with a greater sense of the consequences and be off this ball and out of the solar system in a matter of decades, which would alleviate my primary fear: that we've got all our eggs in one basket, and that is always a bad strategy.
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Not everyone is into valuation and monetization of product. The dollar isn't the end game. If you're not chasing imaginary wealth, look what you can do; discover something about people that they may not know about themselves.
I have an issue with people who are the victims being the prosecution. It's difficult enough to be the victim, do you really need to relive the whole experience in a formal setting? What if the victim is a child, or unable to communicate. What if it was a homicide and there is no family or friends, is the crime any less because there is no collateral damage, so to speak? Would there be a system for this, too?
...More to follow...
I don't disagree with your argument, but I think you're looking at it with the eyes of our current-times status quo. In Tim's idealised world, thanks to the type of education that's being provided, people would have emerged from their developmental delay they're currently suffering from. It is my understanding that people would be less prone to horrible crimes and that disputes would be minor--compared to what's going on in courts today. And, because of the maturity of everyone involved, both sides would rely on their maturity, honesty and ability to admit fault if need be. It does sound Utopian, does it not? And yet, I can't help but wonder if the key to our salvation really doesn't lie in simply better indoctrinating the masses from the very early start.
I actually wrote this about 10 years ago (5 years before I became a teacher). Working in public ed., I still really think that maximizing individual potential is the key to, well, everything.
Every time I see a student get into trouble with the law it comes directly from their circumstances. If everyone had better circumstances, there would be less nonsense, and the nonsense we would have would be far less serious.
As far as children and others go; I'd hope that we could elect an avatar for people who couldn't defend themselves, but not someone looking for victory, someone who looks for the truth.
I can't help but think we could do a lot better with the gifts we have than we are doing.
Ok, so this was you 10 years ago. What now? I see many "causes" here but no interpretation of the "effect". How will you get people to interpret law merely out of good will? What incentive would a human being have for being "good" in your system? What are the actual possible advantages? I don't see any.
It seems that you are a person that likes to think, and that is good. But it does also seem that you never think of what would come after your thoughts if they were actually put into effect.