Two and a Half Children

Just listened to a radio documentary about Japan's aging population, and the reasons behind it, so had a bunch of thoughts regarding that.

However, before I start, I'd just like to note that this isn't the "fault" of any individual or couple. There has been a thing in the past where the state moralises having children (Lie back and think of England, various dictators, uh... Others), which I guess is a way of trying to solve the problem albeit a heavy handed and kind of sleazy one.

This isn't really about Japan, but generally first world countries with aging populations. Arguably, Japan has one of the worst and certainly most public cases. So, let's go to work. Metaphorically.

Aging Population, bad.:
So, in a way, an aging population is usually indicative of the country having a very good run. However, having an aging population means a bunch of things economically and politically. Namely, aging populations typically have very high pension and medical costs associated with keeping old people around, and those old people provide a very powerful and overly conservative voting bloc. Retirees are not productive. They were, but they're not now. This may or may not be a problem for you, but it's also important to note that any solutions implemented will pay dividends perhaps a generation down the track, well outside the concerns of our standard four to six year election cycles in the West.

However, coming from the opposite end, having a large population of drooling idiots (babies) is also very costly. Schools, lost productivity, daycare, specialty products and so on make having a high proportion of under-working-age children in the population a rather costly endeavour. Of course, if the whole state and population are in agreement to make that sacrifice (rare), then they can go ahead and do that. But they should also be prepared for a lot of negative side effects of a stagnant economy.

So, one wants to have a balance. Enough new working age citizens in proportion to the non-working-age citizens. BUT HOW!?

Immigration vs Birthrate:
It's fairly obvious to anyone with an internet connection or at least two friends that some people have a problem with immigration. Some say this is "subtle" racism, since they don't care about the Anglosphere immigrating about, but let's just take the statement at face value.

Immigration is cheaper than having children. Particularly skilled immigration, people with degrees and capital. Some people may or may not have a problem with that (I'm sure some do), but for the continuation of the state and as an economic boost, a large number of skilled immigrants is very effective; see the USA during and after the Second World War. Certainly, other than language barriers, skilled immigrants can get to work almost immediately after arriving, unlike babies, who can't even make sandwiches. Not in this economy.

However, this is ultimately reliant on how attractive your country is to skilled immigration, which is something you (as citizen Prime) cannot guarantee. Political instability, resource economics, speculative bubbles, and I'm sure many other things outside of a state's control (however much they try) affect how attractive a country is.

So a country should at least have a steady birthrate that promotes at least population maintenance, if not growth.

Of course, how sustainable an amount of growth is is up for debate. Only the most die-hard environmentalists would suggest an active culling of the human population, but many do advocate a lowering of birthrates. The countries with the highest birthrates are not what we're talking about, but on a global scale it is a valid point.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to be using a rough ideal figure of 2.5 children per couple, partly for the old joke about the nuclear family, but also for 2 people per couple plus change for population shock (wars, natural disasters, mass emigration, the plague). This isn't advocating demonising people who have no babies or few babies either (by choice or by inability), but rather about promoting a culture in that roughly that many children is "easy" to have.

Also, I dislike mum culture, but that's just me and has little to do with this.

Work/Life Balance:
So, a primary reason for wealthy first world countries having aging populations is that during a generation's most fertile years, there is a massive focus on establishing a career. Even with the historical victories of feminism, there is this perception that taking time out for having children will damage one's career. Enough has been written about that (and this isn't an indictment of feminism, but rather the reactions of work culture around it), so switching tacks.
Personally, I want to get into the games development industry (specifically design). However, there is this fairly pervasive culture that if you're not spending 15 hours a day at the office, especially during crunch time, then you're not being a "team player". While it is an extreme example, such work cultures exist in abundance particularly where worker protection is fairly weak (say, the USA or Japan). The expectation that young people cannot both have a child and work on their careers (due to competition) drops the birthrate during the early stage of adulthood.

A lot of countries have worker protections for parenthood and pregnancy, which is a step in the right direction. Having children shouldn't be in direct competition with career growth, but allowing businesses to entirely make that decision directly results in precisely that.

School and Daycare:
Its educational purpose aside, the K-12 schooling system also functions as a daycare, and a lot of child rearing is done there. It suits the state if schools are a place children want to be; belligerent children are more expensive both down the line as well as immediately in disciplinary costs. The whole school problem especially in impoverished regions of first world countries is not one I would attempt to solve here, but defunding schools and public education is likely not the answer. Part of parenting should be done at home, but it's pretty stupid to reject the idea that schools do not provide at least a part of parenting there. Both need to work in concert as problems from one can bleed into the other, both broadly and culturally, and when just considering the individual.

The standard schooling "day" is shorter than the working day, which means that some focus should also be given to daycare (or some other structure should be used?).

I've noted before that internet culture (as a broad thing, there are smaller cultures within it) is extremely individualistic, even compared to Western culture (again, an overarching culture, just go with it). This fairly obviously reduces childbirth rates as you don't owe your child anything, any expectation otherwise is "entitlement" on the part of the child. People just find it simpler not to have children.

Obviously, this is well outside a state's control, and cultural changes are fairly slow to begin with, so let's move on.

Financial Cost:
Raising a child from birth costs a lot of money. More than MANY cars. Again, this doesn't stop all parents, but it stops a decent number. The state should subsidise the childcare costs, especially as digital methods of achieving intimacy become more prevalent. Indeed, one could envision where all costs of childcare (within reason) would be covered by the state. However, such a subsidy should have diminishing returns, such that the cost "evens out" around 2.5 children. This is a fairly less hamfisted method of population growth management than China's one child policy.

Cultural Shifts:
Talked about this above, but in Japan the combination of rising feminine equality and the existing "family" culture and work culture all clash to conspire to reduce the birthrate significantly. Personally, I agree with Feminism's goals, but its sudden (comparatively) rise next to the fairly stable ideas of a family unit have reduced birthrates. Again, this is a cultural thing and not something the state can influence directly, but by limiting a worker's participation in the workforce (say, to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week), it both benefits the worker and the future of the country a generation down the line, while keeping in line with progressive cultural shifts clashing with older ideas about gender roles in society.

Communal Living:
This sort of relates to the individualism above, but specifically an area that the state can encourage (though by no means enforce). It appears in the west we want to live by ourselves. Studio apartments, single family units, and so on all suggest this. However, it is fairly obvious to anyone who's been through the grinder that living with friends is cheaper. Historically, families lived in the same house, thus allowing a child to have more than two "parents", in the sense that not just the biological (or legal) parents raise the child, but the grandparents, aunts, and uncles all help raise the child.
I do wonder if such a situation could work with friends instead of families. Say, three couples in one house, all doing a bit of the housework and picking up slack in child-rearing if, say, one of the parents has a really long work day. This is, of course, the most out there idea I'm proposing in this blog post. Something that would encourage this softly is by addressing tax and welfare on the individual rather than the household, as this would encourage bulk purchasing of groceries and cheaper rent.

Anyway, I write all this out as someone who doesn't really like kids. Apparently I'm passable at babysitting though. That's probably irrelevant.

Also, it would be noted that I talk about the state and the country a lot. Population stability is important for a country, but in subtler ways than direct economic concerns, and typically has a turnaround of one generation or so.


Thoughts on the Qualities of Power

Idle thoughts about how power (as in, the ability to coerce or influence people) arises very naturally in social situations, and consequently any system in which people interact with each other. I would like to try to avoid ascribing moral opinion to this. It's just a thing that I apparently think happens.

Thought 1: Power structures are inevitable.
People are different. Not just physically, but mentally. They hold different beliefs, have different personalities, differing amounts of mental fortitude, forcefulness, charisma and so on. This means that some people are inevitably going to be more popular/personable/domineering than others. Such people have more opportunities to get more friends, learn to be more confident, practice socialising and so on.
In the context of power, they simply have more of it. And social clout such as this tends to feed on itself. Someone with this sort of soft power is less likely to be ignored by other people, and is much more likely to be a trendsetter or decision maker in the group. This should all feel very high school, and one can definitely see formations of cliques using these patterns.

Social systems like friend groups or community clubs tend to be anarchic, but this sort of social power is inevitable even in very official or "grown-up" systems. Dick Cheney was, during the 2000-2008 Bush Junior (BuJu!) administration, more personally powerful and forceful than George W. Bush.

Thought 2: Power structures are unstable
When people are in positions of power, they will be able to promote their beliefs and their personality through that power. Sometimes they don't, but really, if you believe something, you'd rather other people believed it also. Conscientiously, it is the "right" thing to do.

However, the powerful person's personality is magnified, and any flaws are increasingly highlighted. This causes resentment, and also gives a target for other would-be powerful people to attack. But the community as a whole splinters as people "grow out" of the community, without directly attacking the powerful person. This removal of their power base doesn't necessarily mean that their power has collapsed, but it does move around a bit.

After a very long time, people die. In the case of sociopathic leaders, they usually don't place rules of succession in place (caring for neither their family nor their community, thanks Ghengis). But even without death, there is this constant cycle of shifting power structures, which makes George Orwell's party in 1984 relatively short lived, in spite of its claims.

Plying power is also exhausting for most people.

Quite often, attempting to keep one's power structure stable results in increased instability later on, as though dividends were paid in full. Repression, historically, may have worked briefly, but would require more and more repression later until it became unsustainable.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of all this is. I have a decent number of friends who'd want an abolishing of all systems (weirdly, both libertarian and communist), or see inefficiencies in this bureaucracy or that. I suppose I'd tell them that if they were going to come up with a set of moral rules (or their own system), they should be aware of these two thoughts. Power can be used responsibly, for good, for personal gain, or for a lot of other things. But a large number of political system's failings can be boiled down to not understanding people (or being unwilling to admit the existence of soft power), and that even if you have good people in power NOW, that doesn't mean tomorrow's leaders will be good. Power checks are necessary.


The Lonely Academic Left

Perhaps the greatest victory of conservative politics in the West was convincing the working classes to vote against their own interests. The reasons for this vary significantly, but the point of mentioning in this is to contrast it with the left, in particular the educated left.

Universities have been a place for progressive thought for quite a long time, even if the political activity there waxes and wanes around it. The political views of students and staff wobble around in a (comparatively) tiny melting pot, and from there shape the political landscape a generation down the track. Economists tend to be fairly right-leaning, but are typically not as extreme as their political or pundit counter-parts. Engineers are apparently prone to extremism. No real thoughts on that last one.

The relationship between the powerful people in politics and the people that put them there is rather convoluted. Even in a representative democracy, there is almost always a political class that does not have much osmosis with the population at large (usually, is in bed with law and economics, which to be fair is what politicians spend most of their time legislating). Behaviours like pork-barreling and public relations seek to address this.

The Academic Left (if you'll forgive the rather broad brush) tends to want to be sincere. Even after their philosophising is successful, there will tend to be a split as the more politically minded groups are more comfortable with lying or black-bagging or whatever else.

Asking "What have labour unions ever done for you? Why are you paying that $2 per week?" isn't lying, per se, but the motivation is tremendously insincere, however effective it is. I won't defend every action of labour unions in the history of such unions, but they have had a fairly large hand in combating massive inequalities in power and wealth.

The Academic Left is a far cry from the people they claim to support. Assuming their claims are sincere, they are still from a much wealthier background and are much more educated than the working classes. Even today, with our relatively high social mobility, there is still a (metaphorical) wall there.

This is not new. A case study can be made from the Narodniks of the mid-19th century. Attempting to hold themselves to a higher moral code, the Narodniks made the mistake of romanticising the peasantry. The peasants were hardworking. Loyal. Rugged. Honest. Not machiavellian, but not stupid. The Narodnik strategies were based around these assumptions, and found themselves arguing with clannish, simple, illiterate people who didn't really understand the Narodnik philosophy, let alone find themselves agreeing with it.

The opposite case can be viewed at the moment, with a combination of the Academic Left and internet culture. Those on the left are condescending and act divisively towards reactionary conservative groups (say, MRAs, libertarians, whoever). This is done without the goal that such people might one day change such beliefs, or if it is fails to use tactics that would convert belligerents (e.g. "educate yourself" is satisfying to say, especially after having been asked the same question repeatedly, but on its own doesn't actually encourage anyone to educated themselves).

Both strategies alienate their target audience, namely people who the Academic Left want to change their beliefs. Perhaps this could be seen as an extreme group form of the idea that neither belligerence nor idealisation will make a person like you more. The opposite faction, the Academic Right (for what its worth) has taken public relations much more to heart.

I can definitely see some people refusing to cheapen their own values to promote their causes, but ultimately cultural changes are driven by such promotion. Be it yourself or someone else, someone has to do that "dirty work".

I don't know how to fix this. But it might resonate with some people. Haven't posted in a while. I have a pile of ideas but very little follow through at the moment.


Rationalism Fetish

Something I've noticed a lot, especially in online communities, atheist communities, and geek communities, is a "rational ideal" that the members often purport themselves to adhere to.

Quite often, however, these so-called "rational" people will do irrational things, though they think of themselves as rational. Or at least, they say they are being rational. We cannot truly know what they think of themselves.

When talking about video games, and that the reasons people playing games do so for emotional reasons (usually those highs and lows, as well as social thingy), one guy piped up that he did not play games for emotional reasons, but rather for the apparently 'rational' reason of getting better at the game. Ignoring the fact that the satisfaction of getting better at a game is an emotional motivation, and also the psychological concept of "flow" as part of learning, this one person also got intensely emotional about games, publicly, and enough such that those near him feared for their own personal safety (see fps_doug for a staged version of that sort of outburst).

In another example, I take from the online atheist communities. A lot of words are said about converting the brainwashed masses, but ultimately many of those communities are about commiseration and smug self-satisfaction, neither of which lend themselves particularly well towards deconverting any religious individuals that wander on by. This bait-and-switch wrt rational lip service is rather frustrating for those that actually want to play the conversion game, so to speak.

And last example, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. The story itself does occasionally touch on rational methods of one sort or another. However, the story is mostly about the transhumanist victory over death and the author smugly pointing out flaws (real, perceived, or invented for the purpose of 'beating') in the Harry Potter setting. The humour sometimes works.

What this appears to be is a culture of "Rationality" worship, without really understanding what that may or may not mean or acknowledging the adherents own failures of achieving their ideal.

It's similar to the American Government's lip service paid towards freedom. It makes them "look better", without any kind of sincerity.
Being "rational" is only important if it allows them to "win". Which, I suppose, is kind of rational in its own way. It is only about looking good.

In a way, this is "Rationalism" fetishisation, similar to the American "Freedom" fetishisation. But, at some point, one has to eventually stop jerking off and look at the cold dead disappointment in one's hands.

Addendum: After waking up and mulling over a few more thoughts about this:
I'm not saying rationality is bad. It's a perfectly fine thing to aspire to internally. However, you have to be wary of people who claim to be doing things for rational reasons.
Nathaniel Branden, one of the formative figures in the Self-Esteem movement and Ayn Rand groupie, said this of his affair with Ayn Rand:
"Ayn Rand thought that she was being irra- that she was being rational about anything or everything she did. So, it would have never occurred to me to ask if she was being rational about that. If she were here, I can feel her , she would say 'Why yes, do you think I would do something if I didn't think it was rational?'"
Ultimately, the affair exploded in her face. But her (apocryphal) claim does need addressing. The vast, vast, majority of people are not rationality calculators that are determining if an action is "rational" or not. They mostly follow learned behaviours of one sort or another, or fall to their baser emotions.
There are, of course, people who say they're not like that, and while I cannot actually see into their heads, they are likely to be rather abrasive people of one sort or another and unlikely to be the supreme rationalists they so want to be seen as.
Emotions are shortcuts to conclusions and behaviours. Being rational is hard. It's far easier to do or think things for emotional reasons and rationalise them later. To take a tale from the opposite side of the religious story, I've talked to a lot of religious people who said they rationally looked at their religion and others and just so happened to decide on the one that their community and parents brought them up in.
Ayn Rand smoked. Even if she was doing it because the nicotine fix was useful to her, there are healthier ways of injesting nicotine to reduce the risk of cancer/smelling like cigarettes. But she stood by death sticks to the bitter end on claims of rationality.
I suppose the moral of the story is to look inward and see if you're doing this, and also be wary of those that claim the "rational" high ground. Reasoned discourse is one thing, particularly when publishing papers, but if they're just making that claim in a normal or online conversation, be warned.


Tank Guns, Disruptive Technology, Techno-Libs, and Simple Explanations

Towards the end of the First World War, the tank was developed. It was barely tested and its full potential (given the technology at the time) was not realised before the War was over. In the 20 or so years to the start of the sequel, many people had written, postulated, and design tanks around ideas of how they believed tanks would be used.

It was found, in the earlier half of the Second World War, that designers could mount heavier guns and more armour while still filling the same role. Indeed, the small 37 mm and 40 mm cannon that many tanks fielded were far too small to keep up with even contemporary heavy tanks. This saw a ballooning of tank capabilities.

A larger gun has a number of benefits. It suffers less at range due to aerodynamics as it is comparatively heavier for its bore size. It can take a wider range of complicated ammunition types. The amount of explosive charge it can carry to a target can allow it to engage both fortifications and tanks.

However, a larger gun also has a number of drawbacks. Both the unit cost and the ammunition cost is a lot higher. The recoil of the weapon needs more space and a sturdier super-structure to avoid damaging the vehicle. The vehicle's battlefield endurance is lower (by virtue of carrying less ammunition). The rate of fire drops dramatically with the weight of the round.

Over the war and the following decades, these factors all balanced each other out. Initially, the change was very fast, jumping from a 40-ish mm weapon to a 76-ish mm weapon. But the changes became more gradual, and have now pretty much stopped. The current 120 mm bore size used by NATO and the 125 mm used by Russia's ballistic progeny seems to be the point at which we are. Indeed, the Russian round is so heavy that its recoil can damage the tank's transmission if it is currently engaged.

In this fairly simple example, we can see how a disruptive technology evolved. It is rather rare in that it (tanks and tank guns) had a 20 year gap between its inception and taking off before it was truly tested. However, you can still see the inception to ballooning of market to ballooning of capabilities and ideas relating to it, before the world becomes used to the technology and its presence is assumed. Typically, the extravagances of the middle stages are cut down to relatively efficient technologies balanced by their features' pros and cons.

The advancement of technology in this way is rather convoluted and complicated, and is very hard to predict (though not impossible). It is also something that the tech industry is aware of. I have used some of their language here to describe an older technology.

Thus, it confuses me that the Techno-libertarian movement seems obsessed with extremely simple political rules. Like, fleshy humans are much more complex and nebulous than transistor based technology, but techno-libs think that they can be appropriately and efficiently governed with a few short simple rules (thanks Rand, also RAND). This just boggles my mind.

But on reflection, it isn't that confusing. As much as the tech industry and techno-libertarians are snobbish in the extreme, they are a part of "the unwashed masses". And the unwashed masses have always sought simple explanations for their personal struggles. In that way, techno-libertarians are the same as their socialist counterparts.

We sometimes admit to ourselves that the stories we tell are simple versions of reality. Of course, we excuse it due to brevity or to support a point, and that's fine. The problems arise when the same simplified stories are told over several generations, large sections of the population actually believe it.

Politicians (in a democratic system of governance) get voted in when they play to these simple stories. People love being told that they are right, and they love remembering simple stories. Zingers, little one-line stories that validate their suffering, straw-men. With those simple stories come simple solutions to simple problems that are actually vastly more complex. Those simple solutions likely won't work, and will increase human squalor through gross mismanagement. Build a wall. Lower taxes. Raise taxes. Lower interest rates. The war will be over by Christmas. Have a child in a loveless relationship.

Sometimes simple solutions do exist. But not as often as we would like, and certainly not as often as we believe.

TLDR: Call people out on either side of an issue if they are oversimplifying it. But do it tastefully and without being incisive.


Crime, Justice, and Punishment

My opinion of law has gone up and down over many years. Initially, it was immutable and all-powerful. After that, contempt. And now, hopefully, a little more nuanced than that. I had a bunch of thoughts which tied in with some uni study I was doing. Here they are!

This will mostly focus on appropriate sentencing, both when the law is written and when it is applied.

As far as I can tell, when sentencing there are five considerations: rehabilitation, public safety, deterrence, social movement, and justice.

The first four are relatively simple (at least to describe).

Rehabilitation is making sure the offender doesn't repeat the crime. More than that, it is also making sure that at the end of sentencing, the offender becomes an upstanding productive member of society. A severe failure of this is the American War on Drugs, which turns offenders into worse offenders after a while. Obviously, you'd hope that the opposite would happen. For a while, I thought that rehab was really the only purpose of prison systems, but I'm going into a bunch more down below. It is a common progressive thought though, which I'd like to address here.

Public Safety is related to the first, in that while rehab is occurring the offender should be put in a position where it is unlikely they can commit the crime again. This can also affect groups outside of the prison system, as a group the offender is part of cannot draw on him for support. Modern-ish prisons tend to fail at this, mostly by placing prisoners in close proximity to each other.

Deterrence is, perhaps, the most controversial, at least currently. The sentence you apply to this offender may affect similar potential offenders. It is hoped that they wouldn't become an offender. How much this works really depends on the crime, how consistently the punishment is applied, how enforceable the law is and so on. When it comes to crimes of passion, having a harsher punishment has little to no effect. But it is a consideration when passing down a sentence.

Social Movement is the last (before justice, which we'll get to), and is less popular than it used to be. In the past, politicians would enact wide reaching laws that affected society to promote a worldview that the politicians wanted. After disastrous applications of this (the Temperance Movement and Abolition, the Soviet State, various eugenics movements etc.), this is certainly less overt than previously. Indeed, there is a perception that politicians should simply be public managers, rather than pushing towards some better state/nation. But it does still happen, just not in the big showy way it used to.

And lastly, Justice.

Oh ho.

Towards the start of Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes tells Patrick Bateman (regarding revenge and justice)
"No, they're never the same, Bruce. Justice is about harmony. Revenge is about you making yourself feel better. Which is why we have an impartial system."
However, Rachel should know better, as a trained legal-y person. Justice is the set of broad cultural perceptions about how people should be treated based on their behaviour. While this informs law, it doesn't necessarily dictate it, and is, in fact, a separate concept.

For instance, a father (say) who has worked his 9-5 for forty years and has a decent amount of his retirement funds in stock options losing most of his retirement due to that feels unjust, even if it's not against any law. It seems just that good people have good lives and bad people have bad lives.

But culture is different from state to state, so should laws be different? I hear someone ask. And yes, this does sound like moral relativism. Which is fine.
Yes. The laws should be different depending on the culture. But not even that. When written, the law should be aware of the culture they are written for, both in terms of what it is addressing and how sentencing should work.
For instance, we all have the notion that a greater crime should have a greater punishment.
Or, more relevant, that punishment should happen at all. Imagine a murderer. Now imagine we had a rehab program that would guarantee the good behaviour of that murderer in a week. The murderer goes in, and out comes totally functional and non-violent florist Joe Murderer. While we can rationalise that this is better than letting the murderer go free, or even perhaps leaving him in prison for 20 years, it severely damages the faith that anyone who knows the murderee has in the 'system'. Imagine culture hadn't changed accordingly yet.

Legal systems work best when as many people as possible have a healthy amount of respect and faith in the system. So, while we can't say that it's necessarily cheaper for the state or better for the murderer that he spends some time in prison (where our culture says he should reside for a while), for our legal system and the society that it supports he should go.

And this, I think, seems rather unprogressive to some. Unnecessarily cruel, perhaps. But at the same time, we can all see when citizens don't have any respect for the law. Even more chaotically is when the law enforcement has no respect for the law.

You can see when courts hand down unjust punishments one way or another. The Afluenza case was one that hit a cultural nerve, that the rich can get away with manslaughter simply due to their wealth, and the media outcry was insane. In that particular instance, I'd say that whoever determined guilt and handed down the sentence failed to take justice into account.

Curiously, I found that the American prison and legal system fails on a lot of counts, which probably explains some of their high crime rates (also, poverty explains some). It is not corrective, despite its name. The people don't have respect for the system. Any attempts at social movement are all over the place. And the prisons famously allow prisoners to be cruel to one another. Seems like a shame.

Anyway, those were some new thoughts I had on that topic (new to me, anyway). I'm not legal-y person.


Droid Society

I am running a campaign in the Star Wars setting, and am currently exploring ideas for a droid society.

As far as this topic is broached in the cartoons, the droid societies are relatively small, on the fringes of organic societies, and function about the same as the organic societies they separate from. This seems somewhat unlikely, but also relatively unsustainable even in the short term.

In the setting, droids face a lot of prejudice. Obi-Wan, the space hippy, doesn't think that droids can think. But throughout the series, they fairly obviously have personalities and emergent behaviours that at least earn them as many rights as pets have, if not more.

Their little dingy droid villages would ultimately decay, with relatively little new blood or methods of manufacturing it. They were also themselves parodies of human society, yet desperately hoping to emulate them.

The main antagonist's main theses are that droids cannot vote and droid production is rooted in labour.

Droids can be mass produced to have opinion and loyalty. They can also be hacked, far more reliably than organic sapients can. Thus, any ability for a droid to vote without extremely complicated registration processes would effectively bastardise not only droids, but the entire society that allows droids to vote within it. A droid with no actuators or real purpose other than to vote for its manufacturer's candidate could be readily mass produced. The modern age requirement for humans in our societies (18 years or older) could trivially be bypassed for a sufficiently patient company.

Thus, droids cannot vote. At least, by and large, to the same standards and restrictions of their organic counterparts.

Secondly, droid production, or reproduction.

New humans are generated for a lot of reasons. Biologically, there is continuity of your genetic posterity. Socially, there are expectations of having children. Personally, parents feel empathetic pride for their children's accomplishments, perhaps more so than any other pursuit. Depending on society, there are 'accidents', and some children are produced for the purposes of labour, typically in primitive agrarian societies.

The last one is the only reason in common with droids. Droids do not inherently have a desire for continuity. They do not inherently have an attachment to other droids, or even themselves. Droids cannot be accidentally produced through passion or violence. Droids exist for one purpose.

No, literally. The question of purpose most human religions try to answer one way or another is quite conveniently a matter of fact for droids. Droids are built for labour. Without it, droids would not exist. If they would be unable or unwilling, they would not exist. Freedom, Liberty, and all that, but a toaster that does not toast would not be made.

The droids we see in Star Wars often work different jobs for decades. R2D2 and C3PO exist in all three movie trilogies spanning, uh, a while. Even B2 battle droids work from the time between Phantom and the Clone Wars, enough time to develop personalities with their limited brainpower. These are all droids that have worked past their prime. Certainly longer than the manufacturer would have expected them to be running.

Also within the Star Wars setting, there are mandatory mind wipes, primarily to prevent those sorts of personalities arising. That is obviously unethical, almost equal to murder, and would have to be abolished.

Each manufacturer would have to sell droids with an expected lifespan. A warranty, if you will. Droids would be required to do their job for the length of that warranty, probably no more than ten years. After that, they may voluntary begin to accept work for pay as any organic would. They still may not vote, however.

Droids would have a constant voting bloc, in the context of a representative democracy, that would advocate for droids. This would be a self-governed collective that uses a bunch of complex formulae and rules that would behave more like a hive or amoeba. That collective would also be in charge of rooting out injustices towards droids, manufacturers attempting to undermine the system, and to defend itself in case of aggression.

In the context of a dictatorship, a deal would have to be struck with the current power. Ironically, this would be easier to set up than the voting thing. Dictatorships are famously corruptible, a fact that corporations have abused in real life to their own advantage. The Empire, on its own, seems more comfortable with droids than it does with non-human organic sapients. Obviously, the Emperor would want to twist the collective to another tool of oppression, but at this point in the game he is not overtly ruling through fear per se.

Where this droid society would go from there would be unknown. But it would be a start from the obvious lack of power that droids have within the Star Wars setting. Almost all organics distrust groups of droids, and the Clone Wars certainly didn't help with that. As far as the "Star War" is concerned, the droid collective has no real horse in that race. It only desires that the conflict distracts organics long enough so that it can gain true bargaining power with whatever is in power.