The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We Haven't Changed Much, Have We?

I mentioned before that a friend of mine advocates we hold a Constitutional Convention to address what he sees as a broken system.  I stated my opposition to that idea and outlined my primary reason. What I wish to talk about today is more general, about systems of governance and about socioeconomic systems. I'll try not to be too boring but I can already feel your eyes glazing over.

I don't think we have had a new idea about governing or socioeconomic structure in a couple hundred years. And even those ideas weren't really new but modifications and adaptations of much older ideas.

Humans started coalescing into tribes hundreds of thousands (millions, probably) of years ago, soon after the split off from their simian family. From clans of related individuals into tribes of mostly like-minded individuals. But the same pattern, the same process of governance remained... primarily patriarchal and "rule by the strongest." It is the way of the herd and the way of the family. It is seen all around us in nature. It is, therefore, likely embedded in our DNA in some way. Not specifically, that is, just a propensity to admire strength and seek its protection. Or maybe it is simply conditioning learned as a consequence of being raised in families. It's origin does not matter; it exists.

We developed the idea of "kings" from tribal leaders backed by the tribal shaman. Kings became "anointed" by God. In reality, they were simply the strongest and the smartest among us. Or, at least, perceived to be. Being "lesser beings", we formed alliances around them, made them our "champions" and became their support.

Today, we have elected leaders as well. But that isn't really all that different, it is merely less rigid. We still seek the strongest and smartest, though the "strongest" is no longer a physical attribute even as the image remains. Do we tend to elect geeky, scrawny types? I don't think so. And we haven't strayed much from the "bloodline" concept of rulers either. We've just replaced "bloodline" with political party... for the most part (think Kennedys, Bushes, Rockefellers, all the "important" families we like to put into office).

Socioeconomics, some might say, has changed quite a bit. I disagree. When I was maybe 11, I began to form the idea that communism was just another form of capitalism. Instead of many large corporations, you simply had one... which was also the government. Which everyone worked for. Instead of competing against other corporations, it competes against both corporations and governments. Think of that government as one incredibly large and widely diversified corporation. We see that in China today. Marx, I think, played a cruel joke on the masses suggesting that it would be more free than toiling for the masters. He just exchanged one set of masters for another. Or perhaps corporations just mimic governments, I don't think it matters.

Heck, when you think about it, we still live in caves. We just build them now instead of find them in the wild.


Inspector Clouseau said...

As you are aware, I am in agreement with your friend who advocates the holding of a Constitutional Convention. Just as car manufacturers, drug companies, computer manufacturers, etc. seek to improve their products, it seems to me that we should seek to improve the structural mechanism by which we govern ourselves. The times have changed. We as a nation have changed. We have different values and different priorities than we had in the past.

More importantly, I believe that we have reached a real crossroads in terms of the level of governmental involvement we want in this country. Many believe in smaller, less obtrusive and less invasive government, and many hold the opposite view.

It is possible that the governance model can be modified to better accommodate these conflicting positions, or perhaps we should finally just separate into two separate countries, and stop bickering. The bickering has been going on for quite some time, and there is definitely a cost.

Out of curiosity, should partners in a partnership be forced to stay together; spouses in a marriage; or workers in a factory? Shouldn't people or entities have the freedom to separate from one another? Then why should states be allowed to secede and go their separate ways?

Douglas said...

I take it, Inspector, that you think the amendment process is inadequate?

Your final argument sounds suspiciously like an antithesis of the ones the Democrats put forward in response to the Republicans' dislike of the Afforable Health Act (aka "Obamacare").