ON HUMANS AND THEIR GOVERNMENT

General human behavior is biologically determined; it is implicit in human DNA. Individuals’ DNA varies considerably and therefore, so does individual behavior. Further, individual’s behaviors are subject to varying modifications through differing experiences. In a universe manifesting risk and economic scarcity, individual maximization is stochastically distributed: forget wealth equality, the design does not allow that any more than it provides equality of life spans.

An aspect of human DNA inclines individuals toward grouping; human groups both reduce risk and can be exponentially productive. However, significantly varying humans with a significantly less varied drive toward individual maximization must restrain such behaviors to permit cooperation in groups; that ability varies too. As groups enlarge, these variances produce behaviors that threaten the group; large groups form specialized subgroups – governments – to cope with these.  But individuals within these subgroups desire to maximize their own and their subgroup’s power; resulting conflicts are an inherent instability generously exemplified in history. This instability in human governments may be necessary for the species’ progress; human governments display a tendency toward imposition of stasis, seeing significant change as a threat.  To permit progress, this restraint must be limited.

Given human behavior, much thought has gone into optimizing government, not so much into maximizing outcomes for the governed. The primary determinant for a government seems to be its size compared to the number governed; next is whether the governed hold significant formal power over the governors. Government growth magnifies both the resources it extracts from the productive economy and the level of detail to which it can control the economy and the lives of citizens. Government control follows Murphy: What can happen, will happen. The only variable is time required.     Control is after all, the explicit purpose of government and an implicit measure of its success. Note too that human groups seem invariably to contain individuals gratified to give orders, additional confirmation that human government lies buried in our genes …

It must be noted that humans submit themselves to two forms of governing authority: physical and moral. The first is a monopoly of the legitimate government; the second, awarded by social acclaim, is held in various hands, particularly parents and  in the Western tradition, churches. That underlies the tendency of powerful rulers to combine church and state. It equally explains the divorce of the two in the U.S. Constitution. The emperor Napoleon said that the people must have religion and that religion must be in the hands of the government. He knew his business; so did America’s founders know theirs.   

America’s churches were singled out to bulwark the people as the seat of sovereignty, outside the government. That was conferred upon them by God, its sole source. Government was the people’s servant, not their master. But inevitably given human behavior, U.S. citizens have sold their independence and wealth to government in exchange for the illusory security of dependence upon much enlarged government. With that enlargement, the interests of the government naturally displaced those of the governed. .. A dependent cannot say “No”. Citizen concerns have been washed away with an ever-increasing stream of government subsidies. Ambitious politicians are pleased to buy votes with other people’s money, another exhibition of classic human behavior.  That also illuminates the overspending so common among politicians whose reality extends only to the next election; it may even explain the disappearance of the fable of “The Grasshopper and the Ant” from U.S. public education.  

The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public is not as recently claimed, the government handling of the current COVID-19 epidemic; it is rather the idea that altering the form of human government can somehow alter human behavior in a way that will convert present reality into utopia. Changing human behavior will follow only alteration of human DNA, risking the future of the species. Rearranging the governors cannot change their innate behavior; such a claim is an unscientific and rather crude swindle, nothing more. Nevertheless, ridiculous though it is, it is the great swindle of our age, riding on another classic human behavior: Believing that reality may succumb to desire and just pressing (1) will bring a valuable, free gift.

Such naivete may endure in the species for a reason; the price of human progress has not been paid by pessimists, nor in a universe of scarcity will it ever. A really savvy species might not consider the game worth the candle.  Again, the design seems well tailored to the circumstances. Standing back a bit, the human tendency toward self-importance clearly fulfills a need; from farther back still, it may suggest that our species’ anthem should be: “Send In The Clowns.”

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
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