Homo sapiens seems an intelligent, self-aware, self-replicating biological machine existing on an infinitesimal speck in an unmeasured material universe. Currently confined to that speck, we don’t amount to much on the cosmic scale, but we take ourselves very seriously. The universe does not seem to notice, no doubt having many more important things to consider. Locally, we threaten many forms of life including our own and show little respect for the inanimate either. On a larger scale, our universe remains inexplicable unless you pass the buck to God and call that an explanation. After all, it had to come from somewhere. That being somewhat vague, our inquiries continue.

We are simultaneously socially cooperative and individually competitive, which is why we convert beautiful countryside to overpopulated concrete deserts and then blow them up, together with their hapless inhabitants. After some thousands of years during which we have industrialized daily life, communication, travel and destroying each other and our property, we continue the primitive self-government that foments those actions as we tentatively reach out to nearby planets. We have enthusiastically applied our science to nearly everything except exactly why we behave as we do. That, we prefer to dance around, perhaps from fear of embarrassment.

Our reluctance to know ourselves objectively is legendary and is probably necessary but it looms as a primary obstacle to the development of significantly improved government.  Politicians, preachers, criminals and everyone else with a stake in selling services in the human behavior market are clearly threatened by too much analysis of their evanescent product. Their customers yearn for the security offered, impelled by self-preservation. That is, it is normal human behavior to pursue security without looking too closely at the details; P.T. Barnum said: “A sucker is born every minute.” But it seems obvious that better human government demands better understanding of our innate imperatives. Of course, we can only hope that our behavior will permit such improvement; the thought of current government in perpetuity is depressing, as realism so often seems.

 Our empirical sciences and mathematics (particularly, statistics) seem ready to pursue that task. It is obvious that our DNA is the source of our behavior and that, regardless of our individual variability, we can comprehend our common basic imperatives and their operations. Stochastic models of defined and classified behaviors might contribute to the objectivity of government if widely disseminated and understood. Continuing specific, objective research into the optimum size and reach of government ought to be rewarding..  There is probably much to be gained by restoration of a depoliticized, merit based civil service. Limiting Congressional bills to a single subject and limiting Congressional terms may offer rewards too. There seems much to reward expanded attention. Do we really gain enough from a government that spends some six times more of our gross national product than it did in 1930? And particularly, our degenerate, fading anti-government begs restoration.

Individualistic Western Judeo-Christian societies produced classical liberal government and the industrial revolution. Less attention is paid to their development of an anti-government, particularly in the Protestant churches. They competed with government for the prescription and control of human behavior and presumed to order that even for governors. When the American Declaration of Independence recognized the sovereignty of God, it implicitly set His human church in competition with merely human governors. That competition restrained potential excesses on both sides. In the West’s developing Post-Christian era, the authority previously wielded by the churches has been sucked up by government like water by a thirsty sponge. That is natural; we say that no man can serve two masters. But is mastery really the optimum job for government? Classical Liberals would have it otherwise, reminding us that those who serve masters are called slaves. . Human government is at best a compromised servant and always an intolerable master, though denying that serves many ambitious interests. Without legitimate, organized, external restraint, human government inevitably monopolizes power at the expense of unorganized, contending citizens.,  

Political pwer is a zero sum game; having abandoned their organized political counterweight, Western societies now see their governments turning their new technology into burgeoning surveillance and control systems constricting individual discretion. Judeo-Christian believers will see that as unsurprising results of abandoning God. For gamers and political scientists, it is the expected result of a power vacuum. Society must generate an extra-governmental power center to compete with the government for the support of the people, thereby re-dividing political power and restoring the need to compete for it. With the defenestration of our extra-governmental Sovereign, the locus for that seems problematic Diminished Western Christian churches and most elsewhere now accommodate rather than compete with governments and that appears to be escalating. The sovereignty of God seems remote, no longer sufficient to anchor the containment of government. If we will allow it, a more concrete, objective model of human behavior might help to fill the vacancy by invalidating some of the more ridiculous theories supporting governmental excesses. Given the efficacy of the political interests that have sustained the status quo, that will require uphill progress. However, that status quo is presently dissolving socially, economically and maybe ultimately politically and out of that, eventually we might get lucky. It won’t be fun, though.

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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  1. I’m unable to come up with a suitable comment, but that was well said.

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