Apr 14, 2009

Government: A gift from the founders to US.

I've said before, this simple sentence.

Government is good.

Many who know me as a longtime anarchist must be thinking what IS he talking about? Remember, anarchists believe that leaders are not needed. That people can organize themselves without leaders. This doesn't mean we don't need organization. This is where government can use its ability to create and enhance alignment of people. 

People have been self-organizing, aligning their interests for thousands of years. We'd have a hard time surviving an ice-age if we weren't organized. Our first governments seem to have arisen in the past 10,000 years. The Egyptians, Persians, Chinese, and Native Americans, and others show evidence of using governments for cultural, economic agricultural, and social tasks. These tasks often had a very overt power dimension. A leader would coerce with food, intimidate with fear, or cajole with hope. As specialization and scientific discovery grew our structures became more complicated and effective. As language developed we became better able to describe these structures in the abstract and in concrete terms. Writing it all down lead to books, like the Bible, the Communist Manifesto, Origin of Species, or Snowcrash.

Two hundred years ago, the pinnacle of self-organizing systems, was the representative democracy developed in North America based on a mix of Iroquois and Greek ideas (with a lot of other influences). The United States of America created a subtly simple alignment of our nation. We've been wrestling with the consequences ever since. While the United States of America is still strong and 'yeasty' in theory, the practice of our governance faced some real tests recently. 

A group of leaders, let's call them Republicans, has spent much of the past 28 years tearing down government and working to cut off its life blood, revenue. From Ronald Reagan's declaration in 1980 that "government is not the solution, government is the problem," to the starve the government drumbeat of no-tax pledges Republicans have argued for limited government. This while they were in power. Now, in the past few months, their hands no longer on the levers of power their tune has changed a bit but their key points remain the same. Govern on the basis of faith, opinion and fear instead of reason, facts, and shared interest. 

Our Government - given by our founders - is THE one enduring gift, the last vestige of a time before electricity, cars, the germ theory of disease, and evolutionary biology. It is still robust. But, if we let the gift sink us into another dark age of superstition, selfishness, and fear of facts,
we lose the vast power of an open, informed, democratic populace. The Enlightenment brought so much to society and culture. We must stand, honest, truthful, and free in the face of God, Allah, and fascists to avoid digressing and losing our way again. 

Not all states are as lucky as us but many have taken the lesson of our Revolution and built on it. Many governments are now made better by our example. We can't be so arrogant and blind to the advantages developed by others in imitation of our system. Americans are rightly proud of our institutions. This pride cannot be enhanced by starving our system just because we think our faith in the almighty tells us not to pay taxes. I believe the facts as observed. Do you?

No comments:

Folks who care enough to follow my posts: