How the World Works

I find that reading something I disagree with is often more beneficial than reading things in agreement. One such case is this paper on “folk activism”. I don’t have a big issue with the paper itself – I simply disagree with the usefulness of the premise.

There’s a lot of libertarian writing on the Web, and I find myself sympathetic with it. Yet I see the libertarian view as an academic exercise, mostly practiced by academics. There are two hard realities which any practical view of the world must accomodate:

  1. Some people have a strong desire for power and prestige – and some of those people are not overly scrupulous about how they fulfill their desire.
  2. Half of all people are of below average intelligence, and some are significantly below average.

Combine these two facts and it’s easy to see why some people can and will manipulate others. I have yet to see any political system described that could avoid the aggregation of power, the manipulation of the less blessed, and the institutionalization of affairs to make the condition permanent. Like it or not, that’s the way the world works.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jesse on January 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    “Like it or not, that’s the way the world works.”

    The world does include these tendencies and mechanisms, but people work differently and design different ways of doing things.

    Are you really saying that all people govern in the same way?

    If not and people do govern differently, are you claiming that people might govern in different ways across time and geographies but have no choice in the matter because it just happens without anyone knowing why?


    • Posted by jimdew on January 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      The heart of the matter is that no system can work very well because of the two reasons I stated. And, more to the point, any system of governance which isn’t designed with those two reasons in mind isn’t going to last very long. This is not skepticism or pessimism. The beauty of the American system is that it distributes power (addressing item 1) and it is not a slave to public opinion (addressing item 2). Time will tell whether it is “good enough”.


  2. Posted by jesse on January 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Wait, wait. After a little reflection, I have another thought. Your post is another way of expressing skepticism (for lack of a better term) about the designation of a system, of any system in fact.

    Which in turn would, hopefully by implication, leave people to determine for themselves what works best for them?

    Is that closer to the point?


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