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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Socialist Apprentice

The fundamental question that a people must ask is whether they want to be independent of their government, or dependent on it?. Is government to be a tool that we use when we need it and put away when we don't, or a master that oversees our affairs and uses us as its tools.

The question is not a new one though it continues to be asked over and over again, as each generation comes into its own, and examines what it is they want of government. Most people want there to be limitations on government, but at the same time they want government to carry out certain functions for them. The tipping point between tool and master kicks in when government gains the ability to expand its own parameters independently of the people. It's that moment when Mickey Mouse realizes the brooms aren't going to stop and Dr. Frankenstein realizes the monster isn't going to sit down and have tea with him after all. It's that moment when the thing you've created takes on a life of its own.

Most of our parables along those lines deal with people who wanted convenience, a shortcut, only to invoke magical powers that they cannot control. The sorcerer's apprentice wanted to get his chores done without all the hard work. We want the same thing, except we don't use enchanted brooms, we use government on the understanding that since government works for us anyway, why not put it to use?

But how does a tool become a master? Through dependency. Dependency shifts the source of power turning the user into the used. The more dependent you are on something, the more power it has over you. Addicts use drugs as a tool to feel good, until the power shifts and the only way they can feel good is through the drug, and then finally they need the drug not as an means to feeling good, but as an end in and of itself.

That is how dependency locks in its users, by turning the means into the end. So too socialism may begin by promising to be a means to achieve certain ends on behalf of the users, only to turn itself into the end. And when a socialist system fails to get any of the ends done, the nationalized health care system is broken, poverty is on the rise, violent crime is out of control, the economy is stagnant and unemployment is climbing-- it's much too late to protest that this isn't what you wanted. Because government itself has become the end. The end of everything.

Like all tools, socialism seems like a tempting solution. A shortcut to solving problems by loading them on the backs of elected officials and giving them a generous budget to handle the whole thing. And then we go away and do something else and let them take care of it. Why not? Isn't that what we pay them for.

But like all shortcuts, socialism depends on creating a new thing. Primitive man was afraid of magic, because magic was said to take a part of him and place it into a thing. A thing which then takes on a life of its own. Which moves about and acts under our orders... until we lose control of it.

Government is a kind of magic too. By determining our own institutions, we invest a part of ourselves into creating collective corporate entities that are not human, but have rights, responsibilities and powers. We give them a piece of our life and a piece of our soul. But what happens when we lose control of government?

Like any good magicians, we try to bind the powers of government by deriving them from a text, such as the United States Constitution. When read this text is said to have power over the government created through it, binding it to perform its obligations and charging it not to go beyond them. But such precautions wear down over time, particularly once the people charged to keep them also become the same people limited by them.

In the United States, the division between the states and the federal government created an incentive for government at the state level to limit Federal power. As slavery demonstrated however, this was an extremely imperfect solution, but once it was gone, there was no longer any check on the expansion of the Federal government, except from the last remaining idealists and a few business interests. And when the only real check on the Federal government came from within itself, the entire business was doomed. The brooms had begun to move on their own.

When organizations are given the ability to set their own parameters, they tend to increase in size and authority rather than decrease. Which is only natural. If you let an animal loose in a paddock full of food, it will eat until it bursts. Individually people are smarter than that, collectively they're not. Which is why we don't practice democracy because it leads to superior results, but because it's a check on tyranny. But it is possible to combine democracy and tyranny, because there is more to a free country than a popular vote scheme. It is not the freedom to vote that defines a free nation, but the freedom not to vote and still be left alone that does.

Collective stupidity is the product of a lack of individual responsibility and accountability. That is why a mob will do things that the individuals in that mob would not do. It is why a committee will produce results so ridiculous that no individual in that committee alone would have produced. It is why legislatures during an economic crisis will vote themselves raises. Because there is no individual point of accountability. A collective group in that way can be less human than an individual, a thing given life that can't be stopped or reasoned with.

As government becomes a master rather than a tool, in turn individual accountability and responsibility begins to wither. Because we are no longer living in the conventional flesh and blood universe in which actions have consequences, and wanting a thing means having to go out and get it done. We are a community now. We are "We". It takes a village to raise us, an idiot's village of bureaucrats, academics, politicians, assorted officials and union members. We are a collective and have only one remaining right, the right to be collectively stupid.

A dollar is no longer a dollar anymore, it's a counter in a great international game of monopoly in which if everyone passes around the play money fast enough, no one will realize it's worthless. A paycheck is no longer a paycheck, it's an investment in the government's social system, which is overdrawn, but if more of the paycheck keeps being taken every week, hopefully somehow no one will notice that there's no actual money in the bank.

People no longer buy, they "shop" now. They are consumers who are encouraged to run up credit card debt, and then not pay it off. Encouraged to take out mortgages they can't afford. Encouraged to buy cars on credit by car companies that are themselves running on credit. And when someone notices that there's no actual money behind any of this, the banks and the car companies are bailed out by a government that itself is running on credit, with money lent to it by a country whose chief source of income is exporting cheap products to Western consumers which they pay for with credit cards.

With all that can you really say you don't believe in magic?

That's what it looks like when the brooms are going full tilt, and no one can stop them because no one wants to actually get down on their knees and scrub the floor anymore. Sure we know the magic brooms don't work. They make more of a mess than they clean up. And no matter how fast they clean, they make their messes even bigger and faster. Because the product is the problem, and no one wants to admit that anymore.

Because the thing about magic is that it doesn't work. Yes we can turn lead into gold, but the gold we would get that way is more expensive than mining actual gold would be. Sure we can set government to solve our problems for us, but government has a way of becoming the problem. And its solutions are more expensive than the problems themselves.

We've become too used, to addicted to the power of government to think of it as a means to an end. It's become the end. The end of autonomy. The end of freedom. The end of everything but the promise of a shortcut to security held dangling in front of us on a ragged rope.

You want universal health care, don't you? What are you a fan of diseases or expensive medicine, a fan of death? As if government were magic. As if it could stop death. But we believe in the magic of government precisely because it's impossible, because it's so big and so inhuman, so complex that we assume that it can do anything. All we need is the right man to get it in gear.

And that is how tyranny begins. When we forget that government isn't magic, that it's a tool we made and set to work. A tool that forgot its purpose and its masters. A tool that became too complex and unwieldy to fulfill the tasks we designed it for. We made government. It's ours. And it is only as human as we make it.

Government stops being human when we forget that we made it and that only we can shut it off. But when we let it go, when we watch dazed while it spins out of control, and the buckets fly, and we accept the messes in the hope that eventually the room will somehow be clean, then we ourselves have let the monster loose. Power has shifted, and the users become the used.

Socialism is the promise that the tool we made can be a better master for us, than we could be for ourselves. But to believe that we first have to believe in magic. We have to believe that the things we make are better at running our lives than we are. We have to accept that the collective is better than the individual, that the corporate is wiser than the lone man or woman. And when we come to believe that, and bow before the icon of socialism that we ourselves have made, then we have chosen to irrationally believe in magic. A magic that is all inside our heads, the sweet siren song of the shortcut promising us that we don't have to work, that we don't have to think, that we don't have to plan... someone else will be doing those things for us.

13 comments:

mindRider said...

The government is like a bronco, useless when un-broken but also getting useless when dragging a trek cart with ever more people jumping on.
Bureaucracy's have the inherent tendency to grow with more and more bureaucrats creating ever more rules and regulations justifying their own position in the system and needing ever more non-productives to control this increasing mountain of rules and regulations who in their turn........ Till the system implodes because of complete un-workability.

Broadwood said...

Another unmissable article, Daniel - thank you once again!
Could I just make one small point of criticism? No animal willingly overeats unless given an incomplete diet - for example, you can fatten pigs only by giving them carb-heavy rations and not enough protein. So in that sense they are far smarter than many of us!
I'm sure there's a better analogy you could use to make your point.

Jules said...

Mindrider,

I just wish we'd arrive at the "implosion" stage ASAP, especially here in the UK.

People here are so brainwashed into believing that Whitehall should provide (and other myths) that they wouldn't know socialism if it came up and bit them on the a**.

We live in an horrendously socialist state in the UK. Really, I look at how crap our neighbourhood looks compared to similar income neighbourhoods in Australia, South Africa and the USA and I just shake my head in wonder.

We're paying stratospheric levels of tax and council taxes (municipal taxes) yet our streets look like ghettoes. Some of my family live in Australia and their (lower middle class) neighbourhood is beautifully clean, flowers and trees planted on the sidewalks and tended by the councils, lovely parks for the kids to play in, a real pleasure to walk through, but their council tax bills are less than half of what we are paying here in the UK? How so?

For what? A crappy horrendously overpriced minuscule 3 bedroomed semi detached house with all the character of a Soviet era government building, on a street which is never cleaned or sanitised by the highly expensive council, where they want to cut our bin collections back to every 2 weeks so the council can employ another "diversity officer".

And we are allegedly living in the "nice" part of town?!!

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic. The average Brit does not have a clue as to how royally bent over the barrel they are by this government and how little they are actually getting for their taxes.

The NHS: What a joke... After 3 months, my daughter is still waiting for an appointment for an audiology and MRI scan to determine why she is nauseous and throwing up, dizzy with headaches all the time and missing lots of school in the process. Ah yes, the famous NHS waiting lists - they've thrown record amounts of money at the NHS and yet still the situation has barely improved. I've experienced private healthcare in other countries and I can tell you, it makes the NHS look VERY bad in many areas of care.

I have to stop ranting or I am going to burst a blood vessel!

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

A truly marvelous piece. Thank you. You wipe away the fog from the mirror, forcing us to see ourselves for who we are.

Edward Cline said...

Daniel: Another boffo piece. I was particularly impressed by your Warmongering article, in which you cited altruism and selflessness as no-win premises on which to base a foreign policy.

Jules: Daniel noted, “Most people want there to be limitations on government, but at the same time they want government to carry out certain functions for them.” Well, most people, not all. I’m well aware of the situation in Britain. You remarked, “The average Brit does not have a clue as to how royally bent over the barrel they are by this government and how little they are actually getting for their taxes.” That’s because, as with gigantic charity foundations that keep asking you for more and bigger donations, 95% of the donations go to administering the organization (executive and staff salaries, operating costs, promotional costs and the like) and maybe 5% to the object of the charity, such as homeless children or below-median-income elderly and so on). The same rules of bureaucracy apply to government as to these outfits. Reality will not be denied or cheated.

But, about all those clueless Brits (and Americans): They’d get a clue if someone actually told them to think, or if they were expected to think, but, as far as I can tell, no one is teaching them the necessity of thinking for themselves, especially not in the realms of “higher education.” Their minds have been turned into pap by an academia that has a vested interest into turning citizens into malleable tax cows and a huge class of the entitlement-dependent.

So, the trick is to persuade people to want to think. Who in Britain or the U.S. is telling them that?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the interesting question is: what is the proper relationship between ourselves and government? After all, we read your blog by choice. We already know.

The question I would like answered is: what do we do when everyone else thinks socialism is OK?

What do we do? Where do we go? Do we go over the cliff with them?

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Everything you write is beyond fabulous; I have no idea why you haven't been scooped up by some big-paying outfit and am sure you will be.

My question for you is why are we still calling what Obama and his traitorous horde are doing "socialism," hasn't it become clear that it's really something far more sinister than even that?

When F. A. Hayek announced, in 1933, that Hitler's "National Socialism" was indeed a "genuine socialist movement," he was right. And as we saw in Germany, genuine socialism is but a stepping stone to . . . something else. In America, it won't be exactly Nazism or Stalinism or Maoism, but it's along those lines (i.e. far outside the lines of soft European-style socialism).

NeeNee said...

Superb essay with a correlation to a Disney classic almost everyone has seen!

Broadwood, I grew up on a farm and did cattle/hog/milking chores. Yes, animals for the most part only eat until they're satisfied and seldom overeat. However . . . the big exception I recall is along about mid-May when the pastures have greened up. Prior to this, cows & steers had been hand-fed ground corn, oats and hay during the fall & winter seasons. Turning them out for the first time on green pastures was like a cat with catnip---they ate long past the point of satisfaction. Daddy always said they would get colic if they ate too much new grass. I do know it's dangerous to let them overeat on alfalfa.

That being said, it's quite obvious that over half of the US population is "over-eating" at the public trough. This 51% or so that doesn't pay taxes will keep voting socialist in perpetuity!

Anonymous said...

While you are an incredible writer I would appreciate it if you would write the next article on the slaughter in Toulouse.

My personal opinion is that the actions of Court Jews in the Mass Media to attack Israel, and whose greatest wish is to be accepted, has resulted in the diminishment and loss of moral outrage over these incidents and given non-Jews ( like Ashton) the cover to use moral equivalency to avoid addressing the pure and complete anti-semitism and Jew-hatred attached to the incident.

Tupac

Chris said...

When I read these pieces and partcularly this one. My Spririt and Soul touch the third rail of wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with those that will.
.

Keli Ata said...

A wonderful article that generated great comments.

Keli Ata said...

You make some excellent points fuzzy slippers (love the screen name BTW).

Obama doesn't seem to fit into any political categories--Democrat, Republican, Independent (oh wait, that one might be it. He's acting of his own accord).

Even RT is being critical of him, especially for things such as his idea about Internet ID cards.

At this point, political category to put Obama in. He's not fully Democratic, not fully Socialist and not Communist (or maybe a closet Communist).

It sounds paranoid but I keep thinking of how Hitler objected to both Capitalism and Communism.

Broadwood said...

@ NeeNee

Yes, thanks for that - I know it's off-topic but it kind of makes my point - they must have felt they'd been missing out on something on their winter rations, and they were probably right.
I think modern people have lost some basic common sense about what's good for them which other mammals retain. Interestingly, indigenous peoples living according to their traditions often do very much better.
Perhaps another article about the wisdom or otherwise of abandoning one's traditions, Daniel? :)

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