Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Minor Musing About Government

PNR waxes philosophic while analyzing the Stace Nelson candidacy:
I think we in this country have, for the most part, made a god out of the government as if they can solve every problem - all they need is the right bureaucracy, the right law, the right regulation, the right court decision, and everything will be good and right and true.  This idolatry of the state goes back to the kings and potentates of the ancient near east at least, and their claims of divinity.  It changed only slightly in the middle ages of Europe with its notions of divine right.  And it blossomed into the modern era in the French Revolution which, quite literally, did seek to make a religion out of the state in direct opposition to the church.  Most of what ails us in this country springs from this idolatry.
Certainly a large number of America's self-professed Christians have not taken to heart Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
I hold little hope that government will solve most or any of our problems. I do not, however, see the worship of government to be a deeper root cause of the problems facing the nation than the worship of any other false god.

The nation can no longer seriously debate about whether it is a republic or a democracy. (Whether that debate was ever necessary is a question for a different post.) The current political divisions are not about the size of or the nature of a good government. Rather, these debates seem to be about which plutocratic element gets the lion's share of the spoils. If there were no government, I'm quite certain the plutocrats would discover ways to preserve their ability to protect their frequently inherited wealth and ensure that fruits of others' labor flow to the plutocrats' coffers.

For every Tower of Babel, there is a Golden Calf (my choice for the chief god in the pantheon of ills) and an image of Baal. Further, we humans each have our share of foibles, hubris chief among them. It may or may not take a village to raise a child, but it certainly takes a pantheon of false gods to explain the problems facing the county.

Quite frankly, the current situation shows Madison's observations in Federalist 51 correct:
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Shakespeare has Cassius tell Brutus that the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves The largest fault might lie in the fact that we've run out of ideas for auxiliary precautions.

1 comment:

P&R said...

"...these debates seem to be about which plutocratic element gets the lion's share of the spoils."

Amen.