Sunday, September 23, 2007

Free Will and Governance

The idea of free will has always intrigued me. It is significant in so many aspects of human life and interaction. Society, philosophy, religion, and governance to name a few of the most encompassing.
The argument against its existence does not interest me. Nor does, in this essay, from whence it comes. It is simply a priori to the human condition and is what to a large extent makes us human in the first place.
Here I will opine as to its affect on society and what would seem to be free will’s natural bias towards a certain type of human governance.
But in order to do this, first we must agree that humans over all other creatures on this planet are endowed with the largest dose of free will. And that access to free will is in direct correlation to intelligence among species. This seems so simple a proposition that it needn’t be mentioned, but I fear there are those who would argue the case. If you fit into this category, you may choose to use your free will and read no further for my thoughts and arguments will likely fall on deaf ears.
We remaining are now, I presume, in agreement that we as a species among all others on this planet are endowed with the highest degree of free will. So, then, what can this teach us about society and governance? Let us first look at the lack of free will in lower creatures that live within social groups.
Bees and ants have highly formed social structures. All individuals work together for the good of the collective. Some gather, some tend the queen, still others protect the whole. Yet, we can all agree there is no free will here. These creatures act and interact per their genetic programming. They are simply parts of the whole, not really individuals at all. Their lives are predetermined, there is no choice involved.
Now let us look at more advanced animals that live within social communities. Wolves and lions inhabit such social constructs. As compared to the social insects, it should be obvious to all that these creatures have a higher degree of free will.
So how does this affect their social interactions? They do not, as bees and ants, have predisposed roles to fill. So here a caste system develops. The strongest and most intimidating become the leaders. The weaker are designated to wait their turn for food and breeding. These weaker still have some amount of free will, but the strong use their power to impel the weak to submit. Still, the weak of the pack will often test the strong. They will either be rebuked or become the strong themselves.
So what does all this have to do with the idea of human free will? Well, first one should be able to see that the more free will a creature possesses the less the idea of a collective makes any sense at all. Creatures, such as the bees and ants mentioned above, with no free will are perfect candidates for the collective society. They do not question or want, they act. Yet in the higher animals, our wolves and lions with some level of free will, other strategies must be implemented in order to keep a stable society. Why? Well, partially because the impulse towards a rebellion against authority is inherent in the notion of free will. And as mentioned above the lower class, the weak, often test the strong. They wish to exert their free will. As we possess more free will than any other creature, this is even more so the case in humans.
This is an important point and one that should teach us something about the preferred form of human governance. Free will has as a basic tenet an urge to resist authority, to exert itself. This is its very essence. And we are imbued as no other animal with this essence. So then what type of government makes the most sense for humanity?
Surely, not collectivism. We are individuals with particular wants, needs, and cares. We are not robots destined by our genetic structure to fit only preordained roles. Our complexity relocates the idea of a human collective society to a quaint but naive concept. Our free will further invalidates collectivism as we naturally want more and better for ourselves and ours, and willfully work towards that end. Free will offers us choices, in our lives and in our actions. This aspect does not easily fit into a collectivist society.
The caste system does not seem a proper fit for humans as it is for the wolf or the lion. It grates against all that we feel is just. It lends toward one class to despise and envy the other. Free will demands the human question why he is stuck in one immutable class. He wishes to act upon his want by moving up and out. After all free will at its most basic is about choice. And the human longs for personal choice.
A large intrusive nanny state is also not the answer. It seems to me that small government Conservatives have the right idea. They, many unconsciously I will admit, better understand the inherent resistance towards authority that free will impels. Big government advocates, you know who you are, appreciate the urge to “question authority” or “speak truth to power”, but they miss what this impulse means on the societal whole. They seem not to understand that the more government there is, the more force from above, the more free will induces the human to want to force back. This in turn causes more government imposition and the cycle often repeats itself until tyranny is the result. More, these big government advocates love to harp on the idea of personal choice, but seem not to realize that the larger and more intrusive the government the less true free choice there can actually be.
One can look at free will as a blessing or a curse, but one cannot deny it is a part of the human condition. And as a part, we need to respect it. We need to learn what it can teach us about ourselves. What kind of society, governance, and community makes the most sense for free willed beings. And then use that free will, itself, to establish just such a society.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Forgotten Man

The coming descent into Socialism that is ‘Nationalized Healthcare’ reminds me again of just who I am.
William Sumner, professor of sociology at Yale University in the late 19th century, proffered the notion of “The Forgotten Man.” His thesis on the scheme of compassionate humanitarianism explains the term.
A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D...C is the forgotten man.

I am that “Forgotten Man”, and it is my guess that many reading here are as well.
As a young man I worked hard to get a decent education. Still, today, I make learning an important part of my daily life. I began my working years in a sub-minimum wage job and have worked up the economic ladder into a decent stable job. I show up to work every day and give an honest day’s work for an honest wage. I am married in some faithful loving relationship. I have no children out of wedlock. I do not murder, rape, nor steal. I do not drink to excess, gamble away my family’s income, nor beat or abuse my spouse. I do not live on the street. I spend my hard earned money in an appropriate manner, i.e., bills before toys. I take the term personal responsibility very serious. I am respectful to others and show decorum in public arenas. I have compassion for those, who through no fault of their own, endure hardship. I am thankful for my lot in life and ask nothing from others that I would not willingly return. I feel I pay too much in taxes, yet pay honestly anyway.
Yes, I am “The Forgotten Man”. Forgotten by the politicians who pander to the lowest common denominator in an effort to buy votes. Forgotten by the bureaucrats who spend my money on broken programs and endless bottomless boondoggles. Forgotten by the elites who wish to rearrange the very society that has allowed us all to live in such abundance. Forgotten by the media who see my ilk as simple, quaint, and antiquated.
Oh, but if it were only that simple. It seems I lose my “Forgotten Man” status when I “must pay my fair share”, when I am compelled into compassion, when I must dance to the whims of the nanny state. It is those times most I wish I were forgotten.
You see, I would gladly accept the label “Forgotten Man” if I could choose when to be forgotten. Forget me, Senator, when you institute a new law that adds more responsibility on the law abiding in an inane effort to curb those who would disrespect it. Forget me, Mayor, when you look to find yet another income stream. Forget me, Congressman, when schemes of redistribution dance in your head. Forget me, Your Honor, when you usurp the ideals of the founding fathers simply to further your political agendas. And forget me, Mother Government, when you promise new programs that incrementally and ultimately rob me of my constitutionally protected freedoms.
This is who I am. I am “The Forgotten Man”, the C in Professor Sumner’s equation above. You need to ask yourself, which letter are you?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Who's the Fascist?

Democrats can not, and I restate can not, stop themselves from wanting to control every single aspect of our lives. They know better after all.

From John Edwards on his new Socialist Medicine Plan:

"It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care. If you are going to be in the system, you can't choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK."

Thanks, John. Your stupidity makes my colon hurt. Why don't you stick your head right up there and let me know if everything looks "OK".