James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Is the Good Society a Myth?

I suppose this could be said better, if profanity offends you. Nevertheless, ka1igu1a's post at Freedom Democrats hits the nail on the head:
I have a very simple, self-evident proposition. If voluntary exchange leads to tyranny, then the human condition, in terms of any conception of freedom, is royally f---ed. If you propose the State is necessary to serve as an equalizing force to balance out the strong(oppressor class) vs the weak(oppressed class), then it would be self-evident that this so-called Strong would naturally be the most adept at using the State to regain/retain it's advantage. Direct Democracy doesn't solve this problem. If the weak can be systematically duped in voluntary economic exchange, they can be just as easily be systematically duped with regards to their vote as political agents.
If voluntary exchange, meaning freedom, doesn't "work," then it is impossible for any organized human system to work, because they all favor the oppressor and disadvantage the oppressed.

It raises this question: is this problem a defect within the human individual, or is the sum of human society less than its parts?

If the former, then there is no "problem;" there is nothing nothing that "works" or "doesn't work," nothing good and nothing bad, nothing to be solved and, therefore, nothing to worry about or condemn. A secure, just, prosperous, and long-lasting civilization may be simply beyond our capability, and if so, it makes no more sense to fret about it than for it is for Fido to fret that no dog has ever written a great symphony. Humans are just too evil, or stupid, or both.

If, however, humans (or should I say, most non-oppressing humans) are good, but somehow form themselves into poorly-run societies, then there must be bad information that is fed into human minds and beliefs systems, that lead to faulty judgments. The very act of "changing my mind" about a particular issue proves the point. One day, I disinterestedly believe X will lead to a better society. X becomes public policy. Years later I conclude that X is bad and Y, not X, is what society needs. I am still partly responsible, through my support of it, of the bad things caused by X.

If, as an objective, disinterested observer, I concluded that X would be good and it turned out I was wrong, then it is not my ethics or virtue that is flawed; I am still "good." The flaw is, instead, in the thinking that "society" actually exists as a unit for moral judgment or sound policy. Society exists only as a concept to help us process news and information, but it has no objective existence. It is neither good nor bad, and it can not be improved.

So whether or not human beings are themselves good or bad (or evil), "society" will always be unsatisfactory because it will never achieve our hopes and ideals for us. Perhaps, the only chance for greater security, justice, and prosperity for everyone is to not even try to seek it for everyone, but for everyone to seek it for themselves and others whom they love. And whether or not voluntary exchange will "work" in terms of society, it is bound to be the best available option for individuals looking after their own interests. As ka1igu1a indicates, there is no other alternative.

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