What Is Government For?
At last, a comment from Stuart worth further exploration:
…the point is that governments were created to use our – yours and mine – pooled resources to create BETTER things than we could have created by our lonesome selves. In fact, good systems of government like that of the USA are the biggest friend of capitalism because they create the conditions and mitigate some of the risks where capitalism can flourish.
Well, some might argue that “governments were created” to give the dominant person or faction a means of making everybody else accede to his or their demands, but I’ll allow that society’s concept evolved, building up to a recreation of the concept of government. What’s interesting about the above paragraph, though, is that each sentence describes a different concept of government: The first is left-wing, treating the government as a collective bee-hive, in which the members are all parts of a social organism. The second sentence presents a more right-wing positioning of government, as a mechanism to enhance the individual capacity of the governed.
It should surprise nobody that I think the first concept to be deeply flawed, not the least because it makes the typical progressive error of conflating government with the very concept of organization. All varieties of groups form in order to accomplish things beyond the ability of the individual, whether they are religious, economic, social, cultural, or governmental. Each type of organization will have different sources and applications of authority, depending on which aspect of society it inhabits, and “government” is sort of the final layer. And it should be a very thin layer, inasmuch as we leave to government the authority to use force — both of imprisonment and violence — whereas we insist that the other groups remain voluntary.
The difficulty that left-wingers face, within this model, is that too few people are willing to submit to their will voluntarily, so they wish to move more and more of their policy preferences into the category of organization that uses force. In other words, through all of our evolution, progressives wish to bring the notion of government back to being a mechanism by which the dominant faction imposes its desires on everybody else.