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Memories of the 28th Century

The Ideal of Government

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Thomas Hobbes was right. On a fundamental level government is an agreement among the governed to cede some of their personal rights and autonomy in exchange for government providing a framework within which the people governed can more readily and safely carry of heir lives than they could without government. The government provides rules and basic services, such as roads and such, and the people governed pay for the services with a small and equitable service fee called taxes.

In theory, government is wonderful; the governed pay a small, equitable amount of taxes, and government keeps them safer and administers important things like real estate titles.

Alas, in practice government is not that benign. The people who run the government usually expands the government’s sphere of activity and regulation into all sorts of things hat it should be doing, such as regulating how you should live your life, how you can use your property, what you can buy and sell, how you can interact with other people, and so on ad nauseam. Because of this tendency of government to expand into everything it can, it is good for government to be strictly limited from the beginning. A well written constitution is essential to defining he limits of a government, but eventually government will ignore the limits placed on it and do as it wishes, as we can see in the behavior of the U.S. government.

The type, or form, of government is mostly a matter of personal preference to a large degree, because the drive for self-aggrandizement is spread pretty evenly through all of humanity (I is a facet of the urge for self-preservation.).

As a general matter, monarchy is the most efficient form of government, because there are no debates over policy or anything else nor are there elections, campaigns, etc.; and democracy is the least efficient form od government, because everyone must have the opportunity to be heard, and an individual can hold up the process of decision making. As an illustration, there is a story of one of the Old Russian city-states that was being conquered by the Tsar, but they were offered good terms, if they capitulated. The city was ruled by a Mir (the traditional Indo-European general council) and it required consensus for any decision. They debated it, then they voted, but there were holdouts. After several unsuccessful votes, the dissenters' bodies started showing up in the river with knife wounds. There have to be great limits on democracy, to the point where it ceases to be rule by the people.

If a polis wants a small government but doesn't trust kings, then an oligarchy may be the choice for them. In oligarchy there aren't crowds of plebeians trying to make decision, nor is there a single leader, but several points of view might be represented. The problem with oligarchy is that the wealthy might decide to buy their way to running the government.

Republics have all of the bad features of all of the other types of government, except that there are no noble kings, as there might be in a monarchy. But in a republic there are representatives who can be as bad as the plebeians in a democracy, and they the representatives have saleable votes. If a republic limits its government and keeps it limited, then a republic can work. But even a well restricted republic is not as good as a monarchy with a good monarch, and monarchs have less reason for abusing their authority than usurpers do.

The different forms of government are favored by different types of people: Psychopaths want to be kings, but they are terrible at it, because they are too selfish. People with Asperger's Syndrome can be excellent administrators, but they should not be allowed to debate, nor should they ever be allowed to be monarchs, because they will try to force their opinions on all of the people.

Normal humans don't especially care what form of government they are using, as long as it operates well, and they make the best monarchs, but have the sense to avoid such positions.

There are some misinformed people who think that government should serve the will of the people, but that is only true of democracy, and it makes a clear statement of one of the major problems with democracy: there is no requirement that the government is sane or that it serves the interests of the people governed.

The U.S.A. was set up as a republic to ensure that the problems of democracy would be avoided. The tyranny of the majority is only one of the several major problems with democracy. Perhaps the greatest problem is is probability that unscrupulous people will bend the will of the majority to their benefit, and we have seen that done to the horror of intelligent people by the present president.

Many people think that democracy is a wonderful thing, and it can be in the right circumstances, but those circumstances greatly limit where and when democracy can work. The founding fathers disliked democracy for several reasons (see quotes and link below). But they went for a republic, because many people wanted to be involved, but they knew perfectly well that a benevolent monarchy is, and always has been, the best form of government. But for any form of government to be good it must not become involved in too many facets of life; the people should be able to live their lives as they wish without nanny government telling them how to live.