less government does not equal more freedom

The last several posts regarding what the government has been up to on the economy and the use of torture call into question, and provides anecdotal evidence for, a much larger issue of what the function of government itself is. This question appears to be contentious in American society more so than other societies. The Republican Party, and the Democratic Party to a lesser degree, have portrayed the issue of what character the government takes, into more a matter of less government – rather than what (and how) the government should assume as its role in society. Without getting into the myriad differentials involved, this state of affairs has generally led to the widespread popular assumption that somehow, less government equals more freedom. And by inference, any movement toward bigger government is a move toward socialism , and any move toward socialism is a progressive move toward less individual freedom, that ultimately devolves into a communist tyranny that is devoid of all vestiges of individual freedom. This notion and its inferences, while endemic, are patently absurd. And are in all likelihood the logical product of influences that themselves, are busy at work undermining individual freedom, but because they are not an obvious part of government, remain hidden from view.

What remains missing from this picture is the entire history of human beings, in that human history is a social history with a long evolution in the development of social institutions that broker the social intercourse between human beings. Throughout that social history there is no contrary evidence that human beings were ever anything like free roaming free individuals, especially in the first several million years of history, where there was never anything resembling government. Instead of government, the arbitrators of human social interaction were the same as it ever was, and still is; those that explain (for profit) the meaning of life, religion, those that plunder the wealth of others, armies, those that regulate the supply of wealth, currency dealers and bankers, and those that arbitrate these interactions, warlords and self appointed elite authority. The development of government in this scheme of things, comes as a welcome relief, as it puts mediation and regulation, in lieu of the prevailing codes of morality, on all the other power modalities and what they can do regarding the individuals of a society. Indeed, the function of government is to regulate. In this sense, governments act to empower and protect the individual in relation to other powers in society at large. With the (generally speaking) net effect of increasing an individuals freedom, as opposed to leaving them at the mercy of the unregulated other powers that are designed to prey upon them.

A society that advocates less government, instead of better government, is a society willing to to subjugate its individuals, without regulation, to the whims, demands, and exploitations of the longstanding arbitrators of the church, the military, and the economic elite – often in conjunction with one another. Because if government isn’t the arbitrator of human social interaction, the other powers are none to willing to take on the job themselves. To advocate less government is essentially to advocate for a backward looking failed state, with all its notorious and backward, social trimmings and implications. And much less freedom.

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