29 August, 2011

A long comment in reply to an interesting thread

From Fabius Maximus, of course.  For this to make sense, the thread here: Our fears are unwarranted. America is in fact well-governed.
I’ve been using the sheep analogy in my classes for years. Most don’t like to take its implications seriously. It also contributes to a tendency to give up and submit in those rare instances when a group of committed individuals can make a positive difference. (There are more opportunities to make a negative difference–but not all that many of them, either.)
Regarding some other comments:
“The species as a collective may have a good deal, but it is far from optimal for most individuals.”
Evolution is about the survival of groups. If it selected the optimum for individuals, we’d be immortal.
“Our leaders incite fear to build support for policy changes. … They will steer America away from the rocks because they own most of it.” – FM
Be careful not to assume “our leaders” are American–or think of themselves as American–let alone public officials. In a globalizing world, you get global elites. Global ownership. Global interests. If what’s best for the elite(s) is to allow some particularly stupid and needy sheep to die in order to maximize wealth extraction from the herd as a whole, it may be a regrettable but rational move. This may also include culling the flock.
“You have an overabundance of confidence in the competency of our ruling class to steer the boat.”–ruralcounsel
Sometimes that seems like the best hope for something like a liberal republic. If the some elite(s) in power really screw up, in a liberal republic there is a relatively nonviolent mechanism to co-opt more competent critics. Moreover, in the long run a sense of personal reward and personal control among the sheep (read “rights”) encourages more production, and thus more to extract. When that breaks down _and_ the elite(s) can no longer govern themselves–a situation we are increasingly in today–some counter-elite with greater self-discipline and competence still emerges, within or without, to replace the failures.
But the transition is usually a lot more messy.

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