Left vs. Right

Possibly the best representation I’ve seen yet although one might argue where the various societies actually fall on the curve. (I would submit that there is quite a bit less overlap between “Current ‘war’ addicted U.S.A.” and “Most of current Europe” than is shown.)

One could make it a single axis with government control and power to the left and individual liberty and responsibility to the right but by putting them on different axes you acknowledge that some societies can fall not on the curve shown but inside, between it and the axes, having less of both government control and power and individual liberty and responsibility. After all, it’s quite possible for a government to disproportionally restrict individual liberty relative to its overall size and power. Likewise it’s possible for people’s liberty to be restricted by means other than the government they live under. I have elsewhere used the example that being able to get on your roof with a rifle defending your home from barbarians is liberty. Having to constantly do so (and therefore not being able to be free to pursue other pursuits) because the barbarians are ubiquitous is not. Thus, it’s possible for a society to be inside the curve, between it and the axes. The curve, however, represents an outer limit. It is simply not possible to have a great deal of individual liberty and responsibility and a government with a lot of control and power.

But note down there at the lower right. “Threshold of impossibility”.

I have noted elsewhere that at some level someone will get together with some others and combine to impose their will by force on others. Unchecked, this becomes government, since that’s what government is, really, the license to use force to compel obedience. They vary endlessly in form and scope but that one point remains the defining factor.

When that group does get together, the only way to stop them is for others to get together. That requires organizing in defense against them. The problem there is the “free rider” problem. In a strictly voluntary organization an individual benefits not to pay for that organized defense, so long as somebody does. The problem is that each individual has that same incentive: let somebody else pay for it. This is the classic free-rider problem. The end result is either a few people end up disproportionately carrying the burden or the whole things falls apart. And so, those arranging the defense end up, they must end up, compelling contribution from others. And so you have government.

And so we have an irreducible minimum, kind of like a Zero Point Energy of government. You can’t completely get rid of government. Best you can hope to do is to keep it pruned back and kept to the ideals of “to secure these rights”.

Even that goal is highly optimistic and requires a great deal of “socialization” to responsible self rule to implement. We’re nowhere close to being able to implement such a thing. And, so, the best we can hope for is to maybe, with prodigious effort, move things fractionally in that direction.

And given the state of our electoral affairs, I’m not even sure that’s achievable in the short to medium term.

One thought on “Left vs. Right”

  1. I agree with you about the overlap.

    The “Threshold of impossibility” is also a good point (on both ends of the curve).

    Liked by 1 person

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