A blupete Essay

Directive Apparatus, Part 11 to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Government"

Some among us have the notion that government fulfills a need of human society for a "directive apparatus." We do not need government for this reason. Assuming puny men could figure out how to construct such an apparatus, the cost would be immense; and what for, the whole event happens automatically. Society is quite capable of running itself and as the beating of a heart, and just as essential, no thought need be given to the topic. Production and distribution of all valuable goods and services in society are ultimately brought on by and through the voluntary co-operation of most everyone; we do it through the operation of contract, a most powerful legal concept. "Demand and supply, and the desire of each man to gain a living by supplying the needs of his fellows, spontaneously evolve that wonderful system whereby a great city has its food daily ... in multitudinous varieties ... while the quantities of the numerous commodities required daily in each locality are adjusted without any other agency than the pursuit of profit."20

In dealing with the question as to what is the purpose of government, I am obliged to point out its loftiest duty: and that is to instill, primarily by example, the great personal virtues that need to be prevalent in the huge herd that is to be governed; necessary not only so we can all get along better with one another, but, primarily, -- and here I refer directly to the Confucian notion of good government21 -- so as to make the governed follow its legitimate directives, willingly and without the expense and destruction of compulsive government force. The muck and mire in which an over-extended government invariably finds itself is hardly conducive to the exercise of this lofty duty of setting a good example. An over-extended government is invariably obliged to resort to the use of force.

Authority intoxicates,
And makes mere sots of magistrates;
The fumes of it invade the brain,
And make men giddy, proud, and vain ...:
By this the fool commands the wise,
The noble with the base complies,
The sot assumes the rule of wit,
And cowards make the brave submit.
(Hudibras, Butler, 1680.)
"... he who wields it [power] is often but the puppet of circumstances, like the fly on the wheel that said, "What a dust we raise!" It is easier to ruin a kingdom and aggrandize one's own pride and prejudices than to set up a greengrocer's stall. An idiot or a madman may do this at any time, whose word is law, and whose nod is fate. Nay, he whose look is obedience, and who understands the silent wishes of the great, nay easily trample on the necks and tread out the liberties of a mighty nation ..." (William Hazlitt.)22

Found this material Helpful?

[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]
[Subject Index]
Peter Landry

2011 (2019)