Of Human Nature And Government

Human nature has numerous and variable components.  It is composed of greed, cruelty, hate and hunger for power over others, among other elements.  But at the same time we are capable of love, charity, spirituality  and a willingness to work for the common good.  Governments since the beginning of time have tried to bend, shape and mold human nature but always without ultimate success.  Governments can and do regulate our behavior but all attempts to fundamentally change human nature have by controlling our behavior have never succeeded.

When we were still very primitive and mostly nomads and hunter-gatherers, we didn’t need much structure to our society and government.  Everyone was pretty much own their own and the “glue” of society was pretty much the family unit or small tribes of related families.  It was only with the settlement of specific areas and the development of agriculture that we needed a government as such.  The rise of agriculture gave rise also to the towns.   The towns were necessary to trade the produce of the farms and for artisans to build the crude implements for the farms and then the armies to protect them from marauders.   Security was issue number one in our earliest days of societal formation.  Thus the towns and the surrounding farmers had to form a government of some kind to provide for that security and to arbitrate disputes among society.  You will recall that Moses was called the “Law Giver” by the early Jews because he not only brought the ten commandments but reams of other laws to regulate society and system of judges to resolve issues among the people.  

In our modern era the most striking example of government trying to harness and reign in human nature by controlling the actions of the people was the failed experiment with Communism.  The foundation stone of Marxism you will recall was that ownership of private property was anathema.  Indeed he said himself that the theory of Communism could be summed up by “Abolition of private property”.    From  primeval times when men first fashioned bows, knives or other tools the idea of “owning” what you made or created was yours has been part of our human nature.  It is a subset of greed.  It is yours and not “theirs”.   But even in that utopian world of everyone sharing everything equally there were always differences of “wealth”; some had the nice houses and some had to live in government apartments.  The Commies were able to control the actions of the people for a few generations but ultimately the fight against human nature collapsed.   The greater the effort to contort or shape human nature the greater the odds are that the attempt will fail.

Every nation in the world has an army or one sort or another.  That is because of the human need for security and survival.   Even the Swiss have an army, a pretty well-trained in fact.  Peace-niks around the world can campaign all they want but this will be true forever.   We are willing to sacrifice some of our liberty and desire for liberty to have an army, likewise we will allow ourselves to be taxed for roads and bridges because our human nature inclines us to believe that such things are not only good for everyone but for us as individuals.  The more we perceive this personal benefit the more we are willing to allow government to control such activities and others.   We are all so different and have very different levels of expressing and feeling our love, greed or other aspects of human nature.  When government does something big it always needs to take this into account or it actions will be rebuffed by the people.  The trick is to find that consensus middle where the majority will sense that the control over our behavior doesn’t clash to fundamentally with our individual expression of human nature i.e., our desire for liberty and control over our own destiny.   Such analysis applies to the recent Obamacare laws and the ongoing public disputations regarding its efficacy and desirability.   Yes, they have such systems in parts of Europe but it s not as monolithic as often portrayed.   Even in Great Britain you have always  been free to see your own doctor and pay for it yourself and/or receive charity donations from your church or other organization to help with costs. 

One of the biggest problems with Obamacare is the inherent unfairness the young and healthy or the old and healthy have to endure for the benefit of others.   The facts are that many folks live their entire lives and spend next to nothing on medical care and then just die one night in their sleep.   In my seventy years I can assure you that the medical premiums I have paid over the years far exceed the costs of medical care I have received by an astronomical sum.  The insurance carriers have made a f0rtune so far off of me.  Many of you will be in the same category.   I am not mad they make money.  I do want the coverage in case of need; that is why it is called insurance.  But it has so far been a one to one relationship between me and my insurance company without any government coercion on either party.   Obamacare changes all that.   Human nature is to want to “do it my way” as the old song says, not the way dictated to me by a faceless bureaucrat.   It should be no surprise to a thoughtful person that the majority of Americans are opposed to this law.  We want “ownership” over our own bodies and what we do with it.   Our medical care is the best in the world.  It is too expensive for sure but there are ways to address that issue without challenging the fundamentals of human nature to be in charge of our own lives to the maximum extent possible.  

We control the prisoner by confining him to a cell.  His behavior is very restricted but even there we cannot control his thoughts or emotions.  We haven’t changed human nature only actions.  The American people will allow control of some of our freedom but only if we see some of the personal benefit in that surrender of independence.  That is not a bad thing; it is our nature and should be embraced.

“Law, morality, religion, are to him (the proletarian) so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.”  K. Marx….www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Filed under business, Culture, Economics, government, history, Mother Nature, Politics

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