Greg Ordy, June 1999
We all live as part of a set of concentric institutions. At the core is the individual. The individual is surrounded by a layer of family and friends and church. This ring moves to the neighborhood and a set of organizations important the the individual. As we more further from the center, we reach the local community, the county, the state, and then the United States as a whole. Finally, we are all members of a single planet.
Some of these institutions date back to the creation of the species. Others, such as the outer layers related to government, are relatively recent creations. These institutions are in a hierarchy of personal importance. I think it's rather obvious that most people are more interested in, and care about, themselves and their family, rather than the government, or for that matter, the world. Our level of concern is partially determined by our ability to exert influence. We can indeed change our own lives, and the lives of the people directly around us. What real impact do we have on the entire planet? Let me say it this way, if you had one loaf of bread, would you distribute it within your family, or the world? Case closed.
These institutions have developed to meet the wants and needs of mankind. The wants and needs of mankind are many. Some are tangible, such as food and shelter. Some are intangible, such as love and happiness. We have so many institutions because each can only do so much. Each is inherently constituted to deal with a certain range of issues. A good analogy is a toolbox. We can use a hammer to put in a screw, but a screwdriver is a better choice. We can use a screwdriver as a chisel, but a chisel is a better choice. When we use the wrong tool for a given function, the tool or the project may fail.
Historically, the relative importance of certain institutions has shifted over time. In fact history can be categorized by the shift in institutions.
Clearly there is no one single best balance between institutions. We are all individuals, and our wants and needs do vary. For each of us, our relationships to the institutions change over our lives. It is possible, however, to get into serious trouble when a severe skew takes place in the institutional balance.
We are in a time of extreme institutional imbalance. The individual has abandoned personal responsibility and accountability, the family and church are on the decline, and the government is getting into areas that make absolutely no sense at all.
Men create then abandon families. Divorce is rampant. Unwed mothers are an epidemic. Babies are found in dumpsters. Immediate gratification over saving and planning. Children killing children. Religion under attack. And, the government has a program for every possible problem. Education, health care, retirement, child care, welfare, crime, poverty, business. On and on without end.
I suspect that institutions tend to flow in and out of balance as part of natural swings and cycles, usually measured in decades if not centuries. These may, in fact, mark a healthy evolution. I am concerned about the recent rise in government because it happens to coincide, and in fact is partially driven by, our own experiment with socialism.
In my opinion, socialism is one of the greater evils to ever enter the mind of man. While its goals are lofty, it flies in the face of the real nature of man. It expects the average citizen to voluntarily work hard and produce with an inverse relationship to what they get, and the ruling class to make decisions for the masses that are not based upon the accumulation of power, prestige, and greed. This just does not work. Socialism does appeal to the intellectual elite since they can see the utopia that would result if it would only work. Of course they also envision themselves as the necessary ruling class. When the citizen just doesn't want to go along with the plan, the elite will result to force and enslavement because it is all in the name of the lofty goal. The end does indeed justify the means to them.
The Soviet Union experimented with the Communism form of socialism. Brutal central control and repression. Countries such as Sweden and Japan have experimented with flavors of socialism that blend with their strong monocultures. Socialism does appear more successful in monocultures since the wants and needs of the average citizen inherently align. Other developed nations are motivated by fairness and equality of outcome.
If socialism promoted happiness, and full lives, it might be worth some of the implementation problems. But it does not. In the long run, it creates misery and hopelessness. How long it will take us to realize that is unclear. I believe in the institutions of the individual and the family. Until those institutions decide to rebuild and grow strong, there will be no force standing in the way of socialism.
Copyright (c) 1999, Greg Ordy
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