Slightly longer essay from Beaver this week, but a pretty good one:
Before we broach this subject, we must define a few things. Namely what a nation is, what laws are and what a government is. Or rather, what they should be ideally. One thing you should note is that in reality, many “nations”, “laws”, and “governments” do not fill these definitions. That should not be a reason to dismiss these definitions as wrong but rather a reason to question the legitimacy of said nations, laws, and governments.
A nation is a society occupying a more or less well defined territory by a common set of laws enforced by a common government.
A law is a social rule agreed upon by the great majority of the people of the nation. Laws are different from mere social etiquette in that it is considered acceptable to enforce them through violence.
A government is the entity within the nation which creates and enforces laws. Because of this role, it is considered as representing the nation and thus also takes the role of managing international relationships.
These are bare bone definitions for what nations, laws, and governments are. As said, many of them do not fit these definitions and thus bring their legitimacy into question. Now that we’ve established these, we can begin asking interesting questions, such as “Should government take greater roles?”
We often assume that the government should be “as small as possible”, but why is that? My aim with this essay will be to quickly go over what the aim of a “welfare state” is, why it fails, why a “smaller government” is better and why it is yet still sometimes acceptable for governments to engage in greater projects than the barest management.
So, the bare powers of the government should be the creation of laws and their enforcement. Because of this position, they also get to manage international relations, so they also have some power over the military. To examine what a “welfare state”, AKA a nation whose government provides many services to its citizens does, we’ll add powers and responsibilities to the government. In a democratic society, the government is considered to be controlled by the people and thus anything controlled by the government is supposedly controlled by the people. We know that this isn’t true, but bear with me. We’re examining why it isn’t true, so we must first act as if it is to reach a logical conclusion.
So, let us say we task the government with managing, say, cars. The government will provide cars and fuel to the people. However, to do this, the government would need money, either to buy the cars and fuel or simply to produce them. To get that money, the government needs to tax the people. Furthermore, in order to know who needs a car and fuel and who doesn’t, they must be able to keep records on the people. They must know who has a car, where they live, how much fuel they use, what they use the car for, etc.
And that’s not all! Now that everyone is pitching in through taxes, people want those cars and that fuel to go to good use. So the government starts regulating what kind of car you can have, what kind of fuel you can use, how much fuel you can use, what you can use the car for, where you can go with that car, how much you can use the car, etc. Nevermind that simply by providing the car and fuel, they decide what kind of car and what kind of fuel you get.
So, here we can see how allowing the government to manage more than mere laws and international regulations greatly increases its power. And the more the government is allowed to manage things in the nation, the more power it gets. The more power it gets, the harder it is to fight corruption within it and so the more corrupt it gets. And a powerful, corrupt government is a tyranny, no more, no less. It does not matter whether it is a democracy or not; it is a logical conclusion.
The more powerful a government, the harder it is to take action against it. The harder it is to take action against it, the easier it is for corrupt government officials to get away with, well, corruption. And since, as exposed, giving greater management responsibilities proportionally increases the government’s powers, we can therefore conclude that giving greater management responsibilities to the government corrupts it.
Yet, are there things a government can do which would not increase its power? Or can we prevent corruption in any way?
First, let’s examine what additional tasks a government could accomplish which would not threaten to give it undue powers. Let us call those additional tasks “social projects”. Quite honestly, it is exactly what they are: Projects which societies want to achieve for the good of its members. However, as we’ve seen, a large scale social project which requires constant management is a bad thing. However, we can separate social projects into two categories: perpetual and finite.
Perpetual projects are those like the one I used as an example; we want to provide goods and services to the population, yet they require constant upkeep, therefore require records, regulations, and so on.
Finite projects are different. They’re usually about infrastructure (though not always) and are meant to either provide something essential to the functioning of society or to advance our knowledge. Good examples are roads, aqueducts, the space program, etc. Though governments love to keep managing the things they build, nothing forces them to; as an example, once an aqueduct is built in a village which did not possess the money or knowledge to build one, its management could easily be relayed to the local authorities. These projects also somewhat increase the government’s powers since they require greater taxation and some management for their duration, yet the potential for abuse is much lower. Existent, yet much lower.
But what about corruption? What can we do about it?
To fight corruption, one must understand its source: the will to power.
The will to power is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: The will to power is what drives us to elevate humanity. However, an ill-advised will to power can be destructive. This is what corruption is.
Corruption happens when an individual with power uses it to the detriment of others for personal gain. This may seem natural, one wishes for power naturally unless taken in by slave morality. (Definition of master-slave morality: Master morality is built on valuing pride, strength, and nobility while slave morality is built on kindness, humility, and sympathy. Slave morality finds value in good and bad intentions while master morality finds value in good or bad consequences)
However, when one looks at the greater picture, it becomes obvious that corruption is actually self-defeating: By acting to the detriment of your nation for personal gains, you are harming the nation you are a part of, and therefore harming yourself. What you are doing is not increasing your own absolute power, but simply increasing your power relative to the individuals in your nation. This is why the most corrupt governments in the world, though they possess unbelievable amounts of power over their citizens, are usually the weakest in the international power structure. The corrupt unwittingly work against themselves. So, how can we prevent this?
The answer actually appears quite the obvious once you know it: Nationalism. Nationalism is what teaches people the importance of the nation, it’s what teaches them how their own power depends on the power of the nation,how harming the nation harms them. Therefore, we can conclude that the more nationalist a nation, particularly a nation’s government, the less corrupt a nation will be. And as the potential for corruption becomes smaller, the scope of social projects can increase.
In conclusion, this is why I denounced national multiculturalism in a previous essay. The more multicultural a nation, the less coherent the people. The less coherent the people, the harder it is to have nationalism. The harder it is to have nationalism, the less social projects you can engage in.
And with this, we can conclude the following things:
The more responsibilities are given to a government, the higher the risk it will become tyrannical.
When planning social projects, a nation should aim for finite ones rather than perpetual ones.
Nationalism reduces corruption and therefore allows greater social projects.
These three principles are fairly safe bets when you want to achieve a functional nation. It is of course possible to argue the extent to which each should be applied, yet they will always remain true. And remember that they are not possible in a multicultural nation.
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