Sunday, 2 October 2011


Over at Samizdata, occassional commenter Midwesterner has a very good post up which he calls "Institutional Will". The essence of it is that institutions "mutate", with selection pressures acting upon those institutions over time such that those mutations which would help the institution to perpetuate itself (e.g. the expulsion or intimidation of dissidents and whistle-blowers) tend to be selected. Midwesterner's brief essay is basically a limited application of evolutionary theory to the problem of political reform.

An example might be the refusal/failure of any U.S. President from Nixon onwards to achieve "energy independence", despite talking it up to get elected, or the confluence of interests Wall Street banks share with the Fed and the Treasury. Sciabarra uses the term "nexus" in describing the same thing.

Yet as I point out in my comment to Midwesterner's post, there is a prior fault in the common acceptance of subtle misconceptions (e.g. concerning the importance of "the rule of law") which may then support the promulgation of institutional mutations.

The immediate question which Midwesterner's post points to is whether institutions of government have mutated to such an extent that democratic mechanisms no longer have substantial interdictive powers over them.

If the answer to that question is yes, then the obvious conclusion is that electoral politics has become a mechanism of government control, rather than a mechanism for the control of government.

That conclusion would invalidate all contemporary mainstream political thought including the sanctified reverance in which "democracy" has been held by both Left and Right since the end of world war two. It relegates the voting citizen to the status of a looter trying to make off with a couple of F-16s, or a favourable interest rate, or a school or whatever else before the system finally chokes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is now in place, as of April 2012. Rules:

1) Be aware that your right to say what you want is circumscribed by my right of ownership here.

2) Make your comments relevant to the post to which they are attached.

3) Be careful what you presume: always be prepared to evince your point with logic and/or facts.

4) Do not transgress Blogger's rules regarding content, i.e. do not express hatred for other people on account of their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

5) Remember that only the best are prepared to concede, and only the worst are prepared to smear.