POP Culture, I

2002-12-01

Over the last week or so I read a number of the essays collected at the Premises Of Post-Objectivism website run by Thomas Gramstad. My original reason for visiting was to re-read Mrs. Logic and the Law, since I'm slowly doing some research for a paper I'm even more slowly writing, entitled "Anarchy, State, and Objectivism" (an exploration of Ayn Rand's views on government). I stayed to read a number of other essays there on political philosophy, mostly on the debate between minimal government (minarchism) and no government (anarcho-capitalism). It's interesting stuff if you're a former philosophy major, but even I find the debate rather abstract and lacking in real-life referents, especially since current governments are so far from being minimal.

Personally I'd like to see a well-reasoned historical argument for why a period of small or no government is likely to follow the large administrative states we see today. After all, there's no reason to think that our current forms of government will last -- certainly monarchy, feudalism, and communism have been cast into the dustbin of history, so why not the welfare-warfare state? But I have yet to see some wizard of dialectical libertarianism make this argument. Some of the evidence for the argument has to do with the emerging age of abundance I blogged about the other day. Yet a countervailing tendency is the need for more rules in a highly complex society. I'm not saying that such rules need to be formulated and enforced by governments, though; in fact, one could argue that with the incredible and increasing pace of change in fields as diverse as finance, computing, medicine, and even agriculture, governments move too slowly to apply appropriate guidelines and are thus counter-productive. The modern administrative state fields legions of bureaucrats to govern minute details of business and life in general. That approach may have worked when things changed more slowly, but soon that approach will seem hopelessly outdated if it doesn't already, because changes in technology and lifestyles will only come faster and faster over the next 50 to 100 years. Consider this: more changes in technology and medicine and financial processes and so on occurred in the last 100 years than throughout all of recorded history. And consider that such changes increased at something approaching an exponential rate during that time. Can the modern bureaucratic state track such changes, or is adjustment and governance best left up to free markets, professional societies, non-profit organizations, grass-roots volunteers, and individuals? It's a question worth pondering.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal