Punchinello’s Chronicles

February 22, 2009

Government and the Nature of Human Beings

Filed under: Survival 101 — Punchinello @ 4:28 pm
Tags: , ,

What’s the default nature of a person? That’s a question that’s been discussed and debated for hundreds of years. In the 1700s, the question was a common thread of public conversation. If there’d been talk radio back then, man’s nature would have been a regular topic.

In 1954, William Golding wrote the Lord of the Flies, a novel that examines the same question. Golding chooses a population of boys, with the youngest being around 5 years old, and the oldest being around 12. A plane carrying them somewhere crashes on an island, presumably somewhere in the Pacific. With no adults, they begin to form a primitive society based on their nature.

Given a population of boys, unmitigated by girls and their different psychological makeup, we’d have to wonder whether or not the resulting social system is really an example of all of humanity. That being said, there’s a clear split between reason and analysis versus raw feeling and sensation.

Modern economists seem to believe that the natural condition is greed. Left to our own devices, human beings are driven first by a genetic “instinct” to multiply and spread our DNA. Then, secondly, we’re driven by greed. Is that true?

Adding more complexity to the mix, we also have much more sophisticated information about human psychology. That psychology is very different in each of us, depending on our age. A 5-year-old, Golding’s “young ‘uns” is entirely different from a 12-year-old or an 8-year-old. Jean Piaget, a Swiss natural scientist around the turn of the 20th century, demonstrated many fascinating aspects of our nature. He showed that age brackets are definitely important.

What we’ve learned is that at each point in our development, our brain allows or disallows basic types of thinking, processing, cognition, and integration. So what do we mean by “human nature?” Can we say that the greed evidenced in a 5-year-old is “automatic” and therefore the natural state for an adult? What about personal decisions?

How much do our personal choices, our sense of responsibility and discipline, and our overall moral character affect this so-called nature? We’re still learning about all that.

The fact remains that in western culture, our social organizations rest on these assumptions about basic human nature. Socialism and liberalism propose that natural greed is the default social order. A government must exist for the purposes of regulating society and controlling that nature. Without a government, the law of the jungle would rule. The strong would survive and dominate the weak.

In this type of world outlook, a government is considered to be the champion of freedom. By government planning, regulation, organization, building projects, and fairness legislation, society allows the physically weak to thrive. The skills and talents of those weaker citizens are “allowed to” or “given a chance to” survive.

Is that true?

Take a look at a very good movie, “The Flight of the Phoenix.” A group of people crash a plane in the desert. The original involves a group of military personnel, the re-make involves oil-well riggers. In both movies, the theme is the interaction between physical strength and mental ability. Neither can survive alone; that’s one point made by the story.

More importantly, mental ability is a natural talent. As such, IQ and mental ability act as a key influence in the surrounding environment. That means that just because someone is physically weak, their weakness doesn’t automatically mean they can’t survive if they have a strong mind.

Physical weakness is easier to see and understand than mental weakness. But that’s no different than physical and mental strength. Socialist governments assume that physical strength always will dominate mental strength, thereby reverting a society to thugs and tribes without there being intervention.

Government looks at the Constitutional creation of a private sector as a wall standing between a paradise of perfect social harmony, and a wild world of greed and unregulated violence. If only the government could tear down that wall of private-sector ownership, then at last humanity would be ushered into the golden age.

Modern-day liberals hold this as an absolute fact, building their entire world concept around the assumption. Any partial remainder of this wall between government planning versus private ownership will cause the Utopia to fail. There cannot be, and must not be even the slightest “bump” remaining of that wall.

The last 100 years have been a struggle for the government to breach the wall of privacy, drilling through it or knocking apart gateways. But the fundamental question is whether or not the government is correct in what lies behind that wall. Is it indeed a violent world of greed, lust, unregulated violence? Is it a jungle?

When we step back and look at the real results of government planning, government management, government organization, and government regulation, do we see Utopia? Or do we see urban blight, gross incompetence, massive financial failure, and a bureaucracy out of control?

What about incentive, inspiration, creativity, development, invention, and social advancement? What about medical developments, health improvements and the fact that “behind the wall” people have working plumbing, heat in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer, and no longer are slaves to the back-breaking work of historical peasants?

Would we say that today’s impoverished recipients of government “help” are more like medieval peasants or lords of a manor? Would we say that the famous industrialists and capitalists are more like Viking thugs or an order of knights?

Forms of government, social ideologies and belief systems all arise from our most basic propositions of human nature. Is mankind virtuous or not? Can we assign the word “default” to children, or must those children be raised and educated before they become actual human citizens? Is there a difference between a human being, and a human citizen?

Obviously there is. Children under the age of 8 aren’t able to apply whole sections of reasoning, analysis and empathy that an adult can apply. In fact, if you think about it, the lack of empathy, inability to reason, and dysfunction of modern government seems to demonstrate exactly the same psychology as an 8-year-old.


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