We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The prime motivation of government is…

… to be in government. Making the country a ‘better place’ comes a distant second.

Alex Singleton (of this parish) has an article up on Brassneck titled Hugo Chavez is blinded by ideology. He points out the foolishness of Hugo Chavez’s ‘concerns’ about a small British owned cocoa estate in Venezuela, given that a nationalised estate is highly unlikely to be able to reproduce the alleged high quality of Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s operation.

But that presupposes that Hugo Chavez gives a damn about the economic consequences of his actions. I think he is far from ‘blind’ to the implication of his policies, more likely he simply does not see them as particularly relevant to politics… and everything Chavez does is about politics. The only real reason that a small British owned operation would attract the attention of someone like ‘El Duce’ is he sees political benefit in being seen to move against a ‘foreign’ business, never mind how many locals it employs or what local goods and services the business uses. It is important to remember that his power base is motivated primarily by envy and not by their own wealth directly, or lack thereof.

In other words, the sort of people in Venezuela who support a demagogic national socialist like Chavez would react well to sticking it to a Brit and the net economic weal of the nation has very little to do with it. Chavez is the government and getting people to support the government is all that matters to a creature like him. And as that is what his supporters want, if such an approach writ large destroys the Venezuelan economy, people are only getting exactly what they voted for. Personally I think his supporters deserve every day they live in abject poverty, something that will continue for the foreseeable future under their government of choice… pity about the rest however.

48 comments to The prime motivation of government is…

  • John Louis Swaine

    I’m astonished there is even a British owned undertaking still operating in Venezuela. I’d have sold up, packed up and flown out long ago.

    Maybe the world needs another refresher course in how dumb socialism is. Heck people might be forgetting what happened to the Soviet Union’s mighty economic engine.

    I can’t wait to watch our governments spend money bailing out another wave of failed South American states.

  • liminal

    When the CIA learn actually learn the finesse required for a coup d’etat, coco growers of the world will be able to sleep peacefully at night.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_coup_attempt_of_2002

  • The only objection I have with the attempted coup in 2002 was that it failed.

  • Mike

    Chavez’ actions sound lot like Obama’s position on capital gains taxation on the ABC debate. Obama said he’d raise capital gains taxes for reasons of “fairness” even if the higher rates brought in less revenue.

    Given Obama’s limited experience working in the private sector, he probably didn’t know that investment creates
    jobs, and discouraging investment means fewer jobs. Or maybe he doesn’t care.

  • How come Il Duce always ends up Il Douche?

  • RRS

    Why does this continued reification of “government” persist?

    Knowing that Mr. de Haviland will contest that governments are “institutions” rather than mere mechanisms, which, as here, are used as such by their operators for the objectives of, and by motivations of the operators. Let us accept, finally – governments do not have motivations only people do.

    That leaves us to determine what forms the motivations: (1) of the operators and (2) of thsoe who permit the operators their control of the mechanisms. That is the question of motivations.

  • Mike too

    Mike:
    Yep, I’d say you hit the nail on the head. But the beauty of “fewer jobs” means a broader pool of envious, bitter people on the public dole– the kind who vote straight (meal)ticket Dem.

    It’s win/win!

  • Let us accept, finally – governments do not have motivations only people do.

    Because that simply is not true. I would argue that ‘institutional culture and imperitives’ are pretty much the same thing as ‘motivations’, because as institutions are made up of people, unsurprisingly they often take on a life of their own. Just as ‘socierty’ and ‘culture’ are ‘just’ emergent properties, they are still quite ‘real’.

    An institution has a culture based on many things, and that profoundly effects the meta-context of people working within that institution… which is why even brave idealistic reformers who get elected tend to ‘go native’ pretty damn quickly as every debate they get into is framed in terms that preclude and predispose to ends that serve the survival of the institution, rather than the purported function of the institution

  • Skeptic

    There is no evidence — zero, none, zip, nada — that the US had anything to do with the 2002 coup.

    If the US had backed it, then it would have succeeded. But the US hasn’t been in the habit of fomenting coups for more than 40 years. You simply can’t do that in secret in an open society for very long.

    (I’ll pause here while the outraged leftist readers blame every change of government in every part of the world in the last 40 years on the US, without a shred of proof but with lots and lots of certainty.)

    Every tinpot dictator in Latin America dredges up the specter of the Yanqui bogeyman whenever possible, to rally his domestic base. In fairness, both leftists and rightists do it, depending on their circumstances.

    The US is to Latin American leftists as the Devil was to Medieval theologians: Constantly causing every trouble without leaving any actual evidence.

  • Millie Woods

    Perry, the socialism meme is the gift that keeps on giving all of us headaches because the social science departments of our institutions of higher learning (ahem, ahem) preach that the Soviet Union etc. failed because the capitalists didn’t let them practice pure communism. Honestly, I’m not making this up. Just ask any young naif wasting money by registering for PPE degrees if that’s the spin on communism’s failures that’s being dished out.

  • Ian B

    I’m very mulch in agreement with Perry on this. And I think libertarians et al need to apply themselves to understanding the dynamics of collectives (instead of naively denying their existence or relevance). Humans naturally collectivise, forming societies, institutions, structures and so on. In my view, when we argue against the collectivist soceity/mindset, what we’re arguing against is the enforced collective (rather than what we may term the spontaneous collective). Statism is a compulsory collective. I have to join in whether I want to or not, as opposed to choosing to join a church, model railway club or other optional social grouping.

    We need to learn from the Left. While all their actual ideas are assinine, their understanding of structure is, from a political perspective, profound. That’s how they’ve won; by an understanding of how to change the meta-context and, in Marxist terminiology again, create a false consciousness (ironically doing the exact opposite of what they think they’re doing- they think they’re deconstructing a false consciousness). Conservatives, libertarians and other anti-lefties aren’t even off the starting blocks by comparison in terms of institutional manipulation.

    To have any chance of success, our programme has to be Marxist in planning and execution, but with the opposite goal (and more difficult than they had it, because they’ll understand what we’re trying to do). In a sense, that seems to have been Chris Tame’s plan for the LA- to recapture the intellectual reins by some form of entryist strategy, from what I’ve read. Hasn’t had much success so far, but then it needs force of numbers and thousands of dogged revolutionaries, generation after generation, just as the Marxists did it.

    But that’s the thing. You have to get in there and subvert the institutional meta-contextual millieu, so that the people within them go native in “our” direction rather than in the enemy’s direction. Our own Long March Through The Institutions.

    Somehow. Heh.

  • RRS

    Ian is indeed on the track to what may lead to our understanding of how our “open access” forms of social organizations (principally England, U.S. and France) continue to evolve into collective formations, which are in turn vulnerable to perversion into “Socialism,” in steps, or full bore.

    Studies of the history of socialism going back to Saint Simon, at least, all show a corelation of its surges with the decreases inter-personal transactions and the increase in impersonal transactions. The corelations to urbanization, decreases in family, clan and tribal unity and loyalties (as priorities); dependence on those whom we may never know for the essential elements of our daily lives – raising the importance, perhaps the requirement, for broader forms of social cohesion.

    With the increases in information and idea transfers and their speed, the inter-links are powering one of those surges again.

    The task is to preserve the utilities of broadening social cohesions, and at the same time avoid, as socialism would and does, the involuntary forcing of obligations on individuals. That is, to deal with it so as to leave individuals to determine their own obligations.

    It seems fairly certain that to have the benefits of our forms of social organizations, individuals must accept certain obligations, or withdraw (assuming available space somewhere). To avoid imposition of unnecessary obligations it appears the only effective tools are controlling the selections of the persons who may (often for their own agendae) come into direction or major influence of those elements of the social organization which can impose obligations.

    There used to be a camp song back in my youth, in the early 30s: ” The more get together the happier we’ll be….” It may still be sung, but with a different meaning and understandin.

    Could I ask a favor, please. If anyone needs to use the currently popuar modifier “meta” with anything and everything, could there be a fn. stating the intended meaning.

  • Ken Mitchell

    Perry, you write: “The prime motivation of government is…
    to be in government. Making the country a ‘better place’ comes a distant second.”

    This is a very clear restatement of Jerry Pournelle’s “Iron Law” of bureaucracy; “The purpose of government is to hire and pay government workers.”

    Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor

  • RRS

    sorry that song went:

    “The more WE get together….”

  • The left depends on two tools, envy and resentment. Which just happen to be the two emotions that lead most people to drink and drugs. They play on our fear that someone, somewhere, might have a tiny bit more money, fame, a fancier house, or a cooler car. They don’t promise to help you achieve all that. Because they can’t.

    But they make sure you know that they’re going to make “them” pay, and that’s good enough for many people.

    Take away envy and resentment and they have nothing.

    Unfortunately that’s not going to happen.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Personally I think his supporters deserve every day they live in abject poverty, something that will continue for the foreseeable future under their government of choice… pity about the rest however.

    And that, alas, is the central fault of majoritarian democracy, which is a posh expression for rule by the mob. If 51% of the electorate vote for shite policies, that is scant consolation to the 49% who get looted, or even worse. It cannot be repeated too often that democracy is not always compatible with liberty and frequently directly at odds with it.

  • “The prime motivation of government is… to be in government. Making the country a ‘better place’ comes a distant second.”

    That may be true, but is not related to the present incident.

    A nationalist-socialist thug does what they always do – rob people, motivated by … you guessed: his thuggish, nationalistic-socialist instincts.

    No need for deep philosophizing here…

  • Millie,

    our institutions of higher learning (ahem, ahem) preach that the Soviet Union etc. failed because the capitalists didn’t let them practice pure communism

    Shortly after the SovUnion fell I read a letter in one of the broadsheets claiming that the reason it fell was because the US wouldn’t provide aid. It was therefore all the fault of the Americans.

    Wouldn’t provide aid?

    I kid you not.

  • Humans naturally collectivise, forming societies, institutions, structures and so on. In my view, when we argue against the collectivist soceity/mindset, what we’re arguing against is the enforced collective

    Absolutely, and that is the point.

    The left (sorry to stereotype a collection) are certainly aware of how effective voluntary collective action has been, and, overlooking the voluntary component, concentrate on the collectivist component and seek to forcibly expand it in their preferred directions. The Liberal/libertarians, on the other hand, concentrate on the voluntary component of the equation, to the point where both extremists and opponents can deny that the collectivist component has any importance to them, but nonetheless, allowing people to pick and choose which collectives they belong to.

    Me? All in favour of collective action, it gets food on my table, just loath being forced into it.

  • liminal

    im confused. perry is now suggesting a purpose of government is to conduct clandestine operations subverting the political structures of foreign states?

    Given that.. how can he then complain about Chavez shutting down a few Coco plants.

  • im confused.

    Really? My position has always been pretty consistent on the role of the state.
    1. I am a minarchist, not an anarchist
    2. states are not sacrosanct and so there is no moral imperative for other people to allow them to be tyrannous provided they keep their tyranny within their own borders
    3. some states are more tyrannous than others and so treating them all as indistinguishably awful is daft (i.e. Australia is vastly preferable to North Korea) and thus a less dreadful state bashing a more dreadful state is not always a Bad Thing.

    perry is now suggesting a purpose of government is to conduct clandestine operations subverting the political structures of foreign states?

    Sure. Covert ops fall within the military function of nation-states. A given war may or may not be justified or even a Good Idea, but that is one of the (few) things I think a state should be for.

    Given that.. how can he then complain about Chavez shutting down a few Coco plants.

    Which is rather like saying “if Perry supports a woman shooting a would-be mugger in a dark ally (i.e. using violence), how can he complain about a mugger robbing the woman (i.e. using violence)”. The notion is pretty straightforward: using violence to oppose tyranny does not make you the moral equivalent of the tyranny you are fighting.

  • liminal

    You may have a problem with the way Venezuela is run, personally I don’t give a shit – its on the otherside of the world, I don’t know any Venezuleans, isn’t my problem its theirs.

    It is however my problem if you think its okay to infringe upon my freedoms by charging me taxes to pay for these ideological “military actions”

    so the example you give is right, – only it missesout the real point – that the gun your using to shoot the mugger with, is paid for by mugging.

  • RRS

    Liminal:

    Look at a map. Look up the range of intermediate range ballistic missles. Draw an arc north of Venezuela of that range and define the area of the U.S. covered (or exposed).

    Consider next the historic Persian (name chosen for the context) administrations’ patterns of using proxies rather than frontal incursions. Could they arm a Chavez or an Ortega? Would they? Will they; if so with what? Consider the Korean hunger for cash and oil.

    If you are not concerned about the physical U.S. by reason of your location, consider the effects over the western world of damages within the areas defined.

    Admittedly, the establishment of such potential will be almost impossible to conceal, but the contest will move immediately from the proxy to the principal, as it did in the Cuban Crisis years back. Differing this time in dealing with apocalyptic zealots rather than insecure bureaucrats.

    Now, how would your fecal reserves guide you?

  • You may have a problem with the way Venezuela is run, personally I don’t give a shit – its on the otherside of the world, I don’t know any Venezuleans, isn’t my problem its theirs.

    So when does it become your problem? When someone’s army is marching up your personal driveway? When I lived in New Jersey, I did not know anyone from Texas either, which is also a long way away. Measure the distance from London to Sarajevo and Trenton to Dallas if you don’t understand the point I am making.

    so the example you give is right, – only it missesout the real point – that the gun your using to shoot the mugger with, is paid for by mugging.

    Indeed, but as I am not an anarchist, I do not really care all that much. That is not to say I cannot get behind alternative non-tax based solutions (PMCs, letters of marque, whatever) but if all the state does is maintain courts (not that I have anything against polycentric law), prevent plagues and drop bombs on tyrants overseas (or poison their cigars or whatever), I can live with that.

    I just want states limited in scope, looser and weaker, not eliminated completely. It might be possible to see the end of tax based (or mugging based, if you prefer) states one day but personally I cannot see the way there from here in my lifetime, so I will settle for… less. And if I am going to be taxed, I would rather it gets spent on making life hard for the likes of Hugo Chavez than, say, buggering up the civil society I live in with ‘entitlements’ and state distorted education.

  • n005
    Let us accept, finally – governments do not have motivations only people do.

    Because that simply is not true. I would argue that ‘institutional culture and imperitives’ are pretty much the same thing as ‘motivations’, because as institutions are made up of people, unsurprisingly they often take on a life of their own. Just as ‘socierty’ and ‘culture’ are ‘just’ emergent properties, they are still quite ‘real’.

    This is mere metaphor. The quote marks tell the tale plain as day. Taken literally, it is utterly incoherent.

    Metaphor is a dangerous, ugly thing in matters of philosophy. When the metaphorical and the literal are treated as the same thing, as is the case in Perry’s comment, metaphor becomes as an entering wedge that socialists and mystics use to undermine reason, run thought off the rails, and ultimately break man’s mind, opening the way for the establishment of their diabolical meta-context.

    As an example, consider how socialism is all too often put over on us in the guise of ‘freedom.’ Here, we see the confusion of the freedom to live as an end to oneself, pursuing happiness by any nonviolent, non-deceptive means, with the metaphorical ‘freedom’ of socialism–‘freedom’ from want, ‘freedom’ from need, ‘freedom’ from the landlord, ‘freedom’ from the employer, ‘freedom’ from creditors, ‘freedom’ of leisure, ‘freedom’ of economic security, ‘freedom’ of equality, ‘freedom’ from morality.

    An institution has a culture based on many things, and that profoundly effects the meta-context of people working within that institution… which is why even brave idealistic reformers who get elected tend to ‘go native’ pretty damn quickly as every debate they get into is framed in terms that preclude and predispose to ends that serve the survival of the institution, rather than the purported function of the institution

    These ‘brave idealistic reformers’ for all of their grandiose ideas, almost always have no philosophical basis for those ideas, and lack any sense of meta-context. Thus, it is not the culture of the institution that causes them to ‘go native;’ it is their own philosophical vacuity, the default of their own mind, in the face of the pressures and challenges posed by the dominant intellectual trend of the community.

    Our individualism is not to be found in society. Society, vis-a-vis man qua man, is a non-entity, possessing no mind and no agenda of its own. The movements and spasms of a collectivist mob are not motivations, any more than the spreading of a deadly virus is a motivation. Motivation requires a mind. Movement without a mind is not motivation, but merely behaviour. A ‘person’ characterised entirely by his behavior, possessing no motivation, is no person at all. These nonpersons, these homunculi, are the sole constituents of those communities that escape the very context of human interest, taking on a ‘life’ of their own, in a manner of speaking. But such a ‘life’ is none that any individualist, any human would recognize. No, such a ‘life’ is no more a life, than the ‘life’ of a ship adrift on the high seas, ‘piloted’ by a sleeping crew.

  • liminal

    I am now a less confused, it seems we are disagreeing not over politics, but that of military tactics.

    Which I admit I am no expert in – however I take the position that leaving other countries alone and investing monies not on risky offensive military operations but only in national internal defence is more prudent.

    Now while I think the real threat of Venezuela to the US or infact any of its neighbours is highly tenuous, intermediate range ballistic missiles or otherwise I don’t think anyone thinks the failed coup d’etat has helped improved the situation.

  • Metaphor is a dangerous, ugly thing in matters of philosophy

    However it is indispensable in matters of communication.

  • Which I admit I am no expert in – however I take the position that leaving other countries alone and investing monies not on risky offensive military operations but only in national internal defence is more prudent.

    The problem with that is ‘nation internal defence’ may (or not) defend you from high level invasions (i.e. Mexican tequila fuelled panzer divisions and Canadian Moose Mounted Infantry rolling across the US border), but it does not actually protect anyone from nutjob kamikazes in hijacked aircraft acting on plans drawn up in Afghanistan or from attacks against vast commercial and several interests across the globe in a globalised economy. Internal defence cannot stop Iran (or anyone else) from closing the Straits of Hormuz with a couple anti-ship missiles or a submarine.

    Sadly problems do not just mind their own business if left alone, they just grow into bigger problems a bit later on. Lining the US army up shoulder to shoulder along the borders does not really make the US a whole lot safer.

    That said, I am not saying at every military adventure against Bad Guys of whatever ilk is a good idea just because they are Bad Guys… it may be justified, it just may not be a good idea in any given case. Things like encouraging a coup against Chavez (which the US may or may not have done), even though it failed, is actually very sensible as that is a really really cheap way of dealing with a problem compared to sending in the 101st Air Mobile and the USMC. Sure, it failed in this case but then the downside was not all that great from the US perspective either (the coup was intended to stop what has happened from happening… and Chavez was taking power anyway, so it can hardly be said to have made things a whole lot worse).

    I don’t think anyone thinks the failed coup d’etat has helped improved the situation.

    Agreed, it did not help (obviously, Chavez is in power). Which is why I wish it had not failed… but that does not mean the objective of keeping him out of power by fanning local flames was a bad idea per se. There is risk in all things.

  • liminal

    it does not actually protect anyone from nutjob kamikazes in hijacked aircraft acting on plans drawn up in Afghanistan

    Actually I think it would.

    Mr laden has stated a primary motivation for the attacks your referring too was the US’s foreign policy of offensive military intervention.

    Internal defence cannot stop Iran (or anyone else) from closing the Straits of Hormuz with a couple anti-ship missiles or a submarine.

    What if there were no such thing as a hypothetical question?

    if Iran wanted to close the Straits of Hormuz right now! really buggar all we could do about it. Infact if i was running Iran I probably would, it would send the price of oil well over £200 a barrel, id like to see the US fight a war with no petrol. I put my money on a horse riding Basij army with ak47s any day.

    hey! hypothetical arguments are fun after all.

  • Mr laden has stated a primary motivation for the attacks your referring too was the US’s foreign policy of offensive military intervention

    Which presumably explains why Al Qaeda have active franchises in such military extrovert Imperialist nations such as Kenya, Thailand and the Philippines…

    if Iran wanted to close the Straits of Hormuz right now! really buggar all we could do about it.

    Really? So you are under the impression that the USA could not blast their military and economic infrastructure to pieces, use the opportunity to turn their nuclear programme into large steaming craters, wipe out their airforce in a matter of hours and sink their entire navy in a matter of minutes? Sure Iran could close the Straits of Hormuz and cause some consternation by firing ASMs off the back of flatbed trucks for a few days …but only for a few days and at a horrendous cost to themselves. Iran’s military-political messages all have a return address on the envelope if anyone wants to reply in kind.

    I put my money on a horse riding Basij army with ak47s any day.

    And you would lose your money. So you think the richest nation on earth could not afford to run its war machine long enough to turn Iran into the nation-that-used-to-be-Iran? Guys on horses with ak47’s may look cool but they cannot actually close the Straits of Hormuz or hold any territory.

  • liminal

    Which presumably explains why Al Qaeda have active franchises in such military extrovert Imperialist nations such as Kenya, Thailand and the Philippines…

    “franchises” is an interesting use/misuse of the word designed to make us think Al Qaeda have some kind of traditional hierarchical structure with regular board room meetings to discuss marketing tactics like McDonald’s.

    What the terrorists in africa and asia motives are i’m not sure i’m sure bin laden has no idea either, so long as they’re not attacking me, again I don’t care!

    our offensive foreign policy didn’t protect us from 7/7. However Switzerland’s military tactics seem highly effective at preventing terrorism, I suggest we take note.

  • thomass

    Posted by John Louis Swaine at May 1, 2008 11:19 PM

    “Maybe the world needs another refresher course in how dumb socialism is. Heck people might be forgetting what happened to the Soviet Union’s mighty economic engine. ”

    We still have Cuba… I think the left wanted El Chav because they hoped it would work out better since he has so much oil money. If it did, they could claim socialism worked. Alas, some oil money won’t be enough… You can get by on it… but not really prosper.

  • thomass

    Posted by Ian B at May 2, 2008 02:51 AM

    We need to learn from the Left. While all their actual ideas are assinine, their understanding of structure is, from a political perspective, profound. That’s how they’ve won; by an understanding of how to change the meta-context and, in Marxist terminiology again, create a false consciousness (ironically doing the exact opposite of what they think they’re doing- they think they’re deconstructing a false consciousness).”

    On some levels I agree, but overall I do not. One reason we’ve (I’m American and I guess ‘we’ve’ done a bit better) held the line at all is that the left’s language and cultural games turn moderates off. If we adopt many of their methods, we’ll do the same. I think it’s better to simply try to undo some of their actions (clean up their revised history and language manipulations) while at the same time doing what we are doing (being positive and promoting limited government).

    Our real problem, IMO, is that it is simply a fundamental truism that it’s easier to get a government program passed than to dismantle one. We need some ‘thinking’ put into how to get rid of the already existing one’s when we have the chance.… Otherwise we have no chance. Whenever one of them wins.. even once in a generation… they get to push through all their pet projects… and we’re stuck with them.

  • What the terrorists in africa and asia motives are i’m not sure i’m sure bin laden has no idea either

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious…Islamic rule?

    so long as they’re not attacking me, again I don’t care!

    And you then go on to mention 7/7 in the UK. liminal, sorry I didn’t realise you were a blogroach, my mistake for trying to have an intelligent discussion with you. And I guess as well as knowing jack shit about military matters (by your own admission), you don’t really know much about franchising either. We’re done.

  • RRS

    Please tell me what the word meta-context is intended to convey.

    I know it must be very scholarly jargon.

  • Ian B

    On some levels I agree, but overall I do not. One reason we’ve (I’m American and I guess ‘we’ve’ done a bit better) held the line at all is that the left’s language and cultural games turn moderates off.

    But you haven’t held the line, have you? America’s tumble into the abyss is a little slower than ours because of the Constitutiion and states’ powers etc, but the trajectory is identical. Where any signs of holding the line occur, it’s because of the organised conservative/christian right adopting the very tactics I’m advocating e.g. fundamentalist groups’ entryism into the Republican party and setting up networks of front groups, but even so success has been minimal as it takes a gargantuan effort, one which nobody in the western world has achieved, to stop the socialist steamroller.

    If you think there’s any kind of line being held, take a look at the three massive government interventionist weenies on offer for president.

    RRS: broadly speaking, the metacontext is marxist jargon for the conceptual framework in which society operates. By manipulating it, you manipulate what people are able to think since you’ve changed the framework upon which thoughts are constructed. You can thus make it impossible for concepts you wish to stifle to even be expressed.

  • RRS

    Though it may be off thread, perhaps it should be noted that behavior is generally the description of action (vel non), and is regarded as being motivated (as opposed to being a form of human conduct differentiated from motivation).

    Motivation (Psychiatry) is classed as internal and external, active and responsive (or reactive). This is not posted as mere pedantry. Practically all that is discussed here is of Human Conduct (a wee bit’a Science and Technology, plus the wonders of the world).

    Views like those of n005, need to be expanded to consider :The Madness of Crowds, the lynch mob, a USMC squad on attack and in desperate defense – then turn to the operative differentials of the brain and the mind. Hunger and other demands of the body can drive the former to override the latter, and does in mobs, as we see these days.

  • Jason

    Humans, as individuals, have goals (motivations). Humans are social animals, and thus, in cases where individual goals contradict, often turn to compromise rather than conflict as a means to resolution of these contradictions. The emergent consensus of these compromises is what we term a culture. Thus, it is relevant to speak of the motivations of a society, as said motivation is simply the (often unconscious) consensus of the motivations of the individuals within said society.

    Further, societies, once established, tend to be self-selecting. People unable to abide by the culture of a given society will tend not to remain in said society, thus reinforcing the consensus.

    By definition, government is the society of those who govern. Since, in a democracy, entrance into said society generally requires a large expenditure of resources, it can be relatively easily assumed that those who comprise a government are the individuals who most wish to govern. Rich people become rich because they covet money; politicians become politicians because they covet power. (Although it is true that not all those who covet money become rich, I doubt there are all that many rich people who do not covet money; the same can be said for politicians.)

    Likewise, it is the no surprise that the consensus motivation of a group of such individuals is the act of government itself – or, as Mr. de Havilland put it, “the prime motivation of government is to be in government.”

    Since such seems rather obviously apparent to me, I fail to see why there is such quibbling over terminology in this thread. Whatever the terms and definitions you want to use, it is still clear that the emergent behavior of the set of individual actions by those in power will tend to be to increase their power.

  • RRS

    Ah Jason –

    You make it all sound so simple; so long as we ignore that “cultures” shape the internal motivations of individuals within them, and certainly affect the external motivations (responses and reactions).

    Terminology is the means by which we exchange thought. Thought is what forms concepts. Concepts frame the evolution of cultures. ‘Tis worth a quibble perhaps?

  • Jason

    The “shaping” of the internal motivations o an actor by the influence of the culture in which that actor lives is what I was referring to as the emergent consensus of the set of compromises by which we define the culture. It is no secret that humans alter their behavior in response to other humans; the collective feedback tends to isolate groups of humans into cultures (and sub-cultures) of like-minded individuals. However, the reverse is true – take a group of random humans, mix well, and the culture that emerges will be based on the motivations of the individuals who were chosen. So my point stands.

    As for the quibble: quibbles about terminology can only arise when the concepts in question are poorly defined (or when participants in the quibble disagree on definitions). Thus, the reasonable response to such a quibble is to narrowly define the terms involved such that there can be no such disagreement. Which brings me to the crux of my previous argument: as far as I can tell, the original point “the motivation of government is government” stands under any reasonable set of definition of terms; thus, since this seems the case, here the quibble over definitions is asinine.

  • n005

    Views like those of n005, need to be expanded to consider :The Madness of Crowds, the lynch mob, a USMC squad on attack and in desperate defense – then turn to the operative differentials of the brain and the mind. Hunger and other demands of the body can drive the former to override the latter, and does in mobs, as we see these days.

    I am not a psychologist, and I do not intend to be. Examining the irrational is a waste of time, effort, and life. It is not my responsibility, any more than it is my responsibility to explain the motion of fission debris.

    As an individualist, I avoid dealing with irrational people as much as possible, and will find freedom no matter how unfree the world is. Socialists can fool some people, and screw up some of the world, some of the time, but they won’t ruin the whole planet forever.

  • RRS: broadly speaking, the metacontext is marxist jargon for the conceptual framework in which society operates.

    Gah! The term is most associated with W.W. Bartley and Popperian thought generally! I usually describe meta-context as the shared unspoken axioms within which a discussion takes place.

  • RRS

    The risk of not dealing with the irrational may be that they will be taken as rational, which led to a great distraction in my life (and motivations) from 1942 through 1945 and familiarity with intense military medical care into 1946.

  • n005

    We may have to deal with irrational ideas, insofar as we must pronounce moral judgment when it is called for, so that we do not end up handing out moral default judgments and contributing to the climate of moral vacuity in which evil thrives. Indeed, this is how we will stop the spread of irrationality and save those minds that have not already been mangled.

    Trying to deal with irrational people, however, isn’t likely to be very productive. Generally speaking, they are beyond all help. Even if we show them the right, they probably lack a mind with which to recognize it. Attempts to reason with them are a likely way to provoke hostility, perhaps getting oneself killed.

    The only way to eradicate the irrational is to prevent its spread until at last it has killed all of its adherents.

  • RRS

    Those irrationals who can not be “helped,” can be contained; yes at the risk of death, which was the reward for 272 in the last mission I was on.

    Life, in all its events, is not simply a matter of choices.

    But, that is what makes having the broadest range of choices available precious; and, makes it vital that we deal with – at whatever risks, even death – those who would, without absolute necessity, limit or constrain freedom of choice.

    Strangely, there are, even today more societies available for those who do not believe in that precept than there are for those who do.

  • n005

    Life, in all its events, is not simply a matter of choices.

    Morality, however, is entirely a matter of choices.

    Our choices are all that we have in our favor. Our choices are what count.

    But, that is what makes having the broadest range of choices available precious; and, makes it vital that we deal with – at whatever risks, even death – those who would, without absolute necessity, limit or constrain freedom of choice.

    Then we ought to go about our business armed and prepared, dealing with any violent thugs that cross our paths.

    We will never move fast enough to catch all of the violent terrorists, searching amongst the vast legions of harmless idiots, and those that we don’t catch will tenaciously find a way to single-handedly negate all of our work–if, in running around like idiots, frantically looking for trouble, and dying in vain, we have neglected the work of defending our moral fiber where we can.

    An untimely death is not a lost life. Only a life spent in self-sacrifice is truly lost.

  • RRS

    We are so far off thread that I hope I will not qualify as a blogroach. If this is so I hope P di H will alert me.

    Yes, as a man of great influence said: “There is no morality without choice.”

    Thus, those who, in the exercise if their own objectives, no matter how “noble,” would constrain choice by others, constrain morality – in all human interactions.

    True, individual choices may conflict, as they often do in the preference for an unwilling mate, and thus the choice goes unfulfilled or frustrated. That is a very different matter.

    There is no “untimely death.” A life spent in self-sacrifice is only truly lost if so spent only for self gratification.

  • Paul Marks

    The 2002 coup failed because people in the Bush Administation started jumping up and down saying Chevez must not be killed. The George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 41) Administration made the same mistake in relation to coup effort in Panama aganst Norega.

    In a coup kill the enemy leader – this is really basic stuff (but too difficult for Washington D.C. types).

    Sadly most,although not all, South American governments are, to some extent, going down the same road as Chevez.

    Sometimes leftists learn a bit – for example Lula in Brazil is more moderate than he might be.

    But I suspect this is just because he fears economic collapse would undermine his future and the future of his party.

    That was admitted by the President of Peru – his previous Administation had led to economic chaos, and he has made it plain that he will not be radical this time BECAUSE IT WOULD UNDERMINE HIS POSITION AS PRESIDENT AND THE FUTURE OF HIS PARTY.

    Chevez has made the calculation that economic chaos is GOOD for his future – the more poor people the better as they will be filled with hate for anyone who is not poor (other than the great leader of course).

    Where their are signs of hope the main stream media downplay them – for example the vote in south eastern Bolivia for greater autonomy.

    “Devolution” is good when it means more power for statists (as in Scotland) but bad if it means less power for statists (as in Bolivia).

    So the media either ignore the vote or declare it the work of wicked rich people.