08 August 2006

First Principles

The biggest cost (in the widest sense) of any political system is that which it expends in preventing its overthrow.

Attempting to "design" a political system without paying attention to how it will protect itself is like designing a building without paying attention to how it will stay up - architecture without gravity, castles in the air.

To our current system - the family of political structures labelled "Western Democracy", the cost is high. It saves costs, compared to traditional autocracy, on direct counter-subversion, but spends instead on bribery and waste to pacify potential opponents. The total cost of government is comparable to, but probably lower than, that of an outright dictatorship.

This is why I am not a revolutionary. I can draw up a political system enormously superior to any currently existing - minimising waste and maximising progress and prosperity for all - but my plans do not include mechanisms for maintaining the system itself. Such mechanisms would have to be improvised - and would in all probability be improvised much as Lenin's were.

My ideal government being smaller and lighter than Lenin's, the ad-hoc instruments of "state security" would have an even easier job of coming to dominate the whole.

So here I sit, in the midst of waste and ignorance, attempting to chip away here and there at the very worst of what Western Democracy is producing. It is a depressing vision, as the more succesful our society is, the more waste it can afford, so the cost of politics trends ever upwards. But our lives are improving, and will continue to do so. The brakes on progress are enormously frustrating, but the best we can do is spread the ideas - the key idea that goverment is mainly waste and the less of it the better - to reduce the cost of maintaining the political system.

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