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touch of painted curls
the balance of acceptance and sacrifice 
26th-Feb-2004 01:26 am
I often avoid writing about politics. I dislike problems where the solution seems obvious but cannot be implemented. I speak in general, not specifically. And I'm more than willing to take things a bit far, to see where they go. These are questions. Patience requested. End of disclaimer.

It's generally acknowledged that there are no true democracies, and a good thing. So we mix in some hierarchy, and the more we add, the less democratic. But the recipe needs it. And maybe it's an elite, if not a dictator. Maybe it's elected. There's the idea that leaders should have the consent of the governed, but of course people can't make the decisions themselves. Everyone knows this.

But that's reality, and I care more for theory. Suppose the feedback loop were not so slow. Maybe the fickle balance of public opinion and media is more democracy than the votes ever will be. It's quick. It's sensationalism, it's stupid, but it's the people. What if the truth is that people govern themselves or not at all? What if progress is derived from the will and constitution of the people? Or what if a good shepherd leading people as sheep really works better?

Let's take it further. Say I'm not convinced of democracy. I don't think it's been tested. I'd like to see how it does, if and when, eventually. Then we might answer some questions. Assume sometimes "right" is objective, that a majority decision is not by definition nor always what's best for the group, so we might answer this: What do you do when the majority is wrong? When nine or all of ten vote to burn the witch? Pick an atrocity. How many can you write off as the cost of civilization?

Secession or emmigration is one solution. I believe in that, to a point. Only pity for the bird who insists the lion's den is its home. If there is support, find it. But there are times to stay, and there are some who can't run far enough. I believe there are human rights that should be universal. I want to see that realized. Regrouping may help progress, but it is not a solution, not the one I'm looking for.

We have some mandates, old and slow to change, for better and for worse. We have arbitrary percentages and terms. If we can't choose well, we choose often. Give chaos more or less room to maneuver, depending on your faith. Shake things up, and see what weathers the sea and froth to shore. You may still want to throw it back.

That may be all we can do. Any system can put a good leader in power, and no method is guaranteed to avoid another Hitler. Maybe we're just looking for a fight with good odds. Maybe the house wins either way.

Civilization is a fight to make stability. Sometimes the fight isn't interesting. "Screw a fair shot," says the mother protecting her child. Try to argue with the grizzly bear. At the breaking point the only answer is: as much as it takes. The balance of acceptance and sacrifice.

I distrust an elite as much as I don't trust the people at large to do what's best. I do trust my judgement for myself, and I trust the friends I choose. Is that enough? Can you build a society on that model? Maybe it has to be. Maybe it cannot.

I believe civilization advances at the hands of groups who learn to work the system. Maybe cheat a bit, maybe bend the rules. The ones who can act bigger than they are. The one who can hold back an army, if it's here and now. I'm not one, but I respect them. I tip my hat to miss media, advertising, teachers, family and friends of influence, writers like you.

Despite all the cynicism, I like what we have. I like people. I really do. I like civilization. I like losing myself in big societies, I like belonging in small ones. I'll take it with its faults, deal me in. And I still believe "they can't get inside you". Maybe they will, someday, but not today.
25th-Feb-2004 11:15 pm (UTC)
Much thanks to sutelae, nezchan, and chryssaliss for listening and comments already. :)
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