Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Everybody wants to rule the world

Heinlein aptly describes politics as deriving from two perspectives: those that desire more centralised government control (stasists) and those who desire to minimize the role of governance in favour of individual freedoms and responsibility (dynamists). Here is a thought-provoking discussion about the lethargy with which most people accept administrative controls and constraints in their everyday lives.

It concludes with this message: If you don't like being controlled by others, then you have to resist control. Don't be afraid to pitch a fit, to bureaucrats, politicians, clerks, or anyone else that wants you to just shut up and take it. Otherwise, they see no reason to alter their desires to control your life.

It is an article that resonates deeply with me as it reflects many of my own ideals.

The QandO blog gets a lot of comments and this article provoked a range of responses, including one from a reader who (it appears) wanted to both show off her own intellectual superiority and dismiss the commentary itself with a fairly presumptive put-down. Trouble is, many bloggers don't blog because they can't publish elsewhere but because they genuinely prefer the media and the control they retain. So when faced with the academic snobbery of the first comment, a reply is posted that is quite delightful in its tenor and meaning: not only had the blogger read what the commentator was chastising him for ignoring, he has signed limited edition copies of the book and personal knowledge of the recommended author.

The irony is of course that the original post is about control and the desire intellectuals have to impose constraints and limits on the conduct of others. Here is a simple example of real knowledge exceeding the presumptive knowledge of the academic.

The moral? Keep intellectuals far, far away from the realities of politics. If we must have politicians, let them be the used car salesmen and others versed in the vagaries of human desires and behaviour, and not the abstract theoreticians who have "our best interest" in mind while they act to curtail, control and limit all that interests us.