When I write on various subjects I tend to write variations on a theme. I find that life is one variation after another on common themes we live. When it comes to economics I love to point out that despite all the mathematical gyrations the fact of the matter is that much of modern economics is based on flawed assumptions. If Adam Smith wrote of the Invisible Hand it was one of metaphor and not spiritual reality. Of course there are those psychologists and sociologists who love to speak of a mob mentality as if a group of individuals who were gathered together loosely in a group would share some common extra mentality. Such a thing does not exist and I would refer the reader to one of the best experts on group behavior, Rupert Brown. The fact that a group of individuals who are, more or less anonymous while in a group of sufficient size can act independently and yet appear to be coordinated as a whole does not prove the existence of a group mind or mentality. We may act in a manner that we would normally eschew when we are more or less anonymous situation. If we have not fear of being identified and hence caught we may act in a manner that is considered highly felonious.
But back to economics and the Invisible Hand that so many economic professors profess exists. We, as individuals, are not particularly irrational in our actions even though many behavioralist economist state is the truth. The common argument is that there is logical behavior, that is, behavior that is logical due competent human thought patterns, while most individuals tend to be illogical in their thought patterns due to any number of bias or other illogical assumptions. But that assumption is based on individuals acting in logical ways according to formal logical propositions one finds in introduction to logic text books. But individuals rarely act in a formal logical manner. We do not take pen and paper and do the Venn diagrams or the If P, then not P is false type of algebra (my keyboard does not have the negation symbol). But what we do learn from our living are things like rules of thumb and other “logical” shortcuts. Survival so often depends not on formal logic but on those wonderful short cuts we call heuristics. If something looks like a snake or other threat we rarely spend much time investigating the thing for the simple reason that if we did we might be dead before finding out that what we perceived as danger was actually danger. Better safe than sorry. Do you detect a variation of on a theme, one of personal survival?
The same occurs when we start thinking about political situations and solutions. Until recently, society has resisted the temptation of something for nothing when it comes to expectations about government. Because our government in its rise from the defeat of the British Monocacy relied on two principles: the first being skin in the game, only those who owned property or had sufficient income could vote; and two, we were a Christian political society even if we outlawed government supported religion, we relied on charity and self reliance. The great Protestant religions that tended to informally govern individual social relationships also informally govern political outlooks. The idea that an individual should be reliant on his or her government for the bread in his mouth, the clothes on her back, and the roof over their collective heads was a very abhorrent sentiment. We expected individuals to do for themselves. And if the children of such citizens did not have access to the cornucopia of the average citizen, then charity would prevail, not the largess of the government. Indeed, the intrusion of government, big or small, was to be abhorred as the intrusion into a man’s sole. A liberal government was one that guaranteed equality before the bar of law, not equalness in all worldly things.
So what has happened? The progressive attitude that propelled the abolitionists of slavery applied their same logic to the consumption of Alcohol. Slavery was considered a sin, not a political wrong. From that moral viewpoint came to association that the sale of alcohol was a moral wrong and should be banned for the good of the society and the individual. Sin was the base, not political wrong. Then came the other progressive assumptions, that the individual did not always know what was best for himself, that his judgment was suspect. Ah, now we have sin mixed with political wrongs. And as religion was deemed to be far less effective in the salvation of mankind, then political salvation was needed for the perfection of society. The religion of the spirit was to be replaced by the religion of right political thought. Just as the priests and high priests knew best for the spiritually religious flock, the leadership of those progressive movements knew best for the religiously political flock. It is a given that we should be governed by our betters, after all, didn’t Thomas Jefferson say just that sentiment? Thus Hillary Clinton may have had a book ghost written about an African proverb, It takes a village to raise a child but no village will be permitted to have any say in raising Chelsea, her daughter.
Do you detect a variation on a theme and its change? We went from stand on your own two feet to do not as I do but as I say. We have gone from a spirit of individual independence to one of dependence on the government and its overseers. I do believe I detect an air of slavery in the liberal progressive movement. But how could that be, slavery is wrong, isn’t it? Ah, Grasshopper, you have forgotten one of the tenets of justification of slavery from the 12th century and beyond. You see, those people who are enslaved are enslaved because they do not possess the ability to make the correct decisions for themselves and their best interests. But isn’t that the liberal progressive thought about the citizens of countries under their influence should be treated? Don’t worry, it’s just another variation on a theme.