The Fragility of Good Government – Free Ebook

It’s an enormous and very rare privilage, to have lived in the days of good government. Across nations and centuries, few people have ever done so. By rare bit of luck, certain groups, in a few corners of the globe, tasted decades of this remarkable, anomalous blessing. They might, foolishly, especially if they’ve travelled little, seldom read history books, or had a very high estimation of their own populations. They might even had started to assume, it was a natural, or God-given norm. Yet, the default state of almost all nations, is quite other. It is, authoritarianism, bullying, demagoguery, corruption, monopoly, racial segregation, and state sponsored agression and murder. We will not now, it seems, be living in dramatically unusual times, It was the years before, that will be remembered as unusual. A daring bet against the facts of our nature. We aren’t sliding into a new age of darkness, we are a reverting to a mean. Civilization was always, simply, an unlikely concept. Those who were afraid, are typically reassured, by optimism. “All will, eventually, be well.”, the kindly tell them. But we need stiffer, darker, counsel. We should explore, not what might ideally happen, which leaves us oscillating painfully between hope and despair, but what will happen, if the worst comes to pass, we need to make ourselves entirely at home with catastrophe. Looking at it squarely in the eye, so is not to keep catching glimpses of it here and there, and so taking fright and new every time. We stand to see that what ever comes to pass, will in a desperately reduced and pitiful form, still be survivable. A home could be built among the ruins, there might be some sort of life to be led, despite everything, nothing is ever, properly unbearable. Not least, because we always retain access to the best escape route. The Stoic philosophers of ancient Rome, those poor souls, agitated beyond compare by the antics of their hysterical, thin-skinned, murderous emperors, would known to calm them selves down, by holding up their veins to the light, and calling out “Freedom!”, knowing it could, if it came to that, all be over in minutes. We shouldn’t be surprised, by our fellow citizens, this is what the human animal is really like. Very sweet at points from close-up, usually generous to small children, and the elderly, hard working, but highly prone to delusion, tribal, offended by strangers, uninclined to rational analysis, and with the fondness for slaughter, and reckless messianic plans. The elite routinely derided out of touch, and not so on the basis of forgetting how much milk or the rent costs, rather on the basis of forgetting, how dark and broken human nature really is. There’s a natural longing to do something quickly and angrily, there’s an equal longing to give up and hide, the council of quietism. Neither feels quite right, neither endurance nor explotion. The only true avenue, is to commit ourselves to years of careful adroit plotting, to bring about a renewal of that now evermore implausible dream, a land governed, for a little while longer, by a spirit as fragile as crystal, of wisdom and tolerance.

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