Sunday, 20 March 2016

Total government and the toxic collective

The global trend towards total government appears to be creating a vast network of increasingly powerful collectives. Collectives benefit their members because that’s the point of them, but there is a fundamental problem with collectives which take more they give - people are drawn to them.

From a broad perspective collectives are clubs, associations, committees, villages, towns, cities, companies, countries, governments, political parties, trade unions, churches, trade blocs, charities, NGOs, the EU, the UN etc etc. Collectives exist to benefit their members but so often they create a social and political imbalance between those who give and those who take.

There are also more complex linked collectives such as homeowners and banks. Both collectives benefit from high house prices. Homeowners hope to acquire an asset worth more than they paid  while bankers rake in the inflated mortgages. Both groups are takers while involuntary givers are outsiders who cannot afford a mortgage, often young working people.

Another complex linked collective recently surfaced when George Osborne introduced his brand new sugary fizz tax, one of Jamie Oliver's favourite virtue signals. The tax is unlikely to achieve anything in terms of health but will certainly boost the healthy living collective and build yet another trough for high caste chair polishers. Thanks for that Jamie.

Collective trough-building is a fundamental aspect of the human condition, one we never resolved. Instead we tried to make a virtue of it by inventing a range of more or less dishonest political strategies to keep the show on the road - the endless complexities of total government.

A key problem seems to be one of scale where the larger the collective the easier it is to obscure what is being done in its name. A teacher paid from the public purse may give more that he or she receives while a CEO of a large private company may take far more than he or she gives. It’s a problem with blurred boundaries, but not a problem where there are no boundaries.

The richer and more powerful a collective, the more likely it is to attract takers. On the whole, collectives funded by the public purse attract takers. This is so obvious and so easily observed that any political philosophy which doesn’t take it into account is bound to founder on the rocks of human behaviour. As they so often do.

We can’t all be takers, so sooner or later the game will break and the fantastic complexities of total government will have to be be simplified. Low caste takers will be prevented from taking.


James Higham said...

And so the world turns, sickeningly, on its axis.

Demetrius said...

My problem is that I always seem to be on the losing side. Perhaps I should join the right collective.

wiggiatlarge said...

I loved the way Oliver in his first post sugar tax interview said , "i didn't think I would get this" , perhaps he could stand for parliament the next time he advocates something on our behalf, or perhaps we should put a punitive tax on all his cookbooks that contain recipes with large amounts of sugar.

Odius mockney non chef publicity seeking.........................

A K Haart said...

James - it's unstoppable in my view.

Demetrius - you may have to leave your conscience at the door though.

Wiggia - someone on the web claimed they had torn out high sugar recipes from one of his books and posted them too him.