Changing the current structure... or not.
This has been stewing for some time now. It's likely to be stewing for quite a while yet, but I thought I'd at least list the ingredients that are bubbling on the back burner and see what kind of responses I get.
What prompted this was a comment by gjohnsit "What I find interesting is that no one who disagrees with me is coming out and saying, 'So what? I don't believe in changing the current social/economic structure.'" Any resemblance to the original thread is tangential; it was the word structure that kicked my thoughts off. Thanks, gjohnsit.
What started if off was this thread back in January. Well, probably before that, but it was the first time I'd ever tried to put most of it in writing. Please take the time to read it (or not - it's fairly long and rather densely packed), and then follow me below to take a look at various pieces of the puzzle.
A caveat: I am not asserting the following as "truth", only as factors that I am looking at in trying to make sense of the problem. Feel free to go after them - though I would appreciate solid counter-examples. If you have additional items that ought to go into the stew, please propose them.
1. Government is, first and foremost, a means of concentrating power, either for the purposes of the governors, or the purposes of the governed, or both. However a government is constituted, it of necessity channels power into the hands of a minority of the polity. How that minority is chosen, and what processes (if any) act to keep its purposes aligned with those of the majority, constitute most of the variations which can be defined between different systems.
2. Because it represents a concentration of power, positions among the governors will be targeted by those who seek power - for themselves, for the people they represent if they identify sufficiently with them, for the promotion of strongly held ideals or visions of the future. We have no tests which can effectively measure anyone's ability to handle power once they have it, which introduces a wild variable into any selection process.
3. The larger the polity, the less likely it is that any particular candidate for an office will actually be capable of being a true representative of that polity, or any section of that polity. Further, the problems which a government, as an entity, must deal are necessarily going to vary from those problems which are normally encountered by individuals outside the government.
4. Human beings are not angels. Or saints. Or inherently evil. Any attempt to impose a standard of morality on real, live human beings is not only doomed to failure, it is likely to create a public fiction of morality under the guise of which blatant hypocrisy hides itself. Rules of Ethics are, marginally, more productive.
5. We want transparency from our governors, and privacy for the governed. But the case for individual privacy cannot be made unless we are willing to provide it for all individuals, including those to whom we have given power. And nobody wants to tackle both sides of the argument.
6. Governments, corporations and other business entities, trade and professional associations, unions, guilds, extended families, religious institutions, political ideologies, etc., all have as their base purpose to provide at least the possibility of increased security, in the context of an unpredictable future, for their members. It's true whether the organization is nominally conservative or not. Even those organizations that directly promote destabilization do it on the premise that increased stability will, somehow, follow.
7. Long term real solutions, no matter how well presented, are likely to prove useless unless they contain mechanisms to change themselves as the problems they are countering change. The test of a real solution is always after the fact - that it will create new problems during and/or after its implementation. This is probably the best argument for incrementalism.
I don't believe in changing the current social/economic structure. True. In the same way that I don't "believe" in climate change, when there's data to point to that obviates the necessity for belief. The current social/economic structure is changing fairly rapidly on its own, and has been for all the centuries that human beings have gathered in groups large enough to have one.
What I want to see is a structure which gives us (all of us) a better chance of surviving into a very uncertain future. But I don't know that it's compatible with a species that, as a whole, tends to opt for "promise that I, and mine, will survive, and I'll back you". Perhaps what is needed is a government composed of truly solitary individuals; childless, without family ties, without strong commitment to a faith or ideology. Perhaps we need a massively random way of choosing our governing minority, who would not, then, be our direct representatives, and could avoid that particular trap entirely (while bringing up new and different ones).
In the meantime, though, while the pot bubbles on the back burner (and I keep voting to get Democrats elected), I want to see what the current status quo manages to accomplish. Keep in mind, please, that my use of "status quo" includes all the groups who are both pro and anti pretty much everything, rather than being just another term for "corporate oligarchy".