[personal profile] barking_iguana
We will not accept Lord of the Flies as a defense against 1984. Nor will we accept 1984 as a defense against Lord of the Flies. It doesn't matter whether oppression comes from something that calls itself a government.

The only defense against both Lord of the Flies *and* 1984 is a government strong and active enough to prevent oppression by others, but restrained by custom and law and committed to serving the people who grant it sovereignty. That includes mitigating the effects of oppressive power imbalances that are intrinsic to any complex society.

We have a government that has done a somewhat decent job of that at times, and was getting steadily better through much of the last century. That time ended about when I became an adult, and before many of you have first-hand political memories, so it may seem like a fairy tale. But it happened, and people's lives are vastly better and longer because of it. And there remain many ways the government still acts as a real check on the abuse by the powerful.

When all we focus on is the shortcomings of the government--when we take for granted and do not praise its successes, we undermine the political viability of the very notion of a government that is an agent of the people. We let its political profile be defined by those who want to get it out of the way, so they can increase their exploitation. That is the great mistake of the left.

The single most critical factor that will decide whether power grows more fair or less is whether people feel that of course it should grow better and it is some sort of offense against what we should expect that it is not. On the other hand, if you teach people that abuse is just the way things are and maybe some day we'll have a revolution to fix it, you will get Russia.
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