Friday, October 24, 2008

Social Contract

As I was reading Chris Floyd's post today where he refers to a Tacitus quote about how rapaciousness and greed of the powerful are referred to as government, I thought about some of what he's written in the past about the "common good". Most recently, Chris Floyd wrote a piece he discussed how the government has not been used for the "common good". I also remembered a piece I read yesterday by Chris Hedges about the same topic. Also, this corruption of government by powerful interests is not a new Bush-created phenomena, as writers such as Greg Palast have documented. In fact, use of government for the personal aggrandizement and enrichment of the already powerful has been the norm throughout history.

I couldn't help but come to the conclusion that in fact, government is the only viable method for enacting the "common good" that Floyd, Hedges, and other Leftists writers espouse (Left as in socialist in their economics to one degree or another for egalitarian goals and belief in some form of beneficent management of society to keep "greed" from taking over). No other organization even makes sense as they are all exclusive of much of the population. Church groups, unions, guilds, business associations, etc. all at best represent limited cross-sections of society and more likely just members of the individual organizations. Without an organization, the "common good" cannot manifest itself into anything other than just everyone in a society yelling out all their desires at one another.

That's what the "common good" is after all, the desires of society, whether the desire for food, shelter and sleep to keep alive or for rich cultural traditions to fulfill needs and wants not directly related to base survival. All of these desires are generated on an individual level, even ones that are widely shared, such as the national health-care program that is widely espoused on the Left. Most want it because they cannot afford health insurance themselves or out of a so-called desire to aid the needy (so-called because they everyone else to pay rather sacrifice themselves and help the needy). But to stay on topic, if the government, the only organization that can impose on society the social contract to provide the "common good", is corrupt now, in the past and most likely in the future, should not this concept of the "common good" be rethought? After all, if the only force that can enforce the "common good" is normally, if not exclusively, used for the base desires of power and wealth by those who control it, could that not indicate such power may be inherently dangerous?

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