The next (to last) in a continuing series (most recently: The End of History).
Submitted by Free Radical
The Final Form of Human Government
Man is not only the most individual being on earth; he is also the most social being.
– Mikhail Bakunin
As Donne reminds us, No man is an island, at least if he attains to the order, the harmony – that “pleasing combination of the elements” – for which he naturally yearns. Alone against the elements, man is as nothing, scratching out an existence unfit for his kind and indeed destructive of it, selfless because, in having no others with whom to associate, no true self exists. But in that convivium – that “living together” – a self emerges, or at least the reflection of a self, into which he gazes and through which he begins not only to act but to act human, the goal of which is always the satisfaction of the acting man’s desires. And that, as we have said, is the source and sustenance of the social enterprise:
Society is concerted action, cooperation … the outcome of conscious and purposeful behavior. … Individual man is born into a socially organized environment. In this sense alone we may accept the saying that society is – logically and historically – antecedent to the individual. In every other sense this dictum is either empty or nonsensical. The individual lives and acts within society. But society is nothing but the combination of individuals for cooperative effort.
In seeing that it was out of this cooperative effort that civil society’s Twin Pillars – money and law – evolved, it is clear that in order for “the final form of human government” to indeed be final (inasmuch as humanity remains subject to material scarcity and thus to the demands of homo economicus), gold and the golden rule must be put back on their foundations. They must be returned to their rightful owners, that is, leaving us with one last question so far as societal governance is concerned. For in debunking the state, including and especially the “democratic” state, it would appear that we have debunked democracy as well, and that the collapse of the democratic state therefore means the death of democracy. On the contrary, however, the collapse of the democratic state will mean the birth of genuine democracy. For as the mechanism whose modus operandi is compulsion and coercion is displaced by the organism whose modus vivendi is voluntary cooperation, democracy in the form of majority rule will give way to democracy in the form of individual rule. That is, the individual, as a sovereign unto himself, will rule over himself, the devolutionary process rendering the fraud of representative/ constitutional democracy null and void amid the flowering of a participatory, and thus truly social, democracy rooted in a negative – i.e., non-interventionist – rule of law.
It will be market democracy, in other words, and while everyone will not have the same number of “votes” – i.e., the same amount of purchasing power – the tendency will be in this direction, as the enormous, state-induced disparities between rich and poor narrow over time (even as vastly more wealth is created) and society moves toward a state of equilibrium that is steady not because it doesn’t change but because it changes steadily, spontaneously generating more and more order.
Will it be utopia? Yes, and emphatically so, for the simple reason that “Utopianism is compatible with everything but determinism,” which is to say, with everything but the state. And as the state atrophies, we can therefore expect utopia – “nowhere” – to appear first here, then there, in this form and that, at once experimental and experiential, until it is everywhere, evolving as one, under the direction of no one and everyone at the same time, and doing so, again, without limit:
Since man is always acting, he must always be engaged in trying to attain the greatest height on his value scale, whatever the type of choice under consideration. There must always be room for improvement in his value scale; otherwise all of man’s wants would be perfectly satisfied, and action would disappear. Since this cannot be the case, it means that there is always open to each actor the prospect of improving his lot, of attaining a value higher than he is giving up, i.e., of making a psychic profit.”
How much “psychic profit” is humanity capable of generating? If there “must always be room for improvement in his value scale,” how much room can man, in that convivium, make? Given that he does not live by bread alone, how far beyond bread can man live? How far beyond the margin of subsistence, in other words, can he in fact go?
We conclude this series with an answer that could well be as probable as it is seemingly impossible, the title of which we withhold with a wink, a nod, and profound thanks for the service that this extraordinary site provides to the cause of human freedom and thus to humanity itself.
You go, Tyler.
i Robert Nisbet, The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order and Freedom, ICS Press, 1990 (Oxford University, 1953), pp. 90 and 91.