Friday, August 12, 2005

Considering Good Intentions

Why do you blog…whether by maintaining your own site, responding with comments, simply reading others’ posts or a combination of the three? Chances are, the answer is not unlike mine. I want: an outlet through which to express my thoughts, to become further educated and to engage in substantive discussions. Thus far, I’ve not been disappointed.

A recent example would be the debate that resulted from one of my latest offerings. From that comment thread, another lively discussion commenced at Eric’s Grumbles. Essentially, the arguments over there sprang from Eric’s main conclusion:

Holding yourself, and every other individual, responsible for moral and immoral behavior is much the harder path. But it is the only path that acknowledges the reality of human behavior, which is that morality is the province of the individual.

With that in mind, I want to mention a very good blog that I’ve just become aware of, which has recently explored similar subject matter. Kyle Bennett of Human Advancement, in an interesting post entitled: Damning the State, analyzes the state, its constituents and a possible solution to its attendant problems.

The state, like any other abstract collection of people, is not an independently existent entity, it is an aggregate of the decisions and actions of individuals. As such, it does not have any power, ability, or interests beyond those of the individuals comprising it. The state, and I'm now referring specifically to the Federal State under which I live, is made up of some very bad people, some very good people, and the vast middle of honestly well-intentioned people with no clue about what is really good or how to achieve it.

I couldn’t agree more. But I wonder: which is more responsible for the marked erosions of freedom…the bad or the oblivious? The bad are, typically, well known by their words and deeds. The well-intentioned oblivious, however, inadvertently do harm by empowering the state to be “a force for good”, which comes at the expense of individual liberty. For as my pal Ape Snake wrote: Everyone says they hate pork barreling but history shows that the backlash against politicians who clobber voters with their own money will consist of three people per county. That being the case, what’s the solution? Well, Kyle Bennett offers a fairly pragmatic one:

If your preferred state of the union is smashed, then you should realize that you will never acquire a hammer big enough to smash it - not politically, not rhetorically, and not through force of arms. If you want to escape it, then realize that your only possible escape is solitude, and even that is an iffy proposition.

If you want to remove the evil of the state from your society, then you'd better start making distinctions.

Until you break the hold that evil has on the good intentions of your fellow man, you will not break the hold that evil has on your society. You cannot do that until you first realize that they are good intentions, and that they are good. Your cry of "smash the state" in response to every action of the state, good or bad without distinction, is seen, and rightly so, as opposition to good intentions. If you want to smash the state, then start filling the philosophical vacuum that allows evil to turn those good intentions to its own end.

Don't try to convince your well-intentioned fellow man to abandon the state. Instead show him to what ends his good intentions should be put - the ends, not the means. Give him the tools to see that the state is inherently in conflict with his good intentions, and he will remove from evil's grasp the power of his good intentions without your prompting. Then the state will wither on the vine.