What I have in common with the Left.
Much as the left, I look for inspiration to people and concepts from foreign and exotic places.
The 1930’s saw the rise of communism as a theoretically pure expression of the hope of mankind. Equality for all, (in American words) the freedom to pursue happiness. In their words to work at what you were best suited to. As is always the case it was sad to see human nature creep in and destroy the theory. Stalin comes to mind, as do relocation and reeducation camps. Purges and mass killings and mass graves. The left at first fell in love with the theory, they tended to dismiss the atrocities committed under the Red Banner. They would not fall into that trap they were different. They could make it work.
As a conservative I too have a theory. It is as lofty in it’s aims and claims as the left‘s theory. In fact we both claim to want the same ultimate goals. The happiness and well being of the individual. My theory when given full power to achieve it’s goals falls far short also. It falls to the iron fist of corruption also. It has resulted in mass killings and all sorts of atrocities also. I too as my left leaning friends do, tend to sweep that thought away as somehow not relevant to the current situation. That’s one thing we have in common, we are sure our paths are right and that we will not make the mistakes of the past.
I would here like to make the case that the one crucial thing our failures have had in common is that when we in our zeal let the power be concentrated in a few hands (to more efficeintly use that power) at the upper level of government that power corrupts whatever system we set up to fulfill our theories. The very concept of concentrated power unchecked looking out for the individual is an oxymoron. I have always struggled back and forth with that issue. In business I always thought that the model of complete control as the most efficient. One decision maker deciding and every body else concentrating on fulfilling that decision. That old philosopher king idea. Business makes that model work, but only with the club of free enterprise. All companies use that model, however only those that produce what the people want to buy succeed. The bottom line is the “bottom up” iron fist of the consumer. Who is after all freely working in the pursuit of their happiness. The business’ that don’t produce what the consumer wants no matter how efficiently they are run, are soon out of business.
In government and it’s people side, politics; the iron fist of the voters in democracies and the “people” in totalitarian regimes through elections or revolution, eventually bubbles from the bottom up to make their wishes known replacing that which is not helping them in their pursuit of happiness.
The point is top down government doesn’t work simply due to human nature. In a democracy when one party concentrates power they start to lose touch with the people that elected them, and become more concerned about keeping that power and the easiest way to do that is to keep enlarging that power.
This is the contradiction inherent in government. Neither side has the ultimate answer because the ultimate answer doesn’t lie in government. It lies in ourselves. Our government is there only to help free us to decide for ourselves what we think we wish to do. They are there to do the mundane things like fix pot holes. Repel invaders. Not to give us happiness. How do they know what will make me happy. I expect them to make it possible for me to do what I think is best for me. Not for them to decide that for me. I forget that for that to happen, I have a responsibility to be a part of that. What that part is, is my struggle. Doing that whatever it is when mixed with all the other peoples decisions simmers and cooks in the cauldren of democracy making the majority better off. Because they are the ones deciding by majority. I may be bitterly dissappointed at times but if I was able to give it my best shot then I can live with it, as I go on to the next battle.
At this point in time when the people are bubbling up their anger at the Republicans for failing prey to the corruption of power, I look to foreign and exotic lands for inspiration. Much as other struggling democracies have looked to us, overlooking our shortcomings to guide their thoughts. The British and their concepts of the Modern Conservative movement is giving me inspiration. The idea of Bottom Up Governing is as old as democracy yet as new young energetic faces behind it in Britain. In the never ending cycle of “power corrupting” that makes “bums” out of our best leaders and ideas, only through democracy do the people have the best chance to throw those “Bums” out.
I thought of changing the title of this blog to “What the Theories of the Left and Right have in common”, I decided not to as I realized that for politics to work it has to be personal. We not only have to realize how our leaders can become corrupted by power, but that we also share their weakness.
Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative.
PS. Please see my side bar titled "Update Across the Pond" for links to the Bristish Modern Conservative Movement.