Political Power: A Force for Evil, A Force for Good
by David Sims
THE QUESTION was asked: “Since evil people seek and abuse political power, why should political power even exist?” You might as validly ask why universities and research institutes should exist. Since mankind, in general, is composed of persons who are insufficiently intelligent to hold positions as scientists or as teachers of science, does it follow that all universities or research institutes must be staffed and run by stupid people? No. It does not. Why not? Because the qualifications of persons who apply for those positions are checked by other persons who can pass the same admissions tests with room to spare.
To be sure, there are imitation institutions that pretend to be scientific but are not, whose staff members pretend to be qualified as scientists, but are not. These pretenders are easily recognized as promoters of theology or of social ideology, however much they prattle about “science.”
Likewise, it isn’t impossible for power to be held in good hands. It’s just that those who seek it are mostly bad people. On the other hand, and distinctly different from the essential nature of other jobs, political power works by a kind of natural logic — if we let it, and don’t stymie it with systems like “democracy” and others.
A bogus academic can be kicked out of his job. But a bad government is much more difficult to get rid of, and the problem of bad people coming to power is aggravated, not remedied, by systems of choosing whom the rulers shall be.
Any system that you put into place to reserve the offices of power to the good seekers and to deny them to the bad seekers will be gamed by the latter, so that in practice the system works contrary to the intentions of those who created it.
The only remedy that I can see is for the “system” to be the one that Nature itself devised, which works by the laws of Nature that no one has the power to game. Then you will have bad leaders and good leaders, both, but the good will occur in a larger proportion of instances. Let good, therefore, take weapons unto itself and gird itself for war. Let it do battle with evil and not be ashamed.
Yet, the good will not always prevail, but it will win more frequently than has been the case with “systems” that evil people, always clever cheaters and breakers of rules, never fail of subverting.
Power, however it is constituted in a society, attracts disgusting, immoral, ambitious sociopaths. Dictatorships do. Republics do. Democracies do. Power is to ambition as sugar is to flies. The only difference made by the form of government is the methods that the sociopaths must use to gain power.
But not all ambitions are evil. There is such a thing as a lofty mind, holding ambitions that are artistic rather than selfish. Among the ambitions that can exist is the ambition to treat one’s race as one would treat a garden, i.e., in such a way that it can be as fruitful as might be possible. More: in such a way that it can, over time, become even more potentially fruitful than it is now.
The existence of any seat of power draws the attention of ambitious people. Their ambitions might be selfish in 90% or so of cases. But political ambition can also be grand, a wanting to see the doing of meritorious mighty deeds. It might be to see humanity spread among the planets of distant stars. It might be to see the improvement of humankind on Earth.
Ambition, in other words, doesn’t have to be foul. It usually is. But not always.
Education cannot solve this problem. Educated people will be the source of the corruption. Being educated does not mean that one adheres to principles that require one to forswear using coercive powers, or using them in an evil manner. Educated people are often ignorant of true morality. Educated people will tell themselves that someone or other will gain and use such powers, and that they can, by gaining those powers themselves, “safeguard” them. Then one opportunity after another arises in which the difference between safeguarding and self-interest is more than a little blurred.
Better an honest despot, I think. Better a Hitler, who wanted a strong Germany and a healthy, prosperous German people — who did want the Jews (whose country Germany was not) to leave — even if he did have some people shot for defiance or for deviance.
Our own governments differ with despotism mostly in the fact that their corruption is hidden; their methods are dishonest; their words are lies — and their intentions toward their proper national stock are more malicious than anything Hitler ever intended with his own people.
I suppose that we may base our preferences upon our beliefs. But forms of government should be chosen by empirical methods. A dictatorship is often very bad, but it can be otherwise — if the dictator happens to be someone who regards his people as his family, by whom he hopes to do well, or even as his garden, which he means to grow as well as he can.
You are more likely to have a good dictator in a monoracial country in which the dictator arose from among its native race. You are more likely to have a bad dictator if the dictator is racially a foreigner.
* * *