Structure always needed in society

By Tibor Machan: Freedom New Mexico columnist

It has been my experience that people who take politics seriously tend to want to have their idea of a good or just system of laws fully implemented. Yet these people aren’t ignorant about the poor prospects of achieving their goal. Unless a society is being ruled by some incredibly powerful individual or tight-knit group, the public policies and laws will be a reflection of a hodgepodge of ideas, principles, objectives and so forth.

No such mixed system is likely to remain in place for very long because the percentage of those who favor some one way of doing things will keep fluctuating. No sooner will a population emerge with a certain number of socialists, communists, libertarians, monarchists, theocrats and whatever combination of these can be conceived, another one will replace it, one with different percentages exerting influence over laws and public policies.

Nonetheless, despite the truth of the above, it is not futile to strive to bring about the correct, proper, truly just political-economic order. The reason is that the prospect of getting things right about how people ought to live together in their communities is so vital that the mere but real possibility of its actualization makes the striving worth it all. One way to see this is to think of it as a pursuit that is worth undertaking because were it to come to full fruition, nothing much greater could be achieved.

Sometimes this outlook is deemed to be idealistic or utopian, a virtual guarantee of failure. And, yes, failure is more likely than not, although even the bits of success in this or that human community, for a more or less lengthy period of time, is by no means negligible. And without making the effort to bring about a just society, even such partial accomplishments are going to be absent from most human communities. Just as one’s regular exercise routine undertaken reasonably frequently will not make one perfectly fit or healthy, it will do much more than nothing.

It is important to come to terms with all this in mixed systems such as those that dominate most of the developed world. It is coming to terms with these points and following their practical implications that has made the beneficial development of that world possible. So for those who might be tempted to become discouraged with where the fight for liberty is headed, just now it should be pointed out that even a little bit of progress (or prevention of regress) is significant. Yes, the statists are making headway toward re-establishing a coercively run society in many parts of the world, but those who understand how destructive this is need not despair. They need to keep in mind that without their vigilance statism would be far more extensive than it is. So they need to keep it up, and not relent, ever.