In the comments recently I did a brief bit of battle with the "government is just a word for all of us working together" shibboleth.
…which made me think of one of my favorite posts here at Popehat. Well, perhaps "favorite" is the wrong term.
Five years ago Patrick Non-White dusted off his Mark II outrage rifle , stuck in a large-capacity magazine of bile, and racked the slide.
I am on the record as hating most government.
Note that this is not because I think that most people serving in government are evil. I think that most people, in most cultures, and across most times, are more-or-less decent. The problem is best analyzed with systems theory, and best fixed with the same tool.
The government-run horror show that killed Castaneda wasn't because there were mustache-twirling villains; it happened because dozens of people were "just doing their jobs".
Every day Pakistani children are killed by US drones. On my best days I'll say that the folks in DC aren't evil baby killers, the staffers at the DoD aren't evil baby killers, the engineers at Boeing aren't evil baby killers, and the USAF drone pilots aren't evil baby killers. They're all just normal human beings doing their jobs…as part of a huge and grotesque machine that kills people.
Every day young adults are arrested for possession of minor amounts of pot, sent to jail, and gang raped. On my best days I'll say that this doesn't happen because the politicians writing anti-drug laws are in favor of anal rape, or because beat cops are in favor of anal rape, or because wardens are in favor of anal rape or because prison staff are in favor of anal rape. They're all just normal human beings doing their jobs…as part of a huge and grotesque machine that arrests people for possessing leaves of a plant and puts them in rape factories.
The list goes on and on.
Normal people are perfectly capable of being cogs in machines that engage in madness, if not evil. When pressed, these normal people tend to fall back on the phrase "just doing my job" and a hand-waving version of the just world logical fallacy.
Arguing that we shouldn't be outraged at government because "it's just us" is one of the worst lies we tell ourselves.
Frankenstein's monster was stitched together out of people like us. Nazi Germany was stitched together out of people like us. Mao's PRC was stitched together out of people like us.
And though it's not as bad, the US government is still pretty nasty, and it too is stitched together out of people like us.
There are a lot of reasons you're going to say I'm wrong. Most of them are covered here, but I'm interested in hearing any others.
Last 5 posts by Clark
- An Election is Simply a Festival for the Majority! - April 11th, 2014
- Chilling Effect, Next Steps, Final Steps, Hope - March 21st, 2014
- Takei on Phelps - March 20th, 2014
- "Enter Big G's Command Center Through the Revolving Doors on K Street" - January 27th, 2014
- Cage Fight - January 24th, 2014