The Government that Governs the Least Governs the WorstIn response to the statement, "the government that governs the least governs the best."
DISCLAIMER!!! In this essay, I express a lot of radical and authoritarian viewpoints. I do not actually believe most of what I'm saying in this essay. I'm just tearing apart the source because it's fun to play devil's advocate.
The first thing to be noticed about the source is the ideology behind it. The further right and further down an ideology is on the spectrum, the less government involvement there is. Right-wing economic ideas are typically associated with capitalism, neo-conservatism, and fascism whereas the lower half of the political spectrum is how libertarian an idea is. Believing in a smaller government speaks to the source’s individualist values. Less government control, more economic freedom, more personal freedom, more individualism. A government is not meant to be authoritarian. Due to the libertarian stance stated in the source, one could assume that the speaker likely believes in the principles of freedom and democracy. The next detail is much more nuanced. To say “the government that governs less governs better” is one thing, but to say “the government that governs the least governs the best” is much more extreme as it does not leave room for middle ground or suggestion. By the speaker’s logic, an anarchist state would be ideal because the government that governs the least does not govern at all. A government cannot govern less than that, so, therefore, anarchy is the best system of government. The speaker does not give any sort of reason why the government that governs the least governs the best. It could be assumed that perhaps the speaker does not believe anarchy or capitalism to be a good way to structure a society, but simply the best compared to every other option. Humans should be free to do whatever they want, the government has no business controlling them or their wealth, and the exceptional should be free to compete against each other. Individualist values involve competition, individuality, self-expression, and privatized everything. Healthcare, education, property, and general business. There is no obligation to pay for anything that will not directly benefit you. This is one position a person could take on the source. That the speaker is correct. That exceptional should not be held back by taxes, regulations, cooperation, or group norms. The exceptional should be free to excel. Alternatively, one could argue that against the speaker and say that government is necessary. That the entire community must be held responsible for itself and its members. This is a much more collectivist ideology, defined by a value placed on group norms, publicly ownership/funding, collective responsibility, and the common good. It is this collectivist ideology, which is most beneficial to society. It is the government that governs properly that governs the best because it does not hold its own citizens and society back, states become chaotic with a lack of governance, and all government officials will have to be good at governing.
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jaques Rosseau defined the social contract as “an agreement, entered into by individuals, that results in the formation of the state or of an organized society, the prime motive being the desire for protection, which entails the surrender of some or all personal liberties.” In other words, individuals enter society by giving up their individualism to their societies. They then become part of the collective. They follow the laws, they pay taxes, they put into the community what they will get out of it. This is what collectivism is. An “individualist society” is an oxymoron because “individualist” and “society” contradict each other. So, once individualist values enter and contradict the collective’s values, one can see how the individualist values pose a threat. Competition always has losers, exceptional people can only exist if the majority of other people are below them, and this is how the inevitable hierarchy is created. Individualism promotes this idea that everyone is special without explaining why that is such a good thing. This is an extremely toxic system that expects many people to accept a subpar life on the grounds of “this is how market works!” The government that governs less creates a watered-down version of Social Darwinism where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Individualism is self-serving classism. Ultimately, this holds back all of society. Even the elitists at the top of the hierarchy will be held back in the long run. For example, if university was free like it is in the European Union, everyone gets the same opportunity to be a specialist in whatever they are passionate about. If everything is publicly owned, university will still retain its value, except that the pressure to go to university will change from the need to meet your basic living requirements to filling whatever gaps exist in that collectivist society. Everything develops at a faster rate because everyone has the opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Meanwhile, in the United States, 77.5% of households are in debt. On a global scale, global agriculture is enough to feed 1.18 times the world population, but 868 million people still go hungry. The average Walmart employee makes 14 thousand dollars per year (1 thousand dollars below the poverty line), while Lee Scott, the CEO of Walmart, makes 17.5 million dollars per year. Individualism does not work. Capitalism does not work. Most people suffer at the hands of the few. The government that governs the least is only the best if you were born privileged.
The idea that anarchy, being the government that governs the absolute least, is the best form of government was lightly touched on in the source analysis. The logical problem with that is that, in the long term, true anarchy does not exist. In an anarchist state, there is no governing body to stop warlords and gangs from fighting over territory and establishing violent regimes. The citizens of an anarchist state are free from the government, but they are less free than they would have been with a government. A modern example of anarchy not working is Somalia. In 1991, President Siad Barre was exiled to Nigeria. This resulted very quickly in a civil war between rival warlords. Over the past 30 years, Somalia has been in many humanitarian crisis situations. Thousands of people are currently displaced, they are in their second great famine since the beginning of the civil war, and the country is divided between Puntland and Somaliland. Neither of which are good, stable, non-violent options. Mark Lowcock said “if you take action earlier on predictable problems, you find the solution is cheaper and you have much less suffering” when speaking about Somalia at a United Nations conference. If a state was never an anarchist state to begin with, Somalia would be in a much better place, and the quality of living would be vastly better than it currently is. In 2012, an internationally-backed government was established in Somalia and it was the first improvement the country had seen in 20 years. A country should not even have to be so reliant on the international community. If Somalia had a government that could take care of its citizens, there would be no need for international intervention. The government that governs the least leaves its people at the mercy of foreign aid.
Individualism, capitalism, democracy, and freedom itself are accepted as gospel truths by the vast majority of people so they do not have to list their virtues or confront their vices. Many people will defend those principles, few know what it means to have them. This is democracy’s greatest flaw. Unlike an authoritarian government where only qualified people are let in, democracy is extremely vulnerable to electing ignorant hacks or outright psychopaths and giving them all the real power. If the electorates and especially the people do not understand why their system works, they tear it apart without realizing it. In a democracy, just about anyone can get elected through mob rule as the only qualifications are age and citizenship. Adolf Hitler was a democratically elected government official. That means that the majority of people in Germany during the great depression looked at their basic rights and freedoms, discarded them, and decided that not starving was more important. Donald Trump was elected to “make America great again,” but only made it worse once he got into office. Mexican immigrants are being kept in cages, racial tensions have skyrocketed, protesters all around the world are screaming their dissatisfaction for him, and the American government had a shut-down. If the government that governed the least governed the best, if America was already great, America never would have needed anyone to make it great again. Jargon like “the government that governs the least governs the best” fails to mean anything in practice because people are always going to put their immediate necessities first. If they do not have them because of a wealth-based privatized system that makes it difficult for the majority of people to access them, they become easy prey to duplicitous politicians that offer convenient scapegoats and half-baked solutions. If the government did their job and governed more in the first place, taking care of the citizens it is responsible for, these sorts of lose-lose choices would never have to be made.
Individualist rhetoric sounds nice on paper, and can certainly be prosperous in times of economic growth, but it is a system that fails more people than it helps. The government that governs the least is not doing its job properly. It holds back many of, if not most of its society from developing, it does not sufficiently take care of its people’s needs, and when citizens are not having their needs met, there can be catastrophic results.