On the Society behind a Government

Nov 1, 2011 by

Now, in my last article*, I made reference to the belief that a government is based on a society.  I think it reasonable to explain how that it is true that societies must come before government.

Now, a government is a structure for doing something.  That something is unspecified.  For, each society has their own reasons for having a government.  In a Dictatorship, the purpose of the government is pleasing the dictator.  In an oligarchy, the purpose of the government is to serve the group of people that run the government.  In any tyranny, in fact, the purpose of the government, in general, is to serve the needs and wants of the tyrant.  Now, under a tyrant, there is no society seemingly before their is government.  In fact, the only society that exists is that of the one created by the government.  However, we must recognize that tyranny is not the purpose of government.  While tyranny fits the definition, it does not fit the good of government.  Also, under a tyranny, whenever the people underneath see an opportunity to overthrow the government, they will.

Thus, we must focus on the form of government that promotes liberty.  Since, there are many forms and structures of government that do this, we cannot hope to analyze the relations between all of them and the society.  Rather, let us analyze from the point of view of a generic liberty promoting government.  Imagine how it came about.  It must always have had liberty.  A government cannot go from tyranny to liberty save the permission of the tyrant.  With a tyrant’s permission means the tyrant, rather, has granted liberty.  A granting of liberty means that it is fulfilling the tyrant’s wishes, and thus still a tyranny.  Rather, the people of the society must rise up in some form and strip the tyrant of his position, regardless of what he wishes.  This means forming a new government, one not founded on tyranny.

In this transition, it seems that a society must form.  A society is a group of people whom have a common goal and are based on common principles.  To better illustrate the idea, imagine a map.  Now, on this map there are two groups (Group A and Group B) of people on different sides of the map.  All of the people are moving around.  Group A splits into to groups (Group 1 and Group 2).  So long as Group A remains together, it appears to be a society.  However, when we track the movements of the groups within Group A, we see that  Group 1 is moving towards the point between Groups A and B, while Group 2 is wandering in the opposite direction.  Group A just happens to be together at the moment.  Thus, Group A is not a society, but both Groups 1 and 2 are societies of their own.  Now, Group B, similarly, has two like groups within it (Group 3 that is heading to the center and Group 4 that is wandering away).  Now, Groups 2 and 4 will meet eventually.  However, they will not be a society together.  Right now, they are in two different places, and thus not a society.  Maybe, when they meet, they will choose a common point and keep going together, thus forming a society, but at the moment and until that happens, they remain separate, independent societies.

Thus, when a government of liberty is formed, it needs to be a society first.  They must have common goals and common principles.  If Groups 1 and 2 formed a government while together, how is the government to maintain when they separated?  The government is the structure that carries out the principles.  However, if the societies form different principles, how can the government carry out fulfill the needs of its people?  Multiple societies cannot agree on principles of government because they disagree.  However, if one society splits into two, similarly to how Group A split into Groups 1 and 2, then how is the society to continue?  A government must match its society in some way.  Now, not all of a society’s principles have to match.  On the map, the group of people are not all on the exact same space, they each inhabit a small portion of the larger group.  The thing that makes them part of a larger group is that they inhabit some portion of the larger group.  A society founded on smaller government can have diversity of beliefs while still maintaining the principle of smaller government.  A society of more government can do likewise.  A society need not agree on everything, but there must be shared principles.

Thus, societies must come before the government. If they do not, the government is not going to efficiently function.  With no shared principles to carry out, it cannot carry anything out, and thus falls into either becoming tyrannical or dysfunctional.  A government is the structure, thus, without a common society to give the structure motion and a destination, the structure cannot operate optimally, for the good, or, in some cases, at all.


*America, the Division of a Nation

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  1. Lot

    An interesting read, but I am now inclined by my curiosity to ask… what then is your view on this country right now pertaining to its status as a society? What do you see as the leading threats to the structure of the society on which our particular form of government is based?

  2. Gerber

    My view is that we are dividing as a nation on the basic beliefs of government’s purpose. Our society is slowly coming to divergent ends. I see it as spliting into three societies. The first is advocating for a more socialistic approach. They wish for more government control on the economy. They also wish for less government influence, laws, and enforcement in regards to morals. The second group is advocating the exact opposite. They are advocating for a less influencial system of belief in regards to economics, but a greater influencial system in regards to morals. The third group just wants things to do well and keep the status quo. Thus, the divide is still semi-bridged. But, more and more, I think this bridge is weakening. The third group is slowly taking sides. And, even if this third group remains intact, I see the first two groups as becoming more and more insistant and less and less willing to compromise, that they are going to break the bridge. Society is seperating, in regards to government. It is approaching, though has not quite approached yet, a point of no return a point where we will either fully adopt one side, or spilt as a society.

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