Lately I’ve been thinking about how we are ruled.

A lot of people want to rule us, and many of them use an excuse the notion that ‘we” are not capable of ruling ourselves. While I might be willing to concede that some of us either are not (or at least are doing a piss poor job of it), my problem involves simple logic.

Who are “we”?

Who gets to rule “us”?

The communitarian “we” involves a misused pronoun I have been complaining about since the beginning of this blog, and that ten years of complaining has done little to solve the problem.

We are ruled by those who say we should be ruled because we don’t know what we are doing, but they do. These con artists have somehow managed to convince a lot of people that they too are part of the right “we,” and that by voting for the right “wes,” they will ensure that “we” have all consented to be ruled.

The “we” logic is impenetrable.

A tenured Bowdoin professor (lately in the news for her contention that there is no right to have more than one child) maintains the following:

I argue that autonomy, or the freedom to act in accordance with your own decisions, is overrated — that the common high evaluation of the importance of autonomy is based on a belief that we are much more rational than we actually are. We now have lots of evidence from psychology and behavioural economics that we are often very bad at choosing effective means to our ends. In such cases, we need the help of others — and in particular, of government regulation — to keep us from going wrong.

That is classic communitarianism, and she has a ridiculously overpriced book (honestly titled Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism) devoted to her premise. But let’s assume that “we” make bad choices. Who gets to decide whose choices are bad? And what sort of naive idiot could imagine that the government (which also consists of people) would know better than anyone else what it is that constitutes a “good” choice? Or what it is that constitutes “going wrong”?

The logic of the above is very simple.

We (meaning you!) make mistakes, and if given sufficient power we (meaning us) can ensure that we (meaning you) don’t keep making them. 

What never ceases to amaze me is not that there are such naked power-seeking hucksters out there, but that they able to convince so many people to go along with them.

Maybe they have a point about people making bad choices.