No matter who you voted for, the government got back in.
I think you need to be from a really old country to fully appreciate this. Kings come in, kings go out. Factions are taken out violently, and all their prominent followers killed to the mewling infant. And yet, year after year, administration after administration, even when you ditch kings and bring in representative government, yes, even then, or even when you bring in socialists, then throw the socialists out, the same bureaucrats, functionaries, clerks get back in. the same bean counters with the same agenda which amounts to something like “more power for me, my family and allies” and beyond all that, a devotion to the “proper way things are done.”
Trust me on this. I was born and raised in a really old country. Same names, generation after generation. Same devotion to the way things are done.
It probably started way back in the middle ages, when the barbarian kings who had just taken down Rome sat there and scratched their heads (well, most of them HAD lice) and wondered what in heck to do with it all. And the clerks (a word that comes from cleric) sidled up and said “I know how to read and write, and I can show you the records of the people, and who owns who, and what tribute is owed to you.” And the king said “Ooooh, someone else can do the boring work for me, and I can strut around with a pretty crown, and fight battles, and do kingly things. I only wish we had turkeys so I could eat turkey legs in style. Deer will have to do.”
Then there was the modern state, for which I’ll blame Louis XIV, that right (possibly literally. Has anyone looked at portraits of Buckingham?) bastard, who — advisedly to an extent– looked at the big noblemen who had plagued his ancestors and decided to make an alliance with the rising bourgeoisie to increase the power of the “modern state” (records and taxation by the numbers please) and reduce the power of the old nobility (mostly the brute force of arms, of if you prefer, quaffing, hunting, warring and wenching.)
In a way it was inevitable, so it’s probably pique on my part to blame it on Louis XIV (a man I detest, having read his biography,) whose descendants eventually got swallowed and spit out by the same bourgeoisie he encouraged, the same clerk-sy. Whether he would have minded or not, that’s something else. I think mostly he cared about maintaining his position in a turbulent time.
It was probably inevitable, because population grew, and as population grows, you really can’t have a king who is a glorified family leader, and knows every person in his employ personally, and once beat each of their grandfathers with staves or whatever. The personal leadership thing can be appalling of course, when the leader is bad, but it’s at least personal. However, as population/country/army/territory grow, you need bureaucracy to rule it. You need layers and layers of clerks.
I will at least in the US deny the need for a federal department of education. State level should be more than enough, and if you as me (yes, I know no one sane would) I’d be fine with city level. People get together and hire teachers, and keep a close eye on them to.
But even if you go with the enumerated powers of our constitution, providing for the common defense of a very wealthy country which spans continental-wide territories is not same as calling your friends together and giving them some guns.
As much as I approve of the militia involving every able bodied man and woman, because that makes the invasion of the country impossible, and as much as — raised in Europe — I was taught to despise standing armies, the truth is when you’re the envy of the world, you’re going to need a professional army who does nothing else but the common defense. Si vis Pacem para Bellum and all that. (Always wanted to have a cat called Para Bellum. Just like I always wanted to have a dog called Droit du Seigneur.)
And even if that’s the major function of government, you’re going to need a lot of bureaucracy to handle it, let alone needing a lot of bureaucracy to handle foreign relations with pissant countries the size of overextended parking lots, who expect us to speak with one unified voice and not as fifty squabbling states.
Which means bureaucracy and census and IRS (is there a reason we can’t run the government on a giant-sized national lottery?) and the machinery of … clerk-sy.
Which develops its own culture, its own fiefdom and its own idea of “how things are done” TM.
Which makes the Us same as all human societies since… er.
No matter who you vote for, the government gets in. And that means if you voted for change — real change, not socialist bullshit — it’s going to be resisted every step along the way. Ironically the socialist bullshit ISN’T resisted, because it’s more power for the bureaucrats.
This is why post-communist Russia has a much stronger flavor of Soviet Russia than Soviet Russia had of tzarist Russia. Because the inclination of bureaucracy is to accumulate power. It is a human tendency reinforced by the need for security, the need to keep your children as secure and employed as you are yourself, etc, world without end.
I once, when I was young and stupid, voted for a man who promised to reduce federal employment to 15 people.
It wouldn’t have worked. It couldn’t have worked. The machinery calls for cogs, and there’s the way things have always been done. And if it had succeeded, it would have thrown everything into disarray and probably have made the pissant countries think they could take us. they might even have been able to.
So, is this the fate of the world? The mechanics of humanity? Do people just get choked out by the state, more and more, till all men work for the state, and all their bread comes from it?
Oh, hell no. I’m not one of those fatalists going on about the boot the and the human face. No, I’m not. There is a limit to how much these things can grow before they become a complete mess, so in the end it self-defeats. (See “The lives of others”) but also, just like the apparatus of the early modern state was enabled by the ability to keep records and all sorts of techniques just coming into being with the industrial state, there are techniques and technology now which enable us to loosely correlate a lot of small groups, to administer a vast territory loosely without descending into chaos.
It might be possible — we’re yet at the dawning of that age — to not have the layers and layers of clerks and bureaucrats and defeat some of that “government” that goes on regardless of leadership.
But it’s not going to be tomorrow. And it’s not a matter of “voting the right man in”. There is no such thing as a hero on a white horse who comes in and vanquishes bureaucracy. Dragons, sure. Ravening hordes, sure. But your average bureaucracy takes your white knight sans peur et sans reproche, swallows him whole and spits out the sad, bewildered remains.
No. The only way we scale back the growth of government is the long march; Irish democracy; and a dose of never say die. If we apply ourselves to it, our grandkids might see some palpable shrinking in bureaucracy and the way it tries to put out tentacles to every aspect of life.
Keep your powder dry. Keep your spirits up. Never give up, never surrender.
The fight might not be to the strong nor the race to the swift (though that’s the way to bet) but the fight against encroachment on individual freedom goes to the patient.
Be patient, be calm, and fight on.