Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Quality of the People Outweighs the Quality of the System

The right wing in America, including both conservatives and libertarians, is in the habit of exhibiting a knee-jerk aversion to "socialism." This is of course understandable, because of the abuses we see around the world and throughout history that fall under the term. "Socialism" is usually defined as just about anything the government does, as opposed to what private people or organizations do, or, as Matt Bailey says half-jokingly below, sometimes as what a family or any collective group does as opposed to individuals. But government is just a tool, like a sharp rock or a space shuttle, and it can be used to do good things and bad things. And whether the government should or should not be doing a certain thing is a judgment call, and varies over space and time, and most importantly, from people to people, because, as I've been saying over and over again for some time now, people differ. A national health-care system would almost certainly have been a bad idea in tenth-century Ethiopia, but it might work very well in 21st-century Singapore. An established church was probably the best way to go in most of Medieval Europe, but would be though outrageous in contemporary America.

In any case, Matt Bailey, in his usual insightful, articulate manner, sets us straight on socialism, politics, and priorities:


If you're against "socialism of any stripe", then kick those free-loading toddlers out of your house. Also, if one is against "socialism of ANY stripe" one can't have an army, since it is collectively paid-for protection service that defends everyone collectively. I used to also have extremely negative views on government doing anything at all. Then I realized that it was because the government I'd lived under my whole life was traitorous when it wasn't incompetent, and therefore my sample was bad. The Japanese seem to do quite well with several socialist safety nets. This is because Japan is a homogeneous, high IQ country, the ultimate truth being that having a homogeneous, high IQ population is a far more important factor than the political system.
Quibcag: I found an illustration of the most Japanese character I can think of, Isumi Saginomiya, of Hayate the Combat Butler (ハヤテのごとく! Hayate no Gotoku!).


  1. Japan has lost two decades and half of a third.
    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "does quite well".
    It will be even more interesting as the population ages, and those that never leave their rooms don't get jobs and the Ponzi scheme goes upside down.
    China has an enforced one-child policy. Japan just does it on its own. Social safety net? Then why so few children? And when the cash runs out will the too many elderly be euthanized?

    1. Japan has better future prospects than the West at it's current stage. Bad fortunes can be reversed and a high trust society ensures that the country won't turn into chaos when catastrophe strikes.

  2. I have long maintained that some mild degree of leftist socialism can only be successful (for a while) in a country with a relatively intelligent, homogeneous population. In these situations your similarity to those around you tends to counteract the desire to "game the system" and take more than the minimum you need. Some will point to high crime rates in certain urban areas as evidence against this idea but remember, it is a homogeneous and intelligent population where this can be marginally and temporarily successful

    In any case, it eventually always breaks down either with immigration of other groups or loss of idealism in government. "We are, at best, a dung heap covered with a thin layer of snow".