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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Resisting our own creations

"In my broader study of the EU, two apparently unrelated tracts were of huge value to me. The first is one I have used many times, the Milton Friedman article on "barking cats", and the second is the study of the Tennessee Valley Authority by Philip Selznick, which led to the concept of "self-maintenance", the idea that institutions would always act in their own self-interests, even if this meant acting against the reasons for which they were established."

- Dr Richard North (

And this is a problem for reification generally.

Once a human function - educating the young, caring for the sick, supporting the weaker and less fortunate - has been turned into an organisation, the thing has a life of its own and a desire to survive. It is a multicellular organism, composed of individual humans who each have their incomes and career prospects to consider. Attempts to steer it back onto its proper course are seen as threats, and can be opposed with the wealth and power of a great collective enterprise.

This is why liberty matters. In Britain, though not in many other countries, the citizen can teach his own children, and manage many legal aspects of his affairs without a solicitor, even representing himself in a court of law if he so wishes. The State may not like it, but it has to justify itself to the common man and keep its own behaviour within bounds, so long as judges maintain their independence.

That is the little flame that must be kept alight. Even if we ourselves may be cells in the body of the monster.

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