I recently toured the latest and greatest on conspiracy theories about the government. I think it’s interesting that the very phrase, “conspiracy theory,” carries with it the implication that it’s a product of paranoia rather than reality. In that way, it can be dismissed. But wait! Isn’t that what the government wants?
My view is that the government is absolutely not above anything the conspiracy theorists say. But it falls short on competence. The government or factions within it unquestionably uses fake facts all the time. But I don’t see it as carefully orchestrating fake events to defraud people into supporting its schemes. Rather, I think the government bungles its way into situations through a combination of groupthink, failures of imagination, general incompetence, and egos corrupted by grasping for power and prestige.
So, what’s the lesson? Never fight a war? Reform government somehow? Reject the United States government in particular? I think what history tells us is that we have to be vigilant about the government, and treat it as a body adversarially, about everything.
The United States of America is not its government. It is the people of this nation who hold certain truths to be self-evident, which is the natural law, ordained by God, and the government exists at our sufferance and for the limited purpose of securing our pre-existing rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Obviously, I didn’t make these words up. And the “pursuit of happiness” was understood then and ought to be understood now to mean human flourishing; personal fulfillment; for Christians, to live a life within God’s will and to His pleasure. It’s not a reference to Hef’s palace of unlimited carnality. The government was expressly formed, in this country, to protect our right to self-governance.
I was thinking that the government also does what it does because of lack of accountability, but I realize that’s not exactly right. There is (so far) reasonable accountability given the fact of the leviathan state, but the issue isn’t really accountability. It’s not that the government gets out of hand because we can’t control it. The problem is more insidious than that. We try to hold the government accountable for how it addresses an issue, not whether it ought to address the issue in the first place. The problem is not that this law or that one might be bad. The problem is that we reflexively look to government.
I’ve often been puzzled that government is embraced on the one hand, and pilloried on the other, by the same people. Leftists look to the government as the repository of collective aspiration, but are skeptical of its law enforcement and military functions as being inherently suspect. In both instances, though, it’s the government. Those on the right defer unquestioningly to military and law enforcement functions, extending those institutions’ honor-based paradigm to the citizenry at large, but then they decry the pervasive government regulatory intrusion. Both left and right have a love/hate relationship with the government, but for opposite reasons.
I think we should have healthy skepticism about anything the government does, because it is the government. I think the founding fathers would have agreed. They expected there to be tension between the people and the government, whereby the latter would be constrained against power lust. They set this government up expressly to avoid people’s placing their confidence in it.
It hasn’t worked, though. In their worst inclinations, people want to be led around like sheep. As they become more willing to feed that inclination, they cede more authority to the government. It becomes a vicious cycle. I think government hostility to religion assures the government’s place as the only game in town, doubling down on the shift of responsibility from individuals to the hive.
We’re long past the concept we started out with, that people are to be self-regulating, and the collectives to which we subscribe are to be voluntary, as with churches. Instead of being wary about our government, we’re merging into it in a way that excludes individual initiative, individual penalties and rewards, and individual sovereignty. We’re like the Maoists in the ’50’s waving those stupid little red books full of vapid platitudes, eager to outdo one another in expressing our devotion to the collective will.