THOUGHTS FOR AN ELECTION YEAR
by Manuel Cereijo
MNations, and social systems are held together by a number of forces. Common language and religion are two but not necessarily enough. Witness the Mideast, where the Arabs speak the same language, have the same religion, yet are divided.
A powerful outside conqueror can hold antithetical groups together. The outside threat of communism unified the countries inside the American bloc. Some were democracies, some were not. Some believed in market economies, some did not. Some were rich, some were poor. What they all had in common was a desire to stay outside of the orbit of communism.
To last for very long any social system needs to be buttressed by a powerful integrating ideology. All such ideologies postulate some goal bigger than either the individual or the local ethnic group to which the individual belongs. Communism was one of those ideologies. It lasted not for too long because it postulated a goal that it simply could not deliver, and was not right.
Neither capitalism nor democracy are a unifying ideology. Both are process ideologies that asset that if one follows the recommended processes one will be better off than if one does not. They have no common good, no common goals, toward which everyone is collectively working. Both stress the individual and not the group. Workers are expected to maximize their own incomes-quitting whenever wages are higher somewhere else.
Firms are expected to maximize their own profits. Voters are expected to vote their self interest. Neither imposes an obligation to worry about the welfare of the other. In democracy and capitalism, individual freedom dominates community obligations. All political or economic transactions are voluntary. If an individual does not want to vote, or buy something, that is her or his right. If citizens want to be greedy and vote their narrow self-interest at the expense of others, that is their right.
Democracy and capitalism have very different beliefs about the proper distribution of power. One believes in a completely equal distribution of political power-“one man, one vote”- while the other believes that it is the duty of the economically fit to drive the unfit out of business.
However, said so, they both form a balance in society that allows the best standard of living, and the best freedom and individual rights ever seen in human history. Both, working together, keep our society in place, without the need for a “leader”. In fact, they develop many leaders, at all levels-public and private leaders, who, with their ability and sense of responsibility, keep the social and economic systems working toward the betterment of the nation.
Leaders, at all levels, make people feel good about themselves and their society and country. This feeling motivates them to seek accomplishment beyond that which they felt capable themselves of. In the U.S. power comes from two sources-wealth and political position. It is possible in this country to convert economic power into political power, or, conversely, political power into economic power. Few hold one without quickly gaining the other.
Government here has also been actively used to alter market outcomes and generate a more equal distribution of income that would have been produced in the market if it had been left alone. Governing this process of social, political and economic creation is a prime truth of classical economic theory called Say’s law: supply creates its own demand. This is a source of the stability of market economic and democracy.
Our society will always be in need of some over-reaching goal toward which everyone can be working to create a better nation. If our democracy works, it is because it is not a process of electing friends and relatives as opposed to other’s friends and relatives, neither a process where every candidate just promises to manage the current system better than his opponent.
Our system works, without permanent leaders, because it demands real ideological alternatives at election time. Smaller government vs.larger government, local authority vs. federal authority, private initiatives vs.more public measures, less taxes vs. higher taxes, distribution of taxes according to incomes, management of social security, operation of the welfare system, inmigration, uses of the surplus, etc.
If we analyze our great historical public heroes, one can see that they have only arisen when there are situations that demand drastic decisions. We must keep this balance of public, private, and civic leaders throughout the nation. Technology and ideology, democracy and capitalism, are the foundations of the 21st century U.S.
Este y otros excelentes artículos del mismo autor MANUEL CEREIJO aparecen en la REVISTA GUARACABUYA con dirección electrónica de: http://www.amigospais-guaracabuya.org