I am self-interested, and proud of it!

Written by Barnard on March 31st, 2009

Andrew Barnard-

The tendency of power to corrupt is a common thread of human history.  When given control over any number of people, we often fall victim to “power rushes” where the ability to dictate our own wishes overcomes us.    Whether it be a club president, the current principal of Logan High, or the President of The United States, power is is a universal force which must be consciously and continuously tempered.

The animals of Manor Farm revolted against what they perceived as oppressive control at the hands of Farmer Jones, but soon, step by step fell under the same control at the hands of pigs.  This led to the oft expressed justification that at least they were oppressed by their own kind.

Such is a common refrain, especially in the current debates over the balance of security vs civil liberties.  Sure the Patriot Act may pose a larger and more realistic threat to our individual freedom than Al Qaeda ever could, but we should trust the government cause they are of course our fellow Americans.

The architects of the American Government recognized this problem, and saw the best way to fight ambition is with ambition.  This is also the logic and the one of the strengths of the free market.  Monopolies are typically thought to be the biggest complication to free-market capitalism.  It is a problem which Smith foresaw and on which he provided some insight.  The fact seems to be, that no matter how powerful a monopoly appears to be, they are still vulnerable to competition.  Monopoly often breeds complacency which over time will fall victim to the efficiency demanded by the free market.

Indeed then, whether in politics or the marketplace the best way to fight the corruption inherent in power is with competition.  In politics and the economy, for freedom and progress to prevail, competition must be facilitated.  All life, men, animals, and plants are naturally self-interested; this fact must not be seen as some sort of condemnation but rather acknowledged as the driving force behind evolution, adaptation, and progression.  Either fight ambition with ambition or find a leviathan. I really don’t want a leviathan.


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