On Human Development

A tongue-in-cheek overview of history

Ever since the earliest days of pre-history, humanity has been concerned with the question of how to govern itself. In its first phases, this was simple, involving nothing more than the laying down of rules for the tribe to follow. Difficulties arose when someone disagreed with one of the rules, or simply wanted to make the rules himself, or herself, as many early societies were matriarchies. As time went by and both population density and contact with one's neighbors increased, elaborate systems of government evolved. Many failed miserably and many worked adequately, but none was perfect. The fundamental problem with governing humans is that humanity will not submit to being governed.

After humanity passed the point where it consisted of isolated tribes and became aware of how extensive human settlement was, some people began to covet what their neighbors had and they didn't. At first, they tried stealing it. However, as people came to the general consensus that theft was not a proper activity, this could not be done openly. Also, one can't steal land because it is rather hard to move. To solve this problem, the greedy invented war. With this miraculous process, one could subjugate an entire people, take all their belongings, and then force them to work for one's own gain--not a bad system for those who won the wars. Yet all was not perfect. The downtrodden remembered their days of freedom and kept having revolts to free themselves. While they were busy with a war, they often decided to keep going and subjugate their ex-masters. After all, they deserved it for what they had done to the poor, innocent people who had been invaded.

With all this war and rebellion going on, the nearby people decided that they needed a system of protection. However, it seemed that everyone wanted to be the leader of their people. After a good deal of squabbling, the biggest and toughest guy usually used his ample persuasive powers to convince the others of his qualifications for the job. If that wasn't enough, he could always promise his friends, who were nearly as big as himself, that they could be his second-in-command or something like that if they agreed to add their influence to his. A side result of this process was that those had spent all their lives philosophizing and studying the way people acted never got to be the leader because they hadn't had time to lift heavy rocks and do other manly, persuasion-enhancing abilities. In any case, kings and their accompanying flock of nobility were born. When these kings and nobility got to be old, they started thinking about death, and how their possessions would soon be turned over to the vile rabble, also known as the people who put them into power. They decided that it was better to pass them on to a son, despite a possible lack of persuasive ability on the part of the young one. With the possessions came the authority, which seemed to magically grow as time passed.

For the next couple millennia, things were pretty monotonous, with each ruler sending his people to try and defeat the people of the neighboring rulers. If one of them succeeded enough times, he gained the title of emperor, along with a bloated ego. The latter usually resulted in the eventual loss of the former. Occasionally, a group of nut cases would gather together and start a strange country where everyone had a little bit of control over how things were done. The neighboring kings were at least smart enough to deduce that the people they ruled might become the next bunch of nut cases, leaving their ruler out of a job. To stop this, they decided to crush the little country of thinkers to show their people what a bad idea thinking was. Sometimes, this was unnecessary because one nut case realized that he could take over the whole country while his friends were busy debating how to stop him, and did so as soon as he had some free time.

About two hundred years ago, the world population of nut cases began to soar until it got to the point where nut cases outnumbered sane people who devoted themselves to their persuasive rulers. The nut cases read about the nut cases of the ancient world, wrote little pieces of paper certifying that they were sane and their rulers were the real nut cases, signed the whole thing, and passed out free copies. This naturally angered their rulers. After a century or so where everyone had lots of great wars, it turned out that the people who favored running things themselves had won most everywhere. However, most people were too busy working to run things, so they rapidly chose the person who claimed he would run things best, and let him run things for a while. Since he didn't want to be called king, as kings were doing poorly in the polls at this time, he decided to call himself a politician.

Some men saw that they could get a lot done by having the politicians on their side. They gave the politicians some of the money they had, expecting to get a good return on their investment, which they did. These men rapidly gained all the power that the kings had given up so recently, except that the called themselves capitalists. Some German men with thick beards took notice, and decided to write a book about it. It caught on with the people who had realized they were being oppressed again. Some of them got so worked up over it that they overthrew their kings and capitalists, only to set up a new kind of ruler, the Premier. The Premier had his nobles, but he called them the Party. Everyone called each other comrade all the time, but they were being hypocritical. The Premier didn't really like the Party, so he kept getting rid of people who were in it. Some people noticed that things weren't any better under the Premier than they had been under the kings or the capitalists, but they decided to keep quiet because the Premier did have that tendency to get rid of people he didn't like.

About this time, everyone got together and had a war that topped all others put together, and then, a few years later, they had an even bigger one. People realized that nuclear warheads were much more dangerous than arrowheads, and they decided to find another hobby besides war. During these wars, lots of people changed the names of their rulers, although what these rulers did remained the same. As time passed, most people noticed that the politicians were the ones who made the least rules for everyone to follow, so people started opting for politicians because people hate having to remember rules. Almost everyone uses politicians nowadays, except for a bearded guy on an island and big group of people that eats lots of rice. This is probably because they don't speak the same language as most of the politicians.

However, the politicians are nowhere close to being free from problems. Unless you want someone who takes money from capitalists, passes laws that hurt you, and does other annoying things, you have to spend time learning about the people who want to be politicians and what they stand for, and then you have to take time to vote. Worst of all, there are still so many rules to follow. Wouldn't it just be better to have no government at all? If everyone were kind and friendly and helpful, then we could, but it only takes one evil, greedy person to destroy the lives of everyone else, and there is certainly far more than one in this world. Marx and his friends had envisioned a world in which there was no authority and all people cooperated for the common good out of enlightened self-interest, but no actual government ever made it past the dictatorship of the proletariat stage. People are simply not ready to live in Utopia; they are not content with having all they need, but want more than their neighbor instead. Someday humanity will achieve an organized anarchistic society, but not until thousands of years of cultural evolution have taken place.

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© Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist, All rights reserved. The reproduction of this work, by any means electronic, physical, or otherwise, in whole or in part, except for the purposes of review or criticism, without the express written consent of the author, is strictly prohibited. All references to copyrighted and/or trademarked names and ideas held by other individuals and/or corporations should not be considered a challenge to said copyrights and trademarks.

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