John Adams

I’m binge watching John Adams on HBO, and finding it pretty compelling stuff. Partly because it’s an era of history I find particularly interesting, and partly because it’s a well done show.
Despite the wigs and canes and big buckles, and despite all the super pompous speechification, a lot of the issues they were dealing with back then are the same issues we’re dealing with now. Do you have a strong central government, as Hamilton and, to some extent Adams, wanted, or a weak one, leaving the power in the hands of the whimsical mob, as Jefferson (who still must be admired as a statesman, philosopher, inventor, writer, and president, despite the invention of DNA testing proving beyond a shadow of a doubt what some rivals accused him of at the time, that he liked having sex with his slaves, and then keeping the children as slaves) wanted. The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants, etc…
Complete freedom would be wonderful. I understand the Libertarian’s desire for it. But, it’s insane. Without any regulation, there is anarchy, and anarchy leads to mob rule, which leads to totalitarianism in one big, vicious circle.
So, what is the best system for achieving the perfect balance between freedom and a smooth running civilization? I think the key is not to look for the outcome that the most people desire (because most people are fucking idiots) but to develop some way of determining which outcome is the best. That which will benefit the greatest amount of people, and inconvenience the fewest, over the longest period of time.
In the beginning, back in the ’80s, when the internet was just a wee baby of an idea, I had high hopes that this would be it. A forum where all views could be aired, assessed on their merits, modified, perfected, enacted, assessed, and modified again, in an endless feedback loop mirroring scientific progress with social progress and building a utopian society.
It hasn’t worked out like that -yet. But, we may get there eventually.

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