Sunday, November 3, 2013

DST and mystical minarchism

          Once again I must rail against Daylight Savings Time. I’m for abolishing it; it isn’t worth it, and in any case there’s a minarchist case against federal interference with the clock.

          It’s true that time zones in general are artificial and politicized; but you needn’t deal with time-zone shifts if you don’t cross one, and most people don’t have to cross time zone lines; but DST reminds us of its existence twice a year.

          This inspired me to write the following aphorism:

          The best government is one that doesn’t seem to exist!

          Call this Mystical Minarchism; it one-ups Lao Tzu, who said that all the people know about the Sage King is that he exists. The mystically minarchist State is not even noticed that much. Laws are obeyed but the police are invisible; the people do whatever they want to do, and
never notice that they only want what the Sage King wants them to want!

          I call this “treating the people like cats rather than like dogs”. A dog will do things for you, the human, because Fido loves you, Fido will slave for you, Fido will die for you; but Kitty is mercenary. Kitty loves Kitty, not you, the staff. You can abuse Fido and he’ll blame himself; but if you raise a hand against Kitty, then Kitty will scratch. You can tell Fido what to do, but you can’t tell Kitty anything. You can’t really control a cat, so if you want Kitty to do something, then you must somehow make Kitty want what you want Kitty to want. Fortunately you, the human, are smarter than Kitty, usually; and besides, you’re bigger.

          A government that treats the people like dogs is a tyranny. I therefore propose a government that treats the people like cats; a Hobbesian Leviathan that is somehow a servant to its humans, with us believing ourselves self-ruling, and tolerating no oppression from Leviathan, our staff! The State as Cat Lady, tending to hordes of us humans, catlike in our wilfulness and vanity; but a clever Leviathan; cleverer than individual humans; wise to our ways; knowing that control is futile, but influence suffices. Don’t threaten; manipulate. Make them want what you want them to want!

          That, I now know from experience, is the cat owner’s creed. I propose it as a maxim of effective minimal government. At its extreme, effective minimal government shades into apparent nonexistence. Once the people think they’re free, you have them. On the other hand, even a Sage King can’t tell if he owns Kitty, or Kitty owns him.

          You may object to the above scenario. “Treating the people like cats” may even be impossible, for two reasons; the People are not Cats, and there is no King sage enough to play Cat owner. But if that is so, then there is no such thing as effective minimal government!

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