Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Nature of Rules

I'm starting work on my book 'a Failure's Guide to Winning the Rat Race' and have been putting together chapter headings that should help to give my endeavours a coherent structure. One of the key issues to understanding organisational dynamics is the existence and nature of the rulebooks that govern them, and what follows is really a trail of thought on this question, with some of the ideas explored hopefully forming the basis of just one passage of the book. As ever, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the subject...

I've been called an anarchist enough times to clearly disprove the old maxim that if three individuals refer to you as a horse, then your next move should be to acquire a saddle. What I often find is that someone throwing the lazy 'anarchist' term around does not understand the true meaning of the word, and why instinctive liberalism in fact represents a clear departure from it. Anarchists believe in utter lawlessness, with no protection for the individual from the menaces of force, fraud or theft, while instinctive liberals, minarchists and libertarians possess a clear understanding that the rule of law is central to the personal responsibility that must come with individual freedom. In a society with no rules at all, those of criminal intent will invariably thrive and prosper at the expense of honest enterprise and hard work.

Of course, we need rules, to protect the individual and their property from those menaces I mentioned earlier. Though anarchy could perhaps be viewed as a more extreme version of what I and some of our other contributors believe in, those of us who have a Libertarian view of the world would see outright anarchism as at best a sort of intellectually challenged black sheep of the family. As individuals, most supposed 'anarchists' that I've met possess values that can hardly be seen as coherent with each other - many for instance want maximum freedom for themselves but then wish for the state they claim to despise to step in and tax or regulate 'the rich' out of business, or simply curtail the liberties of people they perceive as their enemies.

Many of our political stances, mine included, have been reached through honest anger at situations which we believe to have been unjust. However, the two fundamental differences between instinctive liberalism and anarchy are that a) one tends to have thought a great deal more about their ideological standpoints than the other, and b) while a belief in anarchy is rarely much more than a default expression of unrefined rage, instinctive liberalism is essentially a way of life, one in which the wish not to impair the freedoms of others carries equal value to the desire for personal liberty from government or excessive authority. Prohibiting individuals from stealing the life, liberty or property of others is the central point around which the rules that govern any society ought to revolve, as well as being the sole purpose they should seek to serve.

So having established that any society other than the genuinely anarchic one requires at least some rules, the killer question is in relation to the volume of them as well as their simplicity and the motive behind their application. In an ideal society, the only limits on personal behaviour would be where they impaired the freedoms of others - ie all laws were absolutely necessary. They would also be simple and predictable in their application, ensuring that only action which genuinely threatened the life, liberty or property of another sovereign individual could be punished in the courts. Now we all know that this is stratospheres from the world in which we live, so how does the statist's view of the need for rules, and therefore their reasons for having an ever-increasing number of them, differ from that of an instinctive liberal like myself?

The first point worth establishing is that the statist is by nature a control freak, who knows more than anything how to present a false choice between their own increasing intrusion into personal liberty and an alternative which they will refer to as 'anarchy'. Bosses of large businesses and corporations use this tactic to justify the reduction of the individual to the status of mere brick in the wall. Politicians advance this line in order to press the case for eroding civil liberties, restricting free speech and further increasing the burden of taxation and regulation on your personal and economic activities. The contrived 'greater good' is a method by which those asking too many questions are either cowed and manipulated into silence or guilt, or portrayed as selfish and irresponsible.

The laws on 'hate crimes' serve no practical purpose for protecting people or their property, and merely outlaw certain opinions which may be deemed offensive by the state. Another current mess, namely that of our gun laws is an instance where those suggesting that the a move to the current arrangements represented utter madness were deprived of a platform by the emotion that immediately followed the Dunblane massacre and a fiercely statist media. In such an environment, laws are a mere tool by which the state can more quickly implement its programme, where Big Brother tells you what you can think, say, wear, eat, drink and smoke while also owning a monopoly on the use of force and self-defence. Anyone perceived to be 'taking the law into their own hands' while protecting their property or loved ones has immediately made big enemies, for the law in a society akin to the one we have now must become the sole property of the state in order for its mountain of rules to work.

A significant problem is that us instinctive liberals are by nature a pretty individualistic bunch who are far from fond of either being ordered around or playing seargant major ourselves. We do not crave power or the means by which people can be controlled, so tend not to be as willing to make the sacrifices required to climb the ladder of any large organisation. I look upon self-employed people with a degree of envy, and strive for that kind of occupational arrangement myself, simply because experience has taught me something about any corporate organisation. The larger it is and the more tiers it has, not only will there be more rules, but they will carry greater weight and hold more potential influence over the future of an individual than their raw ability or aptitude. Just as you never see the libertarian wing of a mainstream political party take it over, the corporate world is an environment in which the control freak and sycophant can flourish together, rising to the top and then re-enforcing the rules of the game they played to make it in the first place.

In much the same way as the rules of a society should be primarily about defending life, liberty and property, those that govern any organisation ought to ensure that every individual within it is able to improve themselves and the team as a result. In reality, the nature of the control freak dictates that this is never the case, with the nature and application of the rules distorted and mutated in the same way you would expect from a statist government. It is worth remembering that the statist control freak invariably wanted power and control much more than an instinctive liberal ever would, and did not get to his or her position by mere accident or fluke. The laws of any organisation, in the words of a great man, "do not nurture talent, but reward those who obey and grant them access to an exclusive club - this is wrong - the best are wasted, that is why society is disintergrating". The man in question was actually talking about what our education system does with teenagers, but then many will find that life as a cog in a soulless machine is often akin to being back at school anyway...

If you take the parent-child relationship of a transactional analysis model, then the ideal scenario is one in which whatever boundaries laid down by the parent existed primarily for the benefit of the child. We all know that if we are talking about statist government or occupational control-freakery, then this is not what happens. In both environments, the culture of megolamania is allowed to blossom and the independent thinker of 'loose cannon' comes out a clear loser. This results in a chain of command that rewards the 'right' behaviour (ie sycophancy) and ensures the ongoing triumph of obedience over ability. Both the state and the management like to look upon themselves as the parent and the individual as the child, with the obvious difference that in these cases the mountains of rules designed to criminalise and trap people were designed from the outset to be solely for their benefit.

The self-employed are the talented and truly intelligent ones who at least managed to escape one half of the circus. I just hope that 'a Failure's Guide' is published pronto so I can join them...

No comments:

Post a Comment