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Governments: Origins and Declines
|by Gaurang Bhatt, MD|
There has always been an unresolved problem of how to structure government, ever since the first human societies invented agriculture to produce surplus necessities, to allow other human beings to indulge in arts and crafts, or other directly non-productive, or necessity for survival based occupations. This was the genesis of culture, a never before conceived engine of human development and progress. From the evolutionary standpoint, the development of speech and resultant communication, according to some evolutionary thinkers (on the basis of gossip), lead to the development of status, resulting in more access to female seduction and thus increased progeny with increased statistical chances of survival, is the basis of culture. The Lamarckian origin of culture allows a speaking individual to instruct progeny and warn them of the dangers of certain actions that a cow or lion are unable to do. The birth of culture and excess agricultural sufficiency, necessitated some organization to protect agriculture by appropriate irrigation projects and the development of military capability to resist aggressive hunter-gatherer societies from threatening the survival of more division of labor based conglomerations, with higher chances of survival based on the complexities of organization.
The Indian caste system despite its terrible modern consequences was perfectly in concordance with Adam Smith's first founding principles of economics of division of labor. There are ancient verses in the Rig Veda, proclaiming the fluidity of these socially beneficial divisions, before their rigidity led to ossified discrimination and the resultant indifference of a vast majority, as to who the rulers were, because it made no difference to their oppression or exploitation. This set the scenario for alien exploitation and conquest due to the marginalized majority population, whose dismal lot and miserable future were unrelated to who ruled.
There is a fundamental problem with a unified benevolent and considerate approach resulting in a utilitarian good for the greatest number. This is because human nature is selfish, greedy and corrupt, interested in individual benefit, progress and welfare to the detriment of the greater good, as Hobbes realized. It is this inherent weakness or flaw in human nature, that is the basis of evolution within the constraints of natural selection. And that lead to the failure of communism. This flaw is not immune to the ills of capitalism with its unequal opportunity, that led to the invention of god by humanity, tired and disgusted with the inequities, nepotism and corruption of current life. If that were not the case Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism would have succeeded beyond belief or borders, for they all aim to control and rein in desire, the primary root cause of evil. This is why Christianity, a religion never practiced by anyone other than its founder, has failed to take root in the heart of human beings.
As Richard Dawkins and other evolutionary pioneers have emphasized, natural selection works not at the species level but at the individual level or the gene level, where destructive behavior for personal survival, glorification and aggrandizement supercedes any altruistic ideal of the survival of the species. This is why Plato, a perspicacious, but cynical philosopher laid down undemocratic, oppressive and impossible ideals for the guardians of society destined to be philosopher-kings, but despite tyrannical roots, constrained to guard freedom for the rest. It is philosophically reminiscent of Godel's Theorem and other self-referentially false and logically fallacious arguments. Thus the quintessentially essential dilemma of Plato, "Who shall guard the guardians"? The Indian religions have taken their philosophy to a more practical evolutionary valid point of view. They believe that at some point in this life or even consistent with their philosophy of rebirth and metempschycosis, in another life, a thinking and defeated person, however ineducable or recalcitrant he be, cursed with individual or repeated mortality, will reach a point of satiation, where with bitter experience, futility or hopeful enlightenment, he will reach the point of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam". Unfortunately, this is a futile hope because the mass of unenlightened people in any era far exceeds the minority of enlightened and constitute a recurring majority ad infinitem and ad nauseam, and the wisdom of experience is denied to the majority, who are further constrained by the immediate exigencies of survival, a far more motivating philosophy, and a dominating factor despite the strong religious underpinnings of India, however misguided, wrong or beneficial they may be.
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