Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Russia Left Behind.... The Role of Civil Institutions

The New York times has a fascinating article on the deterioration of Russia outside of large urban areas.

Things are much the same in the rest of the former USSR. People in the former USSR have completely lost the very concept of an organization not associated with the government. It's had terrible consequences for their society. Any Libertarian leanings I have, I gained in Ukraine.

What are missing in Russia/Europe/Socialism in general are civil institutions between the individual and the state. The more robust these institutions are, the less the state has to provide. And, the less disruptive it is when the state runs out of money - which will happen here too.

Such institutions include: families, churches, local governments, professional associations, service clubs, non-profits, charities, credit unions, labor unions, neighborhood committees, the ACLU, and yes, corporations both small and large.

These play a major role in American society. We have been "joiners" since the founding. DeTocqueville commented on this. Our first instinct when we see a problem is to organize a group to solve it. Local groups for local issues, state groups for state issues, etc.

We seem to be losing that tendency. To many people, everything is a Federal government issue, requiring a Federal government solution. The more government solutions we have, the more power is concentrated in a system which can be manipulated by those in power.

As the old adage has it: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Decentralized government and less federal control over everything is one answer to the corruption of both government and corporate power. You can fight Walmart or your school board in your neighborhood and win, but try winning the same battle in Congress fighting corporate tax breaks or the common core.

To those who say "the systems seem to work to sustain that status quo."

Yes, exactly. Shrink the system, and you shrink the influence that can be wielded by manipulating that system.