The Pathos of Politics – Modern Government

Modern Government

Behold with how little wisdom the world is governed. ~ Swedish statesman Axel Oxenstierna in 1648

Throughout history, the core functions of government have been essentially the same: to control the populace, but especially, to extract bounty, so that the government may rule over them. Government is parasitic, but more parasitic to some than others. Governmental revenue flow represents a redistribution from the less favored to the privileged.

The State is the coldest of cold monsters. ~ French politician Charles de Gaulle

With rare historical exception, the disadvantaged classes are squeezed to benefit those not needing further enrichment. As power flows to the powerful, governments are, by nature, plutocratic.

Injustice is heaped upon inequity. The US is exemplary. Across the country, state and local authorities fine anyone arrested, and keep the “booking fee,” regardless of later disposition. This practice, exercised much more on the poor than the well-off, mocks the idea of innocent until proven guilty.

Providing a profit motive to make arrests gives officers an incentive to make improper arrests. ~ American attorney Michael Carvin

Beyond ameliorating the natural predation that would occur in a lawless land, how much government benefits society as a whole has been a major issue throughout history. Government typically takes more than it returns. This sapping is a diminishment upon what society would otherwise be. This fact makes anarchism appear much more reasonable than it would be in a more moral world.

That things are not going as well as they ought to be going must be due to human wickedness. ~ German-born British economist E.F. Schumacher

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The 3 basic operations of government are another constant. There is the generation of laws, their adjudication, and their administration. This functional triad naturally divides into a legislature, a judiciary, and an executor.

The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself. ~ American author Ursula Le Guin

Governments are practitioners of the law only to the degree that it suits them. Extra-legal actions readily transpire when circumstances require. The waffling history of jurisprudence amply demonstrates justification in the aftermath.

In contrast, being willing and able to exert coercion is something governments are invariably invested in. Coercion is the means for the state to ensure its own perpetuation, regardless of societal cost.

Though it might seem logical, states do not necessarily seek a monopoly on violence. The endless slaughter of innocents tolerated in the United States from public possession of firearms demonstrates that protecting the citizenry is unimportant to that country’s leadership. This is but an extreme example of a universality.

Socioeconomically, governments address 2 basic issues: 1) the degree to which exploitation of the working class by the overclass is tolerated (that is, how unfettered capitalism is allowed to function); and 2) the degree of compassion shown to the underclass (that is, the extent of the welfare state).

Modern governments, especially democracies, are entirely reactive. Real leadership does not exist. Nothing is done unless there is a perception of political reward, or, conversely, that doing nothing entails considerable political risk.

What experience and history teach is that people and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it. ~ Georg Hegel

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Economic and political evolutions have been an entangled gyre. The modern state emerged with industrialization and its attendant complication of commercial arrangements.

Modern industry needed the subsidy of infrastructure that only a modern government could provide. Modern enterprise made its governmental counterpart possible, by providing the technology and hardware by which a widespread population could be subdued and taxed.

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The relation between the state and capital depends largely on 2 factors. Foremost is the scale and concentration of economic wealth within a society. That wealth purchases political influence is a mundane fact. Since the dominant economic institutions in modern societies are private corporations, governmental institutions – even when not under sway of corporate interests – toady to private wealth.

The 2nd factor determining the degree to which government suffers corporate corruption is whether there are constitutional safeguards against corporate power sinking its tentacles within the state. With no effective structural stop to plutocracy, the United States vividly illustrates this – the Trump administration blatantly so.

Men die, but the plutocracy is immortal; and it is necessary that fresh generations should be trained to its service. ~ American writer Sinclair Lewis

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Once we concede to the herd mentality, we can be controlled and directed by a tiny few. And we are. ~ English writer David Icke

The corporate and political regimes are especially entwined in having a common goal: economic growth, which serves 2 main societal functions. 1st, growth dramatically augments the wealth of the elites, thereby rewarding most those who dominate the economic-political system. 2nd, growth is the mechanism for incrementally increasing the incomes of the masses in the lower classes without threatening the existing class structure. The myth of socioeconomic mobility is watered by trickle-down economics.

As German sociologist and political economist Max Weber acutely observed in the late 19th century, corporate and government bureaucracy both burgeon along with the growth and complexity of the economy. These bureaucracies entangle to keep the growth engine purring.

By design, bureaucracy puts inordinate power in the hands of those at the top of the hierarchy. As society becomes increasingly managed bureaucratically, this concentration weakens the grasp of public interest on politics. In short, bureaucracies are antithetical to democracy; a fact amply illustrated (again, the US is a sterling example).

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. ~ American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow


The world map changed dramatically during the 20th century. At the century’s onset, there were fewer than 80 nations. Less than 1/3rd of the world’s populace lived in independent states. Most peoples were subjects of less than a dozen imperial powers, most expansively Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands.

At the beginning of the 21st century, there were 196 countries: an increase reflecting the demise of empires. Despite this dramatic upsurge, this is but 10% of the nearly 2,000 stateless nations: peoples without a country to call their own.


Palestine is a region in the cradle of Western civilization. During the Bronze Age it comprised independent city-states, much like contemporaneous Greece.

Alexander the Great conquered Palestine in the early 330s bce. It then became the eastern outskirts of the Roman Empire before falling into Muslim hands in 634. Palestine was ever a province, never a nation.

Palestine was administered by the Ottoman Empire until World War 1, and then overseen by the British. A 1947 UN partition plan ended in tatters when the resident Jews determined regional hegemony, to which Arabs took umbrage. Israel was born in the heartland of Palestine as the victor in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Today, 133 countries recognize Palestine as a nation, but it remains stateless, as it has throughout history. The bits of land under Palestinian control are impoverished, and its fiery folk dispirited.


In many places, national boundaries do not respect cultural identities. The nearly 30 million Kurds in southwest Asia are exemplary. Centuries of conquest, colonization, and treaties has produced a patchwork world.

The essence of the modern state is centralized authority, bureaucratic management, and delivery of public services that only a state would be willing to provide (and then, more often than not, doling out services most begrudgingly).

The qualities of industrialized societies, and the state of Nature within nations, are a reflection of governmental effectiveness. Alienation, polarization, pollution, and gross inequities are the byproducts of modern governance.


Morocco is a mountainous country at the northwest tip of Africa, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Settled by Phoenicians in the 2nd millennium bce, Morocco was later the westernmost province of the Roman Empire.

The Arabs conquered Morocco in the late 7th century, in the region known as the Maghrib (the West), whereupon the majority of Moroccans converted to Islam.

Early European attempts at colonization in the late 15th century were repulsed, but the country was finally overtaken in the 19th century, and became a French protectorate. Morocco gained its independence in 1956 and became a constitutional monarchy; the only one in north Africa.

Led by a king, Morocco has a bicameral parliament: a hereditary upper chamber and a popularly elected lower chamber. A prime minister heads the cabinet, which constitutes the executive.

Although all citizens are franchised and have equal rights, discrimination against women is as expected. Few women hold political positions of any significance.

The overwhelming authority of the monarch, Mohammed VI, has been a subject of debate and criticism. In 2011, Moroccan voters approved a new constitution proposed by the king which expanded the powers of the prime minister and parliament but left the sovereign with broad authority over all branches of government.

Morocco is stable, relatively free, and prosperous, though poverty remains pronounced in rural areas. Political discontent lingers, but gradualism is the popular approach among progressives.

The monarch is popular. His efforts to grant women more rights and tackle poverty have been well received. Most Moroccans credit him for the country’s stability. Critics grumble that he is a cunning politician.

The king has capitalized on the calm by positioning the country as a hub for European manufacturers with tax breaks and good logistics. Morocco sports the world’s largest concentrated solar plant and plans for high-speed rail lines are moving ahead.

Not everything is rosy. The average Moroccan must deal with a stifling bureaucracy.

The further you get away from the king, the harder things become. ~ Canadian sociologist Merouan Mekouar

Those close to the royal court use their proximity to advance pet projects and line their pockets. There is a pronounced lack of accountability. Oversight is amiss, and the press is muzzled in criticizing the monarchy.

Protests over pay and employment are common, and often broken up by police brutality. When protesters questioned the enormous royal budget in 2012 they were badly beaten for it.

Many Moroccans are ill-equipped to question their king. Almost 1/3rd of the population is illiterate.

Predictably, poverty has been the primary motivator for youth to respond to the siren song of religious extremism. The king has countered with a religious training institute which promotes his moderate brand of Islam. Cunning indeed.