Man’s Thirst for Power (And Why Politics Will Never Work Because of It)

The purpose of the state is clear: It is the system by which a community is governed. Because of the laws of social contracts, a need arises for a system which defends the natural rights of individuals. In the Declaration of Independence, these natural rights are defined as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and it is the role of government to defend these ideals, but let us consider why government must be formed in the first place.

Many have used the classic example of the “deserted island” government building scenario to teach the philosophies of Locke, social contracts, equality, and natural law. These ideas dictate that government exists at the consent of the governed, and that law is a necessary part of society.

We as human beings are constantly forming social contracts with each other, and when these social contracts are broke, the need for law becomes apparent. A third party must mediate between the two parties that formed this social contract. But why are social contracts broken in the first place?

I believe this question can be answered by stating that man is imperfect. It is this philosophy that I believe explains why any form government will always be doomed for failure. How can a system, as perfect as it may be, survive when it inherently rewards those who sacrifice their integrity in order to accumulate power? In a system that rewards bad behavior (look no further than Anthony Weiner), it is destined to bring out the worst in us.

There is something in the nature of mankind and our natural instincts that drives us to compete, to survive. Man’s desire for power is something that has driven the course of history in remarkable ways. The story of mankind without that instinctive need to dictate, dominate, and drive the decisions of other people would be entirely different. 

In a Lew Rockwell interview with James Altucher, Rockwell states that:

Virtually everybody in politics desires to be some kind of dictator. They burn to rule others. I think it is very difficult to go anywhere in politics unless you share that ethos.

In this same interview, Altucher describes his foray into “the machine” of political process. He attempts to run for the senate (eventually withdrawing from the race) and shares some of his insight and sentiments that he gained from the experience. It provides supportive insight into this idea that mankind’s desire for power and self-interest is what drives politics. It is for the reason he withdrew from the race, espousing a new opinion that it is from external influence, from pressure outside the political system, that we are able to bring effective change to society. Altucher states:

Everybody has their hand out for something, and its not money, its a lot more subtle than that. Everybody has something that they want, or something that they want to trade. They move up in the machine because they traded their souls for something else.

Rockwell argues that the “moral path” and the only path that can change hearts and minds is not through the political process, but by the power of volunteerism.

It is upon these principles of volunteerism that YAL, and we as members, operate. We do not receive reward for our desire for change. We do not receive monetary compensation, nor bait favors from our peers to accomplish agendas driven by self-interest. 

In order to conquer this inherent thirst for power and the eventual demise of our government, we must exercise our right of voluntary service. This service is motivated by the “good” nature of man: a desire for better lives for ourselves, our neighbors, and our children. A desire to establish a system in which we may freely choose for ourselves what course our lives will take. By freely participating in an organization like YAL, we are bringing about good change that could never be accomplished through “the machine” of politics.

Content published on the Young Americans for Liberty blog is only representative of the opinions and research of the individual authors. It does necessarily reflect the views, goals, or membership of YAL.

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