Sunday, November 8, 2009

A heavenly dialog on the origins of government

I recently discovered some things I was playing around with back in 1994. I thought I would share one of these writings with interested readers here, written in the spirit of Fred Allen's old TV program, Meeting of the Minds.

Origins of government

Scene: A Small neighborhood tavern in heaven. Three dead white European males are sitting together. A half-empty bottle of white wine rests on the table.

Karl Marx: I am still convinced that governments are simply mechanisms for ripping off the governed. In their original form, at any rate, governments cannot be distinguished from organized crime.

Adam Smith: Except for one major detail, my dear Karl, you could convince me that the motives inspiring the people who created the first governments were less than noble.

K. Marx: And what is the “major detail” that interferes with my ironclad historical proof?

Smith: Surely, if governments originated in the way that you contend, as protection rackets, we would have some historical record of such an unpleasant beginning.

Sigmund Freud: I’m not so sure of that. Perhaps our collective memory has repressed the bad news.

K. Marx: Oh, Siggy, is repression all you can ever think about? To hell with all that psychobabble! The truth is the historians at the time knew which side their bread was buttered on. If you irritate city hall, they’ll cut off your water.

A.Smith: And what if you were totally correct, Karl, about the origins of government? Don’t you see this tells us nothing about the governments of today? Why can’t you understand that even actions taken for totally selfish purposes may turn out to benefit people in general? If this is true in economics, why can’t it be true also in politics?

S. Freud: It is not all that easy to grow from an unhappy childhood to a happy adult life. The original governments may be dead and gone. But they are like the fish in the immortal cantata by P.D.Q. Bach, Ephigenia in Brooklyn: “All around him, fish were dying, …. And yet their stench did live on . . . .”

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