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The Most Important Political Question You Will Ever Answer

QuestionnaireBoxThere is something wrong with the world. Everyone, save a few Pollyanna hold outs, knows this.

Thus, one of the most ideologically revealing questions that a person can answer is, “What is wrong with the world?” The second is like unto it, “Can it be fixed?”[1]

These form a great continental divide in areas of political & social vision.

Political and Social Vision relate to one’s perception not only of reality, but also of potential reality—What is possible and impossible in human interaction and in the cultivation of social systems.

Put simply (I hope), these questions determine what a person believes can and cannot be accomplished socially in the world and what processes they believe are best employed to accomplish it.

While almost any position can be measured on a graded scale rather than by points on a line… (on a scale of one to ten, how confident are you that…) …it is helpful to posit two points as basic answers to the fundamental question, “What is wrong with the world?”

  1. Some believe that the problem with the world is people. People are hopelessly self-interested and short-sighted, tending to take the path of least resistance, easy attainment, and shortest perceived distance. People are extremely limited in knowledge and wisdom. While individuals may differ in SMALL measures from each other in their levels of selfishness, short-sightedness, intelligence, knowledge and wisdom, they are still hopelessly restrained by these realities. In his monumental work, A CONFLICT OF VISIONS, Thomas Sowel labels this group as those possessing a restrained vision of man.
  2. Some believe that the problem with the world is found in human systems, not human people… though they view people as slaves to these systems until someone who is not a slave to them (i.e. those special elite few who are smarter than your average bear) rescues them. [I make no claim to impartiality in my descriptions… but they are ideologically accurate in spite of my rancor.] People, they imagine have a nearly unlimited capacity for change, development, learning and discerning. Indeed, if one were to get the laws right, the government right, the culture right, and the mental perceptions of reality right, almost anything is possible. Thus, this group is labeled as those possessing an unrestrained vision of man.[2]

We could spend a lot of time tracing out the implications of these two differences in how they express themselves in terms of government, education, law, crime, inequality and the like,[3] but today I’d like to focus on one, small, but important, difference in the way these groups perceive reality and, more importantly, the way they present themselves to the masses when striving to implement their vision of reality.


Those with an unrestrained vision of man… i.e. those with a confidence in the human capacity to overcome the world’s ills by tweaking or else reinventing present social systems of government, law, social thinking, and culture, present themselves as having SOLUTIONS. They also enjoy fabricating CRISES in order to champion their SOLUTIONS. Every crisis is an opportunity to get the panicking to give away personal power to those promising solutions.

As one person actually said to me, “I’d gladly give the government the authority to search my home without a warrant if it meant that they could go house to house and find all the bad people.” Yes… she actually said, “bad people.”

The language of solutions can be subtle in things like “winning the war on drugs,” “no child left behind,” “war on poverty,” “defeating” prejudice, “eliminating” bullying, hunger, violence, crime, disease, or birth defects.

Since these self-defined elites deem most people the world over to be poorly educated in comparison to themselves (after all they themselves are smart enough to envision a world that can be fixed by their own engineering), it becomes essential that lesser people be forced to comply with the designs of these elite thinkers. Life, liberty and especially property must be wrenched from the hands of the unwilling to be used as the elite see fit… after all, living in the world that the elite will create is the only hope that the clods around them have of ever finding true happiness. Of course, if you want to make an omelet…

They like to cloak themselves in a flag, a lab coat, or doctor’s scrubs… whichever casts them in the most plausible light; They present themselves as heroes riding in upon a white charger to save the world, even though they usually seek to force others into their mold at the end of government’s gun. If they can only change the way people think, they imagine that they can solve any problem. When their solutions fail, of course, they heap blame upon those who have resisted their change… This is where, history tells us, that vast imprisonment programs or mass murder has typically come in.


Those with a restrained vision of man, lack confidence in the human capacity to overcome the world’s ills, since the biggest ill in it is human nature itself… which can bend, but not break. These do not seek SOLUTIONS, they weigh TRADE-OFFS, and seek to lessen undesirable conditions while weighing the cost to benefit ratio of any attempt to alter society.

I know. I feel the same way. It’s not only a real bummer, it’s also much easier to explain power hungry elitists than to nuance the restrained confidences of those with a restrained vision of human capabilities… but I’ll do my best. Stay with me.

Since no one is smart enough to anticipate the unintended consequences of any action in highly complex systems like cultures, economies, ecologies and the like, those who are convinced in the innate limitations of people tend to trust the  processes of society & culture to the natural outcomes resulting from the conflicting self-interest of millions of free people and from the competition of free markets.

They want to influence people’s choices by appeals, but are hesitant to steal away basic human freedoms to force change.

They view the role of government to be mostly[4] limited to the protection of the natural rights of the citizenry, in order to create the needed environment in which a free-market remains as free as possible from criminal manipulation. Thus, it is essential that government protect each individual’s life, liberty and property from the malicious designs of his neighbor, whether that “neighbor” is local, global or governmental.

The freedom of the individual is, thus, paramount. It involves a freedom not only to make the best choices for one’s self and one’s children as to what to do with life, liberty and property (without violating the life, liberty or property of another), but also the freedom to suffer the consequences of one’s choices.

Thus, charity becomes an important part of existing in a community, in which the individual gives willingly from his stores to help his neighbor… but they reject the very notion of a government confiscation of one individual’s property in order to artificially prop up another; this is not charity but theft.

So, back to the first question, “What’s wrong with the world?”

Is it human nature, whose propensity for selfishness can be used and curtailed for the betterment of all, but never eradicated?

Or is it, faulty systems, which really really smart people could fix if we’d only let them make all our choices for us, and give them a free hand with our lives, liberty and propery?

Honestly, only one of these is biblical on any level.

[1] Other foundational questions would be, “Is there a creator?” & “What is the Creator like?”

[2] This leads, on the whole, to what many have labeled leftwing politics… progressives, socialists, communists, Marxists, liberation theologians, fascists and other forms of totalitarian rule.

[3] For instance, 1. It is the governments job to take care of everyone. 2. Education should be completely controlled by the elite who hold this vision of man. 3. Law should be a flexible tool in the hands of the elite to push society in one direction or another as the elite see fit, day to day. 4. Criminals are victims of society, products of faulty systems and should not be held responsible for their actions, even if we are forced to contain the damage they do. The only true crime is committed by those who resist the elites’ vision for society. 5. Equality is not measured by “fair processes” and “equally applied rules” but by final products. People are victims not of their choices but of their circumstances, which faulty societal systems created… therefore any difference in final outcome is the product of unfairness, bigotry, racism, and the like. The elite must be free from law in order to manipulate law freely, so as to craft, day by day, the final results that they desire. 6. These elite elect favorites and enemies and desire to curtail the rules of society to bolster up the one and to hamstring the other.

[4] There are some aspects of a society that only a government can control by consent of the populace, (Military, larger projects protecting the environment in which free markets thrive, shared road systems, public water supply and the like) but that is a discussion for another day.

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