Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.
Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
What you of the CHOAM directorate seem unable to understand is that you seldom find real loyalties in commerce ... Men must want to do things of their own innermost drives. People, not commercial organisations or chains of command, are what make great civilizations work, every civilization depends upon the quality of the individuals it produces. If you overorganize humans, over-legalize them, suppress their urge to greatness — they cannot work and their civilization collapses.
— Frank Herbert, Children of Dune
All laws and regulations are only as good as the people who create, interpret, and implement them. Given the dominant strains of careerism, materialism, and narcissism among our current socioeconomic elites, this observation falls squarely on the side of those who counsel cynicism and despair.
In the long run, the biggest challenge we face is not writing new laws and regulations, but rather choosing better leaders. We might approach this project first by figuring out how to raise better humans.
Ah, if only it were that easy ...
© 2009 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.
[This post originally appeared at The Epicurean Dealmaker on December 14, 2009. It is reproduced here in its entirety.]