A Most Unpopular Opinion

A couple of weeks ago, UP with Steve Kornacki ran a segment on unpopular opinions. As it happens, I agreed with most of those unpopular opinions - I also don't like term limits for legislators or balanced budget amendments and I'm glad President Ford pardoned Nixon.

I also don't like independence movements - not much anyway. I don't think smaller and more socially homogeneous is better. I tend to think we're all better off in the long run if we are forced to live with and make compromising decisions with people we don't like. I also think we're probably better off when heterogeneous groups have one central government that both embodies their hopes and contains their frustrations. I'm convinced that without Washington, London, Paris, Moscow, New Delhi or Beijing, the peoples of the earth would be even more at each others throats than is currently the case.

I understand there is a lot of current controversy concerning the conclusions drawn by Jared Diamond and Napoleon Chagnon as to the nature of endemic tribal warfare, but I don't think we need rely on their observations alone. Even cursory reading in Western Civ convinces me that big government essentially evolved to curb inter- and intra-tribal warfare.

From the Delian League to NATO, from the Peace and Truce of God to the United Nations, humans have recognized the need to put aside individual autonomy and petty squabbles to serve a larger purpose.

I understand and applaud the independence movements that are driven by a sense of exclusion from the larger entity, but I would hope that in time even they can come to see themselves - and be seen - as a valuable part of a larger whole.

It's all very well and good and ideologically comforting to envision a future in which Western Washington State combined with Western Oregon and Northern California to form a radiantly blue mega-nation. It's equally scary to think of Texas seceding to form a more perfect red state.

Should anything like those pipe-dreams ever come to pass, we won't need the spurious examples from New Guinea or the Amazon to convince us of the value of big government. If only because fear and loathing of the larger entity takes our minds off the fear and loathing we would otherwise feel for the people next door.