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The End of Control

We utilize systems to achieve goals whether it's defending the country or fighting poverty or making the trains run in time or achieving political change.

Modem systems are systematic creatures that aim to achieve goals by maximizing control over all the subsidiary elements of the problem.

So if you set out to solve poverty, you need control over all the social and economic elements that either cause poverty or could be used to ameliorate poverty. Those elements include the sum amount of national wealth for the purposes of wealth redistribution, the rate of  unwed teen pregnancies and any forms of racial discrimination... and that's just for starters. Even poverty, which would seem like a rather simple phenomenon becomes a system which takes into account tools like abortion, progressive taxation and discrimination laws.

The scope of each social problem becomes so limitless that all social problems must merge into a Holistic Socialism of piano wire in which every string touched spreads vibrations everywhere. Solving even the most minor problem requires solving all the problems and the only solution is the absolute power of the system.

Socialism relies on systems as means to achieve social ends. The systems develop policies that control as a means to achieve those ends. 

When the ends are not achieved then the system responds by intensifying the depth and scope of the control. Increasing control is the only solution of the system to failure. 

And so the system changes from pursuing control as a means to pursuing control as an end.

Socialism, like most systems of government derived from it, has enshrined control as an end in and of itself. 

As O'Brien said in 1984, the purpose of power is power. And control is just another word for power. 

Systems may be formed to achieve moral ends but they are no more moral in and of themselves than a hammer. The longer a system exists, the more it comes to exist for itself and its power becomes its own end. 

A hammer exists to hammer. A hammer in the hands of a man is a tool, but a hammer that exists for its own sake is a destructive force. A bureaucracy exists to regulate to achieve a specific end, but a bureaucracy that exists for its own sake is tyranny. It seeks to control for the sake of control. It wields power for the sake of power. 

It insists that its ends are moral, but as they are not achieved, the true end of control is revealed. 

Socialism begins with control to achieve social ends only for control to become the end. And that leads to the end of freedom.

An institution vested with power becomes an institution of power.  The response of the left to this inevitable fact of human history is to insist that granting unlimited power to their institutions will have different results because their purposes are moral. But moral purposes can only be vested in people, not institutions. Ideology can take control of institutions but once control is achieved then the ideology comes to exist for the sake of the institution. That is how the grand ambitions of the left died in China and Russia. That is how it may die in Europe and America.

As a system becomes its own purpose, it uses the purposes of others as camouflage. It promises to solve problems that it has no intention of solving as means of extracting resources from those who want the problem solved. 

Initially the system may be run by those who do want to solve the problem and see the system as the only way to do so but as the system grows and spreads their motives become mixed. 

Bureaucracy is the essence of the system and exists to keep track of and implement its many rules. The rules are the tools of control and their purpose is to make the unpredictable into the predictable. 

The rules start life as the means but as with all means of tyranny they become the ends by which the bureaucracy exercises its power. 

Rules in a bureaucracy operate on different levels. On one level they are meant to achieve a socially responsible end, but on another they benefit the allies of the bureaucracy. On a third level they exist to justify the expansion of the bureaucracy and to allow it to wield its power. On a fourth level they define status within the bureaucracy. 

So for example an environmental initiative may be intended to lessen pollution levels on the surface but also rewards environmental groups and consultancies whose lobbying enhances the power and funding of the EPA. On a third level, the EPA now uses the initiative to expand the scope of its authority and request more funding to hire more people in the D.C. pecking order between government agencies. On a fourth level, this influences the pecking order within the organization.

The EPA is an environmental organization but it's an organization and in the long run when the institutional long marches have been completed, it is the organizational part that will matter more,

The left provides tyranny with the social motive to come into being, but in the long run the left Is only the midwife of tyranny. Its ideology and activists dismantle democracies and burgeoning democracies and replace them with tyrannies. 

Whether it's Islam or a conventional oligarchy or a cult of personality tyrant, the left's role is to act as the virus that kills the host and then allows it to be fed on by predators in the hopes of infecting them in turn. 

The left injects bureaucratic collectivism into a healthy state to control it, but in the long run the bureaucratic collectivism will outlive it as it becomes the end for which the left was only the means.


  1. It's not significantly more moral to control people for the sake of solving problems like poverty than to control them for the sake of control. There is only one moral control paradigm: to control those who intend to use force to take something from others or to hurt others. It's not moral to take from some to give to others, be it to alleviate poverty or to enrich the bureaucracy. The ends really don't justify the means unless it's to control immoral force. That's why it's so easy to go from control for the good of humanity to control for the sake of a few humans.

    The following is from a CBS story describing Obama's upcoming trip to Africa that will cost between $60 million and $100 million. All supposedly for a good cause, but how can one tell and why should one care what cause it is for unless it's to protect the US from some certain adverse force?

    The president will hold meetings with "a wide array of leaders from government, business, and civil society, including youth," according to a White House press release announcing the trip, and seek to "underscore the [his administration's] commitment to broadening and deepening cooperation between the United States and the people of sub-Saharan Africa to advance regional and global peace and prosperity."

    "Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency.

    Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president's airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close."

  2. Anonymous16/6/13

    Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy : "...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

  3. This is a very well-put and articulate essay that identifies the process by which Americans, for example, have become the host to numerous federal (and state, as well) bureaucratic parasites, such as the EPA, the IRS, and the Social Security Administration (to name but a few). Initially, these bureaucracies existed to solve "problems," and were the size of pit bulls, but over time their purposes became to exist simply to perpetuate themselves and expand their powers of control and, not least, of confiscation of private wealth, and became mammoth, omnivorous drooling beasts. The EPA has a vested interest in pollution control, and is ever discovering new sources of pollution to control. The IRS has a vested interest in helping to fund its own growth (given the rising percentage of income it is mandated to collect from everyone) and that of other federal bureaucracies that came into existence after 1913 (and every President since Wilson has had a hand in fostering the creation of those other bureaucracies, including Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge). The Social Security Administration has a vested interest also in collecting taxes to fund its own existence and to perpetuate its own rationale for collecting them.

    Soon they and their sibling federal agencies become hammers that exist because they are hammers. They scream anarchy and national ruin and "social injustice" the moment they hear a peep about their abolition or a mere reduction in size and number of employees.

    Then there is the Drug Enforcement Agency, created to "fight the war on drugs," which it will never win and has no intention of winning, because, theoretically, even if it could win that particular phony war, it will have accomplished its initial purpose and would hypothetically dissolve into nothing. Its directors and personnel have no intention of letting that happen. The ATF exists to "control" and "police" alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, ostensibly to "fight crime," but its directors and personnel have a vested interest in never really "policing" the crimes associated with alcohol, tobacco, and guns because never winning those "wars" perpetuates the existence of that police state power.

    And each and every one of the aforementioned agencies is angling for more power with which to entrench themselves in the economy and in men's minds. "We are necessary for your existence," they tell productive Americans, "and if we perish, your lives will be living hells. So, we exist, and you must deal with us, and if you do not, we will make your lives living hells. Deal with it."

  4. Daniel,

    I am so glad you did these story on systems. Few parents appreciate that learning to think in terms of designed (and thus subject to redesign upon majority will) social systems is a huge part of what is going on in K-12 education now. It is a big part of what is meant by reform and learning to think "holistically." The mantra of everything is interdependent is to be one of the supermemes of this next generation. Right up there with social justice.

    I have done many posts explaining what this will mean and the dangers to all of us of so many future voters having this cultivated mindset. I get panicked correspondence from parents all over the country now on this. We also have the US National Academy of Sciences in connection with their Sustainability push and using education to create an unwavering belief in it declaring that humans are merely "socio-technical systems."

    Embedded in an environment of other social systems like the community and the economy and the physical environment. There is even a name for all this-Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory to create a belief that these systems can simply be reengineered. It is an important component of the new C3 Social Studies Framework that is already influencing what will be taught. In K-12 and higher ed.

    http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-granted-permission-to-spearhead-societal-evolution-to-a-global-cooperative-consciousness/ lays out the totalizing vision. Using a handout school districts have been distributing on what systems thinking implies. Of course they did not appreciate I would locate the author's book and detail the full implications.

    Systems thinking=A Mindset Primed for Collectivism and being Ruled Over. The push is an integral part of the 21st century transformation vision being quietly hatched in our schools.

    Those institutions virtually everyone passes through for an extended period when their brain and personality are most malleable.

  5. Bill Fetters16/6/13

    Thirty years ago I read a book called the "Instiutional Imperative" that says the same thing as your article although not with your eloquence or brevity. It is as true today as then. Thankyou Daniel.

  6. Another excellent article.

    I know you meant Orwell not O'Brien.

    "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. ... We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" --George Orwell, "1984" http://www.george-orwell.org/1 984/19.html

  7. O'Brien is the character in Orwell's 1984 who says it

  8. It seems like the worse things get, the democrats win more money and power. These students can't be failing because they're not even trying(unless the goal all along was to sweeten the "pot".


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