September 2, 2002
Government and a Utopia Unveiled
Despite the relatively long existence of humankind (over 30,000 years), it is interesting to note that government is only one of our fairly recent creations. On the 30,000-year scale of humanity, it seems that we have spent over 20 of them abiding to no law but natures. This state of anarchy was only broken in the third trimester of our existence, when we discovered that the benefits of working together under a set doctrine completely outweighed individuality and selective factions. Planning, teamwork, and especially organization under a set of guidelines ensured and promoted not only basic survival and growth of the human race, but also the fairness of the means in which it was procured for us. In truth, we realized, as Nicolo Machiavelli so well put it, that all people (at some point or another) make mistakes and that without established and known guidelines, there is nothing to prevent them from doing so repeatedly. In our trimester of awakening, we gradually began to realize that we now needed government in order to efficiently set our standards, and enforce our laws and carry out repercussions in a manner of efficiency and justice. In fact, our need for government became so overwhelming, that we even consented to losing our natural rights, such as the persecution of enemies and the ability to do whatever is necessary in order to ensure our personal and family survival. We took the rights handed to us by nature and deliberately bestowed them upon our government. And due to such a great sacrifice on the part of the people, societal members do not pick their ruling governments lightly. In fact, we take our role as citizens very seriously, for we are truly the ones who ensure the productivity of our commonwealth. In truth, we reap what we sow, and history has proven this to us with countless examples of different dysfunctional governments. We have seen the effects of both extremes; too much leniency leads to general disrespect and too much control leads to overthrow. It is due to this simple fact of life (that we learn from our mistake) that ancient and even modern governments constantly undergo renovation. Yet despite the modification that governments constantly undergo, the very basic and crucial function of government has remained virtually unchanged since the concept’s existence.
Despite the great separation between the different values pertaining to the times, one can easily argue that the most widely accepted function of government is to provide justice and tranquility to its people. As early as the epoch of the great Greek city-states, we can see evidence of great philosophers such as Plato and Socrates indirectly stating their ideas about the true purpose of government through their ideas on man. Since man is the creator and benefactor of government, it is firstly important to distinguish what the purpose of man truly is. Plato and Aristotle essentially stated that virtue is knowledge, and which in fact can be taught. They believed that people fundamentally strive towards happiness, and since immorality never leads to happiness, people commit wrongs out of ignorance. Thereby, the philosophers suggested that man must be free to pursue knowledge in order to become moral. Yet this can only be achieved in a governmental structure which allows individuals the opportunity to pursue knowledge above other things. It must then be implied that such a concept can only be achieved through justice and that the true position of government is to provide people with justice so as to give them liberty to pursue knowledge. And similarly, two thousand years later, the renowned philosopher and writer, John Locke, elaborated on the same concept. Agreeing with the fact that justice is the essential concept behind every government, Locke elaborated by stating the three main functions of government: to set up laws, provide