Don’t Break Down Institutional Limitations


Speaking of concepts in political theory that simply make sense, this paragraph from a Richard Fernandez essay, in which he suggests that the global order may break down before it succeeds in undermining all of human society, captures a crucial point:

The Narrative may be breaking down.  That would come none too soon.  One of the unappreciated risks of globalization is it destroyed the barriers to corruption formerly imposed by limitations in institutions.  The marvels of the modern age have made possible not only to spread organizations like Medicins sans Frontieres but also to proliferate crooks without borders.

The only way to ensure that insurmountable power stays out of the wrong hands is to keep it out of any hands.  The only way to keep the forces of corruption from engulfing society is to pit them against each other.

One of the stranger peculiarities of our current political landscape is that the very same people who wish to make a safe, padded room of daily life have little appreciation for the value of barriers between institutions for the safety of our civic system.  The simplest explanation is that they’re really striving to make themselves feel safe, which means forbidding contrary actions and ideas.  That only works, however, until the people in whom they entrust so much power find their own comfort to require something not quite as safe and secure for the rest of us.