I Wonder

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wonder how many aspects of human life are not imaginary abstractions?
Birth, death, food, and reproduction are not imaginary, I suppose,
although much of what passes for thought in our minds is imaginary.
However, it seems to take considerable effort to imagine something
that has never existed before, like Leonardo da Vinci imagined his
flying machine. I wonder what would have happened if somebody had
imagined a useful connection between Archimedes' screw and the toy
steam engines that entertained folks centuries before Christ. Maybe
Julius would have become the founder of the Caesar Motor Company
instead of becoming just another politician stabbed in the back
by his buddies. But they had plenty of slaves to do the manual labor
in those days and the idea of building a machine to do the work
was plainly unimaginable.

wonder what the odds are that a native male child born today in
an Amazon rain forest would grow up to become an astronaut? Considering
the short life expectancy, the high mortality rate, the endemic
drug addiction, and the narrow focus of social life on internecine
rivalries, it would seem that the odds are high against such a child
acquiring the necessary imaginary abstraction of himself piloting
a rocket to the moon. If he can't think of it, he can't do it.

wonder why our ancient ancestors accepted the organizing principle
of the sword and slavery as the only kind of government they could
imagine? I wonder why this principle is still accepted by people
living today? I suppose I should forgive the ancients for their
lack of foresight, hindsight, or any insight at all into their repeated
failures to create a durable society, because the use of physical
force to get what we want is buried deep in our animal nature. I
cannot forgive the people living today, however, since it is plain
for all to see that the sword means extinction and that our enslavement
is nearly absolute. I wonder why we can't imagine a better way to
do things?

wonder what would have happened if people living in America and
in Europe during the 1800s would have listened to the likes of Frederick
Bastiat, Etienne de la Boetie, and Henry David Thoreau and acted
on their advice to mankind? What if France had become the first
political jurisdiction in the history of mankind to suspend all
meddling in the private affairs of individuals and businesses? What?
No tariffs? What if France had instituted a cash and carry justice
system? What? No taxes? Would America and England have lagged behind
when the world's wealth began to pour into and out of France? Would
this example have been ignored by Italy? Spain? Russia? Without
tariffs in America, whence the Civil War? But of course, they didn't
listen. Who could imagine what would happen if people ruled themselves
one by one and nobody was put in charge?

wonder if we human beings have a genetic disposition for doing things
that don't make sense? We have tried the sword and slavery model
of political government over and over and over and it always fails,
so we decide to try it again. We're kind of like the kid hunkered
down in his rain forest hut, snorting dope and trying to dream up
three ways to get even with his mother's cousin's nephew in the
village downstream; we can't imagine anything else. I wonder what
he'll wonder when the radioactive rain begins to fall?

but not least, I wonder how many people have read The
Art of Community
by Spencer H. MacCallum (Institute for
Humane Studies, Inc., 1970) I finally stumbled across this book
and read it recently. Mr. MacCallum is a good writer and a careful
scholar who presents an imaginative alternative to political government
without ever exactly saying that's what he's doing. Well, maybe
that isn't what he intended to do, but that's what he's done, and
it's no more mysterious in operation than your local shopping mall.
It makes my wondering whirl.

28, 2001

Klassen [send him mail] is
a medical technician and writer. Here’s
his web site.

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