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Government Ain't Got No Soul

Summary: Individuals can be touched by grace. Government can't. Grace tempers the individual. It can't temper the government.

In June 2007, Michael Moore was promoting his movie Sicko. In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, he said he wanted government to take over health care. In response to potential objections about big government, he said, “[G]overnment is supposed to be of, by, and for us. That means we're in charge of it. If we say the government sucks, we're kind of saying that we suck.”

That certainly has a ring of truth to it.

But it reveals that Mr. Moore has a fundamental core of ignorance when it comes to the question and reality of Power.

I capitalize “Power” to point to the problem with Power: It is a thing with a distinct identity and its own interests and pursuits: it's a living thing that preserves itself, seeks to better itself, seeks to enlarge itself. It is, in a sense, a person, and its proper name is (“Power”).

And it doesn't matter if the person was put into existence by Dr. Frankenstein or a million voters. Once it gets put into existence, it starts to grow.

Just as power in the soul of individuals turns us all into metaphysically two-hearted persons--possessing a heart of love and a heart for power–the soul of governmental power bifurcates the state into a composite creature of altruism and power.

The altruism is what makes its handlers think they're using power to do good (all people seek to do what they think is good, even if it's in reality evil), like Tolkien's Boromir thinking he would bring goodness out of Sauron's Ring of Power.

But the altruism always increases the Power. The state cannot undertake any action unless it has the Power, so when Power's handler says it wants to do something for the good of the people, it might be sincere, but it's also feeding itself at the same time, like the swooning and penetratingly-serious young man who swears to his girlfriend that he loves her and merely wants to show her how much . . . if she'll just submit a little bit of herself to his lascivious control.

When Lord Acton wrote that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, he was correct, but he missed a key mitigating factor: grace. The corrupting effects of power can be mitigated–softened, even wiped out–by love, which is instilled by grace.

The problem is, grace works in the soul, not in the body politic. Grace can combat the lust for power in the soul, but the thing known as Power has no soul. It has no principle that lets it receive grace.

Therefore, once in place, governmental Power will only grow and corrupt. It doesn't matter who handles it, whether a Bourbon monarch or democratically-elected Senators. “Democracy” is really just “monocracy.”