Only individuals can «do».
Government is certainly the coercive institution par excellence in society, but its operation depends on specific individuals. To repeat the axiom: Nothing deliberate happens anywhere, including government, without particular persons acting to make it happen.
People and firms in the private sector pay taxes, while government and its officials do not—except in a pro forma way that makes it look as if they pay taxes like everyone else. Public officials are paid with the people’s taxes—some of which they return to the Treasury. This gives them the appearance of being tax-payers rather than tax-users.
From our perspective of «», we can divide individuals in society into three important groups:
A: The people en masse who determine the social mood and whose views coalesce to form public opinion.
B: Many «legal individuals» like organizations and associations whose staff and members are obliged to pursue the goals of the «legal individual».
C: Officials who are persons in posts relevant to governing and to the well-being of society as a whole. These officials seek to shape the views and behaviours of specific individuals or organizations (B), as well as the people en masse (A).
There are three sub-groups of:
#1: Government officials including… elected politicians, government ministers, senior bureaucrats (civil or public servants), high-level advisors and special appointees, members of the judiciary.
#2: Officials of society’s powerful benefit-seeking groups like… presidents, board members, chief executives and senior employees of: labour unions, employer associations, industry lobbies, professional bodies (doctors, lawyers, scientists &c), other membership organizations.
#3: Official representatives of bodies concerned with society’s well-being and direction e.g. the media, the churches, non-profit reform-oriented associations, think-tanks, advocacy groups.
All individuals in Group C are in depersonalised roles i.e. «in office» or «holding an office», so we have labeled them all «»—capitalizing the word and using that term a bit more broadly than usual (i.e. to include politicians).
Onlymake choices for society; but the other exist in part to influence those choices. So, all are players in the political ball-park.
Manypotentially affect government choices—but the responsibility and power to make choices is decisively and narrowly focused on relatively few .
So what about the rest of us? You can only exert influence through membership of a group that is powerful enough to force some response. Within that group, only itshave the time and obligation to be politically active. So, each individual usually operates indirectly:
Being an official takes a lot of time and aggravation, so most of us do not bother unless it is a career choice. See more about participation in the next section.
Individuals do not count in a modern society. The uniqueness of each person just cannot be recognized from its perspective. That is an aspect of the «tragedy of individuality». Even prominent respected personalities only exert an influence by virtue of their social role. The moment that this role is lost, the individual and his/her views, however valid or brilliant, fade into insignificance. The words of the new incumbent, however mundane or even foolish, take on an aura of significance and are given serious attention by those who would otherwise be regarded as intelligent people.
principles of the Individualist mode. That immediately suggests:, being individuals, can be expected to operate with
Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 2 June 2014.