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March 17, 2020 / Congau

Society of Choice or Necessity

Society consists of free-willed humans, so what happens to it must be caused by human decisions. We can’t control the weather and natural disasters may occur, but other than that all events happen because humans make it happen. Often, though, it is as if we are just following an automatic process, but fact remains that all human affairs originate in previous conscious acts.

We know it came about that way, but very often it’s nearly impossible to trace the original decisions that made the present. Individual decisions disappear in the vast sea of causation and the actual scope of alternatives appear to be small.

We could theoretically decide to do something completely different today than we have ever done before, but we are more likely to follow in the existing path. The same is true for those who make the big decisions in society. Politicians are indeed responsible for the direction the community is taking, but they usually operate within a quite narrow range of what appears to be possible. Only rarely does a politician radically break out of what is to be expected, and in such cases, there is a revolutionary situation.

There’s something soothing about the feeling that no radical change is going to be decided upon. That gives us the impression that the fallible human affairs are somehow imitating nature so that nothing happens that wasn’t in a way meant to happen. We can’t blame anyone for a devastating earthquake and if the economy is going down and times are getting harder, it is easier to accept it if it is perceived as largely the work of a nature that no one can control.

Still we are taught to believe that we can influence our society and that change is a good thing. If only there is change for the better…

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