Thursday, November 25, 2004

So what if the UN lacks virtue?

Between the "Oil-for-Kickbacks" scandal, where Iraqis were impoverished and Saddam was made wealthy through corrupt UN bureaucrats, and the "Money-for-Sex" it seems that the UN lacks virtue. I'm not sure why this is surprising since it is staffed by human beings who, on average, have mediocre intelligence and morals, but there is something about groups that take a higher moral tone that raises expectations.

I believe that humans biologically "want" strong leaders that will "do the right thing", and this longing drives much of the demand for government intervention, and when the problem is too big for a nation state, supra-government intervention. And the mother of all supra-governments these days is the UN, which is why it's become the symbolic nexus of trans-national progressives (what the communitarian biological drive behind communism morphed into).

The problem with the UN is not that it is corrupt -- any human endeavors will have corruption -- but that there is no competition or accountability in its actions. With a lack of these, competition will move towards individuals power-seeking, money-seeking, safety-seeking, quiet life-seeking, and perk-seeking, with accountability only at the individual level (i.e. "did I get what I was seeking?") This is in essence why other communitarian systems, such as communism, fail--they do not factor in the human preference for putting themselves, their family, and their friends (in that order) above others.

So what to do with the UN? The human desire for a strong, virtuous leader collides with the human preference for selfishness--there will always be a desire for supra-governance, and this supra-governance will always be corrupt. Can there be several world-governments? Can the current pretender (the UN) be neutered, so it continues to act as a symbol, sating our atavistic longings, but doing nothing and thus costing no more than what American taxpayers flush down that stinking drain?


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