Can we do without it?
And if not, how much of it?

– If ‘no government’, then who would pay for the army we need to defend ourselves?

Ooops… you’ve just answered the ‘why does Russia ‘encourage’ the trolls who push ludicrous libertarian ideas’ question. Which trolls attempt to achieve two things at once. Weaken the concept of free government and give libertarian-ism a bad rep. Transforming libertarian-ism into yet another form of extremism.

Let’s get serious and try to find an answer to ‘why, and how much of it, do we need government?’

The boring one would be: ‘Whenever one government falls, another one takes over. The interregnum is always bad so… let’s get used to it’.

‘Getting used to it’ works only for very short expanses of time. Left on its own, all ‘government’ becomes sloppy. So sloppy that it soon becomes such a burden that even the most ‘used to it’ lose their patience.
Government, all of them, need to be kept on a tight leash. Otherwise it will soon cease to perform as intended.

– But if you have to keep it on a tight leash, why bother with any in the first place?
Can’t we do without such a bothersome pet?
What’s the point of the whole thing, anyway?

Instinctively, we’re against ‘government’ for two reasons.
It costs us a lot and it used to represent the interests of the ruler.

Until 10 000 or so years ago, we didn’t need ‘government’.
People were living more or less like the modern day Sun People still do. In the Kalahari desert… small bands roam the place, living of the land. The bands are small – so that they might find sustenance, they don’t have any ‘private’ property to protect, hence they don’t need government. Neither did our ancestors.

As soon as people ‘invented’ agriculture – raising ‘tame’ animals at first and working the land soon after, things had changed dramatically.
The advent of agriculture brought two things. An increased productivity and private property.
Soil has not been born equal. Both pastures and arable land can be good, passable or bad. People wish to have the best. Those who already have it are willing to defend it and those who don’t are willing to steal it.
Increased productivity means that those who produce are able to hire people to protect their ‘means of production’. Their property. As a consequence of fighting for it, some people accumulate more and more of it.
More and more ‘means of productions’ – property, means an ever increasing need for ‘management’ and an ever increasing need for ‘protection’. Soon you have a very ‘wealthy’ owner – the lord of the place, call it what you like or use the name given to him by his subjects, the people who perform the day to day management of the ‘whole-sale property’ and those who protect it from ‘marauders’. Both the ‘managers’ – read ‘government’, and the ‘protectors’ – read ‘army’, used to be under the direct supervision of the local lord.
For a while – for as long as the lord kept everything in balance, everybody was happy. The ‘peasants’ were happy because thy were safe, the ‘managers’ were happy because the wise lord used to appreciate their work and ‘compensated’ them accordingly, the ‘protectors’ were happy because they were well fed and taken care of. According to this article, the great Egyptian had been built by willing people, not by slaves.
But soon enough, the lord had become estranged from his people. Government had become an instrument used to extract more and more wealth from the peasants while the army was used to protect the government against the people and, whenever possible, to increase the property of the ruling lord by stealing some from the neighboring ‘lords’. The ’empire’ was born.

But this development could take place only in certain circumstances. Where those below the ruling lord had nothing more to do than to obey. Where the best subject was the disciplined one. Where autonomous thinking and imagination were frown upon by the ruler. Where one mind was enough.
Whenever the ‘environment’ mandated the individuals to remain relatively autonomous, proto-democratic forms of self government had been experimented. From the nomadic pastoralists of the Central Asia to the sailing communities in Ancient Greece and Medieval Scandinavia. Those driving herds or sailing ships need to be a lot more independent-minded that those who just tile the earth. No offense intended here! Simple observation will notice that where the geography of the place had allowed it, somebody had ‘built’ an empire. The Nile Valley, the Middle East, the Russian plain, China, Mexico…
Where ever the geography of the place was fragmented enough by sail-able sea, proto-democratic forms of self-management had been developed. The sailing Ancient Athens versus the land-locked Sparta, Medieval Scandinavia versus Medieval France…

Fast forward to present day.
When we have two forms of government.
The more or less democratic ones. Those under whose ‘guidance’ discussions like the present one can happen.
And the more or less authoritarian ones. Which actively discourage autonomous thinking.

Mind you, there are no ‘perfect’ governments.
There’s no perfectly democratic arrangement anywhere on Earth. Because we are imperfect human beings.
And there’s no ‘perfect’ authoritarian government. Because no government can survive for long if it attempts to centralize the decision power. The closer a government gets to being perfectly authoritarian, the smaller is the crisis needed to topple it. Unless it is supported from the out-side but that’s another topic.

So. It is fairly simple to understand how authoritarian governments fail. Too much ‘stiffness’ makes it impossible for authoritarian governments to evolve. To find solutions for whatever challenges pop up constantly.

But what can go wrong with the collective forms of self-rule? With the participative forms of social self management? Otherwise known as democracies?
Lack of enough popular involvement. Due to a sense of apparent safety, initially. And to a feeling of apparent impotence, soon after.
Lack of enough fore-sight. Those who should know better become distracted, for whatever reasons.
Too much opportunism. More and more of the ‘insiders’ use ‘the power of the government’ to fulfill their own, private, goals instead of making sure that ‘government’ works properly.

And what does that mean?

A government works properly when the community which self manages itself using that particular (form of democratic) government survives in the long run.
When those momentarily working inside the government make things happen for the community at large.
When people, both inside and outside the government, follow, in spirit, Kennedy’s words.

Am I being naive?
Maybe… But wouldn’t it be a nice thing to have?
A nice thing to chase, anyway?

And what better way to chase ‘it’ than voting for people who at least pretend to be honest? Who at least make the ‘right’ noises? Whom we can hold accountable whenever they break their promises?
Instead of voting for those who promise barrels and barrels of ‘pork‘?

Ideological pork or hands-on pork, I don’t know which is worse…