Shaking Ourselves Apart

 

One of the features of highly geared machinery is that when one or more parts fail and you can’t stop the machinery to repair/replace a worn, warped, or damaged part, the continued workings of the machinery generate vibration. This vibration, if unaddressed, only grows with time and eventually the machine can literally shake apart. In other words, it self-destructs. And it doesn’t matter that some of its parts are working just fine or working with tolerable vibrations of their own — the entirety of the machinery is wrecked, its reasonably functioning parts made idle.

I wonder if this is an apt metaphor for what is happening in this country and why solutions seem increasingly extraordinary and unattainable? Our Founders drafted for our forebears’ approval a machine design. Like a fine watch, there were balancing mechanisms crafted to put limits on how much movement any part could deviate from its specified function. There were even features built-in to permit additions and changes to the machinery even as it continued to operate. But the one thing it could not do was stop.

And because it cannot stop, every wobble had to be addressed in situ while the machine continued to run. Parts might be taken offline, but never the machine itself. Therefore care had to be taken about how to stop a part within a running machine without creating additional troubles; how to add gearing while the machine was running without stripping another essential gear.

Because things are continuing to move, even a correctly designed part when inserted can be damaged or rendered less useful simply during the process of installation. Because parts are moving sometimes new gears are not precisely shaped to be inserted into the operating movements of the machine, and never quite seat themselves correctly.

Vibrations are created by these ill-fitting and sub-par parts. A little vibration is annoying but tolerable; a lot of vibration is dangerous. And when these vibrations are unaddressed they get greater and greater. And as the vibration increases the capability of repairing the machinery is reduced. At some point you back away from the machine that you can no longer repair, which is too dangerous to try and insert or remove a part, and simply hope that when the machine shakes itself apart, you are not injured by flying debris and that there is a sufficient number of salvageable parts to get the machine up and running again even if with reduced function.

We had a governmental machine designed to contain the forces of entropy while protecting our natural rights. Now it feels like entropy is winning and ordered liberty cannot withstand, at least in some possibly geologic short run, the coming chaos.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What an excellent metaphor! Our Founders knew that future citizens would have a difficult time holding our democratic republic together (as Ben Franklin so aptly stated), and we are proving, unfortunately, that their concerns were legitimate. Only time will tell whether we can resurrect the machine and make it whole; your example shows how incredibly difficult that will be. Good post!

    • #1
  2. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    BDB (View Comment):

    Is that piece of wood/brick/whatever the 2020 election?

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Rodin (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Is that piece of wood/brick/whatever the 2020 election?

    2012.  2020 was when the thing went sideways.

    • #4
  5. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Perhaps an alternative metaphor would be the telephone network, which over a century has undergone vast changes…switching technologies, transmission technologies, integration of voice and data traffic…but has never shut down?

    (okay, grasping at straws here)

     

    • #5
  6. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Another interesting aspect to the telephone network metaphor..even throughout structural ownership changes (the AT&T split-up and establishment of the regional Bell companies, the emergence of competitors such as MCI and Sprint, etc), the network continued operating.

    • #6
  7. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    An interesting metaphor.  My initial impression is that it’s not as helpful as the “ship of state” metaphor.

    • #7
  8. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    I keep coming back to a quote from ancient Roman historian Livy…

    “…we can endure neither our vices nor the remedies needed to cure them.”

    Debt and inflation will bankrupt us but we won’t stop spending money.

    Illegal immigration will swamp us but we won’t close the border 

    Single parent families are, in general, poor and the children prone to crime, drugs and not getting an education; yet we refuse to embrace traditional values.

     

    • #8
  9. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    I don’t think the mechanical analogy works well.  Neither do biological examples, ants, or other massive colonies.  Perhaps rats or squirrels, at least one can’t imagine a top down massive squirrel colony.  Everything in our society has gone top down.  It can’t work.  All history was top down of course, but the down wasn’t important, it just had to be kept weak and too disorganized to rebel.  We want to take care of poor folks, and disabled, and single mothers etc.  That’s ok, as long as it isn’t the government that does it.  Government isn’t good at what it does but we need it for a few things.  That’s what the founders did and it worked until the early 20th century.  We know what worked for us, what we don’t seem to know is that the other, top down, can’t, and  never has.  Our economy is so complex and massive that it will disintegrate if we continue the current top down direction.   It could be we’re just too big and the fact is we could be many smaller pieces but still need to be economically integrated to avoid monopoly control.  Moreover, we need military capacity to defend ourselves, but Defense has become part of the totalitarian drift and infinitely falling costs in some industries add a new problem we have to come to grips with.   China’s a threat  we have to be able to defend ourselves from, but our own consolidated center is a bigger threat.  We have one more election to see if we have a future as 50 states.  I doubt it, but we’ll see, if the Democrats steal it, we’ll have to split up but nobody is even talking about that option which will be the only one left should we want to preserve liberty and the prosperity it created. 

    • #9
  10. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I keep coming back to a quote from ancient Roman historian Livy…

    “…we can endure neither our vices nor the remedies needed to cure them.”

    Debt and inflation will bankrupt us but we won’t stop spending money.

    Illegal immigration will swamp us but we won’t close the border

    Single parent families are, in general, poor and the children prone to crime, drugs and not getting an education; yet we refuse to embrace traditional values.

     

    I agree.

    It may be a bigger problem that we have refused to enforce traditional values, for a long time

    • #10
  11. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I keep coming back to a quote from ancient Roman historian Livy…

    “…we can endure neither our vices nor the remedies needed to cure them.”

    Debt and inflation will bankrupt us but we won’t stop spending money.

    Illegal immigration will swamp us but we won’t close the border

    Single parent families are, in general, poor and the children prone to crime, drugs and not getting an education; yet we refuse to embrace traditional values.

     

    I agree.

    It may be a bigger problem that we have refused to enforce traditional values, for a long time

    The left is like gangrene. You treat it with antibiotics for as long as you can to try and save the foot, but sooner or later, you will have to amputate the foot to save the body.

    • #11
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