Sobre o mal

Alguns problemas sociológicos parecem complicados, mas não são. Filosoficamente, o mal é uma questão das mais cabeludas. Mas, do ponto de vista social, ou seja, o de como lidar com o mal na sociedade, a coisa se resume muitas vezes a deixar que os pequenos grupos de indivíduos (ou muitas vezes apenas os indivíduos isoladamente) decidam que medidas tomarão em prol de sua segurança. A retórica mercadológica de textos como este aí embaixo afugenta muitas pessoas (preconceituosas, diga-se de passagem). Mas quem poderia discordar de que “há muitas decisões que nós, como membros de uma sociedade, não temos de tomar coletivamente mas sim individualmente”? Parece-me óbvia a mania que 99% das pessoas têm hoje de achar que todas as questões devem ser decididas coletivamente. Um jovem comprou uma arma e matou pessoas? Proibamos todos de comprar armas. Que raciocínio maldito! No campo do social, a maioria das soluções é: não precisamos “pensar coletivamente” em como resolver a questão, pois todos mundo já está pensando e tomando providência o tempo todo.

In the case of Virginia Tech or any other institution, there must be some way in place to protect against violence in the future. But that system needs to be carefully calibrated to match the level of danger. Otherwise, we end up with the current situation in airports in which the official policy assumes that every single passenger is a likely terrorist. Every person is investigated inside and out. And yet even the investigators know that this is going too far, and therefore they become lax and the system eventually fails.

The problem is that we don’t know in advance precisely what level of risk is present in any given situation or when or how the problem of human evil will show its face. So it does no good to turn society into a prison camp, nor does it makes sense to be naïve about evil and therefore at its mercy when it does appear.

There is only one system of social organization that strives daily for a more perfect way of identifying the problem of evil, assessing its likelihood, and curbing it as much as humanly possible, and that is the competitive market economy rooted in the private ownership and control of property.

Matching security to risk is a very complicated undertaking, so firms work with insurance companies to discover the right means. Clearly, a convenience store in a violent East Coast urban environment is going to need more protection than even a fancy jewelry store in a Midwest suburb. Customers would think the owner was nuts if they encountered bulletproof glass in a 7-Eleven in Caldwell, Idaho, but this is the norm in the Bronx. Of course firms make errors, but competitive pressure drives them always to adjust security to match the facts as they know them.

For this reason, it is not enough to say that Virginia Tech ought to ban guns or ought to arm students and teachers. Neither solution is necessarily right. One can imagine that some universities might not want students to carry sidearms. For other places, this might be just great and even essential for putting parents at ease. Which is the right solution? Only when such decisions are left to private owners and the competitive marketplace can we know for sure. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work any better in security provision than in clothing.

With the market, there are many decisions that we as a society do not have to make collectively but instead we make them individually as buyers. We do not have to decide collectively what cars to drive, what websites to visit, or what food to eat. So it is with security.
And so it is with the problem of human evil. We do not have to side with either liberals or conservatives. We only need to say that whatever is the intrinsic nature of man, the market will find the best possible means to deal with it, and whatever the outcome of that market process, it cannot be made better by involving the state.


~ by Evandro Ferreira on April 19, 2007.

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