Why Gradual and Common Sense Reforms Don’t Occur

Have you ever wondered why gradual and common sense reforms to failing systems almost never occur? Why does it always have to end in revolution, deaths or lethal threats? The short answer is-

Vested interest who benefit from the old, but failing, system will try their best to keep it that way, damn the consequences.

The somewhat longer answer is both interesting and illuminating about the human psyche and social systems. Human beings, you see, are mostly delusional creatures who fancy themselves as miniature gods

The call for gradual, common sense and peaceful reforms is often put forth by those who will lose their currently advantaged position in the new order. You must understand one thing- they are not serious about following through on their modest promises. They just want to stall any real change, extract maximum profit and hope that calls for reform dies away.

This cynical game is dangerous for a variety of reasons-

1. Stalling reform or corrective action, without exception, only makes the problem worse in the longer run.

Examples: The French and Russian revolution allowed the rise of Napoleon and Stalin respectively and all the genocidal ‘fun’ that followed their ascent to power. pre-WW1 tensions gave rise to WW1, WW2 and a lot of the bad things which occurred in Eastern Europe from 1920-1950. Substituting Debt for Income is behind a lot of the economic problems today.

2. It corrodes the legitimacy of the system making their ultimate fall essentially irreversible.

Examples: The western roman empire was not resurrectable- just like every other empire in human history because they all had lost legitimacy. The war on drugs, TSA etc has effectively delegitimized belief in justice, law and order in the USA- especially within the last 15 years. Only a small percentage of people still believe that the current political setup (congress, senate, president, governors etc) can solve any major problems.

3. It essentially guarantees that reforms will go much further than anybody had imagined.

Examples: Prohibition created bar culture as we know it- as only whores and poor women used to drink in bars before speakeasies came along. Depression era reforms under FDR ultimately went far beyond what was envisioned (new deal, rural electrification, GI bill) just like those started by LBJ. In all these cases, and many more, stalling on small reforms essentially guaranteed much larger and fundamental reforms would occur.

So why do those currently in power never learn from history? Two words-

Magical thinking.

Every group of exploiters, grifters and abusers believes that they are special, unique and can get away with it. In some ways this is similar to a guy thinking his wife will never divorce him, or a woman believing that she will always be hot or a boss believing that he will always have a job and willing subordinates.

It almost never works that way.. but admitting that does spoil the dream.

Might write about this topic in more detail at some time in the future.


  1. Simon Rierdon
    August 15, 2011 at 7:08 am

    You also have to add to the discussion the delusional masses that think just because they’ve got their six pack every evening, their reality TV shows, football games to watch and their bass boat in the back yard, that nothing will ever change. They’re in for a big surprise.

  2. Commander Shepard
    August 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Your blog delivers frequent high quality content and analysis with a strong streak of cynicism thrown in. I love it.

  3. August 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    So why do those currently in power never learn from history?

    Besides magical thinking, you forgot one think: everybody are shitting on the discipline known as history. Few are the people who are interested in history, and fewer among these are those who are interested in learning anything from history. No one cares about reading any history or touching any history book, especially those on top. And besides all that, why should they “go back to history while the whole world is progressing” (as they say)?

  4. Mr. Stricter
    August 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Back in the day when I was studying to become a therapist, one of the key things they taught was “People won’t change till its too painful not to”

    For the powerful thats often about 10 seconds before a firing squad.

  5. August 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    so does the explain why I see so little difference between Obummer and bu$h?

    We still are in two wars even though Osama is fish food.

    Its still tax breaks for the rich and sh*t outta luck if your poor…..

  6. DoesnotMatter
    August 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    “Human beings, you see, are mostly delusional creatures who fancy themselves as miniature gods”.

    Kinda Like you

  1. August 21, 2011 at 1:03 am
  2. October 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm
  3. November 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm
  4. December 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm
  5. January 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

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