The Iron Law of Iron Laws
I’ve been reading nonfic about politics, government, and socio-political cycles lately. Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War, Oren Litwin’s Beyond Kings and Princesses: Government for Worldbuilders. Good stuff. If you read between the lines, the former is a good anecdote to the Whig history every American is exposed to by government schools.
These books and their concepts have been pinging off things that have been in my mind for a while, like Robert Michels’ Iron Law of Oligarchy (“all complex organizations, regardless of how democratic they are when started, eventually develop into [rule by an inner party of elites]”) and Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy (“In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely”).
Which leads me to propose an Iron Law of Iron Laws. I’ll gladly claim credit for it, but it won’t surprise me if someone beat me to it.
If a purported iron law isn’t the most cynical and pessimistic interpretation of a process or system, it isn’t an Iron Law.