Christchurch and the Id of government
18/09/2012 § 6 Comments
Yesterday’s post on Hobbes and Locke started me thinking about a psychoanalytic mapping of the same concepts. In particular, the Christchurch rebuild is a physical manifestation of governing will. In ordinary times, social and institutional inertia put a check on the will of government to impose its vision on a city. Christchurch is not in ordinary times, so the checks aren’t there.
The new decision about Christchurch schools reveals just how much the Id is in charge. A conservative government is supposed to be guided by a few key principles, and these should form its Superego. Some of these principles are local control, smaller government, personal responsibility, and rewarding individual effort. The decision to merge a large number of schools, to develop large-scale campuses, and to push through changes over local opposition, are all contrary to such principles. The disconnect between the expectation and the practice is obvious in this quote:
Principals are also upset they still have no idea about the rationale behind the proposals to close, merge and relocate their schools.
But there is no rationale behind the proposal, because the Id is in charge. We expect the Superego to be strong with this one, but instead the government is trying to take the place of the Superego. All of this was signalled even before the earthquakes, with the take-over of ECan. That move — regardless of whatever fig-leaf of legality was artfully arranged — was completely contrary to what should have been conservative principles.
What we see, instead, is that whatever the Ministers in charge decide to do is A Good Thing because they decided to do it. That kind of behaviour — disordered, impulsive, unreflective — is characteristic of the Id.
It is also the world of Hobbes, in which I do what I want because I want. The control is from outside: a stronger Id places a limit on mine, and our Egos sort out some rational balance of power. The Lockean world has more of the Superego: we internalise the relationships and order of our society, and they limit our impulses.
All of which makes Christchurch vaguely post-apocalyptic. Instead of relying on the Superego to see the city through, the government has established a rule of the Id. Hobbes and Mad Max are united by the Avon.