What’s more, a king can never be safe if the common people are hostile to him, because there are so many of them, but he can protect himself against the nobles, since there are not so many.—A man who becomes king with the support of the people, then, must keep those people on his side. This is easy enough since all they want is to be free from oppression.
The idea of free market capitalism can really only work well at smaller scale. At larger scale, and especially when deeply connected with an overly regulatory state, and with national politics closely tied to business politics leading to large corporation subsidies, it bears little difference to corrupt communist planned economy, making the two, in pragmatic terms of people’s freedom and influence, nearly indistinguishable underneath the surface.
The same thing is also true for socialism and most other isms. The larger the scale, the greater the size and number of flaws. And this is the failure with most political models. They were devised long ago, for societies of a far smaller scale with very different circumstances. While they can work at small scale, it just does not as a large state. Likewise, this is also how much of our freedom of choice is largely chimeric, a core flaw thus far masked under a “good enough” existence and having the luxury of choosing the same crap, sold under various brand names owned by the very same people. Consumerism is not actual freedom, but commonly confused with it.
The key issue is scale and how it inevitably leads to disenfranchisement, to a disconnect and dehumanization of the “others”, meaning you can exploit them for your own purposes with little consequence, or completely disregard them or their need for help, this since you don’t perceive yourself as dependent on them, and vice versa.
This however, does not mean that all is without hope. Striving for good brings good things, and a society where we aim to look after each other, to help without any expectations of personal gain, makes us stronger together, and that sense of strength can also regulate the state, restraining it from violating their given trust too much. Conversely, a state can also seek to break that sense of unity in order to avoid that popular regulation. Sooner or later though, it is a tactic doomed to fail.
This is what Machiavelli spoke of when he said.
While the fact that all political models were designed for much smaller populations living under very different circumstances is one of the core issues with modern society, it is also important to keep in mind that that scale, with dramatically boosted population in just 150 years, is a result of the success of the modern society. We are healthier, in many ways freer, better educated, and have more possibilities than ever before in history.
That comes at a cost though, and we are still learning how to minimize that cost. And this has to be allowed to take time, even if it has quite negative effects meanwhile, not least since the factors associated with it are constantly changing and evolving. Furthermore, with a turn away from religion and close-knit families staying in tight geographic areas, we are also struggling to redefine social ties, safety and even happiness itself, seeking it in more and finer possessions, in travelling, in love and in sex, in drugs, in virtual realities, in expression and more, often not even asking ourselves what being happy and satisfied actually means, and thus not really knowing where to look for it, often just satisfying the body, but not the soul.