Liberty and Government

Milan Skarka

A long awaited decision came down from the Mount DC to codify creation of the nationalized health care system. It was a strange, out of body experience for many conservatively thinking citizens. The Affordable Health Care scheme that is now legalized is so convoluted that I cannot even begin to discuss it. All kinds of contorted explanations and theories are trying to explain this Supreme Court decision. It may take some time and several electorate events to understand its impact and intended or unintended consequences.

There’s often misattributed and inaccurate quote: “Those who trade liberty for security have neither”. John Adams did not say it as many believe, but Benjamin Franklin. And the quote is not what he actually said either. In fact, even when the quote is correctly worded and correctly attributed to Franklin, it still annoys me, because it’s taken out of context. It’s part of a speech or essay that Franklin wrote denouncing the settlers in Western Pennsylvania for asking for government protection from Indian raids. The government of Pennsylvania at that time was controlled by the pacifists Quakers who refused to spend any money on defense, thus leaving the settlers in the west unprotected from the savage raids of the Indians during the French and Indian War. Thus, while the quote might sound good, when placed in context, it’s the antithesis of everything conservatives and libertarians believe in. However, the masses may not be persuaded and the imbeciles still rule the day.

We do unfortunately tolerate the imbeciles; but surely that is more by the force of necessity than by choice: after all, we are but a tiny minority. I have become convinced over the last several years that the only way a libertarian state could ever be created is by a revolutionary party as ruthlessly disciplined and controlled as Lenin’s Bolsheviks, and once in power it would have to act with the same ruthlessness as the Cheka to eliminate opposition. Of course, that would in itself violate every principle of libertarianism. Thus, a successful state governed on true libertarian principles is as impossible of realization as a state functioning on genuine Marxist principles, because both are so alien to the characters, passions, and beliefs of the vast majority of mankind that they can only exist through the use of force and oppression. Even if it were possible to actually establish a libertarian government, it could never last: one has only to look back over the history of this country since its foundation in 1776—or, more properly, since the ratification of the Constitution in 1789—to see that even the most perfect government, established with every possible safeguard to ensure its continued existence, must inevitably devolve into a despotism. Of course, it would certainly be possible to establish a libertarian community, such as Milton Friedman’s grandson envisions, at sea or on another planet, just as so many in the past have established socialist utopian communities; but—as was always the case with the socialist communes—eventually such a libertarian community must collapse through discord and dissent within the community and power struggles among its governors. There are, it appears, only two possibilities for government: tyranny and anarchy. In the former, the many are oppressed by the few; in the latter the weak are oppressed by the strong.

It would be optimistic if there were any hope of winning. I think the left can shout with perfect justice, “Resistance is useless: you will be assimilated.” There is no hope for mankind. The future is George Orwell’s boot. Liberty, democracy, free enterprise, and progress were a brief aberration from humanity’s usual state of servitude, stagnation, and poverty, and they are now passing from the scene.

How is that for a rotten tomato?

 From our Washington correspondent

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10 Responses to Liberty and Government

  1. Albanisa says:

    Very good, very depressing. What now?

  2. Mencius Moldbug and Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s contention was that democracy is totalitarian in its essence. Hence the progressive march through the institutions and society began with the creation of the American Constitution. It was a Whig experiment. Much in the same way that California is a progressive socialist experiment.

    The Americans endured greater taxes and economic hardship after their revolutionary war with England than before it. Many of the taxes levied by England happen to have fallen on smugglers and merchants, the founding fathers conveniently were of this persuasion. These English taxes were levied across their many colonies, America wasn’t a special case.

    For instance, the infernal evangelical and Quakers establishment achieved an enormous amount of damage to the libertarian ideal with their push for prohibition and temperance. They of course built there entire political platform on a) very shaky moral philosophy b) Cargo-Cult economics and c) the worst of all; old-school democratic vote buying and corruption. This created the progressive establishment which mutated into humanism and then socialism.

  3. Milan says:

    The best writings about the principles of America are by Alexis de Tocqueville in his 2-volumes Democracy in America (1835-40). As enthusiastic as he was, he admitted that it too ends as soon as the people discover that they can “write a check” to them selves from the public treasury. Eventually, this is what happened and now it is just the matter of time. The next freedom expansion will be to the heavens…

  4. Antisthenes says:

    A long time ago I could not finish that book as I was mildly depressed. Even more depressed now, should I try to finish it? Is there something optimistic at the end?

  5. Emanuele says:

    Interesting discussion. More, please.

  6. Milan says:

    Well, that depends how you define optimistic. As long as we’re alive-anything is possible. There is a terrible heat wave around here (104deg F). I firmly believe that it will cool down at some point. However, my libertarian friend calls me hopelessly optimistic.

  7. Eternal says:

    I don’t trust Obama. What is it about his latest executive orders?

  8. Toby Tack says:

    The end is nigh! It is our fault.

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