Friday, June 1, 2012

Growing Statism in America...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty - vs- Tyranny

Recently, while looking for new material discussing statism I came across a very compelling article in Campaign for Liberty. What struck me is the articles focus on the dangers of increasing statism in our society and our apparent willingness to grant the state ever greater control over our lives because we increasingly perceive Leviathan to be a benevolent benefactor. The author makes a powerful argument against this assumption.

The articles author makes the point that it is "... not liberalism versus conservatism, or capitalism versus socialism, but statism -- the belief that government is inherently superior to the citizenry...". Discussing statism in a context free of partisans labels allows for open and honest dialogue and frees people to have the debate without the need to defend ones political party or proclivities. In other words the practice of statism is not specific to any political group, philosophy, or agenda. Both GWB and BHO and their administrations, as well as the Congress have been, and continue to be statist in some degree.

Please take the time to read the following. It will be time well spent.

Statism, the Greatest Threat By James Bovard - Pervasive confusion over the nature of government and freedom has opened the gates to perhaps the greatest, most widespread increase in political power in history. If we are to regain and safeguard our liberty, we must reject the tenets of modern political thinking. We must repudiate the moral presumptions and prerogatives that allow some people to vastly expand their power over other people.

The state has been by far the largest recipient of intellectual charity during the past hundred years. The issue of government coercion has been taken off the radar screen of politically correct thought. The more government power has grown, the more unfashionable it becomes to discuss or recognize government abuses -- as if it were bad form to count the dead brought about by government interventions. There seems to be a gentleman's agreement among some contemporary political philosophers to pretend that government is something loftier than it actually is -- to practice noblesse oblige and to wear white gloves when discussing the nature of the state.

The great political issue of our time is not liberalism versus conservatism, or capitalism versus socialism, but statism -- the belief that government is inherently superior to the citizenry, that progress consists of extending the realm of compulsion, that vesting arbitrary power in government officials will make the people happy -- eventually.

What type of entity is the state? Is it a highly efficient, purring engine, like a hovercraft sailing deftly above the lives of ordinary citizens? Or is it a lumbering giant bulldozer that rips open the soil and ends up clear-cutting the lives of people it was created to protect?

The effort to find a political mechanism to force government to serve the people is the modern search for the Holy Grail. No such mechanism has been found, and government power has been relentlessly expanded. Yet, to base political philosophy on the assumption that government is inherently benevolent makes as much sense as basing geography on the assumption that the Earth is flat. Too many political thinkers treat government like some Wizard of Oz, ordaining great things, enunciating high ideals, and symbolizing all that is good in society. However, for political philosophy to have any value, it must begin by pulling back the curtain to bare the nature of the state.

Trusting contemporary governments means dividing humanity into two classes: those who can be trusted with power to run other people's lives, and those who cannot even be trusted to run their own lives. Modern Leviathans give some people the power to play God with other people's lives, property, and domestic tranquility. Modern political thinking presumes that restraints are bad for the government but good for the people. The first duty of the citizen is to assume the best of the government, while government officials assume the worst of him.

The history of the rise of the idealistic conception of the state is inevitably also the history of the decline of liberty. We cannot put the state on a pedestal without putting the people under the heel of the politician and bureaucrat. To glorify the state is to glorify coercion -- the subjugation of some people to other people's will and dictates. {Read More}

Note, James Bovard's website can be found HERE.

As you cut from the present check the following material from approximately forty to fifty years ago.

Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Newsletter, Aug. 1962 - The political expression of altruism is collectivism or statism, which holds that man’s life and work belong to the state—to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation—and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.

Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal - A statist is a man who believes that some men have the right to force, coerce, enslave, rob, and murder others. To be put into practice, this belief has to be implemented by the political doctrine that the government—the state—has the right to initiate the use of physical force against its citizens. How often force is to be used, against whom, to what extent, for what purpose and for whose benefit, are irrelevant questions. The basic principle and the ultimate results of all statist doctrines are the same: dictatorship and destruction. The rest is only a matter of time.

Certainly there are counter arguments, so all, feel free to read and if inclined please take the time to opine.

Via: Rational Document Library


  1. I love this description:

    Or is it a lumbering giant bulldozer that rips open the soil and ends up clear-cutting the lives of people it was created to protect?

    I have called it a soulless clanking monster with claws and hooks for hands and wrecking balls for feet.

    The problem we face is that the progressives have inculcated a cult of government in successive generations of Americans, propagandized by our progressive public school system, putting beyond the pale such common sense ideas espoused by Bovard.

    Sadly, most citizens now equate anti-statism with anti-Americanism.

    L'etat C'est Moi doesn't work here. America is the people, not the government.

  2. The government is the people. Free elections make it so.
    Is there a better way? That's obvious given the mess we are in.
    The problem is coming up with workable solutions within the political system we have; and we cannot wait for some "perfect" system to take hold.
    Objectivist thinking has been around long before Rand; and has been rejected by people all over the World. You can say, prove, and pronounce all you want, but that's not what we have. It's a little to easy to sit back, blame both sides, claim one ideology has all the correct ideas, and disregard the reality of what we have to work with.
    Old sayings have a lot of truth in them. "Government is a necessary evil" is one of those sayings.
    With all the extreme screaming, you would think there is a big difference between Democrats and Republicans. Wrong. In action (Obama extending the same policies Bush did) they are the same. Corruption on both sides have brought them together, as one.
    I can agree in principle, that money is free speech and people can do what they want with their money. But I also know money is the root of corruption in our political system. How do we solve that difference, before it destroys us?

  3. This romanticized notion (held apparently by people on both sides of the divide) of the government bureaucrat as this selfless and dedicated server of the electorate would in fact be humorous if it weren't so simultaneously tragic. Yes, we clearly need the government, but the more that the private sector can do (not to mention what the state and local governments can do in place of the federal), the better off we all will be.


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