Government is always the enemy of your liberty
Merriam-Webster reports that “socialism” has become a “trending” word, i.e., “lookups” for it have “jump[ed] over 1500 percent … following the Democratic primary victory for a congressional seat in New York City by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” I hope, though likely in vain, that Americans did not conduct most of those “lookups.” If they did, they prove yet again how dumbed-down they are. Given that we’ve lived in a socialist country for over a century now, asking the definition of “socialism” is only a little less ludicrous than asking for that of “television.” If you can’t recognize such horrors after suffering them all your life, well, you’re as devoted to scholasticism as any medieval monk.
Meanwhile, we might assume from the brouhaha over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s triumph that she’s the first socialist candidate in American history. Au contraire, though she is among the few to admit openly — heck, to outright brag of — such evil intent. Since the 1930s, Americans have rarely elected anyone other than socialists and their twins, communists — though the occasional fascist does sneak past them. (Indeed, the clown our hyphenated commie beat is as socialist as she.) How else would voters protect their beloved Social Security as well as socialism’s other loot, Medicare and Medicaid, public housing, “free” indoctrination — sorry, education, food stamps, Obummercare, et cetera, ad nauseam?
As its name implies,”socialism” imposes government’s force on social and interpersonal struggles. Which begs the question: How did a country devoted to autonomy, individuality and freedom from that lethal enemy of both, the State, degenerate to de facto socialism? Who convinced Americans, with their healthy and overwhelming contempt for political government, that Leviathan was instead their friend, their doctor, their sugar-daddy, their ever-lovin’ mama? Who persuaded them that politicians could and should fix entirely social problems rather than sticking to those areas traditionally considered governmental, such as dispensing justice (or, more accurately, injustice), ruining trade via tariffs and murder, a.k.a. war?
Indeed, that fascinating query applies universally, not merely to the United States. Political government throughout history has ever been a lethal enemy — and its subjects usually feared it as such. Which is the only sensible reaction, given that the State rests entirely on physical force. One analysis of it widely but erroneously attributed to George Washington explains, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master…”
True to this nature, governments in all times and all places have bullied and bossed, caged and conscripted. They were liable to torture and execute anyone even mildly challenging their authority; they impoverished commoners so the rulers could live sumptuously. Few victims deluded themselves that the despots exploiting them also cared about their welfare.
Even so, government pretty much stuck to several clearly defined roles: it battled foreign enemies, suppressed revolts at home and plundered taxpayers to finance those activities as well as the rulers’ luxuries. But for kings and other tyrants to meddle with such social ills as poverty, illiteracy, racial hatred or a lack of medical insurance? The peasants those potentates regularly abused would have scorned any such suggestion as utter lunacy.
Then some crackpots in early 19th-century France suggested that government train its guns not only on foreign aggressors and domestic “criminals” (often mere dissidents) but on interpersonal problems. And they did so with mumbo-jumbo as well as breathtaking insouciance toward rationality.
Their ring-leader, Charles Fourier, “comes off as a confused thinker” whose “ideas seem quite fantastical and without ground in reality … pure nonsense[, with the] characteristic pretension of the visionary: contradictory, confused, repetitive, chaotic and, of course, long-winded.” (And this from a dispassionate “lecture” on “Modern European Intellectual History”!)
To be fair, Fourier professed an interest in ameliorating the misery he saw around him, which he (and many others) wrongly blamed on the Industrial Revolution. And his bizarre solutions — such as “Phalanxes, which are experimental[. They] are places that combine families that are unequal in fortune … These buildings were designed to accommodate a person’s passions and talents. … a friendly union would be formed between the people because of the similiarites [sic] they all shared[,] … creating happiness and cheerfulness within the society” — seem to have been voluntary at first.
But as is typical of do-gooders, Fourier soon insisted that his “socialism would have to be enforced.” Only a “confused thinker” of this magnitude could have urged such a ridiculous contradiction: that government, which relies on physical compulsion, should repair society, which functions well only in the absence of physical compulsion. What Fourier advocated was akin to claiming doctors can heal a fractured leg by smacking it with a sledgehammer. Or as Frederic Bastiat put it in his classic, The Law, “Socialism … confuses the distinction between government and society.”
This untenable combination of two diametric opposites, government and society, philosophically invalidates Fourier — and all socialists, communists, fascists and Progressives before and since. Worse, when your sole tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Statists reflexively believe that only their god, Government, can mend whatever’s broken. Ergo, they condemn as irresponsible and impossible leaving private trouble to private citizens for resolution. No wonder Bastiat also observed, “…every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even in 1850, when Bastiat wrote The Law, socialists were guilty of the same logical absurdities that characterize them today: “We disapprove of state education,” Bastiat complained. “Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on.” Indeed. We object to Obummercare, and the socialists say we want people to die in the streets.
What is socialism? Nothing more than mixing apples and oranges to cook up Paradise — a recipe for disaster.
— Becky Akers