Running toward the Abyss
As noted previously, Jonah Goldberg and Michael Gerson, are what pass for “conservative” commentators in some circles these days. However, they are committed statists. They believe that the salvation of humanity lies in government. They no longer believe, as did our Founding Fathers, that government is at best a necessary evil. They do not believe that government should be feared, fettered, limited, or restrained.
Like other statists, they believe … naively or ignorantly but certainly erroneously … that the Leviathan can be tamed. They believe that the great power of the beast can be harnessed … by them … in order to be made productive … in order to do “good,” as defined by the self-serving interests of the beast’s minders and handlers (i.e. political minions).
“Conservative” Statists differ from committed Communists and avowed Socialists only by matters of degree — by means of implementation and timing. Communists, in true Marxist fashion, demand active revolution. Socialists, at least “Democratic” Socialists, are more civilized, believing that self-enslavement should be effected through the ballot box. More conservative statists also have great faith in “democracy,” but they give lip service to (formerly inalienable) rights, liberties, and freedoms all while watching those cornerstones of our Constitutional Republic weather away, erode, and be destroyed in the name of “progress” — with the objective of building a bigger and “better” state:
If only government were bigger … if only it had MORE power and MORE money … THEN it would certainly work. The reasoning goes that if some government is necessary … perhaps even a public “good” occasionally (e.g. in times of war) … then an omnipotent state MUST be the IDEAL!
Since government performs best in a “crisis” — at times when inefficiencies can be excused and ineffectiveness might be overlooked … when a supposed existential threat seemingly justifies any costs no matter how great and any sacrifices no matter how extreme — then the answer is quite simple: What we need are MORE CRISES!
Government is management by crisis. In the absence of crises, the purpose of the state and the roles of political minions dissipate. Few politicians are eager to work themselves out of a job. Few politicians wish to give up their vicarious power and the position, prestige, and profits, which that power brings to them. Therefore, politicians actively seek out crises. In the absence of legitimate crises, they either exacerbate naturally occurring events into crises or they simply manufacture crises out of whole cloth.
With each crisis, the powers of the state are “necessarily” expanded never to retreat to their prior positions. That is how we get incessant “wars” against nebulous and indomitable foes such as: poverty, crime, drugs, disease, racism, hate, terrorism, etc. These unending battles allow no victory and provide no viable exit strategy. They are constant and costly.
Each expansion of government power must be balanced by the usurpation of power from the people. An omnipotent and unrestrained state is incompatible with individual liberty and personal freedom. It is the antithesis of what was once America. As liberty and freedom erode, what is left is a façade — a shell of a formerly great nation.
As power trends toward absolute, so does the certainly that such power will be corrupting. The inevitable result is a state and a political class, which engages in abuse, oppression, and tyranny. Goldberg and Gerson would argue that they want none of that, but they would also argue that a “little” loss of liberty and freedom is necessary for a more efficient and effective state. When that proves inadequate or insufficient, then they will demand a little more … then even more. Eventually, there is nothing left to give or surrender to an insatiable state.
Ayn Rand described the difference between Communism and Socialism as the different between death by murder versus suicide. The difference between “Democratic” Socialists and “Conservative” Statists is the difference between suicide by gun and consciously and deliberately poisoning one’s self in almost imperceptibly small doses, but with the certain outcome of death.
Sometimes, a quick death can be merciful. It might allow one to avoid extreme suffering, or it might put one out of a lifetime of misery. When death comes slowly, however, the physical and emotional suffering are great, and the pain is seemingly endless.
It takes a demented mind to engage consciously and deliberately in incremental self-destruction. It is a form of masochism where one seemingly derives perverse pleasure from the resulting pain and self-harm. Either one relishes and revels in the role of “victim” or in an exercise of arrogance and hubris, one seeks to show that he can run headlong toward the abyss while stopping just short or turning away at the last moment.
However, such brinkmanship has a certain and unfortunate end. In each attempt, cycle, or iteration, the danger gets closer. Repetition fuels arrogance and feeds one’s overconfidence until eventually one goes over the edge. Like the proverbial lemmings, others are certain to follow and suffer a similarly destructive fate.
We, as a nation and people, are much closer to the edge of the abyss than most persons, particularly self-confident statists, would ever admit or care to imagine.