The idea of liberty scares a lot of people.
Maybe that’s not quite it.
The reality of liberty scares a lot of people.
When I start talking to folks about freedom and limiting the power of government in our lives, most respond favorably to it in theory. But so often, I can see a slight hesitation in their eyes. I can tell they’re not “all in.”
When pressed, they will often admit that while they love the concept of freedom and liberty, they find it impractical because “people will abuse their freedom and do bad things.” In essence, they take a Hobbesian view of humankind.
“The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.”
Therefore, we need a strong government to keep people in line. A little freedom – great! But not too much freedom, lest we allow society to devolve into chaos.
Frederic Bastiat poses an interesting question for followers of Hobbes.
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
I’m going to go with Bastiat on this one. If we accept Hobbes’ dim view of human nature, the idea of giving a small group of flawed humans extra power and guns seems rather nonsensical. Liberty might prove somewhat risky, but we can visit the concentration camps in Poland and Germany, or the mass graves in the former Soviet Union and Cambodia to see just what we get with centralized power.
Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of '98 - Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He also maintains the blog, Tenther Gleanings.
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