In an essay titled “The Criminality of the State,” appearing in the March 1939 issue of The American Mercury, Albert Jay Nock lists many of the nations that consolidated power to a central authority, became corrupt, and tyrannized their own citizens, seeking to control other nations as well. Nock then addresses those of his day who express shock and indignation over the then-current goings-on overseas. To them he asks the question: “Well, what do you expect?”
There is no doubt that that very question would also elicit the same shock and dismay from his contemporaries, as well as those of our present day. He then goes on to say his question should be shouted and repeated from the highest mountain.
Regarding the consolidation of power, what is more fearsome to the hiker: encountering a lone wolf, or being surrounded by a large pack of wolves? Does a soldier stand a better chance against a solitary enemy soldier, or would he fare better against an entire company of the enemy? It’s commonly referred to as strength in numbers. It’s the consolidation of strength to wield power. Why shouldn’t unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats replicate what comes naturally to many animals? But at least animals can blame their nature. People have no such out and are supposed to know better. They have natural as well as man-made law. They also have history—if they choose to heed its brutal lessons.
Aside from the big state’s obvious transgressions against the U.S. Constitution. Aside from the countless deaths and destruction the big state has visited on young military personnel in undeclared wars and police actions where our nation was not under direct—and in many instances not even an indirect—attack. Aside from all of that, what other damage has the big state done to humanity. Nock states it plainly: the state has assumed power to “…afford relief to proletarians; and see what the state has done to those proletarians now in the way of systematic debauchery of whatever self-respect and self-reliance they may have had!”
And this was in 1939!
Thomas Sowell wrote about what the big state has done to his Harlem neighborhood since the 1940s, where he used to be able to walk the streets at night in safety. Then, fathers were responsible for their children. Then, there were countless thriving black businesses. Then, there was real hope based on the best human instincts.
But the statists—the modern liberals and the neocons–don’t get bothered about the aforementioned physical and societal destruction. To them, might makes right. Big is best and they know best. Right makes might.
The proof that all the examples of big statism–communism, socialism, and fascism—are morally bankrupt political institutions lies in the basic and historically borne-out fact that in order for these types of government to survive, people need to be coerced into certain actions. Despotism thrives on coercion. Republicanism thrives on freedom.
So what is the antidote to the big state problem in America? The several states, each acting of their own accord and according to their own interests are the only sure, safe, tested, and constitutional way to right our ship of states. Sounds simple, right? And who in their right mind would not want a return to a smaller, constitutionally shackled federal government? All that is required is that the states rise up, cast aside the wet, moldy blanket of dependency, let the warm light of freedom shine upon them once again, and reclaim their historical and legal right to be free of federal overreach. That’s what the Founding Fathers would expect. That’s what the people deserve.
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