Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quote of the Day: de Tocqueville on the Tyranny of Dependency

The man was absolutely brilliant and all too prescient. Read the whole thing, but here is a great observation by the 19th-century French observer of America talking about the sort of tyranny that might someday engulf it -- an overwhelming central government:
Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated . . .

It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd . . .
It reminds me of Gulliver pinned down by a host of Lilliputians. Anyway, I leave you with the most spot-on analysis of all, the government leviathan's desire to make individual human beings into meek dependent infants:
That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
Well, DUH!

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