The socialists at the Guardian newspaper in the UK are running a series of articles “The State, Your Business” which is tapping the leading navel-gazers from Britain and Germany to discussion the question – If laissez-faire politics is dead, how big a role should the state have? The economic crisis offers us a chance to rethink the role of government.
And it will probably shock you to learn that the socialists and communists are really happy that governments are taking over everything. You can find the whole series here, but there’s one that I really wanted to go through in a little more detail. Erhard Eppler “is a former German minister for International Development, and founding chairman of the SPD’s Commission on Fundamental Values”. The SPD is the German Socialist Party – so by definition this guy doesn’t believe in free markets. His piece today is titled “A Bulwark Against Suffering” and filled with such ineffable twadle as this:
In the 21st century, the state must first of all perform the core activities that make it a state. It must obtain, maintain or restore its monopoly on the use of force, and halt the trend towards the private, non-state, commercialised use of force.
If you think about this a little bit, that statement is 180 degrees from the idea that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” isn’t it? In this opening statement Herr Eppler goest right to the naked power of the State. The State has force, and it should be the only thing that can use force. Not deriving its authority from the people, but the State in and of itself is the one wielder of force. And any attempt to deny it this basic power over the lives of its citizens is to be resisted.
There’s also an underlying assumption here that giving people any sort of power over their own lives – right down to the right to defend themselves against harm – is not to be allowed. Only the state has the force and it is the only one that can use it. Your overlords do not want the peasants being armed and making decisions for themselves.
The state must prevent protection against crime from becoming one of the many goods which some people can afford and many cannot. Anything directly or indirectly connected with the state’s monopoly on the use of force – which means prisons and judicial institutions as well as the police and armed forces – must not be privatised.
Note the critical force appliers – prisons, legal system, police, armed forces. Isn’t it interesting that the legislative power which drives all of these things is completely left out.
The state is responsible for making educational opportunities available to all. Education is not a product to be bought and sold, but a human right which the state is committed to provide, and at any age.
The educational system is very important to liberals. They know that allowing people to get a real education that promotes critical thought is antithetic to their project to make the state responsible for everything. So you are promised an education, what you will be delivered will be force-fed propaganda. And just so I know – is the right to education specified in the German constitution? I didn’t think so. However, its proclaimed an absolute human right.
The state has no right to decree what culture is. But it has to create the conditions for culture, including those forms of culture which would not be able to survive in the free market – such as opera and symphony orchestras.
Good news for the opera singers and violin players. They aren’t elevated to the level of human right, but they are guaranteed jobs in the new utopia. This whole business of making sure that things which cannot support themselves in a free market being required support of the state is very explicit. So in the future will the last rockers and Michael Jacksons be subsidized when they can no longer provide anything people are freely willing to pay for? What about religions? There is no longer much market demand for sun worship. Will temples be built and maintained by the state? What about geek shows? There are whole areas of culture that have been lost forever. But opera and symphonic music are inviolate.
It is not responsible for the truth, but it is responsible for the conditions in which truth can be sought. This includes university professorships in disciplines which industry considers superfluous.
Another liberal shibboleth. The university professors. In a different time they shouted to the heavens about uselss old professors doddering on about white men. Now they will preserve every last women’s studies major to the death. Especially if what the professors are spouting is something that is considered by rational people to be dribble and goo.
Instead of becoming deeper, the chasm between rich and poor must be gradually reduced. That means the state also has a redistributive function. Progressive income tax is a tried and tested instrument for this purpose. We must not abandon it.
You can’t get more basic than that. Our Messiah-elect is directly in line with the socialist state that is the ideal for European weenies. Of course, I would challenge anyone to find in the original text of the Constitution, in the Declaration of Independence, or in the thought of any of the people who put this country together who believe that “the state has a redistributive function”. You get the drift in the 16th Amendment, which is really tthe start of the downfall of America. That enshrines in the Constitution the idea that the state can demand everything you work for or own. And until it goes away, our country will continue its downward slide. In Europe they have simply decided to drive everyone down to the same level wheere they can be exploited for the government’s sake and bribed with their own money to think they are not just peasants.
Another part of this social framework is labour law, and in particular laws to safeguard every citizen against the risks of sickness, accidents, unemployment, invalidity, old age and the need for long term medical care. Wherever human dignity is violated, the state is challenged.
Look at what a list of goodies you get. And all you have to do is work all your life and hand over everything you have to the state and they will give you all this for free! Just don’t think you get to define what kind of care you get or what your dignity means or anything. That will be handled for you by the ever-forceful state.
The state must not just allow freedom to its citizens by not interfering in areas where it has no place. It must guarantee freedom, make it enforceable, and where necessary, protect it against non-state (usually economic) power.
This one seems to be a little ambiguous. The state isn’t supposed to interfere in areas where it has no place, but any non-state economic power is to be banned. What is non-state economic power? A business setting a price for its products? A bank demanding that you actually pay back the mortgage? One thing we know for sure – its not any level of government demanding their cut of your sweat and blood.
Today, press freedom not only requires that no state authority should attempt to enforce censorship. It also requires protection against investors who – without any experience in journalism – buy up newspaper publishers, simply in order to increase their profits. This can probably only be achieved through legislation.
Apparently journalism is to be paid for by people owning media companies, but the owners aren’t allowed to make any profit from it. Or its just people who don’t have any journalism experience who aren’t allowed to profit. And who defines who is experienced? And what if they are good managers and actually make things more efficient? But it sure is nice to know that this kind of ownership censoring will probably require legislation. Maybe. If we have to – but otherwise we will just decide who can and cannot own the media. The media is important in keeping the peasants under control.
When we talk about the state today, we cannot only mean the nation state. Cities and municipalities, devolved regions, the European Union and sometimes even the United Nations all have a part to play. In a century in which capital acts and invests – or indeed does not invest – globally, the nation state framework may become ineffective. What is lost at a national level must be taken up by the EU, and in some cases also by the UN.
I think that trusting the United Nations to do anything other than steal money and spend it lavishly enhancing its employees lives is idiotic. Name anything the UN has done on its own that has made any difference anywhere. Without American pushing that is. So discount saving half of Korea.
In sum, Herr Eppler believes that the state is force, its force can be used without reservation in preserving the state, so anything the state does is valid. And if you disagree you will be forced into submission.
Yeah – that defines freedom for me.