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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ignorance and the Decline of Responsible Government in America

Since at least the time of Julius Caesar's coup in 49 B.C., man has surrendered his freedom to various strongmen who have offered to compromise liberty in exchange for swift political results. This tradeoff, a lapse in that "Spirit of Liberty," which Edmund Burke felt was the "greatest security of the people," is the despot's quickest and most ordinary way to power.

As Burke wrote in his 1791 "Letter to a Member of the National Assembly":

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites ... in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption – in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free.

Without caution and self-control, and a reverence for the principles of the law, true liberty is impossible – even, and perhaps especially, when the pursuit of greater liberty is the goal of those needlessly spurning the law. Society's need for self-control becomes fulfilled by dictators and strongmen in proportion to the citizenry's decrease in self-sufficiency.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look no further than our own backyard