On August 1, the Imperial capital’s conservative
daily, the Washington Times, carried an interesting
opinion piece. Paul Belien, author of A
Throne in Brussels, warned against the peril of "liberal politicians,
like Hillary Clinton" seeking to transform the U.S. into a more Europe-like
welfare state. Welfare statism, warned Belien, is a "dreaded affliction"
that has destroyed Europe. Secularism and liberalism alike seek to "replace
God by the state."
It is a bit disingenuous to blame "liberals" alone for the worship
of State as god, when "conservatives" have been as guilty of it since
1945. To Belien, America must look like a land of true liberty. But when you
compare it to the tyranny in Brussels, that’s not hard.
A Dreaded Affliction
Belien argues, convincingly, that the American
revolution was about liberty, while the European revolutions that followed were
about replacing absolute monarchies with totalitarian republics. (Hans-Hermann
Hoppe has done a superb analysis of just how "tyrannical" those old
monarchies were, in Democracy:
The God That Failed.) From Jacobins to Bolsheviks, with each "revolution"
Europe became less free.
Now, however, Belien sees the same hankering for an omnipotent State among
American politicians as exists among their European counterparts. More welfare,
more planning, more control, more taxes, more laws… if that were truly a solution,
wouldn’t Europeans have felt it by now?
In fact, they have – only nowhere near the way American admirers of European
welfare-statism would want people to think:
"Contemporary Europe is in crisis. Its welfare systems are running
out of money. Its moral and legal order is breaking down, while the influence
of radical Islam is growing. Its nation-states are being undermined by the European
Union. Most Europeans look on passively. After three generations of welfare
dependency, they have lost the ability to take their fate into their own hands."
"Europe does not particularly care about the future: It is only interested
in enjoying the present. This attitude also explains why Europe’s demographics
have collapsed. People who are not prepared to make sacrifices for
the future do not invest in children."
What about Eastern Europe, and all the countries
that were under Soviet domination for decades? Haven’t they all been the most
enthusiastic proponents of joining the EU?
Far from being freedom-loving and principally opposed to tyranny, nations of
Eastern Europe rose up against Communism because it failed to deliver on
its promises of prosperity. Very few dissidents from Lithuania to Bulgaria actually
believed in individual liberty, and the general populace not at all. After decades
of indoctrination in public schools, the notion that individuals existed to
serve the State had become as ingrained as the need to breathe. Eastern Europeans
embrace the EU precisely
because it resembles the USSR: a promise of a welfare paradise. Having
only been the subjects of Brussels for a few years, they have not yet felt the
effects of the system failing. They will soon enough.
"EUrosis: A Critic of New Eurocentrism" (Evroza:
kritika novog evrocentrizma), a study by Slovenian culturologist Mitja Velikonja,
was recently published in Belgrade. Velikonja notes the uncanny similarity between
the Slovenians’ worship of Europe and the worship of socialism in Yugoslavia;
the yellow stars of EU have replaced the Communist red, but it’s the same single-mindedness
that has completely taken over society, a new totalitarianism in place of the
old. Once State has been accepted as god, it doesn’t matter which state
one serves, after all.
Many American thinkers have warned of the dangers
of statism. Randolph
Bourne wrote about war and the "the health of the State" in 1918.
In the 1940s, F.A. Hayek illustrated the process in his Road
to Serfdom, and Albert Jay Nock wrote of "Our
Enemy, the State."
Just as human beings breathe, eat and drink to survive, the State draws on
conflict to not just maintain its existence, but to grow in size and scope.
This is very well illustrated by Robert Higgs in Crisis
and Leviathan, a study of government expansion in times of crisis. Few
Americans know of these works today – courtesy, not surprisingly, of the state-monopolized
education. Instead of Mises and Rothbard, they are taught Keynes. Instead of
Jefferson, their idols are Lincoln,
Wilson and FDR.
How soon before America goes the way of Europe?
Will to Power
Part of the reason the Washington Times
published Paul Belien’s op-ed was surely to caution Americans from voting for
"liberals." Yet no one in their right mind can argue that the past
seven years of Emperor Bush have seen anything but an explosion of government
power, scope and size. All the "mainstream" candidates we incessantly
hear about are squabbling over how to use Leviathan’s power, not whether
that power should exist in the first place. Only one
candidate opposes the welfare-warfare state on principle, and he is deliberately
and systematically ignored in the official discourse.
Meanwhile, the Emperor and his entourage are completely insouciant
about the outcome of the 2008 presidential elections. Perhaps – and this is
going out on a limb – because they have no intention whatsoever of giving up
power? After all, they have not built a massive apparatus of coercion over the
past six years just to hand it over to Hillary Clinton!
Far-fetched? So was the notion of Iraqi WMDs. Those who follow Bush in the
corridors of power boast
that their will shapes reality. Imagining itself as God, the State accepts no
limitations to its power. It could
happen here. Maybe it already has.