John's University 28 March It is sometimes attributed to Thomas Jefferson and Barry Goldwater. Variant: A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have.
Similar assertions have often been attributed to Barry Goldwater. Some of the inspiration for such expressions may lie in "The Criminality of the State" by Albert Jay Nock in American Mercury March where he stated: "You get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you.
This was a signature phrase of Ronald Reagan — he used it dozens of times in public, although he was not the first person known to use it. When Reagan used this phrase, he was usually discussing relations with the Soviet Union and he almost always presented it as a translation of the Russian proverb "doveriai, no proveriai". See also Trust, but verify at Wikipedia. Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. George [H.
American Russophobia in the age of liberal decline | Eurozine
Bush] brought his ne'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Cited to a Reagan diary entry in , but actually from a parody written by Michael Kinsley in June There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit. Harry S. Truman is reported to have repeated versions of the aphorism on several occasions.
Or it might make a mockery of free discussion by manipulating everybody into bowing down before conventional wisdom. And, he was the first serious thinker to warn that liberalism could destroy itself. Tocqueville worried that states might use the principle of equality to accumulate power and ride roughshod over local traditions and local communities.
Such centralisation might have all sorts of malign consequences. It might reduce the variety of institutions by obliging them to follow a central script. And it might kill off traditions of self-government. Thus one liberal principle—equal treatment—might end up destroying three rival principles: self-government, pluralism and freedom from coercion. Tocqueville feared his own country might fall into the grip of just such an illiberal democracy, as it had in the Terror, under Maximilien Robespierre in He was worried about more than just the bloodshed, which proved to be a passing frenzy.
The power of the state also posed a more subtle threat. The monarchy had nurtured an over-mighty state, as French kings sucked power from aristocrats towards the central government. By contrast, the United States represented democracy at its finest. His real wish was to understand how America had combined democracy with liberty so successfully. He was impressed by the New England townships, with their robust local governments, but he was equally taken by the raw egalitarianism of the frontier.
Why did the children of the American revolution achieve what the children of the French revolution could not? The most obvious factor was the dispersal of power. The government in Washington was disciplined by checks and balances.
Power was exercised at the lowest possible level—not just the states but also cities, townships and voluntary organisations that flourished in America even as they declined in France. Like most French liberals, Tocqueville was an Anglophile.
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America also had the invaluable advantage of freedom of religion. Tocqueville believed that a liberal society depended ultimately on Christian morality. He was not blind to the faults of American democracy. He worried about the cult of the common man.
Terror and the state
He worried that individualism might shade into egotism. Shorn of bonds with wider society, Americans risked being confined within the solitude of their own hearts. The combination of egalitarianism and individualism might do for Americans what centralisation had done for France—dissolve their defences against governmental power and reduce them to sheep, content to be fed and watered by benevolent bureaucrats.
Tocqueville exercised a powerful influence on those who shared his fears. Other Liberal politicians argued against extending the franchise on the grounds that liberty could not survive a surfeit of democracy. It is worth adding that the threat to liberty today does not stem just from big government.
- The English Girl On Tour.
- Liberal pacifism.
- Старший и сильный (Russian Edition).
- The Burnt Pancake.
It also comes from big companies, particularly tech firms that trade in information, and from the nexus between the two. Gargantuan tech companies enjoy market shares unknown since the Gilded Age. They are intertwined with the government through lobbying and the revolving door that has government officials working for them when they leave office. By using algorithms based on previous preferences they provide people with information that suits their prejudices—right-wing rage for the right and left-wing rage for the left.
China is an example not of democracy allied to liberty but of centralisation allied to authoritarianism. Its state and its pliant tech firms can control the flow of information to an extent never dreamed of.
Increasingly, China embodies everything that Tocqueville warned against: power centralised in the hands of the state; citizens reduced to atoms; a collective willingness to sacrifice liberty for a comfortable life. Populists are advancing in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Authoritarians are consolidating power. The most pessimistic of great liberal thinkers may not have been pessimistic enough. Read more on classical liberal values and thinkers at Economist. Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today.
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