Friday, April 09, 2010

Why Conservatism is So Counterintuitive and Ideologues are Lazy, Part 2


America may soon embark to do something few nations have ever done: reverse the inevitable statist march. Nations have overthrown Communist governments in heroic and history-making fashion. Think the Berlin wall coming down or the Ceau┼čescus running for their lives. When things get bad enough, governments either adapt, as China has, they fall of their own weight, or they are overthrown. But rarely is there pre-emptive change, to use a notorious word. Rarely does a nation catch sight of what is coming and do something to reverse course. That may be changing.

There are reasons no nation has done this. In essence, citizens get in the habit of delegating more responsibility to the state, and most states are all too happy to comply. The citizenry grows lazier and chooses to take less responsibility for itself. They lament the unpredictable nature of life - where will my healthcare come from? Is my retirement secure? - to the point where they are willing to trade more liberty for more security. There's also the inevitable class envy that propels "spreading the wealth around." Couple that with Frederich Hayek's prediction that the worst in society always seem to end up on top (because of their naked ambition) and you have a recipe for increased state intervention every time.