What Is the Point of It All?

If you have read the preceding post you may have surmised that I have surrendered to statism; for example:

This solution [devolution of political power] is superficially appealing. But it omits crucial realities, which are reflected in the state of the world throughout recorded history (and probably for eons before that). Human beings band together in order to accomplish certain ends (e.g., defense against marauders), and the banding together almost always creates leaders and subjects. Thus is a primitive state established. And once it is established, it exerts control over a geographic area (or a roving band), and everyone who lives in that area (or joins the band) becomes a subject of the state. Primitive states then band together — either for self-defense or because of conquest — forming larger and larger states, each of which holds its subjects in thrall. An occasional revolution sometimes leads to the dissolution of a particular state, but the subjects of that state simply become subjects of a successor state or of neighboring states avid to control the territory and subjects of the defunct state.

So it has gone for millennia, and so it will go for millennia to come.

The tide of statism may pause in its rise — and even recede a bit — but the aggrandizement of the state and its power over the people seems inexorable. Or is it?

There are many good reasons to oppose and resist the aggrandizement of the state. And this blog is replete with arguments for devolution. But this blog and the many like it (most of them more widely read and quoted) seem to be as effective in curbing and shrinking big government as aluminum foil is in stopping bullets.

Facts and logic may be on the side of devolution — and they are — but facts and logic have almost nothing to do with the practice of politics. In the end, it comes to down power-lust, rent-seeking, and free-loading.

So, what is the point of it all — of the incessant if largely ineffective barrage of arguments against the aggrandizement of the state? Well, as long as the minions of the state and the state’s powerful allies are unable to completely suppress dissent from statism, there is at least some hope that totalitarianism can be averted. There is also at least a (dimmer) hope that something will happen to reverse the tide and return to an America that still lives in the memories of many of us: America between the end of World War II and the 1960s.

What might that something be? Who knows? It is impossible to describe the confluence of events that causes a sudden change in the course of history, except in the aftermath of that change. But the change will not occur unless there are pressures that can lead to its occurrence. The Soviet Union, for example, wouldn’t have dissolved were it not for Reagan’s defense buildup, but the defense buildup wouldn’t have made a difference if the Soviet Union hadn’t been economically weak in the first place, and subject to other, internal pressures.

The American state, as it exists today, is an alliance of big-government politicians; their enablers in the academy, the media, and major corporations; and huge blocs of voters who are fueled by greed, envy, anger, and the belief that bigger government will assuage those emotions. This concoction has many potential failure points. By constantly working away at those potential failure points, it is possible — though by no means certain — that one or a few will fail and bring down the entire edifice of the presently constituted American state.

That is the point of it all. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, the only way to avert the triumph of evil is to keep on fighting it.