Kathy Shaidle and Peter Vere wrote The Tyranny of Nice, and Jonah Goldberg wrote Liberal Fascism, both titles on the topic of benign intervention into the privacies of the people by the force of state-- for the good of the people. I often end my own writings on this topic with the line: "Lord, save us from those who would save us from ourselves."
I write of Velvet Fascism. Francis writes of Anarcho-tyranny. Regardless of how we phrase it, all of us interested in the preservation of Human freedom and its growth across the world are working toward the negative freedom of individual choice in the life of privacy. That sounds negative, doesn't it? And who likes negative? It's so... negative. That negative freedom is the freedom from rather than the freedom to is lost in the phraseology. That you might be free from government control of the minutia of your daily details isn't so romantic-seeming as having the freedom to. But let's look for a moment: If you are free from, for example, government control, then you do not need permission from outside. You are free to, let's say, walk and talk. If you are free to walk and talk, then you must know this is so because the government has told you so. The mind of free to is the mind of control. The mind of free from is the mind of freedom.
Even within an anarchist/libertarian world of free from there might be an infinite number of categories in which the person is not free to. You would not be free to do harm to others, and probably not be free to harm yourself if that harms others as well. Yes, there oughtta be a law. And usually there is. Few if any of us would choose freely to live in a world of fantasy computer games, violent worlds of lawlessness and sudden death. We do have laws. Many of our laws are Natural, based on the experience of living in the real world; and some of our laws are Positive, based on tradition and experience from others over time as codified. Laws are often good for the orderly working of the lives of the majority most of the time. The fewer the laws and the less tightly they bind people to the opinions of orthopraxy, the better. Our intuitive sense of right and wrong is often a better a judge than the laws of scholars from centuries long past and far gone. When it fails, then we have laws, as we must have. Chaos is a bad thing in our social life. So too though is hyper-control, even if it is-- for our own good.
Lord, save us from those who would save us from ourselves.
Samuel Francis presents us with a veiw of a world of the worst of both worlds, a world of anarcho-tyranny:
"Anarcho-tyranny" - a form of government that seems to be unknown in history until recently. Anarcho-tyranny is a combination of the worst features of anarchy and tyranny at the same time.But! But! But! all these things are for our own good, obviously. How can a reasonable person object to the state demanding that one wear seat-belts or refrain from killing others with second-hand smoke or polluting the planet? There oughtta be a law. And if there isn't one today, rest assured that there will be one soon. You are free to.... But you are not free from....
Under anarchy, crime is permitted and criminals are not apprehended or punished. Under tyranny, innocent citizens are punished. Most societies in the past have succumbed to either one or the other, but never as far as I know to both at once.
In the United States today, lawmakers worry far more about drivers who don't wear seat belts, run red lights or play their stereos too loud than they do about the thousands of rapists, thieves, and killers who prowl about as free as wolves in the woods. If the Maryland legislature spent any time this year increasing the penalties for real crimes, I haven't heard about it, nor did it make much effort to improve enforcement of the laws it already has.
One danger of the new laws is that, once Maryland starts enforcing them, other states will tend to adopt similar ones. The reason anarcho-tyranny flourishes is that it gets lawmakers off the hook. The legislators can pass such laws and then brag to their constituents about how tough they are on crime and how devoted to public safety they are. Once a lawmaker gets an anarcho-tyrannical idea under his belt, you can be sure the idea is headed for the law books.
But of course such laws do nothing to impede real criminals. The anarcho-tyrants create new laws that merely criminalize the innocent and ignore real criminals. The result is that law-abiding citizens catch it twice: once from the real criminals to whom the state is oblivious and once from the laws that criminalize the law-abiding.
Yet Maryland's little adventure in anarcho-tyranny did not spring full blown from the legislators' heads this year. A couple of years ago, the state government outlawed smoking in most restaurants, an unprecedented statewide invasion of privacy. Is it surprising that similar invasive laws were passed this year?
And will it be surprising if such laws spread? Well, no. Five days after the Maryland lawmakers adjourned from their labors to make their state safer from loud radios and lightless windshield wipers, the national anarcho-tyrant-in-chief himself unbosomed his own contribution to new statecraft.
The Clinton administration announced that it is proposing federal legislation to allow police to stop drivers who are not wearing seat belts. Big Business, those lovers of liberty, in the form of the insurance industry, is all for it, and together with its Siamese twin, Big Government, it's busy contriving schemes to enlarge state power yet more.
The secret of tyranny - whether anarcho or the plain vanilla version with which the world is all too familiar - is that it never sprouts full-blown from anything. It always starts small and then gets bigger. So if you think these laws are good ideas, you shouldn't be too surprised at the arrival of an era when state power has grown so big that it starts
knocking at your door - if, that is, it bothers to knock at all.
The Samuel Francis Letter. P. O. Box 19627. Alexandria, Virginia, May 1997
I'll continue next time with more from Sam Francis.