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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 60-61 of the late M. Stanton Evans’s 1976 essay – originally delivered as an address at Hillsdale College – “The Liberal Twilight” and as it appears in Champions of Freedom (Vol. 3, 1976); here, Evans discusses the transformation, especially in America, of liberalism from a philosophy of freedom to one of frightening command and control:

That is the ultimate phase of this development in which the liberal mind set becomes transformed into something quite the opposite of liberal: in which the libertarian remnants … fall away, and we see the emergence of an authoritarian state.

There is a well-known writer named Gore Vidal who has synthesized these notions very lucidly in the scholarly journal, Playboy magazine.  In an interview, Mr. Vidal laid it right on the line – and he is, in his attitudes, a pluperfect liberal, I might add.  He said that what we need in this country is “an authority with the capital A,” which would make the ultimate decisions about the disposition of energies and resources in our society.  I means specifically by that the question of births, he said.  Let’s face it, some people simply aren’t equipped to be parents.  And those who aren’t equipped should be prevented from having children.  After all, he said, this is the way we raise animals, why not people?

I can point you to the exact page in Mein Kampf where the identical argument is rehearsed – in which it is stated that, after all, some people are not fit to procreate.  Some people are not fit to be parents and they should not visit their unfitness on succeeding generations.  A whole argument is developed on that score and the identical clincher is applied: After all, this is the way we raise animals.  Why not people?

If one adopts the authoritarian premises, ultimately one is going to emerge with authoritarian conclusions. The libertarian shell has fallen away, and were left with the bedrock principles of compulsion and the subjection of human beings to a planning elite.

The specific issue that Evans addresses above is the call by many “liberals” for population control.  But note the generality of the threat: authoritarianism is never far away whenever government officials and their highly credentialed advisors come to think of themselves, and come to be thought of by others, as possessing a transcendent superiority to engineer society into superior states.


I cannot find on-line an ungated version of Vidal’s Playboy interview.  I did, however, find this source that contains long excerpts from it.  I’d not read any of this interview until today.  It’s shocking – shocking both in Vidal’s shameless advocacy of authoritarian power over individuals and in Vidal’s inexcusably naive understanding of the nature of power.


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