… is from page 82 of Felix Morley’s profound 1949 essay “State and Society,” which is reprinted as Essay Two in the 1979 Liberty Fund collection The Politicization of Society (Kenneth S. Templeton, Jr., ed.):
State power, no matter how well disguised by seductive words, is in the last analysis coercive physical power.
Those who advocate the use of state power to “solve” or to “address” this or that problem (be the problem real or imaginary) have the imaginations of robbers and bullies: they can see the immediate consequences of force successfully wielded. Yet unlike the truly civilized man or woman, the statist either doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to look beyond the immediate consequences of the wielding of force in order to see its more-distant and unintended consequences, or he doesn’t have the ethical capacity to care about those more-distant consequences. Also unlike the civilized man or woman, the statist is intellectually lazy: the statist is content to think that some government program is “justified” if that program is approved by at least 50.00001 percent of today’s voters. The majority gets to force the minority to go along with its decisions. No effort is made to craft proposals that require no use of force – proposals that are advantageous to every person affected – proposals that the minority choose to accept rather than are obliged, on risk of being caged or executed, to accept.
It’s fashionable, especially among intellectuals, to hold business people in contempt, or even to regard business people as evil. But someone who succeeds in business without special privileges granted by the state (which is still the vast majority of business people) is someone who successfully crafts bargains that every single party to those bargains finds agreeable. No one is forced to buy a Big Mac, to work at Wal-Mart, or to shop at Amazon.com. In each of these – and countless other cases – the actions are voluntary. No coercion is used to subject anyone to the terms of the contracts to which they agree.
It is truly a disgusting feature of the intellectual’s mindset that he ridicules and demonizes business people for successfully ‘pandering’ to the public – where, in fact, what is called ‘pandering’ is nothing more than finding and offering mutually advantageous bargains – while this same intellectual debases himself by praising and deifying politicians who are most eager to force large segments of the population to perform actions that those people don’t wish to perform.