Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 3, 2017

in Reality Is Not Optional

… is from page 719 of the 2007 Liberty Fund edition (Bettina Bien Greaves, ed.) of Ludwig von Mises’s 1949 treatise, Human Action:

The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.  Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

DBx: You might believe, as Mises himself believed, that a peaceful and prosperous society requires some minimum amount of government.  Or you might believe, as most people believe, that a peaceful and prosperous society requires a great deal of government.  Or you might be a comrade who longs for complete and detailed government design of, and control over, all of our economic activities.  Wherever you stand on the spectrum of “minimum, nightwatchman government to Soviet-style state control,” you must never forget that the ultimate distinguishing feature of the state is its ability to issue dictates that are enforced with coercion.  And this reality does not disappear when state decisions are made democratically.

Every state erects statues to its most successful operatives, flies its flags gloriously high in the sky, conducts its business in imposing buildings, adorns its officials with impressive titles and honorifics, and – above all – assures its subjects that it possesses a superhuman capacity to know and to care, and that it uses this capacity always and only in ways that make the state an indispensable boon to everyone over whom it reigns.  Yet behind all this pomp and fine display are iron fists and spiked boots.

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