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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page xxv of George Will’s newly published 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:

One lesson of the twentieth century is that the comprehensive politics of the integrated state promises fulfillment but delivers suffocation.

DBx: Indisputably true (although, I realize, many are the people who nevertheless do dispute this statement’s truth).

I’d be amused were I not instead overcome with a mix of fear and sadness when I encounter today’s frequently made claims that society will be corrupted or impoverished – even devastated – if the state isn’t very soon given comprehensive powers to “combat” this evil or that devil.

Inequality – climate change – immigration – globalization – the loss of manufacturing jobs – population growth – the opioid crisis – inadequate availability of paid family leave – the list is long. Depending on your politics and ideology, you might well worry that one or more such “crisis” is summoning doomsday, and that this summons can be repealed only if the state intervenes now and with discretion largely unchecked by those quaint 18th-century constitutional limits on state power and discretion.

As regular readers of this blog know, I believe that most of today’s so-called “crises” are not crises at all. Some, such as climate change, might well be problems that humanity should deal with in some manner; some, such as income inequality, are non-issues (except insofar as they are demagogued); and some, such as globalization, are actually blessings that are mistaken for blights.

But even the worst such problem, even if it goes unaddressed, threatens harm that doesn’t begin to compare in magnitude to the harm that the state has inflicted on humanity. Look back at the 20th century. Rank its horrors. You will find that the cause of the worst of these is the state.

Continue to look back at the 20th century. Rank its glories. You will find that the cause of nearly all of the greatest of these is human creativity unleashed and governed by the forces of emergent – or “spontaneous” – orders, chief among these being free markets.


Recently while driving I heard on the radio a report about some “study” done by an environmental group. This “study” allegedly discovered that climate change has inflicted grievous economic damage on the economy of India. I burst out laughing. Whatever damage has been visited on the Indian economy by climate change is, I’m certain, an infinitesimally tiny fraction of the damage visited on that economy by the Indian state. And so to look to the state as the great savior of the economy would serve as a theme for a rip-roaringly hilarious Saturday Night Live skit were there not large numbers of people who actually believe that such salvation will be, and can only be, delivered by the state.