Monday, January 08, 2007

A Provisional Summing Up

Liberty arises from mutual respect and forbearance. Those who would live in liberty therefore bear a super-contractual obligation -- a societal obligation. It is an obligation to treat others as those others would be treated, in the expectation that those others will reciprocate that respect and forbearance.

State power erodes the societal bonds upon which liberty depends. The possibility of attaining gratification through the exercise of state power tempts us to use the power of the state to treat others coercively. As subjects of the state we develop the habit of looking to the state for guidance about proper behavior, instead of consulting our consciences and our fellow men.

One misuse of state power leads to another, eventually destroying the fragile bonds of mutual respect and forbearance that undergird liberty. We have followed this slippery slope in America. Our slide into statism began in earnest with with Teddy Roosevelt's "Square Deal," accelerated with Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal," and has been compounded since through the steady accretion of power by the central government.