Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Freedom wears a Crown

Most people would reflexively ridicule the notion that we were freer when kings sat all-powerful on their thrones, but not so Mark Steyn („Regulatory Despotism“, published in his blog):

Two centuries ago, de Tocqueville wrote:
„There was a time in Europe in which the law, as well as the consent of the people, clothed kings with a power almost without limits. But almost never did it happen that they made use of it.“

True. The king was an absolute tyrant — in theory. But in practice he was in his palace hundreds of miles away, and for the most part you got on with your life relatively undisturbed. As de Tocqueville wrote:

„Although the entire government of the empire was concentrated in the hands of the emperor alone, and although he remained, in time of need, the arbiter of all things, the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.“

But what would happen, he wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to make it possible „to subject all of his subjects to the details of a uniform set of regulations“? That moment has now arrived in much of the western world, including America... — and the machinery of bureaucracy barely pauses to scoff: In an age of mass communication and computer records, the screen blips for the merest nano-second, and your gun rights disappear. The remorseless, incremental annexation of „individual existence“ by technologically all-pervasive micro-regulation is a profound threat to free peoples. But do we have the will to resist it?

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