Saturday, June 5, 2010

Potomac Highlands Conservative: Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Conference Speech October 1984

[Sir Alistair Graisser] Mr. President, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The bomb attack on the Grand Hotel early this morning was first and foremost an inhuman, undiscriminating attempt to massacre innocent unsuspecting men and women staying in Brighton for our Conservative Conference. Our first thoughts must at once be for those who died and for those who are now in hospital recovering from their injuries. But the bomb attack clearly signified more than this. It was an attempt not only to disrupt and terminate our Conference; It was an attempt to cripple Her Majesty's democratically-elected Government. That is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now—shocked, but composed and determined—is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.
I should like to express our deep gratitude to the police, firemen, ambulancemen, nurses and doctors, to all the emergency services, and to the staff of the hotel; to our ministerial staff and the Conservative Party staff who stood with us and shared the danger.
As Prime Minister and as Leader of the Party, I thank them all and send our heartfelt sympathy to all those who have suffered.[fo 1]
And now it must be business as usual. We must go on to discuss the things we have talked about during this Conference; one or two matters of foreign affairs; and after that, two subjects I have selected for special consideration—unemployment and the miners' strike.
This Conservative Conference—superbly chaired, and of course, our [ Dame P. Hunter] Chairman came on this morning with very little sleep and carried on marvellously,—and with excellent contributions from our members, has been an outstanding example of orderly assembly and free speech. We have debated the great national and international issues, as well as those which affect the daily lives of our people. We have seen at the rostrum miner and pensioner, nurse and manager, clergyman and student. In Government, we have been fulfilling the promises contained in our election manifesto, which was put to the people in a national ballot.
This Government, Mr. President, is reasserting Parliament's ultimate responsibility for controlling the total burden of taxation on our citizens, whether levied by central or local government, and in the coming session of Parliament we shall introduce legislation which will abolish the GLC and the Metropolitan County Councils.
In the quest for sound local government, we rely on the help of Conservative councillors. Their task should never be underestimated and their virtues should not go unsung. They work hard and conscientiously in the true spirit of service and I pay special tribute to the splendid efforts of Conservative councils up and down the country in getting better value for money through greater[fo 2] efficiency and putting out work to competitive tender. This is privatization at the local level and we need more of it.
At national level, since the General Election just over a year ago, the Government has denationalized five major enterprises, making a total of thirteen since 1979. Yesterday, you gave Norman Tebbit a standing ovation; today, our thoughts are with him and his family.
Again and again, denationalization has brought greater motivation to managers and workforce, higher profits and rising investment, and what is more, many in industry now have a share in the firm for which they work. We Conservatives want every owner to be an earner and every earner to be an owner.
Soon, we shall have the biggest ever act of denationalization with British Telecom and British Airways will follow; and we have not finished yet. There will be more to come in this Parliament.
And just as we have stood by our pledge on denationalization, it is our pride that despite the recession, we have kept faith with 9 million pensioners and moreover, by keeping inflation down, we have protected the value of their savings. As Norman Fowler told the Conference on Wednesday, this Government has not only put more into pensions, but has increased resources for the National Health Service. Our record for last year, to be published shortly, will show that the Health Service today is providing more care, more services and more help for the patient than at any stage in its history. That is Conservative care in practice. And I think it is further proof of the statement I made in Brighton in this very hall two years ago—perhaps some of you remember it—that the National Health Service is safe with us.[fo 3]
Now Mr. President and Friends, this performance in the social services could never have been achieved without an efficient and competitive industry to create the wealth we need. Efficiency is not the enemy, but the ally, of compassion.
In our discussions here, we have spoken of the need for enterprise, profits and the wider distribution of property among all the people. In the Conservative Party, we have no truck with outmoded Marxist doctrine about class warfare. For us, it is not who you are, who your family is or where you come from that matters. It is what you are and what you can do for our country that counts. That is our vision. It is a vision worth defending and we shall defend it. Indeed, this Government will never put the defence of our country at risk.
No-one in their senses wants nuclear weapons for their own sake, but equally, no responsible prime minister could take the colossal gamble of giving up our nuclear defences while our greatest potential enemy kept their's.
Policies which would throw out all American nuclear bases—bases which, mind you, have been here since the time of Mr. Attlee, Mr. Truman and Winston Churchill—would wreck NATO and leave us totally isolated from our friends in the United States, and friends they are. No nation in history has ever shouldered a greater burden nor shouldered it more willingly nor more generously than the United States. This Party is pro-American.
And we must constantly remind people what the defence policy of the Opposition Party would mean. Their idea that by giving up our nuclear deterrent, we could somehow escape the result[fo 4] of a nuclear war elsewhere is nonsense, and it is a delusion to assume that conventional weapons are sufficient defence against nuclear attack. And do not let anyone slip into the habit of thinking that conventional war in Europe is some kind of comfortable option. With a huge array of modern weapons held by the Soviet Union, including chemical weapons in large quantities, it would be a cruel and terrible conflict. The truth is that possession of the nuclear deterrent has prevented not only nuclear war but also conventional war and to us, peace is precious beyond price. We are the true peace party. And the nuclear deterrent has not only kept the peace, but it will continue to preserve our independence. Winston Churchill's warning is just as true now as when he made it many many years ago. He said this: "Once you take the position of not being able in any circumstances to defend your rights against aggression, there is no end to the demands that will be made nor to the humiliations that must be accepted." He knew, and we must heed his warning.
And yet, Labour's defence policy remains no Polaris, no Cruise missiles in Britain, no United States nuclear bases in Britain, no Trident, no independent nuclear deterrent.
There is, I think, just one answer the nation will give. No defence—no Labour Government.
Mr. President, in foreign affairs, this year has seen two major diplomatic successes. We have reached a detailed and binding agreement with China on the future of Hong Kong. It is an agreement designed to preserve Hong Kong's flourishing economy and unique way of life and we believe that it meets the needs and wishes of the people of Hong Kong themselves.[fo 5]
A few weeks ago, the unofficial members of the Executive Council of Hong Kong came to see me. We kept in touch with them the whole time and they frequently made journeys to No. 10 Downing Street as the negotiations with China proceeded. We were just about to initial the agreement and we consulted them, of course, about its content. Their spokesman said this: he said that while the agreement did not contain everything he would have liked, he and his colleagues could nevertheless recommend it to the people of Hong Kong in good conscience—in good conscience. That means a lot to us. If that is what the leaders of Hong Kong's own community believe, then we have truly fulfilled the heavy responsibility we feel for their long-term future.
That agreement required imagination, skill, hard work and perseverance. In other words, it required Geoffrey Howe.
And in Europe too, through firmness and determination, we have achieved a long-term settlement of Britain's budget contributions, a fair deal for Britain and for Europe too. And if we had listened to the advice of other party leaders, Britain would not have done half as well. But patient diplomacy and occasionally, I confess, a little impatient diplomacy, that did the trick.
Also, we have at last begun to curb surplus food production in the Community. Now, we know that for some farmers this has meant a painful adjustment and we are very much aware of their difficulties. Their work and their success are a great strength to our country. Michael Jopling and his colleagues will continue to fight to achieve a fair deal for them.
We have also won agreement on the need to keep the Community's spending under proper control. The Community can now enter on a new[fo 6] chapter and use its energies and influence to play a greater part in world affairs, as an example of what democracies can accomplish, as a very powerful trading group and as a strong force for freedom.
Now, Mr. President, we had one of the most interesting debates of this Conference on unemployment, which we all agree is the scourge of our times.
To have over 3 million people unemployed in this country is bad enough, even though we share this tragic problem with other nations, but to suggest, as some of our opponents have, that we do not care about it is as deeply wounding as it is utterly false. Do they really think that we do not understand what it means for the family man who cannot find a job, to have to sit at home with a sense of failure and despair? Or that we do not understand how hopeless the world must seem to a young person who has not yet succeeded in getting his first job? Of course, we know, of course we see, and of course, we care. However could they say that we welcome unemployment as a political weapon? What better news could there be for any Government than the news that unemployment is falling and the day cannot come too soon for me.
Others, while not questioning our sincerity, argue that our policies will not achieve our objectives. They look back forty years to the post-war period, when we were paused to launch a brave new world; a time when we all thought we had the cure for unemployment. In that confident dawn it seemed that having won the war, we knew how to win the peace. Keynes had provided the diagnosis. It was all set out in the 1944 White Paper on Employment. I bought it then; I have it still. My name is on the top of it. Margaret H. Roberts. One of my staff took one look at it and said: "Good Heavens! I did not know it was as old as that!"[fo 7]
Now, we all read that White Paper very carefully, but the truth was that politicians took some parts of the formula in it and conveniently ignored the rest. I re-read it frequently. Those politicians overlooked the warning in that Paper that government action must not weaken personal enterprise or exonerate the citizen from the duty of fending for himself. They disregarded the advice that wages must be related to productivity and above all, they neglected the warning that without a rising standard of industrial efficiency, you cannot achieve a high level of employment combined with a rising standard of living.
And having ignored so much of that and having ignored other parts of the formula for so much of the time, the result was that we ended up with high inflation and high unemployment.
This Government is heeding the warnings. It has acted on the the basic truths that were set out all those years ago in that famous White Paper. If I had come out with all this today, some people would call it "Thatcherite" but, in fact, it was vintage Maynard Keynes. He had a horror of inflation, a fear of too much State control, and a belief in the market.
We are heeding those warnings. We are taking the policy as a whole and not only in selected parts. We have already brought inflation down below 5%;. Output has been rising steadily since 1981 and investment is up substantially. But if things are improving, why—you will ask—does unemployment not fall?
And that was the question one could feel throughout that debate, even though people know there is always a time lag between getting the other things right and having a fall in unemployment. Why does unemployment not fall?[fo 8]
May I try to answer that question?
Well, first, more jobs are being created. As Tom King pointed out, over the last year more than a quarter of a million extra jobs have been created, but the population of working age is also rising very fast as the baby boom of the 1960s becomes the school-leavers of the 1980s; so although the number of jobs are rising, the population of working age is also rising, and among the population of working age a larger proportion of married women are seeking work, and so you will see why we need more jobs just to stop unemployment rising and even more jobs to get it falling.
Now, on top of that, new technology has caused redundancy in many factories, though it has also created whole new industries providing products and jobs that only a few years ago were undreamed of.
So it has two effects: the first one redundancies, the second and slightly later, new jobs as new products become possible. This has happened in history before.
A few days ago I visited York, where I saw the first railway engine, Stevenson's "Rocket". I thought of the jobs, the prospects and the hope that the new steam engines and the railways then brought to many people. Communities queued up to be on a railway line, to have their own station. Those communities welcomed change and it brought them more jobs.
I confess I am very glad we have got the railways, but if we were trying to build those same railways today, I wonder if we would ever get planning permission—it sometimes takes so long. And that is one thing that can sometimes delay the coming into existence of jobs.
That was one example from history, but let us go through during my lifetime as we have this same phenomenon, redundancies from new technology more jobs from new technology.[fo 9]
In the 1940s, when I took a science degree, the new emerging industries were plastics, man-made fibres and television. Later it will be satellites, computers and telecommunications, and now it is biotechnology and information technology; and today our universities and science parks are identifying the needs of tomorrow. So there are new industries and new jobs in the pipeline.
I remember an industrialist telling me, when I first went into business—and I have always remembered it—"Our job is to discover what the customer will buy and to produce it." And in Wrexham the other day, at a Youth Training Centre, I was delighted to see a poster saying "It is the customer that makes pay days possible." So those young people are not only learning new technology; they were learning the facts of business life and how we create new jobs. Because it is the spirit of enterprise that provides jobs. It is being prepared to venture and build a business and the role of Government in helping them to do that? It is in cutting taxes; it is in cutting inflation; it is keeping costs down; it is cutting through regulations and removing obstacles to the growth of small businesses. For that is where many of the new jobs will come from—small businesses. And it is providing better education and training.
The Youth Training Scheme, now in its second year, was set up to give young people the necessary skills for the new technologies and the necessary approach to industry. A majority of the first year's graduates are getting jobs. A much bigger proportion of those leaving the Youth Training Scheme are getting jobs than of those which left the Youth Opportunities Scheme, and so they should, because it is a much better training scheme and it will improve again this year. I was very interested in it. David Young started it and[fo 10] I offered to take a trainee for our office at No. 10 Downing Street. We would love to have one. Now, he or she might not have made it to be Prime Minister in one year, but the work at No. 10, because we have a staff, obviously, to run the office, of about a hundred, is varied and interesting and we really wanted to take on a trainee, and we also said we would take some trainees into the other parts of the Civil Service. So we were not willing [sic]; we were really welcoming this person or people and looking forward to it.
At first, the union said yes, then they said no, and the result is that young people have been denied training places.
The same problem arose at Jaguar. First the union said yes, then they said no. So 130 unemployed teenagers have been denied training, and that means young people were denied jobs.
Mr. President, we cannot create jobs without the willing cooperation not only of employers but of trade unions and all of the workforce who work in industry and commerce as well.
Yesterday, in the debate, we were urged to spend more money on capital investment. It looks a very attractive idea, but to spend more in one area means spending less in another or it means putting up taxes. Now, in Government, we are constantly faced with these difficult choices. If we want more for investment, I have to ask my colleagues in Cabinet: "What are you going to give up or you or you? Or you or you?" Or should I perhaps ask them: "Whose pay claim are you going to cut, the doctors, the police, the nurses?" I do not find many takers, because we have honoured the reviews of pay for doctors, nurses and the police and others in full. And you would not have cheered me if we had not done so and quite right too, but I am bringing this to you because although people can say the way to solve[fo 11] unemployment is to give a higher capital allocation, I have to say what are we going to give up or I have to turn to Nigel Lawson and ask him which taxes would he put up. Income tax? The personal income tax is already too high. Value Added Tax? Well, I should get a pretty frosty reception from Nigel and I should get a pretty frosty reception from you. But I would be loth to ask him anyway.
But you see, governments have to make these difficult choices, because as you know, whether your own households or whether your own businesses, there is a certain amount of income and you are soon in trouble if you do not live within it.
But what I want to say to you is that we do consider these difficult choices in the public expenditure annual round and we are just coming up to it, and we have managed to allocate a very considerable sum to capital investment. Indeed, we have found the money for the best investment projects on offer and believe you me, it has been because of very good management in each and every department. It has been cutting out waste so we could make room for these things and be certain that we could say to you that we were getting value for money.
Let me just give you a few examples of some of the investment projects for which we have found money, by careful budgetting.
There is the M25 road for example. It is being completed. British Railways have been given the green light to go ahead with electrification, if they can make it pay. We have started or built forty-nine new hospitals since 1979. Capital investment in the nationalized industries as a whole is going up. Of course, we look at those things like new power stations and in a year after drought we look at things like more investment in the water supply industry. So we are going ahead with major capital investment.[fo 12]
So what is the conclusion that we are coming to? It is the spirit of enterprise that creates new jobs and it is Government's task to create the right framework, the right financial framework, in which that can flourish and to cut the obstacles which sometimes handicap the birth of enterprise, and also to manage our own resources carefully and well.
That is more or less what that Employment Policy White Paper in 1944 said, so let me just return to it, page 1. It is getting a bit old.
"Employment cannot be created by Act of Parliament or by Government action alone. The success of the policy outlined in this Paper will ultimately depend on the understanding and support of the community as a whole and especially on the efforts of employers and workers in industry."
It was true then, it is true now, and those are the policies that we are following and shall continue to follow, because those are the policies that we believe will ultimately create the genuine jobs for the future. In the meantime, it is our job to try to mitigate the painful effects of change and that we do, as you know, by generous redundancy payments and also by a Community Enterprise Scheme, which not only finds jobs for the long-term unemployed, but finds them in a way which brings great benefits to the communities. And then, of course, where there are redundancy schemes in steel and now in coal, the industries themselves set up enterprise agencies both to give help to those who are made redundant and to provide new training. All of this is a highly constructive policy both for the creation of jobs and a policy to cushion the effects of change.[fo 13]
May I turn now to the coal industry?
For a little over seven months we have been living through an agonising strike. Let me make it absolutely clear the miners' strike was not of this Government's seeking nor of its making.
We have heard in debates at this Conference some of the aspects that have made this dispute so repugnant to so many people. We were reminded by a colliery manager that the NUM always used to accept that a pit should close when the losses were too great to keep it open, and that the miners set great store by investment in new pits and new seams, and under this Government that new investment is happening in abundance. You can almost repeat the figures with me. £2 million in capital investment in the mines for every day this Government has been in power, so no shortage of capital investment.
We heard moving accounts from two working miners about just what they have to face as they try to make their way to work. The sheer bravery of those men and thousands like them who kept the mining industry alive is beyond praise. "Scabs" their former workmates call them. Scabs? They are lions! What a tragedy it is when striking miners attack their workmates. Not only are they members of the same union, but the working miner is saving both their futures, because it is the working miners, whether in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, North Wales or Scotland, it is the working miners who have kept faith with those who buy our coal and without that custom thousands of jobs in the mining industry would be already lost.
And then we heard—unforgettably—from the incomparable Mrs. Irene McGibbon—who told us what it is like to be the wife of a working miner during this strike. She told us of the threats and[fo 14] intimidation suffered by herself and her family and even her 11-year-old son, but what she endured only stiffened her resolve. To face the picket line day after day must take a very special kind of courage, but it takes as much—perhaps even more—to the housewife who has to stay at home alone. Men and women like that are what we are proud to call "the best of British" and our police who upheld the law with an independence and a restraint perhaps only to be found in this country are the admiration of the world.
To be sure, the miners had a good deal and to try to prevent a strike the National Coal Board gave to the miners the best ever pay offer, the highest ever investment and for the first time the promise that no miner would lose his job against his will. We did this despite the fact that the bill for losses in the coal industry last year was bigger than the annual bill for all the doctors and dentists in all the National Health Service hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Let me repeat it: the losses—the annual losses—in the coal industry are enormous. £1.3 billion last year. You have to find that money as tax-payers. It is equal to the sum we pay in salaries to all the doctors and dentists in the National Health Service.
Mr. President, this is a dispute about the right to go to work of those who have been denied the right to go to vote, and we must never forget that the overwhelming majority of trade unionists, including many striking miners, deeply regret what has been done in the name of trade unionism. When this strike is over—and one day it will be over—we must do everything we can to encourage moderate and responsible trade unionism so that it can once again take its respected and valuable place in our industrial life.[fo 15]
Meanwhile, we are faced with the present Executive of the National Union of Mineworkers. They know that what they are demanding has never been granted either to miners or to workers in any other industry. Why then demand it? Why ask for what they know cannot be conceded? There can only be one explanation. They did not want a settlement; they wanted a strike. Otherwise, they would have ballotted on the Coal Board's offer. Indeed, one-third of the miners did have a ballot and voted overwhelmingly to accept the offer.
Mr. President, what we have seen in this country is the emergence of an organized revolutionary minority who are prepared to exploit industrial disputes, but whose real aim is the breakdown of law and order and the destruction of democratic parliamentary government. We have seen the same sort of thugs and bullies at Grunwick, more recently against Eddie Shah in Stockport, and now organized into flying squads around the country. If their tactics were to be allowed to succeed, if they are not brought under the control of the law, we shall see them again at every industrial dispute organized by militant union leaders anywhere in the country.
One of the speakers earlier in this Conference realized this fact, realized that what they are saying is: "Give us what we want or we are prepared to go on with violence," and he referred to Danegeld. May I add to what that speaker said.
"We never pay anyone Danegeld, no matter how trifling the cost, for the end of that gain is oppression and shame, and the nation that plays it is lost." Yes, Rudyard Kipling. Who could put it better?
Democratic change there has always been in this, the home of democracy. But the sanction for change is the ballot box.[fo 16]
It seems that there are some who are out to destroy any properly elected government. They are out to bring down the framework of law. That is what we have seen in this strike, and what is the law they seek to defy?
It is the Common Law created by fearless judges and passed down across the centuries. It is legislation scrutinized and enacted by the parliament of a free people. It is legislation passed through a House of Commons, a Commons elected once every five years by secret ballot by one citizen, one vote. This is the way our law was fashioned and that is why British justice is renowned across the world.
"No government owns the law. It is the law of the land, heritage of the people. No man is above the law and no man is below it. Nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a favour." So said Theodore Roosevelt.
Mr. President, the battle to uphold the rule of law calls for the resolve and commitment of the British people. Our institutions of justice, the courts and the police require the unswerving support of every law-abiding citizen and I believe they will receive it.
The nation faces what is probably the most testing crisis of our time, the battle between the extremists and the rest. We are fighting, as we have always fought, for the weak as well as for the strong. We are fighting for great and good causes. We are fighting to defend them against the power and might of those who rise up to challenge them. This Government will not weaken. This nation will meet that challenge. Democracy will prevail.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Potomac Highlands Conservative: The Difference Between "Liberalism" and "Socialism" As Explained by Sir Winston Churchill

This speech came from the period in which Churchill was a member of Britain's Liberal Party. It was given over a century ago, but plainly marks the boundary between what we used to call liberalism and the kind of extreme leftism that no one wants or needs.

I want tonight to speak about three cross-currents, and let me first say a word about Socialism. There are a great many Socialists whose opinions and whose views I have the greatest respect for - [hear, hear] - men some of whom I know well, and whose friendship I have the honour to enjoy. A good many of those gentlemen who have these delightful, rosy views of a great and brilliant future to the world are so remote from hard facts of daily life and of ordinary politics that I am not very sure that they will bring any useful or effective influence to bear upon the immediate course of events.

I am dealing rather with those of violent and extreme views who call themselves Socialists in the next few observations I shall venture with your indulgence to address to you.To the revolutionary Socialist I do not appeal as the Liberal candidate for Dundee. I recognise that they are perfectly right in voting against me and voting against the Liberals, because Liberalism is not Socialism, and never will be. [Cheers.]There is a great gulf fixed. It is not only a gulf of method, it is a gulf of principle. There are many steps we have to take which our Socialist opponents or friends, whichever they like to call themselves, will have to take with us; but there are immense differences of principle and of political philosophy between the views we put forward and the views they put forward.Liberalism has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and its own aims. Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. [Loud cheers.] Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. [Cheers.] Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. [Cheers.] Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. [Cheers.] Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly. [Cheers.]

These are the great distinctions which I draw, and which, I think, you will think I am right in drawing at this election between our philosophies and our ideals. Don't think that Liberalism is a faith that is played out; that it is a philosophy to which there is no expanding future. As long as the world rolls round Liberalism will have its part to play - a grand, beneficent, and ameliorating part to play - in relation to men and States. [Cheers.]Ah, gentlemen, I don't want to embark on bitter or harsh controversy, but I think the exalted ideal of the Socialists - a universal brotherhood, owning all things in common - is not always supported by the evidence of their practice. [Laughter.] They put before us a creed of universal self-sacrifice. They preach it in the language of spite and envy, of hatred, and all uncharitableness. [Cheers.] They tell us that we should dwell together in unity and comradeship. They are themselves split into twenty obscure factions, who hate and abuse each other more than they hate and abuse us. [Hear, hear, and laughter.] They wish to reconstruct the world. They begin by leaving out human nature. [Laughter.]

Consider how barren a philosophy is the creed of absolute Collectivism. Equality of reward, irrespective of service rendered! It is expressed in other ways. You know the phrase - "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." [Laughter.] How nice that sounds. Let me put it another way - "You shall work according to your fancy; you shall be paid according to your appetite." [Cheers.]Although I have tried my very best to understand these propositions, I have never been able to imagine the mechanical heart in the Socialist world which is to replace the ordinary human heart that palpitates in our breasts. What motive is to induce the men, not for a day, or an hour, or a year, but for all their lives, to make a supreme sacrifice of their individuality? What motive is to induce the Scotsmen who spread all over the world and make their way by various paths to eminence and power in every land and climate to make the great and supreme sacrifice of their individuality? I have heard of loyalty to a Sovereign. We have heard of love of country. Ah, but it is to be a great cosmopolitan, republic. We have heard of love of family and wives and children. These are the mere weaknesses of the bad era in which we live. We have heard of faith in a world beyond this when all its transitory pleasures and perils shall have passed away, a hope that carries serene consolation to the heart of men. Ah, but they deny its existence. [Laughter.]

And what then are we to make this sacrifice for? It is for the sake of society.And what is society? I will tell you what society is. Translated into concrete terms, Socialistic "society" is a set of disagreeable individuals who obtained a majority for their caucus at some recent election, and whose officials in consequence would look on humanity through innumerable grills and pigeon-holes and across innumerable counters, and say to them, "Tickets, please." [Laughter.] Truly this grey old world has never seen so grim a joke. [Applause.] Now, ladies and gentlemen, no man can be either a collectivist or an individualist. He must be both; everybody must be both a collectivist and an individualist. For certain of our affairs we must have our arrangements in common. Others we must have sacredly individual and to ourselves. [Cheers.]We have many good things in common. You have the police, the army, the navy, and officials - why, a President of the Board of Trade you have in common. [Applause.] But we don't eat in common; we eat individually. [Laughter.] And we don't ask the ladies to marry us in common. [Laughter.]And you will find the truth lies in these matters, as it always lies in difficult matters, midway between extreme formulae. It is in the nice adjustment of the respective ideas of collectivism and individualism that the problem of the world and the solution of that problem lie in the years to come. [Applause.] But I have no hesitation in saying that I am on the side of those who think that a greater collective element should be introduced into the State and municipalities. I should like to see the State undertaking new functions, particularly stepping forward into those spheres of activity which are governed by an element of monopoly. [Applause.] Your tramways and so on; your great public works, which are of a monopolistic and privileged character there I see a wide field for State enterprise to embark upon. But when we are told to exalt and admire a philosophy which destroys individualism and seeks to replace it by collectivism, I say that is a monstrous and imbecile conception which can find no real foothold in the brains and hearts - and the hearts are as trustworthy as the brains - in the hearts of sensible people. [Loud cheers.]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Potomac Highlands Conservative Video: "A Time For Choosing" AKA "The Speech" by Ronald Reagan

Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks.
I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used "We've never had it so good."
But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend $17 million a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We have raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations in the world. We have $15 billion in gold in our treasury--we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are $27.3 billion, and we have just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.
As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well, I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.
Not too long ago two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are! I had someplace to escape to." In that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a "greater government activity in the affairs of the people." But they have been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves--and all of the things that I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say "the cold war will end through acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says that the profit motive has become outmoded, it must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state; or our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the president as our moral teacher and our leader, and he said he is hobbled in his task by the restrictions in power imposed on him by this antiquated document. He must be freed so that he can do for us what he knows is best. And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." Well, I for one resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me--the free man and woman of this country--as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"--this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.
Now, we have no better example of this than the government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming is regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we have spent $43 in feed grain program for every bushel of corn we don't grow.
Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater as President would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he will find out that we have had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He will also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress an extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He will find that they have also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil.
At the same time, there has been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There is now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore.
Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but who are farmers to know what is best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.
Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights are so diluted that public interest is almost anything that a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes for the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he is now going to start building public housing units in the thousands where heretofore we have only built them in the hundreds. But FHA and the Veterans Administration tell us that they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosures. For three decades, we have sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. They have just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over $30 million on deposit in personal savings in their banks. When the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed.
We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they are going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer and they've had almost 30 years of it, shouldn't we expect government to almost read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?
But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater, the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we are told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year. Welfare spending is 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We are spending $45 billion on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you will find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those 9 million poor families, we would be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty! Direct aid to the poor, however, is running only about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
So now we declare "war on poverty," or "you, too, can be a Bobby Baker!" Now, do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $1 billion to the $45 million we are more program to the 30-odd we have--and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs--do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain that there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We are now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps, and we are going to put our young people in camps, but again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we are going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person that we help $4,700 a year! We can send them to Harvard for $2,700! Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.
But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who had come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning $250 a month. She wanted a divorce so that she could get an $80 raise. She is eligible for $330 a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who had already done that very thing.
Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we are denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we are always "against" things, never "for" anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so. We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.
But we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those who depend on them for livelihood. They have called it insurance to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified that it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is $298 billion in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble! And they are doing just that.
A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary...his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee $220 a month at age 65. The government promises $127. He could live it up until he is 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now, are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis so that people who do require those payments will find that they can get them when they are due...that the cupboard isn't bare? Barry Goldwater thinks we can.
At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provisions for the non-earning years? Should we allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under these programs, which we cannot do? I think we are for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program was now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road.
In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate planned inflation so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents' worth?
I think we are for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we are against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among the nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we are against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in Soviet colonies in the satellite nation.
I think we are for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We are helping 107. We spent $146 billion. With that money, we bought a $2 million yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenyan government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought $7 billion worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this Earth. Federal employees number 2.5 million, and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force is employed by the government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury, and they can seize and sell his property in auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier overplanted his rice allotment. The government obtained a $17,000 judgment, and a U.S. marshal sold his 950-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work. Last February 19 at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-time candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do.
As a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration. Back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his party was taking the part of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his party, and he never returned to the day he died, because to this day, the leadership of that party has been taking that party, that honorable party, down the road in the image of the labor socialist party of England. Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men...that we are to choose just between two personalities.
Well, what of this man that they would destroy? And in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear. Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well, I have been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I have never known a man in my life I believe so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing.
This is a man who in his own business, before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan, before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provided nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by floods from the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.
An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas, and he said that there were a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. Then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was this fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in the weeks before Christmas, all day long, he would load up the plane, fly to Arizona, fly them to their homes, then fly back over to get another load.
During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life upon that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all of the other problems I have discussed academic, unless we realize that we are in a war that must be won.
Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us that they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he will forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer--not an easy answer--but simple.
If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based upon what we know in our hearts is morally right. We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion now in slavery behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skin, we are willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Let's set the record straight. There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace--and you can have it in the next second--surrender.
Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face--that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand--the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he would rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin--just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it's a simple answer after all.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits--not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.
Thank you very much.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Potomac Highlands Conservative Reader: F. A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom

The above is a link to the condensed version of F. A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom. The "meat" of the piece is near the beginning in a section called "Planning and Power." It emphasizes how freedom and economic competition cannot co-exist with stringent planning. It also demonstrates how a planned society cannot co-exist with democratic institutions,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Potomac Highlands Conservative Fre Market Thinker Series: Frederic Bastiat "The Law"

A selection from the free market classic, Frederic Bastiat's "The Law."

The Law
The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!
If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.
Life Is a Gift from God
We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life.
But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.
Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
What Is Law?
What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?
If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.
A Just and Enduring Government
If a nation were founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the people, in thought as well as in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would have the most simple, easy to accept, economical, limited, nonoppressive, just, and enduring government imaginable — whatever its political form might be.
Under such an administration, everyone would understand that he possessed all the privileges as well as all the responsibilities of his existence. No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack. When successful, we would not have to thank the state for our success. And, conversely, when unsuccessful, we would no more think of blaming the state for our misfortune than would the farmers blame the state because of hail or frost. The state would be felt only by the invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government.
It can be further stated that, thanks to the non-intervention of the state in private affairs, our wants and their satisfactions would develop themselves in a logical manner. We would not see poor families seeking literary instruction before they have bread. We would not see cities populated at the expense of rural districts, nor rural districts at the expense of cities. We would not see the great displacements of capital, labor, and population that are caused by legislative decisions.
The sources of our existence are made uncertain and precarious by these state-created displacements. And, furthermore, these acts burden the government with increased responsibilities.
The Complete Perversion of the Law
But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?
The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. Let us speak of the first.
A Fatal Tendency of Mankind
Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.
But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.
Property and Plunder
Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.
When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.
It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.
But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.
This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.
Victims of Lawful Plunder
Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter — by peaceful or revolutionary means — into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.
Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws! Until that happens, the few practice lawful plunder upon the many, a common practice where the right to participate in the making of law is limited to a few persons. But then, participation in the making of law becomes universal. And then, men seek to balance their conflicting interests by universal plunder. Instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general. As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even though it is against their own interests.
It is as if it were necessary, before a reign of justice appears, for everyone to suffer a cruel retribution — some for their evilness, and some for their lack of understanding.
The Results of Legal Plunder
It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.
What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.
In the first place, it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.
No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.
The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them.
The Fate of Non-Conformists
If you suggest a doubt as to the morality of these institutions, it is boldly said that "You are a dangerous innovator, a utopian, a theorist, a subversive; you would shatter the foundation upon which society rests." If you lecture upon morality or upon political science, there will be found official organizations petitioning the government in this vein of thought: "That science no longer be taught exclusively from the point of view of free trade (of liberty, of property, and of justice) as has been the case until now, but also, in the future, science is to be especially taught from the viewpoint of the facts and laws that regulate French industry (facts and laws which are contrary to liberty, to property, and to justice). That, in government-endowed teaching positions, the professor rigorously refrain from endangering in the slightest degree the respect due to the laws now in force." [1]
Thus, if there exists a law which sanctions slavery or monopoly, oppression or robbery, in any form whatever, it must not even be mentioned. For how can it be mentioned without damaging the respect which it inspires? Still further, morality and political economy must be taught from the point of view of this law; from the supposition that it must be a just law merely because it is a law.
Another effect of this tragic perversion of the law is that it gives an exaggerated importance to political passions and conflicts, and to politics in general.
I could prove this assertion in a thousand ways. But, by way of illustration, I shall limit myself to a subject that has lately occupied the minds of everyone: universal suffrage.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Next Week

I'll be out of town and away from the computer, so we will be running some great literary and rhetorical works about freedom and rights for the next week or so.