Friday, August 30, 2013

Patriotism is the first refuge of idiots

There is a fairly wide swath of people who refuse to believe government (local, state, and federal) when it comes to issues where the government either has no credible incentive to lie, or it would take a magnificent conspiracy across many levels in order to fudge the truth. Issues like localized public safety, public schools, or even basic economic data have become "controversial" to many people purported to be exercising a healthy distrust of power. Yes, governments need to be kept in check regarding these issues, but most often agencies that handle this sort of stuff are made up of public servants who do great work. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to questioning US military power, where the government has lied repeatedly and been proven to do so (with the results being millions of deaths), many of these same people are the first ones to blindly cheer on every single American imperial military adventure (they usually call it "the troops") and cast self-righteous judgements on those who don't. I realize there's some interesting social undertones happening with this sort of thinking, which at first glance seems at least a bit contradictory. I'm sure there is, but I'm just going to call them idiots and be done with it.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Adam Smith on the bourgeois state

"Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security. He is at all times surrounded by unknown enemies, whom, though he never provoked, he can never appease, and from whose injustice he can be protected only by the powerful arm of the civil magistrate continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government. Where there is no property, or at least none that exceeds the value of two or three days labour, civil government is not so necessary."

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter 1.45
(found via Left Business Observer, #136)