Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"The case for antidisestablishmentarianism"

Jeffrey Tucker writes at FEE:

The state power we oppose is not identical to the establishment we reject. You can overthrow the establishment and still be left with a gigantic machinery of legalized exploitation. All the agencies, laws, regulations, and powers are still in place. And now you have a problem: someone else is in charge of the state itself. You might call it a new establishment. It could be even more wicked than the one you swept away. Indeed, it usually is. . . .

Here’s the problem with political revolutions. One group leads the revolution, while others follow. If the revolution succeeds, the leaders expect a payout. The main payout is the control of the state apparatus that outlives the establishment’s overthrow. It makes sense that the results will tend to be more ruthless, vengeful, and bloody than anything that came before.

This is not a case for the establishment. It is a case against disestablishmentarianism as an ideal. The ideal is liberty, not the overthrow of existing elite structures as such. Rampant and unchecked populism can be as much an enemy of liberty as unchecked rule by an entrenched power elite.