As Barack Obama is about to be inaugurated as America’s 44th President, a huge question mark hangs over the future of American society and, by extension, over the future of freedom in the world: Will a majority of the American people turn their backs on individual responsibility, free enterprise and the Constitution and follow in Europe’s Socialistic footsteps, or will they remain true to America’s exceptional heritage and destiny? As they make their fateful decision amid talk of Big Government entitlements, bail-outs and deficit spending, I would strongly urge them to ponder the penetrating analysis which Barry Goldwater made of the effects of the Welfare state on individual freedom in The Conscience of A Conservative almost fifty years ago:
“The currently favored instrument of collectivization is the Welfare state. The collectivists have not abandoned their ultimate goal – to subordinate the individual to the State – but their strategy has changed. They have learned that Socialism can be achieved through Welfarism quite as well as Nationalization.
They understand that private property can be confiscated as effectively by taxation as by expropriating it. They understand that the individual can be put at the mercy of the State – not only by making the State his employer - but by divesting him of the means to provide for his personal needs and by giving the State the responsibility of caring for those needs from cradle to grave.
Moreover, they have discovered – and here is the critical point – that Welfarism is much more compatible with the political processes of a democratic society. Nationalization ran into popular opposition, but the collectivists feel sure the Welfare State can be erected by the simple expedient of “free” hospitalization, “free” retirement pay and so on… (…)
I do not welcome this shift of strategy. Socialism-through-Welfarism poses a far greater danger to freedom than Socialism-through-Nationalization precisely because it is more difficult to combat. The evils of Nationalization are self-evident and immediate. Those of Welfarism are veiled and tend to be postponed. (…) The effect of Welfarism on freedom will be felt later on – after its beneficiaries have become its victims, after dependence on government has turned into bondage and it is too late to unlock the jail.”
Judging by Goldwater’s 1960 impeccably conservative standards, Big Government in a country like France has spread so much wealth around to build a Welfare state of its own that French society often feels like a gulag.
As Barack Obama’s term as President of the United States is about to start, calls for philosophical and political restraint within the GOP sound irresponsible, if not cowardly. Due respect for the democratic process should not be mistaken for acquiescing in America’s destruction as an exceptionally freedom-loving country.
As in 1964, 1980, 1984 and 1994, it is time for Conservatives to stand up and be counted.
Note: “Paoli” is the pen name, er, nom de plume, of our French correspondent. Monsieur is a close student of European and US politics, a onetime exchange student in Colorado and a well-wisher to us Americans. He informs us the original Pasquale Paoli, 1725-1807, was the George Washington of Corsica.