Political freedom is a concentrator of government power
August 12, 2014 § 216 Comments
We are frequently presented with the false dichotomy of either making freedom a political priority or supporting limitless concentrated government power. In fact this false dichotomy has things exactly backwards: making freedom a political priority (that is, liberalism) inherently concentrates government power.
In a healthy, functional society characterized by organic subsidiarity there are many constraints on individual choice coming from disparate authorities. There are also many constraints on various authorities themselves: constraints which arise from the fact that no one authority has monopolistic power over all spheres of life. Modern people immediately think of a king as a kind of all-powerful dictator, and that was probably even true of some of the late-stage Protestant ‘divine right’ monarchs; but in practice most pre-modern kings just happened to be the highest ranking individual aristocrat, and had less power qua individual than any two or three other high ranking aristocrats in coalition.
This isn’t an apologia for monarchy as much as it is a warning against the mind viruses that modernity uses to short circuit your thinking. By presenting you with a false alternative between liberalism and tyranny, liberalism always wins.
But the presumption in favor of individual freedom against the disparate authorities of organic subsidiarity creates an imperative for an ever more centralized government to override those authorities, in order to reduce constraints on individual freedom. Fire must be fought with fire: authority with a more concentrated authority.
A simple concrete example is the increasing intervention of government in marriage, since the traditional authority of a husband does in fact constrain the equal freedom of wives. That the wife may have entered the marriage voluntarily doesn’t fix the problem, when freedom is a prior commitment. Once you start to see how freedom concentrates government power in one domain, you see it happening everywhere.
So it is important not to permit liberals to distort your perceptions with this false dichotomy. Making freedom a political priority isn’t a tool against the concentration of government power. It is itself the engine driving concentration of government power.