We know about the transformation of the American police, with their paramilitary equipment, their SWAT team raids, and incentive to terrorize people over drug offenses rather than pursue crimes against person and property. We know about the National Security Agency, which can access every American’s e-mails, phone calls, or text messages. And yet too many average Americans have greeted all this with indifference.

This indifference, I suggest, derives from the widespread public acceptance of the myth of the state that Americans are taught from the moment they step into a government classroom. The myth is this: the state is a public-service institution established to provide you with security, both personal and economic. And after years of indoctrination into this myth, it is little wonder that so many Americans are prepared to give the state the benefit of the doubt, and to look upon dissidents as incorrigible troublemakers. The police and the military, the most celebrated public faces of the state, are to be questioned least of all.

All social theory can be reduced to two categories: those that conceive of society as the result of peace, and those for which the indispensable ingredient is violence. This is the fundamental distinction between liberalism and fascism, a point I discuss further in a book I released earlier this year called Fascism vs. Capitalism.

There is some confusion surrounding terms here. When Ludwig von Mises published his book Liberalism in English translation, he changed the title to The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth. He did so because by the latter half of the twentieth century, the word “liberal” no longer carried the meaning it once had. It had come to mean centralization, the welfare state, and a substantial government presence in economic and social life.

The liberalism I have in mind, of course, is not the modern liberalism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but the classical liberalism of Thomas Jefferson and Frederic Bastiat. Classical liberalism, by contrast, believed in free markets, free trade, toleration, and civil liberties.

American Fascism, 1/20/14

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