Over at Law & Liberty the other day, authors Daniel Klein and Michael C. Munger had some things to say about a possible U.S. descent into totalitarianism. Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts. Excerpt:
It is tempting to think “it (tyranny) can’t happen here.” But Americans are more concerned about that than they have been in decades. In July, a CNN poll indicated that 48 percent of respondents think it is “likely” or “somewhat likely” that state actors will successfully overturn the results of a US election because their party did not win.
We, the present authors, are worried that putatively upright countries today are in danger of descending into tyranny. A tyranny—once capacities for control and despotism are constructed, in some cases including expansive government employment, dependency, and largesse—can be nearly impossible to reform. The key to the descent into tyranny, and the stability of tyranny once it is achieved, is this: Tyrants use tyranny to fortify their keep and to protect themselves against the sanctions due them for their crimes.
Calling tyranny “stable” may seem paradoxical. Tyrannies suffer from chaotic upheavals and violent paroxysms. But the state of tyranny itself is stable, like a capsized canoe. Ordered liberty is better for everyone—aside, perhaps, from the despotic faction and their affiliates. It is difficult to restore the rule of law once it is debased. Rectification would call for changes in personnel, operations, and attitudes. The relative power and privilege of the despots would disappear with rectifications. Tyrants use the tools of tyranny to protect themselves against the sanctions due them.
Does that last bit sound familiar at all? Say, Nancy Pelosi refusing to name any details as to how she and her drunk-driving husband grew so monstrously rich while Queen Nancy was in the House of Representatives, and exempt from insider-training laws? Or Hunter Biden’s inexplicable escapes from prosecution for any of a number of obvious, well-documented crimes? Equal protection under the law is a dead letter in this country, and has been for some time. Thus have the would-be tyrants used tool of tyranny to shield themselves and their corrupt relations from any consequences of their crimes.
Here’s the onion:
It is not just dystopian fiction—Orwell’s 1984, Richter’s Pictures of a Socialistic Future, Huxley’s Brave New World, Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”—that has furnished us with the image of a once-liberal civilization now capsized. Some of the great liberal writers have warned us against the very real march toward a capsized civilization, writers including Alexis de Tocqueville, Hilaire Belloc, C.S. Lewis, and F.A. Hayek. May we heed their warnings. They told us that the governmentalization of social affairs is a tool of would-be despots, and that it hatches despotism even if not by design. We must bravely speak out against the governmentalization of social affairs and against the unjust sentiments and beliefs that forward it.
OK. Speak out. Got it.
It has become apparent, over the last few years, that the time where ‘speaking out’ has likely passed. Plenty of us are speaking – but nobody in the Imperial City is listening. We vote, but every year it seems a few more of us lose faith in the electoral process. As with the tax code, more and more stupid twists on the “one man, one vote” principle open more and more elections up for more and more shenanigans. Look at our own Alaska, where ‘ranked-choice’ voting has resulted in our deep-red state being represented in the House by a liberal Democrat.
I’m getting more worried by the day as to what might happen next. Only a couple of years ago I dismissed the possibility of major civil unrest or even a dissolution of the United States as the longest of long shots. Since 2020, I’m beginning to change my way of thinking on that. I see the odds as increasing, week by week, month by month. The trigger? If the shellacking the Left is due to take in the 2022 mid-terms doesn’t set it off, a GOP Presidential victory in 2024 very likely will.
I’d advise everyone reading these virtual pages to note those dates, look around you, and prepare accordingly.