by Ian Tartt
Why has the state continued to grow despite a growing freedom movement? It starts with the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers successfully fought against tyranny and afterward attempted to set up a free society. Having lived both under tyranny and later under freedom, they carried their revolutionary spirits with them to their deathbeds (even though many of them compromised while they were in office).
Their children, having lived only under freedom and thus being unfamiliar with tyranny, took freedom as a given and were therefore less driven to protect it. They allowed violations of freedoms, small at first, which gradually grew worse with each generation. This occurred because of the tendency for government to grow larger due to the addictive nature of political power, which attracted more and more people over time.
They realized that becomes more profitable to become part of the government the larger it gets (making its growth accelerate even faster). Further, the descendants of revolutionaries became less driven to protect freedom than the revolutionaries themselves. But there are other reasons for the continuing acceleration in the size and power of government.
Since the signing of the Social Security Act in 1935, the federal government has been involved in aid where previously communities and charities took care of the needy. The Great Society programs launched in the 1960s further expanded government aid. How likely is someone to vote against a government program if that program gives them food, healthcare, or retirement benefits? Additionally, government employees who receive similar benefits almost never vote against such benefits or programs.
The more departments, bureaus, and agencies that are added, the more people gravitate to the state and defend whatever it does. And, whether someone works for the state or receives welfare benefits, their family will likewise defend the programs that put food on the table, leading to even more growth of the state and less resistance to such growth.
The military and police, with their superior weapons and training in the use of force, also help the state expand while keeping resistance to a minimum despite the fact that there are fewer policemen and members of the military than there are civilians. Although enough people have been propagandized through public schools to accept state authority as legitimate that large demonstrations of force are used infrequently, the threat of force is often sufficient to make everyone fall in line.
Given this, how is it that anyone, let alone millions of people, can value freedom and object to the growth of state power? There are several ways someone could arrive at this view. If someone previously lived in another country that has even less freedom, they will value the relative freedom of the US and work to increase it. Older relatives who remember living in a freer society it could tell their kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids about it, leading them to similarly favor freedom.
Not far off from this is reading books describing how society used to look when the state was much smaller. Philosophical study has led many to believe that freedom, regardless of how practical or impractical it might be, is the only moral way to structure a society. Some have embraced freedom in response to the overwhelming number of laws, the complexity of the tax code, and the ever-increasing confusion that accompanies the growth of the state and which makes it harder every day to remain a law-abiding citizen. Considering that these methods have converted many people to libertarianism, they can be used to convert nearly anyone with a mind that is even the smallest bit receptive to new ideas.
Once the majority of people in the US have been converted to libertarianism, organizing mass civil disobedience against taxation, victimless crime laws, war, and central banking becomes very easy. Further, the state won’t be able to effectively resist protest or maintain its current size if hardly anyone is willing to join the military or the police, or run for political office. Long before this stage is reached, libertarians will have begun developing voluntary alternatives to state programs for welfare, retirement, protection, dispute resolution, and so on, meaning that a smooth and peaceful transition from tyranny to freedom will more than likely occur.
Once a free society is once again obtained though, won’t the state gradually rise up again as it did before? There is a crucial difference between the generations that arose after the Founding Fathers and the present generation: advanced technology and media. Given the amount of libertarian books, TV, movies, games, and videos that exist and can be easily distributed through the internet, the coming generations will be able to see firsthand the abuses of the state and will work to prevent such abuses from ever occurring again. For as long as a reminder of tyranny can be preserved, the fire of liberty that burns brightly in every libertarian will never be quenched. And there are more than enough people with even a small spark of that fire to topple the tyrannical state and begin creating a free world.