Putting aside the biblical meaning of evil, there are many secular definitions of the word in the dictionary. You can take your pick, depending upon the point you’re trying to make. For purposes of this column, I’m using a rather simple and straightforward definition of evil: anything causing harm or injury.
Governments represent the unrestricted use of force against their citizens, so anywhere governments exist, excessive harm and injury automatically exist as well. There is no such thing as a benevolent government. Governments force their citizens to do things they don’t want to do (e.g., pay taxes) and not do things they do want to do (e.g., abuse their bodies in one way or another).
At heart, I’m an anarchist. In practice, however, I recognize that in order for a civilized society to function, it must have a generally accepted code of conduct. The reason for this is that there will always be immoral people who want to steal from their neighbors, commit violence against their neighbors and force their neighbors to abide by their moral code of conduct.
The problem is that social organization, which most people feel is a necessity for maintaining an advanced society, is in conflict with freedom. It always gets down to how much of whose freedom should be restricted to protect people’s lives and property (emphasis – protect people’s lives and property, not to make sure they have cell phones, cars, homes, an education or health insurance).
The only way government can provide people with free benefits is by violating the freedom of others – those who furnish the means to pay for such benefits – which is precisely how governments operate, especially “democratic” governments. The Founding Fathers were well aware that democracies have a tendency to destroy themselves through an excess of democracy, which occurs via an insidious process commonly referred to as “voting.”
People are fond of saying that elections have consequences, and indeed they do. Unfortunately, more often than not, those consequences are evil because they result in an erosion of individual liberty. Just because a majority of voters elects someone who promises to tax “the rich” and give the proceeds (less administration and carrying costs, thank you) to “the poor” doesn’t make it right.
If one believes that people should be able to live their lives free of tyranny, then it doesn’t matter what a majority votes for (usually by voting for politicians who promise to give them what they want). Only evil or ignorant people can believe that tyranny of the majority is civilized or acceptable.
When professed conservatives insist that Republicans should “give Obama the tax increases he wants,” they demonstrate that they have no real interest in freedom. On the contrary, they are focused only on keeping their own cushy lifestyles in place at the expense of the freedom of others. This kind of unprincipled thinking is precisely what has led America to the doorstep of communism, though most people scoff at such a viewpoint as extreme.
Of course, the Soviet Union went straight to communism via a revolution rather than an ideological evolution, but when communism began to fall under its own weight, people had gone through enough suffering to be ready to open their minds to the concepts of freedom and free enterprise.
Winston Churchill once said that democracy is “the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” Lysander Spooner looked at it a bit differently when, 150 years ago, he asked, “Suppose [the U.S.] be ‘the best government on earth,’ does that prove its own goodness, or only the badness of all other governments?”
Today, the U.S. government is saturated with badness. The lesser of all evils is still evil, and an evermore evil system of government is becoming more and more entrenched in America every day.
The heart of the problem is that most people are willing to go along with the oppressiveness of statist government so long as they believe they are getting the better of the redistribution swindle. That’s why I believe they must first experience an enormous amount of pain resulting from a collapsed economic system before they will even consider listening to why individual freedom and laissez-faire capitalism can serve their needs much better than a statist government administering a massive redistribution-of-wealth system.
If those who truly believe in individual freedom – in the truest sense of the word – are not prepared to stand up and fight for it, they may wake up one fine morning and find that they are being called upon to open their doors and welcome four or five “needy” families to come in and share their homes with them, Dr. Zhivago style.
Americans would do well to continually remind themselves what Edmund Burke said about the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil. I would hate to think Americans are going to have to spend decades in servitude before mustering up the courage to do whatever is necessary to replace our current evil system of government.