Sunday, October 23, 2005

Even a "conservative" gets it...somewhat

Perhaps the most perceptive writer about the
state is the Israeli historian Martin van
Creveld. In his book The Rise and Decline of the
State, he argues that the state has gone through
three historical stages. It arose to bring order,
which it did. But beginning with the French
Revolution and the development of abstract
nationalism, the state tried to become a god, to
which citizens owed and should sacrifice
everything. That false god died in World War I,
in the mud of Flanders. Then, the state became
the alma mater, the welfare state that would take
good care of all its citizens’ needs. That also
failed, in the failure of socialism and of social
welfare programs in non-socialist states
including the United States. The state found that
it could redistribute wealth but it could not
create wealth.

The author needs to do some homework.

If redistributing wealth is not socialist, I'm
Ghengis Khan.
Just as the next conservatism must address the
danger of the state, it must also offer some
answers to the danger to the state. Let me
quickly add that the answer is not to give the
state more power, to create the national security
state all conservatives should fear. On the
contrary, that will only make the state weaker in
the long run. The crisis is not one of state
power, but of the legitimacy of the state.

Why is that a "crisis"?

As I've said elsewhere, attempting to make the
state in one's own image is akin to attempting to
polish a turd.


Via John Lopez