Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why They Won't Impeach

Because the state and its de facto owners thrive on the exercise of force, any circumstance that enhances the power of government will be embraced and eagerly pursued. This is the meaning behind Randolph Bourne’s classic observation that “war is the health of the state.” It also explains the well-orchestrated fervor over global warming or any other dire threat du jour. Likewise, anything that diminishes state power will be resisted by all who have a vested interest in the exercise of such authority. At its base, this is what accounts for the refusal of the political establishment and its news media to acknowledge the existence of Ron Paul’s candidacy. Paul is persona non grata to these forces for one reason alone: his insistence upon drastically reducing state power.

Because, as Acton reminded us, power is a corrupting influence and, as such, its excesses can dissipate the public sanction upon which its continued exercise depends, the state must occasionally perform cosmetic surgery upon itself in order to restore its image. Thus, civil liberties groups may be successful in getting the courts to enjoin some minor prohibition (e.g., a statute criminalizing flag-burning), not out of any innate defense of individual liberty, but to create the appearance that the state is a force that can be tamed by a reasoned dedication to principle. In such ways does Boobus Americanus get lulled into the passive mindset that allows state power to retain its popular image as a latent but controllable system.

Full essay.