If you think government is bad, think of the alternative!

One of the first points I make to my political science classes is the necessity of government. I remind my students that the alternative – a society without rules, a legitimate government or the rule of law – would be much worse. I often point to Somalia, a country in name only. In reality, it’s an ever changing potpourri of warlords, clans and fiefdoms that periodically descends into a Hobbesian state of nature.

That’s why it’s important to consider the currently fashionable notion that politicians and government are all “stupid” or “corrupt”, and that “they’re all the same”. This hip cynicism works because, as Noam Chomsky points out, the “concision” of “common sense” is so commonplace that you don’t need to defend it. Of course, because it’s so commonplace, it’s not really hip, and it’s not the detached, apolitical stance that cool cynicism craves. Actually, it’s very much a part of the long running ideology of classical liberalism – the liberalism of John Locke and Adam Smith (those hipsters from the 17th and 18th centuries). Classical liberalism sees government as a necessary evil, a set of institutions that ought to be minimized to the greatest extent possible. According to this view, government is inherently negative and grasping. In modern times, the American libertarian movement has taken this perspective to its logical conclusion, and to a large degree is closer to anarchism than liberalism.

Ok, so how does all of this fit together? Well, I invite you to watch “Libertarian Paradise”…

Posted by Colin Welch at 7:55 PM
Edited on: Saturday, May 15, 2010 12:22 PM
Categories: Global Issues, Humour, Language, The Good, The Bad, and the Stupid


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