The View From 1776

Constitutional Federalism vs Totalitarianism

As noted frequently in past postings, the unavoidable tendency of socialism is concentration of political power in the hands of a ruling elite who decide for the masses what their living and working conditions are to be.  This is called state-planning.

In ways that would have been inconceivable as recently as the 1920s, our everyday lives are circumscribed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington who make regulations, enforce them, and adjudicate them, too often without our access to the normal safeguards of the common law.  Those bureaucrats ? think of the IRS, for example ? issue rulings that most Federal courts will not contest, on the grounds that they lack the supposed expertise of the tens of thousands of Federal regulatory bureaus.

A posting today on Maggie’s Farm adds a sharp new example of the conflict between federalism and totalitarianism.  The post, titled Hitler on Federalism, provides a link to a chapter in Hitler’s Mein Kampf in which he decries the roadblocks imposed by German federalism in the path to total power sought by the Nazis (German Workers’ National Socialist Party).

Hitler’s coming to power in the early 1930s was paralleled at the same time by the election of Franklin Roosevelt to the Presidency.

Maggie’s Farm notes that voters in the United States since the advent of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal have, at times eagerly, voted to strip states and local governments of their constitutionally guaranteed political powers and to transfer those powers to the collectivized bureaucracy in Washington, DC. 

As Aristotle observed around 2,300 years ago, some humans are by nature slaves, that is people who prefer to be taken care of, rather than to take responsibility for themselves.  Hilaire Belloc in The Servile State (1912) described those effects of the Fabian, gradualist process that was called creeping socialism in the United States.  Voters gain more welfare-state benefits, but the cost always is surrender of some degrees of personal freedom.

For more about the inherent tendency of socialism toward totalitarianism, see Fascism vs. Economic Liberty, German National Socialism, John Kenneth Galbraith: Statist Advocate, Liberalism: The Procrustean Brand, Slaves to Socialism, and The Addictive Power of Liberal-Socialism.

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