Saturday, 21 May 2005

Crisis and Leviathan

I"ve just noticed that Scoop have been running articles from US libertarian Robert Higgs for what seems like quite some time. So much for my antenna.

His latest is here, an article HL Mencken would recognise. Mencken once declared, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." Higgs agrees, and he argues governments systematise the influx of hobgoblins for their own end:
Were we ever to stop being afraid of the government itself and to cast off the phoney fears it has fostered, the government would shrivel and die, and the host would disappear for the tens of millions of parasites in the United States—not to speak of the vast number of others in the rest of the world—who now feed directly and indirectly off the public’s wealth and energies. On that glorious day, everyone who had been living at public expense would have to get an honest job, and the rest of us, recognizing government as the false god it has always been, could set about assuaging our remaining fears in more productive and morally defensible ways.
Higgs is the author of Crisis and Leviathan, a book exposing the crises both real and manufactures which have inspired the growth of the US government from Jeffersonian minimalism to the leviathan of today.

Given the urgent need to document the growth and expansion of our own nannying leviathan and the runaway success of Michael King's 'History of New Zealand' -- thirty-nine weeks on NZ's best-seller lists and still the number one NZ non-fiction book -- I've always thought the same book should be written for the New Zealand context. Reflecting the slightly different view we NZers have about their government, perhaps a NZ edition could be titled Crisis and Wet Nurse. Or perhaps False Fears and Front Bums. I don't think I've quite cracked the title yet; suggestions are welcome, as would be a publisher's advance to write the book.

It's there to be done.


  1. Hope lives eternal.

    The only chance of a new libertarian country is in space, where a group of likeminded people can found a new nation. The technology for this may not exist for four or five decades, but it is coming.

    Mr Bigelow is making huge strides in affordable space accomodation.


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