A limited government is concerned with proscribing the exploitation of citizens by elites and criminals. A Totalitarian State seeks control of everything–including what goes on in the bedrooms, living rooms and minds of its citizens.
A recent conversation with my longtime friend G.F.B. clarified a key distinction between the public and private spheres.
G.F.B.’s example of the state exerting control over its citizens’ private choices and behaviors in their own homes was the Prohibition of alcohol which was the federal law of the land in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933.
Though alcohol consumption in the home was not banned outright at the federal level, the net result of banning the manufacture and distribution of alcohol was the criminalization of everyday citizens’ attempts to purchase alcohol for their home consumption.
A limited government’s purview is actions taken in public that could harm other citizens. Drunken drivers, for example, end up killing innocent citizens. Limiting the “freedom” to drive drunk is a state action that is limited to the public sphere: if a citizen chooses to get drunk in the privacy of his own home, that’s different from driving on public streets while drunk.
In the good old days of the early Republic, the government was focused on matters of sovereignty and defense, not what citizens were doing in their own homes or communicating in private letters. Enforcement of federal laws was largely limited to collecting tariffs and other revenues and adjudicating property disputes.
Central states have long had an interest in control and adjudicating property disputes.ling every aspect of their citizens’ private lives, beliefs and choices.What separated these total-control autocracies and totalitarian states from governments “of the people, by the people, for the people” was the sacrosanct civil liberties that protected the privacy and private choices of the citizens from state control.
The unholy alliance of “progressive” do-gooders and let-me-tell-you-how-to-live religious zealots delivered Prohibition, and a host of other “we want control of your bedroom and living room” regulations. This moral superiority was of course the height of hubris and hypocrisy, as the zealots and “progressives” were just as sinful, petty and venal as any “unenlightened” non-believer.
The separation of church and state was dissolved by the moral crusades in which the “morally superior” wielded the brute power of the state to punish anyone who didn’t live according to the demands of the “morally superior.”
Look, if a private citizen wants to shoot up smack in the privacy of his own home, and perhaps end his life in an overdose, that should be his right. Who authorized the state to intercede in private choices and behaviors?
The state may limit the “freedom” to inject others with smack, or promote the injection of smack publicly, but it has no right to impose its view of “rightness” on the choices made in the bedrooms and living rooms of private citizens.
The Prohibition of drugs has been an unmitigated catastrophe for those ensnared in the War on Drugs gulag and for the nation. The state has the option of educating the citizenry about the potential dangers of drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes, and limiting the sale of these drugs to minors, but its prohibitions should be limited to the public sphere.
Yesterday, I described how the state can steal money from your bank account before informing you that the state suspects you may owe taxes, but with no actual evidence to support this suspicion. First they steal your money, and the bank deducts an additional $100 for the hard work of digitally transferring your money to the state, then they notify you of their suspicions.
If this isn’t Kafkaesque, then what is?
A limited government would be required to go through public, judicial processes to gain the authority to take money from your account. But the state doesn’t need any judicial process or review; a nameless bureaucrat (and his/her computer program) simply enters your name and bank account in a “suspicious” list and the machinery of the state steals your money and then informs you after the fact of your presumed guilt.
There’s a word to describe a state with unlimited power over the private lives, spaces, choices, behaviors, communications and accounts of its citizens: totalitarian.
Smith’s Neofeudalism Principle #1: If the citizenry cannot replace a kleptocratic authoritarian government and/or limit the power of the financial Aristocracy at the ballot box, the nation is a democracy in name only.
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