(For the source of my title, click here.)
One of my favorite lines from Wise Old Man Robert Heinlein is this one: Man is a wild animal. As history moves along, one of its lessons seems to be that efforts to change this fact are at best only moderately successful, and at worst genocidal. We can’t make the New Soviet Man, even if we wanted to, and without such, even the best intentioned efforts to govern and plan will eventually turn into exercises in cat herding.
That doesn’t mean folks won’t keep trying, of course, and those failures frequently only serve to make the would-be controllers more desperate, more ferocious. This brings us to a lengthy (by Intertube standards) essay by Kevin Williamson at National Review Online, where (among other things, including that animal nature RAH mentioned) he looks at a current example:
[…O]ne unpleasant aspect of our current reality is that the pain the Left is feeling as its planning ambitions run up against reality will be redirected, notably into tribalism and authoritarianism.
We are experiencing a terrifying moment of authoritarianism among mainstream Democratic politicians: Harry Reid’s highly personal campaign of vicious demagoguery against Charles and David Koch is a national disgrace, but his party’s attempt to repeal the First Amendment is a national crisis. While Harry Reid wages war on free speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for the literal imprisonment of people with the wrong ideas on climate change. These aren’t Occupy terrorists trying to blow up a bridge in Cleveland; this is the United States Senate and a man bearing one of the most famous names in American politics.
The Left no longer has a credible intellectual case for its core program of control and planning. But, as Hayek predicted, the failure of central-planning aspirations is not going to be met with a renewed sense of humility on the part of our would-be rulers, but with denunciations of enemies of the people and demands for ever-more-extraordinary powers to deal with the emergency, which is now, it goes without saying, permanent.
RTWT, as the saying goes.