Friday, October 25, 2013

A Textbook Tyranny

From today's column on, illustrated by anecdata from the Balkans:

The political class has a vested interest in keeping problems alive, so they can pretend to be the only solution. There is but a small step from governments never letting a crisis go to waste to creating a perpetual crisis, seen as a perpetual opportunity to do “good”, line pockets, or both.

[Throughout history] government has been treated [by power-lusty individuals and groups] as a way to privatize the benefits of state power, while socializing the costs that came with it. All governments everywhere have faced this temptation, and most of them have succumbed.

If with great power comes great responsibility, but those in power can shift that responsibility elsewhere – onto the electorate, the unelected bureaucracy, or a capricious deity – the result will always be a government that is too powerful and utterly irresponsible: a textbook tyranny.

Such arrangements are indeed cozy for tyrants – while they last. But they never last very long.

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