Tagged: Tyranny

Reflections on the Tyrant

Tyrants and time.— In the final years of an ambitious tyrant’s reign, he typically takes his shot at ultimate glory — and ultimately hits himself. Why? Because he mistimes the shot. All his earlier calculations and preparations were undertaken with patience and painstaking forethought, so much so that the preparation and forethought themselves almost became the essence of the game. At the end,...

What Everyone Knows

Everyone knows that a greedy man will never reach the limits of his desire for more, for it is the essence of greed to acknowledge no natural limit to its ambition. Everyone knows totalitarians are intrinsically, definitively, obsessed with totality with respect to control, and that an obsession with totality admits of no inherent restraint or misgivings, for totalism in the quest for...

The Special Danger of This Moment

During the acknowledged period of the Cold War (which never really ended), the nuclear risk, though serious, was always somewhat mitigated by the fact that the Soviet Union’s goals and strategies were systemic, rather than personal. That is, the Cold War was waged not against one unstable individual who, if feeling threatened — including from within his own country — might become rabid...

Random Reflections on Freedom, Fear, and Fools

I love and cherish freedom — not the word, not a particular material advantage that I associate with some byproduct of freedom, but the thing itself. This is a testament to the power of imagination, and to love’s natural capacity for clinging to ideals; for I have never seen real freedom in my midst, let alone experienced it with any fullness in my...

A Clear Message, To Be Sure

You cannot make this stuff up. Here is the first sentence of a new Politico rah-rah piece on the United Nations’ “tough” response to Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine: U.N. Security Council members had one clear message for Russian President Vladimir Putin: We know what you’re up to, and you need to quit it now — or else. “Or else” what? We...

From the “Who Was Dumb Enough to Believe This Was Ever About Public Health?” File

During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, those of us naturally inclined to resist propagandistic media hyperbole and distrust tyrannical models of government “efficiency” spent a good deal of our time, and inordinate amounts of our nerves, arguing with some of the dumbest or most fear-driven humans we had ever encountered, over the strange new question of whether allowing the governments of...

Losing Control, Gaining Control

The most dehumanizing aspect of enslavement is the sense of completely losing control of one’s essential actions, i.e., of having one’s realm of practical choice, such as it is, reduced to the inessential and transitory. The most desperate aspect of incremental enslavement is the awareness that one is in the process of losing control of one’s essential actions. The most infuriating aspect of...

Showing Your Papers

A few days ago, I took a student for lunch and enjoyed my first experience of being asked to present my proof of vaccination as a condition for being granted the privilege of eating soup in a restaurant. I took the opportunity to explain to my student, with whom I happened to be reading Brave New World that day, the special emotional significance,...

The Morality of Property

Private property, contrary to two centuries of socialist activism against the idea, is essentially a moral tenet, one of the most universal and naturally occurring of all moral tenets. As such, it is perhaps the single most effective social tether on the monster of coercive violence which lurks just around the corner in all human societies. And while in common perception it is...

The Socialist Subconscious

What the budding socialist says explicitly: “I am willing to pay more taxes in order to help the underprivileged.” Implied meaning (Level 1, moral belief): “Everyone should be willing to pay more taxes in order to help the underprivileged.” Implied meaning (Level 2, moral imperative): “Everyone must pay more taxes in order to help the underprivileged.” Implied meaning (Level 3, political activism): “The...