Notes From Babel

If Only “The Road to Serfdom” Could Be Reduced to Syllogism…

with one comment

Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg highlight some key passages from Thomas Friedman’s recent NY Times piece:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

Goldberg remarks:

So there you have it. If only America could drop its inefficient and antiquated system, designed in the age before globalization and modernity and, most damning of all, before the lantern of Thomas Friedman’s intellect illuminated the land. If only enlightened experts could do the hard and necessary things that the new age requires, if only we could rely on these planners to set the ship of state right. Now, of course, there are “drawbacks” to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet. Omelets and broken eggs, as they say. More to the point, Friedman insists, these “drawbacks” pale in comparison to the system we have today here in America.

I cannot begin to tell you how this is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s. It is exactly the argument that was made in defense of Stalin and Lenin before him (it’s the argument that idiotic, dictator-envying leftists make in defense of Castro and Chavez today). It was the argument made by George Bernard Shaw who yearned for a strong progressive autocracy under a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin (he wasn’t picky in this regard). This is the argument for an “economic dictatorship” pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It’s the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.

Jonah is right.  Of course, for an even more thorough analysis of how “enlightened autocracy” leads inexorably to weeping and gnashing of teeth, there is no shortage of copies of The Road to Serfdom available.  But what’s the use?  There is a segment of humanity that will damn the torpedoes and  insist that life be planned by the government.  There is no cure for such an ailment.  The task is left to those with the fiber to do so to scar them with ridicule.  Ah, the Great Society.  Isn’t that just the next town over from the Land of Chocolate?


Written by Tim Kowal

September 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm

One Response

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  1. Road to Serfdom is amazing. I find it alarming that Friedman can blithely assign China as a group of enlightened folk that we should be emulating. Very alarming.


    September 17, 2009 at 10:27 am

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