Of human economic bondage

When I say that today’s democracies are more tyrannical than any absolute monarchy of yesteryear, people display a touching concern for my mental health.

He isn’t just after your money. He’s after your freedom.

I then invite them to compare the power wielded by, say, Louis XIV and any of today’s presidents or prime ministers. Specifically, what would have happened to the Sun King had he extorted half of what his subjects earned?

My guess is that he would have lost his head a century before that fate befell his great-great-great grandson. And the same thing would have happened to him had he tried to conscript the entire male (and much of the female) population, which today’s democratic leaders can do overnight.

Or how do you think the French would have reacted had Louis mandated exactly where and how they should educate their children or where and by whom they had to be treated medically? Quite.

Once we’ve contemptuously tossed aside the slogans of modern politics, we’ll see that the essence of the post-Enlightenment state – regardless of whether it’s democratic, authoritarian or totalitarian – is the ad infinitum expansion of its power.

That, however, doesn’t mean they should all be lumped together. For, much as they’re all similar in their goal, they differ in the methods used to achieve it.

Totalitarian states rely on violent suppression of human liberties, a climate of fear, brainwashing propaganda, barring access to information and so forth. But their democratic counterparts have to rely on subtler means.

They can gnaw at the edges of individual liberties, and do so at an accelerating rate. But they can’t gobble them up in their entirety. Yet the inner imperative to grow their muscle is just as strong as in their totalitarian counterparts.

Yes, they can still indoctrinate their subjects by the cumulative effect of incessant propaganda. Since “ye shall know them by their fruits”, just observe how united the British are in believing that the NHS represents the utmost in human virtue.

Such uniformity doesn’t come about by itself. It takes decades of concerted nurturing through every medium known to man, for without it people would be able to trust the evidence before their own eyes. And successful propaganda doesn’t just skew debate; it stops it.

This, however, is small beer. Such propaganda may dumb down much of the population, but it won’t make the state omnipotent. Other, more tangible, levers of power are required, and in today’s democracies these are mostly economic.

The power of the state grows in direct proportion to the number of people dependent on it for their sustenance – and in inverse proportion to the number of those independent of it.

Hence the more loyal the state is to its post-Enlightenment imperatives, the more committed it will be to producing the right ratio. For example, in this country the socialist-lite Tories exercise more restraints than the socialist-full-strength Labour.

It’s in this context – or at least also in this context – that we should consider the Labour manifesto.

That their policies will instantly make us all poorer is a fact denied only by people with no grasp of elementary economics, or else by resentful fanatics out for revenge. But, more important, those policies will also make us infinitely less free.

How can people become independent of the state? The surest method is to acquire a few billion and park the money in offshore shelters. However, since the UK only numbers 54 billionaires, both this method and its practitioners can be safely discounted.

Other methods, however, are available to most of us. Such as self-employment, the option chosen by 4.8 million Britons. Many of them, perhaps most, choose it not out of greed, but because they seek independence not only from the state but also from large companies.

Hundreds of thousands of them make little money. The data published the other day show that hundreds of thousands survive on incomes less than £10,000 a year – something most of them could better by bartering their independence away.

Then there are savers, those who swap today’s comforts for tomorrow’s independence. For reasons I’ll mention later, their number is steadily dwindling away: 15 per cent of Britons and 53 per cent of 22-29-year-olds have no savings at all. And a third of those who do save have salted away less than £1,500.

By far the greatest number of Britons acquire financial independence through investments. One of them is pension funds, which in Britain are greater than in the rest of Europe combined.

Then there are various securities, second homes, buy-to-rent properties, antique cars, gold and precious stones. You’ll notice that physical assets are vastly more popular than financial operations or savings. Why?

We’ve had a period of relatively low inflation, which is why we lose sight of the historical perspective. And historically, the last 50 years of the 19th century saw a negligible combined inflation of 10 per cent. That number increased somewhat in the last 50 years of the 20th century – to a soul-destroying 2,000 per cent.

That’s why people don’t trust money: especially since over the past generation property inflation outpaced money inflation by a factor of ten. This shows that seemingly abstract indicators have a most concrete effect on people’s behaviour.

Everybody knows this – and so does our communist shadow chancellor John McDonnell. That’s why he has come up with policies that can drive people into state bondage without any – well, much – help from the more visible forms of oppression.

Some of those Labour politicians aren’t fools. They know that their government will be an economic disaster. But it will be more despotic than any other government in British history, which is the whole point.

Hence they plan to introduce punitive rates of tax on ‘high’ (in fact, moderately successful middle-class) earners; savings, pension funds, dividends, second homes, buy-to-rent properties, inheritance, capital gains, private schools, corporations – all against the background of run-away inflation of the money supply.

Big corporations and billionaires, Labour’s ostensible targets, aren’t particularly bothered. Unlike the rest of us, they have the freedom of simply upping their sticks.

In fact, it was announced this morning that the mere risk of a Corbyn government has made two major energy companies move all their assets offshore – this in addition to the £800 billion that already left.

They take their jobs with them, driving more people into the clutches of social services. The more such people there are, the more successful the state is on its own terms.

Socialists prefer poor slaves to financially independent freemen. They’ll do everything they can to achieve that goal, to the accompaniment of bleating about caring and sharing.

In one of my books I take a stab at some ideas for electoral reform. One of them is that anybody deriving more than 50 per cent of his income from the state – be it salary, hand-outs or income support – should be disfranchised.

If that were to happen, the likes of Corbyn and McDonnell, or perhaps even their Tory counterparts, wouldn’t be elected the proverbial dogcatcher. As it is, I brace myself for the worst while hoping for… well, not the best: that’s not on offer. So let’s say better and cross our fingers.

3 thoughts on “Of human economic bondage”

  1. “The power of the state grows in direct proportion to the number of people dependent on it for their sustenance – and in inverse proportion to the number of those independent of it.”

    The modern welfare state in totality. Not socialism so much as the “nanny state” often described.

    You the average citizen want the safety net and we will given it to you but in return you must obey our rules.

  2. The historical perspective of inflation, you mentioned, indicates an exponential curve that is approaching so near vertical that it will be totally unsustainable. Those in power (should) know that whacking the very rich, or moderately rich is counterproductive as they reshuffle assets or close businesses which hurts the plebs more so. To add to financial woes all the Millennials and Gen Z’s protests are expediating problems by demanding inefficient renewables. The rally’s may be diverted to fight more pressing disasters; however, I think armed drones will squelch the rabble.

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