Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our One Instrument Of Civilisation



Time's Man of the Year 1938: a well known instrument of civilisation


The other morning, courtesy of the state broadcaster, I heard Pol telling us that "the state is our one instrument of civilisation". I nearly choked on my kedgeree.

Surely, I thought, surely Pol and the BBC must know something about world history. Surely they know that throughout the ages the state has been the enabling instrument of tyrants. That just in the last century, it was the state that allowed fascism and communism to impose death and destruction across the globe: millions slaughtered, and civilisation nearly dragged back into the abyss of a new Dark Age.

Surely they know that. Don't they?

And even if that's beyond them (after all, Pol failed her 11 plus and later dropped out of college), simply surveying the wreckage of Bottler's "government", ought to suggest that the state isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. How it's bloated and inefficient. How its commissars routinely lie about its achievements - not only to us, but to themselves. And how across a vast swathe of its activities, it actually ends up doing more harm than good.

Why can't they see that far from being our one instrument of civilisation, more often than not the state is the major roadblock to further progress?

The truth of course is that they don't want to see it, or even admit the possibility.

What they do see is that public confidence in Bottler has collapsed. And that worries them. Not so much because their government is now seen by all to be in the hands of spineless incompetents, but more because of the deeper message behind the meltdown: Big Government has once again failed.

Just like in the sixties, Big Government has been pumped up on huge doses of financial steroids, yet has proved incapable of even walking to the bus stop. Failing education, failing healthcare, failing social policies, failing police, failing... well, non-existent border controls, and an economy teetering on the edge.

What scares the living daylights out of Pol et al is that the voters may be about to grasp The Truth: Big Government isn't just hideously expensive and inefficient; in many areas of life- from schools to healthcare to street policing- it actually makes their lives worse.

Once that particular cat escapes the bag, the left will find things much more difficult: they will no longer be able to promise the earth without having the faintest shred of an idea how to deliver it. And we might finally start to have a serious debate about downsizing our bumbling corrosive state.

PS Yes, we know Polly Toynbee and the rest of the left don't want to be evil. We know why they want Big Government: it's for the very best of reasons. They think that people can't be trusted to behave properly towards either themselves or others. Often they don't even understand their own best interests, or they lack the discipline to pursue them. The state can step in to make everything better- a force for good. Yes, we know all that. But the problem is that we live in the real world. (check out the Commanding Heights vid of Keith Joseph where he explains why even he once favoured Big Government, because he saw it as a "Shortcut to Utopia").

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