The Reconciliation Of Government With Liberty, 1915

The reconciliation of government with liberty (1915) by the founder of modern political science John Burgess provides us with an interesting perspective on the perils of democracy and what happens when you let people vote themselves other people’s money.

A School of Sociologists and Political Economists arose, who, impatient of the voluntary methods of religion, charity, and philanthropy, have sought to accomplish what they call social justice, the social uplift, by governmental force. There is no question that they have exercised a strong influence in directing the thought of the present, and they have taught the politicians that there is no vote-catcher in a system of universal suffrage comparable to the promise of forcing those who have to divide with those who have not or have less.


Remember, he is writing in 1915.

a changing, shifting Government, a Government representing either the property class, or the propertyless class, … cannot be safely trusted with any such power. It would become a temporary despotism, which would destroy property, use up accumulated wealth, make enterprise impossible, discourage intelligence and thrift, encourage idleness and sloth, and pauperize and barbarize the whole people.


Interesting stuff. It’s interesting to note that Russel Norman, arguing that National and the current government are not “progressive” enough is completely ignorant of how Wellington actually functions.

The temporary government doesn’t hold much power, it does get all of the soundbites though. It isn’t necessary for the Greens to be in government for government policy to end up sounding remarkably like Green Party policy. I’d wager most under 30 public servants vote Green.

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