Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Totalitarianism begins with Edenic promises, but ends with razor wire

I'm reposting some comments I left at Michael Kruger's blog, where N. T. Wright lectures and hectors American Evangelicals on universal healthcare.


Compulsory universal healthcare is soooo compassionate:

Totalitarianism often begins with a wonderful sounding idea. A utopian promise. That’s the bait which hooks the gullible. But gov’t run healthcare isn’t about healthcare. That’s just the sales pitch. Gov’t run healthcare is about power. Social engineering. Social control. Ceding control to nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats who will take the decisions out of your hands. Insurance companies are far from ideal, but they are accountable in ways that gov’t is not. They can be sued. They have competitors. By contrast, gov’t is monopolistic. Gov’t officials immunize themselves from lawsuits. They don’t have to live with the consequences of policies they impose on the populace.


“It’s true that ‘totalitarianism begins with a wonderful sounding idea’ like ‘equality for all’ (Communism) but then needs violence or extraordinary circumstances to get to power.”

No it doesn’t. The boiling frog strategy is an excellent way for totalitarianism to achieve power by nonviolent means. 

“No examples exist when totalitarianism just crept by gradual steps, which it seems you are implying.”

To the contrary, we see that in police states in the Western world. Through increasing taxation, domestic drones, speech codes, ubiquitous surveillance, judicial tyranny, &c. 

“Do you know any Western country who became totalitarian through universal healthcare?”

Wesley J. Smith documents that on a regular basis at Human Exceptionalism. However, the totalitarian impulse is hardly limited to universal healthcare.


“Steve, sorry but again you openly avoid responding to any of my objections”

I avoid loaded questions. You commit the fallacy 0f question-framing. You build tendentious assumptions into your questions, as if the true answer must conform to how you choose to frame the question. Since I reject the tendentious parameters of your objections, I reserve the right to reframe and correct your loaded questions.

“you are just using general words, not giving any historical examples.”

I’ve giving you criteria. The criteria select for examples.

“Denmark? Are you saying people in Western Europe live in ‘police states’ without knowing it? I’m sure that would be news to the great majority of people, and also of Christian believers I would surmise, in that part of the world.”

Some are acutely aware of it and oppose it, others are oblivious, and others are compliant. You yourself illustrate the mindset just fine.

There’s nothing novel about creeping totalitarianism, where the gov’t takes over the lives of the citizenry through incremental steps.

In some cases, it’s invisible. A VAT tax is invisible. Gov’t eavesdropping is invisible. In some cases it’s more overt, but people get use to it, or feel helpless to oppose it. Take ubiquitous security cameras. Or taxing milage, which requires the gov’t to track your movements through GPS. 

“Can you please provide ANY examples of what Mr. Smith has apparently documented on a regular basis?”

If you have to ask, that just shows you haven’t been monitoring the situation. 

“you only make my original point about fears of totalitarianism being totally unfounded.”

You’re the perfect citizen for totalitarian regimes. Docile, loyal, compliant, unsuspecting. People like you make it possible. You rush to defend your prison guards.


  1. A good historical analogy would be Rome. The Roman republic went from being the republic to the Totalitarian empire gradually over a couple of centuries and through steps very similar to today. The grain dole, initiated to meet an emergency expanded to a large scale welfare program to buy the loyalty of the masses. Eventually everyone became involved with the wealthy sending their slaves to get their free grain. Caesars uncle Marius used (as is done today) crisis to do away with Rome's citizen army replaced with a volunteer force who sole loyalty was to its commander. The Rise of Demagogic " Populares" like the Gracchi and eventually Caesar who masqueraded as advocates of the people only to increase their own power.

  2. It's always amusing to see liberals bristle at being labelled "socialists," saying that conservatives don't really know what socialism is. But at what point can you say you support welfare, socialized medicine, public education, social security (etc.) and NOT be socialist? Liberals are just going to have to own up and accept the term.