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Political Masochism

Written by Gary North on December 12, 2015

“There are two kinds of income recipients in the world,” H. L. Mencken once quipped, “people who work for a living, and people who vote for a living.”

It’s a good line. I wish I’d said it. Yet the grim reality of contemporary political life is that it really is not that significant when the ballots are tallied. The fact of the matter is that poor people generally don’t vote. One reason why people are poor is that they care so little for the personal self-discipline associated with responsibility. They just aren’t willing to spend the effort to vote. The percentage of eligible voters who actually vote in the ghettos of America is much lower than in middle-class neighborhoods.

Why, then, do we see the growth, of welfarism in most Western, industrial nations? Even if the growth of welfarism is finally being checked, it is already such a large part of national and state budgets that most spending programs are still sacrosanct politically. Why is it that the middle class, which has the controlling votes, seems unable to reverse the drift into socialism?

One reason is the existence of the public education system. Government schools, controlled by state and, because of financing, Federal bureaucrats, are by definition agents of the State. They are financed to produce, students who vote for more government programs and greater Federal power. To imagine that state-approved textbooks are anything other than propaganda for the statist system, is naïve. The government has used our confiscated dollars to finance a generation of students who regard such confiscation as morally valid and economically sound. Another reason is guilt. The widespread sense of guilt among the citizenry of modern societies is unquestionable. The psychiatric profession has developed in terms of a vast market for guilt-ridden citizens. Rushdoony’s comments are significant in this regard:

The development of a good conscience and a Christian culture is thus an important aspect of the Christian life. A contrary development is increasingly in evidence in the Western world, and especially in the United States, i.e., the development by systematic indoctrination of a bad conscience. The political cultivation of guilt is a central means to power, for guilty men are slaves; their conscience is in bondage, and hence they are easily made objects of control. Guilt is thus systematically taught for purposes of control. (R. J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity, p. 19.)

The Bible teaches that a godly moral order leads directly to an outpouring of economic, political, military, and familial blessings. This is taught in many places, but especially in two chapters of the book of Deuteronomy, 8 and 28. But these chapters also warn against the temptations associated with these visible, external blessings. They can become snares, tempting men to puff themselves up and attribute their blessings to themselves and their own power, rather than to their faithfulness to God and a godly law-order.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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