Statism as the Politics of Unreason

An excerpt from chapter 10 on Government from Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff.

“Statism” means any system that concentrates power in the state at the expense of individual freedom. Among other variants, the term subsumes theocracy, absolute monarchy, Nazism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and plain, unadorned dictatorship. Such variants differ on matters of form, tactics, and/or ideology. Some statists nationalize the means of production; others allow the façade of private ownership but give the state control over the use and disposal of property. Some righteously practice a caste system; others, who also practice it, deny that they do. Some hold that free countries should move toward omnipotent government peacefully, by “evolution”; others cry for revolution. Some uphold statism on intrinsicist grounds (e.g., the divine right of kings, ayatollahs, or witch doctors); others invoke social subjectivism, citing the needs of the race, the nation, the class, mankind, or the tribe.

Some rulers oversee their subjects’ every move. Others allow men a long leash. But all insist on some leash and on their right to set its length at will.

Some rulers concentrate on attaining thought control, deeming men’s obedience in regard to action to be an inevitable but secondary consequence. Some, especially the types who despise thought as useless, concentrate on controlling men’s actions through sheer brutality (and thereby make their subjects’ thought useless). Still others concentrate on establishing public ownership of the means of production, and thereby outlaw independent action and thought.

Whatever the point of entry of such governments, the essence of their policy is the same: ….

Read the rest in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

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