During WWII, economist F. A. Hayek wrote a particularly striking passage in his historical, political and societal commentary, The Road to Serfdom:
“As the rules of conduct evolved by individuals are the source from which collective political action derives what moral standards it possesses, it would indeed be surprising if the relaxation of the standards of individual conduct were accompanied by a raised of the standards of social action. That there have been great changes is clear. Every generation, of course, puts some values higher and some lower than its predecessors. Which, however, are the aims which take a lower place now, which are the values which we are now warned may have to give way if they come into conflict with others? Which kind of values figure less prominently in the picture of the future held out to us by the popular writers and speakers than they did in the dreams and hopes of our fathers?”
Let me translate:
Since politics evolve from society’s moral trends and decisions, it seems unlikely that we can look forward to any positive future policies when we’re working so hard to discourage personal responsibility in the present. Changes happen all the time from generation to generation, some positive and some negative. And it’s obvious that we have changed significantly in the last few decades. But what goals do we value more today, and what are we told we’ll need to sacrifice to obtain heaven on earth? What standards do our writers and speakers press repeatedly compared to what our fathers held up as good and just?
Hayek asked all of that because he saw England and America dangerously following in the socialized pathway that led Germany into Nazism, Italy into fascism and Russia into communism. He wanted to raise awareness, to warn people off, before they made those same mistakes with the same disgusting results.
70 years later, we need to be asking ourselves those same questions again, because there’s one very obvious answer out there… that we’re not doing ourselves any favors.
It’s a scary conclusion. Then again, we’re living in some seriously scary times.
And if we don’t wake up and recognize the stinking obvious truth, it’s only going to get worse from here.