The Road to Political Slavery

“Gerald Holton, a professor of physics and history at Harvard, in an article entitled, Where is Science Taking Us? (May 18, 1981) noted: More and more frequently, major decisions that profoundly affect our daily lives have a large scientific or technological content. By a recent estimate, nearly half the bills before the US Congress have a substantial science-technology component….If the layman cannot participate in decision making, he will have to turn himself over, essentially blind, to a hermetic elite….Are we still capable of self-government and therefore of freedom?

He goes on to say: “Margaret Mead wrote in a 1959 issue of Daedalus about scientists elevated to the status of priests. Now there is a name for this elevation, when you are in the hands of—one hopes—a benevolent elite, when you have no control over your political decisions. From the point of view of John Locke, the name for this is slavery.”

Alex de Tocqueville, a young judge from France, wrote an even more alarming and prophetic analysis in the 1830’s:De Tocqueville saw the people of the United States passing through several distinct stages. First of all, he saw the strength of character and moral integrity that would make them prosperous. But as they became self-sufficient he saw that they would be less concerned about each other and much less concerned about the principles that made them a great people. This would leave them vulnerable to the manipulation of clever politicians who would begin to promise them perpetual security if they accepted certain schemes contrived by some of their leaders. (He then described what modern students have been led to identify as “democratic socialism.”)

“That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood; it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.”For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances — what remains, to spare them all the care of thinking and the trouble of living.”

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. “The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided–men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till [the] nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”