November 13, 2011
BOOK OF THE WEEK: FORTY-SIX, 2011
Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, edited and with a Foreword by Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, , 1944, 1974, 2011) (On the "Dictatorship Complex": "Man is born an asocial and antisocial being. The newborn child is a savage. Egoism is his nature. Only the experience of life and the teaching of his parents, his brothers, sisters, playmates, and later of other people force him to acknowledge the advantages of social cooperation and accordingly to change his behavior. The savage thus turns toward civilization and citizenship. He learns that his will is not almighty, that he has to accommodate himself to others and adjust his actions to his social environment, and that the aims and the actions of other people are facts with which he must reckon." "The neurotic lacks this ability to adapt himself to his environment. He is asocial; he never arrives at an adjustment with the facts. But whether he likes it or not, reality has its own way. It is beyond the neurotic's power to eliminate the will and the actions of his fellowmen and to sweep everything before him. Thus he escapes into daydreams. The weakling, lacking the strength to get on with his life and reality, indulges in reveries on dictatorship and on the power to subdue everybody else. The land of his dreams is the land in which his will alone decides; it is the realm in which he alone gives orders and all other obey. In this paradise only that happens which he wants to happen. Everything is sound and reasonable, i.e., everything corresponds exactly to his ideas and wishes, is reasonable from the viewpoint of his reason." "In the secrecy of these daydreams the neurotic assigns to himself the role of the dictator; he himself is Caesar. When addressing his fellow citizens he must be more modest, He depicts a dictatorship operated by somebody else. But this dictator is only his substitute and handyman; he acts only as the neurotic wants him to act, A daydreamer who refrained from this cautious restriction and proposed himself for the post of dictator, would risk being considered and treated as a lunatic. The psychiatrists would call his insanity egomania." "Nobody ever recommended a dictatorship aiming at ends other than those he himself approved. He who advocates dictatorship always advocates the unrestricted rue of his own will, although operated by an intermediary, an amanuensis. He wants a dictator made in his own image." Id. at 270-271. Look around. Does not this characterized many of today's so-called political leaders, corporate managers, and (pseudo) public intellectuals?).