Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/158

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CHAPTER 14

A Matter of Degree


The small state can do to Society everything the large State can do, but not so much of it. The tyranny and terrorism of modern communistic overlords is of a kind with the practices of ancient Sparta, and twenty-five centuries before Mr. Roosevelt launched the New Deal, Pericles had something closely resembling it. Sparta and Athens were small aggregations, compared to their modern counterparts, and so there were fewer people to ride herd on; also, because they were less productive, there was less for the bureaucrats to lay their hands on. But the pattern of intervention and confiscation was the same. A State is a State, now as in the past, regardless of the size of its victim, and regardless of ideology affected by its management. It is always at war with Society.

The history of our own political subdivisions—states and cities—is well splattered with instances of "corruption." Our newspaper headlines and our campaign oratory periodically bear witness to the persistence of predatory practices by political management, even in our smaller communities. "Throw the rascals out" is the standard battle cry in our contests for political preferment, indicating that rascality is the regular order. But, when we dig down to the bottom of the rascality, we find some interventionary law that was ushered in with yards of moral fustian. It is the law itself that stimu- 134