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C.S. Lewis on Tyranny “for the Good” of Its Victims



Following up on Anthony Gregory‘s recent posting, “A Caring State is a Controlling State,” the following incisive words from C.S. Lewis are noteworthy:

If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. . . . In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render most potent. They ‘cash in.’ It has been magic, it has been Christianity. Now it will certainly be science. . . . Let us not be deceived by phrases about ‘Man taking charge of his own destiny.’ All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. . . . The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be.
. . . .

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

Also, please see from The Independent Review Robert Higgs‘s superb article, “We’re All Sick and Government Must Heal Us,” as well as “Health Insurance before the Welfare State: The Destruction of Self-Help by State Intervention,” by Pavel Chalupníček and Lukáš Dvořák.

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