Reply to Linz

Nicholas Dykes's picture
Submitted by Nicholas Dykes on Tue, 2021-03-16 01:40

Linz writes with his usual well-directed passion about the threat of totalitarianism growing steadily in New Zealand, a probability foreseen by George Orwell in 1948, as Linz notes, though naturally enough without NZ particularly in mind.

Tragically, the same is happening the world over, as Orwell foretold it might, except in China, where it is already a fait accompli. Totalitarianism has reigned there since the late 1940s; although, having discovered during two decades or more of mass starvation and tens of millions of deaths that a socialist or communist economy simply does not work, the regime has reinvented itself under a capitalist cloak. Behind this smiling, silky deception, of course, the CCP remains what it always was, a State, an institution created by force for the exploitation of subject peoples, and one which is carrying out its self-appointed mission ruthlessly.

Like many of those in human history, almost exclusively men, who have been possessed by delusions of grandeur – Alexander of Macedon, Roman emperors, Catholic popes, Islamic califs, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Adolph Hitler, to name but a few – the CCP also has its greedy eyes on the rest of the world. And, using a variety of approaches – some open, some surreptitious, some aggressive, some criminal – and with friendly or complaisant politicians, fellow travellers and fifth columnists ensconced all over Asia, Europe, Africa and America; China appears to be well on its way to world domination.

New Zealand is not alone when it comes to the growth of totalitarianism in the English-speaking world. As an illustration of how far down the road its ‘woke’ variant has travelled in the UK, the current Chief Librarian of the British Library, Liz Jolly, recently placed a readership warning on the works of George Orwell himself, one of the best-known and most respected British authors, on the grounds that a forebear of his had been a slave owner in the West Indies. The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children: indeed.

In another instance, during the first few minutes of 2021, the now traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display in London featured a huge, sparkling advertisement for the avowedly Marxist, explicitly racist, and intentionally divisive organisation, Black Lives Matter, whose resentful exploitation of the sins of our ancestors inspired the lunatic pogrom being carried out by Liz Jolly.

If humanity survives the coming struggles, an outcome I devoutly wish for but will not see, whatever happens – I’m 79 in August and not in the best of health – I shall at least have had the small, yet rather grim, satisfaction of knowing that I was far from alone among freedom-loving writers in recognising the root cause of totalitarian growth, and that I added my own voice to those of forerunners such as Godwin, Shelley, Proudhon, Stirner, Spencer, Spooner, Kropotkin, Nock, Rothbard and George H. Smith.

The root cause of totalitarian growth, and the core problem area of modern life, is the State.

Ayn Rand called the State ‘a monopoly on the use of force’ and held it to be essential. (I assume her reasoning does not need restating here). But the problem with establishing such a monopoly is that it inevitably attracts those who see State force – some of it, or all of it – as a handy toolkit for carrying out objectives of their own.

The State is, and always has been, the most powerful psychological magnet for those who lack either the means, the knowledge, the patience, the ability, the decency, or the goodwill to persuade their fellow human beings of the truth or value of what they want to achieve, and hence seek instead to force their aims upon the rest of us. Typical examples today can be found among ‘social justice warriors’ and in the anti-scientific cult of doom-sayers who allege that the regularly recurring natural phenomenon of global warming has suddenly become man-made.

How can these bigots and crackpots attain their goals? There is only one way: to acquire influence over, or control of, the State – that self-same monopoly on the use of force.

The danger presented by a State monopoly on force has been apparent to many thoughtful men and women over the centuries. The most prominent among them were the enlightened thinkers who devised the Constitution of the United States of America, men following in the footsteps of valiant Europeans such as Frenchman Charles-Louis Montesquieu and Englishman John Locke. The US ‘Founding Fathers’ recognised firstly that any and all State authority stems solely from the natural rights of individuals, or as they put it, from ‘the consent of the governed.’ The authority is delegated, a power of attorney, the act of delegation taking place through elections. So far, so good. However, they also thought there could only be a single authority in each geographic area. Hence, the problem remained of how to control the power thus created so that it remained the servant of the people and not their master; as it had, and has, invariably become throughout the history of humankind.

The US Founding Fathers, appointed by the legislatures of the breakaway British colonies to resolve imperfections in their initial Articles of Confederation, came up with the idea of a single, unified federation to replace the loose association of thirteen ‘free and independent States’ which the colonial governments conceived themselves to be.

Fully aware of the dangers of centralised political power, the Founding Fathers thought they had resolved the matter through an elaborate series of ‘checks and balances’ in the new Constitution they first drafted, then offered back to the colonies for approval, and which was gradually adopted by all thirteen between 1787 and 1790.

Alas, their idealistic system has not worked in practice. Two hundred and thirty years after its revered Constitution was fully ratified, the US has fallen into the hands of a traitorous faction, precisely what men such as James Madison sought to prevent. The American people themselves are increasingly burdened by heavy taxation to fund immense debts and vast bureaucracies. Their hard-earned savings are evaporating in what US poet E. E. Cummings called ‘soi-disant dollars.’ They are hampered at every turn by intrusive laws and nonsensical regulations. Agencies set up to protect them are betraying them. Schools are ‘dumbing down’ their children or teaching them falsehoods. The American Dream of self-advancement is being destroyed by government handouts. Huge, arrogant, legally-protected corporations are stifling freedom of expression. Many of their journalists, perhaps most, have ceased to report facts and have turned instead into propagandists for government inspired or supported ‘narratives.’ Finally, to conclude this brief overview, Americans are being further dragged down by entangling foreign alliances, the very thing their first president, George Washington, warned them against.

What went wrong?

Placing confidence in a monopoly on the use of force.

I have elaborated this premise in two essays, “Mrs Logic and the Law: a Critique of Ayn Rand’s View of Government”, and “The Facts of Reality: Logic and History in Objectivist Debates about Government”; also in a philosophical novel, Old Nick’s Guide to Happiness.

Although the novel was quite widely praised, the essays have been almost entirely ignored by the Objectivist-Libertarian world, as far as I am aware, although there have been a few welcome exceptions. Certainly, I have not seen or heard of any replies to, or rebuttals of, the arguments put forward. Yet it is a debate in which I would love to participate.

It hardly needs saying that what is proposed in the above-mentioned titles, a world without States, is a dream about a very distant and perhaps unlikely future. An intermediate step, and what may be a more realisable aim, is limiting the power of existing States, as many others have observed before me. To that end, I drew up the manifesto for a new British political party, the Confederation and Reform Party, or CORE, which would aim not to attain power, but to dismantle it. Though now somewhat dated, events have moved on a great deal since its publication in 2016, the manifesto is available for download from my website (

To many Objectivists or Libertarians such an endeavour probably falls into the realm of fantasy. To others, it no doubt seems a waste of time – that was certainly the view of the late Chris Tame, founder of the British Libertarian Alliance. The progress of Libertarian parties in the USA, New Zealand and elsewhere would support such a reaction. However, since day-to-day politics is the venue nowadays for most discussion of political ideas, surely active involvement in politics is a practical way to put forward new ideas, or revive old ones – no matter how futile, distasteful, or doomed to failure the project may appear. One doesn’t get far sitting immobilised at home in mournful despair or by exchanging gripes with like-minded fellows. To sell ideas, one has to get out into the town square and engage with Joe and Jane Public.

The main obstacle one faces when asking advocates of freedom – such as SOLO subscribers – to consider seriously the ideas in the above-mentioned essays may well be the great prestige of Ayn Rand. She earned it. She deserved it. I have loved her for 58 years and for thirty of those years thought as she did about politics. But love should never blind one to a writer’s mistakes and, though it took me a long time to realise it, Rand’s espousal of ‘a monopoly on the use of force’ was a very big one.

Nicholas Dykes
Herefordshire, England, March 2021.

PS: I left North Korea out of my second paragraph because it is in a different category, worse than China, the Orwellian nightmare perfected. I feel intense sympathy for those trapped in that hellish madhouse.

PSS: The ‘old Nick’ in Old Nick’s Guide to Happiness is the hero of the novel, so christened by a young uninvited guest who likened him to the Devil. The title was chosen for a reason similar to the one Ayn Rand had in mind when she wrote The Virtue of Selfishness. The first line of the novel reads: “There is no God.”


Mr_Lineberry's picture

essay Nicholas Dykes. It certainly appears the march of socialism and totalitarianism is unhindered because right wing political parties and politicians simply cave in.

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