When Governments Fear The Peoplewebdev
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Thomas Jefferson
Well, not really.
As awesome as this statement is, there is no evidence that Jefferson actually said it. But in 1825, about 18 months before he died, he did write this in a letter to William Short:
“And after all it is but a truth which exists in every country where not suppressed by the rod of despotism, men, according to their constitutions, and the circumstances in which they are placed, differ honestly in opinion. Some are Whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please; others are Tories, serviles, aristocrats. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society. The former consider the people as the safest depository of power, in the ultimate, they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent.”
In 1914, a version of the “fear” quote was delivered by John Basil Barnhill an author and lecturer engaged in a debate against Socialism in the form of a series of battling articles sponsored by the National Rip Saw Publishing Company in St. Louis Missouri, who said:
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
Barnhill went on to warn the public of this new and liberty-destroying message of Socialism which claimed Capitalism to be the source of the current (1914) economic woes. Barnhill rather, placed the blame on monopoly.(Monopoly is most generally created when private businesses get special treatment from the government, giving them an unfair advantage over their competition. The only legitimate role for government regarding monopoly is to ensure that all competitors are treated fairly in the courts.
Technically, Capitalism and Free Enterprise are not the same thing, in fact they result in almost polar opposites. Capitalism promotes a system that treats people differently depending on their assets and connections – even using political position for unfair advantage. Free Enterprise is a system that simply protects rights and ensures justice, but prohibits any economic arrangements or unfair practices between government and people or between the people themselves.)
It is amazing how the narrative has not changed in over a hundred years. Keep in mind, this debate took place before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent evidence of the results of Socialism and Communism. This is also the general period of the writings of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Eric Voegelin, and Hilare Belloc–warning against the same dangers.
Here are a few excerpts from both sides of the argument:
Henry M. Tichenor – was a writer and prominent socialist during the Progressive Era. He has been ranked beside Madalyn O’Hair as a leading American freethinker of the twentieth century.
“Socialism is a proposed economic system wherein those things that we must all have access to in order to live, shall be owned publicly and operated democratically, and that Socialism guarantees to each one the private ownership and enjoyment of the full product of his labor. What Socialism proposes, and all that it proposes, is that no man or set of men shall live off the labor and earnings of another man or set of men—that no person shall put in his own pocket the wealth that is produced by the labor of another person. In other words, Socialism is a world-wide Anti-Pickpocket Crusade.
‘Barnhill shoots off his first load by actually admitting that Socialism and nothing but Socialism can create a decent and humane society. Barnhill didn’t know that he made this admission, because, alas! Barnhill’s knowledge of Socialism is limited to phantoms floating in his own head instead of the scientific economics laid down by Marx and Engels. Barnhill admits “that something in our modern civilization is murdering life.” This makes me rather like the man, because, although his brain is sadly balled up on economics, he appears after all to have a tender heart.
And then Barnhill bursts forth-I hate to tell it, it’s really a shame to expose him-with this:. _ “Socialists tell us that this monster (that is murdering life) is competition. I affirm that it is Monopoly, and the issue is clean cut between us.” Karl Marx predicted the birth of this “monster,” Monopoly, long before the animal came, and at a time when men of the Barnhill school laughed at Marx for his prediction. But Marx disclosed the already pregnant mother of Monopoly so clearly that about every scholar in Europe admitted the Monster would surely be born in due time.
‘Competition naturally produced partnerships of small capitalists that they might thus handle industry on a larger scale, and these combinations of partnerships just as naturally at last produced monopolies. This has gone on in the economic field until to-day the great modern machines, that sprang from the brains of the skilled mechanics and workers, are by far too immense and costly to ever be owned by any individual. Modern production and distribution-carried on by the mammoth factories and great railway systems-are entirely too big for any single individual-even Mr. Barnhill-to privately own and operate.
Even the most deluded mossback ought to realize that there is some difference between an old-time individually owned ox-cart and the modern transcontinental railway systems. The world to-day stands confronted with two, and only two, possible propositions, to-wit : Either its vast, modern industries shall continue to be a Capitalist Monopoly, conducted for the private profit of a select few, or shall become a nationally owned and nationally operated Blessing, conducted for the public welfare of the nation.”
Joseph Basil Barnhill – Lecturer and owner of the Anti-Socialist Book Company.
“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.
‘The surest way to make a scoundrel out of a saint is to give him the power of spending other people’s money, and Socialism would multiply infinitely such opportunities.
‘A great teacher truly said, “Progress in the political, religious and intellectual evolution of humanity is effected [negatively] by the substitution of personal decisions for authorative measures.” In other words, individual initiative and private enterprise are the indispensable bases of an advancing civilization.
‘The voice of the public may be the voice of God when it is strictly attending to public business, but when the public intermeddles in personal affairs it becomes an agent of the devil himself.
‘Socialists tell us that private monopoly spells stagnation and death, but my dear Socialist, you do not change your indictment by changing your adjective. All experience declares that you can prove an even stronger case against public monopoly. In other words, monopoly is the grave of nations. Monopoly means death, as competition means the life of civilization.”