Big government is back in fashion, at least according to the findings of the latest British Social Attitudes survey, which revealed that 48% of Brits support the policy of “tax more, spend more”, referring of course to Keynesian-style economic policy. Considering the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, this is a very worrying trend. We are already wallowing under the weight of a government that is already too big, and yet we may be on the path of potentially electing a totalitarian to power in five years’ time, partly due to not just the incompetence of Theresa May’s campaign, but also because public attitudes are shifting in favour of government intervention.
To be fair, the free market case hasn’t been doing very well, and I blame the apathy of economic conservatives in Britain, particularly those within the Tory party. They thought that 1989 really was the end of history, and that they had won the argument against socialism so definitively that they didn’t need to argue for free market liberalism anymore. How terribly naive they were, for the war of ideas is never-ending. When Tony Blair won the general election in 1997, this heralded the slow return of big government, and of paternalistic socialism, but instead of arguing against it, the Tories began slipping back into their one-nation ways, to the point where we now have a party whose leader may as well be the leader of Blue Labour.
Of course I can’t entirely blame people for supporting big government. Since the great recession they’ve been taught the lie that free market capitalism is the root of all their problems by socialists who have been waiting impatiently for precisely such a time to occur. I also think it’s the byproduct of inevitable apathy. We had the pleasure of living in a free market society for long enough that we had forgotten what it means to live under big government. We also have a generation that was born after Margaret Thatcher came to power, and thereby having never grown up under post-war consensus policy, meaning they have never experienced what big government looks like, or at least they’ve lived such comfortable lives that they’ve never had to deal with it.
It has once been said that the death of liberty does not happen from outside, but rather it dies slowly, poisoned by apathy and indifference. Though this may sound hyperbolic I assure you that we may well be on that path if something isn’t done. When a government gets too big, it inevitably craves for more power, and that’s when you start seeing your civil liberties stripped away one by one, and they can count on the public not to fight for their liberties because they will be too apathetic to bother, or worse, actively support it because they may feel that it’s “fair and just”.
The sad reality is that there is nothing just about big government. When they raise taxes to make the rich “pay their fair share”, they reduce tax revenue because less people will be able to pay said taxes. Also, half the money raised from corporate tax (which leftists want to raise) is taken out of workers’ wages, so when you raise corporate tax just because it feels good, you’re actually doing good. But hey, you trust big government to look after so what’s the problem? Speaking of that, people also trust the government to provide free health care, but the NHS (which I will talk about in more detail some other time) is currently facing a rapidly increasing financial black hole, and is plagued by poor service and long waiting times. Without privatisation, the NHS is sure collapse, but we can’t even bring up the idea because the NHS has become a sacred cow in British politics. Just goes to show how much we love big government socialism in this country.
I hope that we Brits seriously consider the ramifications of big government. We should be working towards making government smaller if we want to see any positive change in society, because big government is the problem. Today’s economic and social woes can be directly tied to excessive interference from the state in our lives. When it creates more costly regulations aimed at large corporations, it always hurts small business owners the most. When they ban certain drugs for ancillary moralistic reasons, it forces those substances into the black market, which then grows and enriches criminal entities who take advantage of drug-users. Whenever they pass new crime and surveillance laws with the stated intent of protecting the innocent from terrorism, it instead creates fear in the hearts of law-abiding citizens, who in the end will be the biggest victims of such laws.
Big government isn’t your friend. It should be our sworn enemy, and yet a surprising number of Brits are in favour of big government spending, to the point that 40% of them would vote for a Marxist. If big government is back in fashion, then we will have dark times ahead of us, doomed to repeat history because our memory is short.