Monday, July 4, 2011

Barry Goldwater on the collectivists achieving Socialism through the Welfare State

The currently favored instrument of collectivization is the Welfare State. The collecivists have not abandoned their ultimate goal - to subordinate the individual to the State - but their strategy has changed.  They have learned that Socialism can be achieved through Welfarism quite as well as through Nationalization.  They understand that private property can be confiscated as effectively by taxation as by expropriating it.  They understand that the individual can be put at the mercy of the State - not by making the State his employer - but by divesting him of the means to provide for his personal needs and by giving the State the responsibility of caring for those needs from cradle to grave.  Moreover, they have discovered - and here is the critical point - that Welfarism is much more compatible with the political process of a democratic society.  Nationalization ran into popular opposition, but the collectivists feel sure the Welfare State can be erected by the simple expedient of buying votes with promises of "free" federal benefits - "free" housing, "free" school aid, "free" hospitalization, "free" retirement pay and so on...
I do not welcome this shift in strategy.  Socialism-through-Welfarism poses  far greater danger to freedom than Socialism-through-Nationalization precisely because it is more difficult to combat.
It is hard, as we have seen, to make out a case for State ownership.  It is very different with the rhetoric of humanitarianism.  How easy it is to reach the voters with earnest importunities for helping the needy.
Have you no sense of social obligation? the Liberals ask.  "Have you no concern for people who are out of work? for sick people who lack medical care? for children in overcrowded schools?  Are you unmoved by the problems of the aged and disabled?  Are you against human welfare?
The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no.  But a simple "no" is not enough.  I feel certain that Conservatism is through unless Conservatives can demonstrate and communicate the difference between being concerned with these problems and believing that the federal government is the proper agent for their solution.

-Excerpt from Barry Goldwater's 1960 book Concience of a Conservative