Who Is Most Likely to Oppose Totalitarianism?


Paul's picture

Not one of Higg's better articles. "Divide and Rule", folks. Never forget it.

Samarami's picture

One of Robert Higgs' shorter essays; but, like Jim Davies, Higgs has the ability to "stir up the troops", which is a good thing. I would perhaps still be a bored, depressed "mini-statist" had not the Higgs', Davies', you (Paul), and quite a number of others stirred me up and forced me to think along more than one plane -- to not remain invested in the sort of dogma that kept me treading h2o for a lot of years, getting nowhere intellectually ("spiritually" -- which means about the same thing, but tends to incite the ire of certain anti-religionists who may suspect proselytizing around every corner).

With this essay I think reading the comments is as enlightening as the article itself (especially Robert Higgs' comment to the comments). Many of us will have to admit getting our backs up when the idea of religion and/or religious faith creeps into the spectrum. I submit that the reason for that is religion, not faith; but many simply cannot (or refuse to) see the dichotomy.

In history religious leaders ("religion") and state agents ("the government" or "the reich") have formed concordats that have given rise to rape, torchery and slaughter of millions upon millions. At the same time within those religious and government organizations were people of faith (priests, nuns, lay men and women) who risked excommunication and execution to rescue thousands of children slated for extermination and take them to freedom.

Ask me about that some day.

I have no way of accurately reporting to what extent "faith" bolsters risky action for good. I suspect, Dr. Higgs, at times it might. Sam

David Calderwood's picture

As I posted on the original website, I believe Higgs' column may be an oversimplification; he admits it is basically anecdotal.

His reply to comments clarified his position greatly. He posits that those who believe this life is just a prelude to the next one may be more likely to risk this one in a stand on principle.

Taking the opposite position, one could also state that such faith would also help people strap on bomb vests and walk into a place crowded with others. Such faith would lower the marginal resistance to joining the Christian (or any other religion) Soldiers marching as to war...with the cross of Jesus, blah, blah, blah, blaaaaaah.

I doubt Professor Higgs (or anyone else) would like to simply count the number of times someone did a "good" thing based on a lower marginal value placed on this life, subtract the number times someone did a "bad" thing based on the same calculus, and yield an answer.

In the end, I simply disagree on this particular position with the good professor. I think decisions one makes are either pro-life or anti-life, and a handful of White Rose martyrs count for anti-life while an army of people telling their sons and daughters that it is unequivocally wrong to work for the Ministry of (fill in the blank) is pro-life.

Until the balance of consensus as to what is RIGHT and what is WRONG shifts, martyrs are just corpses. While someone could argue that martyrs contribute to a shift in the balance of that consensus, I'm not sure what data one could cite in support. Such a position strikes me as an argument over the number of angels fitting on the head of a pin sort of thing.

Samarami's picture

One last thought about Robert Higgs' piece:

    "...My studies have left me pessimistic about the prospects for the survival of free societies, in part because of the relationship just described..."

I am a free society. I survive.

So there.


Zhenyi Li's picture

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