Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lurch Toward a Closed Society: LBJ's Great Society

The making of The Great Society was an act of great hubris. The power grab in the form of making a Great Society was a great lurch in the direction of a closed society.

Lyndon Johnson’s move was a significant extension in a series of smaller stretches all meant to bring more and more power to Washington. Two previous events of note were: the enabling of unlimited taxation via the 16th Amendment (1913), and expansion of the federal government under The New Deal (1933).

Karl Popper states that the enemies of the Athenian open society were disturbed by the chaos, by the unpredictability. They wished to return to the old, predictable, structured situation such as existed in neighboring Sparta, where everyone had a specified function, where they stayed dutifully in their place.

The Greek discomfort brings to mind similar situations that I have witnessed. One thing is the widespread discomfort with competition. For those who would deny this, just tell me why competition is wholly absent wherever the left is in control, in public education, for example. Just why are competitive views not allowed within departments of sociology on college campuses?

Another fear seen today, common with that of the Greeks is the fear of proceeding without authority. (See Chapter 5, A real bad Mess, how the Spartans loved authority.) One form of this fear is the fear that someone without the proper stamp of approval will succeed. Of course, the stamp of approval always must be wielded by an authority. The drumbeat one constantly hears from the left is that too many unqualified people have too much power:

“Too many unapproved people are free to set a course without approval. Henry Ford should never have been allowed to prosper. His efforts should have been under the direction of social planners.”

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