The Psychology of Statism

Statism refers to the belief in expansive, never-ending government. Statism is the opposite extreme of the American Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents severely limited government, saying government may only do the handful of things the documents specify it may do. Under statism, the sky is the limit. The government may do whatever it wishes to (allegedly) fight poverty, to help the elderly, to help children, to help the sick, to help the suffering in other countries, to help those with too many bills or too much debt … the list is literally endless.

Statism ultimately means the end of Constitutions and Bills of Rights, and the entry of tanks, political prisons or even concentration camps. But it’s not tanks, political prisons or concentration camps that most people really want. What lures most people are the promises of freebies. The desire for freebies goes deeper than free health care, free college, easy mortgages, and so forth. Underlying the desire for big government is the image of a parent saying to a frightened child, “There, there. Everything will be all right. I promise you. I will take care of everything.”

Children are not critical, objective thinkers, at least not the way adults have the capacity to be. Children don’t stop and think, “Well, I know you mean that. I know you’re saying that because you love me. But come on. How can you be sure? And what can I do to ensure my safety and survival?”

We don’t expect children to think or respond this way. But we do expect adults to do so. Or at least, we should. Career politicians do not want us to respond this way. Their livelihoods and power depend on us all remaining the psychological equivalent of children.

Most parents love their children, and most mean well when they tell their little children, “Not to worry. I promise you everything will be all right.”

Most politicians, on the other hand, do not mean well. They’re advancing their own quest for power and control. They exploit the child-like mentality of adults who follow them because … well, because, on some unspoken level, they’re those little children looking for someone to tell them “everything will be all right.”

It’s not that people necessarily want to be lied to. In a surface sense, it’s true. It’s easy to look back on the early supporters of Communism, or the people who voted Hitler into power, and comment, “Wow. Those people really wanted to be lied to, didn’t they?” The issue runs deeper. They want to be told everything is OK. If someone tells them all is OK in an authoritative way, then that’s good enough for them. They believe it because they want to believe it.

Some of us would never be this way, and cannot ever imagine being this way. But we have to understand that a lot of people are this way. They do not understand that the more the government does to impair or inhibit the economy — with all these taxes, regulations, wealth transfers, pull-peddling, etc. — that the worse things get for this reason.

Instead of thinking like an adult, and telling our so-called leaders, “What’s wrong with you people? Get the hell out of our way! Let us be free to think and produce,” a lot of us are inclined to think, feel and say, “Please! Help us! Save us. Only you can make sure help is on the way!”

Government interventions generally make things worse. Obamacare is a classic and recent example. As a result, millions more become frightened. They succumb to the belief that they need more help. That’s the point where the statist-lite government moves into the full-blown statist government: the government with the tanks, the storm troopers, the political prisons and even the concentration camps. Even in America, we are probably one more government-generated economic crisis away from that. In our own era, they might be p.c. “reeducation camps.” But under statism, such developments are inevitable, and no Constitution can stop them. Why? Because when millions demand, “Save me! Help me!” the government eventually and inevitably hears that as: “Control me!”

Listen to the candidates who are the most statist. Hillary Clinton is the epitome. “You want it? You’ve got it.” She doesn’t even make these claims in an artful or likable way. She sneers at Donald, and tells you to trust in her, because she will make everything OK. She says the right things, “right” meaning the things that emotional children (in adult bodies) wish to hear. And millions fall for it. Win or lose, she has won over millions. She has zero charisma or charm, yet even with her it works with millions. Because they want to believe, deep down, that everything will be OK. No matter how many adult, valid and inescapably rational questions arise to tell us otherwise. How do you think we got 8 years of President Obama? Obama wasn’t reelected for results. Look at Obamacare. Look at our 1 percent per year of economic growth, probably due only to a government-generated bubble in the stock market via the Federal Reserve. These are pathetic results. But it’s not results a child-like people are seeking; it’s reassurance. Mommy or Daddy will take care of the rest. Obama and Hillary Clinton are the national equivalent of Mommy and Daddy. Now that’s frightening!

A free country needs much more than a presidential candidate who advocates individual rights and economic liberty. Such a candidate only arises (and wins) when the vast majority of people are fully, psychologically functional grown-ups. My honest fear is that’s no longer America. Election Day will give us somewhat of a reading on that. Freedom and liberty are only popular with people who want government to leave them alone, so they can be self-responsible and self-determining. Grown-ups are people to whom it does not occur that someone or something else will magically make it all OK for them. Least of all a self-evidently corrupt, criminal hack like Hillary Clinton.

Freedom is for grown-ups. If we’re not all grown up, then the stage is set for all kinds of awful and terrible things. Yes, even in America. It’s up to us to prevent it from happening.

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