Monday, 16 September 2013

Annals of Soft-Despotism

Village Idiots Run the Place

There are two kinds of despotism.  The first is the jack-boot kind, which we call hard despotism.  Think Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Kim Jong Un, and a litany of others.  The second is the progressive smothering by the regulator state where the state takes more and more responsibility for citizens and increasingly regulates their lives all in the name of protecting them, providing for them and helping them.  This is soft-despotism. 

Soft despotism was prophetically described by Alexis de Tocqueville in the nineteenth century.
 The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations―complicated, minute, and uniform―through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way . . . it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own . . . it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. ["Government as Shepherd", Contra Celsum]
We in the West are victims of this creeping soft-despotic state which seeks to regulate all things human--for our own good, of course.
  Soft-despotism is anti-human insofar as human dignity necessitates and requires taking responsibility for ourselves.  Remove that duty and responsibility and we are all consigned to being less than human, or, at best, perpetually childish.

The soft-despotic state is welcomed by slaves--or those with the heart and mind of a slave. The idea that "Master" will take care of everything is almost universal now.  Is there a problem?  "Master" will fix it.  Is there a need?  "Master" will supply it.  Is there a danger?  "Master" will protect from it. Is there a risk?  "Master" will ameliorate it.

Naturally such hubris is doomed to failure and destruction.  It destroys itself from the inside.  It cannot escape God's covenantal Natural Law which binds all human beings, whether they are aware of it or not.  When men turn away from the Living God to idol gods of their own creation, God destroys the idols and their worshippers.  Sometimes He does this by means of external avengers: invaders, natural calamities and the like.  But more often He brings judgement by means of secondary causes, which result in a culture or society reaping the fruit of its own folly.  The lecher contracts venereal disease.  The miser becomes poor in friendship and human conviviality.  The covetous man is racked with perpetual discontent.

Since most Western citizens believe in "Master", the soft-despotic state, we can expect that one way the Lord will bring judgment is that "Master" will prove to be pathetically incompetent and become a by-word for stupidity.  "Master" will end up being mocked.  "Master" will be ridiculed.  "Master" will end up pathetically impotent.

Here is an example of what we are describing.  "Master", the soft-despotic state, becomes the Village Idiot.
Child entrepreneurs have had their food stalls shut down under Auckland Council food safety regulations. 
Biz Kids at The Plaza hold a monthly fair in the Whangaparaoa shopping mall. The event is designed to give children business experience and has attracted more than 30 enterprises run by kids as young as 7.

The Plaza manager Anne Murphy and business owner Christina Galvin established the Sunday morning fair where, for $10, stalls are available to children to sell products to the public.  The fair was 4 months old when the council's environmental health unit heard about it. The council told management the food stalls, selling goods ranging from home baked cakes to decorated biscuits, contravened food safety bylaws.  Food stands, which comprise about 20 of the 32 stalls, were deemed a possible health risk under the bylaws. Shopping centre management has been forced to close all stalls selling food as a result, despite meetings between various parties to try to find a compromise. 
Mmmm.  A "possible health risk".  How nice to know that our soft-despotic "Master" is looking out for our good, protecting us from all possible risks in this world.  How lovely the cotton wool feels on our naked baby skin.   We wanted "Master" to protect us, but now we are all being treated like idiots.  More like idolaters getting their comeuppance--that's what's happening. 

Naturally, "Master" has a justification:
Council environmental health manager Mervyn Chetty says his staff received a complaint from a member of the public who was concerned about food hygiene at Biz Kids.  The council is required to follow up such complaints, he says.  Officers investigated then advised shopping centre management on the rules and requirements for selling food to the public, he says.

"Biz Kids need to comply with these requirements, as do all the other food stalls, including preparing foods, particularly high-risk foods, at a registered kitchen, not at a home kitchen," Mr Chetty says.  "Our particular concerns were around the fact that some of the foods being sold, especially quiches, are high-risk foods."

Mr Chetty says the council has looked at various options for enabling some of the low-risk Biz Kids activities.  "We have met with the centre manager to work out a way Biz Kids can sell certain foods safely and minimise the compliance costs."
Let's see.  How about a large sign: "Customers Eat Food At Their Own Risk"? 

The irony in all of this is that the project was started to give kids the experience of running a small business.  Excellent idea.  But now the kids have come face to face with "Master" and they have had to face the truth.  Complying with "Master"--all for our own good and safety--makes operating a small business almost impossible.  The entrepreneurial kids have had a reality check.  They have come face-to-face with the Village Idiot, and he runs the the show. 

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