Skip to comments.Isn't planning in itself a form of tyranny?
Posted on 05/27/2012 7:51:10 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
Yes. Planning is tyranny.
At some point during the closing of World War II, Max Lerner penned an essay titled "To Halt in this Land" in which he asks that very question, and here is how he answers it:(Page 150)
The third question may be: "Isn't all this tyrannical? Isn't planning in itself a form of tyranny?" I don't think so. We have been planning our war economy without tyranny. There were many who said before 1941 that if America entered the war against fascism it would itself become fascist in the process, that in a war for freedom we would lose our own freedom. We have neither lost our freedom nor become fascist. Planning is a neutral instrument, like an airplane. It can be used for purposes of destruction, or democratic survival.
I couldn't read the full essay, parts of it were blocked by Google. But here are some general observations:
Planning is indeed a form of tyranny, when applied by a government to it's own citizens. Hayek's book "The Road to Serfdom" could(theoretically) be summarized down to one single word, and that word would be planning, in the context of what it is that forces civil society to spiral down the rathole.(The word "planning" appears well over 100 times in "Road")
Considering Hayek, in looking at the table of contents of this book "The Return to Freedom", it strikes me that the second essay in the book is written by Carl L Becker, someone who is mentioned in The Road to Serfdom. See page 174, read that page if you have the book. Planning is indeed a form of tyranny - "planned freedom" is the most poisonous type of oxymoron, as it seeks to confuse people who know well enough that they don't want to be a slave to a tyrant, but doesn't yet realize that a liar stands before them selling them a bill of goods.
Reagan addressed this very concept as well:
"The full power of centralized government"this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.
This is the difference between planning in theory, and planning in practice. Governments necessarily have to use force and coercion in order to implement their schemes, and moreover:
For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.
This right here is what makes it tyrannical, all things can be tested in reality, and when we test the theory of planning vs the practice of planning, planners treat individuals very, very poorly. Because when governments have usurped that much power over the people they govern, they don't stop ruining peoples lives. If the plan fails, the planners keep finding an excuses and devise new schemes in what becomes one big never-ending destructive path - The Road to Serfdom.
"Planning" assumes that there exist a set of imperfect human beings,
- whose knowledge exceeds that of their fellow citizens;
- whose wisdom and understanding cause them to be farsighted and able to foresee the future; and,
- and whose motivations are pure as to how their "plans" will likely be implemented in order to maximize the individual freedom of their fellow citizens.
The conclusions of the great moral philosopher, Adam Smith, more nearly described the economic dimension of liberty philosophy embraced by America's Founders.
"The difference between what is seen and what is not seen was often noticed by the old economists. What is not seen is the infinite variety of individual transactions and decisions which, in a civilized society, within the framework of just and well-known laws, insure the advantage not only of the individual concerned, but of the community, and provide that general body of well-being constituting the wealth of nations. All this is blotted out by an over-riding State control, however imposing some of its manifestations may be. It is the vital creative impulse that that I deeply fear the doctrines and policy of the socialist Government have destroyed, or are rapidly destroying, in our national life. Nothing that they can plan and order and rush around enforcing will take its place. They have broken the mainspring, and until we get a new one the watch will not go. - Winston Churchill, speech, House of Commons, October 28, 1947
And, here is another excerpt from Churchill, as quoted in William Simon's 1978 "A Time for Truth":
"I do not believe in the power of the state to plan and enforce. No matter how numerous the committees they set up or the ever-growing hordes of officials that they employ or the severity of the punishments that they inflict or threaten, they can't approach the high level of internal economic production achieved under free enterprise.
"Personal initiative, competitive selection, the profit motive, corrected by failure and the infinite processes of good housekeeping and personal ingenuity, these constitute the life of a free society. It is this vital creative impulse that I deeply fear the doctrines and policies of the socialist government have destroyed.
" Nothing that they can plan and order and rush around enforcing will take its place. They have broken the mainspring, and until we get a new one, the watch will not go. Set the people free - get out of the way and let them make the best of themselves.
" I am sure that this policy of equalizing misery and organizing scarcity instead of allowing diligence, self-interest and ingenuity to produce abundance has only to be prolonged to kill this British island stone dead."
Information, knowledge, wisdom and understanding is needed in order to combat the threat of totalitarianism presented by the current generation of "planners" and "changers." Armed with such knowledge of the history of the ideas of socialism as opposed to those of freedom, American citizens can make wise choices for themselves.
"We have to combat the wolf of socialism, and we shall be able to do it far more effectively as a pack of hounds than as a flock of sheep." - Winston Churchill, speech, 1937.
Enjoyed the essay. Thanks.
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Very worthy additions, thank you. At the most basic level, that’s really all that we face.
Communists reject the planning of the Fascists, Progressives believe they have an even better way to centrally plan than the other two, yet other planners want to plan a slightly different way and give themselves a different title.
What the founders gave us was the lack of an enforced national plan. The only true liberty that can ever exist. We run our own lives instead of experts commissions and bosses telling us how to do it.
Planning is just a symptom. The real problems are arrogance and greed and fear.
That must be why the present Executive calls it a document of "negative liberties."
"It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers...." - Thomas Jefferson
Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics, but “planning” is not the problem. We all engage in a form of planning in an ordered society. The issue is the GOAL.
If the goal is a centralized tightly controlled society, the actions (derived from plans) are going to be directed toward fulfilling that goal.
“Centralized planning” by a governmental entity is indeed the mechanism (tool) used to accomplish the goal of establishing a centralized control over segments of a society and therefore is undesirable to most of us.
If the goal, on the other hand, is to preserve individual sovereignty/liberty and to protect that liberty from an ever encroaching attempt to deprive us of that liberty, then our actions (derived from our plans to accomplish our goal) are geared toward achieving that goal.
In other words, plans simply enable us to achieve our goals. They can be admirable (example: goal is to put a man on the moon, or build a network of interstate highways, all the planning involved in achieving those goals were necessary or at least logical and rational assuming the people agreed with the goals).
Planning is indeed problematic but only when the actions outlined in the plans are geared to accomplish an undesirable or otherwise faulty goal. Seems to me the objective would be to reject the goal, letting the plans tied to that goal fade away for lack of support.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Tyranny is always better organized than freedom--Charles Peguy
The plans differ; the planners are all alike-- Fredric Bastiat
All central planning is tyrannical.
In other words, plans simply enable us to achieve our goals.
The question is a matter of who “us” is. If the planning is done by a small group of elites or even a majority of a given population, and results in forced behaviour changes for the minority, it’s tyranny.
By “us”, I was referring to humans in general.
I don’t disagree with your conclusion that a group of people can “plan” ways to control others and that such planning can result in tyranny. Absolutely correct.
I was simply making the point that “planning” in and of itself is just a way to achieve a goal or desired (by the planners) objective. The jest of the article seems to be that planning, in and of itself, is a form of tyranny. I disagree (although some form of tyranny can indeed be the end result of planning by certain groups of people).
A prime example of a group of people setting a goal most here on Free Republic would agree with, and setting about planning how to achieve that goal, is recorded in our history of the founding of this Constitutional Republic. In that instance, however, the “central planning” by our founders did not result in tyranny precisely because the goal was not one of control over others but rather, just the opposite. The goal was the key.
Again, perhaps it’s just a matter of semantics. We’re in agreement on the most important points, I believe.
Just wait til you read Mitt Romney’s climate change plan implemented in 2004 by executive order. A textbook example of tyranny.
I don’t believe planning per se is a form of tyranny but “central planning” using flawed models to predict effects of fiscal and monetary causes and using state power to impose such plans is the very epitome of tyranny.