Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on the Borderline Tyranny of the Left and Right


If there was ever any doubt that the totalitarian temptation identified by economist and Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek in his brilliant tract, "The Road to Serfdom," is alive and well, even in this sweet land of liberty, two current crusades of the left and the right ought to put it to rest, noted Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia in her column at The Daily last week.

Hayek's genius was to recognize that eliminating feudalism and monarchy didn't mean that the West had eliminated the danger of tyranny. Modern-day central planners restricting the peaceful, voluntary activity of individuals in the name of achieving some grand collectivist end open up new dangers. Since their plans inevitably leave individuals worse off, people find ever-new ways to circumvent them.

But the government doesn't take its failure as a sign that there might be something wrong with its ends — that perhaps they are out of sync with the normal aspirations of people. Rather, it blames the failure on an insufficient use of force. Thus an initial round of coercion inevitably spawns subsequent, even harsher rounds, putting the country on Hayek's "road to serfdom."

It is exactly this logic that's unfolding in the right's crusade to get rid of illegal Mexican labor in the name of national sovereignty — and the left's crusade to redistribute wealth in the name of social justice.

Read the whole thing here and enjoy Memorial Day!