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The Soft Despotism of the Welfare State

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posted on May, 22 2019 @ 02:16 PM
In his classic “Democracy in America”, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of the threats of democracy, one of which he termed “soft despotism”.

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a net-work of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Democracy in America was written over 180 years ago, but his description of “soft despotism” is also an accurate description of the 21st century welfare state.

“Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances—what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits.”

The slave, his liberty stolen from him, would wish his liberty returned. Though they chain his hands and whip his skin, what the masters could not steal was his free agency, his sense of justice, and the desire to be guided by his own decision.

But men who have given their liberty willingly for this or that comfort would see their chains remain in perpetuity, because unlike the slave, his master spares him the care of thinking and all the trouble of living. With the exercise of his free agency less useful and less frequent, he has become numb to freedom and inured to his servitude. He can hardly imagine what it would be like without those chains, and he sees anyone who would free him as his mortal enemy.

De Tocqueville sees only two courses of action for those of us trapped in the chains of administrative statism..

It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people. A constitution, which should be republican in its head and ultra-monarchical in all its other parts, has ever appeared to me to be a short-lived monster. The vices of rulers and the ineptitude of the people would speedily bring about its ruin; and the nation, weary of its representatives and of itself, would create freer institutions, or soon return to stretch itself at the feet of a single master.

posted on May, 22 2019 @ 02:31 PM
Yeah, yeah, but this is dumb because give me my health care. It's a right, and I need that money to pay for my newest iPhone anyhow. /most people

And there is the issue or should I say practical manifestation of exactly what he's talking about.
edit on 22-5-2019 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 22 2019 @ 03:05 PM
a reply to: TheSteppenwolf

Not much else to add this is where we are at and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better if it ever does.

posted on May, 22 2019 @ 06:30 PM

originally posted by: Irishhaf
a reply to: TheSteppenwolf

Not much else to add this is where we are at and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better if it ever does.

Oh yes.

I would argue we're at a point where Statism is the prevailing religion. When it comes to climate change, poverty, healthcare, the economy, security, the environment, and so on, there is only one entity people turn to: the State.

posted on May, 23 2019 @ 06:25 AM
a reply to: TheSteppenwolf

If there was no such thing as food stamps, people would have to ask each other for help, maybe prepare meals together to save money.

That would mean people would have to be polite to each other, interact with each other, know each other's names, etc.

That would mean people living in the same neighborhood or community would communicate more often. Our problems would be known to each other. And wouldn't you help fix the car of the person you eat dinner with a few times a week? If people prepared meals together to save money?

People would feel useful. Takented cooks who go unappreciated in their own households could show off their abilities to a wider audience. Kids would help out too, and that whole tradition would create a bond between everyone involved.

Its amazing how many things change when the government adds those food credits on your card every month. You can just do your own thing. Dont gotta worry about anyone else.

You'll be fed whether or not Mr Johnson gets to work on time. And its not really your concern if the family with 2 kids across the courtyard of your apt building are $200 short on rent and are being evicted.

(this actually happened last summer in my old apartments. i didn't find out until they were already given eviction notice. i didnt know them. but it just struck my mind that, if I had known just 2 days sooner and put my mind to it, I couldve raised $200 if I so wished.)

Sure theres 70 units in your apartment complex and at least about 60 are occupied, if 40 of those could come up with $5 each that could help solve the problem... but, the problem there is nobody knows that family and its sad that they have kids, but if the parents are bad with money, or even worse if they have some kind of addiction with kids to take care of, then first of all, they will just continue to need help every time once they realize someone will pay part of their rent.

Also, being evicted could be the first step or the red flag that gets those kids to a better home (not that i have faith in cps but drug addicts or homeless people should not have children in their care) or could be the wakeup call that the parent needs to get their act together.

It just goes to show what can happen when we dont know each other. If we had some way of knowing that it was merely a swift and sudden stroke of bad luck, or they were simply caught in a bit of a slump, then people would have no problem helping out. And also, the help could take many more forms than simply financial aid.

But...we don't know. We don't know anything about them. 70 households on a space smaller than a football field and I only knew the ones directly adjacent to my own apartment plus 3 or 4 others.

This is what welfare has done for us.

What was that movie, where everyone in the courtroom gave what they could to help that humble fellow who everyone liked cause he was such a good guy? To save his house, or something like that. Nice guys, and girls, are losing everything they have and nobody gives a toss.

When other peoples problems become our problems, we are more invested in seeing them become successful. The community supports each other, because they Have to. For example, if each child isn't getting encouragement and having someone to take an interest in their future and well being, then those kids are gonna grow up to cause problems for the entire community...

So you wouldn't just look the other way, youd do something about it and alert others when a person, of any age, is at risk and approach it in a way that is best for them because their welfare is connected to that of the community.

So you dont have to choose between the individual and the society. Doing whats best for the individual IS best for the society. That's why we pray for our enemies. If someone is being petty, fake and dishonest, and has caused some problems for you, then you might be tempted to wish some bad things to happen to them, maybe even the same kind of bad things that they caused to happen to you, becuase you think that they will somehow "learn their lesson" if karma comes back around to bite them in the ass. In reality, karma may happen but it wont be likely to teach them anything unless they are receptive to learning by that particular method and happen to be paying attention enough to notice it... and karma also might Not happen.

Either way, all karma will do, is give you, the victim of their sin, some temporary satisfaction. They will still be the same person and may continue to cause problems.

What we Should do, is hope/wish/Pray that GOOD things happen to them. Like if they were blessed by wisdom, kindness and humility that they might truly reach a complete understanding of the effects their actions have had. So that they might not only come to you with a genuine attempt to make amends but they become an improved person from that day forth. Someone you can actually look up to in admiration instead of looking down upon in disdain.

Basically, we should desire to improve all that we are displeased with rather than to destroy it, IF POSSIBLE...
edit on 5/23/2019 by 3n19m470 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 23 2019 @ 05:50 PM
a reply to: 3n19m470

I've said it before - destroy the neighborhoods, destroy the family, destroy the faith communities and people have no one to lean on but the government. People who cannot govern themselves and have no one else to look to look to their rulers and can be ruled.

posted on May, 23 2019 @ 06:10 PM
a reply to: 3n19m470

That's a keen observation. Think about how we use the word "community" nowadays, which largely center around identity groups and not an actual community. In this sense, "community" means people we have some vague similarity with, and not our actual neighbors.

posted on May, 24 2019 @ 03:32 AM
a reply to: TheSteppenwolf

dunno how the welfare system can be described as soft.

In australia, "the welfare state" means that one lives in poverty and has to 'Perform' to get an amount of money that barely buys food let alone shelter.

as the years go by an unemployed person has to 'perform' more and more to get less and less. The welfare system in Aus is designed to punish not reward, it demands that one surrender all privacy and many rights so I dunno where the softness comes into it.

I think there many people out there who write about things they have little experience of.

Perhaps people are talking about immigrants from Muslim countires because that is an entirely different story.

If Islam is so fantastic why is it that Muslims always immigrate to Christian lands?

What is it about non Muslim lands that attracts Muslims?

Why is it that we tip toe around the cultures that choose to join us but we fail to stand up for the cultures that they choose to avoid?

Why is that the majority of the men targeting white women are Muslim men?

Why is do Muslims choose not to immigrate to other Muslim lands in the same proportional numbers as the lands they choose to immigrate to which are predominately white and Christian?

funny that

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