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08/December/2011

This is what comes after the Welfare State

Hugo Salinas Price

 “Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To fetch her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare
And so the poor dog had none.”

Nursery rhyme

Two years ago, I wrote an article with the title “After the Welfare State, What?”

The world is now in a deep monetary, financial and economic crisis; this is not a surprising statement as informed people are well aware of this fact. But the crisis is even more profound: it is actually a political crisis and should be even considered as a crisis of our civilization.

The fundamental problem of our time is that those who have shaped political thought as we know it today have been the heirs of the thinkers who gave rise to the French Revolution of 1789. Stated in a few words, those thinkers of two centuries ago, creatures of “The Enlightenment” – the time also called “The Age of Reason” (the title of a book by a revolutionary American who considered himself as greatly “enlightened”, Tom Paine) – those thinkers developed political theory on the basis of a very seductive premise: that society was heavily burdened with institutions for whose existence no plausible reason could be found. Therefore, they ought to be discarded out of hand. Revolution was in order.

This spelled the end of Aristocracy and Monarchy, which very shortly came to be regarded as simply parasitic institutions. Thousands of aristocrats met their end at the guillotine and the King and Queen of France followed them there.

The State henceforth, was to be erected upon the rational deliberations of the self-proclaimed representatives of the people. Among their decisions was the expropriation of the possessions of the Catholic Church and its separation from the State. Someone has said that the Catholic Church was in its time, the greatest force that ever existed, for the establishment of self-control upon a civilization. In the name of “Freedom of the Individual”, that force was sidelined.

The thinkers of the Eighteenth Century are the forebears of today’s macro-economic planners. Their political idea was that the people should govern themselves, through elected representatives. This idea survives to our time.

However, two centuries later, not one of the political thinkers and shapers of opinion of our time really believes in the idea of self-government of the people, by the people, for the people, because in practice it has proven to be a failure – a failure quite evident to anyone who can see reality with his own eyes.

The situation as it is now: “democracy” is a total sham. The so-called representatives of the people are elected, one and all, by means of bribery under an institution called “The Welfare State”.

All nations of the world today, are “Welfare States”. They must necessarily all be Welfare States, because otherwise they could not be “Democracies”, because democracy has to be based on bribing the population into passivity by means of the hand-outs of the Welfare State.

A State which is well-governed, by which we mean a State that provides its subjects with real money – gold and silver money – and which limits its expenditures strictly to its fiscal income, might be able to afford some expenditures for social relief for the destitute, the sick, orphans, widows and the elderly. So in this discussion, we are not entirely ruling out such State charity.

However, a democratic State cannot possibly be well-governed, by its very nature. Countless thinkers have pointed out that democracy inevitably ends when 51% of the people find they can vote themselves benefits which must be paid by the other 49%.

Today, there is not a single State that can dare to confess that it is not democratic. To do so, would be to call down upon itself the condemnation of all politicians and opinion-makers throughout the world and invite foreign invasion to correct its “inhumanity”.

Thus, the whole world is married to the Welfare State. To maintain the world’s population in a state of passivity, fiscal deficits are indispensable, because the public purse is totally exhausted by popular demands for more and more Welfare.

This is the cause of a terrible anxiety amongst the politicians of Europe at present. The Euro system allowed the governments of Europe to go deeply into debt with each other, to finance their respective Welfare States. Now they have reached a point where they cannot go further into debt; they must impose austerity because as Old Mother Hubbard discovered, they have gone to the cupboard for a bone for the population hooked on Welfare, and – there is no bone available (click here). The character of Democracy is womanish, not manly.

No Welfare means no Democracy. They go together.

An end to Welfare, or even a significant reduction in Welfare, invites political chaos for Europe. The base would be removed from the fiction of Democratic Government.

Thus, a political ideology that was born two hundred years ago is now on the point of foundering: the fiction of self-government by the people is about to crack up upon the economic reality of excessive, unpayable debt.

Without the Welfare State and its attendant fiction, Democracy, how is the world to be governed? (For a preview click here). 

There are no thinkers around, to suggest an alternative form of government; democracy has been declared the only legitimate form of government and no thinker dares to contradict that idea.

When thinkers fail, the men of action take over. The men of action are not particularly good at thinking – though Napoleon Bonaparte was a brilliant exception. The men of action are typically the military men. They are accustomed and trained to produce havoc, so taking over a government and imposing their will – for good or ill – comes naturally to them.

Democracy has bankrupted the world, allied as it has been with the Welfare State in reducing populations to passivity and conformity.

The stage is now set for the arrival of the eternal heir to democracy: the tyrant or dictator, as first pointed out by Aristotle. Perhaps after a series of devastating wars which will put an end to our civilization – on its deathbed as it is – but with or without them, the dictator, the Caesar, is the new figure about to come on the world stage.

The thinkers, the planners, the opinion-makers – all will be swept aside by the men of action, the Caesars who will toss them all into the wastebasket of history and not shed a tear for their disappearance.

Such is the vision which is terrifying the politicians of Europe and of the powers in the rest of the world. And there is not a thing they can do about it.

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Hugo Salinas Price, World Riba Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 26, 2012.
Hugo Salinas Price, World Riba Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 26, 2012.
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