It was a chilly winter day, and one of our family cats had just given birth in the basement of our house. Mom hustled my two brothers and me downstairs to view these newborns after their arrival, and I have always been glad that she did. I learned about one of the great truths of existence, and I don’t mean the birth process. What I learned took place in the days and weeks after the kittens were born.
There were six kittens born that snowy afternoon, and within a matter of days, two were crawling their way out to the sides of their box and actually attempting to climb over the edge. Right from the start they were amazingly curious and assertive, willing to tackle life and to fend off whatever was in their way. Another two of the kittens were mildly curious and went about investigating the center of the box, but never attempted to scale the sides. The last two kittens hung back and remained under their mother’s stomach all the time, never venturing out even to the center of the box, let alone to the world beyond. They remained close to their mother’s womb for weeks, tremulous and content only to be taken care of.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but these two kittens provided me my first lesson about the welfare state. Most welfare-seekers want to return to the security of their mothers’ wombs by erecting a massive Nanny State bureaucracy to care for them. What else could possibly motivate someone to pay taxes amounting to 40% of his income and then wish to promote more government programs? There are plenty of these people around; they vote for political humbugs like George McGovern, Bill Clinton, and Albert Gore. (Conservatives have their own humbugs, but that’s another story.)
Of course, not all those who favor the welfare state are psychologically seeking the security of the womb. Some are just misguided idealists unable to work their way out of the collectivist brainwash they received in college.
Which of these statist archetypes – the misguided idealist or the womb seeker – is more predominant is impossible to say, but whenever you’re dealing with statist mentalities, there’s an easy way to find out with which you’re involved.
Ask the welfare statist to read something critical of his views. How he responds is a clue to his nature. The misguided idealist will almost always take a stab at reading what you offer. The womb seeker will almost always find a way to avoid reading what you offer.
The misguided idealist is basically in search of the truth, and can often be reached. The womb seeker, however, is fleeing from the truth. He seeks only support for his previous convictions and shuns any literature that might upset his beliefs. He’s not really interested in what is the best kind of society. What drives him is a pervasive dread of a society in which he will have to stand on his own. He hates the society that, early in life, he began to sense was never going to reward his meager talents with the riches and status he sees others achieving. What drives him is an animosity toward those he subconsciously deems as superior and a desire to level down the dynamic achievers he sees around him so that he will not have to get up every morning and be reminded of his comparative lack of success in life’s endeavors.
Even though capitalism gives him a standard of living unparalleled in history, and one that he could never attain in a collectivist society, he concentrates only on the disparity between himself and the more dynamic achievers he sees around him. He tells himself that the confiscation of wealth he votes for is to bring up poor people, not to bring down rich people.
The womb seeker never bothers to try to understand about how capital accumulation can only take place in a capitalist society and that the more freedom people have, the more capital they can accumulate, and therefore the more prosperous their society will be. He never bothers to try to understand how integral the free, creative minds of entre-
There were six kittens born that snowy after- noon, and within a matter of days, two were crawling their way out to the sides of their box and actually attempting to climb over the edge.
preneurs are to the growth of productivity, and thus of pros- perity, for himself and his fellow citizens. Ignorant of these vital economic truths, he becomes easy prey for the dema- goguesof the left who cater to his hatreds and his envy. His reason becomes corrupted, and he readily accepts the politics of enslavement. He votes for more and more progres- sive tax rates, more and more oppressive regulations of the dynamic achievers around him. After all, it is the dynamic entrepreneurs who are allegedly responsible for all the misery and strife and poverty in the world. Confiscating their wealth is not theft; it is the right thing to do.
Karl Marx laid down a very heavy piece of propaganda with his labor theory of value, his theory that profit is theft of the workers’ contribution. But anyone past the age of 35 who has participated in any form of business endeavor can see through this malarkey. It doesn’t take a genius to see that brawn goes nowhere in a business until those with brains come up with the innovations that attract customers and the methodologies that ease labor. That three genera- tions of intellectuals have bought into Marx’s preposterous theory is testament to the fact that those who live in ivory towers know nothing about the real world of business. One wonders how many of such intellectuals themselves are womb seekers instead of misguided idealists.
Ever since I was able to think in an adult manner, it has amazed me – this susceptibility of so many men and women to the preposterous theories of the left and thus their willingness to readily offer up their money to political humbugs who advocate their enslavement through more and more centralized government. Why would anyone will- ingly vote away anything. as precious as their freedom, their rights, and their earnings?
Ayn Rand, of course, identified the most powerful moti- vation behind people’s willingness to be enslaved when she “showed that the undergirding morality of altruism drives people out of guilt to sacrifice themselves to the collective and its government henchmen. But there are other motives also, and one of them is certainly the desire of the weak personality for a life of security at any cost. As Mises shows so tellingly in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, he who loathes the free society loathes its constant reminder of his inability to rise on his own merits. The massive welfare state thus becomes his protection both economically and psychologi- cally.
This is why the authoritarian state” appeals to so many. It offers those lacking in “inner resolve” the political equiva- lent of a mother’s womb in which to avoid the rigors and harsh realizations that come with freedom.
The tragedy is that the welfare-state womb sacrifices the creative and daring to the dull and craven. This is the legacy of collectivist liberalism that has come down to us from Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and William Jefferson Clinton. Those who are by nature climbers over the edge must now fight to keep the craven and dull from overwhelming them.
After many decades of wrangling with those on the political left, I have concluded that it is a waste of time to try and reach the womb-seeker type of statist. It’s not that they can’t understand the truth. It’s that accepting the truth requires one to possess an innate inner resolve toward reality that they were not given at birth.
Our statist elite has risen to power over the past 100 years by enlisting wave after wave of intelligent and idealistic, but naive, students to go out and proselytize throughout their lives for more government programs, more regulation of businesses, more confiscatory taxation of productive men and women. A subtle, socialistic serfdom has been sold to
The last two kittens hung back and remained under their mother’s stomach all the time, never venturing out even to the center of the box, let alone to the world beyond.
them under the guise of an ideal society in which there will be no more poverty, misery, anxiety, and inequality. To sell this mess of pottage, reason, history, and the economic facts of reality are thrown down the memory hole.
The total state is not here yet, but it’s on its way. When it arrives, it will be, as Tocqueville warned, “unlike anything that ever before existed in the world.” It will be a dreadfully benevolent power that “compresses, enervates, extin- guishes, and stupefies a people” until they are”reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” Imagine a Swedish-style social welfare state (with 75% tax rates) mixed in with global corporatism in the manner of the original movie Rollerball that has to contend with desolate outback sectors of the world like we saw in Mad Max.
Such a future is coming to us because we have allowed our once limited republic to become an unlimited democ- racy, which has allowed the seekers of a false ideal to form a union with the seekers of their mother’s womb in order for them both to implement their pathological yearnings. United, they outnumber those of us who are strong-willed enough to live on the strengths of our own merits and per- ceptive enough not to buy into the bunkum of a heaven on earth through wealth redistribution.
Where is this. to end? It does not look· too favorable for the intrepid souls. The tremulous of life and the misguided idealists are making it more and more difficult in America to climb over the edge of the statist box and escape to a free world of accomplishment. The motives of enslavement consume more and more of our people with each passing dec- ade. The womb of security that lures the craven and the lies that deceive the naive drag us all into bondage.
The kittens that clung so close to their mother never knew how much they were missing by refusing to explore their world. But what can you tell someone who doesn’t want to know? The craven are blissfully content with their ward’s life and the naive are dutifully obsessed with chasing their illusory heaven on earth, but those of us who see life as an exhilarating crucible to relish in an independent way feel only despair with the death of freedom that must come.