Richard Ebeling writes:
Hayek documented, the Nazi movement had developed out of the “enlightened” and “progressive” socialist and collectivist ideas of the pre-World War I era in Imperial Germany, ideas that many intellectuals in England and the United States had praised and propagandized for in their own countries in the years before the beginning of the First World War in 1914.Large numbers of American graduate students went off to study at German universities in the 1880s, the 1890s, and the first decade of the 20th century.They returned to the United States and spoke and wrote about a new and higher freedom observed in Germany, a “positive” freedom provided through government welfare state paternalism rather than the mere “negative” freedom of individual liberty in the form of absence of coercion in human relationships as practiced in America.Sound familiar? Towards the end Dr. Ebeling graduates from preaching to meddling...
With the realization that it is a controversial subject, let me suggest that a type of person who searches out employment and specialized surveillance work in the National Security Agency because he truly believes that there are potential “enemies” everywhere threatening harm to the “homeland” is highly likely to be a person who gives few second thoughts about whether intruding into the privacy of ordinary people’s emails, phone conversations, text messages, and private computer documents is unethical, illegal or even simply “bad manners.”
Indeed, the more zealous among such types of individuals will at the end of their workday not lose sleep due to a guilty conscience that a human being’s privacy rights have been violated. He is more likely to be thinking of tomorrow’s day of work and how he can find ways to do it even more effectively, regardless of high much more other people’s rights and privacy might have to be abridged in the attempt to attain the highly allusive goal of “national security.”
Indeed, way back in 1776, the famous Scottish economist, Adam Smith, warned about such people in government, when he said that nowhere would such political power “be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”Men are easily subject to arrogance and hubris, and never is that human weakness so to be feared as when government has the power that allows such individuals to practice their pretensions of superior knowledge and wisdom over their fellow human beings.
The earnest true believers are more dangerous than the cynics. As C.S. Lewis said, they do evil with the approval of their own conscience.