The threat of violence

A guest pastor at a church I was visiting a few weeks ago said our freedoms were being taken from us via fine, rather than via force. It was a throwaway line, but accurate and insightful.

It reminded me of the villains in Atlas Shrugged, who are loathe to resort to violence to enforce their ideology, even when they are goaded to by an uncooperative John Galt. Resorting to violence would belie the villains’ pretensions to virtue and nobility. Galt’s disobedience forced them to consider violence, to choose between their ideology and their consciences. Violent enforcement ipso facto proves ideology’s failure to its purveyors.

Of course, the threat of violence to enforce your ideology is just as bad. This coercion ideological tyrants convince themselves is made by the force of argument, not the threat of force. Behind every fine is the threat of using force against those who don’t pay it. So this story out of Manitoba, Canada, scares the piss out of me: “Mom fined $10 by daycare for packing ‘unhealthy’ lunch.”

Note the informal, cute and cuddly font style of the fine. It is intentionally unabrasive, pretending to be what it isn’t: an order to comply with the “law” or else. What a perfect illustration of soft tyranny.



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"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword. The other is by debt." -John Adams 1826


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