The Fly Trap’s Lure
This thought, from a review of a posthumous book by Jean-Francois Revel by David Pryce-Jones (subscription required), strikes me as particularly timely, today:
A couple of years after Furet’s book, six equally reputable scholars published The Black Book of Communism, detailing how the experiment of Communism had cost about a hundred million helpless people their lives. It fascinated and appalled Revel that this book, in contrast to Furet’s, was not well received but criticized as unnecessary, “visceral” again, somehow too much. Revel’s conclusion from this strange example of double standards was that freedom is too demanding for some people and they will hanker after Communism even though it has irrefutably demonstrated its moral, political, and economic bankruptcy. The Left, in short, still refuses to treat centralization, a command economy, and equality of social outcomes as the impediments to freedom that they are.
Freedom naturally entails a certain degree of risk, and there will always be those who prey on fear of that risk to gain power for themselves or desire, for charitable reasons, to prevent it in the first place. Humanity is so constituted, however, as to long for freedom, and using the force of government to restrain it in broad, comprehensive strokes will inevitably have consequences far greater than an individual’s choices possibly can.