As people gear up for an election that includes the vacuity of politicians bent on having us hand over our lives and wallets to the collective, it was a relief to come across Don Boudreaux’s letter to the Boston Globe in response to someone writing approvingly of presidential windbaggery:
In "Words still have the power to inspire" (February 24) Leonard Pitts Jr. writes approvingly that the President’s authority comes chiefly "from his ability to rally the people, to inspire them in some great challenge or crusade."
Reading these words clarified for me an elemental reason for my scorn of conservatives and modern "liberals." Being libertarian, I find no romance in collective action. The yearning to be part of a great collective "challenge or crusade" – be it conservative or "liberal" – reflects humans’ tribal instincts. These instincts served a sound purpose during our hunter-gatherer past, but are today at odds with the individualism that makes us free and prosperous. Even worse, these atavistic instincts are exploited by silver-tongued and arrogant office-seekers such Barack Obama to gain measures of power that no man or woman should ever be trusted with.
I agree. And I particularly like his allusion to our rather unfortunate hunter-gatherer baggage, which I have discussed in some depth here. I share Professor Boudreaux’s sentiment that we are better off suppressing egalitarian instincts in groups over 150, as they cannot be successfully implemented at the level of complex society. I would also agree that politicians are simply masters at making us revert to our caveman ways — dazzling us with empty notions like "the greater good" which are rarely scrutinized by a population saddled with what Nietzsche would have called a herd mentality.