Mob Rules

William Jefferson Clinton may some day be hailed as the second father of his country, or rather as the abusive stepfather. His seemingly deliberate efforts to disgrace his administration and disgust the people have convinced a significant number of clear-headed citizens of the truth of Acton's maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Perhaps as much as a fourth of the population has had enough, not only of this President but also of the system that spawned him. The Lewinsky scandal is this regime's picture of Dorian Gray: the unnatural pursuit of sex, money, and power dissolved from any ties of loyalty and affection and ultimately incapable of producing any issue or results.

Many of us recoil from the ugly image, but to regress from this regime requires us to understand the nature of the beast. Libertarians are fond of invoking Albert Jay Nock's title, Our Enemy, The State, as a battle cry against all government and authority, including medieval principalities, commercial republics, and totalitarian despotism. But no one who has been forced to join a college faculty committee or sit through a town meeting can have many illusions about spontaneous order. Any form of government can be misused, but it is not authority or government per se that picks our pockets to pay for the bayonets that are stuck in our backs. Most despotisms, in fact, have had little power over everyday life; it is only a particular kind...

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