Contemplations on Politie
The writer, poet and ‘myriad man’ George Russell (AE) wrote in 1912:
I fear that (even) without State socialism we may yet get worship of the State and belief in its powers, developed to such an extent that the community will place itself completely in the hands of the government to the utter destruction of self-reliance, initiative and independence of spirit. When a man becomes feeble-minded his friends place him in a home. When a people grow decadent and feeble-minded they place themselves in the hands of the State…
If an individual, ignoring the wise warning of the Gospels, condemns any one over much, what he condemns is meted out to him. If he says some one is very vain, vanity blooms all over him as he speaks, for the remark implies that the speaker believes he is stainless so far as this fault is concerned. If he says some one else is a most irritable person, he grows irritated himself, and so on through the whole range of emotions.
Any philosopher who studied Irish problems calmly, if such a thing were possible, and seeing the intense hatred of the Irish of any government they had to deal with, could have prophesied they were bringing upon themselves the fate of being the most governed people on the face of the earth. Already one in every forty persons in Ireland is in the employment of the State and the demand for more government departments is increasing with feverish intensity. Within only the last couple of years demands have been made for a department with a million a year to develop industries. Forestry eagerly claimed a department all to itself. Next the railways were to be bought by the State and departmentalized also. Another demand was for State banking, and the income of the already existing departments has never been sufficient to satisfy either the departments or the people. They always ought to be doubled. The State is rapidly becoming a kind of fetish in Ireland, a fetish which is kicked and prayed to alternately, the kicking testifying to as much belief as the prayers.
We complain quite justly that we are the most expensively governed people in Europe and we go on asking for more expensive government departments. If we got all the things we ask for those who asked for them would instantly count up the cost, add it to that of already existing departments to prove still more conclusively that the solar system could not possibly contain a more expensively governed race and this would be put forward as a new reason why still more departments should be founded to balance or redress the wrong. Any one who has the misfortune I have of being forced every week to read a great number of country papers will bear me out when I say that nothing is more common than the demand in every parish meeting, board of guardians, rural or urban council, for State aid or State subsidies in some form of other. It is the tragedy of the decline and fall of the human will in the people we are witnessing, a far worse tragedy than the emigration which is deplored so much. The will is growing powerless to act without partnership with its fetish or idol the State…
…The forms which a social order may take are many. The best is that which produces the finest type of human being, with the social or kindly instincts most strongly developed. The worst thing which can happen to a social community is to have no social order at all, where every man is for himself and the devil may take the hindmost. Generally in such a community he takes the front rank as well as the stragglers. The phrase ‘Every man for himself, is one of the maxims in the gospel according to Beelzebub. The devil’s game with men is to divide and conquer them. Isolate your man from obligations to social order and in most cases his soul drops into the pit like a rotten apple from the Tree of Life. Fine character in a race is evolved and not taught.