Friday, January 20, 2006

Where once rulers, leaders

I had meant to post this National Review article that was written by Nebraska's own R. Andrew Newman. I confess, I'd never read his stuff before, but as he had written on Narnia it naturally garnered my attention. He is stretching a bit in comparing Narnia to the modern form of government, which I agree can tend towards an intrusive, top-heavy, bureaucratic-Orwellian mess. And don't even get me started on the NEA. In his article, he does a nice job of capturing the Narnian spirit of government and comparing it to the socialistic tendencies of our own. But I especially like the quote by C.S. Lewis towards the end:
...Narnia, where the state is modest, making good laws, keeping the peace, stopping busybodies, protecting the land and its subjects, and allowing folks to "live and let live."

Perhaps some will think I'm making too much of this, piling political theory upon a children's story. But Lewis himself feared the modern state. In an essay that deserves to be better known, "Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State," Lewis argued that the state no longer exists to "protect our rights but to do us good or make us good — anyway, to do something to us or to make us something. Hence the new name 'leaders' for those who were once 'rulers.' We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, 'Mind your own business.' Our whole lives are their business."

At least in Narnia, the state has its business and the subjects retain theirs.


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