A pathetic new plea by Karl Rove reiterates the false mythology of Republicans as the party of small government. This has been a mantra (when they were out of power) since Reagan’s famous line about “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” followed by “starving” Leviathan with tax cuts as fantasized by Gingrich. But everywhere, in everything, all the time, bigness has won.
The only national players _ superpowers and others _ are the big countries with bigger militaries. Amazon has destroyed the corner stores and regional malls, big fast food chains have driven out smaller competitors, big citizens make billions of dollars, superstars dominate entertainment, big media reigns, big pharma produces drugs, and each small success startup is quickly gobbled by some giant corporation. Saving a local park or recycling household bottles means nothing in the face of global climate change and mass animal extinction.
Meanwhile in the US there are only two big political parties, each fighting the other as if in a war, with only a winner or loser for whatever “base” supports it. The good of all is tangential to simply having power. And that power _ bureaucracy _ must be big to keep the other big parts of society _ police, military, corporations, billionaires, states, media _ under control so that civilization does not rip itself apart. The deep state is a necessary infrastructure for remaining socially cohesive.
I admire small things. The local entrepreneur, contractor, restauranteur, professional are to be encouraged. But each of them is supported by large networks, especially the huge protection of our immense court system. They purchase what they need, generally, from appropriate goliaths _ contractors, for example, frequent big national home-goods centers. But they exist largely on sufferance and are likely to be snuffed out by a change in taste, or a pandemic, or new legal consensus.
I admire representative democracy when it is organized as a republic whose purpose is formally to respect the rights of its inhabitants. But I am not sure what these rights _ in a modern technological crowded and globally connected world _ should be. I have lived through vestiges of “blue laws” and worry about the fanatic beliefs of evangelicals because the freedom of one may be the chains of another.
So what should a conservative _ or for that matter libertarian _ mindset consider? Simply how is all this bigness somehow subordinated to an individual’s rights. I do not want to be told what to do by billionaires, deep state, or corporations _ yet I also know that if these and the huge military keeping us protected from other countries and each other would cease to exist, my life would be awful indeed.
We’ve gone about as far as we can with enlightenment philosophies _ generated before electricity and the global community. We need some new ideas. And if current conservatives or anyone else cannot provide them, they should step aside. But I guarantee that whatever the solutions or outcomes, smallness will not play much of a part. Current civilization and its needs have killed that forever.
Everything is big now. A small government would be crushed by other governments and other forces, and would in fact be a pitiful and useless annoyance.