Lockdowners and “the Desire to Dominate”
In many years of lecturing at Mises University, Judge Napolitano has given the same—terrifying—ending to his introductory speech. Not until the horrors of this year did it dawn on me that perhaps his point has its basis in reality.
The dear judge often mentions, almost like a joke, the libido dominandi—the desire to dominate, or the will to power, harking back to Augustine of Hippo’s centuries-old writing. We find similar notions in Friedrich Hayek’s “Why the Worst Get on Top” chapter in The Road to Serfdom and most certainly in the eerily relevant writing of Robert Higgs.
The memorable ending in Napolitano’s lecture is:
I expect that I will die, faithful to my first principles…in my bed, surrounded by people that love me. Some of you may die, faithful to first principles, in a government prison. And some of you may die, faithful to first principles, in a government town square to the sound of a government trumpet blaring.
The few times I’ve been fortunate enough to hear him speak those words live, they always struck me as a little exaggerated. Even though the room fell dead quiet, I felt sick to my stomach, and had goosebumps all over my skin, it couldn’t possibly get that bad, could it?
The madness of 2020 has had me reconsider.
The Control of Others’ Lives
Wanting to rule over others is, to some extent, innate. Perhaps it follows from our misplaced sense of superiority (e.g., the Lake Wobegon effect) or from a hubristic pretense of knowledge, or perhaps from an inability to see the full range of value that others provide: I know better how things should be done; if only I were in charge, the world would be better.
What’s clear is that in anno 2020, the ever-present lust for domination experienced a perfect storm—a storm that let them unleash their controls to lecture us and commandeer us hither and thither, to centrally plan a health campaign, and to direct anyone and everyone as to what they were allowed to do. What’s so terrifying about this isn’t that the desire to rule others exists—it always did—but that the forces that usually keep it at bay somehow just gave up.
In the early days of the pandemic, those of us who make our living crafting words were fighting over libertarianism: “There are no libertarians in a pandemic,” they said. Perhaps, we politely responded, like everyone else a bit afraid of what we then didn’t know. But surely, there are no statists coming out of one either: “beneficial” regulations that disrupted production and distribution of stuff suddenly high in demand were lifted, centralized control botched things
Article from Mises Wire