The CS Lewis Quote on Tyrannies
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive… To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not even regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” -the CS Lewis Quote on Tyrannies
I think that this CS Lewis quote on tyrannies is spot-on. There are many types of tyranny in the world.
There is the brutal, authoritarian tyranny of communist government, which is well described in The Case Against Socialism and The Gulag Archipelago. There is the politically correct tyranny of the social justice mob. There is the tyranny of having to submit to an unjust and uncaring government, which is what our Founding Fathers fought against during the American Revolution. And, of course, there is the nanny state tyranny described in this great CS Lewis quote on tyrannies.
That is the sort of tyranny to which Americans have grown accustomed.
The government bans e-cigs or makes cigarettes too expensive to buy “for our own good.” Authoritarians like Bloomberg try to make soda too expensive to buy because it’s bad for us. The politicians force us to wear masks because those masks might, potentially, do something small to “slow the spread” of Covid. You can be fined for wearing a seat belt, as if that affects anyone other than you. Thanks to Covid lockdowns, you can’t decide for yourself whether to go to work or not; instead, the government tells you what you can do, as is described in this CS Lewis quote on tyrannies.
And I agree with this CS Lewis quote on tyrannies; that soft authoritarianism, meant for “the good of its victims” is the worst possible type.
Yes, the other types are far more brutal. But, at least then the rulers are obvious about what they’re doing. Like Machiavelli in The Prince, they view you as a pawn or cannon fodder and have no second thoughts about throwing your life away as part of some war of conquest or “5-year plan” for industrial prestige.
As evil and brutal as that is, at least there is a point. And, more importantly, it’s not as oppressive because the reason to fight against it is inherent in the system. The natural response of men to tyranny is to fight back. With an authoritarian government like Stalin’s in charge, the reason to resist is obvious; there is some degree of freedom in knowing you have a right and responsibility to fight back.
And, furthermore, there are limits to the hard authoritarianism exercised for the god of the ruler. That type of government only wants you to be loyal and fight when needed. You have much less tyranny than you should, but the little things are left out of it; Pinochet didn’t try to ban smoking, for example.
But the type of tyranny exercised “for the good of its victim,” as is said in this CS Lewis quote on tyrannies, is far more oppressive. Under that sort of system, there are both no limits set for the rulers and no recourse for the victims.
If the government is acting for your good, why should you resist? Of course, the reason why is that we are free men and aren’t supposed to live under an oppressive government of any kind, but most people won’t realize that. They will just go along with smoking bans, soda taxes, or any other slight tyranny because it seems like they probably should smoke less or drink less soda anyway. Tyranny in the name of the good of its victims is incredibly oppressive in part because there is no built in right or desire that goes along with it.
The other reason why is that there are no natural limits for the ruler inherent in that type of tyranny. If they find anything they think is bad, unhealthy, immoral, etc. then they can decide to ban it in the name of “the common good.”
And, finally, as is said in this CS Lewis quote on tyrannies, the soft authoritarianism is so oppressive because it takes away your ability to reason. Under the sort of tyranny he describes, you don’t even have the right to think for an adult. You can’t think for yourself because the government has declared that it will think for you. Instead of being an adult that can decide on the relative benefits and risks of making a decision, the government will implement a top-down policy that will make those decisions for you.
That is the most oppressive type of tyranny there is. Under every other system, at least you can think for yourself. Even if you can’t say what you want, you can at least think it. Under nanny-state authoritarianism managed by petty tyrants, that isn’t the case. They don’t even let you think.
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