Monday, March 07, 2011

Are You Free? by Mark T. Mitchell


However, it has been pointed out that with the expansion of individual freedom has come the expansion of the centralized state. Are the two dynamics related? Robert Nisbet, for one, argues that the emancipation of the individual from the complex web of social groups that constituted pre-modern Europe, ironically, has served to undermine the diffuse powers that held the state in check. Thus, with the rise of the atomized–though liberated–individual came the centralized, bureaucratic state to fill the void once occupied by secondary associations and complex social structures. The very dynamic that emancipated individuals fostered the rise of centralized state power. While few would advocate a return to some of the social and political forms of medieval Europe, we do well to wonder if it is possible to build strong social structures that could defend the dignity of every individual while at the same time provide make-weights against the centralized state.

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