Big Government and Demagoguery: Are We on the Path to Tyranny?
Big Government and Demagoguery:
Are We on the Path to Tyranny?
Michael E. Newton
“The American People will take Socialism, but
they won’t take the label… Running on the
Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running
on the slogan to ‘End Poverty in California’ I
got 879,000… There is no use attacking it by a
front attack, it is much better to out-flank
them.” ~ Upton Sinclair
End Poverty vs. Socialism
Promise free gifts to the voters
Government control of the economy (socialism,
“Fascism and Communism are merely variants of the
same totalitarianism which central control of
economic activity tends to produce.” ~ Friedrich
Demagogues generally promise bigger, not
How Demagogues Gain Power
Lead them in battle against Philistines.
Unite the tribes.
“To judge us, like all the nations.”
Desiring a King
“He will take away your sons and place them in his
chariots and cavalry, and they will run before his
“He will appoint for himself captains of hundreds and
captains of fifty, to plow his furrow and to reap his
harvest, and to produce his implements of battle and the
furnishings of his chariot. He will take your daughters to
be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.”
“He will take a tenth of your grain and vines,” “will take
a tenth of your sheep,” “will confiscate your best fields,
vineyards, and olive trees,” and “will take your servants
and maidservants and your best young men and your
donkeys and press them into his service.”
Taxes, confiscation of property, increased servitude
“You will be his slave. On that day you will cry out
because of your king whom you have chosen for
yourselves – but God will not answer you on that day.”
“No! There shall be a king over us, and we will be like
all other nations; our king will judge us, and go forth
before us, and fight our wars!”
Why want a king after Samuel’s warning?
No experience with tyrants.
Focused on short-term benefit (win wars, unity); ignored
long-term cost (military draft, taxes, confiscation,
In Athens in 461 BC, Pericles promised wealth
redistribution with “allotments of public lands,
festival-grants, and distributions of fees for public
services.” He was a tyrant who failed to deliver.
In the 360s BC at Sicyon, Euphron attacked the rich
and argued that his “government was to be on terms
of full equality.” Euphron killed or exiled his enemies,
took their property, acted generously to his
mercenaries, and bribed his allies.
Greek History: Examples
“Almost all tyrants have been demagogues who gained the
favor of the people by their accusation of the notables.” ~
“A leader of the people” gains power with “unjust
accusations…assassinates him…and hints at the abolition of
debts and the partition of lands.” ~ Plato
After the people become “accustomed to feed at the expense
of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of
others,” a “leader who is enterprising…institute[s] the rule of
violence” and “democracy…is abolished and changes into a
rule of force and violence.” ~ Polybius
Julius Caesar “proposed laws which were
becoming, not for a consul, but for a most radical
tribune of the people; for to gratify the multitude he
introduced sundry allotments and distributions of
land.” ~ Plutarch
Julius Caesar “courted the people with banquets
and distributions of grain… In all he implanted
hopes, since he ardently desired to rule over willing
subjects.” ~ Plutarch
From Republic to Empire
Held one election.
Lost 41% to 24% to Socialist Revolutionaries .
These two socialist parties won 65% of vote.
Allowed Assembly to meet for one day before shutting it
Expelled Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries from
Created single party dictatorship.
“To us, everything is permitted, for we are the first to
raise the sword not to oppress races and reduce them to
slavery, but to liberate humanity.” ~ The Red Sword, a
“We are bound by no laws. There are no fortresses
which Bolsheviks cannot storm.” ~ Stalin
“Everything” included slave labor (gulags), mass
starvation, mass murder, and terrorizing the people
supposedly being served.
Capitalism benefits rich
Socialism benefits poor
Fascism benefits everyone!
Political freedom; increased government control of the
Heavily regulate big business; leave small businesses
and individuals alone.
Limit working hours
Regulation of corporations
Confiscation of war profits, unproductive capital, and
Employee management of industry
Creation of collectivized farms for the peasants
Fascism sounds great!
National Socialist German Workers Party.
“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic
economic system for the exploitation of the economically
weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly
evaluation of a human being according to wealth and
property instead of responsibility and performance, and
we are determined to destroy this system under all
conditions.” ~ Adolf Hitler, 1927
“Basically National Socialism and Marxism are the
same.” ~ Adolf Hitler, 1941
“Every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and
earning a livelihood.” (minimum wage, welfare)
“All unearned income, and all income that does not arise
from work, be abolished.” (interest, dividends, capital gains,
“Total confiscation of all war profits.”
“Nationalization of all trusts.”
“Profit-sharing in large industries.”
“Increase in old-age pensions.”
“Communalization of large stores which will be rented
cheaply to small tradespeople.”
Nazi Economic Promises
Nazis won three elections in a row:
July 1932: 37% (+16%)
November 1932: 33% (+13%)
March 1933: 44% (+26%)
Hitler was then declared dictator.
“Mussolini was the greatest man of our century,
but he committed certain disastrous errors. I,
who have the advantage of his precedent before
me, shall follow in his footsteps but also avoid
his errors.” ~ Juan Peron
“Third Way” economics
Subsidized industry to appease the right
Income redistribution to appease the left
Nationalized foreign-owned companies
Peron elected in 1946 with 53.6% of vote
Promised further redistribution of wealth
Had political opponents fired from their jobs,
imprisoned, and tortured
Took control of the media
Won reelection in 1951 with 63.5% of vote
Overthrown in 1955 due to weak economy
Results of Peron’s Para-Fascism
“We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the
kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet
Union… We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a
project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a
humanist one, which puts humans and not
machines or the state ahead of everything.” ~
Hugo Chavez (2005)
Chavez’s Reinvented Socialism
“The land is not private, it’s social property. If you put
up a fence, or farm it, or have some barns, well these
things are private, but the land belongs to nobody in
particular, it’s everybody’s.” ~ Hugo Chavez (2009)
Land confiscation--over six million acres of private
Nationalized large portions of the economy, including
the oil, power, telecommunications, steel, and cement
Profit windfall taxes.
Same Old Socialist Agenda
Declining oil production
Venezuela is currently in collapse.
Same Old Socialist Results
Socialism, Fascism, Nazism, Communism, and
“reinvented” versions of them always fail!
Maoist China, Cuba, North Korea, etc.
Modern Europe? Scandinavian Countries?
US has most or second most progressive tax system.
Economic Freedom Index:
Switzerland 81.0 Sweden 72.0
Ireland 77.3 Norway 70.8
UK 76.4 France 62.3
US 75.4 Greece 53.2
Denmark 75.3 Venezuela 33.7
Netherlands 74.6 Cuba 29.8
Germany 74.4 North Korea 2.3
Is Modern Europe Socialist?
Wanted to prevent anyone (demagogues)
from gaining too much power.
Impossible to spot every demagogue.
Checks and balances
“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition… to
control the abuses of government.” ~James Madison
Separation of powers
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative,
executive, and judiciary, in the same hands...may
justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” ~
Designed to prevent anyone (demagogues) from
gaining too much power.
Right to work at a living wage
“Freedom from unfair competition and
domination by monopolies”
Right “to a decent home”
Right to medical care
“Protection from the economic fears of old age,
sickness, accident, and unemployment”
“Right to a good education”
FDR’s Economic Bills of Rights
Original Bill of Rights: “To prevent
misconstruction or abuse” of the government’s
powers. ~ Preface to Bill of Rights
FDR’s Bill of Rights: These are not genuine
rights. They are benefits at the expense of others.
“The demand for the new freedom was thus
only another name for the old demand for an
equal distribution of wealth.” ~ Hayek
Comparison to Bill of Rights
Abandoned and weakened our Constitution
Agencies with legislative, executive, and
Whatever happened to separation of powers?
Result of New “Rights”
What does the Constitution say about new
government programs (at the federal level)?
If we don’t follow the Constitution, what is to
stop the demagogue?
If we fail to abide by the Constitution, what
will prevent our descent into tyranny?
Solution: The Constitution!