When Everything is Political
Browsing the latest Irish headlines on RTE early this morning, I was struck once again by the ubiquity of politics. In reverse order, beginning with the most recent stories from Sunday and leaving out crimes and accidents, we had:
… and so on. Even the stories which appear on the surface not to be directly related to political action, concerning drug use, the internet, and job losses, are in fact heavily related to politics. The drug use study was carried out for the HSE and is being used to launch a government-backed campaign. The research on the internet was being provided to support another government campaign, this time by the Department of Communications. Finally, the company at the centre of the job loss scare receives grant assistance from Udaras na Gaeltachta.
It never ceases to amaze me how little recognition there is of the sheer scale and scope of government activities. As we see above, every news story revolves, in one way or another, around the actions of the State. In our daily lives, almost every transaction is taxed, be it a wage payment or a simple shopping purchase. Most professions are licenced and regulated. Public authorities exerts massive control over land use and development. Media are either controlled or, in the case of RTE, directly subsidised by the State. The list goes on and on. We swim in a sea of government power, yet we are blind to it.
Maybe the first task for libertarians should be to draw people’s attention to the fact of the ubiquity of politics, to the many ways in which the government controls and directs our lives. For until people realise that another world is possible, a very different world which they may not have ever considered before, they will not be ready to begin properly evaluating either that world or the one we have now. Before judging liberty as desirable or undesirable, they must have a satisfactory answer to the question: “As opposed to what?“