Historic Views on Government – Paul Johnson

Honest opinion about government from Paul Johnson:

The disillusion with socialism and other forms of collectivism, which became the dominant spirit of the 1980s, was only one aspect of a much wider loss of faith in the state as an agency of benevolence. The state was, up to the 1980s, the greater gainer of the twentieth century; and the central failure. Before 1914 it was rare for the public sector to embrace more than 10 percent of the economy; by the end of the 1970s, and even beyond, the state took up to 45 percent or more of the GNP in liberal countries, let alone totalitarian ones. But whereas, at the time of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, most intelligent people believed that an enlarged state could increase the sum total of human happiness, by the 1990s this view was held by no one outside a small, diminishing and dispirited band of zealots, most of them academics. The experiment had been tried in innumerable ways; and it had failed in nearly all of them. The state had proved itself an insatiable spender, an unrivalled waster. It had also proved itself the greatest killer of all time. By the 1990s, state action had been responsible for the violent or unnatural deaths of some 125 million people during the century, more perhaps than it had succeed in destroying during the whole of human history up to 1900. Its inhuman malevolence had more than kept pace with its growing size and expanding means.
   Modern Times, 1983, 1991

British historian, journalist, and broadcaster, Paul Johnson was educated at Stonyhurst and Magdalen College, Oxford. He has edited journals, especially the New Statesman, and was professor of communications at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Some of his works include The Offshore Islanders (1972), Elizabeth I: A Study in Power and Intellect (1974), Pope John XXIII (1975), A History of Christianity (1976), Enemies of Society (1977), Modern Times (1983), and Intellectuals (1988).

Quotation and short bio from The Quotable Conservative: The Giants of Conservatism on Liberty, Freedom, Individual Responsibility, and Traditional Values. Rod L. Evans and Irwin M. Berent, editors. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Publishing, 1996.

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