Old Statism, New Statism
The old statism (Progressivism, New Dealism, Stalinism) was all about forcing material progress on people even when the economic structures and people make them work were not prepared for it. So we had these huge dams made to force electrification in the U.S. and Russia. Wires had to be stretched all over rural areas so they could be modernized. We had interstate highways built. Everyone had to be industrialized and abandon the old agricultural ways. We did the whole space thing.
It was all about progress, progress, progress, onward and upward into a future of blissful embrace of all great things. Government would give us civilization in replacement for the backwardness of the settled ways of the population and the too-slow process of market exchange. It was hello yellow-brick road, courtesy of the central planning elite. That was the idea anyway.
Today everything has changed. The ethos of statism today is that the market moves too fast, wastes too much, gives us too much luxury and progress, exalts materialism over quiet reflection and pastoral scenes of organic beauty. Capitalism has wickedly taken us away from our roots and ties with Mother Nature and made us all too dependent on artificial realities constructed by machines, chemicals, and digits. Statism in our times is all about forcing change in the other direction: goodbye yellow-brick road.
In other words, government used to promise to force civilization on us; now it promises to force de-civilization on us. Examples that pop readily to mind include recycling (blech on sorting through garbage), tricks for conserving water like reduced water pressure and shower-head water restraints, low-flush toilets, less frequent trash pickups, the imposition of lukewarm water on our homes, the push for bicycling and punishment for individual drivers, the attack on toilet paper, taxes on gas and punitive regulations on coal and industry, the subsidies for wind and solar power, electric cars, you name it: public policy is all about reducing our standard of living for our own good.
And so the state can add another victory it its campaign to take away great things in our life: the last GE factory that makes incandescent light bulbs is shutting down. The government has banned them, all in the interest of improving our spiritual attachments to saving mother earth and putting an end to the sin of wanting warm and pretty light in our rooms. I guess we should all start investing in candles.