Crisis and Liberty: The Expansion of Government Power in American History

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Crisis and Liberty: Lecture 2

  • Crisis and Liberty Seminar

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06/23/2003Robert Higgs

The role of ideology in the growth of government is required as intellectual cover for what is done regardless of the government form (e.g. monarchy or socialism). For example, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. played such an intellectual role.

People want to promote what they believe their interests are. Collective action has added to the growth of government. The benefits of participating in collective action are not always clear.

What is ideology? Ideology is a more or less comprehensive belief system about social relations. It is not religion, nor political philosophy, nor just social theory. Ideology has at least four dimensions: Cognitive, Affective, Programmatic, and Solidarity.

Ideological opponents in the last two hundred years have come from the Federalists political party favoring more centralization versus Jeffersonians and a later Republican party favoring decentralization, and laissez-faire economics. These interest groups have continued.

Today, it is progressivism that spawns government central planning – statism. Both major parties are statist parties now engaged in plundering citizens.

Bibliography (PDF):

Lecture 2 of 10 from Robert Higgs' Crisis and Liberty: The Expansion of Government Power in American History.


Robert Higgs

Dr. Robert Higgs is retired and lives in Mexico. He was a senior fellow in political economy for the Independent Institute and longtime editor of The Independent Review; he was also a senior fellow of the Mises Institute. He is the 2007 recipient of the Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Cause of Liberty, and the 2015 Murray N. Rothbard Medal of Freedom.

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