It seems to me, one way we argue past each other, is that we often haven’t rectified terms, specifically, the difference between the administrative type of government and traditional governments. Often when people argue for socialism, they are in fact arguing for the administrative type of government, not the socialistic form of economics. The two correlate but not to the nth degree. When college students debate the advantages of socialism, they have a bureaucracy in their minds, not a Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, or Mao… as the benevolent administrators to usher in the new age of world socialism. For haven’t you heard? Real socialism has never been tried. If that is so, then traditional forms of government are not compatible with socialism, and a new one is needed, the administrative type. But for our well intentioned kids, not having thought it through, perhaps a review of the administrative type of government is in order…
The administrative type of government is one in which… it is the bureaucracy that does all the real decision making, any residual traditional vestiges having only decorative powers. The US, it could be argued, may be considered an administrative type of government. Since the Congress has allowed itself to become an appendix, the President is limited by the whims of the bureaucracy, and the judicial is wielded like a sword by those that favor the administrative type, against anyone who would stand in the bureaucracy’s way. Yet it hasn’t reached the full apex of what the administrative type can become. The final step in a fully administrative government would be the elimination of the president, congress and even judiciary and replacing them with a bureaucracy to administer government. There would be no debate, politics or selfish aggrandizement, only more and more rules to order society the way the bureaucrats see fit.
Traditional governments have a right and wrong form, ie tyranny is the wrong form of monarchy, because the tyrant seeks only his or her own benefit… while the monarch seeks the benefit of his or her nation before their own. The difference is in intention. Right forms have the intention to serve the whole of society, and in that way they serve society, while the wrong forms intend to serve themselves, and in that way society serves them. This has been understood for twenty five hundred years since the time of Aristotle. The new form, the administrative type however, is something new. Yet, it draws it’s cogs from the same caliber metal as the traditional forms, and so will certainly be as subject to good and bad forms. The question then will be, “What are the intentions of the bureaucrats who run the administration?”
Those who favor the administrative state believe it only has a right form, that the enlightened bureaucrat, educated in the best schools with the right attitude, will always seek the betterment of the nation, and so will work diligently in their little cubicles to better the lot of Mankind, through regulation. Since the bureaucrat individually has little power, there is no reason to limit their power over the individual, and indeed limiting the power of the bureaucracy might invite backsliding, so those that favor the administrative type of government, must disfavor any limits on it. So what you have set up is either a benevolent or malevolent dictatorship. Counter intuitively… the benevolent dictatorship is by far the worse.
The kind of tyranny to be feared the most is a benevolent one. The benevolent tyrant will stick his nose in everything, seeking to make it better, but in fact making everything worse, which will of course be solved by more rules, to order that which is characterized by complexity. The human condition is a complex system. Our economics, governance, societies and cultures are all complex systems, and complex systems have as a principle quality, a dancing landscape. What may be perfectly right one moment, because the landscape so to speak changed, that becomes exactly the wrong thing to do. No matter how enlightened, benevolent or far seeing a bureaucracy is, the landscape will always change, making any prior rule possibly counter effective.
So what we have are kids, who think they know it all and are smarter than the rest of us because a professor has told them they are, and do, argue for a system they really do not understand, if it were implemented, and it looks like it very well may be, the results will be disastrous for them. The results will be disastrous, since both what could be called the right form of the administrative type of government, is even worse than the wrong form. If we accept their premise that socialism has never really been tried then they must then be arguing for a system other than that which has been the dominant paradigm of socialism, ie, the strong man model, for a different one, the benevolent administrative form. Sadly, that they have been so fooled by their indoctrination shows they are not indeed as bright as they credit themselves. It is up to us adults then, to teach as best we can, what they are really advocating for when they say with a straight face, socialism is the answer.