All Commentary
Friday, June 1, 1962

Two Views of Mankind


When men claim independence, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes….” So said certain Americans of 1776, reflecting such high regard for the dignity of individuals as to believe them both worthy and cap­able of freedom.

Contrast that appraisal of man as a self-respecting and respons­ible being with the very dim view taken by modern “liberals” who demand government aid and con­trol in nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

If it’s true that millions of adult American citizens are incapable of caring for and supporting and educating their own children, in­capable of providing their own housing and their own medical care, incapable of paying the full costs of their bus and train and plane fares or the costs of high­ways and parking spaces for their own cars, incapable of meeting the expenses for light and heat and water and recreational facili­ties, incapable of operating their own farms or businesses without price support or tariff protection or “urban renewal” or other sub­sidy, incapable of looking after their own interests in job nego­tiations without a special grant of monopoly power from govern­ment, incapable of providing for themselves in periods of tempo­rary unemployment or in their years of retirement—if it is true that so many American citizens are improvident and irresponsible, incapable of earning their own living and unable to survive except as wards of society, is there any reason why they should be per­mitted a vote or have any part whatsoever in governing society?

Isn’t that the logical next step in the regression from citizenship to serfdom? Or, as one of the “liberal” professors has revealed, “Ours is not a government by the people, but government by govern­ment.”

So, there are two views of man, and each of us must choose which kind he’ll be:

1)      Man, as responsible and worthy of freedom, or

2)      Man, the weakling, whose life depends on the state’s permis­sion or sufferance.


  • Paul L. Poirot was a long-time member of the staff of the Foundation for Economic Education and editor of its journal, The Freeman, from 1956 to 1987.