All forms of government can be divided roughly into slave states and free states. The slave state is a state where the people are there to serve the government. A free state is a state where the government is there to serve the people. Of course, very rarely (if ever) does a pure example of either exist.
The function of a free state rests somewhere between two extremes which I shall refer to as the libertarian and the socialist. The terms are imperfect and heavily weighted, but they shall have to do for now. The extreme which I refer to as ‘libertarian’ is where the government serves the people by leaving them alone. And the extreme I refer to as ‘socialist’ is where the government serves the people by doing things for them. The bill of rights and the absence of unnecessary government functions are examples of the first. Criminal law and public roads are examples of the second. Every free state must rest somewhere between these two ideas.
If the government swings too far to the libertarian extreme, it becomes totally absent and ceases to be a government at all. Then, in the absence of a free state, predatory forces have full leave to create their own ‘slave states’ (be these military, criminal, or economic). There is no protection against them, for there is no longer any state.
If the government swings too far to the socialist extreme, everything comes under the purview of the government, and once again, the people cease to be free. This government may ostensibly still be doing all these things ‘for the people’, but in reality the people become mere cogs to serve the functions of a ravenous bureaucracy.
Both the idea of leaving the people alone, and the idea of serving them, carried to their extremes, result in the loss of the free state. Without the ‘socialist’ element, it is not a state. Without the ‘libertarian’ it is not free.
A free state lies in maintaining that balance.
Political Commentary by Charlotte Ann Kent