The Moral Promise of Freedom (The Waco Prophet Was Right)
The methods and strategies of the government’s assault against Waco had been used for years by the military, but against foreign governments and their leaders, not against the domestic citizenry. The most familiar case of foreign intrigue was the government’s attack on Manuel Noriega, in which it used similar tactics (blaring music, planting evidence, spreading disinformation), and therein lies the connection between foreign policy and domestic. Anything a government allows itself to do to foreign countries will eventually be done at home. That’s one reason George Washington warned us against foreign entanglements.
We may never know the full truth about Waco or the extent of government perfidy, but we can draw lessons from the experience. This particular event was a fiasco, but it also tells something about what our government has become: “the organizer-in-chief of society,” as Bertrand de Jouvenel said, which is “making its monopoly of this role ever more complete.” It is a parasite and a monster that acts to protect itself. Mises was right: government’s nature is coercive. It is “beating, killing, hanging.” Coercion is necessary in society to protect the rights of property holders against those who do not respect property. But when government itself become the source of arbitrary violence, we have tyranny. That’s why unchecked power should never be invested in a centralized government, even one with a democratic mandate. This power will invariably be exercised at the expense of peaceful social relations.
In its dealings with the community of believers at Mount Carmel, the central government abandoned the moral promise of a free society, and, as all tyrannies eventually do, ignored its own standards of law and ethics. But it paid the price of losing some measure of public confidence, which is already at historic lows. A government that governs by fear alone eventually finds itself unable to govern at all.
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.