Something from Anthony Burgess

We prob­a­bly have no duty to like Beethoven or hate Coca-Cola, but it is at least con­ceiv­able that we have a duty to dis­trust the state. Thore­au wrote of the duty of civil dis­obe­di­ence ; Whit­man said, “Resist much, obey lit­tle.” With those lib­er­als, and with many oth­ers, dis­obe­di­ence is a good thing in itself. In small social enti­ties — Eng­lish parish­es, Swiss can­tons — the machine that gov­erns can some­times be iden­ti­fied with the com­mu­ni­ty that is gov­erned. But when the social enti­ty grows large, becomes a mega­lopolis, a state, a fed­er­a­tion, the gov­ern­ing machine becomes remote, imper­son­al, even inhu­man. It takes mon­ey from us for pur­pos­es we do not seem to sanc­tion ; it treats us as abstract sta­tis­tics ; it con­trols an army ; it sup­ports a police force whose func­tion does not always appear to be pro­tec­tive.

– From The New York­er, June 2012

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