01/15/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2013

Tyranny Hiding in Plain Sight


Underlying one of the more contentious issues ever to bedevil our national discourse are divergent views on how best to defend against what none of us wants: tyranny. Our search for elusive common ground might begin by agreeing that tyranny is bad.

But tyranny hides in plain sight, and if we care to fix it at its origins, we need to be talking about money rather than guns.

For, after all, we hold this truth to be self-evident: Wealth is power.

And so it stands to reason that greater wealth is greater power. It stands to reason that great wealth = great power.

We hold this truth to be self-evident as well:

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And so, of necessity, power corrupts. And therefore great power corrupts greatly.

And by definition, (great power + corruption) = tyranny.

We hold these truths, each following logically from the one before, to be self-evident. Or at least, we should. And once we do, we should do something about them.

Maybe you don't want to address them. Maybe you don't consider the exercise of great power that serves your interests tyranny. But then, neither does the King. Any such contention falls quickly apart by reductio ad absurdum, or the meanest application of critical judgment. If the general will is subordinated to the power of a few -- whomever the few may be -- something much like tyranny is afoot.

While there is cause to object to the few (with concentrated wealth and power in their hands) subjugating the will of the many with regard to any issue -- the application of this method to defense against tyranny is abject hypocrisy. Perpetrating tyranny in the name of defense against it is like pacifists rounding up and shooting all the non-pacifists to get their way.

Concentration of wealth into the hands of the few is not the problem. That ensues from capitalism, and capitalism is not the problem -- it has been the engine of the world's most dynamically innovative economy. We Americans take pride in it.

Conversion of that money through the intermediary of lobbying into legislation and the imposition of the will of few upon the many is the problem. It is flirting with tyranny -- if not the full-fledged embrace of it.

Our troubles with guns are just a symptom. Our trouble with money is the disease. It's a treatable disease -- but we seem inclined to let it fester.

As long as monetary might makes right, or at least legislation -- something a lot like tyranny will keep on hiding in plain sight.


Dr. David L. Katz;