Liberals used to think that “civil society” would flourish thanks to the development of free enterprise, and the function of the state would correspondingly be reduced until it was merely supervising humanity’s spontaneous evolution. Marxists more optimistically thought the century that saw the rise of socialism would also see the withering-away of the state.
These hopes and prophecies have evaporated. The 20th-century state has proved itself a force more powerful than the ancient empires and a master more terrible than the old tyrants and despots: a faceless, inhuman master who functions not like a demon but like a machine. Theologians and moralists had conceived of evil as an exception and a transgression, a bl...
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