Government’s responsibility “is to preserve the independence of property, on which is founded all human liberty and all human excellence,” explained Princeton history professor Lawrence Stone in his book The Causes of the English Revolution: 1529–1642. He continued, “but to govern is to wield power and power has a natural tendency to encroach. It is more important to supervise government than to support it because the preservation of independence is the ultimate political good.”
Thus, wise people restrain government to its legitimate purpose: protection of property. To preserve their precious independence, they justifiably distrust when governments overreach, seeking avenues for greater control and intervention. Even if not motivated by love of liberty, they recognize that a government assault on someone today can become an assault on themselves tomorrow.
Dr. Stone identifies conditions in which free people must be especially vigilant, conditions that jeopardize freedom: growing class antagonism, psychologically insecure and inept officials, economic crisis, intransigent leaders representing polarized societal groups.
Successful operation of government depends “on the maintenance of a balance in which no one faction is ever allowed to establish a grip on either the policy–making or the patronage–dispensing…and in which the favors distributed…were not so inordinately lavish as to arouse the indignation of the taxpayers.”
Further, he questions whether a nation “can survive if its educational system is largely in the hands of men who reject the values upon which it is based.”
Among the English Revolution’s roots, Stone cites abandoning the Rule of Law and using edicts to mould behavior. “What started as a bold legislative attempt at social engineering ended in a squalid administrative exercise in corrupt exploitation….” Moreover, people “were exasperated with an