The Problems Associated with a Paternal Government

Does the following excerpt remind you of the way many in the U.S. government (Democrats mainly, but certain so-called Republicans) see the American citizenry today? i.e. In need of a Paternal Government 

young-disraeli

Excerpt from “Kant’s Principles of Politics” by Immanuel Kant

The Liberty of every Member of the State As A Man, is the first Principle in the constitution of a rational Commonwealth. I would express this Principle in the following form:—’ No one has a right to compel me to be happy in the peculiar way in which he may think of the well-being of other men; but everyone is entitled to seek his own happiness in the way that seems to him best, if it does not infringe the liberty of others in striving after a similar end for themselves when their Liberty is capable of consisting with the Right of Liberty in all others according to possible universal laws.’—A Government founded upon the principle of Benevolence towards the people—after the analogy of a father to his children, and therefore called a paternal Government—would be one in which the [Citizens] would be regarded as children or minors unable to distinguish what-is beneficial or injurious to them. These [citizens] would be thus compelled to act in a merely passive way; and they would be trained to expect solely from the Judgment of the [Government] and just as [it] might will it, merely out of [its] goodness, all that ought to make them happy. Such a Government would be the greatest conceivable Despotism; for it would present a Constitution that would abolish all Liberty in the [Citizenry] and leave them no Rights. It is not a paternal Government, but only a patriotic Government that is adapted for men who are capable of Rights, and at the same time fitted to give scope to the good-will of the [government].

By ‘patriotic’ is meant that condition of mind in which everyone in the State—the Head of it not excepted—regards the Commonwealth as the maternal bosom, and the country as the paternal soil out of and on which he himself has sprung into being, and which he also must leave to others as a dear inheritance. Thus, and thus only, can he hold himself entitled to protect the Rights of his [countrymen] by laws of the common will, but not to subject it to an unconditional purpose of his own at pleasure.—This Right of Liberty thus belongs to him as a man, while he is a Member of the Commonwealth; or, in point of fact, so far as he is a being capable of rights generally.

source: Kant’s Principles of Politics and Perpetual Peace
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