The Public Interest

What the state doesn’t see

Brian C. Anderson

Winter 1999

SINCE it first arrived three centuries ago, the modern state has relentlessly sought to increase both its knowledge and power. It has defined borders, assigned surnames, applied science to nature, determined standard units of measurement, and counted, counted, and counted yet again. And, as all but the most romantic antimodern will admit, the modern state has brought with it many goods: political liberty, widespread education, dramatic improvements in health, and, through the dazzling inventiveness it has made possible, relief from toil and drudgery. But the modern state has also been the deadliest of mans enemies, and at no time more so than in the twentieth century—perhaps the bloodiest in human history.  We will never know the exact number of men, women, and children killed by the state in this century, but it surely exceeds 150 million.

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