Ropke: Blighted

“Inevitably, such socialization of income uses for socially important functions must make a country’s moral climate oppressive. Kindliness, honorary office, generosity, quiet conversation, otium cum dignitate, everything which Burke calls by the now familiar name of the unbought graces of life – all of that suffocates under the stranglehold of the state. Everything – paradoxically in a welfare state – is commercialized, everything an object of calculation, everything forced through the state’s money-income pump. Hardly anything is done on an honorary basis any more because few can afford it; civic sense and public spirit are transformed into vexation at the top and envy at the bottom. In these circumstances everything that is done is done professionally and for money. There is a narrower margin of income available for free gifts, voluntary sacrifice, a cultivated way of life, and a certain breadth of spending, and for this reason the climate is not congenial to munificence, diversity, good taste, community, and public spirit. Civilization is blighted.

– Wilhem Röpke, A Humane Economy (p. 169)


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