New Year address 2000

1 January 2000

Dear fellow citizens,

Today – on the first day of the year 2000 – I look back with mixed feelings on the century we have just left behind us. A century of extremes in nationalism and socialism, both of which inhuman systems merged for a while into national socialism or Nazism. Dictators both brown and red made an idol of the omnipotent state, despising and suffocating the freedom of the individual. The consequences were racialism on the one hand and class hatred on the other, leading to the death and destruction of millions, to hunger and misery, to war and endless streams of refugees.

But every time something particularly bad happens, wonders occur as well. At the end of the twentieth century, we Swiss can be grateful that even in the worst years of dictatorship and totalitarianism, our small country has always stood up for freedom, justice and democracy – and sometimes we were practically the only state to do so on the continent of Europe. It has been a matter of defending our sovereignty, our neutrality, our direct democracy and our federal status against the threat posed by inhuman dictatorships.

The “welfare state” as a new means of subjugation

Nevertheless, as we enter the twenty-first century there still remains a serious doubt: by defeating dictatorship, have we also defeated idolatry of the state? Have we established once and for all the freedom of the individual? Unfortunately not! On the threshold to the twenty-first century, the castaways of socialism have found another lifebuoy to cling to: the all-embracing “welfare state”. They loudly uphold this fallacy by moralising in deceptively progressive tones – completely indifferent to the fact that such a state is tantamount to enslavement of the people, that it is bound to lead in the end to dependency and servitude, to the destruction of personal freedom and independence, to the abolition of free enterprise, of just reward and ownership rights. The nationalisation which is increasingly favoured even in bourgeois circles these days leads to mediocrity, centralism and social bureaucracy. It is not without reason that our left-wing moralists and zealous intellectuals are calling for the ruinous establishment of a “welfare state”, with slogans such as “justice” and “solidarity”. After all, it is they who would man the well-paid key positions in such a coercive system. All minorities – starting with the family unit – would then have to sacrifice human warmth and genuine solidarity to anonymous bureaucracy. But that is exactly what these nationalisation fanatics want. These pseudo-holy totalitarians cannot abide any limitation of state authority, they cannot tolerate any autonomy of local communities, nor can they accept the ideals of federalism or direct democracy. In fact they would love to join the EU straight away – where the state is even more powerful, where bureaucratic impotence and taxation of the individual are much more exaggerated and all-embracing.

Self-reliance – the key to the future

This growing burden of nationalisation cannot be carried by the higher income groups alone; those who are supposed to benefit from it will also have to bear the brunt. In fact the nationalised state will merely take the money it requires from the left hand pocket of the people, only to put it back into the right hand pocket – but minus the enormous losses caused by bureaucracy! In the twenty-first century as never before, we must therefore oppose the “welfare state” – which leads to national ruin and poverty – by upholding self-reliance and free enterprise. These alone are the true basis of freedom, peace and justice. The key to success in this endeavour is fair competition, a readiness to take calculated risks, and the incentive of just reward for our labours, in the form of private ownership. Never shall the state take charge of our entire lives. True to the principles of democracy, responsible citizens must retain the ultimate right of decision in a market environment of responsible consumers. An incessantly growing burden of taxes, charges and levies is crippling our economy and our lives, and in the end will corrode them altogether. Increasingly unscrupulous taxation is indeed a discretely insidious instrument, with which the state can deliberately distort free enterprise by cancelling out the rewards of labour.

Pseudomonarchist allures

In Switzerland too, the politics of redistribution, public debt and bureaucracy have become far too powerful, far too self-important and far too costly. The parliamentarians in Bern behave as if the entire fate of our nation is in their hands alone, and they are backed up by their loyal media. This is just as much a distortion of reality as looking at the cream instead of the milk underneath. No, it is not at political debates and press conferences that real value is created in this country, but by our citizens at their workplaces, in their family circles, and among the authorities and professional associations. Unfortunately, this fact is recognised less and less by our government. Our presidents and federal councillors are collaborating increasingly on a par with the heads of foreign states or even with royalty, and appear to have forgotten that sovereignty in this nation lies with the people. Pseudomonarchist allures have developed over the last few years in our Alpine republic. Some federal councillors even believe they have to behave like a despotic father toward our citizens, as moralistic and foreboding guardians of virtue. But the primary right of the Swiss people is to be left in peace by their politicians, to be allowed to go about their daily business undisturbed. It is high time for our government to take heed: even those who walk on stilts still have to use their legs, and even those who sit on thrones still have to sit on their behinds like everyone else!

Small is strong

The modern state in the twenty-first century must concentrate on its core tasks. But in those areas with which it is concerned, it must assert itself with the utmost authority. And that is precisely what is not happening here today, for example with regard to political asylum or the spread of criminality. Instead, a hectic bustling of state activities and interventions in unnecessary areas is rapidly leading to a national listlessness, a disrespect of the law, and a surfeit of taxation.

Instead of socialistic nationalisation in this new century, I would like to see the intrinsic value of the individual restored. For every single one of us is unique, irreplaceable and invaluable. Not only we as Swiss citizens, but above all our authorities, must revert to the solid foundations of our direct democratic confederation. We must give up this futile cult of the colossal, and stop worshipping the great. For at second glance, that which at first seems small and diversified is often greater and more unified than the apparently powerful entities of this world. If we can summon enough courage and strength, Switzerland will retain her status in the new millennium as a unique example for Europe and the world. During the course of our history we have achieved an optimal balance throughout our nation between town and country, between tradition and modernity, between freedom and order, between bravery and the love of peace. With all her deficiencies and imperfections, Switzerland will still have the strength and the vision to weather all the storms of the future. But only if we have the willpower to resist successfully the paralysing poison of socialism, the omnipotence of the nationalised state, and feudalism – the mastery of the many by the few!

To end on an encouraging note, I find every day that most of us still have this willpower and strength in abundance – despite the brainwashing which we constantly have to endure from above.

My New Year wish, to all of us here in Switzerland, is the strength we need to make the most of our national heritage – sovereignty, self-reliance, freedom, and determination in the cause of peace!

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