The puritan knows that his own motives are good, but he does not trust yours. By regulating every detail of everyone else’s life, he believes he can prevent crime before it happens. This is so much neater and safer than waiting to punish actual crimes after the fact.
The puritan impulse is the wish to make all risk disappear. This seems much more direct than learning how to manage or avoid risk, and much less demanding than arming oneself to defend against risk. The puritan, like the primitive shaman, seeks to make everything right in the world by magical words of command.
Has it ever worked? Can it ever work? Look at the record — it has never been successful. Puritanism is, at bottom, simple tyranny, and tyranny is doomed to failure.
But puritanism’s unbroken record of failure will not stop people from trying again and again. Every new generation is born with faith in the power of magic words — written laws — to prevent sin.
This helps explain why “conservatives” don’t like me, and in fact why they oppose libertarians on principle. Enabling a Jeffersonian libertarian scheme, in their view, serves only to make sin abound; and since their primary objective is the political goal of constructing the perfect social environment, this cannot be allowed. The “fruit inspectors” are therefore constantly engaged in questioning everyone’s motives and driving them to repentance, not to save them but in order to further purify the world. This sanctification process, carried out by God’s own pixies since He is otherwise engaged, is necessary in order that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
I say that such efforts to sanctify the world tend to corrupt the soul. Hopefully I will not turn into a Platonist.