Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
The paper begins by pointing out that the state is both the necessary protector and the worst enemy of freedom. Is there any way of maintaining a government which provides the things we need it for without menacing freedom? History shows that this was possible in the past, albeit for relatively short periods of time.
The author seeks not so much to resolve as to clarify the extent of the problem. Through comparative analysis of certain features of the U.S. and Swiss constitutions, he reaches the conclusion that the first necessary condition for a non-oppressive state is decentralisation of government; the second is the presence of a system of checks-and-balances preventing anyone inside the state itself from taking decisions that are particularly oppressive in relation to individual freedom. Finally, in order to explain the rise of big government in Western democracies since the Second World War, he suggest the hypothesis of the development of the civil servant system and its increased power: since civil servants are guaranteed against being dismissed arbitrarily, they have become, to some extent, the controllers of politicians and politics.