Acton Institute Powerblog

Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess vs. Big Government

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Violet_crawleyDefenses of limited government are rare in pop culture. You won’t find many characters in movies or TV that say that what is needed is for the state to be less intrusive and less centralized. So it’s particularly surprising to find one of the most passionate appeals for individual freedom over government encroachment on a television station that was created by an act of the United States Congress and partially funded by the federal government.

That’s what awaited fans in last night’s episode of Downtown Abbey.

For the past several weeks Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, has been opposing a merger of the village hospital with the Royal Yorkshire. The hospital storyline has been rather dull and seemingly inconsequential, especially for the show’s final season. But last night the hospital plot revealed itself to be about something much larger than we might have realized.

The Dowager’s opponents, most of whom are family members, assumed she was simply resistant to change and was loathe to relinquish any personal power. But as she explains, she has a deeper understanding of government and the duty to protect freedom than anyone had assumed.

“For years, I’ve watched governments take control of our lives. Their argument is always the same: ‘Fewer costs, greater efficiency.’ But the result is the same, too. Less control by the people, more control by the State — until the individual’s anguishes count for nothing. That is what I consider my duty to resist.”

“Your great-grandchildren won’t thank you when the state is all-powerful because we didn’t fight,” adds the Dowager. Indeed, not that the state is very close to being all-powerful we should be thankful for our ancestors from the last century who did fight and managed to hold off big government—at least for awhile.

(Via: Hot Air)

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).