"The state was the great gainer of the twentieth century, and the central failure. Up to 1914, it was rare for the public sector to embrace more than 10 per cent of the economy; by the 1970s, even in liberal countries, the state took up to 45 per cent of the GNP. . . . The state had proved itself an insatiable spender, an unrivalled waster. . . . By the turn of the century politics was replacing religion as the chief form of zealotry. To archetypes of the new class, . . . politics -- by which they meant the engineering of society for lofty purposes -- was the one legitimate form of moral activity, the only sure means of improving humanity. This view, which would have struck an earlier age as fantastic, became to some extent the orthodoxy everywhere."
Paul Johnson, A History of the Modern World from 1917 to the 1980s, page 729.