Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Moral Case Against Liberalism

Writing over at Pajamas Media (lot's of good stuff over there today) Matt Patterson makes the moral case against liberalism and shows how liberal policies, no matter how well intentioned, eventually lead societies governed according to liberal principals to economic bankruptcy. Patterson asserts that this is because of the liberal tendency to divide people into groups or "mere collections of similar skin and genitals." To lump people together by groups is to dehumanize them and when you have dehumanized them, you can justify nearly any injustice against them, usually taking wealth away from one and redistributing to another.

Sometimes I like to play a little game with my liberal friends. Let us suppose, I say to them, that you have one hundred dollars with which you plan to purchase food for your family at a local grocery. Now let us suppose that I come along and rob you while you are on your way to the store, taking half of your one hundred dollars.

At this point I ask my friend: Is the robbery good or bad for you economically? “Bad,” they invariably answer, for “I now have less money for groceries.” Then I ask them: Is my robbing you good or bad for the grocer? “Bad,” they again answer, for “now he, too, has less money for his family.” Next question: Was it morally right or wrong for me to rob you? “Wrong, of course,” they answer, for “the money did not belong to you.”

Then, the coup de grace: What if I planned to give your money to someone else, I ask, someone whom I felt was more worthy or deserving of your money?

At this point, many liberals begin to suspect they have been led into a rhetorical cul de sac, and cognitive dissonance sets in as they realize that an honest answer necessitated by their answer to the previous questions will conflict with their stated political principles and past voting habits. Some will nevertheless admit, “Well, it isn’t really for you to decide who gets my money….”


An honest answer is that such behavior, like the hypothetical robbery, is both morally wrong and economically deleterious. Yet the same liberals who can see the fault in such behaviors for individuals support exactly those behaviors on the part of governments; confiscatory taxation and unsustainable deficits and debt are, after all, the inevitable consequences of liberal governance.

Patterson also talks about a practical example, Johnson's Great Society and the War on Poverty, still not won after 46 years, and the lessons to be drawn from that:
Liberal policies fail practically because they are morally defective — they discourage the recognition of individuals qua individuals, and therefore encourage the adoption of policies that hurt individuals. One might say in fact that it is the moral bankruptcy of liberal ideology that leads directly to the economic bankruptcy of states and nations that liberals govern.

When you see a person, not as an individual, who might have worked for and earned whatever money they have, but as a mere cog in a group (“the rich” for example) then it is easy to say, as Obama did, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” And if you see a person not as an individual who might have made some bad choices and is perfectly responsible for the consequences, but as a member of a group (the “disadvantaged” for example), then you have all the justification you need to rob from the one and give to the other, and you will have lost the capacity to see the injustice you have done to both, or care about the economic and social wreckage that follows.

Read the whole thing.

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