02 October 2008

Weekly One Cosmos

Bob, at One Cosmos, does the intellectual heavy lifting for conservatism, tracing it through history and religion and philosophy and psychology and doing it all in an incredibly approachable fashion. Here's a selection from one of his latest posts.
One’s political philosophy, whether one acknowledges it or not, is going to depend upon one’s conception of human nature. And if your conception of human nature is wrong, then your philosophy is going to be warped and your system of governance is going to be dysfunctional. I believe leftism is rooted in a naive and faulty conception of human nature, which is why it does not work and can never work. It is not just wrong, but a cosmic error. It is literally an insult to existence.

A while back, Dennis Prager noted that socialist countries are in the process of dying precisely because, within a couple of generations, they produce a new kind of man: indolent, dependent upon the government, spiritually empty, essentially nihilistic. Eventually a tipping point will be reached in which there will not be enough productive people to support the unproductive ones, and that will be the end of Europe as we know it. [...]

Now, not only is your political philosophy dependent upon your explicit -- or more likely, implicit -- conception of human nature, but once in place, your philosophy will produce radically different kinds of human beings. We don’t have to look very far to see how this has played out in the United States, for example, with respect to all of the Oh, Great! Society programs that had the cumulative effect of taking a wrecking ball to the black family, leaving it much worse off than before government got involved. One of the last great liberals, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, saw this coming in the 1960s, writing about the “tangle of pathology” that afflicted urban culture. In fact, the liberal meme of “blaming the victim” was first applied to Moynihan.


It's not just leftists, as most human beings do not actually crave liberty, so leftism is really a kind of default setting on our human nature, which must be transcended. As a matter of fact, history will demonstrate the opposite -- that human beings by and large find liberty to be repellant [sic], and much prefer security. This is the difference between classical liberals and modern liberals, and it is also the difference between Europe and America.

The modern liberal, in his descent into nihilism, values security over liberty, equality over freedom, “truths” over Truth. FDR, that patron saint of modern liberalism, unveiled a host of new “self-evident truths” that had somehow eluded our founders in a famous speech.

Roosevelt argued for a new definition of "security," that is, "economic security, social security, moral security." Classical liberalism, which had always been associated with negative liberties -- i.e., the right to be left alone by the government -- was to be replaced by a new vision of positive liberty that now forms the essence of modern liberalism. It is no longer real liberty, because now it is dispensed by the state and no longer abides in the individual. The government's job was now to even keep us free of fear, and “Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want." But since “want” is literally infinite, this sets up the need for a government that is infinite in its powers. For as the adage goes, any time the government does something for you, it does something to you. Since it now proposes to do everything for you...

Look at the current economic crisis. Liberals wanted to do something for people who could not qualify for home loans. Now comes part 2, in which they decide this week what to do to the rest of us.

In effectuating this new promise of security to all American citizens, Roosevelt argued for a new tax policy "which will tax all unreasonable profits, both individual and corporate." Unreasonable profits. Obviously we are still having that debate today, only under Obama's guise of "economic justice." What is an unreasonable profit, and why is it unreasonable? Here you see how the anti-libertarian, pseudo-religious language of Marxism has insinuated itself into our discourse, further accelerating the Fall of liberal man: we "cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people -- whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth -- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”
As Bob explains, modern liberalism essentially promises utopia as a positive right. This is what Barack Obama is talking about when he says "hope" and "unity" and "change" and "hopeful change" and "changing unification" and "unifying hope."

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.