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Political animals – Part Deux

October 28, 2009

In the first part, I described general political tendencies based on one’s view of mankind.  If you view people as good you tend to be liberal.  But what if you view the nature of man as evil?  Then look at the next question:

Can people become good, even perfect?

Bhuddism says yes, by emptying ourselves of all desires.  Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam all teach that we can become better by following the tenets of religion but that becoming better is an ongoing process.   This accords well with Greek thought.  Only God is perfect.

This way of thinking about mankind has direct implications for our views of government and society.  If people can become good or even perfect, should society and government be organized to make people better–by force if necessary?

Conservatives believe that government is organized to protect men from the worst ravages of human nature. They agree with Thomas Hobbes.  But to go further–to force men to be good–is to make of government the all-seeing and all-controlling tyrant which Hobbes called Leviathan.  This is anathema to the classic liberal–today known as a conservative or libertarian.

Is limited government enough to keep people’s evil in check?  No.   But by following the tenets of one’s religion, people keep themselves in check better than any government could.  So the conservative’s view is that government protects us from the greatest excesses of human nature and our less violent impulses are held in control by our shared moral values.  This is society.  Government and society complement each other–they are not the same thing.  And they should not be.

In addition to government and society the third pillar in the conservative’s view of civilization is capitalism.  Adam Smith recognized that people are evil, greedy creatures.  But he felt that in an open market, everyone’s greed is balanced out by everyone else’s.  The seller wants to charge as much as possible and the buyer wants to pay as little as possible.  They come to an agreement.  Competition rules the marketplace.

The conservative thus believes that government, society and the economy work together to sustain us.  This is clearly what the Founders believed:  Life (government), liberty (society) and the pursuit of happiness (economy).

Modern liberals–leftists all–believe that government should be used to force people to become better.  They believe in using the power of government as necessary to get there.  At the extreme, these are Utopians and Communists; less extreme are social democrats.  Government control supplants religion, society and the open market.  Government becomes Leviathan, but the leftists don’t see it that way.  They see it as achieving the greatest good for the greatest number; as a necessary step on the way to the perfect society.  Progressives in the 20th century are related and so-called because of their belief in scientific progress.   (The scientific inevitability of socialism was first written about by Marx.)

When government, society and the economy are united under the rule of religion instead of government, it’s called a Theocracy.  This is the aim of radical Islam.  Ever wonder why the left in this country seems to be vying with the Islamist terrorists to see who can destroy this country first?  Now you know.

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