Thursday, April 13, 2006

Throwing the Gauntlet Down!

A. Carlton Sallet of Upper Canada Catholic reflects on "How liberals think"

It seems this progressive gentlemen trotted out the trope:
The reason that conservatives are not progressive is that their policies are a mix of maintaing the status quo, or rolling back progress already made.

I don't understand why conservatives aren't for the extension of human rights and ameliorating the harsher aspects of capitalism.

Progressives: are you progressive for reasons that I haven't stated?

Conservatives: make me understand why you aren't for the extension of human rights and ameliorating the harsher aspects of capitalism.
ACS sets him straight:
"Progressive" in the political sphere means an individual or group who promotes policies leading to their goal of positive social change based on human rights.
OK, our first bump in the road. For conservatives, “positive social change” is a sound goal, but basing it solely on “human rights” strikes us as an unecessary, ideologically-driven circumscription. For conservatives, a discussion of “rights” should always be accompanied by a discussion of “obligations.” Progressives never seem to want to talk about those though. Funny that.

For conservatives, individual freedoms and rights are important, but we place them in a greater context: what’s best for society? In other words, a conservative will acknowledge "it’s not just about me."
He makes short work of this "progressive."

Whenever I hear the earnest pleas of evidently young liberals pleading for "cold-hearted" and "mean-spirited" conservatives to show some compassion, I'm reminded of Winston Churchill. I believe he once said, "If you're twenty and you're not a liberal, you don't have a heart. If you're forty and you're not a conservative, you don't have a brain."

How do I phrase this gently? "Progressives" would be much better off if they stopped wallowing in their own horse manure.
"Progressive" in the political sphere means an individual or group who promotes policies leading to their goal of positive social change based on human rights.
Well, isn't that just special? Of course progressives do that. After all, what could be a more "positive social change based on human rights" than the worship of Moloch? Nothing like the slaughter of innocents to grease the wheels of the rusting Sexual Revolution. Can't divert from the Free Pursuit of the One Thing that Matters, after all! Somehow, unborn children never get their human rights respected. But, hey: at least the people that matter do!

Which begs the question of what, exactly, are these human rights that progressives frame their goals around? Are Canadian progressives talking about the rights guaranteed them by their Charter? Then why do they constantly nag the state to do away with the subsidized Catholic Education system up there? I thought education was a right! Are their American cousins enshrining the rights protected by the Bill of Rights and the Thirteenth/Fourteenth Ammendment? Funny, I missed the part of the constitution that guarantees people can utterly dismember human traditions as old as civilization in order to further the illusion of marriage. I guess I should look it over one more time. Are Progressives throughout the world using the UN Declaration on Human Rights as their criteria? Well: let's hope the authors of that fine document didn't share the sensibility of their successors on the UN Human Rights Commission. You know, those beacons of human rights like Syria and Sudan.

In order to promote policies that safeguard human rights for all, it's vital to first clarify what those human rights are. This requires a fundamental understanding of human anthropology that usually escapes most progresssives. Even if they did understand human nature and the human person, they would need to support workable ideas that respect justice as well as defend human rights. Too often, they do not.

People act to promote their interests. For the many who embrace the Mystery and live in Communion with him, their interest is in forming their consciences in union with the truth and then living according to their consciences. For the many more that ignore or defy the mystery, their interest is in furthering the fulfillment of their desires, whatever they happen to be. Any policy that would succeed in changing people's behavior, therefore, must appeal to their interests--benign or otherwise. Progressives, too often, fail to consider this; their misplaced optimism in the positive and rational nature of humanity dooms many of their proposals to failure.

Thus, when one of them says:
progressives seek to ameliorate some of the harsher aspects of capitalism, with the goal of making the system progress to the point where it works for as much of society as possible.
I have to laugh.

Does he truly believe conservatives do not want to "ameliorate some of the harsher aspects of capitalism"? Then perhaps he's never met those conservatives in the US that pay the "marriage penalty." I'm sure their looking for some amelioration.

Does he truly believe that conservatives oppose "making the system progress to the point where it works for as much of society as possible." Then I'm certain he hasn't studied the work of economists that lean to the right politically. They've only been discussing how capitalism can maximize the economic growth of many for almost a century.

Noble goals require just and pratical means. Income redistribution and entitlement spending are neither. When enough hard-working people realize that their non-working compatriots draw significant benefit from their labor, they lose their incentive to work hard. They might emigrate to places where their labor is rewarded. They may stop working and start collecting entitlements themselves. They will most likely not continue playing the sucker's bet. Do policies that encourage this kind of behavior improve the system for society?

Conservatives understand that subsidiarity and the initiative of people will ameliorate the difficulties many people experience in market economies. They understand that central planning only fattens tax rolls while introducing bungling. They trust in families and communities rather than in Federations and pie-in-the-sky policies.

When progressives finally realize this, they'll apprehend that conservatives do not oppose their noblest aims. They want them fulfilled in the way that best serves the common good while honoring human nature. Then those progressives will cease being progressive. They'll be conservatives.

Robedger has some growing up to do. I look forward to hearing from him when he's done so.