When asked by a young man if he should seek to marry, Socrates answered him:
“By all means marry: if you get a good wife, you will be happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher.”
A well thought out, well written article – definitely worth reading the full piece.
The problem with setting out to create the perfect government is that it demands perfect people, among both government and the governed. You can turn government into a machine, but you can’t turn the people who run it or the people who live under it into machines. Most governments, even the bad ones, recognize this. A tyrant knows his limits, a progressive does not. His goal passes beyond the relative power of a tyrant, to the absolute power of a god. The tyrant seeks to dominate men. The progressive wants to recreate them.
The basic structure of government is a set of rules governing the behavior of those under its purview. For governments, the predictable is also the ideal. If you can convince most people to behave the same way, then the task of governing them is made much easier. With this shift in attitude, the predictable becomes the lawful, and the unpredictable becomes criminal. Laws no longer exist to prevent harm to others, but as sheep fences to keep everyone moving in the same direction. This marks the shift from the representative to the bureaucratic– from self-government to comprehensive government.
It is easier to oppress in the name of an idea, than in the name of a man, because there is no accompanying recognition of cruelty. Once the idea has been defined as the absolute good of mankind, then no act however cruel and merciless will appear so. Thus a private insurance company denying insurance coverage to a dying patient is perceived as behaving monstrously, while a government health insurance system doing the same thing is acting for the good of all. This is collectivist morality, the belief that the morality or immorality of an act is defined by whether its placement on the sliding scale of the collective good or the selfish individual. And collectivist morality is the moral principle of progressive government. To compromise the rights of individuals, for the needs of the many.
The only thing I would add is that everything he says about ‘progressives’ and ‘progressive governments’ is also true of ‘theocrats’ and ‘theocratic governments’.
Sure, the progressive uses social ideology for a dogma while the theocrat’s dogma is religious. Still, both strive for their ideals with equal zeal, both try to perfect man to fit these ideals, both are collectivistic and oppressive in nature.
And both feel righteous while committing attrocities!
The Oracle of Delphi called Socrates 'the wisest man' because he said:
"I know I know nothing!"
Of course, he only knew this because his wife, Xanthippe, told him so.
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