Government Lesson No. 6: Socialism, Religion and the First Amendment
Capitalism is not speculation; it is merely an economic system based upon an observed working market mechanism. Socialism on the other hand - well, socialism is an abstract construct, and one that has never been observed to survive unless it can feed off a host (the market mechanism); and this host it has always and invariably choked to death one way or another, sooner or later.
As described in Government Lesson No. 5 and other posts, any argument to implement some degree of socialism, i.e. even that advanced by today's internationally popular progressivism, is based mainly on idealism and emotional plea, and not on observable reality. I maintain that unlike run-of-the-mill capitalism, today's progressivism fits nicely into the above sub-definition as abstract, impractical, fanciful, and speculative.
Hey, I can't help it: there's another word that creeps into my mind as I listen to the progressive philosophers. It's the word "religious." They seem to have channeled all that humanistically repressed faith, guilt and worship activity into this secular yet mystical social philosophy - something I've never seen a capitalist do, by the way. I suppose they're too busy minding their own "business." Seriously, have YOU ever encountered a rabid capitalist? Personally I haven't. On the other hand, I can't say the same about progressives.
Two of Webster's definitions for the word "religion" are "2-a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy [the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, etc.] b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system [humanism as religion] 4 - any object of conscientious regard and pursuit."
So there you have it. Fits like a glove.
Okay, I suppose a capitalist also has his own unspoken code of ethics and values of sorts. ("Let me make my profit, and I'll let you make yours.") A socialist, on the other hand, ever the self-righteous, seems to want to appear to be taking a morally higher road, and wears the ethics of egalitarianism as though it were an a priori sanctified assumption. ("Unequalized profits are evil.")
From that higher vantage point, it's easier to manipulate our emotions to get us where they want us: in a position of reverence. Haven't you noticed lately how the Democrats - people like Al Gore, Hillary, Ted Kennedy, Kerry towards the end, and even Dean - are beginning to sound more and more like Baptist preachers? There's a reason for that.
Now, I have no real objection to people believing in socialist theory with all their heart. However, what I do object to - and most vehemently - is their forcing ME to join their holy crusade.
Capitalists never do this (and I said capitalists, not Republicans.) They are more respectful of others' right to their opinions. They don't want to coerce anyone into handing over money for causes; they're mainly just concerned with preserving jurisdiction over their own.
With the capitalists, I get the feeling that I have the freedom and moral responsibility to choose where I will spend my extra funds, to whom I will give them, and just how much of them I deem to be extra. Progessive socialists have decided that they can do it better than I, and dare to accuse capitalists of stinginess. Here again, you must look at the facts. America, certainly one of the most capitalistic nations in the world, is also the most generous; and progressivism is slowly taking that privilege away. (See previous posts as to how.)
Not only is progressivism destroying the charitable sentiments in each of us and undermining the increasingly rare charities that funnel our gifts into good works; it is also killing mutual respect, tolerance for differences of opinion, and the notion of live and let live. Since the early 19th Century, increased imposition of socialist-leaning big-government policy onto what was originally our Constitutionally limited small government has forced all Americans to participate in a presumably valid cause, but which unfortunately utilizes an unsuccessful methodology. Like some maniacal sect, the leftist politicians, with the help of their preachers and equality police, have managed to force upon you and me their cockamamie idea of charitable wealth redistribution, the implication being that without it we would be Scrooges.
I resent that. Indeed, I abhor it. I am being coerced into accepting what amounts to a political "religion," against my First Amendment rights. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?
So what do I offer as the solution? Open up your eyes, people. See the political power grabbing for what it is. Get the federal government off of our backs, and out of our hair, with their taxes, wars, judicial agendas and general mismanagement. Let them concentrate on military defense (I said DEFENSE), security infrastructure, Constitutional judicial framework, limited federal legislation - a few national necessities and nothing else.
And here's the crux: allow the states to fix their own rules regarding the rest. If California wants to have a generous welfare system, let them do it. If Florida wants to try state-wide healthcare, they can. If New Hampshire wants to allow you to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, that's okay. If Delaware wants to eliminate all corporate taxes, let them try it. If Utah legislates a balanced budget, let's see how it works. If Alabama wants to forbid abortions, they should have that right. (Although there is no question about what a woman's rights are, there is obvious disagreement about what a woman's "body" is, and about when a fetus becomes a person with rights; and as long as there is valid disagreement, I think we should delegate jurisdiction to the states.) If Oregon wants to encourage same-sex marriages, why not?
May the best state win; and may the losers watch, and hopefully learn and imitate. One caveat: people, corporations and merchandise must continue to be allowed freedom of movement; and it should be a federal crime to reside in one state and profit, through false declarations, from those rights and privileges limited to another state's citizens, without that state's permission.
Just an idea.
Anyway, the next time you get into a discussion with your American "liberal" friends, and you start to see the eyes glaze over, the voice begin to mount in paroxysms of emotion, and the finger of guilt begin to tilt in your direction, let it all wash right over you. Write them off for the time being as hot-headed religious fanatics, and relax until they calm down. Their spirit has departed temporarily to a higher plane, risen to that hallowed place where reason is no longer welcome. The best way to handle this moment is to respond calmly, "Listen, take it easy. I'll respect your right to have your opinion, if you'll respect mine."
And here's the punch line: Once he agrees to that [read he or she], you will have won. The very admission that you have such a right puts a bullet in the heart of an ideology that depends precisely on taking that very right away from us all.
(And don't accuse me of preaching. No preacher abides human nature as I do, most don't trust logic, and few can tolerate dissent with a sense of humor.)