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Monday, March 06, 2006

Left, Right; One, Two

The quotes below are from this speech, which I would encourage everyone to read in its entirety. But, recognizing that even Pareto is probably overly optimistic on the over/under for people who will click through and read Lew Rockwell's wonderful article, here's some chattering from me about it.

In the context of discussing a model of government based (incorrectly) on the Good Samaritan parable, Rockwell delivered this wonderfully clarifying sentence:

  • The great error of [people who are, broadly speaking, on the left] is its inability to distinguish the injustice of violence from the supposed injustice of inequality of material condition.

(emphasis mine)

One key point is that cooperation, not conflict, is how society can and should function. The world is not comprised exclusively of victims and victimizers. The "samaritan" people "on the left" (again, broadly speaking) imagine government to be is not necessary.

Nor "good."

Rockwell concludes this part of the speech with these remarks:

The state is something very different. It has no income but
that which it robs from someone else. It seeks its own gain at others' expense. It protects itself and promotes itself before the interests of everyone else. It is beholden to special interests who create and control its regulatory apparatus. It is not impartial. It sides with its friends over its enemies. Moreover, the state is an exploiter, a murderer, a violator of human rights.

The typical response of the left is to say that they want a state that does only good things such as share and care, and not bad things such as steal and kill. But this cannot be. We might as well wish for a lion that only purrs and cuddles, or a rattlesnake that only provides percussion accompaniment to mariachi music. The very nature of the state is that it exists
only through and for compulsion. To imagine otherwise is not to face reality.

    Lew Rockwell has also delivered a few wonderful sentences pinpointing an error of thinking made by people who are, broadly speaking "on the right":

  • The model of [people on the right] imagines that somehow the social order we see around us cannot possibly have come about without a single will operating in society, some firm hand that has designed the order and keeps it running smoothly.
  • People who think this way imagine that in the absence of this firm hand, there would be nothing but a Hobbesian state of nature, where society is a war of all against all and life is nasty, brutish, and short.

  • They need to see how society is harmonious not because of the state but because of the prevalence of human cooperation in the marketplace, where people work to trade to their own mutual betterment.

Let's discuss.

Photo Credits: here and here


Blogger Chris said...

Wow, there's a lot packed in there, but I'll stick with Rationale #2. I don't see where Rockwell says that the Solomonic State is necessarily desired by the right, only an inference that it is the goal of those that seek order in society. If anything, the left seems more interested in selecting "wise men" who should be arbitors of what is evil and what is not.

I tend to agree with Hobbes (but my studies at UNI were a loooong time ago). Absent an intervening higher power (governement or other authority), our society would devolve to Hobbes' "state of nature". I do not share Rockwell's confidence in what our society would look like "in the absence of this firm hand".

"He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;" Daniel 2:21 (ESV)

Count me as one of those that abhors government, but sees it as a necessary evil in a limited capacity.

(...and I agree completely with Rationale #3)

4:34 PM, March 06, 2006  
Blogger garrett said...

Chris, thanks for the thoughts. You are right - that is a dense speech.

I thought Rockwell said that the fear of a Hobbesian state of nature was a tendency of folks on the right, and from that he argued those folks on the right want the state to be Solomonic.

Regarding Hobbes, I will confess that I thought there was much more *argument* in what Rockwell had to say regarding Rationale #2 than Rationale #1. I thought he totally eviscerated Rationale #1 with iron-clad logic. He was less successful with Rationale #2.

I do approve of his conclusion though (and you as a poker player should appreciate this as logical, I submit ...):

ROCKWELL: "The question we have to ask ourselves is whether a society that fails to learn the art of civilization will erect and sustain a state that will impose civilization on the people. I submit that history also teaches that when a people are brutal and uncivilized, the state is even more so. The state is rarely and maybe never better than the people it rules; in fact, it is almost always worse."

In other words, it is a sucker bet to believe the institution of government will civilize an uncivilized society.

I think this is logically supportable when you consider that government did not begat civilization.

Civilization begat government.

8:55 PM, March 06, 2006  

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