Richard Ebeling emails:
I have a new article on the Future of Freedom Foundation website,” on, “Why Progressives Don’t’ Understand and are Enemies of Liberty.”
Recently I had an interesting dinner conversation with a new acquaintance, who happens to be a modern liberal, or “progressive.” Not surprisingly the discussion soon turned to our different views on man, society, and government.
The progressive believes that individuals are members of a greater society, a community, to which they owe a portion of their income and wealth to improve the conditions of others less well off than themselves. The classical liberal or libertarian, I explained, believes that the individual is not a prisoner of society, but a distinct human being with rights to life, liberty and property. Government is meant to be a guardian of these rights, not a usurper of them to redistribute wealth or micro-manage society through compulsory regulations.
The conversation shifted to the idea of a “social contract” to which all are bound in society, to the nature and consequences of the interventionist-welfare state on the poor, on the arrogance and hubris of progressives to presume that the government “experts” have the wisdom, knowledge and ability as political paternalists to reshape society better than the forms and patterns it takes on through the free and spontaneous interactions of the societal participants themselves.
This lead to my pointing out the failure to appreciate not only ‘what is seen” when government “acts” and spends other people’s money, but also “what is not seen” in terms of all the possibilities and opportunities that would have come into existence and been taken advantage of, if only government had left individuals at liberty to guide their own lives and create and gain from all the betterments that could have been theirs by not taxing and regulating them.
And the failure by progressives to see that that they undermine the ethics and humanity of a free, good and prosperous society by introducing the tool of political coercion to achieve their ends, rather than the moral and civilized methods of reason, persuasion and example to move people in directions of conduct and attitude they consider better.
They substitute the blunt and brutal element of political force for the civilized and freedom-based avenue of reason and reasoned outcomes.