This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, inspired of course by FA Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.
A liberal friend told me, in a discussion about liberty and freedom, that the type of liberty she is most interesting in is preserving women’s rights… understandable given her gender. However, the typical justification of the progressive liberal (increasing the role of government to improve “social equality”) is backwards to the very ideals that they are trying to promote.
My counterargument is that any type of racism, sexism or other biases which lingers on through the generations is most probability institutional in origin. From the Jim Crow laws, Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews, anti-Gay legislation… you name the civil rights abuse, and it all stems from a history of institutionalized, government-supported bigotry, usually to trick a disenfranchised, frustrated populace into giving up their freedoms, and handing power to an elite class, which blames a scapegoat under the guise of national unity and patriotism.
The parallels between Nazi Germany and social progressivism are uncanny, at risk of invoking Godwin’s law. I’m in no way saying that Hitler’s crimes are on the same scale as Obama’s ill informed ‘social justice’, but the type of mob-mentality responses both men receive is eerily similar. Hitler took advantage of financial uncertainty during a depression and tremendous negative external political pressures to rise to power, giving the people a chance to vent their frustrations against certain groups of people (Jews, Gypsies, etc) who were blamed on economic problems. He raised the profile of the nationalist, collectivist mindset to remove individual doubts about the moral correctness of bigotry and racism. The ultimate goal was to create Aryan race to remove individuality and social stratification for the smooth operation of a totalitarian state. The Germans gave up economic, political and social freedoms for security at the expense of individuality.
Obama is taking advantage of financial uncertainty during a recession and negative external political pressures to rise to power, giving the people a chance to vent their frustrations against certain groups of people (business owners and ‘the rich’) who are blamed on economic problems. He is raising the profile of the nationalist, collectivist mindset to remove individual doubts about the moral correctness of bigotry against people willing to take risks to make a profit (though, admittedly they sometimes act immorally in doing so). The ultimate goal is to create ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’ to remove individuality and social stratification for the smooth operation of a socialist/liberal progressive state. Americans are giving up economic, political and social freedoms for security at the expense of individuality.
Obama’s election, which many are calling “historic” (because a black man was elected in a country where only 40 years ago, African Americans were getting lynched) is not true social progress because of the ideas Obama represents. That is, the loss of individual freedoms by touting the illusory idea that there can be such a thing as economic equality guaranteed by the government.
Hitler gained power by promising that racial unity would create a social utopia, from which all would benefit. The social progressives do the same thing by appealing to those who think they’re suffering from economic class warfare.
What these people don’t realize is that preserving freedoms, even if it means tearing down government safety nets, is the most appropriate response to preserve freedoms for all groups. Economic equality can’t be given by the government; it has to come from self sacrifice. Social rights, which should be protected by the government, should not be confused with perceived economic injustice.
In the end, individual action and interactions works better to preserve freedoms than anything the government can do. Just think about the power that economic globilization has had in erasing generations of prejudices and racism (between Japan and China, for example). The economic wealth generated by increasing freedoms (of trade, in this case) serves to make everyone richer, no matter their cultural background.
The liberal progressives can blame ‘greedy capitalists’ all they want for perceived inequalities, but it’s these same risk takers and entrepreneurs which provide the vehicle to improve the quality of life for all people. Unlike the institutionalized, collectivist mindset supported by the progressives, it does not discriminate but only seeks to improve the human condition.
Ironically, the very cultures that the feminist progressives idolize, such as the nature-loving Native Americans, did not need to institutionalize equality for woman. This is because interactions between individuals was enough to preserve the freedoms for all. These days the feminists are seeking a large central government to preserve social quality, when it is these very same governments, historically, that institutionalized racism and sexism in support the elitist agenda. History has shown that large institutions are incompatible with the idea of freedom. Why is it, then, that social progressive have been so easily duped?
Governments have at their disposal the quickest mechanisms to enact changes. However, lasting, real change cannot be legislated (sorry to inform you, Mr. Obama). The government cannot control the hearts and minds of the people. All it can do, to best protect human rights and economic freedom, is to let individuals interact without unduly harming each other. People will decide for themselves that bigotry is incompatible with growth and success. Economic disparity between social classes can be fixed by preserving free markets, much better than the government taking away economic freedoms to justify some false possibility of economic equality.
As FA Hayek feared, totalitarianism and social ‘progressivism’ are the same forces which erode the freedoms of the individual. The collectivist mindset cannot possibly preserve freedoms. All it can do is provide the illusion of social or economic security, while putting more power in the hands of an elite class. This is contrary to the stated goals of liberals, yet they are unwittingly playing right into it. They need to learn that the government promise of economic equality is a false one and that the institutionalized guarantee of freedom is not freedom at all.Published in