Several folks (including myself) have posted about the WSJ editorial penned by Edie Littlefield, who is on the verge of losing her treatment program for stage-4 gallbladder cancer. Beyond the issues with the insurance, this indicates the larger problem with “progressivism” (i.e socialistic/Marxist) systems, that of forced conformity, an attempt at a “one-size-fits-all” standardization of life.
Life must be made more “efficient” – but you understand, don’t you comrades?
You can’t have that shirt in green because we have determined that all men’s 15-1/2 neck x 35 sleeve dress shirts shall only be offered in white cotton material. If you want green, you have to get the 17 x 37 in silk – we at the Federal Department of Distributive Clothing Exchanges know it is too big but your body will still fit in it, right? Sure, it is made of more material than you need, so why don’t you just tuck more of it in and roll up the sleeves. You don’t really mind paying more for something better, do you? You should just be happy that we allow you to have such a fine shirt.
“Progressivism” dwells on the worst in mankind and assumes that the worst is the norm, not the exception. There are many assumptions:
- It assumes that life is a zero sum game – that the successful in life only achieve success at the expense of others – to have more wealth than another means that it was illegitimately taken, not created by value.
- It assumes that people can be brought up by simply bringing others down.
- It assumes that life can be planned, that it can be controlled and they are the only ones who are intelligent enough to do it.
- It assumes that people are helpless and ignorant and must be ruled by a benevolent force, that we must be told what to eat, how to live and what to do.
- It assumes that there is no such thing as Christian charity – that men will not be motivated by kindness and act with compassion toward the downtrodden – therefore they must be forced to contribute their treasure to the government for the purpose of redistribution.
- It assumes that the individual cannot prosecute his life in the best interests of himself or that of society, that in Hobbesian fashion, he must be “guided” by a “sovereign” or some elite compelling force.
- It assumes that a law is correct just because it is a law.
- It assumes that everything is relative, that there is no objective truth; it is only what the contemporary societal arbiters say that it is.
- It assumes that equality can be created by treating citizens unequally – i.e. affirmative action, minority set-asides, de-segregation.
- It assumes that there is no individual responsibility, that life is an exercise in “no-fault” living, that bad acts can be excused by circumstances of life.
- While many would argue, it does assume that there is no God, only secular humanism. Man is God and the laws of man trump natural laws, the laws of God.
To have any sort of collectivist economy, market or society, the commonly owned productive outputs must be planned, there has to be some method for that productive capacity to know everything from how much corn to grow, how many refrigerators to make and how many doctors to educate – every socialist worth his salt will tell you that. Planning will cause a collective group to tend toward a single point of control, a dictatorship, because that is the most efficient manner to plan and coerce others in the group to go along with the plan. Anyone who has ever tried to gain consensus in a group of more than two people can tell you how inefficient a committee based decision process is and how almost in every case, the decision tends to be made based on the strongest person or opinion.
This is just simple human organizational and behavioral dynamics. Hayek describes it as:
“There will be a stronger and stronger demand that some board or some single individual should be given power to act on their own responsibility. The cry for an economic dictator is a characteristic stage in the movement toward planning. Thus the legislative body will be reduced to choosing the persons who are to have practically absolute power. The whole system will tend toward that kind of dictatorship in which the head of the government is position by popular vote, but where he has all the powers at his command to make certain that the vote will go in the direction he desires. Planning leads to dictatorship because dictatorship is the most effective instrument of coercion and, as such, essential if central planning on a large scale is to be possible.”
One size doesn’t fit all.
“Progressivism” purports to be about hope and change – it seems to me to be about hopelessness and conformity.