Thursday, April 2, 2009

Intentions vs. reality

The belief in an ideal has motivated countless people to do extraordinary things. The belief in liberty motivated the American founders to risk everything in the attempt (they had nothing even close to any guarantee) to break away from English rule. But our founding fathers did not do this blindly. The "American experiment" was still based on historical precedent. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and English history, as well as other examples of the human struggle throughout the world, inspired the first generation of Americans to take their freedom from an oppressive government and forge a new nation.

The foundations for other, similar revolutions began in England, with two German philosophers in the mid nineteenth century. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, too, saw the human struggle from a particular perspective, and based their revolution on the desire to live free from oppression. But the communist idea of oppression was very different from that of America's founders. Their desire to be "free from oppression" was not based on a fundamental assumption of liberty as it was in the United States, but one of fairness. My blog post on Mindless Compassion briefly explores the disconnect between good intentions and a wise plan to make those desires a reality, and the likelihood that manufacturing fairness does not result in fairness. Marx and Engels never saw the most famous examples of their ideas put into practice, though they were still alive to witness what may have been the first such experiment: the French reign of terror just after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, relating to the Paris Commune. For Marx and Engels, their high minded ideals of fairness and equality never really progressed beyond theory. For them communism was a utopia protected from any test of real life.

However, the fruits of this new philosophy were variations on this community-based, fairness oriented thinking, such as Socialism and Communism and others. If you have a couple hours on your hands you might appreciate the documentary The bloody history of Communism.

The modern liberal has taken the Marxian desire for fairness to a new level, with the human struggle still as justification for any number of violations of human rights. The many examples of dire poverty and misery throughout the world are a primary excuse to rob the people of their right to make their own decisions free from the control of an oppressive government. Political correctness is only one example, infringing upon other people's freedom of speech for the sake of achieving some "greater good" as defined only by those who decide what is politically correct. This social movement has infiltrated every level of government, and in many cases become law - such as hate speech or hate crimes legislation.

But is the intent of such social engineering to oppress the people? Certainly not, but this does not change the fact that oppression is the result. Then what blinds so many, who we might call "modern liberals," to the harm caused by public policies based on their good intentions?

The video below, a speech by Evan Sayet, answers that very question. It is less than 1 hour long, and WELL worth the time.

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