His position is pretty much that which informs the decisions of what to post at this blog (as well as its name; yes, it's still very late in the day). America and the West generally are in decline and the chances to reverse that are dwindling.
In his piece published today, he reasserts a basic premise of his, that there are two impulses that drive human behavior:
Regarding the second impulse, he takes the reader back through the centuries-old philosophical dichotomy regarding whether government ought to support individual autonomy, or impose an airtight collectivism and thereby put a lid on the individual's impulse to control others. He examines what Plato versus Aristotle had to say (Plato: collectivism, Aristotle: individual autonomy), and compares and contrasts the positions of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and a few other such pairings.The most dominant trait of mankind, as of all living creatures, is an innate desire to survive and prosper. While many may willingly choose to pursue subsistence on their own terms, to the majority of the human race, the path of least resistance is the most desired. Thus, mankind is susceptible to financial scams, gambling, crime, and resentment towards those who may have more. But above all, far too many people are open to the concept of a central authority providing them with the means of survival.A secondary characteristic of the human race, also shared by other species, is the need by some within the group to conquer or maintain control over their fellow man. In the post-Industrial Revolution era, the easiest course to assume this power was to promise, in exchange for the votes of the people, that the state, through a new ruling class, would provide the citizenry cradle-to-grave security. Thus, a Faustian bargain encompassing the desire by the majority for ease of survival and others for the need to rule through the vehicle of an authoritarian central government whose primary purpose would be control of virtually all economic, political and societal activity.
It's when he gets to the Progressives of the early 20th century that we see the collectivist view in its full obscenity:
Got that? According to these freedom-haters, it is through the benevolence of the State that you are granted the privilege of keeping what is yours.The Progressives, beginning in the 1890’s, seized upon the concept of “fairness” and redefining “fundamental rights” as the basis of rejecting the Founders’ concept of a natural moral order. Rather than accept the theory that the purpose of government is to protect man’s natural rights, the Progressives put forward the notion that government’s primary purpose is to ensure fairness and economic equality. Therefore, fundamental rights, as prominent Progressive thinker Charles Merriam (1874-1953) wrote, “...are considered to have their source not in nature, but in law.” John Dewey (1859-1952), often considered the father of American Progressivism, also wrote: “Natural rights and natural liberties exist only in the kingdom of mythological social zoology.”
This came up in the comment thread of the post here at LITD right below this one. A commenter excerpted from a Brookings Institution piece by Isabel Sawhill in which she claimed that a policy of cutting taxes for rich people was a failed notion, because, according to her, it has not led to an uptick in job creation.
That misses the point entirely.
There is no more pure form of property than money. Except in situations of barter, it is what each of us gets in exchange for our labor. The party on the other end of a given economic transaction gets the fruit of that labor, we get money which is ours to do as we wish with.
Do you see how Sawhill's view is rooted in the Progressive premise? If the State deems that you getting to keep what is yours is having a macroeconomic result it deems undesirable, it reserves the right to take some portion of it that it deems appropriate.
We won't ever begin to reverse the decline until this argument is framed properly. We need elected representatives, executive-branch policy administrators, think-tank scholars, teachers and citizens in all walks of life to understand what is at stake here.
It's a monumental task, but for some of us, sleeping well at night hinges on being relentless about it.