Tuesday, October 05, 2004


One of the commonest Leftist arguments in defence of big government (a sophisticated example here) is to say that the individual could accomplish nothing and would earn nothing without the community of which he forms part -- and that therefore he "owes" the community something. That is of course true. What is hilarious is that Leftists by some amazing feat of illogicality then immediately equate "the community" with "the government" -- which is in fact merely one part of the community, and a very parasitic part at that.

To see how parasitic, it is instructive to look at Britain in the year 1900. Britain at that time was the workshop of the world, had the world's largest navy, had an army that could muster half a million men if required (as it subsequently did in South Africa), had more effective policing than it has today, had justice and educational systems that were legendary for their quality, had a comprehensive welfare system and had extensive worker-protection legislation (principally introduced by the arch-Conservative Disraeli). So how much of the national income was spent by government at that time? 13.3%! Taxation there has since skyrocketed (government expenditures reaching 49.9% of the national income in 1984) and what have Britons got in return for all that extra tax? An army of clerks and petty dictators, principally. Clearly, Britain in 1900 shows that one can discharge one's obligations to "the community" without giving half of the national income to the government to squander.

The plain fact is that what we owe the community we DO pay and have ALWAYS paid -- by working and providing our services in exchange for services from others. And people co-operate to create goods and services with or without government involvement. And even if we agree that we owe the government some of our money for the services it provides, that in no way implies that we owe something to each and every member of the community, regardless of how much they contribute to the community.

There is, for instance, nothing inconsistent with my admitting indebtedness to the community and also saying that I owe hobos nothing. They have done nothing for me so I owe them nothing. I may give them something out of kindness but that is all. It is of course typically dreamy and simplistic Leftist thinking to see "the community" as some sort of undifferentiated whole when it is in fact anything but and when people in every day of their lives make sharp and important distinctions of all sorts between different members of it. Leftists have such rigid and simplistic brains that their discussions have always tended to lump people into large and overgeneralized groups. It used to be "the working class" versus "the bourgeoisie" and now it is mostly "gays", "women", "minorities" etc. They just can't handle or allow for individuals in their thinking. Individuals are just too messy and unruly for them. Straitjackets for all!


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