Sunday, March 15, 2009


Here is an illustrative pastime for when the new government starts cranking out new laws, policies and regulations: Whenever you read about such actions, count the number of times the word "requires" appears in the descriptions. You know, a law requires employers to do this, or insurers to do that, a new regulation requires drivers to do such and such and utilities to do so and so. Get a feel for how much the activities of government are dependent on compliance with "requirements" and imagine what happens when such compliance is not forthcoming. You may notice something odd about liberals and government.

A fundamental paradox of liberalism is this:

Liberals look to government to be the primary problem solver and organizing institution of life, not only for themselves, but for everyone. They instinctively look to government to ensure fairness, to insulate everyone from risk, to coddle subjective grievances and validate emotional needs. They look to government to do this because 1.) Government has a seemingly endless supply of money, and 2.) What the government cannot procure by persuasion it can compel by force. One quickly realizes that these two attributes are not separate. The government also aquires control of money under the threat of force. Thus, liberals flock to government to solve their problems, validate their worths and calm their fears, primarily because the government can, if necessary, resort to force. The liberal view of the world contains no small elements of compulsion, from compulsory taxes, to compulsory use of particular light bulbs, to compulsory diversity, to compulsory insurance, to compulsory community service etc. They like government because it "requires" things under the threat of force.

But the United States and Israel have lost moral standing in the world because they, when deemed necessary, well...use threats of force. Thus, the threat of force, and the consequent metastasis of government into the lives of its citizens, is the prime attraction of the liberal to the concept of big government, but the threat of force as a necessary element of survival? Well, that's bad. Threatening force to subsidize an indulgent ideology is satisfyingly chic; threatening force to make someone stop killing the citizens of your country is barbaric. It's the type of paradox that resists self-reflection, and not coincidentally, the type of paradox that allows a particularly shallow and clueless sort to wear a Che T-Shirt without the slightest hint of irony.

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