We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In today's piece at TCS, Prof. Bainbridge put into words some things we have been thinking about lately: is it reasonable, or dangerous, or foolish to extend the family analogy, in which individuals gladly sacrifice for the whole, to a nation state? Our bias is to say "no," because it's a false analogy. From his piece:
It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to "promote the general welfare."
It is this communitarian aspect of modern liberalism, of course, which marks a principal difference between the modern version and classical liberalism. I suspect it is this over-broad understanding of what it means to be a community that is one of the things conservatives and libertarians steeped in the classical liberal tradition find most off-putting about modern liberalism.
The great moral difficulty with communitarianism is that, if taken to extremes, it treats individuals as though they were little more than cells of a larger organism. Just as when doctors kill cells to prevent cancer from spreading, communitarianism readily justifies state intrusion into the private sphere in the name of some communal good.
Yes, the creepy concept of "the greater good" erases one's individual power and significance. And, as we say at Maggie's Farm: "Whose concept of the greater good?" What if freedom is the best route towards a greater good? Whole piece here.