Why the Left Hates Freedom
Ponder this passage of stately prose:
The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.
That, of course, is James Madison, from Federalist 10, where he dilates on the origin of “faction” — its causes, he observes, are “sown in the nature of man” — and argues for a large republic (as distinct from a pure democracy) as the best prophylactic against the evil potential of conflicting interests, not least of which evils is the tyranny of the majority.
But let me return to the famous passage I quoted: “The protection of these faculties,” Madison wrote, “is the first object of government.”
Question: is it the first object of our government, the government of Barack Obama? Would it be the first object of a government presided over by, say, Hillary Clinton (who, in case you didn't notice, is a woman)? How about a government presided over by Bernie Sanders, who is not a woman but makes up for it by being a lunatic?
To ask these questions is to answer them. But, if I may adapt an interjection from Hillary Clinton (who is a woman): At this point, what difference does it make? I mean, who cares about some 18th-century stiff who was droning on about “the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property”? Does anyone understand what he was talking about any more?
I am happy to report that there are a few people left who understand what Madison was getting at. And I can reveal that (to paraphrase the female cited above), at this point, it makes a very big difference indeed.
One such sage is the columnist George Will. In his syndicated column yesterday, Will takes up the Democrats’ biggest obsession (the biggest, anyway, apart from Hillary Clinton, who is a woman): “income inequality.” The Democratic Party, Will notes, “believes that economic inequality is an urgent problem, and that its urgency should be understood in terms of huge disparities of wealth.” But is income inequality a problem, urgent or otherwise? And are disparities of wealth really a bad thing?
Will’s next sentence encapsulates a deep, Madisonian truth:
“The fundamental producer of income inequality is freedom.”
There you have it, folks, a lapidary sentence that is as true as it is often forgotten. “The fundamental producer of income inequality is freedom.” If you have freedom, you will also have inequality. It’s part of the natural order of things.
A couple of observations: first, it does not follow that if you take away freedom you will thereby produce more equality, though that is a logical fallacy (or perhaps it is just a cynical rhetorical gambit) employed by socialists and other totalitarians from the dawn of time. As Dean Inge once pointed out, just because most of the saints were poor, it does not follow that most of the poor are saints.
Second, Will’s observation helps explain a phenomenon that everyone recognizes but few have analyzed with the requisite clarity: I mean the instinctive hatred the Left has for freedom.
This may seem at first blush counter-intuitive. Isn’t the Left always going on about revolutions or “fundamentally transforming” society, etc.? And aren’t all those revolutions and fundamental transformations undertaken for the sake of more freedom?
The brief answer is “No, they aren’t,” but that fact is obscured by the rhetorical barrage depositing the word “freedom” like ground cover all around us while the Left’s storm troopers set about mopping up pools of actual (as distinct from merely rhetorical) freedom where they may subsist. Ask the Environmental Protection Agency how this is done — if you’re nice, they might tell you. Or ask any college dean of diversity busy policing what students say and read and think.