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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Thinking about Politics

You have got to start with Ethics, with Morality, with Right and Wrong. Conservatives (for the most part) understand this. Conservatives (again, for the most part) source their moral principles from the past. The Ancient Jews and the Greeks understood Justice to be the foundation of Morality. Every action must be judged by the standard of Justice - treating our fellows as they deserve to be treated. We have obligations; our fellows likewise. We have been talking about it since the time of Socrates. Who has contributed a new principle since Moses or Socrates? Progressives have undermined the concept of Justice by tacking ‘social’ to it.

‘Social Justice’ is a term to be abhorred and execrated. It always and everywhere means ‘what I approve of’, often ‘what suits me’. Believe in Social Justice and you will soon be marching for abortion and lesser evils, such as mansion taxes and progressive taxation.

Most of us in the West never notice how unjust progressive taxation is – almost by definition. If you have a flat rate of income tax (let’s say 10%), if Andy earns £10,000 a year, he pays £1,000 in tax and Barry (on £100,000 a year) pays £10,000 in tax. Both have an incentive to work harder – each knows that if he earns an extra £1, he will pay £0.10p more. Justice means treating people equally. It’s that simple.

It is bad enough when the taxes pay for policemen and courts. Such things are necessary in a fallen world. Libertarian thinkers have pointed out that state provision of policemen and courts is not, by any means, the only way of providing for them.

Progressive taxation means that Barry gets clobbered disproportionately for policemen and courts (from which he may benefit). ‘Disproportionately’ is surely a synonym for ‘unjustly’.

The welfare state (laudable though its inventors’ intentions may have been) means that Barry gets clobbered for programmes that only benefit Andy and those lower than Andy on the income scale. It is unjust for me to mug Barry on Andy’s behalf. Acquiescing in state mugging cannot make it just!

We are not animals. Morality does not apply to animals – the cheetah who chokes a gazelle to death commits no murder. Murder is an exclusively human phenomenon. So are fraud, extortion and robbery. Materialists, who deny that there is any meaningful discontinuity between animals and humans, are surely legitimising fraud, extortion and robbery.

I have got to admit that Atheists, Materialists and Progressives are not (by definition) of one ilk. There are some theistic progressives. But the overlap is considerable.

Am I saying that Progressives (and Socialists) are incoherent in their thinking? Absolutely! Sometime in the centuries since Socrates they have magicked out of thin air a new Morality. We have, in this very century, ‘moralists’ whose summum malum is inequality of income. They do not do so by metaphysical argument but by manifestly defective ‘data’. They have as little credibility as one who would declare that inequality of prettiness is the summum malum.

Politics is these days very largely about income distribution. The millionaire Obama seems to care about it. He has not had a coherent idea since kindergarten.

Politics is about Justice. Justice is not “wouldn’t it be nice if…”

Progressives agree that Politics is about Ethics. They don’t have a coherent theory of Ethics. That is why their political programmes are disastrous.

Progressives believe themselves to occupy the moral high ground: let’s do what we can to help the disadvantaged. Their policies (as well as being unjust) have failed repeatedly. They dispossess the productive and reward unproductiveness.

Answer me this: Assuming that Hard Work, Self-Sufficiency, Creativity and Technical Innovation are Good Things and that Idleness and Dependency are not, should our political institutions and programmes reward the former and punish the latter? The question answers itself.

There is another question: If I have more (perhaps much more) than I need, should I volunteer to help my neighbour who is indigent – especially if he is indigent through no fault of his own? The question answers itself.

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