To the Editor:
Thanks for your article “The Passion of Socialists,” which explains why advocates of socialism express their beliefs with passion and conviction, whereas advocates of capitalism often seem weak and uncertain. I agree that their differences in conviction and passion can be explained by the widespread acceptance of the false ethics of altruism, primarily caused by the unrelenting and accelerating indoctrination of American youth over the past century. I believe that we have an urgent need to correct this sad state of affairs, and I’ve found that there is a straightforward and effective strategy toward that end.
By advocating the false moral ideas that so many Americans unquestioningly accept as valid, “Progressives” and fellow travelers invariably appear to have the moral high ground in political debate. Rarely does anyone publicly challenge their evil moral code: altruism. Instead, would-be defenders of capitalism typically counter the “Progressives” with economic arguments. Although such arguments are valid, they are not moral arguments. And, in political discourse, moral arguments usually trump all others.
Long term, the antidote to “Progressivism” is educating Americans about the rational alternatives of egoism, individualism, and laissez faire capitalism. But realistically, effecting such change in academia will take decades. In the meantime, however, “Progressives” could literally destroy America. That’s why it is imperative that freedom lovers learn how to effectively seize the moral high ground in today’s political discourse.
Despite the philosophical handicap of many Americans, I am convinced there is an effective way to fight “Progressive” slave masters. Observe that altruists can do little harm to anyone but themselves and their fellow dupes until their evil philosophy of “live for others” is combined with another evil—imposing altruism by brute force.
Although altruism is not widely regarded as immoral, most Americans do regard the use of force against innocents as immoral. They typically are disgusted by theft, looting, slavery, coercion, and other manifestations of force. That’s why, in a political debate or commentary, successfully attacking the coercive aspect of “Progressivism” is considerably more effective than attacking the altruistic aspect of “Progressivism” in America today. Using terms like “slavery,” “looting,” “undeserved punishment,” “mob rule,” and so on can be a powerful way to seize the moral high ground. For example, a critique of a harmful bill or law might sound like:
What you are advocating is the use of brute force against innocent people who have honestly earned the wealth you seek to plunder. They have never been convicted of a crime against anyone and have done nothing to deserve being brutally punished in this way. It’s just plain evil to treat innocent people like that.
When I personally make such challenges, the usual reaction is stunned silence, a change of subject, or a full retreat. At the very least, the typically self-assured demeanor of “Progressives” evaporates.
Another example: “Progressives” often insist that force is justified because the intended victims (the “rich” or the “fat cats”) are criminals. Here, they rely on the false premise that the very existence of an individual’s wealth is proof of theft. Merely making this premise—or any absurdity—explicit goes a long way toward refuting it. A typical and valid retort might be that wealth is created by ingenuity and productive activity. A more effective reply to such nonsense might also include asking,
Where is your evidence of their crimes? In America, aren’t people entitled to have their day in court before we convict and punish them? Honestly earning wealth is not a crime, and punishing people who have honestly earned their wealth is unjust and immoral. You say these producers are guilty. I say prove it. Otherwise, have the honesty to admit that your idea is little more than looting.
Above all, it is important to never abandon the moral high ground by staying silent. Even simply declaring that a harmful policy or proposal is “unjust” or “an affront to common decency” or “enslavement” or “evil” is better than letting an issue go unchallenged.
Another bit of leftist verbal trickery is to impugn the innocence of their intended victims—just as the Nazis vilified Jews, whom they intended to slaughter. “You didn’t earn that,” said President Obama. “America is evil,” “whites are racists” and “America stole its wealth,” say so many “Progressives.” The “hate capitalism,” “hate America,” “hate self-reliance” propaganda is unrelenting. If we are to save America, it is essential that we always respond with moral fervor to such false indictments.
Fighting back is not as difficult as decades of losing imply—at least not when fighting from the moral high ground. For example, years ago, I denounced the initiation of force against innocents, helping to stop two different California municipal governments from confiscating private property. I simply pointed out that the proposed confiscations essentially were theft at the point of a government gun. I compared this unjust seizure with the moral alternative of buying the property at prices the owner’s would voluntarily agree to. When I presented these arguments to city councils in public meetings, not a single member or advocate of confiscation insulted me or contradicted my argument. Both councils voted against confiscating the property, and the property owners rejoiced. Learning to condemn such injustices is not difficult. In fact, the skill could be taught in courses on fighting statist ideology and taking the moral high ground.
I think it’s worth pointing out that it is always more effective to attack ideas and policies than it is to personally attack those advocating them. My preference is to proceed on the assumption that most “Progressives” are misguided, not evil, and treat them accordingly.
Focusing one’s criticism on the coercive aspects of statist policies does not mean abandoning the advocacy of egoism over altruism. It means recognizing that it is not reasonable to try to “sell” an entirely new philosophy in the typical, politically-charged venue. Nor is this strategy the equivalent of libertarian style sloganeering. Defending innocent people from force is part of a readily understandable, essentially concrete, moral strategy. People can easily understand that freedom from coercion is necessary to human survival and flourishing.
I was born in America in the middle of the 20th century, and I have been dismayed by the significant and accelerating moral decline that I have witnessed. I worry about the fate of my teenage son and other young Americans. I have no illusions that “Progressives” can be easily or entirely defeated by the methods I’m advocating.
Yet, although the barbarians are at the gate, all is not lost. My own experience indicates that retaking the moral high ground by spotlighting “Progressives’” unjust coercion can be very effective. Certainly, it is better than simply accepting trends toward statism while relying entirely upon the struggle for philosophical dominance in the halls of academe. Indeed, it is a means by which we all can help to save America.
Aliso Viejo, CA