Sunday, January 8, 2012

We ought all to regard ourselves and to act as socialists

In his book "The state, elements of historical and practical politics", Woodrow Wilson wrote the following: (Page 60)
It by no means follows, nevertheless, that because the state may unwisely interfere in the life of the individual, it must be pronounced in itself and by nature a necessary evil. It is no more an evil than is society itself. It is the organic body of society : without it society would be hardly more than a mere abstraction. If the name had not been restricted to a single, narrow, extreme, and radically mistaken class of thinkers, we ought all to regard ourselves and to act as socialists, believers in the wholesomeness and beneficence of the body politic.

If the history of society proves anything, it proves the absolute naturalness of government, its rootage in the nature of man, its origin in kinship, and its identification with all that makes man superior to the brute creation. Individually man is but poorly equipped to dominate other animals : his lordship comes by combination, his strength is concerted strength, his sovereignty is the sovereignty of union. Outside of society man's mind can avail him little as an instrument of supremacy ; and government is the visible form of society. If society itself be not an evil, neither surely is government an evil, for government is the indispensable organ of society.

Every means, therefore, by which society may be perfected through the instrumentality of government, every means by which individual rights can be fitly adjusted and harmonized with public duties, by which individual self-development may be made at once to serve and to supplement social development, ought certainly to be diligently sought, and, when found, sedulously fostered by every friend of society. Such is the socialism to which every true lover of his kind ought to adhere with the full grip of every noble affection that is in him.

Egads! The arrogance of these people, so he alone decides when and where to re-define socialism. Note the line about government as a necessary evil, which is how the founders viewed government. This part right here is an attack on the founding of the country, without specific mention on his part. And take note of the part that I bolded regarding the perfection of society. This is a common theme amongst progressives. If they just regulate enough of your life, if only there were enough unelected administrators, bureacurats, and judges to dictate to you about how to live your life, then society would be oh so perfect! On page 61:

Socialism and the Modern Industrial Organization.

It is possible indeed, to understand, and even in a measure to sympathize with, the enthusiasm of those special classes of agitators whom we have dubbed with the too great name of ' Socialists.' The schemes of social reform and regeneration which they support with so much ardor, however mistaken they may be, and surely most of them are mistaken enough to provoke the laughter of children, have the right end in view : they seek to bring the individual with his special interests, personal to himself, into complete harmony with society with its general interests, common to all.

So they have the right end in view. It's hard to miss the love and adoration of government throughout this section of his book. But! But! It's not socialism! A memo of Wilson's written in 1919 titled "State Control to Insure Equality But Not Socialism":

"I am perfectly sure that the state has got to control everything that everybody needs and uses. This means the state must control the means of distribution -the transportation facilities, the railroads; that the state must control the coal mines and the iron mines; that the state must control the water sources, the lighting facilities. These things must be controlled by the state in order to secure equality of opportunity among individuals." Wilson gave as an example how railroads favor large shippers giving them rebates and the like. "The little man must have just the same rights as the big man, and state control provides for this....But there is a point beyond which I cannot go with the socialists, because...their further programmes are not for the individual benefit of the individual."

It's incredible that these progressives thought they could walk a line like this but not cross over into tyrannical socialism. But that is the hubris that comes with a progressive mindset.

No comments:

Post a Comment