Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Progressives cannot understand the concept of "self interest". To them, it's greed. I'll explain

Have you ever noticed how modern progressives assault any kinds of profits to the death? No matter how big or how small. Profits mean "taking advantage of" someone. Profits mean greed. There's an answer to this. For some progressives, the answer is rooted in marxism, as many who claim to be progressives really are not. But true progressive ideology also gives us the answer.

Herbert Croly is a great place to start, as he was not a marxist from what I can tell, but he clearly supported an ever expanding huge government with commissions and bureaucratic despots. In "Progressive Democracy", Chapter 17: "The Administration as an Agent of Democracy", Croly writes the following: (page 360):

In almost every case it depends for its success upon the ability and disinterestedness with which the law is administered.

Disinterestedness is the key. Administrators are pure while individuals and their representatives are impure, because the administrators are disinterested. The theory goes, that the administrator will do what's good just for the sake of doing good. An important piece of this puzzle is the following, also from Croly's Progressive Democracy (Page 309):

Representative assemblies, on the other hand, were supposed to embody not the will of any definite fraction of the community, but the dim religious light of public reason.

But instead of embodying public reason, what have representative assemblies come to embody instead? Private interest. As I wrote here, distrust of the citizens is foundational for progressives, if you're interested. This is important to understand, progressives have a huge amount of distrust for private interest.

On page 361, Croly writes the following about administrators:

As the custodian of a certain part of the social program, he must share the faith upon which the program depends for its impulse; and he must accept the scientific method upon which the faith depends for its realization. Thus with all his independence he is a promoter and propagandist.

Independence from whom? As I've written in the past, the only way administration can truely work along progressive ideological lines is for the administrators to be disconnected from the voters. As Woodrow Wilson put it:

to proceed without specific warrant in giving effect to the characteristic life of the State

Again from Wilson, in a different essay:

Our peculiar American difficulty in organizing administration is not the danger of losing liberty, but the danger of not being able or willing to separate its essentials from its accidents. Our success is made doubtful by that besetting error of ours, the error of trying to do too much by vote. Self-government does not consist in having a hand in everything, any more than housekeeping consists necessarily in cooking dinner with one’s own hands. The cook must be trusted with a large discretion as to the management of the fires and the ovens.

As Frank Goodnow put it:

the function of administration there should be organized a force of governmental agents absolutely free from the influence of politics.

Even progressives who are largely forgotten to history hold the same view. The chief use of a written constitution is:

is to place certain legislative functions beyond the power of legislatures and congresses, and the object of these reservations is to preserve those functions for the people themselves and to protect them against the venality or folly of their representatives.

By now, I'm sure you see the pattern. Progressives do not believe in the ability of average citizens. This idea that the will of "public reason" can amount to anything useful is clearly magical hogwash. Expertise is much better. Perhaps it can be honestly asked: "Why should we substitute amateur knowledge for expert knowledge"? Sure, that is a fair question. But as I've demonstrated, progressivism has a very dark side and it's this: The will of the people be damned. We don't need government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We need experts. We need government of the experts, by the experts, and for the experts.

But why? Because administrators are disinterested. That's why the administrators can do for the people better than representatives can. Now we sit here today in 2012, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and we can see that administrators are just as interested as anybody else, their interests are just different. Their interest is massive government. Their interest is power, not money. But as an explanation of progressive ideology, this is an important thing to examine.

As they all make clear,(Wilson, Croly, etc) representatives are dirty. Representatives are there to carry out the selfish private interests of the individuals, who in turn only do things for their own private interest. Their private interests are venal and foolish. Only the public interest is pure, carried out by expert cooks in the kitchen.

Now, in all cases, the progressives above are talking purely about a governmental standpoint. None of the people I quoted said word one about profits. But that doesn't really matter. They've established their thought processes.

Public interest is pure. Private interest is dirty. All private interest is dirty. So dirty, in fact, that we can't allow people to have control over their own lives anymore. The administrators have to control it. Making the leap to profits is a very tiny leap indeed.

Isn't profit in your private interest?

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