Grumpy old liberal

It’s disillusionment about human nature that makes me progressive. HEB, the original grumpy old liberal, puts this very well.

Currently the received wisdom seems to be that Liberals believe that people are inherently good so that Trust is warranted while Conservatives believe that people are fundamentally bad so that it takes soldiers, cops and coercion to keep a lid on things. I’d with the Conservatives when it comes to their pessimistic view of human nature and views about the importance of coercion. What I don’t understand is how this supports their views on domestic policy. If people are fundamentally bad, as I believe, employers will certainly exploit their employees because they can, men will beat their wives because they’re bigger and stronger and none of us will contribute substantially to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves. We’re bigots and selfish jerks because our nature is fallen but our rational nature, imago dei, isn’t wholly corrupted, so we can see what we are and establish schemes to circumvent our sinfulness–coercive taxation and the welfare state.

(Actually she wrote “soldiers, copes and coercion”, but only Opus Dei operates like that. Reform doesn’t believe in vestments.)

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2 Responses to Grumpy old liberal

  1. Dingo says:

    We’re not fundamentally bad, we’re all a hodgpodge of selfishness, intermittent altruism, duty, emotion and beliefs we can only justify up to a point. Most people do have a problem putting themselves in the shoes of anyone except their family, friends and colleagues, and this is a problem now that we in the West live in huge anonymous populations. Then again, look at the public response to the Tsunami. I think all this talk of corruption and sinfulness is just so much superstition. But “coercive taxation and the welfare state”? Sounds more like socialism than conservatism.

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