Monday, November 24, 2008

Catholic Insistince on Altruism to 'Spread the Wealth'

The 'Common Good' is Coerced Altruism
I have a list of twenty two blogs I try to scan daily, but the demands of writing my own blog, of trying to get a distance-based academy organized, working a daily job, and attending AA meetings and doing AA service work does not give me much time for the other blogs. I have to pick and choose. Some days I find nothing worthwhile; other days, like today, I found something I like--the blog that teaches me something.

It was on the Acton Institute Power Blog, named after Lord Acton who "made the history of liberty his life's work; indeed, he considered political liberty the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty."

What was it I learned? That Catholics have used the common good "as an excuse for more government involvement in peoples’ lives and the installing of socialistic, 'spread the wealth' programs." Dr. William Luckey

I dashed off a comment at the end of his blog. In the "Academy Blogger" I have debated the issue of "altruism" as being (originally) the Catholic version of the "eradication of self-centered desire, and a life devoted to the good of others; more particularly, selfless love and devotion to Society. In brief, it involved the self-abnegating love of Catholic Christianity redirected towards Humanity conceived as an ideal unity." [emphasis added] see "altruism"

The common good is therefor altruistic, requiring a lowest common denominator of the ego, common from one man to the next, a place where one must relegate his/her ego in order to eradicate self-interest, rational though it may be, or not; and where the common good is attained by devoting one's self selflessly--as if that is not an incomprehensible contradiction--in an act of totally "eradicating" the self.

This is most certainly not the same as what our Founders meant by the "general Welfare," when they wrote that phrase in the Constitution; it is the opposite. The "general Welfare" is the protection of the sovereignty of the individual, sovereignty composed of all the powers not delegated to nor prohibited to the Federal government or the governments of the "several States." Whatever is left over, (and almost everything was "left over" until the administration of FDR's "New Deal",) is necessary for the operation of a free individual.
We no longer retain the right to our individual sovereignty. But I have covered that a dozen times in this Blogger. The Choir Sings the Hymn "Individual Sovereignty" Power Reserved to the People, Respectively Laissez-Fairre: the Economics of Individual Sovere... Tocqueville and Individualism et al.
The "general Welfare" is justice in the political arena, which includes economics. The "common good" has become the language used to hide the injustice of imposed altruism.

Anything imposed against what is just, is coercion; anything imposed to insure justice, is not coerced. Each of these ideas is what it is by definition. You could turn each statement around and make the same arguments: Coercion is that which is unjustly imposed; coercion is not that which is justly imposed.
What is justly imposed must, by the same definition, take only as little from an individual's sovereignty as is needed for the "common sovereignty," i.e., government instituted of, by, and for the governed themselves.

It is true that there must be coerced "common good" among people who are not willing to abnegate their egos to society. The best of the recent examples of an uncoerced person was Mother Theresa, who we now know abnegated her ego to the will of a God who she thought, for twelve years, had deserted her. That, aside from the willingness of Jesus to be crucified for all others in the human race, is as altruistic as one can be and not be coerced.

But going that distance is much more than Dr. Luckey is talking about. "This [coerced] version of the common good is the foundation for some people’s idea of distributive justice, but actually it is based on the 'Robin Hood fallacy' of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor." [emphasis added]
What is distributive justice? "[T]he first relatively simple principle of distributive justice examined is strict egalitarianism, which advocates the allocation of equal material goods to all members of society." [emphasis added] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [see also No Justice in "Luck Egalitarianism" ]

How does Dr. Luckey know it is the Robin Hood syndrome? Merely "by reading Aristotle and St. Thomas. Both of those great thinkers say that government must rule for the common good, but both of them oppose 'common good' to the 'particular' or 'private' good. . . nowhere in Aristotle or St. Thomas does it say that the common good is the exclusive or even main province of the government. They merely give a negative prohibition that the state cannot make laws which are good for only one segment of society." [emphasis added]

One segment of society is exactly what distributive justice is about: the use of coercion to force altruism on those who have, for the benefit of those who have not.

Ayn Rand made an unwitting error in her Playboy interview of 1964. But her error was in not being able to see the future, and the rise of a popular Marxist like Barak Obama.

"Collectivism," she said, "as an intellectual power and a moral ideal, is dead."

But in the very next breath she was absolutely correct, and she is still correct to this day; "But freedom and individualism, and their political expression, capitalism," she continued, "have not yet been discovered."

Forty-eight years later, her second statement is still correct, and that is why collectivism was allowed to remain alive: the world has still not "discovered" the nature and the source of capital.

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