Monday, April 12, 2010

Michael Knox Beran's "Descent of Liberalism"

Michael Knox Beran has an excellent article in the current issue of National Review entitled "Descent of Liberalism" (h/t Jim Crum). Beran traces the origins of today's socialist ideology to the social engineering concepts in Comte and Marx.  He shows that liberalism, based on individualism and voluntarism, has been replaced on the left, with compulsory, social engineering.  The commitment of "liberals" to social engineering had been tempered by the residue of 19th century liberalism, but commitment to the vision of experts bestowing privileges on various groups, whether because they are oppressed or simply economically powerful, gradually overwhelmed interest in freedom.  Today's left is directly antagonistic to liberalism and to the ideals of the Whigs and of rights on which the nation is founded.  As well, economic interest as among highly paid government employees motivates the left's obsessive fixation on state power and control over the individual.  With respect to the specific issue of economic interests of government employees, Beran notes:

>Champions of public-sector workers commend their commitment to public service in the language of republican virtue. But in offering their political support to sympathetic candidates in exchange for lucrative compensation packages, a number of the public-sector organizations have engaged in a politics that savors of corruption. Their allegiance, like that of the Praetorian Guard in Gibbon’s Rome, can be purchased only by those contenders for power who are willing to bestow what Gibbon called a “liberal donative” out of the public purse.

>Liberal the donatives certainly are. The average salary of federal workers rose in 2009 to $71,206, a figure that does not include bonuses, overtime, fringe benefits, pension accruals, and the priceless gift of all-but-absolute job security. Some 19 percent of the civil service received salaries of more than $100,000. (The average private-sector wage in the same year was $40,331.) The federal government, Cato Institute scholar Chris Edwards observes, has become an “elite island of highly paid workers.” Liberalism is being devoured by the monster it created.

The article is wonderfully written and historically astute.  Take a look.

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