Monday, 13 July 2020

"'We bring not innocence' but 'impurity' into the world when we try to force people to be moral, because doing so only teaches obedience, not fidelity, & makes people do the minimum to avoid punishment, rather than take initiative toward their own betterment." #QotD



"According to [some], the state must impose 'the common good' on us, or we’ll have mass hysteria—and by preventing this moral authoritarianism the classical liberal order has proven itself a suicide pact.
It’s time for us, in a sane interval, to discard authoritarianism—whether Left or Right—... and lead a rational and comfortable life thenceforth."
    "This is fallacious for three reasons. First, civil society—not the state—is where our ideas of the common good develop; even the state must draw such ideas from civil society (or some politically designed, less perfect substitute) before it can impose these ideas by force. Just as government cannot subsidise industry without taxing industry to pay for that subsidy, so the state cannot instruct us on morals without first drawing morals from us. Where [so many go so] wrong is in viewing the state as our parent, when it is actually our child; it is our responsibility to discipline it—not the other way around.
    "The second fallacy is that before the state takes charge of our morals, it must be morally superior to us, and there’s no evidence it is. Quite the contrary: the record shows that when government takes command of personal morality, both the people and the state end up less moral, not more.
    "Conservatives love quoting Madison’s line, 'if men were angels, no government would be necessary.' But they often ignore what follows: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Our Constitution bars government from taking the authoritarian measures today’s Right wants precisely because government is not run by angels, but by fallible, ignorant, sometimes corrupt humans, who are more likely to exploit political power for such abominations as the Crusades than to make us all good.
    "I take that last part back. Moral authoritarians may imagine themselves Knights Templar, but in truth, they’re Carol Kennicotts, irritated that their neighbors don’t read the “right” books. Surely if the SJW phenomenon teaches us nothing else, it should teach us that when the state purports to impose politicians’ vision of 'common good' on us, the result is more often pestiferous nagging than world-changing misery. Like too-tight pajamas, the busybody moralisms of government bureaucrats are more likely to scratch and suffocate us than to transvalue our values.
    "Finally, moral authoritarianism founders on the fact that coerced morality is no morality at all. As John Milton—hardly a moral relativist—put it in Areopagitica, 'we bring not innocence' but 'impurity' into the world when we try to force people to be moral, because doing so only teaches obedience, not fidelity, and makes people do the minimum to avoid punishment, rather than take initiative toward their own betterment. For the latter, nobody has ever created a better system than the free society, where people are responsible for their own lives—and enjoy the fruits of wise choices and suffer the losses of bad ones."

        ~ Timothy Sandefur, commenting on 'Pyjama-Boy Nietzchians'

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