Robin Hood

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”  Winston Churchill

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”  Winston Churchill

“Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot; others as a cow to be milked; but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.”  Winston Churchill

“Most of the social pathology exhibited by the underclass [Outliers, fringe elements] has its origin in ideas that have filtered down from the intelligentsia.”  Theodore Dalrymple, Life At The Bottom:  The Worldview That Makes The Underclass, p. x

“Whether it be Marxism, Christian Socialism, Rawlsian fairness or legalized economic equality, these movements’ followers come to the same conclusion.  We on the bottom are owed, and you supposedly above us owe.”  John Agresto, The Wall Street Journal, June 2/3, 2012, p. A15

Robin Hoods Don’t Smash Shop Windows

Shouldn’t supposedly selfish conservatives—not idealistic liberals—be producing nasty mobs?

John Agresto, The Wall Street Journal, June 2/3, 2012, p. A15

“The myth persists that the left—while it might often be naïve and unrealistic—still has its heart in the right place.  Those who want to redistribute income are the gallant Robin Hoods of contemporary life. ‘Occupiers’ and socialists clearly have real concern for the downtrodden and poor.  Those who demand social justice are more sincere, more compassionate, more spiritual, and surely more Christian than the rest of us.

“Fairness and decency are the heart of the left; materialism and selfishness the hallmarks of the bourgeoisie, Wall Street, the tea party crowd, and, well, ordinary Americans in general.  So we are told.

“Of course, every now and then this narrative unravels.  An Occupy crowd goes on a rampage smashing the windows of small shopkeepers, stealing, destroying private and public property, throwing bricks at the police, and threatening the lives of ordinary citizens.  In social-democratic Europe, gangs of idealistic youths take over universalities, riot, and firebomb their way to achieve what they characterize as justice.

“’Outliers,’ we are told, ‘Fringe elements,’ the media strains to label them.  And, yes, so they are.  While these men and women are clearly left in their outlook and desires, they’re not your ordinary center-left liberals.  Nancy Pelosi may praise their passion, but she doesn’t have it in her heart to join them.

“Yet two things seem as obvious as they are curious.  Movements and associations of most ordinary Americans seem to lack the elements of destruction and hate we see on the fringes of the ideological left.  And there is something about the left that seems to regularly produce a violent, even nihilistic fringe.

“Shouldn’t it be exactly opposite—shouldn’t selfish conservatives be the ones to produce nasty mobs and shouldn’t the left, with its vaunted idealism and love of neighbor, produce on its margins those even more idealistic and more loving?

“But we’ve all seen the images on television or even, perhaps, been to rallies and demonstrations of the left.  And all too often what we see looks like the opposite of compassion and virtue.

“Maybe we have the narrative exactly backward.  Perhaps it’s the more centrist and even conservative side, with its constant call for individual liberty, for self-reliance, for individual responsibility and hard work, that results in stronger virtue and greater neighborliness—and the left, with its constant striving for equal results, greater redistribution and more entitlements, that results in a weakened moral sense and  erosion of moral character.  Perhaps the more we tell people that their problems are always someone else’s fault, that ‘others’ are robbing them of all they are ‘entitled’ to the more we corrode peoples’ character.

“What happens in those supposedly more virtuous places where welfare is ‘owed’ and the expectation that others are morally bound to take care of you has become the rule?  Exactly what we see in socialist Europe as it declines, or the street gangs of Britain, or the worst elements of the organized entitlement crowed in the United States:  When things do not go well, it’s other people’s fault—the successful, the wealthy, the ‘speculators,’ the powerful, the Jews, selfish and racist Americans, whomever.  They all have too much money, aren’t sharing, are unjust, are keeping you down.

“And since it’s their fault that you are poorer than they, and their fault that you are not ‘fairly’ being taken care of, we have not only the politics of resentment and envy but the politics of anger and hatred.  And it’s hard to make anger and hate into virtues, no matter how much the left likes to vaunt its superior morals.

“Whether it be Marxism, Christian Socialism, Rawlsian fairness or legalized economic equality, these movements’ followers come to the same conclusion.  We on the bottom are owed, and you supposedly about us owe.

“Historically, all the various ideologies that struggle to equalize humans and redistribute their possessions eventually find that they can only do it through force, often the most oppressive totalitarian force.  This is not an accident but has a real and unshakable philosophic base.

“Those who wish to have what others have worked for, those who think there should be ‘preferential options’ for their kind and those they favor, those who believe that they are entitled to have their desires satisfied, can only see other people as means to their ends and not as ends in themselves.

“They can only see that others have what they do not, that others possess what they want, and they command the redistribution of these things to themselves.  That principle—that others must give when they demand, that others are means and not ends—is the father not of generosity of spirit, not of love of neighbor, but rather  of the worst immorality.”  John Agresto, The Wall Street Journal, June 2/3, 2012, p. A15

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